Minecraft Factions Alignment Design Concept by Alfred Cloutier

Author’s note: This is admittedly a different kind of gaming article: one in which I outline rules I’d l*like* to see in a game. I have no ability or power to make these rules become real, but I think they are interesting enough to publish for public scrutiny… I’ve been playing Minecraft for a little while now, and the most compelling idea behind the game is that it is an open, persistent world, a so-called sandbox, where you can ignore the “game” elements, and just do what you want. It is also somewhat open-ended in that third-parties can create their own “mods”, which create new sub-games based on the Minecraft platform. If you don’t know what Minecraft is, ask any middle class kid, or go here: www.minecraft.net. The article below refers to “plug-ins” which are what I would call modifications to an online multiplayer Minecraft world, players can join one world and play cooperatively, or fight PVP (Player Vs Player). Factions is one of those PVP plug-ins. The developers of Factions are at www.massivecraft.com/factions and I wouldn’t have been inspired to write this without their hard work. I would also like to note that the idea of “alignment” is not original, I stole the idea from Martech’s Tradewars 2002, and I’ve seen at least one plug-in for Lord of the Rings Minecraft Mod that uses a tangentially similar system to what I outline below, though I wasn’t aware of that when I wrote this.



There have been more than a few iterations of Factions, and the following is what I would like to see as a plug-in for this style of play. I do not write plug-ins, so the following is an *idea* for a plug-in. First of all, Factions itself is a plug-in found here: http://www.massivecraft.com/factions . That link explains the plug-in and how it works in detail. I’ll give a very quick explanation here. Factions uses a “power” and membership system that allows players to manage territorial permissions, and gives players the ability to erode enemy permissions. Players band together in a faction under a single leader, pooling their resources, skill and power in order to prepare themselves for conflict with other factions. Territorial permissions prevent outside players from destroying (“griefing”) or stealing (“raiding”) anything within the territorial boundaries. But those boundaries may be contested if a faction’s “power” is less than the number of chunks claimed. (A “chunk” is a 16×16 square plot of land) Power is a measure of how much time a player has spent playing the game, and is reduced by deaths. A weak faction, with waning power may have their territory unclaimed if a raiding faction kills enough members of the besieged faction, reducing power below the number of chunks claimed. That’s the brief on Factions: Kill enemies so you can take their land and loot.


The Alignment plug-in idea came from a thread on www.sandlotminecraft.com about how betrayal is an imbalance of Factions. It is *much* easier to destroy a faction by joining it, then abuse permissions by griefing and raiding from within the faction. Mutiny from the inside. There are “permissions” a leader can set that help regulate this behavior, but on Sandlot, which is a family-friendly server, the commands and logic of permissions wasn’t always understood by every young player. Also, there was a nasty habit of some of the better players preying on others by ambushing them, either by luring them off of the protected spawn island, or by asking to be an ally, then very quickly using the “enemy” command and attacking the unsuspecting player. Alignment isn’t necessarily trying to “fix” this behavior, but it is intended to curb it, or at least give a warning to new players that some players have a history of betrayal and ambush tactics.


In the following outline, there are hefty penalties to having a negative alignment, but there are also some hidden bonuses, such as access to a different, more sinister set of NPC shops at the neutral spawn zone. Some players will enjoy “going evil” and having success even when everyone is warned of their approach, and there’s a price on their head…


Factions Alignment Rules:

Player access to different parts of the neutral spawn zone relies on “alignment.” Players gain or lose alignment based on their actions in the game. Alignment ranges from -1000 to +1000. Negative alignment is gained by committing acts that are treacherous and dishonorable (according to a rigid system). Positive alignment is gained by acts of helpfulness and honor (also, according to the game’s rigid system).


New players start with 0 alignment. Players less than 8 days old are considered “new”. After 7 days, players are no longer considered new players.


