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Old 05-03-2012, 10:39 AM   #11
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Nice summary.
I'd pretty much agree with it, except that my calculations assuimed they'd be willing to devote as much of their weekend time as did of their weekday time. In effect, conspiracies don't take their weekends off, for purposes of determing "free help" available. Also, to avoid confusion, I was using agents only for full-time membersof the conspiracy (the ones who get paid the average income ), in effect the conspiracy is their day job. I was using members for anyone else who belongs to the conspiracy but doesn't have it as their day job. But other than that, an admirable summary.
As to other factiors affecting the effectiveness of a given conspiracy, I would think that a factionalized conspiracy would be less effective than a similar-sized conspiracy with the same resources that didn't have members with other agendas to deal with.
I see a factionalized conspiracy as wasting much of its resources, including time, on in-fighting over the proper methods and goal of their conspiracy.
To some extent, I would look at defining the city-states, or at least the conspiracies, in Aether, according to the social parameters that GURPS Traveller: First In used for planetary cultures. The eight axes would be: Pluralism-Monolithic (pluralism); Cordial-Xenophobic (toleration); Collectivist-Egoistic (solidarity); Submissive-Rebellious (tractability); Violent-Pacific (aggression); Empirical-Mystical (pragmatism); Progressive-Reactionary (innovation); and Prudent-Reckless (providence). You can eliminate any axis that doesn't seem particularly useful/relevant according to your needs.
A empirical (highly pragmatic)-prudent (highly provident) conspiracy would assume as a matter of course that every city-state has a conspiracy and that all of those conspiracies are actively working against their conspiracy, even if it's not actually true, just because they wouldn't regard it as wise to assume otherwise. Being pragmatic, they'd downgrade threats that didn't seem inimical to their interests and they might even work with another conspiracy on a common project, once another conspiracy was found and investigated, but they'd probably never take any conspiracy completely off their watched list and they'd always be watching for that expected dagger in the back. That kind of conspiracy could reasonably be expected to put more of its effort into weeding out spies in its own ranks and running counter-conspiracy operations at home more than into adventures abroad.
A monolithic-xenophobic city-state is going to be hard for any outsider to infiltrate. Any behaviour outside the expected norm (eating with the wrong fork or putting the fork on the wrong side of the plate or dressing differently) is likely to raise suspicion. Any conspiracy that has goals that run counter to those of it's city-state is going to be near-paranoid since it's in constant danger of being found out and it'll be looking at a very bad reaction to it. OTOH, a consiracy to further the aims and culture of the city-state could be an open secret because it has the full backing of the city-state, however discreet.
By the by, was the part about starting wealth helpful?

Last edited by Curmudgeon; 05-03-2012 at 10:46 AM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:59 AM   #12
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Yes, the wealth comparisons were helpful, though I haven't implemented any more useful guidelines regarding them. Right now I'm making a design sheet of sorts to make recording group stats easier:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...RMnMxa2c#gid=0
Right now it's only good for recording volunteer/full-time agent distribution across the Ranks in a given area (which need not be a single jurisdiction, but spreading out should provide negative modifiers for focused tasks and bonuses for dispersed tasks). I think how Diffuse/Concentrated a conspiracy is can be figured as a some sort of Concentration Ratio - just how many conspiracy members there are in a given society/area compared to its total population. 1:50M would be almost useless (unless members are all Rank 5+), while 1:10 would be some farcical setting like Paranoia (where there are a dozen secret societies, and everyone belongs to at least one). 1:10k would be something comparable to World of Darkness.

Ranks up to 8 are added mostly just in case. S is unlikely to have ranks above 6 in most cases. Probably less in many of them. Oh, and it's open to edits, just in case.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

The speadsheet looks good.
Did you mean Rank or did you mean Status, and if you did mean rank would it be military or administrative rank or rank within the conspiracy. I could see Status as being potentially more useful to placed agents for influencing the masses but Rank could be a great way to represent the agent's placement within the conspiracy. If the agent were to lose all rank (not just taken down to Rank 0, but has no rank at all), it could be a useful means of cutting the agent off from all access to conspiracy resouces. They'd have no access to information, weapons, funds and be completely on their own, possibly even hunted by their former masters.
The problem I see with being Administrative Rank 4 or 5, even or perhaps especially in a bureaucracy, is that you've now reached the stage in your career where you could justifiably walk around with a sandwich board inscribed, "Suitable candidate for my superior to push under the bus to deflect criticism from him."
Any thoughts about recruiting superior agent types. I'm thinking in terms of Ian Fleming's James Bond (from the novels) for a full-time and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise for a part-time agent at this level.
I'd also suggest creating some basic tasks such as surveillance of a location or a person, fabricating documentation, eliminating a spy, gaining clandestine entry/knowledge from a location/person and other common tasks in terms of time, manpower and required resources to give you a feel for what level of resources your conspiracies are going to need just to perform their day to day operations. Any special ops you'll make up as you need of course, but it would probably be helpful if you knew what they need just to be as active as you envision them. Given that these aren't exactly activities whose budgets are commonly given in the newspapers, you may just have to assign some arbitary numbers and possibly thrash the assumptions out later.

