One of the bits I particularly liked about Mindjammer, the RPG, as well as Atomic Robo was the way they built organizations up (factions in the latter.) As Firefly is a Cortexified version of Fate, or a Fatified version of Cortex — take your pick — I thought it might be fun to introduce this in the Big Damn Game.
Pretty much any kind of organization can be represented — from an army unit to a military organization, from the local PTA to a company to a government. Like characters, they have the three attributes, but these have slightly different connotations:
PHYSCIAL: This is the extent of the manpower, physical holdings, or presence of a company. An organization with a local/less than planetary presence is a d4, a planetary presence is d6, presence in one of the star systems of the ‘Verse d8, multiple systems d10, and ‘Verse-wide d12. Blue Sun, for instance, has a Verse-wide reach for its products, but does not appear to be present on every world and moon of the ‘Verse, so it would be a d10 (or a d8, if the GM decides that the company has offices and factories only in a select few worlds of each sun.) The Alliance is just about everywhere in the Black, so it runs a d12.
MENTAL: This represents the brainpower of the organization, and is the ability to gather economic (or other) data, utilize that for its advantage, to create new product or do other forms of research. The average government of a moon is lucky if it can muster a d6, but the Alliance has a d10 and is striving for d12.
SOCIAL: This is the public relations wing, the reputation of the organization and represents the extent of its reach in society. While Blue Sun might barely make a d10 for their physical locations and manpower, they are a definite d12 Social for their near ubiquitous impact on product and culture, from food to entertainment, to medicine. Likewise, the Alliance is very powerful, but the impact of the War has not yet been overcome and many worlds still look to avoid dealing with the Alliance or actively oppose their operations. That puts them at a d10.
A character working with these groups could, for a plot point, exchange their attribute for the attribute of the organization when dealing with a situation, or to create an appropriate asset. Near some men to help you open that Kuzko Shop-Mart on Regina? A plot point and you’ve got yourself a posse of SHOPHANDS d6 ready to help you establish franchises all over that backwater dirtball! You’ll be home on Ariel in just a few weeks, at this rate! Need a bunch of men with guns to catch those fugitives you’ve been hunting? Good thing you’re working for Maximum Impact Security Services — MISS has offices all over this system and a quick call on the Cortex got you HIRED GUNS d6. Yahoo.
Problem is, if you’re working for these groups, they expect results will be shiny. Screw it up, and your use of their assets can cause a Complication for the company — that Kuzko setup went swimmingly and now you have a presence in the few towns worth a squint…and possibly just raised Kuzko’s footprint in the Border worlds, raising them from a d6 to d8 Physical. Sounds like someone’s getting a promotion!
Shame that hunt for those fugitives went pear-shaped. Might not have been so bad, save for the very public use of MISS mercs in town. Did you really have to take down a schoolhouse? MISS is bracing for the WHERE’S THE OVERSIGHT? d6 complication you got slapped on them. Great work, greenhorn; we wish you luck in your future endeavors…’course, we’ve also slagged your name from here to Blue Sun, so good luck finding legitimate gunwork.
If an organization is hit for more than a d12 complication, it’s “taken out” — if this was a physical operation, like a military operation, this means the unit is either destroyed, or routed and no longer a threat. If a mental one, the research might have wound up a dead end, or bad management led to a hemorrhage of talent. A social event that took out a company so badly damages their credibility as to impair their operations. The organization steps that die down. If they go under d4, the organization is destroyed.
Organizations also have skills — the GM should decide with are appropriate for the organization. They should also have some kind of MISSION STATEMENT distinction (Kuzko’s “Best prices on the border”, for instance…) and two others that are appropriate like Blue Sun’s “Biggest Corporation in the Verse” or the Alliance’s “We’re from the government….” they can use.
An example of an organization might be Kuzko Shop-Mart…
Mission Statement: Best Prices on the Border d8
Distinctions: Terrible but Cheap Labor Practices d8, Largest Logistics Network in the ‘Verse d8
Attributes — Physical d8, Mental d8, Social d8
Sills: Influence d8, Labor d6, Survive d6
Kuzko started as a purveyor to the Independent movement, but toward the end of the conflict quickly shifted to a commercial focus to avoid any repercussions from the War. Their large Border network of suppliers and buyers allowed them to swiftly gain a foothold in several major markets, and the perception of their having been Independent allowed them to build a loyal customer base. The company is know for having the best prices, for always hiring, and for being a royal pain to work for, with lackluster pay and an aggressive cost containment strategy.
So there’s a quick hash-up of rules for organizations in Firefly. Feel free to comment or make suggestions for how to make them better.