Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-26-2017, 02:37 PM   #21
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman
The rules for skill familiarity are in a box on B169. As written, they apply to operating equipment, but various skill descriptions, notably Mechanic/TL, make it clear that they also apply to maintaining and repairing equipment. B169 says you need eight hours of practice with a piece of equipment to become familiar with it. I've been reading some manuals for historical equipment, and getting rather dubious about acquiring real-world familiarity with something big, like a TL6 heavy bomber or TL7 warship, in eight hours.

Now, familiarities are an optional rule in practice. Some games use them, some don't. Heroes in cinematic games are usually naturally familiar with everything they run into. The default cinematic realism style of GURPS makes them optional, and acquiring them in a day-long montage is OK. However, a gritty cinematic or realistic game makes it plausible to use them, or at least make gestures towards acquiring them, even if you don't list them all on character sheets.

So, some sort of rule on how one acquires familiarity with big, complicated pieces of equipment seems like a good idea. But it's not obvious how to define such a rule. It has to be workable for fictional machines and vehicles, where one simply can't look up how many kinds of maintenance crew are required. I'm willing for familiarity for maintenance to have a different learning time to familiarity for operation. But we don't have many numbers defined for all equipment.

We have cost, and using that is going to need some kind of log scale. We have the number of people required to operate something, but the advent of computers reduces the need for crew while increasing overall complexity, so that's not very good for maintenance familiarity. What else? Weight is a poor guide to complexity.

For maintenance, take cost, divide by $1000 and round up. That gives us a number with a range between 1 and a few thousand. Apply that to the linear measurement column of the speed/range table, read off a speed/range penalty, take its absolute value and add 1. That's the number of days you need to acquire maintenance familiarity, so that's 1 day for things costing $2000 or less, 2 days for $3000, 3 days for $5000, and so on. An $8M helicopter is 21 days. An $18K speedboat is 7 days. This is looking vaguely plausible.

For operation, I'm tempted by the idea of days equal to the number of people you need to operate the equipment. But those are actual days of using it. Pilots usually spend much more time becoming familiar with an aircraft, but there are comparatively few hours of flying in there, because aircraft are expensive to operate. Does that work?
I think you’re overthinking it. First, familiarity works only on the skill being used to operate the equipment, but you may need more than one skill to operate all of the equipment and second, if it’s different enough to need more than eight hours to learn to operate and maintain it’s probably not a familiarity but a, perhaps generous, default from the old skill to the new skill. For example, you could drive a tractor-trailer which requires Driving (Heavy Transport) from your default of Driving (Automobile) with a Familiarity: Stickshift and you are at a penalty to operate it because it takes a fair bit of strength and you’re trying to maneuver a big, awkward vehicle. OTOH, once you open the hood, you probably should get a better default to maintain it. It still uses a battery to get started, it still has an engine with pistons and it still has a transmission. And, on that third hand that keeps showing up, you probably are going to have problems with those air brakes until you get your qualification.

For example, you have Driving (Tracked) and are familiar with operating heavy construction machinery: bulldozers, backhoes, maybe forklifts. Now someone plunks you down in a tank and wants you to drive it. You have a familiarity penalty (maybe). There’s the right tiller bar, left tiller bar and brake. So, the basic controls for moving it about are all there. You didn’t usually make pivot turns with your construction equipment because it tears up the sod but you did it once by accident, so you know the basic principle (pull back on one tiller bar, so that track is reversing while pushing forward on the other tiller bar, so that track is moving ahead. Ideally, you match speeds on both tracks); and now they want you to do it on purpose. The gauges are mostly the same but moved around a bit and up; you push a button, rather than turn a key to start; there’s a blackout setting on your headlights and they’ve added a big handle in red to flood the engine compartment in the event of fire. After eight hours of driving a tank, you should be fine. If they drop you into an APC after and ask you to drive it, you shouldn’t suffer a familiarity penalty at all.

OTOH, you don’t have Gunner skill at all. You can’t spend 8 hours familiarizing yourself with the tank’s gun and expect to do anything with it. Same for the driver’s machine gun, separate operating skill.

