Every organization has a level from 1 to 20. Any organization below level 1 has no followers; it’s just an ordinary group of PCs. Unlike many other subsystems in this chapter, leveling up an organization in the leadership subsystem does not involve accumulating points. Instead, the process of growing the organization itself is what causes it to level up! As a reward for quests, roleplaying scenes or succeeding at other subsystems (particularly influence or reputation), the PCs can add an NPC follower to their organization. At first, only a few level 0 NPCs follow the PCs, but as the party builds up more followers, they can also gain followers of higher and higher level, as well as a small number of higher-level lieutenants to lead groups of followers. Once an organization has recruited enough followers, the organization itself levels up, which increases the maximum level of followers, the number of lieutenants, and the level range of those lieutenants.
Base of Operations
Beyond the very smallest organizations, PCs need some kind of base of operations the organization calls home. This allows the organization to function and grow in its intended role. For instance, if the PCs run a mercenary army, it might have a keep for training and as a base for defending the nearby area. While organizations usually gain a base of operations early in their existence, they must have one by 6th level unless the story of the organization demands otherwise. A base of operations is not necessarily immobile; a caravan, circus, or flagship (or fleet, for a larger organization) could serve well for wandering organizations.
When an organization has followers or lieutenants of several levels, most of them are at the lowest possible level. As a rule of thumb, an organization has twice as many NPCs of a given level than of the next-higher level. This allows you to quickly estimate the level composition of the organization’s members, but you can of course change the levels of various followers as much as you like. When the minimum level for lieutenants increases, either the lower-level lieutenants level up to the new minimum, or they become followers of more powerful lieutenants the PCs recruit, whichever fits best with the story.
Followers and lieutenants are loyal to the PCs and their organization, working to maintain the organization, its base of operations, and their own way of life. Because of this work, PCs don’t need to pay for basic upkeep of their base of operations or for expansions to house the burgeoning activity as their organization grows in level the followers and lieutenants take care of all of that. But similarly, these followers and lieutenants never get involved in the PCs’ adventuring, nor do they provide a source of free magic or labor.
Cohorts and New PCs
While the followers and lieutenants who define an organization’s advancement don’t accompany the PCs on adventures, sometimes the organization is the perfect plot hook to introduce an NPC who will be traveling along with the party or a new PC hoping to join the party. For instance, if the PCs are running a mercenary army, a rising officer might become a new PC. Treat such NPC cohorts and PCs just like any other additional characters in the party, with an enriched story that ties them to the PCs.
Adding new NPCs who join the PCs’ cause becomes a type of reward you should grant the PCs consistently throughout the campaign. For a typical rate of growth, give the PCs enough followers for the organization to level up at roughly the same rate as the PCs. In some cases, you might want to vary that rate—sometimes drastically. Perhaps the 10th-level PCs have a 20th-level organization with top lieutenants nearly as powerful as the PCs, or maybe the PCs start gathering followers only at 15th level and start their organization from scratch as a 1st-level organization.
During downtime, or over the course of long stretches of time when the PCs aren’t in downtime but their organization is operating in the background, you should periodically provide special leadership events. These are in addition to the events you would normally provide the PCs during downtime. These should generally be a good mix between the following three categories.
- Opportunity: An opportunity offers the PCs a chance to steer the ship for their organization by making a decision that shapes the organization moving forward, with consequences generally ranging from neutral to a mix of good and bad. For instance, the Aspis Consortium offers the PCs a deal to store their goods in the PCs’ mercenary fort. Accepting gives the PCs money, but they’ll have to deal with the consortium’s unsavory goods. Rejecting the proposal might upset the consortium, but it allows the PCs to show their priorities between conscience and coin.
- Trouble: Something’s gone wrong with the organization, requiring the PCs’ attention or assistance to solve. Perhaps the thieves’ guild is dealing with a clever new guard captain and needs help from the PCs to stay safe. Typically the resources the PCs need to invest to solve the troubles should be less than the benefits the PCs gain from windfalls to ensure that the organization is providing a substantial benefit to the PCs, rather than simply evening out.
- Windfall: The organization has received an unexpected benefit that helps the PCs. This is typically access to an uncommon option: perhaps the organization researched a new spell or discovered the techniques for an uncommon feat. However, it could be extra money or resources, clues for the PCs’ adventures, political prestige, or anything else you can think of. The players might even be able to suggest a few options for their followers and lieutenants to work toward to give you some ideas.