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Old 02-10-2019, 10:19 AM   #1
Erling
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Default Skill for laying low in an urban area

If a character is being manhunted by some investigating force (police, security agency, mafia, creditors etc.) and tries to hide from his enemies in an urban area, which skill does he need?

I don't mean a hot pursuit – in this case it would be series of DX, Running, Driving and/or Piloting rolls. Neither I mean a "physical" hiding in an urban area – in this case it would be Stealth, Camouflage and/or Urban Survival roll.

I rather mean more general hiding – changing addresses, avoiding whistleblowers, not using a real name, not looking suspucious to motel owners, avoiding raids, outguessing enemies' activities etc. In a high-tech setting it would also include not leaving digital fingerprints and avoiding city surveillance cameras.

I suppose Streetwise is a good guess, but the prey isn't necessarily a criminal. He can be a framed cop or just a regular guy in trouble. It is likely that there's no single skill that would cover such hiding, and prey shall rather use combination of Area Knowledge, Acting, Criminology, Disguise, Fast-Talk, Urvan Survival, Streetwise and Sense rolls depending on the current situation. Still, I'd like to figure out a single skill that would cover laying low for a good while, without too much detail about what the prey is doing in a current moment.

What would you say?
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:44 AM   #2
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erling View Post
I suppose Streetwise is a good guess, but the prey isn't necessarily a criminal. He can be a framed cop or just a regular guy in trouble. It is likely that there's no single skill that would cover such hiding, and prey shall rather use combination of Area Knowledge, Acting, Criminology, Disguise, Fast-Talk, Urvan Survival, Streetwise and Sense rolls depending on the current situation. Still, I'd like to figure out a single skill that would cover laying low for a good while, without too much detail about what the prey is doing in a current moment.

What would you say?
Streetwise, possibly backed up with Urban Survival as a complementary skill. Streetwise explicitly is not just for criminals; it's for "everybody that was ever hanging out," as Bob Dylan put it long ago, and more generally for knowing how to make the right impression in the informal parts of society.
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:53 AM   #3
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

I would say that Streetwise is definitely the right skill for what you've described. Several of the other skills could be used to complement it, however (Area Knowledge, Acting, Criminology, Disguise, and Fast-Talk all seem appropriate for that). Meanwhile, if the character is just trying to physically hide, then Urban Survival would be appropriate, with complementary rolls from Area Knowledge, Disguise, and Streetwise being appropriate).

For the actual mechanic, I'd use a regular Contest (something that's a bit underused, in my opinion), with the runner being discovered only if they fail the contest and the pursuers succeed. You could even do an "extended contest" mechanic, where the runner failing the contest doesn't automatically mean they're found. Instead, set a number of "steps" that the pursuers are behind the runner, and for each failure on the runner's part, they get one step closer. Conversely, if the runner succeeds and the pursuers fail, the runner moves one step further away, until they reach some threshold where the pursuers just give up.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:27 AM   #4
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Contacts can also be important, social skills for persuading potential helpers and Psychology or Streetwise for evaluating.

If I wanted a single roll, I would probably base it on IQ, give bonuses for complimentary skills and advantages, and penalties for disadvantages which lead to bad OPSEC (Impulsiveness, Compulsive Behaviour [Braggart], Lecherousness), being especially famous or notorious, or going out and being an adventurer. It might depend on the method chosen: couch-surfing is based on contacts, flophouses and surfing on less reputable couches is Streetwise, telling a slave to handle it relies on their skills.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:31 AM   #5
Donny Brook
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Administration might also be useful for being able to retain anonymity while interacting with bureaucracies.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:38 AM   #6
Andreas
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

A lot of that is just not doing stupid things, such as carelessly using your credit card and visiting locations you are know to frequent etc. (covered by the Common Sense advantage and not having applicable disadvantages I guess). I don't think you should require a skill roll for things like that.

For not looking suspucious even if you have to do unusual things, Acting, Stealth, Streetwise and Fast Talk are likely skills to use. For outguessing enemies' activities, Intelligence Analysis seems like the best fit (" It allows you to deduce enemy plans and capabilities").

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
For the actual mechanic, I'd use a regular Contest (something that's a bit underused, in my opinion), with the runner being discovered only if they fail the contest and the pursuers succeed. You could even do an "extended contest" mechanic, where the runner failing the contest doesn't automatically mean they're found. Instead, set a number of "steps" that the pursuers are behind the runner, and for each failure on the runner's part, they get one step closer. Conversely, if the runner succeeds and the pursuers fail, the runner moves one step further away, until they reach some threshold where the pursuers just give up.
How would you apply task difficulty modifiers such as the availiable area to hide in (much easier to hide if you can hide anywhere in the country rather than just in a single town)? To the runner, the pursuers or both?
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Depends on where he wants to hide... also, this wouldn't be a 'single skill roll' thing in my game.

