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Old 05-01-2012, 12:35 PM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Greetings, all!

So, I want to add some conspiracy groups/organisations to Ăthereal Sun. Since GURPS Conspiracies is nowhere near available, I skimmed the old Illuminati* book. I was hoping to see some guidelines to making plausible combinations of organisation size, assets, influence levels etc. Now, maybe I skimmed too fast, but I didn't find any.

I'm trying to figure how much can different organisations achieve given their size/assets. I'm mostly aiming towards a power level where the conspirators can't 'do whatever they want to' (so not X-Files/Deus Ex/Mass Effect level powerhouses of a conspiracy!), but rather strive to be covert until the end. Perhaps the one aspect I want to borrow from DX1: even knowing the big bad from the very beginning of the game will be absolutely of no use to unravelling the ball of thread until 20 quests into the future. So, again, stealth and guile over power and numbers. This is also kinda encouraged by the setting in question: there are no superpower-states like in our world - most states are below 50M people in size, and there are many city-states; likewise, there are no mega-corporations; also, the global subconsciousness seems aggressive towards big organisations. I think that makes permeating small governments easier, but prevents XF/DX-level 'all of FEMA' conspiracy sizes.

So . . . any advice?
Thanks in advance!

* == Okay, so why doesn't my spell checker know this word?
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

There is a section in palladium's Ninjas & Superpsies that covers secret organizations in somewhat general terms. It might be helpful to you, but probably not worth the price of the book.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Black Ops might give you a few ideas too if you can find a copy. Not the characters therein mind you (those guys are like 700 points!) but the view of the world from inside one of the big players in the conspiracy wars.

http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/specialops/ and some of the other books like it would make good reading too. Would give you a good feel for how capable elite troops can get without getting into the truly superhuman range.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
I'm trying to figure how much can different organisations achieve given their size/assets.
You're basically on a scale from "National intelligence agency" of small-to-medium nations, to "local criminal gang". Interpolating on that line may be useful.
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:00 PM   #5
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
You're basically on a scale from "National intelligence agency" of small-to-medium nations, to "local criminal gang". Interpolating on that line may be useful.
That's basically what I'm looking for. There's a question how much such a group achieve 'quietly'. There's also a question of how group size correlates with the number of spies infiltrating said group on the behalf of other groups (including other conspirators, generic commercial guilds/corporations and national government agencies).

Say I have a group of 1000 people with group assets equal to 100 Î Starting Wealth and a budget of 50 Average Incomes. Just how much can they achieve? Manipulate the administration of a 1-million-pop city? Totally control it? Put a puppet president in charge of a nation (pop 10-20M)?

Generally, I'm looking for ways to consistently describe the power, influence, security etc. of such groups.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

I've been considering just this exact thing for awhile now and am in the process of trying to patch together the Agency creation rules from "Ninjas and Superspies" or "Villains Unlimited" with "Sub Rosa" from the Conspiracy X setting. Having the various point totals (600, 500, etc) equate to the point costs (60, 50, etc) of having that particular organization as an enemy or Patron.

My idea is to be able to map out how many CP's are available for members, how expansive the agency is,, etc and then modify the rules a bit to hash out exactly what templates created for that organization are capable of "The U.N. I.S.T. member can have $600 worth of weapons, and $15,000 worth of Equipment, has such and such modifiers to abilities, can choose up to 200 points of powers, and 50 points from Bio-modifications, totaling up to 300 points. The I.S.T. has a chance of an infiltrator in another organization on a 12 or less on an opposed roll against that organization's defense factor, and has a defense factor of 9 (with certain modifiers based on other agency characteristics that can also be bought.) And so on...

But I'm a bit overwhelmed.
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Say I have a group of 1000 people with group assets equal to 100 Î Starting Wealth and a budget of 50 Average Incomes. Just how much can they achieve? Manipulate the administration of a 1-million-pop city? Totally control it? Put a puppet president in charge of a nation (pop 10-20M)?
but what kind of 1000 people do you have? If you have 1000 people drawn mostly from drug dealers and gangs then you have very different capabilities than 1000 people spread throughout corporations, which is yet different from 1000 people spread throughout the communication industries.

and all of these are different from an even hash of all of the above.

Its not so much a difference in how much they can do, its a question of what they can do. Your people will be your biggest asset.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
but what kind of 1000 people do you have? If you have 1000 people drawn mostly from drug dealers and gangs then you have very different capabilities than 1000 people spread throughout corporations, which is yet different from 1000 people spread throughout the communication industries.

and all of these are different from an even hash of all of the above.

