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[WIP] Exaltedization - A minigame for running an organization

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  • [WIP] Exaltedization - A minigame for running an organization

    I'm planning a semi-silly game where a Circle of Solars found a company and conquer Creation with money. In 2e, we had Mandate of Heaven and Creation-Ruling Mandate, but we don't have a similar minigame for 3e yet! And neither really fit my needs, so I wrote up a short minigame for running an organization. I thought some feedback would be nice, so I'm posting it here - comments are very welcome!

    Exaltedization (working title) is:
    • a minigame for running an organization that requires minimal addition or modification to the rules
    • a minigame for running an organization that generates ideas for small stories
    • a minigame for running an organization that is less than zero-sum - "gaming" the system should be inherently unprofitable

    Exaltedization is not:
    • a crunchy way to replace storytelling
    • a complete game for running an organization against competing organizations
    • a source of fun on its own.
    The idea is that Exaltedization is a sort of an assistant; what happens with this minigame should seed small stories by nature. Point economy is inherently against the players' favor, so that the PCs have to intervene personally to address deficits and crises in order to conserve resources and expand the venture. It is also made with the assumption that it is god-kings who are running an organization.

    I imagine Exaltedization will take place at the start of a session or at the end of one. It should take less than 30 minutes, tops, and it should create enough story seeds to allow for a session or two of storytelling. Conciseness is key.

    Organization Statistics
    Exaltedization is a minigame for running an organization! So it needs an Organization. In it, an Organization is described with numerical and descriptive statistics.

    Scale describes how "big" an organization is. It is relative, not absolute. A Scale 3 Organization in one Chronicle might be wildly different in scope than another of the same scale, if the former Chronicle is about a tea shop in Nexus and the latter is about a newly forged empire in the West. Scale ranges between 1 and 10, where 1 is "this Organization is as small as an Organization of its kind can be", comparable to a lemon tea stand (for a beverage business), a small troop of soldiers (for a mercenary company), or a tribe that's nominally a kingdom (for a state). 10 would be "this Organization is as big as an Organization of its kind can be", comparable to a Creation-wide tea trader, a personal army, or an empire that rivals the Realm. Scale is not intended to provide a number of people involved or the size of an Organization's territory -- it is, at best, an abstract value that should tell players "we are this big", not the PCs.

    Inefficiency describes how hard it is to actually lead this Organization. Again, it is relative, not absolute. Inefficiency of 1 for a tea shop might be "my family runs the business" and Inefficiency of 1 for a kingdom might be "everyone is loyal and the king is well-liked". To affect change to an Organization numerically, the leading roll must overcome its Inefficiency. Failure means that everyone was caught up with something else and won't listen or obey. Unlike other numerical stats, Inefficiency has no roof (though Inefficiency over 5 might indicate something is supernaturally wrong with the organization).

    Infrastructure describes how much change the Organization can handle at once. Yet again, relative, not absolute. Infrastructure sets a hard limit on how big the players' intentional change can be and, thus, how much an Organization can grow without PC intervention. Infrastructure 1 tea shop may be "but my family is lazy" and Infrastructure 1 kingdom may be "we have no tradespeople". Infrastructure ranges from 1 to 10. Supernaturally efficient Organization may exceed 10, though!

    Crisis describes how much shock an Organization can withstand. It is numerical and qualitative. Whenever something threatens the Organization, write down what kind of threat has happened and assign a numerical value to it. If the numbers fill up the Crisis track, then the Organization falls into Prompt Crisis and starts to break down until the PCs fix the problem. What kind of Prompt Crisis happens should depend on what manner of threats have been written down. An Organization can handle up to (5 + Scale) Crises at once.