Now let’s consider maintaining your firearm. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re dealing with a light machine gun, rifle or pistol, the basics remain the same, scrub out the barrel, the chamber and the gas tube (if the weapon has one); run a cloth through the barrel, chamber (and gas tube) to pick up what you scrubbed off; check to make sure it’s clean (you got it all); if not, repeat until it is; once it’s clean, run an oily cloth through it to oil the barrel, chamber (and gas tube). You use the same kind of cleaning tools for all those weapons: a cleaning rod to scrub with (and maybe for the cloths); one or more bronze brushes for scrubbing the three parts out (depending on whether the parts are different sizes); a slotted jag to hold the cloth; a bottle or vial of gun oil; a packet of cloths; and maybe a cord pullthrough to substitute for the cleaning rod. The primary difference will be the length of the cleaning rod, which may unscrew into shorter pieces to conserve space. The box magazines all strip the same way and they all need the same items cleaned. The only maintenance familiarity you need is in field stripping the weapon so you can get at the barrel, chamber (and gas tube) to clean them. Most militaries can teach the actual field stripping and assembly in ten to fifteen minutes, even for land-based artillery pieces; the rest of the time is practice. I don’t have any problem believing 8 hours would remove the familiarity penalty. By the time you’ve spent eight hours field stripping a weapon, you can usually do it blindfolded. In some militaries, stripping, cleaning and assembling the weapon while blindfolded is the qualification test.

It’s a similar thing for switching between guns [artillery pieces]. Going from a 105mm towed to a 155mm self-propelled gun required less than 8 hours familiarity training for me. Okay, the traversing telescope is physically bigger but otherwise unchanged; the elevating mechanism is exactly the same; turning the handwheel moves the turret as well as the barrel, interesting but no difference for me doing my job; the cradle locking strut has been replaced by the cradle locking strut, okay bigger, heavier, swings the opposite way and I have to unclamp and unclamp the ring to get it around the barrel but not that different to operate; loading, okay, loading’s a problem.

The barrel has to be level in order to load, two men to load the projectile because it is heavy, mechanical rammer to shove the projectile home, load the propellant separately, elevate the barrel and the commander loads the primer. Definitely different, but nothing 8 hours practice won’t take care of.

Just touring a Leopard tank though, I was reasonably sure that I could operate the gun: set bearing here, set range there, elevating and traversing handwheels there, open breech this way, load as per usual, lanyard for firing there. The big thing familiarity would do for me there is: “Watch out for the recoil. It’s cramped in here. If you don’t want the breech imprinting you, stand here or crouch there when you fire.”

Anything that takes more than eight hours to switch between is probably a different skill rather than a familiarity of a skill you know. Going back to firearms, cleaning a flintlock musket isn’t going to require a different kinds of cleaning tools or a different principle of cleaning than an M16. It will probably require more elbow grease because black powder residue really sticks to the barrel and you may have to settle for what you’d consider ”dirty” in an M16 when you’re finished but it’s still the same thing, even allowing for the difference in TL.

OTOH, Beam Weapons is an entirely different skill. Operating it is still probably line up the sights and squeeze the trigger, so I can fire it (once anyway) but if I try disassembling the “guts” of it, I’m probably lost.

Someone with Beam Weapons skill only has familiarity penalties because he knows, at least in principle, what he is looking at: “Okay, power source here; capacitor; um, collimating tube?, I think; focusing unit; sealing lens. Looks like the focusing unit is tilted a bit and the sealing lens is cracked, should be no problem. Give me three minutes.” even if he’s looking at a blaster rather than a laser.

