Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: Boardrooms and Curia

Boring title page!
GURPSDay post! I bought a bunch of GURPS books at once, and so I'm reviewing them all at once! Boardrooms and Curia seems a bit similar to City Stats, but it focuses on things at a different scale. I would almost say smaller, but that would be wrong. This is for organizations of all sizes, which can include international fortune 500 companies, or a small church. This book left me fulfilled in ways that City Stats didn't. It feels a bit like an expansion to Pulling Rank without being out and out an expansion. Let's take a closer look.


Rectangular contents
Boardrooms and Curia is about making organizations manageable for a GURPS GM. It devotes 11 pages to describing how to define an organization, 6 pages to describing interaction with them, and then 10 pages to 7 different example organizations. The book is organized very well, explaining things in an order that makes sense. It makes a lot of references to other supplements, probably Social Engineering and Pulling Rank are the most important. This book is great for campaigns where players want to join or run an organization, and helpful in campaigns where interacting with complex organizations is common.

Organization Stats

This chapter describes the metrics of an organization. There are three broad categories (Capabilities, Costs and Values, and Social Attributes) which are broken down into 18 different stats. These 18 stats are exactly the type of things that are likely to matter to a player character, such as how helpful the organization is when giving aid or how large of a disadvantage it would be to have them as an enemy. There is a lot of information, and it is not especially easy to get through it all. It is definitely more time consuming than defining a city using City Stats, but it is definitely that much more informative as well. The numbers have pretty good cohesion and trace-ability, and by that I mean different values are the products of functions of earlier values meaning that the information taken as a whole is more likely to have a semblance of holistic verisimilitude.
When I say it is "complex" I don't mean it in terms of difficult equations or anything either. A more accurate term, I suppose, would be laborious. But with 18 stats, there is really no particularly fast way to do it, and I appreciate the thorough approach.

Organizations in Play

If the previous chapter was more about codifying organizations, this one is, as is probably evident from the title, about actual interaction with organizations. The information in the chapter is completely solid from a mechanical standpoint, and doesn't leave me grasping for answers. There is some compelling cross-pollination with Social Engineering, Pulling Rank, and Mass-Combat that is done in a way that not owning the books doesn't mean you are missing out in anything, but having them creates a nice mechanical synergy. I especially like the part in this chapter about player characters creating their own organizations, The information is detailed and presented in an entirely straightforward way, although it does require a little bit of an annoying back and forth with pages in the previous chapter, which is, of course, totally appropriate since the previous chapter already told you how to make organizations offline as a GM. A thoroughly enjoyable chapter for people who like perusing mechanics.

Sample Organizations

This chapter, actually, I didn't like the examples that much! The examples in City Stats by contrast, were probably one of the best things about it. There is a lot of flavor information, but somehow, it feels pretty superfluous to the point of the book. The organizations are all interesting, and the stats are all calculated, giving something of a baseline to compare against, but I feel like "showing the work" of these worked examples could have been helpful. Not bad at all, exactly, in fact, I liked the history bits, but it could have been more helpful with more of the examples devoted to explaining how the numbers are used and calculated.


All in all, save for the (very) minor beef with the example chapter and the super boring cover, this book is incredibly good, and I am surprised at its usefulness. Pull-quotes are on-point, but something irks me about the smoke on the vector art near the table of contents, and the lens flare that appears later in the book. I also like the way that the book stands on its own, but also works very well with other material.

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