    Assets describe special qualities an Organization owns. It works sorta like Intimacies for characters - it has three levels: Defining, Major, and Minor. With an Asset, the players can justify what the Organization can and cannot do. Further, with the appropriate Asset, a relevant roll might receive non-magical bonus dice. Converse might be true, where the lack of an Asset or the possession of a hindering Asset might cause penalty. A Defining Asset is a massively important facet of an Organization's activities - "Tea tree from the god of tea's personal garden" might be a Defining Asset for a tea shop. It would probably be a Minor Asset for a kingdom, however. Like so, what level an Asset gets is dependent on the Organization. There is a special Asset: Deficiency. A Deficient Asset is something the Organization needs, but has no access to. There needs to be at least one Deficiency at all times.

    Running an Organization
    Now that we have something to work with, it's time to do that. When the PCs are ready to do something with their Organization, a Policy Cycle begins. A Policy Cycle is an amorphous period of time when an Organization does its "daily" things. A Policy Cycle might be a workweek for a tea shop or a season for a kingdom. During this time, things are boring - the Organization's members are doing things that they are supposed to do. Of course, trouble is building up behind the scenes - at the end of a Policy Cycle, the players will have to choose whether they will intervene personally or go for another Policy Cycle.

    At the start a Policy Cycle, the most relevant leader rolls ([Charisma, Intelligence, or Wits] + Bureaucracy). This is the Inspiration Roll. This is where the Organization's leader goes "this is the time to do Thing X to achieve Goal Y!" Since this describes how the PC figures out how to do something with the Organization's resources, it is strictly a Bureaucracy roll. The Difficulty of the Inspiration roll is equal to the Organization's Inefficiency. The success determines how many Inspiration Points the PCs get. Failure on the roll affords 3 Inspiration Points. Success grants (3 + (the lower of threshold successes and Infrastructure)) Inspiration Points. Note that Infrastructure limits how much the PC's genius can be actually put to use. If the Organization has no means to enact the PC's vision, their Inspiration is without substance.

    Now that the leader had an Inspiration, now is the time to work out the vision. This happens by spending Inspiration Points for following actions:
    • Recovering from a Crisis requires a roll. 3 points must be spent to attempt recovery with this method and a PC must tell how they will clean up the mess. The Storyteller determines what roll will be required and uses the specific Crisis's value as the penalty. Apply Assets, too! Then, roll the dice. Success means the mess has been dealt with. This can be done only once per Policy Cycle. If an Organization is dealing with multiple imminent crises, the PCs must intervene personally (as in tell a story about dealing with the problem).
    • Tidying up an Organization (purging corruption, drilling its members, improving command structure) to reduce its Inefficiency costs 4 points. This can happen only once per Policy Cycle. However, if the players are planning something big for the next Policy Cycle, 1 point can be spent to further reduce Inefficiency by 1 for the next Policy Cycle. Inefficiency can never be driven below 1 without magic.
    • Improving an Organization's Infrastructure costs 3 points. Like reducing Inefficiency, this can happen only once per Policy Cycle. Also like Inefficiency, Infrastructure can be boosted by 1 for 1 Inspiration Point.
    • Modifying Assets uses up Inspiration. Acquiring a new Asset (at the Minor level) costs 3 points. Improving or cultivating an Asset to make it more useful costs 2 points, upgrading a Minor Asset to a Major Asset or a Major Asset to a Defining Asset. Alternatively it can shift the nature of an Asset ("Quiet and classy shop" to "Approachable and cozy shop" for a tea shop, perhaps) with the same cost - 2 points. This does not change the Asset's level, but changes its nature so it can help in different situations. Alternatively, an Asset can be "used up" to combine two Assets to create a new Asset at a higher level, at no Inspiration Point cost. Modifying Assets can happen however many times in a Policy Cycle.
      • Deficiency can never be dealt with this action. It requires PC intervention. Even then, solving the last remaining Deficiency creates another automatically.
    • Other, more amorphous goals can be achieved with Projects. A Project can be either Defining, Major, or Minor, depending on its possible impact. A Project cannot duplicate other action, but it can incidentally modify an Asset. Largely, a Project is the way to mess with other Organization. A Defining Project requires 5 points; a Major Project requires 4 points; and a Minor Project requires 2 points. The leading player must describe what kind of Project happens; its resolution happens with the next Policy Cycle.

