Although there was much to criticize about the last phase of 3.5 edition D&D design decisions, once thing that I quite applauded and enjoyed was a common "stat block" that the designers came up with to describe organizations that the players could interact with in the campaign, either by joining, working with them, opposing them, or in a pinch, just to add color (although for the latter, this is rather more involved than you need.) For quite some time now I've thought about using this format to come up with some organizations for my Dark•Heritage campaign setting that can be used a la carte in any other setting, i.e., they'd be perfect modular elements, like my original idea of campaign setting modules that could be plugged and played into any setting.
However, I never did it. In fact, I never even looked over the organizations from a few samples of WotC products to see exactly what all the categories are that I'd need to write about. Until now.
This post is just to put out the outline template on how to describe an organization, but in subsequent posts, I'll actually detail some organizations. I had with me, by coincidence, a copy of Fiendish Codex 1: Hordes of the Abyss and Complete Scoundrel and between the two books had four sample organizations to look at. Anyway, here's the template:
Start off with an introductory blurb of text... some color, a description of how the organization may have been founded, who the important founders may have been, or something like that.
Joining the Organization: Since it's possible that PCs may want to join your organizations, even "bad" ones, if you tend to get rather rascally PCs, as I do, talk a bit about how you go about joining the organization. Sub-headed under this is Entry Requirements which are not unlike prestige class requirements; they may include minimum ranks in certain skills, access to certain spells, a certain base attack bonus, or certain special roleplaying requirements (i.e., PCs must have been killed and ressurected, or something unusual like that.)
Playing a member of the organization: So, if the PCs do join, what does that mean? For that matter, if NPCs feature prominantly in the campaign, who are members of this organization, what do they do? This is largely just text blurb, but it does also have some subheadings, which might vary depending on the organization. They might include: Combat, how the members try to conduct combat, if necessary, Advancement, refering to advancing with the heirarchy of the organization itself, not "leveling up", Benefits of belonging to the organization, Responsibilities that members have to the organization once inducted, and possibly Missions that the organization would require the characters to undertake on its behalf.
The Benefits subheading could also have sub-subheadings, including Gear or Services that you can get from the organization, Information that the organization can provide to you, Status that being a member of the organization could provide to you in certain situations, or Access to specialists or important people who could support the members in the carrying out of thier various duties or tasks.
The Organization in the World: Describe a bit how the organization fits into a campaign setting. What is the organization's... uh... Organization? Who runs it and how do they govern? Is there an organizational HQ? Does the organization control any territory overtly? What are typical NPC Reactions to the organization? And finally (and very optionally) how does the organization fit into some of the standard campaign settings, i.e., The Organization in Eberron or The Organization in Faerûn?
The Organization in the Game on the other hand, is more metagame discussion. Rather than talking about the organization in the setting, how do you utilize the organization in your actual game? Are they likely to be allies? Antagonists? Rivals? Something else? How can you adapt the organization; for example, the Black Cult of Amn, which codifies and studies demonic lore, is suggested as an adaptation, it could be applied to any other type of outsider, including devils or even celestials. What are some potential Encounters the PCs could have with organization members, and then include the statblock of a sample NPC organization member.