Organizations as NPCs

Earlier today I was working on a FATE Core game idea that requires players to build and lead organizations in a struggle for resources and safety. These organizations will need to come into direct conflict, not unlike armies, so it won’t be enough to sketch out the leaders and let the players interact with them.

Eventually I hit on the idea of taking FATE’s idea that “everything is a character” with Aspects one step further and having these organizations be complete NPCs with Aspects, Skills and Stress tracks. A few things would have to be renamed or reorganized. Physical or Mental stress don’t work as Physique and Will with an entity comprised of hundreds or even thousands of individuals. The physical track could be Membership or some such, while the mental track could be Faith or Confidence (in the leader/s).

The Skill list would need to be chopped down considerably, perhaps to five or six skills that all organizations share. Something to the effect of Fight, Defend, Coherence or something to represent the health and morale of the group, and maybe a specialty skill or two based on what the organization is.

This would let players interact and direct the organizations just like they would any other NPC, and the organizations could interact with each other in the same manner. The organizations might need an extra long Stress track or a free shift against individuals, so a single character couldn’t walk through an organization too easily (unless of course that’s appropriate for your setting).

Just a stray thought, but maybe one that would work. Interested in hearing what folks think.


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2 Responses to Organizations as NPCs

  1. That sounds like a great idea. It would be easy enough to specialize organizations for specific settings. Playing a sci-fi game that involves a scientific arms race? Have a Research skill.

  2. Clark Valentine says:

    Nice. This is what Fate designers often call the Fate Fractal: zoom in as much as you like, everything is a character. Same thing with zooming out. Works for spaceships, for nations, for sub-systems on a vehicle (for the Last Airbender game I’m running for my kids, I’m statting out a Fire Nation tank, with separate stat blocks for the tracks, the hatch, the body, and such).

    Physique and Will work fine for an organization: physique is the resilience of the org to physical attacks, both its numbers and its resources. An org with low physique might have half its stuff in a lightly guarded warehouse, or something. Will is its unity, command structure, willingness to commit to a fight. An org with low will might be easily taken out of a conflict by some precision strikes against its communication network, for example.

    Just be careful when you add unique skills into a setting that only some entities have access to, because this strongly implies what you _can’t_ do if you don’t have access to the skill. It can be limiting.

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