Last edited by Curmudgeon; 05-03-2012 at 12:02 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
The speadsheet looks good.
Did you mean Rank or did you mean Status, and if you did mean rank would it be military or administrative rank or rank within the conspiracy. I could see Status as being potentially more useful to placed agents for influencing the masses but Rank could be a great way to represent the agent's placement within the conspiracy. If the agent were to lose all rank (not just taken down to Rank 0, but has no rank at all), it could be a useful means of cutting the agent off from all access to conspiracy resouces. They'd have no access to information, weapons, funds and be completely on their own, possibly even hunted by their former masters.
The problem I see with being Administrative Rank 4 or 5, even or perhaps especially in a bureaucracy, is that you've now reached the stage in your career where you could justifiably walk around with a sandwich board inscribed, "Suitable candidate for my superior to push under the bus to deflect criticism from him."
Any thoughts about recruiting superior agent types. I'm thinking in terms of Ian Fleming's James Bond (from the novels) for a full-time and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise for a part-time agent at this level.
I'd also suggest creating some basic tasks such as surveillance of a location or a person, fabricating documentation, eliminating a spy, gaining clandestine entry/knowledge from a location/person and other common tasks in terms of time, manpower and required resources to give you a feel for what level of resources your conspiracies are going to need just to perform their day to day operations. Any special ops you'll make up as you need of course, but it would probably be helpful if you knew what they need just to be as active as you envision them. Given that these aren't exactly activities whose budgets are commonly given in the newspapers, you may just have to assign some arbitary numbers and possibly thrash the assumptions out later.
You probably missed the many column labels. Rank means what Rank they have at their day jobs / infiltration target organisations. I'm not making higher-ranked infiltrations more expensive, because having such 'infiltration points' is itself basically a non-tradeable asset (i.e. it's not something that can be routinely bought or sold for money, even though some arrangements are possible). Presumably, agents who have in-conspiracy Rank but not Infiltration Rank should go into the Other Rank column (of which I made two, just in case). Not sure what precise benefits on a strategic level it should provide.

Surveillance is probably just 200+ MH/week (to account for travel, change of shifts etc.). Document forgery is likely very little in terms of man-hours, but demanding in terms of skill - not sure how to account for that without getting into ultra-fiddly details for each member.
Passing specific laws, picking specific contracts, that sort of thing is even fiddlier.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:26 PM   #15
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Weeell, I might have missed a lot of headings, but right now, I suspect we're looking at different spreadsheets. When I click on your link at post #12, there are no headings marked rank.
Admittedly, my memory's pretty short these days but clicking just a couple of minutes ago and running the slider bars all the way over and all the way down, there are about eight titled rows and maybe as many titled columns and not every square in that 8 x 8 array has an entry.
As for assigning 200 man-hours for surveillance as a handwae, that works but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind when suggesting that you cost out some common tasks. Sorry, I should have been a lot clearer.
To use survellance of a person as an example, I was thinking about breaking it down more along these lines. I need one operative to shadow my subject, if on foot. If he's going to follow him for a lengthy period then I need to assign two or three operatives at a time to him, so they can trade off before they get noticed or I could assign a rough team of two that's meant to be noticed and shaken by the target and a smooth team of three to do the real surveillance once the target is in the clear. If I'm going to be using vehicular surveillance then I need to replace each man with a car plus driver and I'd really like to have a second person in the car to keep tabs on the subject so te driver can concentrate and react to traffic without losing track of the subject. My target is spending one man-hour for each hour of activity. To keep him under surveillance at any point is going to cost me ten man-hours [six for the smooth vehicular teams and four for the rough] for every man-hour the target expends while under vehicle surveillance and I need five vehicles. Therefore the cost of keeping a target under surveillance sixteen hours a day for a seven-day week is 140 man-days where a man-day is eight hours long. It would take twenty full time agents or ten full time agents supplemented by twenty members to do the job and if this is going to be a regular task, I need to buy five non-descript cars and set up an allowance for gas, maintenance and annual vehicle registration (license plates) and insurance and at least half of my agents and membership need to have driver's licences. The car budget as an annual approximation (not including initial purchase) could be taken as 10% of an annual income for each vehicle. So if the conspiracy has five cars of its own, its annual budget for agents and operations drops from 50 average incomes to 49.5 average incomes.
Am I overthinking what you want?
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:19 AM   #16
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Default Question:

Would what the conspiracy is for matter?

