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Old 09-30-2017, 02:00 PM   #11
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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).
Enough flavour so you can improvise consistently plus any common but complicated (game slowing) abilities that are likely to come up.
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
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
Thank you! All straight forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
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.
Motives is a good one.

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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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
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.
Noted!

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Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
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.
Yeah, I figured this one out early on - i there is a conspiracy, just note it as such and don't worry about the top unless the PCs are dealing with them.



Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher View Post
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.
Noted!

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Originally Posted by (E) View Post
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"
Any reason why? Is it to help give the org a specific kind of feel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lvalero View Post
No company is a monolith. I love to see the main conflicts between the different key NPC or "departments"
You bring up two good points: Key NPCs and how they relate to one another (if the org is big enough).

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
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.
Could you expand on this a bit please, John?

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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.
Yes. As I explained a bit up post - this is something I was missing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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.
Good points.

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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.
Hmm.

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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.
Yeah, Shawn touched on this and it's definitely something I want to make sure I include. Good catch.

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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.
Hmmm. This is another really good salient point.

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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.
Ditto.
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Old 09-30-2017, 09:23 PM   #13
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

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Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
Any reason why? Is it to help give the org a specific kind of feel.
There is that, but the main reason is for generating NPCs especially on the fly. Take the common background elements and add it to the role you need the NPC to play. Aristocratic background plus soldier could mean a former officer who went to all the right educational institutions.
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Old 10-01-2017, 04:45 AM   #14
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
Could you expand on this a bit please, John?
I'll try. The organisations I was talking about are present-day companies in the computer industry (I'd prefer not to name names). They have pretty distinct and recognisable cultures, which means their staff to tend to have common patterns of behaviour.

Thinking about it some more, I don't believe this means the staff all have the corresponding disadvantages and quirks as personal disadvantages. However, they probably don't have opposing traits, since that would lead to significant cognitive dissonance. It's more that the staff assume a kind of persona (Social Engineering, p61) that acts as a filter for their individual personalities. So I think what I'm looking for in an organisation description is an outline of the kind of persona that the organisation presents to outsiders.

Now, the organisation's own idea of what that persona is like may be significantly different from how it's perceived from the outside. For a archetypical example, local police forces in the USA seem to dislike having the FBI get involved in their cases, because they perceive it as arrogant, condescending, secretive and uninterested in local details that can be crucial to an investigation. I'm sure the FBI doesn't perceive itself that way! I'd expect their view of their persona to have qualities like highly-skilled, reassuring, controlling information carefully to prevent leaks, and rapidly getting to the core of the problem. Both views of an organisation are valuable to a GM.
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Old 10-01-2017, 07:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Thinking about it some more, I don't believe this means the staff all have the corresponding disadvantages and quirks as personal disadvantages. However, they probably don't have opposing traits, since that would lead to significant cognitive dissonance. It's more that the staff assume a kind of persona (Social Engineering, p61) that acts as a filter for their individual personalities. So I think what I'm looking for in an organisation description is an outline of the kind of persona that the organisation presents to outsiders.
This is clearly true and there is a fairly prominent recent example.
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Old 10-02-2017, 11:37 AM   #16
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
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).
Symbology: what are it's motifs and myths. Those are part of what keeps an organization going.
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:29 PM   #17
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

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Originally Posted by (E) View Post
There is that, but the main reason is for generating NPCs especially on the fly. Take the common background elements and add it to the role you need the NPC to play. Aristocratic background plus soldier could mean a former officer who went to all the right educational institutions.
Hmmmm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I'll try. The organisations I was talking about are present-day companies in the computer industry (I'd prefer not to name names). They have pretty distinct and recognisable cultures, which means their staff to tend to have common patterns of behaviour.

Thinking about it some more, I don't believe this means the staff all have the corresponding disadvantages and quirks as personal disadvantages. However, they probably don't have opposing traits, since that would lead to significant cognitive dissonance. It's more that the staff assume a kind of persona (Social Engineering, p61) that acts as a filter for their individual personalities. So I think what I'm looking for in an organisation description is an outline of the kind of persona that the organisation presents to outsiders.

Now, the organisation's own idea of what that persona is like may be significantly different from how it's perceived from the outside. For a archetypical example, local police forces in the USA seem to dislike having the FBI get involved in their cases, because they perceive it as arrogant, condescending, secretive and uninterested in local details that can be crucial to an investigation. I'm sure the FBI doesn't perceive itself that way! I'd expect their view of their persona to have qualities like highly-skilled, reassuring, controlling information carefully to prevent leaks, and rapidly getting to the core of the problem. Both views of an organisation are valuable to a GM.
Thank you, John! I'm going to give this some thought. Something here for sure.


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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
Symbology: what are it's motifs and myths. Those are part of what keeps an organization going.
Oooo. Good idea!
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Old 10-03-2017, 03:01 PM   #18
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

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Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
Hmmmm.





Oooo. Good idea!
I once read that according to legend the Coldstreamers and the Grenadiers
review on opposite sides of the British Army because one fought for Parliament and one for the King and they might brawl if placed near each other. I don't know if the legend is true or if I remember it rightly. But the point is that is the kind of symbology that builds organizations.
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:33 PM   #19
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Default Re: What details for organizations *must* you have?

Oh, if your the artistic type a logo or company motto kind of thing can be handy for campaign flavor or clues.

Not essential but can be useful in the right game.
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