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Old 02-10-2019, 08:46 PM   #31
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Of course, Streetwise can find people who will help you make transactions in cash and avoid official record keeping.
For general survival, the only transactions where you'd need to make any special effort to avoid raising eyebrows are housing-related ones, and maybe intercity travel.
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:01 PM   #32
jason taylor
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
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.
Contacts would be valuable. A fisherman who sails you from Casablanca to Lisbon (but not for diamonds because the market is flooded with diamonds these days) will be useful when Captain Renault comes looking for Usual Suspects. Just remember pay him in cash.

Other contacts could be the ticket forger, the mob chief, even the local Righteous Gentile (or whatever the equiv from your time period is).
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:12 PM   #33
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Any of the Influence skills would be helpful.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:04 PM   #34
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Uh, you realize that my argument was essentially that you needed skills like Streetwise or Urban Survival, while Andreas maintained that no skill is needed and characters without Disadvantages never need to roll anything to disappear in an unfamilar city and stay hidden. You've added Sex Appeal to the list of skills that you can use (good catch), but otherwise you're not apparently disagreeing with me.
....No I did not say that. I said that you don't need skills to not do stupid things (unless you have an applicable disadvantage). You might very well have to roll for a lot of things while staying hidden.

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There are places where you can get prepaid phones without showing ID and filing out documents with all your real information, but increasing numbers of countries are simply banning that, as something they maintain is only used by criminals on the run, drug dealers and terrorists.
If you are unfortunate enough to be in such a country, that does make it harder. You could try to convince someone else to buy it for you, or get a compatible foregin phone.
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:23 AM   #35
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Preventing prepaid cell phones from being correlated with each other, or with other phones the same person uses, is harder than it looks (and anyone with the number and the right contacts can still use it to track the owner's location).

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I think mine and Polydamas' point is that it isn't, really. Unless you somehow have enough cash on hand to survive for as long as you need to hide, which might be years or the rest of your life, then you're going to need enough of a new identity to be able to get a job, a place to live, etc.

At our TL8, in the countries most of us reading are living, people don't just carry that much cash with them and society increasingly assumes that anyone without credit cards, picture ID, bank accounts and credit ratings are either criminals or at least enough of a bad risk so that no one wants them living on their property or working for them.
Yes, for the vast majority of people, hiding out for an extended period of time requires a job (unless they took specialized precautions in advance so they can access their bank account, which sounds a lot like points in various skills and Perks to me). Registering for unemployment benefits as Joe Bloe Fugitive would rather defeat the point!

Similarly, the vast majority of people who spend more than a few weeks in a place will need a social life beyond hanging out in bars and pubs (or compensate with things like drinking a lot, going on the Internet, making careless errors because they are depressed, and otherwise doing things which are not safe for fugitives). When those friends invite them to something else which is organized by cell phone or chat app, refusing will look strange. (And if you don't have local references, finding jobs and housing is much harder- they say that more people are hired through a friend of a friend than through open advertisements).

A few carefully picked and trained intelligence and special forces types might survive for months isolated from their community with just their 3-5 buddies as friends and the occasional hookup in a bar or date with an escort, but again, "carefully picked and trained" sounds like someone with special attributes, advantages, and skills not Joe Schlubb.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:22 AM   #36
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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....No I did not say that. I said that you don't need skills to not do stupid things (unless you have an applicable disadvantage). You might very well have to roll for a lot of things while staying hidden.
The things you are calling 'stupid' are generally unavoidable for people without extensive preparations, training or experience and connections. Which in GURPS implies skills that you roll against. For the vast majority of the people reading this, if you don't use electronic banking or credit cards, you couldn't afford to go on the run, disappear or even lay low. Most people I know either have no cash at all on them, or they only have a minimal amount that would not buy more than one trip by taxi or one meal. Having enough cash on you at all times to pay for a train ticket away from where you live and then a place to stay when you get somewhere else, that's really unusual.

And basically no one has enough cash on them at all times to be able to live on while hiding for a long time. In fact, most people don't have that much money, never mind cash. The only way many regular people have of surviving the next month without working or using their own home to live in is by going to the people they know best and asking for their help. Avoiding everyone you know sounds like it would help you disappear, but unless you are a drug dealer or recently robbed a bank, it's just not practical.