    If the players would like to enact more change, they can use up the Organization's stats to gain more Inspiration Points.
    • Using up an Asset helps! Using up a Defining Asset provides 4 points; a Major Asset, 3 points; and a Minor Asset, 1 point. This means that, in order to work out the leader's vision, an Asset was depleted, made inaccessible, or otherwise meaningless to the Organization. Alternatively, an Organization may gain a Deficiency. This provides 3 points.
    • Overwork! Overwork always helps. The leader can put an Organization in overdrive to get more work done. This requires a roll of some kind (perhaps (Manipulation + Socialize) for a boss promising an incentive that will never exist, or (Charisma + Presence) for a king who gives a rousing speech about the need to work 1 more hour every day). Depending on how this happens, Assets may cause a penalty or a bonus. In any case, each success allows the player to draw 2 Inspiration Point, at the cost of increasing Inefficiency by 1. Perhaps the tea shop clerks got disillusioned by the incentive that never happened; perhaps working extra hours caused health issues across the kingdom.
    • Infrastructure can be overloaded. Likewise, roll something relevant and use Assets as a modifier. Each success provides 2 Inspiration Point, but requires Infrastructure to decrease by 1.

    At this point, Inspiration Points need to be settled. The Organization has moved its resources to do things and remaining Inspiration Point vanishes at this point. The leader's glorious vision is slowly coming to pass. But, of course, some things are beyond control! Now is the time to roll for Disaster. This rolls (Organization's Scale) as dice. Bigger an Organization gets, more prone to problems it is. Success in this roll means something nasty happens to the Organization (perhaps the tea franchise led to franchisees refusing to pay; the kingdom grew too quickly and it's suffering tax inefficiency). The Storyteller decides what sort of Crisis happens to the Organization. There is no solid guideline - the ST should listen to the players' declarations and figure where things might go haywire.

    Crisis that happens this way can be left alone or covered up. To deal with a Crisis the moment it happens, however, the Organization's stats need to be used up to generate enough Inspiration Points to attempt. Dealing with it the next Policy Cycle might be better. Alternatively, the Crisis can be dealt with by PC intervention between-cycle.

    Once a Policy Cycle concludes, determine how the PCs will act. If nothing of interest has happened yet, move on to the next Policy Cycle. Repeat!

    Story Generation
    Now, you may have noticed that the numbers are geared up to cause a deficit in the long run. This can be overcome by PC intervention, by which I mean the PCs' exploits must be told in story to cover up the deficit and maybe even go beyond. Between Policy Cycles, there are conditions that definitely require a story to deal with:
    • Prompt Crisis is when an Organization's Crisis track fills up. Look at what the Organization's Crises say. Determine how the PCs might deal with the problem(s) and then get ready to tell a story about how they deal with them.
    • An outside threat to a Defining Asset absolutely requires the PCs to react personally. Perhaps the tea shop's divine tea tree had gotten sick; perhaps the PCs' kingdom is suffering from disloyalty, when the citizens used to be absolutely loyal.
    • A botch or an unacceptable failure on a roll related to running the Organization requires a story. The story should reflect how the PCs mess up (or are forced to mess up) and this almost threatens the Organization.

    There are also optional conditions for a story. These are not mandatory, but they probably provide a good reason to tell a story anyways.
    • If the players decide the Organization's Inefficiency has gotten too high, the PCs might intervene to ameliorate the issue. Their story should cover the PCs identifying the organizational problems first-hand and resolving them.
    • Infrastructural collapse is a terrible threat. If Infrastructure is too low, the PCs might decide to fix it themselves.
    • Threats to Major or Minor Assets can be dealt with by the PCs acting on them. Is someone about to start a rival business, which threatens "Neighborhood Hangout Spot"? Maybe setting their new shop on fire will help! How are the PCs gonna do that?
    • A Deficiency may be covered up with a story. The PCs might have figured out how to overcome a Deficiency, but the Organization's within-resources are not enough to do it.
    • Expanding the Organization can only happen with a story. If the PCs decide it's time to grow, it cannot be done with Inspiration alone.
    • The PCs might instigate a reform to change the Organization's nature. Perhaps a local tea shop decides to become a Creation-wide tea brand, a rival commodity trader against the Guild, or a very small kingdom. This will probably require a rework of the Organization's stats afterward.