If it is strictly to gain power for its own ends the conspiracy and the individuals therein will have one set of motivations and little internal restraint on their behavior. If it is to produce some kind of social effect, the conspiracy and its members will have other motivations and constraints on their behavior. (If you want to "perfect" society destroying it in the process is undesirable -- unless you see this as the only way to get to point B.)

Examples: If the conspiracy is to create a socialist society where there is none, in which a benevolent elite rules the masses intrusively, but only for their own good (as certain US right-wingers believe is the secret objective of the US liberal movement) then operations that cause the masses harm would be counterproductive.

If the conspiracy is to create a plutocracy in which a tiny wealthy elite have absolute power and are happy to see the rest (shall we say, 99 percent?) as pawns to be exploited, tortured, or killed for the elites' amusement (as certain groups in the US think the US right wing intends to accomplish) then maneuvers that make rich people poor would be counterproductive. Unless, of course, they were the wrong rich people . . .

So the objective of the conspiracy will shape its methods, and in so doing shape its organization and planning.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:02 AM   #17
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

On some level it should matter what the conspiracy is for. Indeed, at some level it must matter what the conspiracy is for. Thatt after all is going to be what created the conspiracy and attracted its membership.
OTOH, it probably won't have much effect on the methods by which a conspiracy as a conspiracy goes about its business. Your examples for the U.S. right and left would affect the appropriate conspiracy's choice of targets but either conspiracy could use assassination, sabotage, terrorism, fluoridating the water, orbital mind control satelliites and having your pet dog report in from the electronic center under his doghouse as methods to achieve their ends.
As just indicated by the bit about your pet dog, available technology and the tone of the campaign will have a greater effect on what a conspiracy could or would use as methodologies. It's hard to see that one occurring in anything other than a silly, cinematic campaign.
Where what the conspiracy is for will show up is in ideas like, we want to bring about world peace. World-wide doomsday machines will be right out the window for methodology. If they could be reasonably sure that a surgical strike with a couple of dozen weapons of mass destruction wouldn't set off an orgy of mutually assured destruction on a world-wide scale, it still might be on the table as a method for even that group.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Weeell, I might have missed a lot of headings, but right now, I suspect we're looking at different spreadsheets. When I click on your link at post #12, there are no headings marked rank.
Admittedly, my memory's pretty short these days but clicking just a couple of minutes ago and running the slider bars all the way over and all the way down, there are about eight titled rows and maybe as many titled columns and not every square in that 8 x 8 array has an entry.
As for assigning 200 man-hours for surveillance as a handwae, that works but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind when suggesting that you cost out some common tasks. Sorry, I should have been a lot clearer.
To use survellance of a person as an example, I was thinking about breaking it down more along these lines. I need one operative to shadow my subject, if on foot. If he's going to follow him for a lengthy period then I need to assign two or three operatives at a time to him, so they can trade off before they get noticed or I could assign a rough team of two that's meant to be noticed and shaken by the target and a smooth team of three to do the real surveillance once the target is in the clear. If I'm going to be using vehicular surveillance then I need to replace each man with a car plus driver and I'd really like to have a second person in the car to keep tabs on the subject so te driver can concentrate and react to traffic without losing track of the subject. My target is spending one man-hour for each hour of activity. To keep him under surveillance at any point is going to cost me ten man-hours [six for the smooth vehicular teams and four for the rough] for every man-hour the target expends while under vehicle surveillance and I need five vehicles. Therefore the cost of keeping a target under surveillance sixteen hours a day for a seven-day week is 140 man-days where a man-day is eight hours long. It would take twenty full time agents or ten full time agents supplemented by twenty members to do the job and if this is going to be a regular task, I need to buy five non-descript cars and set up an allowance for gas, maintenance and annual vehicle registration (license plates) and insurance and at least half of my agents and membership need to have driver's licences. The car budget as an annual approximation (not including initial purchase) could be taken as 10% of an annual income for each vehicle. So if the conspiracy has five cars of its own, its annual budget for agents and operations drops from 50 average incomes to 49.5 average incomes.
Am I overthinking what you want?
I was envisioning something more routine, where there is no expectation of evasion attempts - just watching over the home and workplace with LASER mikes and the like. What you describe seems more appropriate when keeping an eye on Denton or the like.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:33 PM   #19
Curmudgeon
 
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

I hadn't really considered electronic information gathering. These days it still seems to be less effective for intelligence purposes than human information gathering. For fairly routine surveillance where you know the person is a person of interest and you're just setting out a tripwire to let you know once he starts to get up to something, electronic surveillance should be fine. Once the tripwire goes off though, I'd think the conspiracy would have to switch to human information gathering to get accurate and reliable information about exactly the subject is up to.
Frankly, I was a little surprised by my own figures. Human surveillance is a very resource-intensive activity. A conspiracy at the levels in your example probably can't afford to do very much of it on an annual basis.
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