Actual, professional people who are either trained or self-taught at disappearing and living as fugitives need extensive preparations to obtain enough cash and they generally also try to obtain either false papers or a passport which isn't theirs. Even regular people who have been forced to become refugees and then try to avoid deportation to an undesirable country under the Dublin Regulation by disappearing will nearly always be using a stolen passport (obtaining which calls for a roll against Streetwise, at default or not) if they aren't using their own.

I spent one summer working as a contract employee for the Directorate of Immigration, specifically investigating the claims of people who claimed to be fleeing for their lives, either from their own government, organized crime or terrorists. Since then, I've been a defence attorney for five years. My clients, obviously, sometimes find it desirable that police do not find them, they skip court dates and a certain proportion of them are immigrants without official authority to settle, work or live here. Both for the Directorate and as a defence attorney, I either had to find people on my own account and/or receive all the paperwork regarding the police's attempts to locate them.

I can honestly say that I have never found evidence of someone trying to avoid notice that I would characterize as having had an easy enough time of it not to require any kind of skill roll. In every case, the case history indicates the use of Area Knowledge, Contacts, Streetwise and a host of other skills, mostly social, but almost universally Streetwise and/or Filch to obtain some form of papers that aren't theirs for anyone trying to stay hidden for more than the length of time they could get to stay on a friend's couch.

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
If you are unfortunate enough to be in such a country, that does make it harder. You could try to convince someone else to buy it for you, or get a compatible foregin phone.
About half of the world, in terms of numbers of countries, requires registration of pre-paid phones to a specific identity. Even if specific countries don't have such legislation, individual service providers often do, if only because personal information about their customers is valuable to them.

It's not trivial merely to discover whether whereever you choose to flee has such legislation, especially if you are trying to do so without using your own phone or computer. And as for finding a source of unregistered burner phones in areas where the majority of providers require registration, even if it's not a legal requirement, well, that's Area Knowledge, Merchant, Research or Streetwise.

Most things that aren't completely automatic are skill rolls in GURPS. If they are really easy, there is a high positive Task Difficulty Modifier, enough to make default use enough to succeed often enough. Disappearing and staying undetected in the modern world is not one of those really easy things. If anyone is looking, it's actually fairly hard and it requires resources, connections and, yes, skills.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:33 AM   #37
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

To put it another way, shooting or stabbing someone is not technically hard, but GURPS still has Guns skill and Knife skill because "in war, everything is simple and the simplest things are difficult." Ditto for lockpicking, driving, etc. Under stress and in unfamiliar conditions, people often make mistakes.

On the original topic, I would give the fugitive a bonus for each of the following which they can provide themselves:
- cost of living
- housing
- social life

So if the character owns a small cottage through a shell company (probably a Perk to a 5-point advantage), has a Claim to Hospitality which is not on the public record (probably an extra Perk), or is vanishing to a compound with 100 fellow cult members, they would get a bonus.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:55 AM   #38
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

Now that I think about it, I actually have one client who successfully disappeared for several years, before negotiating a surrender to the authorities where he received much less punishment than he'd otherwise have gotten.

To be clear, this was before he became my client. It was, in fact, before I finished my law degree. I handle various business and real estate deals for him now. He's not, to my knowledge, involved in anything criminal these days and I hope I never have to defend him, as he's a nice guy and his family really doesn't need the hassle. That being said, I actually would be surprised if he ever had any criminal law problems again.

Anyway, any information I have about this period in his life is from him personally, his family which he took with him and from asking a few questions of people I know in law enforcement and prosecution.

The reason he decided to disappear was that one of his lieutenants had been arrested and decided to try for a lesser sentence by informing on my client (which I'll call him, even if at the time he was not yet my client). My client was at the time operating an import-export business in the field of recreational pharmaceuticals, without necessarily having any licenses related to that.

There are differing reports of the scale of his business, but it was undoubtedly in the top three in Iceland and it involved suppliers and contacts on a global scale, as well as revenues large enough to require a fairly sophisticated network of money laundering.

Anyway, so what he did was to travel to North America. He entered Canada before any charges were filed and he used the contacts of his suppliers to get a place to live, to travel and to continue earning an income. He had some fairly good contacts in Montréal and in Miami.

Fleeing justice is actually easier than it sounds, if you have plenty of money and contacts, not to mention actual professional skill levels in a set of skills related to moving money without leaving traces and carrying out various activities without interesting the police.

