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Old 10-09-2008, 12:03 AM   #4
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Kromm's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Re: ESSENTIAL skills for various settings

I'd dispute the universality of Driving or the need to explain its absence. I don't drive and I've never held a driver's license. I have no medical reason for it (I'm not blind, prone to blackouts, or anything like that), no philosophical reason for it (I don't especially like cars, but that isn't why I don't own one), no economic reason for it (I suppose I could afford a cheap one), and no background reason for it (I grew up in a perfectly ordinary small city with merely so-so public transportation). It just happened that way. And it happened that way for several people I knew, too . . . I think that drivers simply tend to overlook those of us who don't get in their way.

As for skills for the modern West:
  • Area Knowledge of where you live, unless you never go anywhere and just spend all your time in the basement.
  • One of Carousing, Connoisseur (any), Games (any), Hobby Skill (any), [Edit: Musical Instrument (any), Singing,] or Sports (any), unless you truly do nothing but watch paint dry (probably down in that basement).
  • Computer Operation . . . yeah, at this point, between ATMs, smart phones, and even DVD players, everybody is using a computer interface of some kind almost daily, even if they don't regard it as a "computer" per se. Most people, though, can use a computer per se. Especially in the basement.
  • Current Affairs of some sort, unless you want to be a complete dud in conversation and have people see you as the freak who lives in that basement I keep mentioning.
  • Housekeeping, unless you're either filthy rich (and have "people" for that) or just plain filthy (and have no social life down there in the basement).
As my tongue-in-cheek commentary suggests, lacking more than one or two of these items would likely get you marked as a weirdo by most people, and missing three or more would probably suggest an exceptionally abnormal psychology. The guy who is wearing poorly looked-after clothes (no Housekeeping), walking around like he's lost (no Area Knowledge), and unable to make the ATM/automated grocery checkout/automated airport check-in work (no Computer Operation), and who, when approached by bank/shop/airport security, shows that he neither knows about recent Bad News that's led to heightened security (no Current Affairs) nor can make small-talk (none of those "interest" skills I mentioned), will be ushered into a small office if he makes any wrong move, no matter how good a person he is. Whereas a well-dressed person who breezes through everything with confidence and seems "with it" when asked a few questions by security personnel probably won't draw any suspicion at all, no matter how bad a person he is. That's modern survival in a nutshell.

Put a geeky way, if you're running on default for these mostly IQ/E skills -- which is IQ-4 -- then you'll be assumed to have an IQ that's four points lower than it really is, because people expect everyone to have these skills at IQ level, at least. Some people will assume that's because you have IQ 6 or thereabouts, and are mentally challenged. The rest will assume that's because you have from -2 to -5 to IQ due to the drunk, euphoria, or hallucinating afflictions (pp. B428-429), mostly likely as a result of substance abuse. Neither is likely to be good for reactions.
Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch <>
GURPS Line Editor, Steve Jackson Games
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