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New System: Organization Rules (Cults, Conspiracies, Orders and Covenants)

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  • New System: Organization Rules (Cults, Conspiracies, Orders and Covenants)

    [Migrating old material I've created to the new forum]

    So, the Cult system in Mummy was probably one of my favorite things in the book, and I've long since used Shadow Cults from Clanbook: Mekhet in my crossover game. So I decided to make a single, unified system for organizations, a single system that can incorporate everything from a newly-formed changeling Motley to the Consilium.

    What follows is derived from the Cult rules in Mummy with a bit of Trail of Cthulhu's
    Bookhounds of London. I wrote most of it, with the able assistance and guidance of Isabella (TinkerMoth). Let me know what you think?

    Two comments. This is for my London game, and uses examples from that. And when I refer to a character's Rank, pretty much figure the Spirit 1-5+ Rank system transposed to non-Spirit supernaturals as a way of estimating power. So a 150-year old elder vampire is Rank 3, and a 2000-year old elder vampire is Rank 5.


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    Every organization has a few elements associated with it:

    Rank -- This is how powerful the group is, and is a number that goes from 0 to 6+
    Attributes:
    Reach & Grasp -- These two scores represent how good the organization is at getting things done.
    Benefits -- Miscellaneous benefits that accrue to the organization's leaders/members
    Drawbacks -- The downsides or weaknesses of the organization


    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    Rank & Status

    Rank, and how powerful is the organization

    Rank is basically how powerful and established a group is. Think of it as a short-hand guide to a combination of size, influence, institutional durability (how well the group can survive setbacks) and institutional identity (how much the organization is imbued with characteristics). The main purpose of the Rank is to determine the number of dots that the organization has to spend on Reach, Grasp, and Benefits. Drawbacks can increase the number of dots.

    What follows is a guide to organizational ranks, as it normally applies to supernatural organizations. You can use the number/power of supernatural members of an organization as a rough proxy to its Rank, though there can be exceptions either way (an organization may have a very high Rank with very few members if each member is a five-hundred-year-old vampire, to take an extreme case). The following set of Ranks is also mostly discussing supernatural organizations, though you can use the system for other groups with minimal work.

    Rank 0
    At this point, the organization has no actual identity, it's just a bunch of people who hang out together and want tobecome an organization. Relatively few Rank 0 organizations stay at Rank 0 for any length of time -- they either dissolve or advance.
    Examples: A group of friends, a newly-formed changeling motley, mage cabal, or werewolf pack. Pretty much any group of supernaturals who hang out together could become a Rank 0 Group.
    At this level the group doesn't actually have any dots to spend on Reach, Grasp, or Benefits

    Rank 1
    At this point, the organization has a very minimal sense of identity, though it's more likely to be referred to as 'Joe's Gang' than as 'The Baker Street Motley'. It probably has only its original members (usually two to four supernaturals), and maybe a couple of contacts.
    Examples: Most cabals, motleys, and coteries stay at this level -- greater organizational ambitions are usually directed into Orders and Courts and Covenants. Weak werewolf packs such as Brick and Bone could also stay here.
    Upon reaching Rank 1, the organization gains 5 dots to distribute between Reach, Grasp, and Benefits

    Rank 2
    By the time an organization hits Rank 2, it has a discrete identity as an organization -- it has a name and people associate something with the name, and some people know that name. It's identity is still tighly bound up in the founders and the organization likely wouldn't survive a major membership upheaval. The average supernatural organization at this level will have 4-5 supernatural members and if they recruit mortals, then up to triple that in mortal membership.
    Examples: Most werewolf packs such as the Temple Guard stay at this level, as do smaller supernatural organizations such as Scratch's Machine or the Mara.
    Upon reaching Rank 2, organizations gain 10 more dots to spend, for a total of 15

    Rank 3
    A Rank 3 organization has a certain level of institutional inertia built up. It's got a well-established identity that exists independently of its founders, it has a more complex internal structure with subgroups and different membership roles, and some organizational property. It's likely expanded to about 10-20 supernatural members, and may have up to triple that in non-supernatural members. This as high as most PC-founded groups are likely to get, and is where you'll find the weaker Covenants and Orders.
    Examples: Powerful werewolf packs such as the Architects of Steel, PC organizations such as the Harbingers or the Fusang Tong, weak Covenants/Orders such as the Ordo Dracul.
    Upon reaching Rank 3, organizations gain 15 more dots to spend, for a total of 30

    Rank 4
    Reaching Rank 4 is a long, hard slog, and usually only happens after decades of effort or in some sort of power-vacuum. An organization at this level is a self-propagating institution with its own hierarchy and offices, and may well be centuries old. It likely has about 40-50 supernatural members, and could have a few hundred mortal members, though few organizations have so many due to Masquerade concerns. This is where you'll find most Covenants, Orders, and so forth.
    Examples: The Mysterium, the People's Republic, the Lancea et Sanctum
    Upon reaching Rank 4, organizations gain 20 more dots to spend, for a total of 50

    Rank 5
    A Rank 5 organization is a behemoth. Most such organizations in the supernatural world are those that claim to represent an entire supernatural nation, giving them a membership of about two hundred or so supernatural beings, and are as old as the supernatural community in a given area is (which in London means that they are often millennia old). This is where you find the ruling organizations, basically -- which combine their own, in-house power and influence with the power of the offices that they hold.
    Examples: The Invictus, The Guardians of the Veil, and Freehold of New Jerusalem
    Upon reaching Rank 5, organizations gain 25 more dots to spend, for a total of 75

    Rank 6+
    Think the Illuminati. What they want, they get. Generally though, supernatural groups don't reach this high (the logistics just become impossible to manage), and so this rank is mostly theoretical, though mortal organizations do reach these levels.
    Examples: Governmental organizations such as the Metropolitan Police Service, multinational corporations such as Microsoft or British Petroleum, organized churches such as the Anglican Church.
    Rank 6 organizations gain 30 more dots to spend (total 105) and usually have either Reach or Grasp at 11+.

