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Illumineaucracy - Tourmaline


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A unit is a department or other smallish bureaucracy unit with a specific function; think of it as an Illuminati card. Departments have stats, and both generate and consume resources. Departments can "power" other departments, if they produce the resource consumed by the other department; they do so by linking together. Links are all one-way, pointing from a department which produces something to a department which consumes that thing. Departments have one or more alignments, which make it easier or harder for one department to link up with another.

The cards for other departments do not start face-up; you can find out about other departments via in-world actions. (There may also be instances in which you've heard the name of a department but haven't interacted with it enough to know its stats).


Every department has three stats: Effect, Obstruct, and Impress. These are like character dice; roll that many d10s, and add skill to try to get as many 7s or above as possible. The starting stat is 0, though most departments will have at least one non-zero stat. The department rolls these stats any time it needs to do something interesting, whether that's perform its function particularly well (to an extent that it has an in-game effect), or to try to link up with another department (or resist being linked by a hostile department).


There are three resources: Money, People, and Authority. Most departments will consume one resource (if they can) and generate another, every round. Most departments generate more resources than they consume, but there are exceptions. Think of the resources as counters, or tokens, which spawn in one department but can be moved around. Every department has a maximum resource capacity, which is equal to the number of resources it produces times the length of its supply chain. A department which is linked to by another department which is supplying the resource it consumes is a funded department (with a supply chain >1); other departments are unfunded (supply chain of 1). Thus, an unfunded department is full in its first round. Resources can be spent on department skill rolls. There may be abilities which turn resources into outside-of-mechanic effects, but for the most part the resources stay in the mechanic.


These are special powers that the department has, having to do with its function. Most departments will have skill in one or more functions, though having a function listed with no skill does mean it is rolling for 7s. Trying to do something outside the department's function requires rolling for 9s. Without a roll a funded department is generally performing its job adequately; an unfunded department is usually performing its job kind of poorly.

When making a skill roll, a department may spend resources to increase its dice and skill. Each stat has one associated resource:

  • Money: Effect
  • People: Obstruct
  • Authority: Impress

Spending an associated resource gives the department +1 die; spending another kind of resource gives it +1 skill.

Tragic Flaws

Departments will also have flaws. These don't affect the mechanic, but they serve as plot hooks for PC-controlled departments, and affect how the department interacts with the real world.

Linked Structures

A structure is a set of departments which are linked together, one funding another. Any given link is unidirectional; it goes from a department which produces a resource to a department that consumes that resource. A set of departments linked like this is termed a supply chain, though in actuality it isn't required to be (and probably shouldn't be) strictly linear. Any department can link to up to two other departments - even if it can't actually fund both of them. (Departments may also be linked to from up to two other departments.) Resources can only flow "downstream". Once a department is in your structure, you can add links to and from it, and break links to and from it, at the start of your turn. (If you break all the links to and from a department, though, it stops being part of your structure).

Note that departments which can be funded (that is, there is a department which links to them which has spare resources of the appropriate kind) must be funded. You can underfund a department by failing to link to it, or by overcommitting one particular resource source to link to more than it can supply (in which case you can choose which departments to fund); you cannot deliberately withhold existing funding.

Adding to a Linked Structure

In order to add a new department to your structure, you must make a successful linking attempt on it with a department already in your structure, which can fund it. In order to make the attempt, that department must first spend resources equal to twice the number that the target department consumes. Then, it must make an Impress roll for 7s, adjusted for Alignment. (Resources can be spent on increasing the dice and skill for this roll). The target group resists with an Obstruct roll, which it may or may not spend resources on. If the target group is part of an opponent's structure, the opponent gets a free resource move to reinforce. The defender wins ties. Most departments do not have skill in Linking as one of their functions.


Departments can have up to three alignments, from opposed pairs.

When attempting to link to another department, the difficulty is at +1 for each opposed alignment, and at -1 for each identical alignment.

Actions and Turn Sequence

Actions are weekly, with Friday as the boundary day.

A turn sequence goes as follows:

  • Spawn and Consume Resources: Each department generates its appropriate resources. Then, each department which can do so consumes its appropriate resources, either from its own stash or from a department which directly supplies it. You can choose which resources are consumed, and in which order, and you can deliberately arrange to run out of resources. However, any department which does not consume its requirement of resources is considered unfunded (dropping its effective supply chain to 1, and making it behave lamely in its effect on the world).

(Resource generation is now first in the sequence so that I can just fill the groups up on Fridays, and then the players have the week to take actions after that. )

  • Change Links: Each department may have up to two outgoing supply links, and two incoming supply links. You can relink to shift the departments around at this time.
  • Move Resources: You may pick up some or all of the not-yet-moved resources in a department, and move them down a supply chain. You must drop off one resource in each department as you go, though you can put all the remaining resources in the final department, wherever you choose to stop. (You don't have to go all the way down the chain.)
  • Take Actions: You may make one linking attempt per turn. However, you can have any department that you want to make a roll to perform a function.

Interaction with Characters

Anyone can go and talk to people in various departments to try to get them to do their jobs, or befriend them, or whatever, without having to interact with the Illumineaucracy mechanic. People who want to play more seriously with it should get a shtick in Bureaucrat (or something like that), which lets them influence the actions of the departments in their Linked Structures. (This is within reason; you probably can't turn all your departments into infantry and march them on a nearby city-state without a lot more in-world work). Other shticks will let you tweak the mechanics in different ways (such as "My department makes extra money"). Illumineaucracy-related shticks will often focus on a particular department.


There are other groups, and sets of groups, which have their own games of Illumineaucracy (for example, various merchants). In general, a department cannot interact with departments in other "boards" without the use of shticks.



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