The Neversummer faction system is one of the most unique features of the module. While superficially based on the internal faction system of NWN, NS4 takes the concept of individual and group reputations to a new level. With seven distinct player factions to choose from and over 30 creature factions to add flavor and dynamics, NS4 dispenses with the simplistic idea of "good vs. evil" and "player vs. creature", and offers the chance to fight along side some of the most fearsome and powerful forces in D&D.
It is important to distinguish the factional system of reputation tracking with the individual factions themselves - while they are closely related, there are certain distinctions between the two, and it is easier to think of them as follows: The factional system consists of the various reputations, or hostility ratings, that every player and faction possess. Factions can be thought of as groups of creatures that share the same factional reputations, at least initially. As the game evolves, certain NPCs and PCs that were once hostile may become friendly, or vice-versa. You may have the same hostility ratings as members of a certain faction - but that does not automatically make you a member of that faction.
Unlike the traditional NWN faction system, individual members of factions (NPCs and PCs alike) can have divergent beliefs about other creatures and players. This can make for an interesting dynamic in certain situations, and can lead to conflicts of loyalty and "lesser of two evil" situations. Generally, however, factions tend to stick together when it comes to hostility and reputations: When a player commits certain acts (such as attacking or killing an NPC), word will spread quickly and the player will soon become an outcast in his own faction - forced to flee and fend for himself in the world.
There are five basic hostility ratings in NS4. In general, the middle three are the most common, and it is much easier to go down on the hostility ladder than it is to climb back up. It should be noted that attacking, casting a hostile spell, taunting, pickpocketing, or any other hostile act will immediately trigger the target to view you as "Hostile", however this is only an initial reaction which will fade in time. If you persist and continue acting in a hostile manner, this temporary rating may become permanent, and the target will most likely spread the word to the other faction members that a traitor is in their midst.
- Honored - Reserved for those that achieve the highest level of respect and admiration from a given individual. Those NPCs that view you as "honored" will not only defend you from enemies, but they will join you in attacking any creature that you threaten - friend or foe.
- Protected - The default level of treatment for new members of a faction. As the term implies, any protected members that are threatened by a neutral creature or an enemy will receive the aid of nearby NPCs. The factions are very protective of their members, and retreating or "leading" hostiles back to your powerful friends can be an effective tactic.
- Neutral - Those creatures that perceive you neutrally are simply indifferent toward you. They will neither help you nor hinder you in your progress, and will offer the same support to both you and your enemies. Avendell and other unaligned factional areas strive to maintain neutrality as a while, although many individuals within those groups may stray one way or another.
- Hostile - The default level of treatment for faction enemies. Hostile creatures will engage you as soon as you are within a certain range of them. In certain cases, they may retreat or fall back to friendly creatures for support if the battle becomes too tough.
- Despised - The worst possible rating you can have with an individual. Creatures that despise you will target you over all other potential targets available, and will not stop until one of you is dead. Some factions automatically have this kind of disposition towards others: Members of Shadow Legion and Ragnar's Kin despise each other, as do Circle and Mystral Ascendancy members.
Remember, since nobody ever really dies in Aetheria (see Binding and Respawning), taking a secret "to the grave" is impossible, and "burying the hatchet" is virtually unheard of. Anything you do to anyone is most likely going to be passed around and remembered for years to come, so make sure your actions are well-thought-out! Currently, only divine intervention or soon-to-be-implemented geas/quests may save you if you are driven out of your faction.
Be nice to your faction or end up an outcast.
Choosing a Faction
Faction selection takes place after initial character creation. While players will have the opportunity to talk with factional "Ambassadors" before making their decision, their perspectives are undoubtedly biased and a wise player would take the chance to read the more objective descriptions given in the faction forums. Faction selection is quite possibly the most important choice your character will face, and it will determine the course of their adventures from that point on.
Players of opposing factions will initially appear hostile to one another. While you will not know which faction another creature or player belongs to unless specifically told, they will glow red to show that your faction consideres them to be an enemy. Other creatures and players will glow blue, showing you that they are non-hostile. Players are free to override this setting and "diverge" from the standard faction's view of another creature or player - keep in mind, however, it makes little difference how you view someone else - far more crucial to your safety is how they view you!
Cancelling the hostility you have toward another player is accomplished via the "Player List". Simply click the current Like/Dislike setting to change it, and the other player will be notified of your act. Forming a party will automatically cancel your hostility and enable you to work together in the realm - however your respective factions will still view you as seperate entities. They may begin to attack your companion, thinking they are "protecting" you, and you risk losing status within your faction if you fight back. Also, players who override hostility in this way should take care when logging in and out - returning to the realm will reset your PvP hostility back to the default!
Over view pages
Faction Table for a quick chart.