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    Status (● to ●●●●● each)
    Effect: Your character has standing, membership, authority, control over, or respect from some group or body that has been modeled using the Organization Rules. This may reflect official standing or informal respect. No matter the source, your character enjoys certain rights and privileges within that structure, as well as certain duties and obligations. Membership in an organization that is not modeled by the Organization rules is covered by the Allies Merit up above.

    Each instance of this Merit reflects standing in a different group or organization, and goes from 1 to (Group's Rank) in dots. So Status (Brick & Bone werewolf pack) is a 1-dot Merit, Status (Ordo Dracul) is a 1-to-3-dot Merit, and Status (Guardians of the Veil) goes up to 5 dots. Basically, organizations of higher Rank are bigger and have more internal complexity, and thus have more differentiation of ranks.

    Status is a combination of both official standing and of the informal respect and influence one receives by virtue of service to the group (as opposed to the respect one receives by virtue of being a powerful personality, say). A grizzled sergeant with twenty years experience may have higher Status than a lieutenant fresh from the academy, despite his technically inferior official position.

    A few notes:
    • The 'rank' of an individual is also determined by his Status relative to the maximum possible Status. Status 3 in a Rank 3 organization means that the character is the boss, while Status 3 in a Rank 5 organization means that they're an established member but nowhere near leadership.
    • Similarly, it is not required for the range of Status dots to match up with the number of official ranks or positions an organization has. A Rank 1 Werewolf pack may have an Alpha, a Beta, and regular pack members, but it still runs as a democracy or on purely personal interactions. Meanwhile, the Rank 4 Lancea et Sanctum has only Bishop, Priest, and Laity as official ranks, in which case the Laity might be Status 1 or 2, depending on their seniority and time in the congregation.
    Once you have it, Status allows for a few things:
    • If you have the top Status of your group (Status 4 in a Rank 4 organization, say), you may direct the organization's Reach, Grasp, Guns, Money. You may also grant these powers to others, or revoke them.
    • You gain whatever Membership Benefits your Status entitles you to, which often includes various bonuses to rolls or access to proprietary supernatural powers. The specifics vary from organization to organization.
    • You are a member of the group, which gives a number of benefits and bonuses that might not be represented mechanically, including the ability to ask for favors or give orders. A member of the Ordo Dracul has the right to lair at the St. Thomas Club, while a ranking member of the Freehold of New Jerusalem can ask for extra pledge slots.
    A Note on Competing Statuses
    With two exceptions, a character cannot have more than five dots total in Status. This is partially a product of competing interests, and partially just a case of having only so-so much time to devote to each organization (even if Civitas is extremely fond of the Harbingers, he's still too busy to be a member in anything but name -- which is better represented by the Allies Merit).

    The one exception is if two groups are extremely friendly, such as the Harbingers and Freehold of New Jerusalem. In this case, only the higher of the two Statuses is counted for the character's total Status dots. Check with me if you want to know if this is the case.

    Drawback: Status requires upkeep and usually regular duties. If these duties are not upheld, Status may be lost, and the higher one's Status, the more strenuous the duties. The dots will not be accessible until the character re-establishes her standing. Also, the character is affected by any Drawbacks of the organization.
    Last edited by NeoTiamat; 06-29-2014, 10:59 PM.


    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

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    • #3
      Reach, Grasp, and the other benefits of an organization

      Attributes represent the mechanical body of the organization, and come in four forms. Every organization has Reach and Grasp, most will have Benefits, and many will also have Drawbacks. An organization has a certain number of dots based on its rank, covered above.

      Reach and Grasp cost (New Dots x1) -- It takes 6 dots to go from Grasp 5 to Grasp 6.
      Benefits cost (New Dots x2) -- It takes 2 dots to buy the first Benefit, 4 to buy the second, 6 to buy the third, and so forth.
      Drawbacks give (5 dots) -- Each Drawback gives a flat +5 dots to spend on Reach, Grasp, or Benefits

      Reach and Grasp are covered here, and Benefits and Drawbacks are further down.



      Reach & Grasp

      Reach is the ability of the organization to do things legally. Reach is a rough combination of an organization's money, its legitimate connections, its public reputation, and the number of people it's got making phone-calls and knocking on doors. It's the ability to hire translators, chauffeurs, and PR people, get invitations to cultural events, rent out convention halls or old National Trust buildings, get licenses, and use the legal system to sue people into oblivion.

