The other week, I talked about taking over countries, and some of the points to consider when doing so. But not all of us are in a position for that kind of conquest; nor, for that matter, are all of us interested. There are plenty of other things that we can consider taking control of, either in pursuit of later victory or simply because it amuses us: corporations and organizations, small groups, families of varying sorts, badly-planned rebellions, ideologies, so on and so forth. We really don’t need to limit ourselves to clearly claimed land with a specific understanding of what position constitutes “in charge”. It’s a similar process, mind you, but taking over non-countries requires a subtler, more flexible mind; the correspondences between territorial power and power in other sorts of units can be difficult to grasp. Here are some steps to get youself ready before you make an attempt on a non-territorial unit.
You need to start, of course, by determining where the power lies. Countries are usually easy; you can tell who the rules are, who constitutes the nobility, and from there who has their ears and what their succession politics look like. In other sorts of groups, though, it can get a lot more complex. You can’t necessarily go with the one with the loudest voice, nor even the one designated to relay the word of said unit to outsiders; he may be the face, but that doesn’t mean he’s in charge. The smartest one? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. The one who seems to know how to talk to everyone? Better shot, but not guaranteed either. In essence, you need to look at the unit for a while; figure out who defers to whom, who actively listens to whom (if these are two different people, which one typically gets the results she wants), whose personal agenda most often gets served–the one who gets the benefits of most of these is probably the seat of power.
Consider also what sorts of qualities they respect; if you plan on putting yourself in charge, you’re going to not merely want but need to be the kind of person they’d want to take orders from, or they’ll fight you/just go their own way when you make your move.
What about splinter portions? The more people you get working together, the more likely there are to be sub-groups within the unit as a whole. The differences might be pre-existing, like origins and ideology; they might be assigned or naturally forming, like project groups or people with designated roles; they might have recently occurred, with causes like disagreements over proper approach. Whatever they are, though, you’ll need to keep them in mind; a splinter group in a cowed country is obnoxious enough, but a splinter group in a more amorphous unit is a defeat waiting to happen. If you know who they are, though, you can more effectively tune your strategies to decrease their likelihood of directly opposing you–or even to turn the splinter groups against each other while you deal with the primary power structure.
Think before you plan, and victory will (at least for the greater portion of the plot) be yours!