Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Where All the Ancillary Organizations At?

I never seem to make enough use of ancillary organizations - whether it's unions, guilds, or social clubs - in my games. Oh I make them, don't get me wrong. I set them up in the early stages. I've built complex knighthoods, Hellfire clubs, quasi-Satanic cabals, social clubs, volunteer organizations, unions, and guilds. I've given them names, drawn out complex connections to each other and the wider world, established their internal power structures and dynamics. But once everything begins it all goes to pot. 


Part of the reason behind this is that all of that plotting I do tends to make my sluggish in how I effectively bring these organizations to bear; like I'm worried that I'll get something integral wrong. I'm thinking that I may have found a solution to this problem but I'm still working out the kinks. More on this later.

Also, how was your weekend? Did you have fun?


  1. I paid tribute to our fallen soldiers on memorial Day by doing fuck-all, as is my American-born right. :)

    Also visited with friends on Sunday. But, alas, no gaming. :(

    As to the Ancillary Orgs, have you ever considered just coming up with a bare-bones description, and just plugging them in when the story demands, on the fly? That seems a more fruitful way to do it to me.

  2. Yeah, the best way to do the organizations is to work out a very basic system with built in room for expansion. I usually work out a "three interesting people, three interesting things" format for stuff like this...three important people that the PCs might need to meet/know/ask about, and then three things that make the organization relevant to them. Everything else can be summed up in a sentence for the moment...if you over plot it's going to be a lot of energy wasted. Example:

    Fire Knives - guild of assassins that run amok in the empire offering contract services to those who want them, and killing those who thy identify as enemies. Three people: Celibantes Astiriate, the lead assassin (half elf), Teylayurana Sorinos - guild leader in the west; Shadulos Boron - the innocent merchant who secretly runs the whole operation. Three facts: 1. the cult worships Haro, god of murder, but also secretly a lawful evil god of order who directs his assassins in dreams to kill dissenters of the empire; 2. The cult has guild chapters in every major city port in the Middle Kingdoms and the Empire; 3. Their symbol is a shield depicting a starry night with a flaming dagger and arrow crossing it...they use this symbol in grafitti to terrify their enemies as a strategy and also to mark a city as "theirs."

    That, up there, was all I needed to start what eventually became the most vile organization my PCs simultaneously loved to fight and also loved to join up with. Much later I wrote a huge mess of information on them for posterity, but ironically all the depth I put into the upper heirarchy has never seen the light of day.

  3. I had a date. It went well. She wanted to see Mad Max. I say again - SHE wanted to see Mad Max.

    On organizations...

    Since I develop numerous elements of the setting well before the game begins, I usually have a pretty good working knowledge of my organizations as soon as 'the doors open'. Those organizations are up to something. That is, each and every one of them has an agenda, and they are pursuing those agendas even before the game gets underway.

    Whether or not the PC cross paths with the organizations, and their agendas, is a matter left up to the players and their PCs. If the agendas in question are allowed to move far enough along, the results of them will spill out into the daylight, and the PCs will be have to deal with them. Or not, I suppose. If the players choose to ignore the underhanded maneuvers of clandestine groups, that's on them.

    The point is, the organizations only really come to bare when what they want, or need, interferes with the wants and needs of the PCs and vice versa. If you know what those things are, there is basically no way to get them wrong.

  4. I've had the same problem with organizations over the years, and I've been developing some ideas about how to handle it -- first, make a habit of never introducing more than one organization at a time, and then only really developing the ones that players "return" to -- I'm working on some rules for building up an organization as the players pay more attention to it.

    Ideally, the thing works like a character -- but as a group of NPCs with a similar purpose that grows with time and establishes connections to other things the players are doing as the game moved forward.



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