Standard Operating Procedure
Introduction: Why Make a Party Standard Operating Procedure?
Barring random shake ups induced by the DM, I (Tleilaxu_Ghola), am proposing that the party use as standard mode of operation. There are a couple of reasons for this, without even going into the details of the standard operating procedure (SOP) itself:
- It helps the DM prepare appropriate encounters in advance, which should allow for more rich and optimized encounters. Speaking from experience, it’s difficult to construct meaningful encounters with fine tuned difficulty without knowing a little bit about what to expect from the party.
- It helps us, the players, optimize our characters in advance for the task at hand. If, for example, we want to use stealth, it would behoove us to have methods of acquiring reliable stealth tools.
Other reasons also exist, and are more dependent on each character’s background. I will enumerate these in detail in the third section of this page.
The Proposed Standard Operating Procedure
Jake has made it abundantly clear that he would like the party to spend at least 40% to 50% of the time engaging in some form of RP. He’s also made it fairly clear that he wants to operate in an urban setting. I’ve built my character heavily around those two assumptions, giving Jessica both combat prowess and potent NPC interaction capability. For a number of reasons, I’m putting forth a proposal to make Jessica behave as a party leader, in addition to a part-time party face. If you read Order of the Stick, the role of party leader is pretty much embodied in the character of Roy. You’ll see by that comic that the party generally follows what Roy does (in the end), but often times its a struggle for Roy to come up with the appropriate compromises and incentives to get the party to go along with him. He certainly doesn’t have a crushing domination over the party and I want to be clear that I do not intend to have any more power in the party than Roy does over the Order of the Stick. Being the party leader does give me a good deal more control over the plot, however. That is the reason I am proposing this and seeking approval. In the fourth section of this page, I will also include a write up on how Jessica might operate if she is not the party leader, should we find this proposal is inadequate.
The party tactic essentially amounts to a modified bait and switch operation. The party will locate two rival factions and offer the party’s services to one at reasonable costs. We’ll help them try to beat their rival faction and perhaps go to the point of setting up a coup of the opposing faction. At the cusp of the coup, we’ll offer assistance to the leader of the opposing faction, promising that we can make all the bad things go away if agrees to our heavy price. If the price paid is agreeable with the party, then we switch factions and use our insider knowledge to topple or at least push very hard back on the faction we originally joined.
The technique is fairly general. We can do this in almost any situation where there are two rival factions competing for the same business. In a city of any appreciable size, it should not be terribly difficult to locate such a rivalry. The pay offs are decent at first, no more or less than one might expect for any mercenary work, but it’s at the cusp when we incur the largest risk and greatest reward. We can mitigate the risk (if it becomes too great) by Space Jamming our way out of Dodge. What kind of rewards do we receive at the cusp moment?
- Typically Jessica will offer her personal services for free at this time, in exchange for a certain contractual agreement. She’s probably not going to make this a terribly public affair, even with the party, and typically negotiates such things privately via telepathy. You can read more in Jessica’s bio about she’ll be doing, but the point is that her operations are general discreet and probably can be ignored by all but the most staunch of good characters.
- I fully expect that the party will be able to demand at least double standard payment for their services to reverse their loyalties, making the reverse job quite lucrative.
- Depending on the severity of the coup, the desperation of the leader involved, and the manner of delivery we might be able to squeeze other fun plot hooks out. The whole idea here is to set up a moment which presses on our mark so hard that he’ll start shedding all kinds of information, gold, and other tasty things.
How Does this Work for Your Character?
How does this plot work with various alignments? I’ll go through each one point by point:
- Lawful Good: Swapping loyalties is not a good thing for you, but if you can be convinced that the original organization we helped was fundamentally more evil than the one we switch to, you’ll at least have served the greater good. If both organizations are evil, sowing chaos into both their ranks can only weaken them for harvest. At the end of the day, it can be arranged such that we enter and exit contracts lawfully—provided they are carefully negotiated. Jessica will very likely try to convince Good characters and NPCs that this plot is intended to strengthen the corruption and eventual degradation of rival evil factions. She may even arrange to bring a third, eminently good faction to come in later and mob up the mess, which should appeal to any good character, if the two factions are fundamentally Evil.
- Lawful Neutral: Raising one faction only to lower it again in favor of another and thus promote competition will expedite the system towards a more stable, neutral equilibrium, which should appeal to your neutral side. Lawfully, we can arrange the contracts so that we do not break them at any point. Besides, we’re working within the existing power structure, not trying to create new ones, which is fundamentally lawful.
- Lawful Evil: The end justifies the means, typically. In this case, we can arrange the end to be the strengthening of one faction in a lawful order over another, and in so doing inject Evil at the highest ranks. This is a technique ripe with opportunity for corruption and all of it done according to the letter of the law. There’s no question that this tactic is, at it’s core, designed to suit a Lawful Evil character.
