Reading Dark Matter 1.2: Factions

I like the fact that there are organisations in the setting besides the races and their governments. It’s not the only or first setting to do it but I always appreciate it as it adds a somewhat more personal touch to the world rather then just having kingdoms and kingdoms.

Astrogations Inc. is the first on the list and they are the information, cartography, and somewhat divination corporation. They deal in maps and also predictions of how the chaos of space arranges itself into trade lanes you can actually follow. Of course, because they’re heavily into predicting the future, it is said they might know very important things others might want to know.

The Cabal is this setting’s Wolfram & Hart. They’re a firm of lawyers who specialise in fiendish dealings, established by an actual fiend. They commercialised the soul trading enterprise and made it easy for mortals to say yes. I just love that. They are totally not ashamed of what they’re doing (they also function as lawyers for whatever you need lawyering for) in making mortals sign contracts for favors in return to parts of their soul. I imagine them being the nicest there is because the individual life doesn’t matter, they operate in the open, they are an in-demand service, and they play on a very long timeline. Playing this, The Cabal is definitely showing up in a prime role.

The Coalition is a “neutral” private military that rents out their services to whoever can afford it and they’re probably exactly what you’d expect from such an organisation: they’re strong, disciplined, respected, well-equipped and well-trained, have a strict code of conduct, and don’t really hold loyalties to anyone. I just wish the description would hint at some more interesting secrets or contradictions.

DD&D (or Drog, Dusset, & Durgen Acquisitions & Trade) are a trading guild/antiquities shop who specialise in ancient, exotic, and powerful items. This is where you take your unwanted loot and where you go to get new interesting gear. There’s an interesting story there about how the founders helped a dragon to get their start which could be interesting to dig into and I hope whoever plays these guys would do them as obviously eccentric, aloof, dudes who act like queer folk who just want what’s best for you.

The Firm sounds like another lawyers organisation to rival the Cabal but despite having that front, they are the biggest crime syndicate in the galaxy. They hire out contractors and compartmentalise like pros. They are full of little tidbits to explore and look into and I love these things.

Grax’s Guys for Cheap is a great concept. They are kind of the poor-man’s version of The Coalition but they’re so much more. Grax runs a ship (a metaphorical one) of disenfranchised, shunned, but honest, and hardworking folk who do pretty much anything asked as long as above board and pays well enough. We could be talking about mercenary work, bodyguarding, warfighting, or even just animal herding or cargo transport. So, if you need a source of low-level jobs to start off an adventure, you go with Grax.

The S.S. Saint Vincent is a collection of frontier vigilantes who claim themselves to be the guardian angels of the border worlds, protecting them from asshole pirates or those who prey on the weak. I like this too as it doesn’t only give you a major, known group of NPC to interact with out in the almost-void, it’s also a group of self-entitled, self-important, self-appointed dorks who probably have no connection to history and led by a has-been captain. That’s just wonderful story bits to sprinkle in.

Scale & Fang are, I think, redundant in how they are portrayed in the fiction. They’re another group of bodyguards but this time it’s a hardy group of only dragon-born, funded by an ancient wyrm, who are considered elite professionals in their field. It would have been better if they were a special spec-ops unit working for a dragon or a group of dragons and they only show up when the dragons’ interest is very high. Seeing them would be like seeing the Saradaukar: They look and sound dorky but if you see these guys on the battlefield, you’re either on their side or you bolt.

The Temple of the Chosen is a space religious sect worshipping a space pantheon of spaceship people, hoping to finally ascend to be space people themselves aboard the celestial spaceship. The core of it sounds good. You can dig into whether they’re serious or not, whether their “celestial spacecraft” (yes, that’s a direct quote) is real, was real, or only a metaphor, and you can talk about their place in galactic society and how they’re treated. But the Space Religion sounds silly.

The Tower is what you would expect from a secretive, illuminati-like group of knowledge hoarding, spy space wizards. I like them as a more shadowy (and probably smarter) rival to Astrogation Inc. and their role as manipulators like The Firm or the Cabal. But it smells to close to Masonry for my liking and I think the lich connection is cliche.

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