If blasters are different enough in operating principle from lasers, it may be: (looks inside), What the H-E-double hockey sticks is this this stuff?” Which is why familiarities are optional.
Curmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 02:39 PM   #22
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donny Brook
"Sure, you have Carpentry skill, but you have never used a Stanley hammer so you're at -2 to drive the nail."
Carpentry is not a "skill used to operate equipment"; familiarities do not apply. Familiarities also apply to equipment being operated upon, but that doesn't apply to Carpentry either. You don't need to be familiar with the model of bookshelf you're building.
As for Carpentry not requiring operating equipment, untrue. Tools are equipment. Not using a Stanley hammer before is an obvious goof. But using woodworking tools as examples: using the cross peen of a Warrington hammer to drive a nail is probably worth a familiarity penalty; as is using a Cheney Nailer if all you’ve ever used is a claw hammer; so is using a bulb grip saw if you’re used to using pistol grip saws; pull (Japanese) saws if you’re used to push (Western) saws. OTOH, you realize early on that most tools are either chisels (for ripping with the grain) or knives (for cutting across the grain) and those two blade types will show up in saws (lots of tiny knives or chisels as teeth), hand planes (chisels or knives held at a fixed angle to the wood) or drill and brace bits (cutting lips). And on the third hand, some familiarities are better treated as techniques rather than familiarities: for example, you move different parts of your body when using the large turning saw as opposed to the short turning saw. In fact, the motions are almost the exact opposite, with the large saw, you lock your arms and rock your entire body while on the small saw, you rock your arms while keeping your body steady, but in both cases, you lean forward with your leading leg being opposite to your sawing hand.

While the model of bookshelf shouldn’t be a familiarity, building a different kind of furniture probably should count as a familiarity: beds, seats (stools, chairs, benches, sofas, swings), shelves, cabinets (cupboards, counters, bookcases, desks), tables, chairs and rocking chairs, would be my breakdown (and yes, rocking chairs are a separate familiarity from chairs, even professional chairmakers find rocking chairs difficult the first time out, because it presents a new set of problems).
Curmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 03:32 PM   #23
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
As for Carpentry not requiring operating equipment, untrue. Tools are equipment.
Read my posts more carefully. I said familiarities only apply to that equipment whose use or repair is the main point of the skill. Using a hammer is not the main point of Carpentry; building things made of wood is. I did not say Carpentry doesn't require using equipment.

Carpentry is a TL skill and requires equipment. You don't get familiarities for the equipment used in Carpentry. You don't use familiarities for being able to build particular things (because the skill description doesn't say so).

Mechanic is a TL skill and requires equipment. You don't get familiarities for the equipment used as a Mechanic. You DO use familiarities for being able to repair particular things (because the skill description says so).
Stormcrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 04:01 PM   #24
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Ooh! Non-technological familiarities exist too. For example, different accents are familiarities of the Acting and Mimicry skills (p. B24). And I suppose Cultural Familiarities are just familiarities applied to skills dealing with social customs.
Stormcrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 04:32 PM   #25
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
Read my posts more carefully. I said familiarities only apply to that equipment whose use or repair is the main point of the skill. Using a hammer is not the main point of Carpentry; building things made of wood is. I did not say Carpentry doesn't require using equipment.

Carpentry is a TL skill and requires equipment. You don't get familiarities for the equipment used in Carpentry. You don't use familiarities for being able to build particular things (because the skill description doesn't say so).

Mechanic is a TL skill and requires equipment. You don't get familiarities for the equipment used as a Mechanic. You DO use familiarities for being able to repair particular things (because the skill description says so).
I did read your posts carefully, however, your assertion that familiarity only applies to equipment whose use or repair is the main point of the skill is an assumption on your part and I do not accept that assumption. Nothing, I say again, nothing in B169 Familiarities supports that view. By your assumption, familiarity should not apply to maintaining a weapon because maintaining the weapon is not the main point of the skill. Now, there's no question in my mind that maintaining your rifle helps prolong it's useful life and will be helpful in keeping it operating, but a completely clean weapon adversely affects consist shooting which is why we fire two fouling shots before getting down to the business of shooting targets. Maintaining the weapon is not the main point of the skill, hitting the target is. Allowing familiarity penalties for odd tools in the Woodworking skill, and I was talking about Woodworking skill and not Carpentry skill, is no different than allowing familiarity penalties for odd maintenance regimes with weapons.

Let me clarify a couple of points, bulb-shaped handles vs. pistol grip handles and pull vs. push saws are not "every woodworker" can use tools in the sense that every woodworker will automatically have both kinds in his shop. It is more usual to find only one choice in a shop, using either pull or push saws exclusively, similarly for handle grips, and if you use one type, you do face a not very steep learning curve in switching over, which is best modelled as a familiarity penalty. Being more familiar with woodworking, I might cut the penalty to -1 and call four hours enough to eliminate the penalty in some, but not all, cases, but as a generic rule for people who are vaguely aware of the differences, a blanket -2 and 8 hours will work.