Its not so much a difference in how much they can do, its a question of what they can do. Your people will be your biggest asset.
Yeah, that too. Which means that I need to consider something like a Ranks In Sphere trait. E.g.

RiS:Administration 100-10-1 means the group has 100 members with Administrative Rank 1 in various institutions, 10 with Admin Rank 2, and one with Admin Rank 3.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

The 1000 persons, 100 x starting wealth and annual budget of 50 x average income won't necessarily tell you all you want to know as there are likely other factors that are just as important to effectiveness. That said, it does set some upper limits on what can be done.
100 x starting wealth in an organization of 1000 people can be interpreted in several different ways. It might mean an organization that has a base that can hold half the organization at one time that would be equivalent to a poor person's home (a soup kitchen or tenement). It might mean a base equipped for 200 people at the equivalent of a stuggling individual (equivalent to a YMCA), an average base for 100 people (an apartment complex), a comfortable base for 50 people (a typical social lodge such as the Freemasons), a wealthy base for 20 people (U.N.C.L.E. HQ), a very wealthy base for five people (MacGyver's Phoenix Foundation) or a filthy rich base for a single individual (everybody meets or reports at the home of the wealthiest member of the organization). While I've phrased it in terms of housing, this would represent not only the buildings but the other resources as well, such as vehicles, treasury, weapons, special equipment (surveillance), access to false IDs, etc. The number of people a base can accomodate at a given wealth level should represent the usual numbers of persons found there. It might vary by up to a maximum of 300% of capacity (a very crowded meeting to initiate an operation) and might be as low as 25% (most people have been called away; whether to attend a holiday, perform some non-organization task or attend to organization business occurring away from the base). Except for very small bases, the term base should not necessarily be taken as meaning a single location. A base might represent a main base, several safe houses, a number of small meeting places scattered throughout the city as well as equipment caches.
An annual budget of 50 times average income also implies a few things about the organization. First, if it has any dedicated full-time agents, it is limited to no more than fifty of them.
Almost everyone in the organization has to hold down a day job. Most organization work will have to be conducted during free-time or sleep-time. How much free-time/sleep-time any member will be willing to contribute will depend on the dedication of the members to the cause. As a generality, only an organization made up of fanatics should expect to be able to have a 100% turn-out at any time of the day or night for as long as a mission takes.
It's fair to assume that most members of an organization would be willing to devote no less than a quarter of their free time and no more than half their free time to the cause. The amount that a given person would donate within that range could be based on the degree of that individual's dedication to the cause.
This time can be allocated as desired, less frequent calls to attend to the cause's needs should result in individuals being available for longer periods. Assuming six hours of free-time a day and strong devotion to the cause, a member who is required to serve daily would only be willing to commit three hours to the cause at a time; the same individual called on only once a month might be willing to spend eight hours a night for almost two weeks doing location surveillance for the cause.
Back to our dedicated agents for the moment. Payroll probably shouldn't consume more than half the budget, the other half being spent on other operational expenses plus maintenance. In this case, we might have twenty-five full-time agents of the conspiracy. Having a greater number of agents at some times during the year means having fewer agents at other times or else it eats into the operations budget which limits what the agents can afford to do. The number of operations the organization can carry out depends on the number of agents that are required and the length they are required for. If all the agents are required for a month to mount an operation against a rival city-state, there are no other operations occurring that month. If a given operation only needs five agents for two weeks, the organization could mount ten such operations in any given month.
The next post will look at some of the other factors that might be at work.

Last edited by Curmudgeon; 05-02-2012 at 07:40 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:19 AM   #10
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: While waiting for GURPS Conspiracies . . .

So, simplifying and streamlining some of your words, we can get something along the lines of:
For each full-time (~8h/workday, on average), moderately competent agent (i.e. neither a superspy nor some comedic clueless tool) eats up 1 Average Income of budget. Otherwise, every reasonably loyal member (neither fanatic nor a half-hearted participant) contributes roughly 10 man-hours per work week (assuming 5/7 workdays and ╝ of 8 available hours per day). This is without travel, i.e. assuming an agent either contributes near one's residence, or makes shady contributions at the day job (e.g. a forensic quietly analysing an extra sample on the behalf of the conspirators, or a politician voting for a law that is in the conspiracy's interests); the on-the-day-job contributions can take up less time, OTOH they are risky, and might require finishing the actual job in free time, thus generalizing shady contributions to the same 10 man-hours per work week seems reasonable.
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