Eclipse handles personal abilities very nicely. That’s a basic part of virtually every game system. Quite a few “impersonal” abilities are usually pretty straightforward as well.
If you want to develop a relationship with some group of organization, that’s presumably where some of your efforts are going – and hence some of your character points will go into abilities such as “Favors”, “Contacts”, and “Privilege”.
If you want to run your own organization, you can buy Leadership, Privileges, and related abilities, and do so.
If you want to be a ruler or major noble, you’ll probably want Dominion and Action Hero/Influence, so you can manipulate large-scale events.
If you want to become a god and found your own religion, you can buy Godfire and become one – at least if the game master is willing to put up with it.
That’s all personal stuff.
If an organization is acting as a patron for a character, you can get a package deal bonus to represent it – usually including some special training, favors and perks, and some obligations to live up to if you want to keep those benefits. Normally you can only have one package deal – the old saw about how “no man can serve two masters” – but the game master may allow characters who work for two groups to mix and match from their package deals, up to a maximum of 12 CP.
Alternatively, if the game master allows it, the character could take an immunity to that restriction, and work for as many groups as he can manage to gain acceptance from. That would be quite a balancing act – but it could be worth it in some cases. Package deals are usually heavy on social benefits and skills and light on powers, but there are some exceptionally good ones.
There is a small gap in the middle range however. Groups that work together for awhile – especially “adventuring parties”, which are basically special-forces groups under extreme pressure – tend to get used to each other. If all the members survive for awhile, they become familiar with each other’s favored tactics and moves and learn to coordinate their efforts. They become slightly more effective.
Now, if one character is devoting his or her talents to acting as a leader, we’re back to personal abilities – and there are plenty of ways to buy enhancements for a group.
Ideally, of course, the actual players will learn to coordinate their characters efforts, making them far more effective. While some players never learn, that’s fair enough; presumably some characters will suffer from the same flaw.
That’s where there’s a gap though.
Occasionally players are given characters who are supposed to have worked together for quite awhile, and are supposed to play them as a well-coordinated team off the top of their heads. That’s kind of difficult, and few players – much less entire groups – are really up to it.
Also, the game master will occasionally want to attach a benefit – or problem – to the group, rather than to specific characters. If some arch-villain has sworn vengeance against the group as a whole, new characters who join will share in that enmity – and old ones who retire may well be forgotten.
Now that’s something that Eclipse doesn’t include a detailed section on handling – mostly because it’s designed for building individual characters, not groups. Fortunately, there is a standard mechanism for applying special modifiers to individual characters to represent their membership in a particular group.
Ergo, here’s the Experienced Party Template:
For a group to qualify for a Party Template, they’ll need to
Have worked together as a group for at least a month. If a character is lost, and a replacement is acquired, the template will apply to the new character after he or she has worked with the group for a month.
Clearly identify themselves. If a group can’t agree on a team designation, they’re obviously not coherent enough to come up with a party template.
Have gone on at least one notable adventure together. Training without stress will only get them so far.
Actually work together. Characters who assault other characters in the group, sneak off alone and skim the treasure, or otherwise undermine the group are still subject to the template penalties, but get none of the advantages.
Make sure that their organization is publicly known. This doesn’t mean that their identities have to be widely known; a secretive group of assassins may remain a secretive group – but they’ll need to make sure that the activities of the “Shadow Blades” (or whatever) are widely rumored and feared.
To avoid any ECL complications, the Party Template has a net cost of zero character points. What characters are actually getting is a brand new Restriction – worth +1 CP per level – against backstabbing each other or working separately (on penalty of losing the party template abilities) and the ability to count up to three acquired disadvantages against the costs of template abilities.
Most parties will soon acquire several disadvantages – bad reputations, enemies, having rewards out on them, having their tactics be widely known, getting cursed, or having various obligations – so this way they’ll be getting something out of them.
That will normally give a party ten character points, plus one character point per level of the lowest level character in the group, to spend. To change them around, they’ll need to retrain – but 0 CP templates are pretty easy to acquire or dump. If they have a particular mission in mind, they can even train in abilities and techniques specifically for that mission if the game master opts to allow it.
What can those points be spent on? As usual in Eclipse, they can be spent on anything the game master is willing to put up with and which the party members can agree on – which may be the primary sticking point. Since the template is the same for every party member, they’re unlikely to agree on what’s best. Still, if they can’t agree, they don’t get anything.
Most groups will agree on something soon enough.
They might have a patron spirit that provides everyone in the party with the Grant of Aid ability.
They might have acquired special techniques for fighting against particular foes.
They might have learned to aid each other with a specific set of skills, by buying Skill Focus.
They might have built up a good reputation.
They might be particularly good at assisting each other (Aid Another)
They might be owed some favors, or have group contacts, or be so used to covering for each other that they can’t be flanked (Awareness and Flankless).
Regardless of what they spend the points on, that will give a party an identity of it’s own, some sort of unifying theme, and some incentive for sticking together. When they run off in all directions separately, they’ll lose their special bonuses. That’s probably worth putting up with them having a few extra character points to spend.