Age of Wonders 3 has a very interesting approach to faction-design. Triumph studios seem to have made a system that feels more like a tool-box, rather just straight factions. The idea here is that your faction is shaped by the way you create your hero, your main character. But first some housekeeping. Age of Wonders 3 is a turn-based strategy/RPG where you play the leader of a fantasy faction. It was released in APril of 2015 by Triumph Studios, the Dutch studio behind the previous entries in the series, and the Overlord games.
So, how does the character creation work? Well, it's very robust, yet simple. You choose your characters race and class. The race you choose becomes the starting race of your faction. You can control multiple races during the game, but the starting city will always be of the same race as your hero. Each race also comes with some built in quirks. While they aren't profoundly different, they still can have some impact on your game. Examples are: Orcs generally have more health, Elves have less range-penalty. The class you choose affects which kind of special units you can control, and some special research-projects.
After you've picked the two big things, there are three "specialization"-slots you have to fill. These affect the spells and civic-projects you can research. The elemental specializations have two tiers, adept and master. So you can focus on one element to unlock powerful spells, or spread your specializations out to cover more bases. Other specializations affect certain aspects of your empire. A descent example would be the Explorer specialization that gives your ships and cities +1 vision range, or the Partisan specialization that makes mercenaries 25% cheaper, and buying independent cities are 10% cheaper.
After you've done all of the important busy-work, it's time for some fun. Dress-up fun!
Step two is creating the look of your character, making it your own. Here you can choose from a wide array of faces, eyes and accessories to create the ruler that you want to play as. A fun addition is the ability to change the background and posture of your character. These things only change the look of your character during diplomacy, but the detail of being able to change how and where your character stand is really nice. The two pictures above are of the same character, before and after I fiddled with the creator. And now all you have to do is start the game.
Another small, but oh so important, addition to this "tool-box design" is that pretty much everything in the game is attached to a trait of some sort. Each character, unit, monster or beast has their abilities influenced by a trait. Like how if a unit is a cavalry-unit, that unit will have a "cavalry" trait. If you hover over said trait, a tool-tip will appear that explains what the trait does. Everything from race to weapon to abilities is connected to a trait. These traits are also the things you influence when you gain a level.
These traits really help the game stand out in it's design, if you ask me. And they also help immensely when studying units and developing tactics.
I am a person who really likes numbers and stats in games. I know, I'm boring like that. But this game really lets me get into both the head-space of someone playing a high-fantasy strategy-RPG and the head-space of a fantasy unit accountant.