Players are free to attack each other at any time, except during “new-player cool-down”, which is the first 3 minutes after a new player’s first-ever login. Players are immune to other players during this first 3 minutes.


A “challenge” system modifies alignment: Like relations between factions, a player may offer an open challenge to specific players. These challenges remain flagged ON until either the challenger removes the challenge, or the challenged accepts the offer. A challenge is an offer to fight PVP (player versus player). Once the challenge is accepted, either player can kill the other without any loss of alignment ONE time. If one of the participants in the challenge is killed by the other, all challenge flags between those two players is removed. (The killed party can’t retaliate without re-challenging–which will be a sore spot for some losers of challenges. One option is the winner of the challenge automatically triggers a re-challenge to the loser, who can accept or ignore at will.)


Accepted challenges expire after 1 hour, at which time the accepting player will also receive -3 alignment. (Can’t spam-accept challenges, but not meet the challenges.)


Given the above, the following rules are used to modify alignment:

If a player kills another player outside of challenge, that player gets -25 alignment.
If a player kills another player with an unaccepted challenge, that player gets -20 alignment. (Giving other players warning before they ambush them is *slightly* more honorable than just killing them with no warning.)
If a player creates a faction, that player gets +10 alignment (faction creation costs 200 tokens).
+1 alignment for inviting a new player to an owned faction ONE time (can’t revoke and re-invite, gaining infinite alignment).
-1 alignment for re-inviting any player after revoking their invitation.
+5 alignment for “Repopulation” achievement ONE time. (Breeding cows…)
-5 alignment for removing the ALLIED flag from an allied faction.
+3 Alignment for filling a donation double-chest to max ONCE per day with any mix of items. (Needs to be max full, all stacks need to be at maximum, or if that is not easily codeable, make donation chests that have specific items that need to be filled to max: wood, food, tools, armor, weapons, etc.)
A new player can give +5 alignment to anyone ONCE. This is lost after 7 days if not used.
If a player kills a new player, they get a total of -40 alignment.
PVP logging gives a player -10 alignment, and kills that player. (PVP logging is when a player logs out of the game in the middle of combat. Combat starts when one player damages another player and ends 30 seconds after the last damage)
(The following bounty numbers will have to be playtested. These prices need to be just right to work.)
+1 alignment for every 75 tokens of kill bounty placed on Scoundrels who have -50 or less alignment.
+2 alignment for every 75 tokens of bounty on Wanted players who have -100 or less alignment.
+3 alignment for every 75 tokens of bounty on Archenemies who have -500 or less alignment.
+1 alignment for accepting a challenge ONCE per hour (can’t spam accept challenges and trade alignment through fake fights).
-3 alignment for letting a challenge expire after accepting a challenge. Challenges expire after 1 hour.
-5 alignment for quitting a faction.
-10 alignment for quitting a faction within the first hour of joining that faction (total -15 alignment).


Spawn Shops:

(At the neutral spawn zone, there will be NPC shops that sell rare items to players. Prices, in tokens, to be determined by admins. Prices shown are approximate Sandlot prices.)
A player with neutral or positive alignment may access the General shops:
Steak and Melons (2 tokens for 30 melons, 4 tokens for 30 steak)
Armors: Iron, Diamond, Gold (2 tokens per armor piece)
Swords and bows (2 tokens for either Fire Aspect I Wooden, Knockback I Stone, or Unbreaking III Iron Swords, 1 token for Punch I Bow, 1 token for 30 arrows.)
Bounty Hunter – Place and collect bounties on negative players


A player with positive alignment may access the Specialty Spawn shops:
Tree saplings & Lily pads
Trinket Rares: slime balls, etc.
Healing and regen potions (5 tokens for healing I potions, 10 tokens for Regen II potion)


A player with +25 Alignment gains access to Arcane Municipality shops:
Unbreaking & Sharpness books (10 tokens for Unbreaking I book, 22 tokens: Sharpness I)
Dog Spawn eggs (45 tokens)
Fire resist and Strength potions (10 and 5 tokens, respectively)


A player with +50 Alignment gains access to Paladin’s Club shops:
Protection & Smite books (22 tokens each)
Horse Spawn eggs (25 tokens each)
End Portal Frame (75 tokens per block)
Horse armor (10 tokens for any type)


A player with negative alignment may not access any of the above shops, except Bounty Hunter, and a negative player may never collect a bounty, only place one.


