designing an mmorpg

Designing an MMORPG: Factions

It has been nearly a month now since our last dive into designing an MMORPG but we’re back again, and the results of the poll on the races of our new world are in! Plus it’s time for another poll, this time deciding how to do our MMORPG factions.

Before we can start looking at that, let’s take a look at what we know so far. In previous articles, we picked fantasy as our genre, specifically Dark Fantasy. Then we went on to the races. It was already established that Humans would be in the game, so they were removed from the poll entirely. Joining them are 9 other playable races, created by me, and chosen by you. They are:

  • Dark Elves
  • Hellspawn
  • Fae
  • Lalers
  • Dragons
  • Vampires
  • Shadows
  • Dwarves
  • Shifters

Most interestingly, the ones that didn’t make the list are the gender-specific Harpies and Corvids, the plant people, and the fish people. What we generally see is that the attractive and darker themed races won, while those who are a little less people-like did not. So we say goodbye to those who didn’t win.

This week we’re dividing those races into their factions. There will only be three options to pick from, so hopefully, it will be an easy choice to make. Each choice can have implications for PvP that should also be taken into consideration but we’ll be looking at PvP specifically later on in another article.

Factions are important quite simply because they help you decide which races are friendly and which are not. It will tell you who you can play with and who you can play.


No Factions

Are the major factions of the world all at peace? Is there perhaps a threat greater than any of their petty differences? Or maybe the world is more complex and racial lines mean nothing. Having no factions at all allows for two clearly distinct options. The world has come together, be that to fight a common enemy or because they all get along…mostly. The other option is that the world is complex and the racial lines aren’t what define us. The first option doesn’t really allow for open world PvP outside of duels, while the second one allows for a PvP free for all. Picking no factions will also have a large impact on our world’s story, as well as what our enemies are like. If this option wins in the polls, there will be another poll in the future to decide between the two directions.


Two Factions

The world is torn in two. One side vs the other. 5 races vs 5 races. On one side you have the more sophisticated, older races; Dragons, Shifters, Shadows, Dark Elves, and Fae. On the other side are the Vampires, Dwarves, Lalers, Hellspawn, and Humans. The two sides couldn’t be more different with one side very set in their ways, while the younger races try to carve out their place in the world. A two faction system would allow for open world PvP between the two factions as well as create an interesting dynamic for PvP battlegrounds. Additionally, it leaves the opportunity open to having a third faction made up entirely of NPCs. Maybe the races that didn’t win the playable race poll still have a place in the world after all?

One downside to having a two faction system is that Vampires are limited to only one side. This means that the turning event is very one-sided as the other faction doesn’t have anything like it. This could be fixed by allowing Shifters to also take part in the turning event or by getting rid of the event entirely.


Three Factions

MMORPG Factions

Three factions are the ideal setup for PvP. Just take a look at Rock, Paper, Scissors. In the PvE world, it serves to divide the races even more, meaning that each faction has fewer race options to play with.

Dragons Dwarves Vampires
Fae Shifters Shadows
Lalers Hellspawn Dark Elves
Humans Humans Humans


As you can see there are only 4 races for each faction. Though it does allow each faction to have Humans. Since they are notorious for being the most popular race in every MMO this is something that could prove to be very important. In the two faction system, it might be difficult to balance the two sides if the majority of players are playing Humans. On the PvP side of things having three factions allows for massive battles like World vs World in Guild Wars 2 and Cyrodiil in Elder Scrolls Online. The three faction system is also going to be put to use in Crowfall.


For the options with more than one faction, it is possible to unlock the other races for those factions in the future if we so desired. Though with their background you have to wonder about some combinations. Would Dwarves ever really be willing to look past their history with the Dragons to work together? In a no faction system Dwarves tolerate Dragons simply because they have no other choice. That won’t stop Dwarven NPCs from making comments about the filthy Dragon players as they walk past though.

Vote for your favorite of the three options in the Strawpoll below. On Friday evening I’ll take a look at which one is the winner and it will be officially announced at the beginning of next week’s article. Next week we will be taking a look at crafting systems and deciding how complex the crafting system will be and what kinds of things can be crafted. If you have any ideas for the crafting system I would love to hear them. In the last couple of minutes, I’ve considered guild crafting, allowing you to make boats all the way down to making archaeology a part of the crafting system, where you dig up artifacts which can be used on yourself like a rune, weapon, or even a history book.

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About Shannon Doyle

Shannon first discovered MMOs in 1999 when she picked up the newly launched Everquest. This started a lifelong love affair with online gaming that has taken her around the world and brought her to While she still pines for the streets of Paragon, the City of Heroes, today she spends most of her gaming time walking across Tyria in Guild Wars 2, roleplaying with anyone who says hello.