Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blood, Words, and Money: Organizations and Factions (Santicore 2013)

Santicore 2013 continues its triumphal march of destruction. Volume 2 just came out (get it here, and Vol. 1 is available here). My own contribution is in Volume 2, so now I'm free to post it here as well.
Blood, Words, and Money: Organizations and Factions
Organizations:
Determine the size of your organization, to figure out how many subgroups it will possess. "Small" organizations will have 1d4+1 subgroups, medium organizations 1d6+1, and large organizations 1d8+1. These things will get byzantine quickly so be warned. I recommend something like five groups as a manageable yet intricate balance. (Hey, it works for Magic: the Gathering...)
Subgroups and Powers:
For each subgroup present in your organization, roll a d6 on this chart to see what sort of a role it plays. 
1
Intelligence - Gathers information for the organization in some capacity. Magical scrying? Wiretaps? Are they looking at communications, individuals, social context, or even just basic facts? They're likely to have the most on-the-ground contacts, familiarity with locations - and the most information about what other parties are doing.
2
Resources - This can either be equipment - something like James Bond's Q Branch, putting together gadgets - or it can be finances, false identities, forged documents, and the like. Their focus is eliminating sources of friction and allowing other groups to complete their objectives; throw enough money at Resources and problems melt away. <
3
Administration - Avoid making this an executive group, and skew towards administrative, managerial and human resources issues. Personnel, staffing, and coordination. Sounds bland, but they've got their fingers in everything. There's a reason Stalin made sure to secure the personnel and assignment apparatus in his rise to power - personnel assignments mean that they've got control over who works where, and also who has access to what.
4
Operations - This group takes active steps to implement things. Generally filling the "field agent" category, and the most likely group to be authorized for use of force. They'll have personnel with the most field experience.
5
Internal Affairs - This group watches the watchers, and quite possibly sticks them underneath a bright light and asks them a bunch of terrifying questions. They have investigative authority over the other groups, even at very high levels - but nobody trusts them for obvious reasons. 
6
Roll again twice and combine both rolls.* 
*If this result comes up on the reroll, do not merge two groups, but create a "Communications” subgroup instead. Communications groups are responsible for the security of information transmission - which means that they have access to all of it. (It's a rarer group to encounter than the rest, but once in a while it will pop up.)
Depending on the independence of each sub-group, you're likely to have some elements of each role present in each subgroup. For example, it's reasonable for an Action group to create its own dead drops, caches, and the like, to ensure that there's less chance of the resources getting compromised. Of course, these grey areas are the subject of wrangling and infighting.
Good intelligence work, Control had always preached, was gradual and rested on a kind of gentleness. The scalphunters were the exception to his own rule. They weren't gradual, and they weren't gentle either. 
- John le Carre, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
George Smiley, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Actions
Once you've created your subgroups, figure out how specialized they are at their given task on a scale of 1-20 (1 being not at all, 20 being hyper-specialized; these scores should be in the 13-20 range, since each group is inherently specialized). When a subgroup takes a significant action relating to its specialty (a field operation for Operations, an investigation for Internal Affairs, a major R&D project for Resources, etc) they need to roll underneath their specialization score. When a subgroup takes a significant action outside of its specialty (Intelligence running an investigation into Internal Affairs because they think that IA is compromised) they need to roll over their specialization score.
If a roll fails, roll a d6 to figure out why:
1-2
Misfortune: Bad luck, someone in the wrong place at the wrong time - it was all going smoothly, but unforeseeable events resulted in failure.
3-4
Hostile Intervention: Everything your organization did was fine, but an unexpected intervention (another subgroup? A hostile organization?) wound up interfering with your plans.
5
Incompetence: Worse than a crime, it was a blunder. Someone in the subgroup messed things up, whether in planning, execution, or somewhere in between. 
6
Managerial Intervention: DAMMIT! Meddling and micromanagement, whether from the subgroup's leader or from the head of the organization, has caused this action to fail. 
If needed, use the margin of the failed d20 roll to figure out how visible the failure is. On a margin of 1 or 2, it's a failure, but nobody knows about it and the damage is contained. On a margin of 3 or 4, the subgroup needs to choose between losing resources (cutting agents loose, massive bribes, etc.) or having a failure become public knowledge. If the margin's 5 or greater, you lose the resources and the failure is public. 
Alliances/Conflicts:
Arrange the subgroups within the organization in a circle. Adjacent nodes interact often; opposing nodes are rivals, compete for resources and budgets, or otherwise antagonistic towards each other.
Paranoia is just having the right information. 
- William S. Burroughs
Subgroup Goals:
Roll a d6:
1
 Expand: Grow larger, acquire more resources. Use as a default behavior for organizations if you don’t want subgroup goals.
2
Replace / Eclipse: Supplant another subgroup within the organization.
3
Suborn: Gain control of another subgroup.
4
Crown: Promote head of this subgroup to head of the organization.
5
Realign: Swap places with another subgroup (re: alliances/conflict above).
6
Defect: Leave the organization, either to an opposing organization or to become independent.

“Management is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt they don't have enough to do," she murmured back. "So they've invented a new acronym.” 
- Connie Willis, Bellwether

Representative NPC:

Need to have an encounter with someone from this group? Roll on this chart! (Nomenclature format cribbed from Echo Bazaar: echobazaar.failbettergames.com ). 
"Yes, Minister."

1
Bored Bureaucrat
2
Unlikely Academic
3
Passive-Aggressive Clerk
4
Jovial Amateur
5
Bluff Professional
6
Ambitious Underling
7
Powerhungry Boss
8
Burned-out Workaholic
9
Rebellious Naysayer
10
Recalled Veteran
11
Disinterested Middle Management
12
Charismatic Leader
13
Evangelist “Team Player”
14
Jaded Outcast
15
Foreign Contractor
16
Detestable Visionary
17
Giggly Social Climber
18
Shameless Brown-noser
19
Punctilious Charmer
20
Useless Wanker

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sane employee in possession of his wits must be in want of a good manager.” 
- Charles Stross, The Fuller Memorandum

Subgroup Quirks:

Roll twice. The first roll is what the group’s friends think of them; the second is what their enemies or opposition think (or suspect).

1
Use secret signals extensively
2
Are older than they seem
3
Are suspected of brainwashing their members
4
Will accept anyone
5
Are behind on their taxes
6
Were acquired in a hostile takeover
7
Have distinctive facial tattoos
8
Have friendly ties with (Table A)
9
Are well-known about town
10
Rob from the (Table B), give to the (Table B)
11
Operate by night
12
Use exotic animals as messengers
13
Swallow up real estate
14
Use offensive tactics (PETA offensive? Kneecapping offensive? Up to you)
15
Have ferocious, almost inhuman, discipline
16
Are fiscally irresponsible
17
Have a naïve mission or motivations
18
Have a highly placed deep cover asset within (Table A)
19
Have horrendous uniforms
20
Focus on long-term strategy 




The Prisoner

Table A
1-2
Another subgroup within the organization
3
Local government
4
A faction within another organization
5
Organized crime
6
Revolutionaries / Dissidents

Table B

1
Rich
2
Poor
3
Religious
4
Academic
5
Labor
6
Management

Major Influences:

Paranoia – Allen Varney, 2005, RPG
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carre, 1974, novel
The Atrocity Archives – Charles Stross, 2004, novel
Thanks to Mikah McCabe (http://thebonehenge.blogspot.com/ ) for her assistance and feedback and love of ridiculous lists. 
I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern. 
- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (preface)