As you adventure throughout the world of Cairn, you will discover that various groups of people have banded together to improve their chances of survival. These Factions are wary of outsiders and are not quick to trust. However, those that strive to help and who slay their enemies will find that these groups can become valuable allies in the battles ahead.
In Grim Dawn, Factions are groups of survivors (and foes) with whom you can earn (or lose) reputation. Based on your reputation, you can unlock various rewards, or cause powerful enemies to stalk your every move.
Grim Dawn features eleven Factions with which you can interact in various ways.
Foolishly and greedily did the arcanists of Cairn delve into the magical veil known as the Aether, never once suspecting that something was looking back. The Aetherials descended upon Cairn in what is now known as the Grim Dawn, possessing countless humans and butchering the rest. Most despicably of all, they began raising the fallen as mutated undead creatures, mindless foot soldiers for their invasion. Their very presence on Cairn is enough to mutate the wildlife, turning once docile creatures into vicious monstrosities. But most strange of all is their apparent hatred for Chthonians, as they will battle against the horrors from the Void at every opportunity.
Chthonians, horrors from the Void, are the things of nightmares. Prior to the Grim Dawn, Chthonians would only be seen upon Cairn following an arcane ritual gone wrong or at the beckoning of a powerful sorcerer. Despite an effort to exterminate the practice, a cult has formed around blood rituals and the worship of Chthonic beings. Members of the cult have been overheard chanting one name in particular: Ch'thon. With the world in disarray, the cult has grown strong, garnering new followers desperate for answers in a world that no longer makes sense. Chthonians, and their loyal cult, appear to be at odds with the Aetherials, eagerly harvesting helpless humans for blood so that the Aetherials cannot use them as vessels.
Survivors...that is the word used most often to describe the hardy denizens of Devil's Crossing. The men and women who made it through the Grim Dawn to form a small community within the ruins of an abandoned prison. They have seen all too many friends and family lost to the "Taken", those found possessed by the Aetherials. Earning their trust will prove no easy task, but with supplies running low and a looming Aetherial threat on the horizon, they may just be willing to take a chance.
The Black Legion are the imperium's elite, Death's Bannermen sent forth to act out the emperor's will with great prejudice. Legends of their valor intermingle with equally common tales of their cruelty and violence. Regardless of whether they are respected or feared, the Black Legion was the only imperial regiment to escape the fallen capital following the Grim Dawn and may now represent the only hope humanity has left of ever fighting back.
Many more factions await you in the Grim Dawn-ravaged world of Cairn. But will they be friend...or foe?
Allying yourself with a certain group can put you at odds with another. Make your choices carefully, as the impact can be far-reaching.
Your interaction with Cairn's Factions is guided by the Faction Window, where you can track your progress through the various Reputation states as well as what each Faction's desires and enemies are. As you reach higher level of Reputation, or Infamy, you will unlock special rewards.
After you become Respected with a Faction, you will unlock access to their Bounty Table. There, you will be offered special missions that send you all over Cairn in order to complete tasks the faction requires assistance with.
Acquiring a few items, slaying a boss, hunting down a Hero rampaging through an area are just some examples of the missions you will be offered.
Your efforts to assist a Faction will not go unnoticed. As you reach higher tiers of Reputation status with a Faction in Grim Dawn, you will unlock rewards unique to that Faction.
Possible rewards include: quests, access to dungeons, consumables, equipment, crafting blueprints, Augments and Writs/Mandates.
Augments come in the form of powders, meticulously crafted enchantments, tinctures and poisons used by the various factions of Cairn. The process to creating Augments is a carefully guarded secret, so you will have to earn access to them by working with factions.
There are three types of Augments, each intended for different equipment types: Weapon, Accessory and Armor. When applied to weapons, Augments will also apply a glow effect. Items that already have a special effect, such as many Epic weapons, will not display this extra glow so as to avoid blurring their awesome visuals.
Writs and Mandates
Writs and Mandates are special scrolls which will help you accelerate the rate at which you earn status with the Faction that sells them. Writs can be purchased at Honored for a steep price, but will cut the path to Revered status in half. Writs can only be used on the character that purchases them.
As a testament to your dedication, reaching Revered status allows you to purchase a Faction's Mandate. Mandates double all reputation gains but, unlike Writs, can be placed in your Shared Stash to use on all your characters.
Just as improving your reputation with friendly Factions can earn you rewards, angering hostile Factions has ramifications as well. As you slay your foes, you will gradually unlock additional monster spawns, increased Hero spawns and, upon reaching Nemesis status, Nemesis spawns.
Nemesis spawns are ultra-rare bosses, champions of their respective Faction that represent some of the toughest encounters you will face in Grim Dawn. Nemesis spawns have a chance to appear in just about any area where their Faction is present. Should you encounter one, do not try to flee; it is already too late.
Should you somehow prevail, vast riches await you within the Nemesis chest, with a very high chance of an Epic item and an increased chance of finding crafting Blueprints and Legendary Items.