Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-10-2018, 09:16 AM   #1
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Last night my players executed an in-game Coup d'etat. Or rather a reverse version, arresting a band of conspirators with sizeable political power in the dead of night while their leader was out of town.

They asked "So what skill do we roll?" And I was something at a loss. I had no idea, and nothing really satisfied me. So I made them roll at IQ-5 to represent some sort of default, and was generous about complimentary skills.

What skill should we have rolled against? Strategy feels too battleground. Intelligence Analysis is about analyzing the data, not performing it.

And yes, I know we could have played in through in detail over the course of a month. That's not really how this campaign works. How do you condense it into a single roll?
__________________
Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog
ericthered is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 09:58 AM   #2
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
What skill should we have rolled against? Strategy feels too battleground. Intelligence Analysis is about analyzing the data, not performing it.
I'd say Politics, if it needs to be one roll. It's easy to read the description of Politics skill as being about modern electoral politics, but it's more general than that. Social Engineering, pp64-65 has material on revolutionary politics.
johndallman is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:07 AM   #3
Kelly Pedersen
 
Kelly Pedersen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

I think a coup is really much too complex an operation for a single skill to be plausible, either for or against it. Here's the skills I'd suggest are relevant:
  • Strategy. This is the planning skill for the coup, determining which forces you'll need, where, in order to gain control. Personally, I feel there should be an "Operational" speciality for Strategy that covers this sort of high-level planning, but if you're sticking to the RAW, use the speciality that covers the majority of the troops you're employing (probably Land).
  • Psychology or Leadership. These skills cover evaluating who you can invite into the coup, and what level of responsibility and power to give them, to ensure they stay loyal to you and don't blab. Leadership is also the skill of motivating your co-conspirators and bucking up their morale.
  • Current Events. You've got to be able to understand what's going on in your country to have an effective coup. Also, this will tell you if any rumors about your plans have leaked out, and, if so, how much stock people put in them.
  • Intelligence Analysis. You're going to be getting a lot of information from a lot of sources. This will give you some hope of sorting it all out and filtering out the misinformation from the good stuff.
  • Politics. This covers determining which existing political figures you'll have to neutralize or subvert, and which political institutions in particular you'll need to control.
  • Propaganda. This is the skill of selling your coup, once it achieves its initial aim, to the other power centers in the country and the populace at large. How successful you are at this determines how large an insurgency you have to cope with.

Those are the skills I'd consider absolutely essential for a coup, and that I'd probably call for independent rolls against in the course of it. Many other skills could be complementary, of course, and the skills above can potentially complement each other too.

Opposing the coup can draw on an even wider range of skills, depending on the approach used. In the case you described, where the players apparently knew about the coup and wanted to take out a significant chunk of the conspirators, I probably would have called for a Leadership or Psychology roll, to determine exactly how critical to the coup the conspirators actually were, and then Influence skills like Intimidation to actually convince them to come quietly.
Kelly Pedersen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:22 AM   #4
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Last night my players executed an in-game Coup d'etat. Or rather a reverse version, arresting a band of conspirators with sizeable political power in the dead of night while their leader was out of town.

They asked "So what skill do we roll?" And I was something at a loss. I had no idea, and nothing really satisfied me. So I made them roll at IQ-5 to represent some sort of default, and was generous about complimentary skills.

What skill should we have rolled against? Strategy feels too battleground. Intelligence Analysis is about analyzing the data, not performing it.

And yes, I know we could have played in through in detail over the course of a month. That's not really how this campaign works. How do you condense it into a single roll?
I think a single roll may be overoptimistic. I would be looking at a roll helped by complementary skills, at a minimum. You might also want some of those skills to be exercised by an organization that works with the PCs.

In a coup in general, there are two issues. One is mechanical: Can you get your people in place to capture and neutralize the people they're working again? The other is political: Can you get the general population to accept the action as justified? Ordinarily, I would treat the first one as Tactics, and the second as Politics. GURPS Social Engineering suggests Propaganda and Psychology (Applied) as complementary skills for the second.

In the case you describe, though, the characters aren't actually *replacing* the existing regime; rather, they're taking action against conspirators within it. So I think what they have to do is make a Law roll to ensure that what they do is seen as a valid exercise of power. Propaganda might help communicate the legal basis of their actions to a mass audience; one or more investigative skills, such as Criminology, Administration, or Research, might help find supportive evidence. Similarly to a standard coup, the Law roll could be resisted by the Loyalty of the public to the conspirators. Alternatively, though, you might apply a penalty to the Law roll equal to the Status of the conspirators; arresting "the usual suspects" (Status -1) would be pretty easy, but arresting a pillar of society (Status 3 or 4) would require a damned convincing case.
__________________
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:31 AM   #5
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Intelligence Analysis* to determine whom it is necessary to arrest, Administration to organise the personnel and resources to do so in a smooth fashion, Tactics if there is a risk of resistance or escape and Leadership to make sure that everyone actually performs the job to which you assign them (with Politics, Propaganda and Public Speaking being possible replacements or supplements to that depending on whether the characters legitimately hold any power or not).

