Authors: Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks
Editors: Fred Hicks, Lydia Leong
This document is Open Game Content, as described in section 1(d) of the Open Gaming License.
Organizations are built in much the same way that character's are, with both aspects and skills, albeit from somewhat different lists. While it is possible to build organizations in a phased manner, unless multiple organizations are being created at the same time (such as for a conspiracy game, see below) there is little real reason to do so. GMs are encouraged to make use of the pyramid cheat sheet.
Organizations should be built on the model of 1 aspect per 4 skills, though "freebie" aspects may be appropriate.
As with characters, aspects reflect the nature of the organization. It should be possible for someone to read the list of aspects and get a sense of the nature of the organization. As such, organization's aspects should usually encompass the scope and nature of the organization.
The scope of the organization can encompass a number of elements, like the size of the membership or how far-reaching the organization may be. Scope is not synonymous with influence, that's covered by skills, but it is complementary. Scope is rarely measured precisely, but as a rule of thumb it correlates with how many areas of influence (see the influence skill, below) the organization extends to on a roughly 1/1 basis. Scope also sets the default difficulty for many internal activities, especially of an administrative nature. If cope is not clearly implicit in the aspect, assume it to be equal to the highest ranking aspect.
Other aspects should give insight into the nature of the organization, and are things like Sub-Genius, Criminal or Mercantile. These aspects should give a sense of the sort of activities the organization pursues, or what manner of philosophy it follows.
These are not the only aspects an organization may have, but they are the most common. Other aspect may reinforce skills ("Conspiracy" or "Rich") or may be something else entirely.
Skills measure those things the organization can do, such as exercising influence or drawing upon resources. While there are only a few skill types that an organization may take, they are much like knowledge skills in that they may be taken multiple times to specify the area of use (So an organization might have Influence: England and Influence: France).
Organization skills have very specific uses, and as such cannot be freely substituted for each other. As such, if an organization has a great deal of influence, and wants to use that influence to secure resources, that should be represented by a resources skill (or can default to mediocre).
In general, organizations are bound to the same rules regarding the skill pyramid that characters are, though the GM may grant exceptions for special cases.
The usual skills for organizations are as follows:
Control (Region) - This represents how much overt control the organization holds over a given area, usually in the form of institutionalized rule.
Sway (Region) - Sway represents non-institutional power over a given area, be it due to respect, fear or any other appropriate motivator. Like control, sway is obvious, and it does much which control does. However, it is less effective than true control, and as such it is at a -1 to all actions.
Influence (Region) - This represents how much secret sway the organization has. Practically speaking, this works in the same way sway does (albeit at -2 from control), but unlike sway (which is obvious) there is no obvious tie back to the organization.
Information (Region) - This skill represents knowledge of current events in appropriate areas, and is most appropriate for organizations with decent intelligence and espionage arms.
Arms (type) - Many organizations have access to a number of rough and ready individuals willing to do (or prevent) harm on command. Because these rules are for organizations (rather than nations), the main differentiation is one of quality. A given arms score represents one military aspect of an organization, so if an organization has more than one military arm, more than one skill is appropriate.
Resources (type) - The type is usually money, but sometimes an organization has a great deal of some other sort of resource, like a trade commodity or a particular type of service.
Unity - This measures how unified the organization is with higher unity meaning less internal strife. High Unity organizations tend to be more stable.
Administration - The larger an organization is, the more of its resources it needs to commit to keeping itself in order, and this skill measures how effectively that's done.
Communication - The other side of the coin is communication, which is a measure of how effectively a message may be communicated within the organization. For a small organization, this skill may be entirely irrelevant, but for a large organization, it can be critical. This skill is also highly complementary to high information skills.
Many organizations will have at least one special skill which represents something peculiar which that organization does which others may not. These special skills could be almost anything, depending on the nature of the setting and the organization, but some of the more common types include:
Magic - The organization has access to some manner of arcane arts, be it the blessings of the priests or ties to ancient secrets. This generally means the organization has access to spellcasters of some stripe or another, and the skill represents their quality and type. Much like arms, if the organization has access to multiple types, multiple skills are appropriate.
Assassination - The ability to quietly make people dead. Naturally, this is illegal pretty much everywhere, and had best be accompanied a great deal of secrecy.
Secrecy - This is a measure of how hard it is to find things out about the organization and (at higher levels) whether or not the organization exists at all. Whether this secrecy is an intentional conspiracy or merely the result of extreme obscurity can be determined at creation.
Reputation - The opposite of secrecy, this is the public face of an organization insofar as it may deviate from the reality. Most organizations have an implicit reputation based upon their aspects and activities, but it is possible to put on a "false face", represented by this skill.