      Grasp is the ability of the organization to do things illegally. Grasp is a rough combination of an organization's money, it's criminal connections, its underworld reputation, and the number of leg-breakers, dealers, and forgers on the payroll. It's the ability to get fake papers, weapons, or drugs, to meet with criminal bosses, cover up crimes, and get rid of enemies by hiring nice Russian men who practiced their problem-solving skills in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

      Obviously, there's a good amount of overlap in what Reach and Grasp can achieve -- the difference is not so much what they do, but how they do it. As a general rule of thumb, Grasp can do more things (since blackmail and bribery can accomplish most of the things Reach can do), but Grasp actions are more likely to get the organization into trouble.

      Both Reach and Grasp are rated 1-to-11+, and an organization cannot have Reach or Grasp more than double its Rank (so a Rank 3 organization cannot have Reach or Grasp more than 6). What follows are a pair of tables that show what an organization can accomplish at each given Reach or Grasp rating.

      An organization can accomplish task with a Reach or Grasp rating of 2 or more below it at will and constantly. It can accomplish a task with a Reach or Grasp rating equal to its own or just 1 lower once per adventure. An organization can try to accomplish a task with a Reach or Grasp rating greater than its own, see Exceeding one's Reach or Grasp below.

      Reach
      Reach 1
      --Get out of parking tickets or get a warning for speeding
      --Minor research tasks (looking stuff up on the internet or in the public library)
      --Unskilled labor (gardeners, chauffeur, cleaners, moving people, etc)
      Reach 2
      --Have misdemeanors dismissed without going to court
      --Moderate research tasks (research in government archives or university libraries)
      --A place to sleep in a youth hostel
      --Start a rumor and get it repeated by people in a small setting (a school, a workplace)
      --Get someone a Resource 1 job (waitress, janitor)
      Reach 3
      --Skilled labor (secretary, translator, guide)
      --Direct minor police or media attention at something (a single Police Constable or low-ranking reporter)
      --Get someone a Resource 2 job (construction worker, bus driver)
      Reach 4
      --Plane ticket upgraded to first class
      --Comped hotel room
      --Access to cultural event
      --Minor legal harassment (licenses revoked, zoning disputes, slander or libel lawsuits)
      --Start a rumor and get it repeated by people in a moderate setting (a community, a large organization)
      Reach 5
      --Arrange for assault or armed robbery charges to get dropped or dismissed
      --Major research tasks (with access to minor classified information such as police or medical records, or research in multiple far-flung locations)
      --Expert labor (world-renowned professor of botany will look at your weird plants, a retired MI6 codebreaker will offer some advice on cryptography)
      --Get someone a Resource 3 job (office drone, technician)
      Reach 6
      --Expedited travel (meaning a private boat or plane that gets scant customs attention)
      --Use of a luxury apartment for a couple weeks
      --Direct moderate police or media attention at something (an investigation by the relevant Detective Chief Inspector of the Met or by a major media organization)
      --Start a rumor and get it repeated by people in a major setting (Everyone in London's heard of it, it's on the nightly news)
      Reach 7
      --Police protection
      --Access to influential people such as mayors, state governors, millionaires, and national news hosts
      --Major legal harassment (Dozens of expensive lawsuits).
      --Get someone a Resource 4 job (middle management, lawyer)
      Reach 8
      --Unique labor (borrow a supercollider for a little research)
      --Unique research (browse MI6's classified files)
      --Direct major police or media attention at something (MI5 takes an interest, or a media feeding frenzy)
      Reach 9
      --Protection by the Specialist Protection Command of the Met (think Britain's answer to the Secret Service)
      --Redirect the investigation of major newsworthy events such as a museum burning down.
      --Get someone a Resource 5 job (Vice President of Sales, B-Movie star)
      Reach 10
      --Arrange a meeting with the Prime Minister
      Reach 11+
      --Start a small war

      Grasp
      Grasp 1
      --Arrange a pickpocketing or some vandalism
      Grasp 2
      --Buy marijuana in whole-sale quantities
      --Arrange for the burglary of an undefended, empty location (a normal house)
      Grasp 3
      --Acquire a so-so fake ID
      --Cover up moderate carnage (say, an apartment with all the furniture smashed but not a lot of blood)
      --Arrange a mugging
      Grasp 4
      --Hide the body of a dead drifter
      --Get unregistered civilian-legal weapons (handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles)
      --Get large amounts of hard drugs
      Grasp 5
      --Get good false papers
      --Arrange for an assault or armed robbery, or the burglary of a moderately defended location (a rich man's home, or a museum of middling-rank)
      Grasp 6
      --Cover up the death of an average citizen or a lowlife with supernatural traits
      --Get a number of submachine guns or older assault rifles (AK-47, FN FAL, like that)
      --Arrange a hit against an average citizen or a lowlife with supernatural traits
      Grasp 7
      --Get a full cover identity that will stand up to anything but a full-scale MI5 or Scotland Yard investigation
      Grasp 8
      --Get access to stolen military equipment (modern assault rifles, missile launchers, etc)
      --Arrange for the burglary of a very secure location (the British Museum, a billionaire's residence)
      Grasp 9
      --Frame somebody for a dead Member of Parliament, millionaire, or moderately connected supernatural being
      --Order the assassination of a Member of Parliament, millionaire, or moderately connected supernatural being
      Grasp 10
      --Get your very own ex-Soviet nuclear submarine (missiles not included)
      Grasp 11+
      --Assassinate the Prime Minister


      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material

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      • #4
        Blood, Guns, and Money

        In addition to the influence of Reach and Grasp, and the more specific advantages that come from Benefits, characters can get the following benefits from an organization. In all cases, the leadership of the organization determines who gets this stuff.

