CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Organizing Your Organizations

Building Guilds, Sects, and Cults

Thieves’ guilds, holy orders, trade syndicates, evil cults; organizations that players can either be a part of or are set to clash with are a common thread in many RPGs. But how does one craft an organization into being? You can just say thieves’ guild and then throw a bunch of mooks and a BBEG at the players, but sometimes you want to expand upon your organization a little more. Today we’re going to take a look at things to think about when creating your organization.

So you’ve chosen the type of organization you want. The first thing you want to do is decide on size and scope. How many people are in your organization and how far does their influence go? Something like the Pathfinder Society is big but maybe not as large as a thieves’ guild in a large city. They are very particular about who official Pathfinders are, so their numbers aren’t as high as one would think. And why would one think the Pathfinders were a huge organization? Because of their scope; they have chapter houses all over the face of Avistan and even in Garund.

A thieves’ guild, as written by many GMs and prefab campaign settings, can be one of the most massive organizations in terms of membership. However, they are usually relegated to one city, possibly even one part of a city, so scope of influence does not necessarily equate to size of membership. Some specific church sects, technically an organization within an organization, may be only a handful of members but be known and loved or feared worldwide.

Size of an organization can be controlled by method of initiation. Some organizations may let anyone in, others might have a more strict initiation process. The more difficult the process the smaller the pool of initiates and the smaller the membership. Probably the most common form of initiation is proof of skill. “Steal an object of a certain value”, “track something and kill it”, and “put on an excellent performance” are just a few examples.

There are other methods of initiation into a group. It can be as simple as being a certain race or ethnicity. Being a member of a certain religion is also a common requirement for initiation. Being a member of a certain social group might also be a hurdle one must overcome to become a member of the organization.

Now that you know the size of your organization, its scope of influence, and the method to which members are accepted, you need to figure out what the hierarchy of the organization is. Determine whether your organization has a strict hierarchy or a loose one. Some groups have a multistate system of tiers. The leadership and sub leadership might be strict while those lower on the totem pole make their own rules for who outranks who.

As mentioned earlier, some organizations are a group within a group, or even multiple collectives together. One example of this is sects within a church. A holy order of paladins may have its own hierarchy and initiation requirements while still being a part of a large church. Small cults may be a second example. The actual cult may only be a handful of members on equal standing, while each cult member might run his own organization.

Those are a lot of the major issues you may have when creating the organization you want in your campaign. Once you’ve got your hierarchy in order, it’s time to start fleshing out who the members of the group are. Depending on who your players are going to be meeting first you can start from the top down or the bottom up.

What organizations have you created in your game? What kind of hierarchies have you used within your groups? What other things do you like to cover in when creating your collectives?

Just like building an organization, the CRB looks to help you build your game. If you’ve found this and the CRB’s other content useful please consider contributing to my Patreon. The CRB has also spread out onto social media and you can join our communities on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter. My inbox is always open on all platforms for questions or comments.

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