I'm not advocating the position that you should take a familiarity penalty every time you need to switch tools, not even if you change brands and sometimes not even when the tool has a change in form. But, there are times and situations where assessing a familiarity penalty is exactly what's needed to represent the situation. Granted, it's because woodworking is my hobby and I do have a big enough tool collection to have an awareness of the problems that I do feel familiarity can be both the problem and the solution. If it's not something you do, you can say that the blanket skill with no familiarities is fine. I won't stop you but I don't think you can categorically state that I'm wrong when I do choose to do so. I expect that other people who have expertise in other skills, may have similar views of skills they're familiar with.

Familiarity is a questionable thing. My father was a farm machinery mechanic, not a patternmaker or an engineer. Nonetheless, one day when he got particularly frustrated about having a four-hour job that he could do in just fifteen minutes, if only he could get in there to take the nut off, he grabbed a socket, a metal bar and welded the bar to the socket at an angle and then put the bar in the vise and gave it a couple of bends in just the right places and bang, done in fifteen minutes. Maybe it was familiarity with that line of farm machinery or that particular make of machine, but making a new tool to get the job done isn't what you usually associate mechanic with. Nonetheless, I don't see what other skill you could say he was using. In fairness, he was also a trained blacksmith, but he was welding with a propane torch, not working at a forge (and I did see him do smithwork at a forge once, making a hook and chain.)
Curmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 07:12 PM   #26
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
I did read your posts carefully, however, your assertion that familiarity only applies to equipment whose use or repair is the main point of the skill is an assumption on your part and I do not accept that assumption. Nothing, I say again, nothing in B169 Familiarities supports that view.
It's not an assumption, it's what the text says.

"Any skill used to operate equipment... takes a penalty when you are faced
with an unfamiliar type of item."

Carpentry is not a "skill used to operate equipment." It's a skill that makes use of equipment, but it is not "used to operate equipment." That phrase means the reason you use the skill is to operate the equipment. You don't use Carpentry to operate tools. You do use Driving to operate vehicles.

Quote:
By your assumption, familiarity should not apply to maintaining a weapon because maintaining the weapon is not the main point of the skill.
That is not what I said, and it is not what the rule implies. The target object of the Guns skill is still a gun. Whether you're shooting it or fixing it makes no difference. The point of the skill is to make use of the item in the normal ways it is used. That includes driving, cleaning, repairing, or whatever else the skill allows you to do with it.
Stormcrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 08:22 PM   #27
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
It's not an assumption, it's what the text says.

"Any skill used to operate equipment... takes a penalty when you are faced
with an unfamiliar type of item."

Carpentry is not a "skill used to operate equipment." It's a skill that makes use of equipment, but it is not "used to operate equipment." That phrase means the reason you use the skill is to operate the equipment. You don't use Carpentry to operate tools. You do use Driving to operate vehicles.



That is not what I said, and it is not what the rule implies. The target object of the Guns skill is still a gun. Whether you're shooting it or fixing it makes no difference. The point of the skill is to make use of the item in the normal ways it is used. That includes driving, cleaning, repairing, or whatever else the skill allows you to do with it.
Woodworking, not Carpentry, and operating equipment is operating equipment. We've been talking about hand tools, mostly, but do you think I shouldn't suffer a familiarity penalty going from a handsaw to a table saw or from a table saw to a circular saw? (And whether you think handsaws are operated or not, table saws and circular saws certainly are.) Those are tools, even equipment, that can be, and are, used in woodworking, but they aren't absolutely necessary unless you're making a lot of something. A router will serve most woodworkers' needs, even for professionals, but if you're running off hundreds or thousands of feet of moldings, you'll probably want to switch to a shaper and you probably will take a familiarity penalty.
Curmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 08:33 PM   #28
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
operating equipment is operating equipment.
But familiarity isn't just invoked when you operate equipment; it's invoked when you use a skill to operate equipment. The reason you have problems with familiarity is because you won't acknowledge this.

