An interstellar faction is a group of at least three worlds that work together in some capacity, with some form of shared government-like organisation that regulates how these worlds cooperate. Older factions tend to also share large parts of their culture between the worlds of the faction.
Factions tend to be common in the galaxy. About three quarters of all the worlds are part of a faction and this number is always rising. Only a quarter of the worlds you might encounter have not joined a faction or they simply have not been discovered yet.
Although a loose alliance of three worlds is technically a faction, a more typical size ranges from 25 to 350 worlds. Newly formed factions tend to grow quickly. If a faction grows too far away from their central government it may break apart into smaller factions. This is because communication at larger distances takes significantly longer, which means that it becomes increasingly hard for the central government to control the outer worlds. Additionally, this makes it harder for the faction's culture to be shared between these worlds, causing a potential shift in values that leads to division. The limit for where a government can still control a faction seems to be about six month's travel by spaceship from the faction's centre, which leads to a maximum diameter of roughly 500 light-years and also limits most factions to containing around 400 worlds.
How do Factions Arise
When a world develops to a certain level of technology and has a certain population size, they will be contacted by a representative of The Collective who will sell them their DSTs and other technology needed to make interstellar travel possible. At that point, the world can go out and make contact with its neighbours and have them combine forces - either with diplomacy or more forceful methods. When another world is added this way and an organisation arises to govern them, this becomes a real faction.
At this point in time, new factions arising is uncommon and as the number of worlds not part of a faction is shrinking, new factions will become even more rare. Almost all worlds do not have develop interstellar technology on their own and instead gain such technology when they join a faction. But there are worlds out there that are further along the path of technological process. These worlds are almost always divergent worlds as the worlds that follow the convergent path are only just now very slowly exploring their own solar system and at most have a few skeleton colonies on other planets in their own solar system.
The initial world that sparks the faction and grants interstellar travel to their faction members tends to have a very large influence on how the faction will develop and what shape the faction will take. Usually the collective doesn't meddle in the values and government type the faction adheres to. This initial faction homeworld tends to already have a form of world government at this stage that in time determines the government type of the entire factions.
There are many different forms of government found amongst the interstellar factions. They mainly differ in what their long-term gaols are. Some common types are:
Growth, Recruitment and Maintenance
After an initial world buys DSTs from The Collective, they tend to expand their reach. If they don't they remain small and tend to get consumed by larger factions. Not all factions are expansionist, but most you will encounter will be as the rest tends not to be around for very long. Factions have many reasons to grow and expand and they are equally varied in how to go about doing so. But there are some general trends and patterns we have observed.
Some reasons for expanding might be:
- Gaining additional resources (usually tribute or taxes in the form of divine charge).
- Gaining additional people.
- Spreading their ideology.
- Desire to help lower technology worlds.
- Defending against other nearby expansionist factions.
When a factions finds an un-contacted world in their area they tend to incorporate that world into the larger faction. The speed, the method and the amount of force used in this process is highly dependent on what they want to achieve and how much resources they want to invest in the incorporation. Unless there are other nearby factions that might be interested in the world, it is very rare that a found world in the territory of a faction does not join that faction eventually. A newly found world is hard to keep secret as other nearby factions will probably hear about such a world from their agents in the faction. If the other nearby factions want they can launch their own incorporating efforts and try and contest the original finding faction. This might lead to peaceful bidding wars in which the newly contacted world can pick and choose the faction with the ideology and costs they feel most comfortable with. But more often than not this leads to violent conflict and occupation of the new world. If the faction is highly religious in nature, incorporation might also mean conversion of the populace of the world which is usually highly resisted and might involve the death of one or all of the gods and other divine entities on the contacted world.
Newly contacted worlds might join a faction freely based on one or more of these pillars:
- Open trade, which usually entails a certain common law.
- Taxes or tribute to the faction government.
- Mutual defense from other factions and further threats.
At the same time, it is quite common that the newly contacted world is forced to join one of the nearby factions.
When factions grow communication from the initial world that sparked the faction, and which tend to hold the factions seat of power, slows down near the periphery. At a certain point such outer faction worlds might feel the center of the faction does not hold their best interest at heart and might shift their culture and values away from the inner worlds. The larger the faction and the more central their government, the higher the chance that certain parts of the faction might try and split off to become independent governments. The larger factions tend to be either more loosely governed, give more power to local planetary governments or are in contrast very authoritarian, conservative and slow to change. But even these ways of mitigating this problem has its limits. We have found that when a faction has worlds or colonies that are more than six months travel away from the central government, the situation tends to be unsustainable and waves of never ending bloody rebellions and uprisings make the faction ripe for the picking by other nearby factions, or might prompt the worlds of the area to start their own splinter faction.
There are several notable factions important for our work mentioned here. For starters there is The Collective , as they provide us with the technology to transition between normal and divine space, allowing faster than light travel.
Secondly there are the current local factions . These are factions close enough to us that we can feel their political and market influence. We might possibly also be within the realistic limit of their military force projection.
Thirdly there are the factions we currently have relationships with. Either positive or negative.