        Blood
        Actually blood, glamour, and so forth. An organization can help feed most supernatural beings, either by simply providing the warm bodies and heady emotions, or through more esoteric means. An organization produces (Reach+Grasp) of ‘fuel’ per adventure.

        If a supernatural feeds directly off of humans (vampires, changelings, ghosts who need to be remembered), then they can convert that fuel into Vitae or Glamour at a 1-to-1 ratio. If the supernatural being requires something more esoteric (werewolves and purified who need Essence, mages who need Mana), then the ratio is 2-to-1 (essentially, the organization is helping hunt spirits, or do larger rituals, or what-not).

        Guns
        Sometimes, organizations give up the conspiratorial trappings and just go and kick the s*** out of some other guy. Acquiring battle-fodder is a two-step proces.

        First, determine the successes the Organization has to spend on combat minions:
        • When calling them up to fight on short notice, roll dice equal to the Organization’s Reach + Grasp and count successes. Your armed followers are ready and show up within a half hour.
        • With 24 hours, the organization gets a number of successes equal to the higher of Reach or Grasp.
        • If they have 48 hours to get strapped, the organization gets one success for each point of Reach and Grasp.
        Secondly, spend those successes:
        • All Organizations can spend 1 Success to get a single Rank 1 Combat Minion of an appropriate type.
        • Organizations of Rank 3+ can spend 2 Successes to get a single Rank 2 Combat Minion of an appropriate type.
        • Organizations of Rank 5+ can spend 3 Successes to get a single Rank 3 Combat Minion of an appropriate type.
        (Appropriate type simply means that a vampire Covenant has access to mortal thugs or to vampires, but is going to need a good explanation if it intends to call up werewolves or mages. Rank, in my game, is an ad-hoc measure for how tough someone is, and is pegged broadly to the Spirit Ranks. My PCs, after quite a long campaign, are at Rank 3.)

        There’s a drawback to this, though. None of the supernatural organizations in London are big enough that they can take casualties easily, so any time that an organization goes to war and then loses two or more people in a one-week period, it counts as a Reverse unless something mitigates it.

        Money
        Organizations do not run on loyalty alone – they’ve got to eat too (or pay the electrical bills, if they’re vampires). As an abstract, figure that any established organization has a Resources rating equal to Rank+1, for the purposes of purchasing things, paying the bills, and running all those secret underground compounds. Note that in concrete numbers, organizations will usually have more money than people, but they also have higher expenses – thus an organization with Resources 4 may well have far, far more money than an individual with Resources 4, but more of that money is spoken for.
        Last edited by NeoTiamat; 06-29-2014, 11:01 PM.


        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material

        Comment


        • #5
          Miscellaneous Mechanics

          This is the post with all the nuts and bolts of how organizations work.

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          Advancing and Declining Organizations

          In brief, an organizations gain or lose Rank when they suffer Gains or Losses. A gain is something that noticeably increases the power of the organization, and a loss is something that noticeably decreases the power of the organization. Gains and Losses cancel each other out, and when an organization has a total of three net Gains, it advances a Rank, and when it has a total of three net Losses, it loses a Rank.

          If an organization gains a Rank, it gets new dots to spend on Reach, Grasp, and Benefits, and every member gains a free dot of Status. If an organization loses a Rank, it loses an appropriate number of dots and has to cut back on its Reach, Grasp, and Benefits, and every member loses a dot of Status (and they do not get refunded!)

          So, what's a Gain or a Loss? Generally speaking, anything that seriously alters the organizations position and abilities. Most often, this means gaining or losing a large number of members, gaining or losing a very powerful member, the acquisition or loss of buildings and properties, the acquisition or loss of a Domain, earning or losing a large sum of money. Other things can count as well, at GM's discretion and/or if the PCs make a good case for it. The catch is that what exactly constitutes a Gain or a Loss varies from Rank to Rank. Having two members die would destroy a Rank 1 organization, while a Rank 4 or 5 organization could eat the loss and carry on without trouble.

          In order to lose a Rank, an organization needs to have a total of three net losses of it's Rank or higher. In order to gain a Rank, an organization needs to have a total of three net gains of it's Rank+1 or higher.

          Gains and Losses by Rank :
          Rank 1 Gain/Lose ~1 Member; Gain/Lose a Rank 1+ Character; Gain/Lose a small dedicated property (a flat); Gain/Lose a Domain; Gain ~£1,000.
          Rank 2 Gain/Lose ~2 Members; Gain/Lose a Rank 2+ Character; Gain/Lose a moderate dedicated property (a pub like the Cold River or a small business like Bo's Gym); Gain/Lose a Domain; Gain/Lose ~£10,000.
          Rank 3 Gain/Lose ~5 Members; Gain/Lose a Rank 3+ Character; Gain/Lose a large dedicated property (a business like the Cat's Cradle, a rural estate); Gain/Lose a Domain; Gain/Lose ~£100,000.
          Rank 4 Gain/Lose ~10 Members; Gain/Lose a Rank 4+ Character; Gain/Lose a huge dedicated property (a skyscraper, the Talbot's Bollington House); Gain/Lose a Domain; Gain/Lose ~£1,000,000.
          Rank 5 Gain/Lose ~25 Members; Gain/Lose a Rank 4+ Character; Gain/Lose a huge and supernaturally significant dedicated property (Rosehaven, The Highgate Citadel); Gain/Lose two Domains; Gain/Lose ~£10,000,000.
          Rank 6 Gain/Lose ~100 Members; Gain/Lose a Rank 5+ Character; Gain/Lose a truly epic supernatural haven (Finfolkaheem); Gain/Lose several Domains; Gain/Lose ~£100,000,000.