- Neutral Good: You prefer to see good prevail over evil, but you also probably don’t care whether or not one faction rises above another if they’re roughly equivalent in status. If one faction is good, then we’ll likely try to help that faction in the switch—pushing against them in the initial phase could be interpreted as a means of purifying their ranks and ensuring their integrity before switching over. At the end of the day, it can be arranged to make sure that good comes of this tactic.
- True Neutral: Good and Evil typically don’t matter to you. All that matters is that there is a sublime balance. This tactic rapidly destabilizes two factions in such a way that the outcome can be controlled very precisely by the party. If we wish to establish a lasting balance between the two factions, it can be done with this destructive method. If we wish to have one faction that has been in power for a long time fall and rise the opposing faction to power for some time, this method can facilitate that goal.
- Neutral Evil: At the end of the day here, you’re gonna get paid and if this method lets you make more money than the standard job, I don’t think it should be difficult to convince you that this is an attractive plan. If you’re more into spreading evil for the sake of evil, you might talk to Jessica, I’m sure she could help you do exactly that at the cusp moment.
- Chaotic Good: It’s a matter of perspective. Lawful characters may dwell on how they remain within the painted lines, but you see this plan for what it is: inducing chaos. Chaos leads to restructuring and freedom. With this tactic, we could force the second faction leader to grant freedoms and generally improve the lives of others. If we force things towards more evil ends, but do it in an eminently destructive matter, the whole business can be resolved by bringing in a third, good party to clean up the mess while the two evil factions are fighting over each other.
- Chaotic Neutral: Like the True Neutral characters, you don’t particularly care whether or not Good prevails over Evil. Unlike the True Neutral characters, you relish the potential for the inherent chaos that this plan involves. We’re talking about tearing two factions apart and setting them at each others throats. Who cares if a few of the upper ups get caught in some lawful contract, at the end of the day, we could potentially set thousands of underlings free.
- Chaotic Evil: You may not like having to follow protocols of lawful characters, but if you want to survive long and live to see the seeds of chaos and destruction sown into hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people, this plan is carefully concocted to let you do precisely that. When it comes down to the moment of the switch, we can negotiate all manner of chaotic edicts, as contradictory as that seems. Law can be used as a sustained means of generating chaos. Chaos when properly Evil, can be used as a generating function for destruction. Both are possible under this scheme.
Another question that can pop up is the question of time scale. Can this plot be realistically achieved in a reasonable time frame? I think the answer is yes, but it depends on what factions we shoot for and how perfect we want to set up the switch moment. And whether we want to involve a third party to do clean up duty. I think the lowest level plot could be achieved in three sessions. The first session involving meeting the two factions, pick one side and doing a quest for them. In the second session we would set the coup up and initiate it, ending with the coup. In the third session we would explore the results and do a counter quest for the new faction. I think a lot more could be done, obviously, and the plot could definitely be extended much further at any of the stages, but at its most basic implementation, it would be 3 sessions.
So what happens if you don’t like this idea? Maybe you don’t want to handle all the potential NPC stuff. Maybe you think it empowers evil plots to much. Whatever reason, I want to be clear that this is just a proposal and I am open to completely different ideas and/or tweaks. I want to comment briefly on what will happen, regardless of what the party does, however. I’ve designed my character to be Evil and I intend her to do things that fit that alignment, just as I would expect a good character to seek out good things. If the party is averse to evil things, that will just drive Jessica to doing them out of sight. Mechanically she is more than capable of getting away from the party and doing things out of their notice. My only concern is that this would either necessitate more private solo sessions or story-making on my part. If Jessica has to go harrowing off on her own to do her thing, I don’t think that’s terribly functional. I do have plans for how she can do certain things in plain daylight, in the presence of good characters, but getting them to work is difficult without real proper support from the party. Essentially, all I’m asking is that whatever the party does that it be possible for each individual character to act according to their alignment and background appropriately without restricting others.
The Cuteness and Jessica’s plans
Well, The Cuteness and I have had a little talk, and he seems pretty much fine with it. He’s a great source of intel (Cute little fuzzy thing with high bluff, not to mention ridiculous sneaking capabilities) and assassinations (Nova abilities + aforementioned ninja skills=dead enemy).
The Cuteness does always enjoy more of the shiny, and he is definitely leaning more towards Han Solo than Luke Skywalker, if you get my meaning.
He is, however, a bit suspicious of Jessica, seeing as how he knows her true appearance (Racial True Seeing, always handy).
Interesting. By the way I fully encourage you guys to use your own negotiation skills to their maximum capacity to sway things as you like. I will try and play my characters with as little meta game knowledge as possible.
It all really depends on how you comfortable you guys are with associating with an Evil character. If your character is able to get past that, then we can do business. If not, I might need to explore different options. Namely alignment concealment and other trickery. Would be best to know before hand, though, especially if you think your character is going to be non-functional with a LE character. Because that will require a good deal more preparation on my end.