The police, as opposed to the shadowy groups of governmental or SPECTRE-esque assassins fiction protagonists tend to be fleeing, have to follow extremely complicated and tiresome bureaucratic protocols that mean that even if they know where you are, it can be a major hassle for them to convince local law enforcement to arrest you, if you aren't actually convicted of anything and have lawyers trying to contest any kind of warrant, let alone extradition.

And even if the police know that you entered 'Canada' on your own passport, they are unlikely to get the Canadian police to mount an effective manhunt if they know literally nothing else (because you're not staying anywhere in your own name). That goes double if they can't charge you with anything yet, but were planning to do so once they had you in custody and could confront you with testimony that would contradict anything you might say.

You can even travel between different foreign countries without being arrested or interfered with, as long as you have lawyers at home that will warn you if there is ever an active warrant. And if it looks like the police in one country are coming around to the idea of arresting you, at least as a material witness or something, you can leave the place you're currently staying in and go stay with a Miami coke baron for a while.

Repeat as necessary, keeping in mind that you need a lot of money and it helps to know a lot of people in different cities, all of whom have access to housing registered in other names than your own. To be clear, the Icelandic police, Interpol and US and Canadian police did track him down several times, but he and his family always moved somewhere else before anyone got through with the complex legal maneuvering required to secure his arrest and extradition.

This is because unless you are a terrorist or a mass murderer, law enforcement usually doesn't care all that much about you and the effort they expend on your case is going to be minimal indeed. The Icelandic police were fairly enthusiastic, but the US and Canadian police were extremely uninterested in doing anything, because there was no crime in their jurisdiction and the entire mess just involved work for them that wouldn't result in any net positives for themselves or their agencies.

And, I cannot stress this enough, because it's actually fairly hard for prosecutors to get through the extradition process if there are competent lawyers on the other side and there are no legal proceedings to point at, because the subject was never arrested in his own country, but left before it came to that.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:29 AM   #39
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
The things you are calling 'stupid' are generally unavoidable for people without extensive preparations, training or experience and connections. Which in GURPS implies skills that you roll against. For the vast majority of the people reading this, if you don't use electronic banking or credit cards, you couldn't afford to go on the run, disappear or even lay low. Most people I know either have no cash at all on them, or they only have a minimal amount that would not buy more than one trip by taxi or one meal. Having enough cash on you at all times to pay for a train ticket away from where you live and then a place to stay when you get somewhere else, that's really unusual.
I'm note sure the train example works. I take the train from Riverside to San Diego once a month to meet with my gaming group down there. The fare is $7.50. Now, I pay half price because of my age, but even $15 wouldn't be much of an issue. I typically have around $100 in cash with me; but even if I carried much less, taking the train would be fairly easy to afford, much easier than a taxi.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:36 AM   #40
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Default Re: Skill for laying low in an urban area

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I'm note sure the train example works. I take the train from Riverside to San Diego once a month to meet with my gaming group down there. The fare is $7.50. Now, I pay half price because of my age, but even $15 wouldn't be much of an issue. I typically have around $100 in cash with me; but even if I carried much less, taking the train would be fairly easy to afford, much easier than a taxi.
Note that the example specified paying for travel to another city and accommodation once you got there. You'd run out pretty quick if you had to pay for a place to stay as well. But sure, the intercity train you take is cheaper than what I'm used to seeing between different European cities, where the train ticket is about the same price as the taxi you take to the station.

That being said, I note that US-based forumites seem to assume cash is a lot more common in other modern countries than it actually is. In the US, it's theoretically possible to find stores that do not take credit or debit cards. I never see that here. Accordingly, I carry the Icelandic currency equivalent of $0 most of the time. If I do carry cash, for some odd reason, it's unlikely to be more than the equivalent of $30.

I know very few people who will have more than $50 on them during a typical day, because every single transaction uses a card. I've seen people ask their friends for cash money, because they needed to pay some weird person trying to sell art or provide service without paying taxes, but none of my friends or gaming group ever have more than a couple of bills worth no more than $50, usually more like $10 to $20.

Abroad, I may carry more cash, but I noticed that my friends who live in Denmark and the Netherlands almost never have any cash, so it's not purely an Icelandic thing. More and more, you just don't use cash in modern European countries.

The only time I see anyone with $100 or more in cash is when someone is paying for goods and services under the table, because they are avoiding taxation or the goods are stolen, or when someone is buying drugs. So, it's more of a thing I see professionally than a part of daily life for people without skills like Streetwise.
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