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Old 10-07-2016, 06:13 PM   #1
Seneschal
 
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Default The Mechanics of Toppling an Interplanetary Empire

I'm currently working on a space opera campaign that's going to need a bit more than just the Basic Set rules. The PCs will be leading a rebellion against a tyrannical regime and, while we'll be starting small, they'll probably end up in charge of a steadily growing paramilitary organization that engages in espionage, sabotage, resource collection, assassination and guerilla warfare, all the while trying to win the hearts and minds of the populace. I was wondering whether there was a crunchy GURPS supplement that covers the mechanics of leading such an organization. Something like Mass Combat, but without the... err, combat - the rebellion in question isn't expected to reach actual army status until very late in the campaign.

I've found Boardroom and Curia, but the preview PDF didn't quite convince me that it would be a good fit for my campaign. I need something that allows mechanical interaction with an organization, or at least a good framework for the kind of feeling you get in Dragon Age: Inquisition or Metal Gear Solid V. Has anyone here made use of the B&C rules? How well do they extend to stuff like clandestine operations and conflict between two or more organizations? Can organizations be weakened or destroyed?

Aside from that, I'd appreciate suggestions from people who have run or participated in similar campaigns in the past. My group has mostly played tightly plotted, character-focused campaigns, so this large-scope sandbox thing is new to us, and I'm not sure what the pace and structure should look like. What are the pitfalls that I should look out for? I figured we should start cautiously, so that the amount of options doesn't overwhelm the players. Thus, I set up the campaign as a conservative, safe-tech TL10, like if conservationists had the run of Transhuman Space, and assumed very slow and realistic development: no superscience, no FTL, no magical nanomachines, etc. I don't intend it to be hard sci-fi, though - we've opted for a very pulpy feel, hard-boiled heroes, jazzy overtones, and prohibition-era gangster-movie cliches (plus, there's a smidgen of functional ritual magic, but that's besides the point).

Right now, I've set the scope to one quadruple star system. This seems big enough to have several dozens of diverse places to visit, and allows the Big Bad STL Empire to be decentralized and slowly toppled in discrete chunks, one fief at a time. It's also small enough to allow me to "stat" every chunk of the Empire and define what it produces, how it's defended, etc. Is this a misstep? I'm not sure if I should just present the players with a system map in the first session and tell them to go crazy, or if we should avoid grand-scale strategy and start more locally, and then escalate.
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Old 10-07-2016, 06:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Mechanics of Toppling an Interplanetary Empire

GURPS Social Engineering has a lot on social interactions. Good for the leadership they are striving for and the propaganda to win the populace.
GURPS Social Engineering: Pulling Rank also ha stuff about using the resources of an organization.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Mechanics of Toppling an Interplanetary Empire

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seneschal View Post
I've found Boardroom and Curia, but the preview PDF didn't quite convince me that it would be a good fit for my campaign. I need something that allows mechanical interaction with an organization, or at least a good framework for the kind of feeling you get in Dragon Age: Inquisition or Metal Gear Solid V. Has anyone here made use of the B&C rules? How well do they extend to stuff like clandestine operations and conflict between two or more organizations? Can organizations be weakened or destroyed?
This might be relevant.
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Old 10-08-2016, 08:45 AM   #4
Seneschal
 
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Default Re: The Mechanics of Toppling an Interplanetary Empire

Hmm, I always figured Social Engineering was more like a Tactical Shooting for reaction rolls. Instead, it seems to have quite a bit about organizations and hierarchies. And Pulling Rank sounds like Action 2 - Exploits (which I've found amazingly versatile), but for social stuff. I'll have to give them a look.
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Mechanics of Toppling an Interplanetary Empire

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Originally Posted by Seneschal View Post
Hmm, I always figured Social Engineering was more like a Tactical Shooting for reaction rolls. Instead, it seems to have quite a bit about organizations and hierarchies.
On one hand, the "tactical" part of social interaction is there, in Chapter 3, which is the longest chapter of SE. On the other hand, it may not be exactly what you're envisioning.

Some people, at least, seem to envision social interaction as very much like combat, with analogs of parries and blocks and dodges and hit points—or perhaps the Technical Grappling system, with its Control Points, would be an even closer analog. But that's not at all how the Basic Set rules for social interaction work. And it's not how I envision social interaction, so I didn't attempt to come up with a different basic mechanic. Instead, I elaborated on the mechanics of reaction rolls and Influence rolls. And that actually gave me a fairly rich game mechanical vocabulary that was entirely different from combat.

The key point is that social interaction is an attempt to get someone to choose to cooperate with you. It's not mind control, and it's not the equivalent of physically moving them around like a puppet through grappling or telekinesis. What you're doing is providing the other person with reasons, or incentives, or emotional reactions that make them want to cooperate, or at least reluctant to oppose you. Those incentives may be coercive or deceptive! But in the last analysis, they're Dirty Harry saying, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" rather than his shooting the criminal.

And when you get to the chapter on large-scale social interaction, a big part of it is the reaction rolls, and Influence rolls, and Loyalty scores for an entire population.
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