          Example: The Cult of Brass is a Rank 3 organization that's bucking for Rank 4. They start funding expeditions to Egypt and other lands, looking for useful things that can aid their rise. Some of their adventurers find an undiscovered tomb, which allows the Cult of Brass to summon and bind a power and ancient ghost, and sell the loot on the international black market for millions. So they've gained a Rank 4+ character and gained over a million pounds. That's two Net Gains. On their second attempt at a summoning, things go wrong and their high priest, a Rank 3+ character, gets killed. So that's a Loss, which cancels out a Gain, and so the Cult of Brass is down to one Net Gain. Time to launch some more expeditions...

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          Exceeding One's Reach or Grasp

          Sometimes, an organization will try to do something that is more than it can normally handle. An organization with Grasp 5 will try to get some modern SAM launchers, which is normally a Grasp 8 task (it has a dragon problem). In this case, what happens is that the organization will roll its Grasp, and the successes will have to equal the differences -- so 3 in this case. Same thing if you're trying to Reach for something beyond what you can normally achieve. An organization can try to do this once per adventure.

          The downside is that if the organization doesn't get enough successes, there is blowback -- lots of it. So in the above example, if the organization only gets two successes, then it doesn't get those SAM launchers, and some of the members and leaders are suddenly of great interest to a lot of domestic counter-terrorism groups. Generally speaking, blowback gets nastier as the level of the attempted action goes up, and Grasp blowback (usually involving police or counter-terrorism investigations) is much nastier than Reach blowback (usually involving scandal, fines or lawsuits).

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          Extending One's Reach or Grasp

          Supernatural organizations are parochial, and webs of conspiracy and influence generally don't travel well. One's Reach and Grasp degrades the further away it is from a power center.

          City: Each organization has a city in which they are centered, and here they have their full Reach and Grasp available. For Walking Shadows, this means London primarily.
          Region: In the region in which the city is located, organizations can still use their Reach and Grasp, but both of those are treated as being 2 lower. For Walking Shadows, this means the regions of the West Midlands, the East Midlands, the East of England, South West England, and South East England (Maps here). Everything east of Wales and south of Yorkshire, basically.
          National: In the same country as the city is located, organizations can use their Reach and Grasp, but both are treated as being 4 lower. For Walking Shadows, this means Great Britain.
          International: Organizations of Rank 4+ can use vestiges of their influence anywhere in the world, but their Reach and Grasp is treated as being 6 lower.

          Essentially, what this represents is that the organization is being forced to use intermediaries. So if a London-based organization is trying to influence a Detective Inspector in a backwoods Scottish town, it has to first look through its contacts in the London police department, and then try and get them to exert influence on the country DI.

          Also note that the focus here is on where the decisions are made, not necessarily where they're carried out. Dispatching a team of cultists to do research in a foreign library doesn't entail a penalty to Reach -- though if the library is normally off-limits to the public, then getting access to it would.

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          Cooperating Organizations

          Sometimes, more than one organization is working together to achieve a goal. Werewolf packs band together to fight powerful spirits, entire Freeholds are mobilized to oppose the Fae, and sometimes the entire supernatural community of London comes together to preserve the Masquerade.

          Cooperation allows organizations to increase their effective Reach or Grasp. One organization takes the lead (usually but not necessarily the most powerful organization). Its Reach or Grasp is then increased as follows:

          Reach or Grasp Modifiers
          +1 = A single organization with a Rank no less than (Leader's Rank-1) assists.
          +2 = Three organizations with a Rank no less than (Leader's Rank-1) assist.
          +3 = Seven organizations with a Rank no less than (Leader's Rank-1) assist.
          +4 = Fifteen organizations with a Rank no less than (Leader's Rank-1) assist.

          Weaker organizations can also help, but only if several are involved. Two organizations can work together to increase their effective Rank's by 1 to create a 'virtual organization' which can combine with others until they meet the minimums. So two organizations of Leader's Rank-2 would count as an organization of Leader's Rank-1, as would an organization with Leader's Rank-2 and two organizations with Leader's Rank-3.

          Simple Example: The Carthians and the Lancea et Sanctum (both Rank 4) are cooperating on a matter, with the Carthians taking the lead. Because they are being assisted by a single organization with a Rank no less than their own -1, they get a +1 to their effective Reach and Grasp.

          Complex Example: Eight werewolf packs (Rank 2 each), the out-of-power Seelie Court (Rank 4), and the in-power Unseelie Court (Rank 5) are cooperating, with the Unseelie taking the lead. The werewolf packs are too weak individually, but eight Rank 2 organizations count as four Rank 3 organizations, which count as two Rank 4 organizations, plus the Seelie Court as a Rank 4 organization. So the Unseelie have the aid of three Rank 4 organizations (the Seelie and the combined werewolves), and get a +2 to their Reach and Grasp.