Streetwise to know where the locals aren't going to be friendly with police, or call the cops because they saw a stranger on their street; also if trying to find a lowlife organization to get shelter with.

Urban Survival if he's going to try hiding out as a homeless person (I'd also allow Streetwise to know where and how to dress and act, but not to know the best/safest layout spots).

From there, yes Area Knowledge would certainly be a good Complimentary skill to either of the above and Acting and Disguise to change the appearance and really sell the new persona.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
A lot of that is just not doing stupid things, such as carelessly using your credit card and visiting locations you are know to frequent etc. (covered by the Common Sense advantage and not having applicable disadvantages I guess). I don't think you should require a skill roll for things like that.
It's something most real people fail, so not rolling seems pretty unrealisitc.

It's easy to say that you won't use your credit cards and you'll avoid everyone you know. But do you know how to obtain sufficient money to travel and live without access to electronic banking, how to obtain shelter without money, ID (many hotels require credit cards these days) or friends to allow you to stay?

How do you keep your gear and clothing, as well as your body, clean and presentable, so that you aren't interfered with or even stopped as a thief or vagrant? Or at minumum noticed and remembered? Actual homeless people might be anynomous, but PCs without the right skills won't be able to survive as they do and will probably stick out like sore thumbs, as people with relatively expensive stuff who for some reason are living like homeless people.

And if you avoid all areas you are known to frequent, you avoid every place you actually know, as in, have some idea about the places where you can stay without a credit card, how to act, dress and behave like a local, how to travel and eat on a budget, etc.

Blending into a population of strangers is absolutely a skilled activity, though smart people with Dabbler from books, TV and RPGs might feel they could do it from default.

And maybe they could, but they'd need to have decent defaults in skills like Area Knowledge, Streetwise and Urban Survival, depending on their chosen methods, and possibly even Acting, Administration (knowing how to circumvent bureaucratic requirements for ID for various things), Disguse (looking more like the person whose ID you stole), Fast Talk, Filch, Forgery (to fake valid tickets using expired ones found, etc., and various simple documents or signatures, not actual passports or other ID), Merchant, Observation, Scrounging, Shadowing and the like.

If the police are after you, Criminology is useful for knowing what kind of indicators they can track and Intelligence Analysis does the same if you will be tracked by professionals with acess to information sources beyond what the police can legally get in a useful time frame.

Streetwise will almost always be required to evade official notice while still moving around and obtaining shelter and supplies, with anything that requires crossing borders often sharply raising the difficulty. In the EU, you might be able to buy train tickets with cash and there would be no border ID checks, but finding a place to stay in a foreign country that doesn't require a credit card and sometimes a passport as well, that is pretty much the province of Area Knowledge, which is unlikely in a foreign country that you do not frequent, or Streetwise.

All of this is made a lot simpler if you have a lot of cash, but in a TL8 world, getting a lot of cash without coming to official notice might require a Streetwise roll on its own, even if you technically own the money or assets worth it. And, obviously, realistic people rarely do any of this succesfully without Allies, Claim to Hospitality, Contacts and the Friend Perk.
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Last edited by Icelander; 02-10-2019 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:15 PM   #9
Refplace
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

I like Streetwise and Urban Survival as primaries but would allow Area Knowledge (City) as well.
I dont see Urban Survival as just how to live like a homeless person, but as a skill to know where to find day jobs to earn under the table cash (typically low skill labor), what motels might let you stay without a credit card and which are cheapest, how to find thrift stores, etc,
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:19 PM   #10
Icelander
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I like Streetwise and Urban Survival as primaries but would allow Area Knowledge (City) as well.
I dont see Urban Survival as just how to live like a homeless person, but as a skill to know where to find day jobs to earn under the table cash (typically low skill labor), what motels might let you stay without a credit card and which are cheapest, how to find thrift stores, etc,
I'd be inclined to say that Urban Survival covers everything about surviving in an urban area that is not in some way social, whereas Panhandling, Streetwse and other skills cover the social aspects of living off the grid.

I can see animals adapted to city living with Urban Survival and a Bestial character who can't speak to any of the people around him can still have high levels of Urban Survival, but they won't have any idea how to get part time work under the table or know the difference between a flophouse and a national chain motel with rules about credit cards.

Many homeless people would know such things, in addition to having some Urban Survival, but that's because tbey often have Area Knowledge for their home areas and often Streetwise as well.
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Last edited by Icelander; 02-10-2019 at 12:25 PM.
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