Lore - The organization has access to a large body of knowledge of some sort (as with arms: multiple lores mean multiple skills), and it's generally implicit that this is knowledge that may be hard to come by under other circumstances.
It is also possible for an organization to spend skill points on holdings, such as safe houses or strongholds. The rules for these are similar to the rules for items, with each skill ranks translating into some sort of quality for the holding. Possible qualities include:
Fortified - The holding is protected in some way.
Hidden - The holding is difficult to find.
Isolated - The holding is far from civilization.
Ornate - The holding is impressive to behold
Big - The holding is extensive
Magical - The holding is magical in some way. This may be useful (it's a node of power) or decorative (it floats over a volcano's caldera). In general, if the magic provides some additional benefit (like defensibility), other qualities should be purchased
Example: Creating an Organization
The Church of Saint Agnes (CSA) is a small militant order within the Quintarian church, dedicated to a warrior-priestess who martyred herself to protect a cloister of monks. CSA followers generally make themselves available to Quintarian priests traveling to dangerous destinations.
The CSA is a very minor sect, so they're being built with only 3 aspects. Because they're a sect of a larger church with no real influence of their own, scope aspects don't seem appropriate. Instead, 2 aspects of "Quintarian" represent their tie to the mother church, while a single aspect of "Militant" reflects their flavor.
A quick look at the aspect cheat sheet says that's 5 Averages, 2 Fairs and a Good. Because the pyramid only technically needs 3 Averages, that means 2 ranks could be put into holdings without breaking the pyramid. With that in mind:
The Good obviously goes into Arms to represent the Templars of the church.
They're fairly well organized and well funded (it's a popular charity for soldiers) so Administration and Resources (Money) are Fair.
At Average are Sway: Beve, Communication, and the special Skill "Charity", which represents the good works (and subsequent good will received) the church pursues.
The two remaining ranks are spent on chapterhouses in the Cities of Beve and Anas, with Beve being their main house (Thus the Sway).
The final write up looks like:
- Aspects: . - Quintarian  - Militant  - Skills . - Arms: Templars Good - Resources: Money Fair - Administration Fair - Sway: Beve Average - Charity Average - Communication Average - Holdings . - Chapterhouse: Beve  (Fortified) - Chapterhouse: Anas  (Fortified)
Once play has begun, there are several benefits to having stats for organizations. It provides a good baseline for what various organizations may know and what their interests are. It also provides an excellent shorthand for dealing with NPCs from that organization. If the Knights of Anton have Arms (Knights) at Good, then Joe Nameless Knight can probably be considered to have a "Good" in appropriate military skills.
Additionally, it provides a nicely abstracted way for organizations to come into conflict with one another and to resolve it with a minimum of headache. How likely are Walsingham's spies (Information (France): Good) to find out about John Ballard's Jesuit Conspiracy (Secrecy: Fair) to assassinate the queen? Easily determined!
For games which use an "off season", organization statistics can also be used to represent and resolve longer term conflicts.Organizations may even have their own wound track for GMs wishing to concentrate on this element.
One interesting option for using this system is as a preamble to another game. Allow each player to construct an organization in a phased fashion, and allow the interactions of the organizations and the choices of the players establish some of the backdrop of the setting. The play of this is simple enough, but a few complications can spice it up:
Disallow player from making subsequent characters with membership in the organization they created.
At the end of each phase, have each player secretly write the name of the organizations closest ally or greatest enemy among the group. The GM looks at these secretly, and whenever there is a match up (including enemy to ally!) add an aspect to each organization called "Connection to <name>". This means the two groups compliment each other well, but are also vulnerable to each other. After all, in a conspiracy game, what is an ally except an enemy who has not yet shown his stripes?
The circus is one of the most popular shows in the kingdom, but it also has a secret. A mysterious patron provides the circus with much of its resources, and in return uses it as a personal group of spies an infiltrators throughout the kingdom.
The Circus is a 4 Phase organization.
Notes: The Circus has 2 special skills, Espionage and Entertain. Espionage works as a targeted Information skill - they can act as if they have an information skill at that level wherever they are physically located. Entertain represents how well they (as a whole) put on a show.
The Star Rangers are the law enforcement arm of the Galactic Empire. Their Blue spacesuits and blasto-pistols are recognized throughout the Galaxy and feared by all those who would do wrong! Of course, they are also consistently under funded, outnumbered and outgunned, but all the same, the Rangers always get their man!
The Rangers are an 8 phase organization, and the Galactic empire consists of 5 main regions: The Core, The Rim, The Corporate Zone, Wildspace and the Starbelt.
|Galactic Law Enforcement|||
|"Always Get Their Man"|||
|Carrier Group Roland|| (Mobile, Fortified)|
The rangers have no fixed base, operating instead out of this mobile force, allowing them to deploy to the 6 corners of the galaxy when the need arises.