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          Organization Conflicts

          Organizations come into conflict all the time. Sometimes they just block each other, sometimes they outright fight.

          Blocking
          Sometimes, one organization will try to prevent another from doing something. When this happens, look at the comparative Ranks, and increase the required Reach or Grasp for the action. If the blocking organization has higher Rank, then the increase is equal to the difference in ranks (so a Rank 5 organization blocking a Rank 2 organization would increase the required Reach or Grasp by 3). If they have the same rank, or the defending organization is lower ranked, then increase the Reach or Grasp required by 1.

          An organization is always considered to be blocking any action related to itself or to its leadership. Past that, it can block a number of different actions per adventure equal to its Rank.

          Attacking
          Organizations can also take more direct action to each other... but in general, such actions will get played out in the thread and the side-RPs where the PCs will influence the outcome, or handled by GM fiat. If a random system is required (the PCs are not involved at all and the GM has no desired outcome), then it'll simply be a contested roll of the two organization's (Reach+Grasp), with the loser being handed a Loss.
          Last edited by NeoTiamat; 06-30-2014, 11:51 AM.


          GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
          New System and Setting Material

          Comment


          • #6
            Benefits & Drawbacks

            Benefits and Drawbacks are the ancillary effects of organizational membership. With few exceptions, each Benefit costs one dot, and each Drawback grants one additional dot to spend on other things. Benefits are granted and distributed as the organization’s leadership prefers, but Drawbacks apply to every member of the organization. Note that some Benefits have their own, intrinsic Drawbacks.

            What follows are a list of Benefits and Drawbacks. Benefits are loosely grouped into:
            --Structural : To do with the organization's Rank, Reach & Grasp, or Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
            --Membership : Enhancing or penalizing the rank-and-file members.
            --Miscellaneous : Whatever doesn't fit anywhere else.

            Note -- Conflicting Benefits: You can't take Benefits and Drawbacks that conflict. An International Organization reduces Regional penalties by 1, a Parochial Organization increases Regional penalties by 1, resulting in no net effect. So an organization can be either International or it can be Parochial, but it can't be both.
            Note -- Stacking Benefits: You cannot purchase a Benefit or Drawback more than once unless otherwise stated. If, however, a character is a member of two Organizations with the same Benefit or Drawback, then treat that character's higher Status as being increased by 1 for the purposes of that Benefit or Drawback (in other words, if a character has Status 3 and Status 2 in Organizations that both have Well-Fed, then his effective Status for the purposes of Well-Fed is Status 4).
            Last edited by NeoTiamat; 06-30-2014, 11:51 AM.


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            • #7
              Benefits

              Structural
              International: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Kinshasa, Singapore, Mexico City... The penalties for Regional, National, and International uses of Reach & Grasp are reduced by 1 each, to -1/-2/-3.
              Otherworldly (__________): It says something when even ghosts know your name. The organization has some influence in a plane of existence other than the mortal, such as the Shadow, the Hedge, or the Underworld/Twilight (which count as one for these purposes). The organization is able to use its Reach or Grasp in other planes of existence -- obviously, the specifics will vary, but Reach in the Hedge could be used to get hobgoblins at the Goblin Market to stop selling to someone, or Grasp (Underworld/Twilight) could be used to banish a ghost.
              Bureaucratic: The organization loves its paperwork, meetings, and minutes. Bureaucracies are excellent in doing things consistently, regardless if the person behind the desk is a genius or an imbecile. As such, they tend to have greater institutional inertia than other organizations, for good or ill. A bureaucratic group needs a total of four net Gains or Losses to shift in Ranks, instead of the usual three.
              Thorough: This is not an organization that lets things slip through the cracks. Maybe the leadership has the gift of prophecy, or maybe all that paperwork is actually good for something. Either way, this organization is very good at finding cracks in other groups' armor, and making sure that its own network is airtight. Its Rank is treated as 1 greater for the purposes of Blocking or being Blocked.
              Wealthy: Croesus had nothing on this organization. It's Resources is 1 greater, and this Benefit may be selected more than once.
              Paramilitary: Ten-HUT! Or possibly "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!," as the case may be. The organization adds its Rank to the successes to be spent on combat minions.