A player with -50 alignment may access the Scoundrel shops:
Cobwebs & Cacti
Blue Orchids & Ink Sacs
Chain Armor, Leather armor (2 tokens per armor piece)


A player with -100 alignment may access the Antagonist shops:
Spider eyes, mushrooms, & sugar
Milk Bucket
Invisibility & Night vision potions
Power books (20 tokens each)
Diamond Armor (2 tokens per armor piece)


A player with -500 alignment may access the Archenemy shops:
Harming Potions (13 tokens each)
Cat Spawn eggs (50 tokens each)
Thorns books (22 tokens each)
End Portal Frame (75 tokens per block)



Any player may place a bounty on a negative player. (It is possible to “buy” yourself back to positive alignment, but it is expensive and difficult to game–see alignment impact of bounties above.) Only positive or neutral players may collect bounties for killing negative players. Only token bounties affect alignment, so players with other forms of wealth need to convert to tokens by trading before putting a price on someone’s head.


Other Effects of Negative Alignment:

Players with negative alignment have an “aura” equal to the absolute value of their alignment. If a player has -50 alignment, their aura is 50 blocks. When an aura overlaps with another player’s position a private chat message is sent: “The is approaching within blocks.” This message is sent only at the instant the aura overlaps another players position–it doesn’t spam the chat with the aura message. Also, like in some capture the flag servers, and other team plug-ins, players with auras or challenges are shown on the right upper third of the screen, with some flags shown: color of playername: alignment (red=negative, white=0, blue=positive); C: this player has challenged you; A: you’ve accepted this player’s challenge. Negative players also have a small compass next to their name, showing where they are in relation to any player in their aura.


Negative ranks:
-1 to -49: Weasel
-50 to -99: Scoundrel
-100 to -499 Antagonist
-500 to -1000 Archenemy


Players with negative ranks can’t receive custom titles available in Factions, and will always have their negative rank as their title, in red (color code “&4”). For example the -300 alignment player JohnSmith would have the title (Antagonist) JohnSmith, and the leader of JohnSmith’s faction would be unable to change the title.


Players with negative alignment have a /spawn cool-down of 5 minutes. (They can only use the /spawn command every 5 minutes). Normally there is a 30-second wait time for the command to warm up.


Negative players have a much smaller spawn protection area than positive players, about half the area of spawn, and they can only stay there for 10 minutes before the protection wears off.


Other Rules Inspired by the Sandlot Factions Server:


When a player dies, they are re-spawned in the spawn zone.


Players use tokens for economy. Use /tokens command to gain 10 tokens. This command may be used once per hour. Using the /tokens command reduces a players power by 2.


A player always drops at least one token upon dying.


Players gain power at the rate of 2 per hour of in-game playing. Per normal faction rules, power allows factions to keep claimed land.


Claiming land requires membership in a faction, permissions within that faction, power, and 1 token per chunk claimed.


Chests can be locked per /lwc plugin. Unclaiming removes these locks. Chests are not immune to blasts.


Suits of armor are available at spawn, for 2 tokens per piece, 8 for a full suit.
If full suits of armor are worn:
Diamond Armor Confers Weakness, Slowness, & Resistance (Weakness & Slow are conferred with any piece of armor worn, Resistance is only conferred with full suit worn)
Iron Armor Confers Strength and Critical Threat (any attack that would otherwise not be a critical hit has a 65% of being a critical hit)
Chain Armor Confers Jump Boost II (or whatever allows 2-block jump) and Regeneration III
Gold Armor Confers Haste & Respiration & Aqua Affinity
Leather Armor Confers Speed & Invisibility (armor is not invisible)
(The effects are triggered by player movement, and have a duration of 1 or 2 seconds.