Quote:
We've been talking about hand tools, mostly, but do you think I shouldn't suffer a familiarity penalty going from a handsaw to a table saw or from a table saw to a circular saw?
No, you should not. You might encounter equipment modifiers, but not familiarity penalties. A handsaw is "basic" equipment, while a table saw might be "good-quality" equipment (+1). Compare First Aid skill, wherein "basic" equipment is sterile bandages and "good" equipment is a fully stocked, standard first-aid kit.
Stormcrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 09:02 PM   #29
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The rules for skill familiarity are in a box on B.169. As written, they apply to operating equipment, but various skill descriptions, notably Mechanic/TL, make it clear that they also apply to maintaining and repairing equipment. B.169 says you need eight hours of practice with a piece of equipment to become familiar with it. I've been reading some manuals for historical equipment, and getting rather dubious about acquiring real-world familiarity with something big, like a TL6 heavy bomber or TL7 warship, in eight hours.

Now, familiarities are an optional rule in practice. Some games use them, some don't. Heroes in cinematic games are usually naturally familiar with everything they run into. The default cinematic realism style of GURPS makes them optional, and acquiring them in a day-long montage is OK. However, a gritty cinematic or realistic game makes it plausible to use them, or at least make gestures towards acquiring them, even if you don't list them all on character sheets.

So some sort of rule on how one acquires familiarity with big, complicated pieces of equipment seems like a good idea. But it's not obvious how to define such a rule. It has to be workable for fictional machines and vehicles, where one simply can't look up how many kinds of maintenance crew are required. I'm willing for familiarity for maintenance to have a different learning time to familiarity for operation. But we don't have many numbers defined for all equipment.

We have cost, and using that is going to need some kind of log scale. We have the number of people required to operate something, but the advent of computers reduces the need for crew while increasing overall complexity, so that's not very good for maintenance familiarity. What else? Weight is a poor guide to complexity.

For maintenance, take cost, divide by $1000 and round up. That gives us a number with a range between 1 and a few thousand. Apply that to the linear measurement column of the speed/range table, read off a speed/range penalty, take its absolute value and add 1. That's the number of days you need to acquire maintenance familiarity, so that's 1 day for things costing $2000 or less, 2 days for $3000, 3 days for $5000, and so on. An $8M helicopter is 21 days. An $18K speedboat is 7 days. This is looking vaguely plausible.

For operation, I'm tempted by the idea of days equal to the number of people you need to operate the equipment. But those are actual days of using it. Pilots usually spend much more time becoming familiar with an aircraft, but there are comparatively few hours of flying in there, because aircraft are expensive to operate. Does that work?
I don't agree with your basic premise. I don't see any reason why assuming that you have the relevant skills it would be any more difficult to master piloting an unfamiliar model of heavy bomber than it would it would be to master piloting an unfamiliar model of light fighter. The larger complexity of operating larger vehicles if any is handled by giving them larger crews. The individual jobs don't become that much more complex. In fact they may be less complex. Sure you'll see examples of amateur pilots struggling to land jet liners but that's not a familiarity penalty. That's a "you have the wrong whole skill" penalty.
David Johnston2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2017, 10:30 PM   #30
LokRobster
 
LokRobster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Republic of Texas; FOS
Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

I just gotta say I work on semiconductor manufacturing machines worth about $3M and it takes about 2 weeks for me to train someone that knows how to work on similar machines and have them be comfortable with troubleshooting and repair on my specific model.

Cool ballpark estimate!


For maintenance, take cost, divide by $1000 and round up. That gives us a number with a range between 1 and a few thousand. Apply that to the linear measurement column of the speed/range table, read off a speed/range penalty, take its absolute value and add 1. That's the number of days you need to acquire maintenance familiarity, so that's 1 day for things costing $2000 or less, 2 days for $3000, 3 days for $5000, and so on. An $8M helicopter is 21 days. An $18K speedboat is 7 days. This is looking vaguely plausible.
__________________
Our rarely updated CarWars blog & Hotwheel conversion tutorial: North Texas Autoduel Association
LokRobster is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
basic, familiarity, skill

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:42 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.