Organizations in Games?

So, Runeslinger brought up a really interesting point in his comments on my last post… mentioning how hard it is to convince players to invest in things like membership in an organization and patrons over more “mechanical” options. I’ve been thinking about organizations a lot lately as I’ve been trying to figure out how to make them a central part of a game.

I mean — if I took myself as a sample size of one I’d say that organizations are awesome! I love games where I’m part of a thieves’ guild or a knighthood, or something else. My favorite Amber character I ever played was a character I created who was a lord of Chaos who was a member of the Knights of the Eidolon — an out of favor knighthood in the courts that was once great but it’s ideals of honor are considered outdated in the current age.

But I’m not the only player, the only style of player… and I want to hear what others think. I’ve read so many different kinds of rules for organizations in games, from completely non-mechanical to uber-mechanical… any thoughts, advice, suggestions for good gaming reads?

I’m all ears.

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7 responses

  1. I love being part of something; however, it is finding something that works well within the group – the issue being is so many groups have obligations that pose problems for your stereotypical adventurer.

    Mechanically speaking, Reign, by Stolze did some wonderful things with organizations and mechanics, allowing it to be something that the players tweak to suit them, or as simple as they want. He also, in the GM section, did a long piece on rewards that don’t come with mechanical rewards.

  2. my group has loved organizations irregardless of game system. we have never used any kind of mechanical aspect, they have always worked as what the dm and player thought was cool.

  3. Episodic games, the published railroad games I play as a player with other groups who have never played AD&D 1e, do not invest in player organisations. These adventure modules (they call them campaigns bfLOL) show no interest in engrossing players into the world – which is a reason to have player organisations, IMHO. Frankly, my game is a political one and anything like that requires organisations (and competing organisations) within it, IMO. The PC mentors all belong to organisations and, while the PCs are still low levels and unconcerned by the machinations of their mentors’ organisations at this time, the PCs will face choices of fealty.

    For cogitative (vs. light) reading on the subject…? I recommend flipping through AD&D 1e.

  4. I think part of the problem (at least in most groups I’ve been in) is that PCs are typically generted solely as individuals with a blind eye to the group and with aversion to stepping on the GMs toes.

    Oh sure, there’s the typical, “Hey Kev, we could use another healer in the group. Maybe you should consider playing something that’ll round us out…”

    But all in all, nobody wants to take membership in something and then force the group to tag along while they either “pay their dues” for the perks they’re getting, get railroaded into something they didn’t anticipate, or forget to include the organization at all.

    Most players I’ve discussed this sort of thing with are fearful the organization will turn into one of three things:

    1. It’ll prove to be seen by the GM as utilized too often as a crutch.
    2. It’ll be used too forcefully by the GM as a stick.
    3. It’ll not used at all (either by the player or the GM) and seen as a waste.

    I’ve often idly wondered what a game would look like if extra points were given to players during character generation for each “linkage” they could make to another player’s character. Family ties, organization memberships, past dealings, etc. would all help to interweave the party into more of an understandable group and would make for a more fleshed out world to begin play within.

    1. I have the same experince as Kevin regarding the three reasons he posits for the avoidance of group membership when optional.

      I like his suggestion, too. All for One does this in a sense by providing a clear framework of expectations foe musketeers characters, complete with starting Resources in Rank and Followers which definitely helps tie characters together somewhat. This is not quite what Kevin suggests, but is a step in that direction.

  5. Like All for One, I think a Supers game would also fit the “find a link to another player’s character because you’re assumed to be a member of the group” concept quite well.

    I’m also hoping to push the issue a bit on the players in my Darkwood setting by starting each player’s character off as a member of a family and requiring them to have a position in the town.

    As the setting is small in scope with the town central to the character’s world, I think it’ll help lead to membership being seen as a natural and necessary thing.

  6. Thanks for the great responses. This discussion has given rise to thoughts for another post. I’ll throw it up here later today once I get school work wrapped up.

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