              Membership
              Well-Paid: Clams, bucks, chits, ducats... This organization pays a salary, and it is a good salary. Members gain +1 Resource dots at Status 1, 3, and 5, to a maximum of Resources 4/5/6.
              Well-Fed: Keep the blood flowing, baby! Members of this organization have easy access to Vitae, Glamour, Essence, or what have you, and their minimum starting fuel is increased by Status.
              Support Group: Tell us where the bad True Fae touched you. The supernatural world tends to be bad for one's mental health, and this is an organization that understands that very well. Perhaps it simply mandates psychiatric treatment for all members exposed to the uncanny, or perhaps those cult rituals have a soothing effect. Members gain a +1 to Innocence rolls for Breaking Points, Frenzy, Death Rage, and similar at Status 1, 3, and 5.
              Glamorous: Hello gorgeous. For whatever reason, this organization draws the beautiful (and willing) people. Whether it comes in the form of fashion advice or faerie makeovers, members of this organization tend to be better-looking and more persuasive than usual, gaining a +1 to Persuasion (Make a Deal) rolls at Status 1, 3, and 5 (for a max of +3).
              Pull (Requires Rank 4+): The organization has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. Members gains +(Status) Merit dots. These are open and undefined, and can be switched from one Merit to another in anywhere from a scene to a day, though they can’t be combined with the character’s other Merits. Connected may be used for the following merits: Allies, Alternate Identity, Anonymity, Contacts, Fame, Mentor, Resources, and Lair Security or Secrecy, and cannot create a Merit above 5 dots. Pull dots stack with the Connected Paragon Power of Extraordinary Mortals.
              Influence (____________): Maybe half the museum's board of directors are mages, or the CEO kept his Rolodex after being Embraced. One way or another, the organization has a very close relationship with a certain large mortal network. All members gain Allies (________) dots equal to their Status.
              Proprietary Magic (Requires Rank 3+): Hocus. Pocus. Alakazam! The organization has one or more unique Disciplines, Contracts, or similar. So things like Theban Sorcery, say. Possessing the Status merit allows characters to buy this proprietary magic. Note: An organization only needs Rank 3+ to create the proprietary magic. If they later slip down to Rank 2 or lower, they still keep it – though they might start having trouble keeping it proprietary.
              Scholarly: Sometimes there are advantages to being surrounded by nerds. Characters utilizing organization resources (usually taken to mean their archives or libraries) gain a +1 on Academics (Research) rolls at Status 1, 3, and 5 (for a max of +3).
              Ritualistic (____________): The organization is used to casting spells and invoking demons as a group (nothing bonds people quite as effectively as holding down a wriggling sacrifice). Members gain a +1 to a specific supernatural power set's activation rolls (most commonly something like Theban Sorcery or Cruac) at Status 1, 3, and 5.
              Discipline: A surprising number of groups are all about teaching their membership how to not think, how to guard their minds from the horrors that surround them and simply act as necessary. Whether from extreme training, religious conviction, or supernatural invocation, members of this group gain Mind Shield 1 at Status 1, increasing to Mind Shield 2 at Status 3 and Mind Shield 3 at Status 5.
              Criminal: A very light-fingered and soft-stepping crew are you. Gain a +1 to Larceny (Lockpicking) and Larceny (Security Bypass) rolls at Status 1, 3, and 5.
              Where the Bodies are Buried: The organization has a lot of people interested in a lot of things, and a lot of useful little notebooks filled with secrets. A number of times equal to Status per story, a member can ask one of the following questions about another supernatural whose name and affiliation they know:
              • Who would this character run to if he were in trouble?
              • What is this character's most frequent source of fuel? (What is this vampire's most frequent vessel? What is this werewolf's most common hunting ground? Etc.)
              • What is this character’s main source of income?
              • Who is this character’s closest living family member?
              • Has this character covered up the murder of a human?

              Miscellaneous
              Wellspring: Power flows like water in the territory of the organization. The organization has a Locus on its territory with a rating equal to the organization's Rank. Each additional purchase of this Benefit increases the Locus's rating by 1.
              Totem: Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn! The organization has a Totem, covered in much more detail Here. Any organization that is at least 2/3rds composed of shapeshifters receives this Benefit for free, and Totem does not count against dot costs for other Benefits. Totem may also be purchased more than once (though werewolves have to pay for subsequent purchases).
              Last edited by NeoTiamat; 06-30-2014, 11:52 AM.


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              • #8
                Drawbacks

                Structural
                Parochial (Requires Rank 2+): Perhaps the group just has an obsessive focus on one place, or perhaps they're tied to a specific ethnic community. Either way, the organization has full power in its little slice of territory, and has a harder time projecting influence outside. The penalties for Regional, National, and International uses of Reach & Grasp are increased by 1 each, to -3/-6/-9.
                Difficult Neighbors (Requires Rank 2+): ...and not just because they never return the sugar they borrowed. The organization shares its home territory with some kind of supernatural presence with which it can interact only poorly -- the area is heavily haunted and you're a mortal, it's riddled with Trods, there are a lot of spirits and you're not a werewolf, and so forth. They're not necessarily hostile, but they can become so if the organization isn't careful. If the neighbors are antagonized, the organization takes a -2 to Reach and Grasp from their interference until they can be somehow placated.
                Unclear Leadership So who's actually in charge here? This is what happens when organizations are too free with Status: the organization has more than one person who is capable of deploying its resources, and -- this is the important part -- they don't necessarily coordinate or see eye-to-eye on most things. In addition to the usual problems of getting involved in things, in any adventure where two or more leaders are present, the organization suffers a -2 to Reach and Grasp from being pulled in too many directions.
                Glorious Leader: What the Boss says, goes. Which is a bit of a problem when the Boss isn't around to say anything. This is a very hierarchical organization, and the person in charge doesn't like to delegate power. If the leader of the organization is not on-screen and directing events, then the organization takes a -2 to Reach and Grasp as subordinates lack the authority to get things done.
                Disorganized This is a group that tends to have a hard time getting all of its ducks lined up in a row. It muddles along most of the time, but when confronted with other organizations, it tends to flounder. Its Rank is treated as 1 less for the purposes of Blocking or being Blocked.
                Impoverished (Requires Rank 3+): The organization’s coffers are emptier than a vampire’s heart. It has Resources equal to Rank-1.
                Violence-Impaired (Requires Rank 3+): This is an organization seriously lacking in thug-power. They might be very bookish, very moral, or very cowardly, but there's a distinct absence of leg-breakers in the membership. Subtract the organization's Rank from the successes to be spent on combat minions.

