View Single Post
Old 06-29-2014, 03:24 AM   #185
Daigoro's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Meifumado
Default Re: Why are Contacts so Expensive?

So I had an idea about how to redo Contacts from the ground up. All the point and percentage values are just rough top-of-the-head guesstimates, but I want to see what you think of the overall structure.

I started by saying that the main thing about Contacts is their contact with useful information, not their skill- although that can be added with Expert Knowledge. I realised that my ideas about Contact Networks and Institutional Contacts (not the best name, but anyway), were basically the same- instead of defining each Contact, you have a generic or modular source of information that changes when needed. I'm not happy with how Generic Contacts work in different geographic locations, but I thought the Area Class mechanic for Area Knowledge looked like a good place to start.

I've borrowed Peter's correspondence idea, but folded it in with my own about hacker newsgroups, then spelled it out in Gurps-ese.

I couldn't immediately think of a way of expressing the "hacker backdoor" idea or generalising it to a broader case, so I haven't included it yet.

And I think the 5 point base cost might still be high, so I haven't actually addressed the cost issue per se, but it is an easier point to start from when fiddling the cost structure.

I've dropped Reliability, and replaced it with Agreeability which covers some of the same ground, but a couple of extra modifiers could be added. I think the original Reliability was trying to cover too much ground, and actually included several different concepts. I haven't looked at Contact Groups, but I think they could be handled by a +50-100% enhancement to the Expert Knowledge modifier, depending on how many extra skills are added.

Originally Posted by Daigoro's Contact Rules
Contact- 5pts
You know someone who can assist you with information or small favours. The base cost for any Contact is 5 points, modified by these modifiers.
Consider that the default reason to use Contacts is because they are in a position to know what's going on around them in their place in an organisation, social circle or government. If necessary, consider them to have the skill Current Affairs-12.

Use the Frequency of Appearance table.
Based on Skill Roll- 0%
Specify a skill that you must roll against to make contact with your Contact. This is usually a skill such as Streetwise, Savoir-Faire, Politics or Intimidation. This roll may be modified as the GM sees fit.

The default is that a Contact is available 100% of the time. Buy them down with a Limitation if this is not the case.

Expert Knowledge
The reason you have this Contact is to take advantage of their knowledge in a certain field. The cost depends on your relative skill level with that skill.
Note that lower skill level Contacts may still be useful if they have time, equipment or access to restricted knowledge that the PC doesn't have.
Skill of Contact Relative to PC :: Cost
-4 to -2 +10%
-1 to +1 +20%
+2 to +4 +30%
+5 or more, or PC doesn't have this skill +40%

If a PC changes their own skill level, then either adjust the cost of the Contact appropriately, or have the Contact increase their skill level as well. Only do this if the PC spends points on the skill or their IQ, or if these are affected permanently.

Generally Agreeable- 0%: The default level. The Contact will accede to most requests, and may be convinced to do something risky or against their interests if paid a reasonable bribe or offered a gift or favour in return.

Altruist/Indebted - +20%: The Contact feels indebted to the PC, so never asks for payment or favours. Otherwise, the Contact feels that the PC is working for the Contact's interests and wishes to help them in whatever way they can. For example, a government or corporate whistleblower feeding secrets to an investigative journalist.

Bribed- -20%: This Contact is expensive to maintain, and asks for significant bribes or favours to answer any request.

Reluctant/Intimidated- -40%: The PC has threatened, blackmailed or otherwise coerced the Contact. There is a risk that the Contact will report to the authorities or the PC's rival.

Specific and Generic Contacts
Generic Contact +50%: The default assumption is that a Contact is one defined, named individual, that the PC has written into their background story. Instead, the Contact might be a class of person, but who the specific individual is changes depending on the circumstances of the story, the location of the game or needs of the plot. (Note- this covers the both the ideas of Institutional Contacts and Contact Networks I mentioned previously.)

When needed, the GM rolls against availability, and may apply a bonus or penalty. A success means that such a Contact can be reached, while a failure means that none are available, or a previously used Contact may have been compromised, imprisoned or killed.

The base geographic range of the Contacts should also be specified. Choose an Area Class from the list under Area Knowledge, and apply those modifiers against the Availability roll.

Example 1: Cardinal Richelieu has a position and rank in the Catholic Church, but separate to this he has his own network of trusted informants throughout the city and in many levels of society. He doesn't need to define exactly who they are, but when needed he may ask the GM, "Do I have an informant among the prison guards?" The GM considers that such an informant would indeed be likely and easy enough to acquire, and applies +2 to the roll.

Example 2: Private Investigator Malcolm Wren used to work for the FBI, so possibly has Generic Contacts across the country (Area Class = Country). To see if he knows someone in the Houston field office, he rolls at -4 (two Area Classes down). If he goes to Mexico, he may be able to make contact with DEA agents based there. The roll uses the Long Distance modifiers from p241, and is at -6 or -7.

Other Modifiers
Summonable and Special Abilities: as per Allies.

Special Access +25%: Your Contact has security clearance, rank, initiation or special equipment that isn't available to the PC or would be extremely difficult or expensive to obtain otherwise.

Information Only -20%: Your Contact will never do any favours for you.

Introductions Only -40%: Your Contact never gives you information, they only put you in touch with people that may provide information, goods or services that are otherwise hard to locate. You will still need to negotiate with these people as normal, although your Contact's introduction may be worth +1 or +2 as a Reaction Bonus.

Correspondence Only (varies): You only communicate with your Contact via long-distance communication. This may be by phone, mail, email, text message, forum posts or even espionage-style dead-letter drops. It's possible you don't even know their true identity, but this isn't a necessary detail. There's a risk that your Contact may be compromised without you knowing, or that your communications are being intercepted or monitored.
Cost depends on the inherent time lag of communication, and whether it's by voice or written correspondence.
Voice/Phone -10%
Other instantaneous written communication, or reply within minutes -15%
Hours -20%
Days -30%
Weeks -50%
Months or Years -80%
World Wikis:
Cyberpunk: Duopoly Nation
Fantasy: Dominion Cross
Space Opera: Behind the King's Eclipse
Steampunk: Colonial Steam

Last edited by Daigoro; 06-29-2014 at 03:29 AM.
Daigoro is offline   Reply With Quote