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Old 06-16-2014, 10:03 AM   #11
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

I've seen Anthropology used in my campaign a few weeks ago, for figuring from which culture a quasi-religious cult originates. Actually important for the main investigation.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:26 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

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It's an amazingly broad History skill - History (people in question) is usually too broad for the RAW to allow, let alone (all ancient peoples). Personally we let you take History at any breadth and slide the modifiers, so it would be about equivalent to History (all Classical and Preclassical cultures), which given there are way more than 10 but probably not more than 100 that are known in any detail, would effectively default to History (any one ancient culture) at -6.
I do that with History as well, and some other skills that the technique seems appropriate for (like Literature)... so much so that I tend to forget it's just a house rule :/

IME, Anthropology (and Archaeology, to a lesser extent) tends to be a fluff skill that is put on a character sheet to fit a concept, rather than for any practical in-game use, which is not to say that we won't fit it in if the situation warrants it.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:36 AM   #13
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

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I might allow Anthropology to function as a complementary skill in some circumstances where an unfamiliar culture penalty would apply. It wouldn't give a bonus, but it could mitigate the penalty somewhat.
I've often allowed this in my games. I have the acquaintance of several anthropologists in different specialties, and they all appear to be good at this in their travels. "Cultural responsiveness" seems to be the common thread holding together the anthropological super-field, and I'd offer this skill as the realistic version of Cultural Adaptability.

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I might, if pressed, allow one to use the archaeology skill to carefully brush dust off of ancient shards of pottery to carefully preserve them, and use the skill to identify from what era the potsherds came from.
I've often allowed this as well. Quite a few applications of Archaeology in my campaigns are basically DX-based rolls to handle brittle, ancient artifacts and avoid stepping on fragile, ancient clues. I prefer the "field techniques" approach to the more canonical (but IMO less realistic) view of this skill as blanket History for ancient times.

Edited to Add: Oh, and I allow Per-based Archaeology rolls to spot ancient artifacts and clues, which might otherwise resemble things like dirt and cave wall.
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:12 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

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The boundary between Anthropology and Sociology seems a bit vague, but the real-life fields also blur into each other. Anthropology seems to be studying a culture of which you aren't a member, while Sociology deals with one's own culture, or closely related ones. A simple rule for GURPS might be to use Sociology within one's own TL and CF, but Anthropology outside those.
This is a pretty interesting question. I think you could say that traditionally (say pre-1980) Anthropology and Sociology were distinct in their subjects, objects and methodologies: Anthropology focused on culture (meaning) in non-industrial societies, and its methodology was observation (qualitative), whereas Sociology examined society (social trends) in industrial societies, methodology statistics (quantitative).

My impression is that right now Anth / Soc is particularly blurry because almost everyone is connected to global industrial society and so the original object of Anthropology has basically evaporated - but Anthropology or Xenology would be back to the fore with first contact (with alien civilizations or with fantasy barbarians). I'd also guess that Sociology fades because in both of those situations there are more people studying empirically and fewer handing out surveys for fear of being eaten or battle-axed! Plus you could say Anthro dates back to Herodotus but Soc is only as old as Durkheim.

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GURPS Archaeology, meanwhile, is clearly the practical skill of finding and interpreting ancient artefacts and other remains.

Fantasy has Archaeology as the practical skill for digging up the past... Social Engineering has uses for Anthropology to cope with social situations in unfamiliar societies.

How have these skills come up in games for you?
So just a brief note on the second part of the OP - in DF campaigns that'sexactly how it's worked for us. Anthro's occasionally shown up as a way of guessing what a barbarian custom means, and Archaeology's been useful for exploring pre-human ruins and cues to Things Man Was Not Meant to Know inside them. Sounds like that's pretty typical?
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

Havent seen either used much.
Arxcheology used in SciFi and Fantasy to explore ruins.
Anthropology less so and mostly as a background though one campain an investigative skill.
Though Anthropology could make a good stabilizing skill for ancient magic. Similar to the research idea for that Cabal campaign.
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

Anthropology might also be the skill which allows someone to buy a Cultural Familiarity that they ought not otherwise have. Or codify it, in combination with Computer Programming to create an expert system to assist in dealing with alien cultures. But really, like any "pure" research skill, it isn't going to be tremendously useful to adventurers.

Cultural anthropologists have been recruited by the CIA and the military to assist in the war on terror. So clearly the skill provides something useful at least for an analyst.
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Anthropology and Archaeology

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Cultural anthropologists have been recruited by the CIA and the military to assist in the war on terror. So clearly the skill provides something useful at least for an analyst.
Another reason may be to provide expertise for explaining to politicians and military officers that the motivations of people from different cultures can be profoundly strange. Getting that from an expert on the area may carry more weight.
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