DMing 101 – Organizations
As your game grows in complexity, so too must your world and its’ inhabitants. Countries have political infrastructure, militaries, industries, each one comprising hundreds and thousands of people. You needn’t know the names, hopes and dreams of every one of them, but knowing how these groups are organized, why and what purpose is served can deepen the experience for you and your players.
Types of Organization
In many ways, the creation of an organization begins in much the same way that the creation of an NPC does. They must serve an ultimate purpose, and be motivated by a feasible goal, but then there are a wealth of other factors to consider. How did the organization come together? Who do they allow in? Where are they based? They have a personality all of their own.
- Club: A group of likeminded individuals band together to pursue a common goal or interest. Clubs are tough to get into, as they tend to be tight-knit groups open by invitation only, and will often have unusual requirements or hazing rituals for new recruits. Full members will carry a particular sign, often subtle and easily hidden (depending on the nature of the clubs activities) like a signet ring or card, and will be centred around a single meeting place.
- Guild: A guild is usually centred around a particular skill and making money from it. Guilds are not easy to get into but are open to anyone capable of contributing to them, usually financially, but also by reputation. Members of a guild will often carry the insignia on their person or hung somewhere in their shops, something as overt as a banner or emblem, or something surreptitious like a particular colour of glove, or tie clip.
- Church: Churches are brought together by an ideology. While anyone can attend a church, actually running one requires a great deal of commitment, often the devotion of one’s life. Supporters may don a certain symbol or observe certain rituals, only those who run the church will don uniforms and maintain a temple, or shrine.
- Nation: Nations are effectively an organization that you are assigned to by birth and geography. Their organizational structures vary wildly and are frequently managed by multiple separate organizations, a church, a military, an entire populous managed by a single and much larger entity.
All any organization needs is a leader and a location.
The leader occupies a range of roles, from doing all the decision making, to simply enforcing the groups charter or laws. Any subsequent leadership roles are often passed onto sub-leaders, for example management of money, controlling intake of members, oversight of locations and buildings, or whatever other essential operations require special attention. The bigger the organization, the bigger the leadership structure, and for that you may want to keep a diagram with a short list of essential names.
Locations can vary, from a simple clubhouse to a sprawling emissary, to a network of guildhalls and franchisees. These places should be readily identifiable to members, but some may not be too obvious to those who do not know, for example a gang of thieves or assassins may mark their hideouts with subtle symbols.
As Friends, As Enemies
How many of us have played in games where our nemesis has been the evil cult devoted to a demon lord or some apocalyptic prophesy? More often than not in RP campaigns the word “organization” is usually prefixed by the word “evil” or some other mixture thereof, it evokes images of corruption, criminal networks and an enemy made all the more daunting by their size, power, and reach.
While your adventurers may choose to topple that organization themselves as a covert group, what would make a better ally than another organization? Are the group part of a rival guild, or perhaps that guild could be persuaded by a band of plucky outsiders to act in their favour. Does the great enemy threaten a nation? Surely the nation could rally an army to their defence, with the party acting as tactical liaisons, sharing what information they’ve gathered.
It is not the actions of single individuals that write history, it is the actions of nations, leaders, far grander machinations that change the world, and that is what your group can become a part of as influential members. Presenting your party with the opportunity to start a war will really whet their appetites.
Remember though that within as team-players, your group may find themselves required to abide by the laws and codes of conduct of their new friends and allies. This could cause problems should those laws conflict with the morality of any party member. So far as punishment options go, losing the benefits that come with being members of the organization are a good start, but certain guilds and churches may be a little more creative about how dissenters and insubordinates are treated.
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