Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Amethyst Foundations Pt. 3 - Organizations

One of the things that really caught my eye in the Amethyst: Foundations book was the Organizations listing on the Table of Contents, because it wasn't where I thought Organizations would be (which is usually somewhere in the world fluff section). Rather, the Organizations section comes in the middle of the Races of Amethyst Chapter (Chapter 2 if you were wondering). I don't really know why it would go in this section, since it seems like it would fit better in the next one (which covers the special backgrounds that Amethyst utilizes called Lifepaths), but this is a very small complaint. Actually, I only bring this criticism up because I am about to Praise the Living Daylights out of this section and I didn't want it to sound like I was being a Fanboy (This is a review after all).

The Organizations section, although only a little over a page long, is one of my favorite pages in the entire book, because not only does it solve one of the biggest problems that I have with gaming, but it also gives the players an incentive to actually come up with a shared background.

Essentially, the Organizations that Amethyst presents are very cool little groups, which may come from a certain area of the world, or be dedicated to a certain task. You only get the benefits from the Organization if all of the players in the group agree to take that Organization as part of their background. But, if all the players consent, and they make characters that are members of that Organization, they get some in-game benefits. These benefits may come in the form of a Feat, some gear, of even a new, shiny vehicle to drive around the world in.

This is just a purely brilliant idea. Why didn't WotC think of this first?

The idea of having the player's be part of an Organization is not really knew, I guess, but having it in the character generation section, and clearly stating exactly what the benefit they will gain by taking that Organization as part of their character, is pretty ingenious. Also, by putting it into the Races section of the book, they are really implying that the Organization to which you belong is just as much a part of you as your race is (I guess there was a reason why they put that in the Races section after all...). These Organizations, in my mind, offer a plethora of adventure hooks, story ideas, and also give the GM a method to send the players off on some mandated quest; I can easily see using membership in said Organization as a legitimate reason for sending the players off on a published adventure when I, as GM, start looking for something a bit more structured to do. Since they are members of the group, orders coming down from the Top are probably not uncommon; though it may seem like railroading, it comes off as a little bit less tyrannical when there is some justifiable built in system within the world that I can point to for legitimacy.

I will say that I would like to have seen more about each of the Organizations presented; honestly, I would like to have seen a LOT MORE Organizations presented as well (especially ones for Echans as well as Techans). But, what I will say is that I will definitely be working on something like this for my homebrew games in other settings.


  1. Well, crap....gonna have to make s'more...

  2. @ChrisDias - well, wanting more is a pretty good criticism I think. You really knocked it out of the park with that section I think. I would love a larger section in the next book which covers a bunch more organizations, especially ones for echans, not just techans. I look forward to reviewing that as well. If you don't mind me asking, what inspired you to do that section?

  3. Actually, WotC had the organization thing going back when they had Living Greyhawk. Each region has it's own organizations called meta-orgs. If you belonged to a meta-org, you gained certain benefits, had access to only certain feats, magic items, or other things. For example, since I belonged to the Pale region, one of the meta-orgs was to join the Pale military. I can't remember the bonuses that it granted or stuff that was non-restricted.

    The only problem with our meta-orgs was that our triad was constantly changing them and rewriting the rules so it was a major hassle to be part of the organization only to find out that certain benefits are gone.

  4. O! Really? I will have to check that out. Did those orgs require the whole party to be a part of them? or, were they more just like orgs that one character could join?