    A story that happens between Policy Cycles needs to accomplish at least one of the above goals, but it has no limits to how many goals it can achieve at once. While attempting to deal with a Prompt Crisis, perhaps the PCs inspired loyalty and trust of the Organization's members, decreasing its Inefficiency. While hunting down the thugs who threatened the tea shop's "Access to the best tea leaves in the East" led to an event that caused its evolution into a Solar cult. However, "let's tell a story and figure out where we go" is not recommended. The inter-Policy Cycle story should have one definite goal.

    Organization Project
    Another way to start a story is the Organization's Projects. Projects are intentionally ambiguous, so that the PCs and the Storyteller can decide what kind of story can be told. A minor Project, however, could be done with simple statements and maybe a roll of dice. Major Projects deserve a story and Defining Projects definitely require a story. After accomplishing a Project, determine what kind of benefit it should have for the Organization. A rough guideline is that a successful Project should provide an Asset of its level, plus some other minor benefit. Of course, it depends on what kind of story is told. A Major Project to divert a river to improve farmland may lead to a fight against a demon, where the Circle's Dawn reveals her Anima. The terrified population now obeys the Solar God-Kings without question, which incidentally decreases Inefficiency.

    What Remains Unwritten
    Inter-Organization conflict! While Exaltedization is not meant to portray the conflict between city-states and it assumes only the PCs' Organization really exists as an Organization, it would be better if I could figure out a way to portray competing Organizations. With how relative its stats are, however, it would be difficult to portray a conflict between a popular tea shop, growing to become the phrontistery of revolutionary thinkers, and its host city, whose leaders think terribly of the tea-drinking revolutionaries. Also, how to stat up an Organization remains unwritten.

    This so far concludes what I have thought up. Comments are very welcome!
    Last edited by szp; 10-14-2017, 06:37 AM.

  • #2
    I should comment that The Quiet Year influenced me a lot. =o


    • #3
      This is infinitely more complex than the simplemmerrit I made to represent running an organization, but I like it, there’s a sense of fun about it.

      Elemental and dragon line descriptors and capturing device coming soon
      Craft Rewrite W/ Points, Slots, and Charms
      Executive Leadership Organization Merrit


      • #4
        Nice, I can't find anything glarely bad about this other than it's a nice, simple system one can use to manage their company.

        But how does it relate to other companies? CRM had rules on how companies could be at 'war' with each other, be it overt means like way or more subtle ways such as going after main trading partners. My questions is if two companies want to butt heads with one another, how would they go about doing so within this system? As, correct me if I'm wrong, there seems to be no way to do so.

        Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
        Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.


        • #5
          I seems like if you wanted, you could just make mucking up some other organization's operations cost some points or be a thing to do with your policy cycle. But speaking as an ST... I wouldn't ever keep track of points and stuff for non-PC organizations. I would just represent their attacks as Crises or adding to the Crisis or Inefficiency tracks.

          So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

          The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
          -Roger Zelazny


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
            But how does it relate to other companies? CRM had rules on how companies could be at 'war' with each other, be it overt means like way or more subtle ways such as going after main trading partners. My questions is if two companies want to butt heads with one another, how would they go about doing so within this system? As, correct me if I'm wrong, there seems to be no way to do so.
            That's the critical flaw with what I have so far - since basically everything is relative to what an Organization is supposed to be, it's difficult to have it clash with one another. Like the example, where a tea shop that's become the hangout spot of revolutionaries and a fragile city-state that doesn't like them. Or even a tea shop competing against a massive and renowned dumpling restaurant for shop space. As Wise Old Guru has said, I'm compelled to keep inter-Organizational conflict abstract. Other Organizations may be acting against the PCs' Organization, giving it Crisis or threatening its Assets.

            That feels somewhat unsatisfying though...