Politics, Propaganda and Public Speaking continue to be vital to ensure that the coup or counter-coup is viewed as legitimate. Law is pretty much irrelevant, except as a Complementary Skill to these.

Administration, to keep everything functioning even after arresteing key leaders, will obviously remain important.

*Other investigative skills can come into play here, but assuming that the PCs have some underlings who report to them, Intelligence Analysis is probably most appropriate for making determinations about whom it is absolutely necessary to arrest immediately, either to prevent them from seizing control of the state apparatus and/or to allow you to replace them and do the same.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:39 AM   #6
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Law is pretty much irrelevant, except as a Complementary Skill to these.
Normally, I would agree with this. But the stated condition is "a reverse version, arresting a band of conspirators with sizeable political power." That suggests that it's the conspirators who are acting outside the law, though with the cover of a measure of perceived legitimacy. In that case, the people doing the arresting had better be able to establish the legal basis of their own actions. Note that the word "arresting" itself conveys operating under some sort of law; otherwise you'd say "capturing," I think.
__________________
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:44 AM   #7
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Normally, I would agree with this. But the stated condition is "a reverse version, arresting a band of conspirators with sizeable political power." That suggests that it's the conspirators who are acting outside the law, though with the cover of a measure of perceived legitimacy. In that case, the people doing the arresting had better be able to establish the legal basis of their own actions. Note that the word "arresting" itself conveys operating under some sort of law; otherwise you'd say "capturing," I think.
Most counter-revolutions feature mid- to senior-ranking military officers commanding soldiers operating within the borders of their own country, often without legal standing, and generally involve arresting the (supposed) conspirators. Their intellectual supporters may devote much time afterward to justifying their activities with the Law skill, but it is rare for the principals to spare much thought to legalities during the action, as opposed to Politics, Propaganda, Public Speaking and Leadership.

Napoleon didn't ask Lucien to use the Law skill before he used his troops to give rioters a whiff of grapeshot and later to implicitly threaten the deputies, he relied on him for political support. And, in fact, Napoleon acted illegaly, if anyone would have cared. But under the sort of circumstances where coups and counter-coups usually take place, the legitimacy of the existing laws is generally in question, anyway. And what is legal is ultimately determined by which side wins.

Quote:
One deputy called out, "And the Constitution?" Napoleon replied, referring to earlier parliamentary coups, "The Constitution! You yourselves have destroyed it. You violated it on 18 Fructidor; you violated it on 22 Floreal; you violated it on 30 Prairial. It no longer has the respect of anyone."
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Last edited by Icelander; 01-10-2018 at 10:56 AM.
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:47 AM   #8
Turhan's Bey Company
Aluminated
 
Turhan's Bey Company's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: East of the moon, west of the stars, close to buses and shopping
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

A single roll? Yeah, that's the kind of thing you really, really should play out, but if you absolutely must do it in a single roll, I'd go with Strategy. A military coup is ultimately a surprise attack, hitting your enemy in carefully chosen locations before he can shoot back at you.

That said, I'd go with at least two or three rolls: Administration or Politics to pick the right targets, because while it's a military action its in pursuit of targets which are the political leadership and administrative machinery of a nation; Strategy for proper planning and execution of the action; and Leadership to keep the whole dubious enterprise together under trying circumstances. A failure on one of those means you've picked a wrong target or failed to execute properly, so your enemies still have some power and can fight back. Failure on two or three means the whole enterprise has collapsed and it's best to flee the country.
__________________
I've been making pointlessly shiny things, and I've got some gaming-related stuff as well as 3d printing designs.

Buy my Warehouse 23 stuff, dammit!
Turhan's Bey Company is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:48 AM   #9
Apollonian
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Alternatively, though, you might apply a penalty to the Law roll equal to the Status of the conspirators; arresting "the usual suspects" (Status -1) would be pretty easy, but arresting a pillar of society (Status 3 or 4) would require a damned convincing case.
You might also apply any relevant Reputations; if the Duke of Earl has Reputation (Conniving Plotter, -2), then his Status is going to be a less effective PR defense than it would be otherwise.
Apollonian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2018, 10:48 AM   #10
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Skill to Plan and Execute a Coup

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Similarly to a standard coup, the Law roll could be resisted by the Loyalty of the public to the conspirators.
I think I'd go with Politics here too, rather than Law. Generally anybody considering supporting a coup already knows overthrowing the government is illegal. If they cared much they wouldn't be considering it in the first place. What you want to convince them of is that it's hopeless (don't support them, this plot is certain to fail) or better undesirable (don't support them, they're even worse than the government).
__________________
--
MA Lloyd
malloyd is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:13 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.