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Old 09-28-2017, 05:04 PM   #1
Ghostdancer
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Default What details for organizations *must* you have?

So I'm getting ready to do some writing on my campaign's various groups. I'm going to be using Matt's amazing GURPS Boardrooms and Curia to get a good chunk of the nitty gritty details - but what I want to know is as a player, GM, or just reader of a book what sort of details do you like to know?

Thanks for anyone that chimes in.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Boardroom and Curia does a good job of listing out the info and giving ideas.
Some things I care about....
  • Culture
  • Unique and significant flavor details
  • Key NPCs such as relavant Department Heads and some useful NPCs
  • Overall Size and comparision to similar organizations
  • A key competitor
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Speaking as a GM:

Name
Directive/Motive/Goal/Relevance*
Means
Size/Capacity

These are things I have to know. The rest tend to come out in play, though sometimes I will have a notion of Culture, Hierarchy, Allies, and Enemies... but just as often not.



* Often this is pretty much all one thing, but some times not. Sometimes their Directive (public facing Goals), Goals (true goals), Motives (why they are together/why they are on their path), and Relevance (why they matter to the Players or Plot) clash.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
So I'm getting ready to do some writing on my campaign's various groups. I'm going to be using Matt's amazing GURPS Boardrooms and Curia to get a good chunk of the nitty gritty details - but what I want to know is as a player, GM, or just reader of a book what sort of details do you like to know?

Thanks for anyone that chimes in.
A good general text description. Stat blocks are fine for conveying numbers when I need those but needing to reverse engineer a stat block into a section of text myself is not welcome.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

I find that Boardroom & Curia gives a number of useful ideas. Mostly, I've found the Mission Statement portion and Notable Resources details highly relevant, as those give ideas on what the organization is for and capable of. You don't need to give hard and fast numbers for membership in an org unless it's very small; most orgs have room for the PCs to interact with only a handful of NPCs. You don't need to stat out the upper echelons of the org if the PCs are only going to be dealing with a businessman front; think of how the Shadows in Babylon 5 operated through a handful of human and Centauri agents.

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
A good general text description. Stat blocks are fine for conveying numbers when I need those but needing to reverse engineer a stat block into a section of text myself is not welcome.
I second this idea. B&C gives at least a page of fluff text alongside the stat block in their example organizations, much the same way City Stats does. Personally, I'd work from the fluff text and build the stat block from that rather than the other way around.
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Old 09-28-2017, 11:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

I only really care about what it can DO. The Pulling Ranks sample assistance, the information in Back to School about what universities provide, the similar stuff in DF Guilds. All that is the most important player-facing information. A budget and facilities (ahem,...Lairs), cities and locations, etc. is next.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

I like to note as much as possible about the commonalities that the members have. e.g. "All members are recruited from physics courses in university" or "While not necessarily from old money, the members are from aristocratic backgrounds and generally inherit their positions"
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Old 09-29-2017, 11:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

No company is a monolith. I love to see the main conflicts between the different key NPC or "departments"
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Old 09-29-2017, 05:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

The thing I find B&C lacks is an ready-to-use equivalent, for organisations, of the way we describe characters' personalities using Disadvantages and Quirks.

I spend a large chunk of my working time dealing with large companies that have quite distinct cultures, and patterns of behaviour that most of their staff display. This may be just a question of creating appropriate Quirks, Compulsive Behaviours and Odious Personal Habits for the job.
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Old 09-30-2017, 10:52 AM   #10
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

I few things I've found vital based on feedback from my Psi-Wars readers/players.

An organization needs:

Personality: It's not enough to know that there's an organization. We need to know some people in it. The Mafia needs their Michael Corleone, while the sinister conspiracy needs its Cigarette Smoking Man. At least one major character helps both you and your players get a feel for what the organization is really like.

Agendas: What does the organization do? What does it want? It helps to understand the structure of the organization, but things like "Where do they get their money from?" and "What's their recruitment process" can be buried behind these. Ideally, these get framed like story hooks, because that's how they'll tend to get used.

Ranks and Organization: If characters are members of the organization, they'll need titles to go with their ranks (if that's pertinent). Likewise, it helps to know what high level organization might be like. Who sets the agendas of the organization and what obstacles might they run into? This is mostly important for those who want to defeat the organization or make some fundamental change to it.

What the organization can do for you!: As others have mentioned, Pulling Rank benefits are very handy. However, based on my experience, the "generic" ones in Pulling Rank don't really need to be revisited. In practice, I find I just reference those and make judgement calls. What's more interesting is handling signature tricks or unusual assistance. For example, a sinister alien conspiracy might grant you access to alien technology or telepathic interrogators. It might help to stop and think about these, or to discuss them with your readers. The mafia, by contrast, is unlikely to give you access to anything that isn't already covered by Pulling Rank, so you don't need to talk about much there, unless there's an unusual situation going on.

Doctrines: How does your organization fight, and what does its security look like. I don't tackle this nearly as much as I should, but the moment your game turns into an action game that features this organization, you'll be glad you did it. It's not that important in modern organizations as you can likely guess, though doing some homework here will help you out (how does infiltrating an ISIS cell differ from infiltrating Google HQ?), but this is especially important when dealing with exotic organizations or settings. This is both a passive and active consideration. This is not just how does an organization secure its buildings and VIPs, but how the organization goes about achieving its objectives or responding to threats made against it.

Opposition: If the organization features combatants, what do those combatants look like? If they're fairly generic ("Mafia goons with guns, skill 12), then you don't need to really address them, but if they have access to unique combatants (like the sinister alien conspiracy), or all the organizations feature distinct combat approaches (various kung fu sects), then it might be useful to discuss what a typical minion from such an organization might look like. This is appropriate if the organization is one the PCs will face in battle, or if the PCs will call on the organization for allies.

I've found everything beyond this superflous, and you don't even need to hit all of these points for your organizations (especially if you're willing to improvise, or you're dealing with a highly generic or well-known organization, like the mafia or a typical US police force).
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