If a players doesn’t log into the server after 10 days, they will have to start over, but they will never be considered new players in that iteration of the game.


Enchantment tables are limited to level 5


Fishing is allowed


Villagers do not trade, but do cause golems to spawn


If a player is afk (away from keyboard, or idle) for 10 minutes, they are kicked from the server.


Other Rules:
Relation cool-down: 1 minute cool-down between changing faction relations (you can’t ally a faction, then ambush them after an instant relation change). Relations can only go one step in any direction (can’t jump from ally to enemy, need to be truced, then neutral, then enemy).


New players may take freely from donation chests at spawn.


The End respawns randomly every 24-72 hours, with a 20% chance of a new Ender Dragon spawning. When a player is first damaged by the Ender Dragon, a chat message is sent out that they have been damaged by the dragon.


Need to buy sethome2 gem: gem is destroyed when player uses sethome2 (50 tokens)


Notes and Optional Rules:

Not all of the above ideas have been play-tested. There would need to be a test period where players try to exploit the system so imbalances can be corrected. For example, in the current Sandlot Factions world, Diamond armor has a lot of drawbacks, but most players still choose to use it, often compensating with a strength potion when in PVP combat. The other armors just can’t withstand the damage dealt by power weapons. Because they are all the same price (8 tokens for full suit), the other armors are temporary novelties. If all the armors are to be the same price, there should be some powerful, or interesting balances, not just a bunch of players walking around in diamond most of the time. I’ve increased the status effects of the armors from what they were at Sandlot. Gold armor is very good for mining, and I use it often for that purpose, but only when safe. I didn’t change gold armor from the Sandlot settings. Iron armor is sometimes used by really good fighters, or players who haven’t realized that diamond is better. I added Critical Threat to iron, which may already exist in other mods, but as far as I know, I made up. This would increase damage output, and possibly give more movement options as you don’t have to jump to get a crit. The current jump boost with chain armor is used in rare exploration cases, but I wouldn’t be carrying anything valuable if I’m in a danger zone while wearing chain armor. I would consider the “regeneration” ability of chain armor as it exists on Sandlot to be non-functional because it doesn’t appear to work when your hunger bar isn’t maxed out, and then it feels like you’re just regenerating slightly faster than you would at full health anyway. I increased the status to Regen III, and would have it work no matter how hungry you are, this should get players to a nearly Halo-like shield regen. Leather armor is actually good for speed mapping, and I haven’t tested it in PVP situations. I presume it would only be useful for *running away* which is a legitimate defensive strategy. I increased the power of leather by adding invisibility, which would make it a semi-stealth armor, and mixed with the speed *might* be a good choice for archers.


Power Armor Optional Rule:

Power Armor is an idea that may be overpowered, but fun. Testing will be needed. Players may only access Power Armor shops after reaching -600 alignment or +100 alignment. Power armor has the same durability as gold armor, costs 250 tokens, and you must buy a complete set at once.


-Positive players may purchase Power Gold Armor which has Unbreaking I, Regeneration III, Strength II, Protection III, Aqua Affinity, Water Breathing, Depth Strider III, and Health Boost. Not as good as a notch apple, but it would always be on.


-Negative players may purchase Power Chain Armor which has Thorns III in chestplate, Fire Resistance, Fire Aura 1 (the armor attempts to start fire like flint & steel in all 8 adjacent squares), Jump Boost IV, Feather Falling IV and Teleport 12 (click Use with nothing in hand, and will teleport 15 blocks toward cross-hairs)


About the Author:


Alfred O. Cloutier has contributed to Dragon Magazine, and has edited for a number of other gaming publishers. He can be found on Facebook.


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