                Membership
                Dues: As Benjamin Franklin wrote, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." This Drawback covers the latter. Members reduce their Resources dots by 1 at Status 1, 3, and 5 -- if this were to bring them below 0, they do not gain the benefit of Status until they raise their Resources.
                Tithe: Not all of a supernatural organization's tasks can be easily accomplished with money alone. Cults and covenants need blood or essence or glamour, and these organizations take it from their membership. A member's minimum starting fuel is reduced by Status, to a minimum of 1.
                The Madness of the Crowd: We don't suffer from insanity, we enjoy every minute of it! Members take a -1 penalty to Innocence rolls for Breaking Points, Frenzy, Death Rage, and similar at Status 1, 3, and 5.
                Creepy: One horrible monster is bad enough, but how about when there's a whole gang of them? Whether due to their personal inhumanity or simply poor social skills, the organization's membership isn't terribly charming, and the effect is worse when they're in groups. Members take a -1 penalty to Persuasion (Make a Deal) rolls at Status 1, 3, and 5.
                Marked: All members of the organization are marked in some specific, visible fashion. They might all have membership tattoos like the Russian Mafiya or the Yakuza, or they may all gain mutations from worshiping some alien creature down a well. Regardless of the specific form, anyone familiar with the organization can spot Marked members on sight, and even the ignorant can notice that something's up ("Why do all those guys have a blue tattoo on their wrist?"). Members take a -1 penalty to Subterfuge (Disguise) rolls at Status 1, 3, and 5.

                Miscellaneous
                Saintly: Pater noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. The organization has a powerful moral code that looks down on the kind of illicit shenanigans that comprise much of Grasp. Whenever organization members are called upon to do an action that harms another (so assault, arson, larceny, murder, but not covering up deaths, acquiring fake papers, or self-defense), the organization's leadership has to roll either Presence+Persuasion or Manipulation+Intimidation, minus the Grasp rating of the action. On a success, the action is carried out; on a failure, nothing happens; on a dramatic failure, the leader in question loses a dot of Status.
                Wrath of Murphy: Anything that can go wrong, will. Every time the organization uses its Reach or Grasp, the GM rolls a chance dice. If it comes up a 1, then something goes dramatically wrong for the organization -- usually in the most entertaining fashion possible.
                Treacherous, Stupid, or Both?: Getting the organization to do what its leadership wants it to is an exercise in herding cats. Rabid cats, possibly. Every time the organization uses its Reach or Grasp, the GM rolls a chance dice. If it comes up a 1, then the organization does something else -- usually not what the leadership wanted it to.
                It's Loose! It's Loose!: Frankenstein would have been proud. The organization regularly has issues with peculiar and uncanny horrors occurring on their turf -- maybe they just have very poor experimental procedures when trying to pervert the fabric of the world, or the local fabric comes pre-perverted and they just suck at keeping it under control. At the start of each adventure the GM rolls a chance dice. If it comes up a 1, then an entity with a Rank equal to the Organization's manifests and is hostile to the organization. The specifics will vary from organization to organization (unhappy spirits, happy demons, grumpy elder vampires, inscrutable Abyssal horrors, etc), and it could be simply a supernatural effect that is equivalent in danger to a creature of appropriate Rank.
                Last edited by NeoTiamat; 06-30-2014, 11:53 AM.


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                • #9
                  Hmm, very nice. I may yoink some of this to add to my Mafia rules.


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                  • #10
                    Question: So organization advancement uses Quadratic Costs. Do you have any suggestions for converting that to use the more linear Experiences system in Blood & Smoke?

                    I'm thinking you can just divide the totals given for each rank by 5, but that'll sort of lime it you. What if you divide them by five, then double them?

                    So a Rank 4 organization let's say, gets 20 Organization Experiences to spend on their benefits. Each one costs 1 Experience. Each Drawback gives you 1 Experience.


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                    • #11
                      Well, there's a reason for the quadratic costs, to use your term. Each dot of Grasp or Reach is noticeably more powerful than the one before it. Grasp 8 is much better than Grasp 4 and Reach 4. Hence the growing cost and the Rank-based caps, to prevent really lopsided organizations (the great Mafiya syndicate that can't even get someone to go to the library -- all Grasp and no Reach).

                      If you want it linear, I would make it much less. A Rank 4 organization would have 12 points total, plus Drawbacks, and each benefit gives you one of each. But you'd have to keep a firm eye on the organizational distribution to prevent shenanigans.


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                      • #12
                        You're right. Since this is working outside the remit of the Experiences system anyway, that makes sense.

                        Out of curiousity, does this system of organizations come up a lot in your games? Do your players engage with the mechanics or just their effect on the narrative?


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                        • #13
                          I like it. I think I'll use this for Agencies and cults in my Demon game.


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                          • #14
                            I will be honest and say the system does not get used an awful lot. It does come up periodically, but both my player-run organizations are steadfastly apolitical and neutral. That said, I do think it helps in that it lets you keep track of who's who and how powerful people are, which serves a clarifying function.


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                            • #15
                              Those were my thoughts exactly. I'm thinking I'll adopt these rules as well, just with a focus on the narrative component of their use rather than talking about mechanics too much.

                              Much obliged for another interesting system.


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