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Old 07-02-2020, 04:58 AM   #11
bocephus
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
In my next game, I am thinking about making a few changes concerning background skills because too few of my players tend to take them. Characters will automatically begin with 5 CP in each of the four groups of background ...
... grew up in a sheltered monastery, within a fictional virtual environment, locked in their parents basement since they were six years old, etc.. In addition, characters will have to take one level of Social Stigma (Ignorant) per level of Isolated, to represent the social difficulties represented by being ignorant about such a major part of normal human life.

What do you think? Would you use the above house rule in your games? If not, what problems do you see in having such a house rule?

Sewing is uncommon in the modern era. In pre-modern societies though, almost every woman should have a minimum of 4 CP invested in it by the time she marries, as she will need to make the clothing for her family. By the time that she is 50, she will likely have a total of 20 CP invested in it, and that is assuming that she only is sewing one hour a day. Cooking, Gardening, and Housekeeping would likely be at similar levels, as it is what housewives did in pre-modern times.
This is a weird response for me, because I agree with you completely. At the same time its untenable in terms of GAME play to realistically depict a person with "skills" in other than very general or very specific terms. Also its going to depend heavily on what game you want to play. For me GURPS is about the "exceptional versions of regular people" having an impact on the World. I run persistent campaigns or one shots that are usually in the world I created. I dont run true to life simulations, though I do try to keep the physics/magic at least reasonably realistic, thus I dont run 'Supers' and the like and have NEVER started a new group higher than 150/55 tending more to 125-140/35.

I tend to be pretty light handed with defaults in a setting where the PC could have been expected to have some "everyman" exposure to general skills. OTOH I do put specific facets in my games that allow those skills to matter. That's where I think your having the problem, if your PCs aren't taking those skills voluntarily its because you don't reward having them. Its carrot or stick, but in my case I use both.

I resolved this thusly at my table
Cinematic skills (things that can kill you on a single failed roll)
vs.
Non-Cinematic skills (things that wont kill a PC for lack of having and can be helped by taking more time, having someone else help you, creating a situation where you have environmental advantage)

First, for new players in my world, I make sure that certain Cinematic skills are pointed out in their adventuring capacity and not their every day practical role. Climbing, tracking, Stealth, Swimming, Survival, First Aid and combat skills and the like, fit in this category. They are actions that at the end of the day come down to a single pass/fail die roll and you cant do much to help a default attempt (IE take more time, better lighting, etc). Swimming is a big one in my world. I have had many an adventurer drown or nearly drown for not having any swim skill at all. How often does it come up? Frequently enough, outside of a desert type campaign I would consider it at least a quirk if not a minor disad of fear of water to not have swimming. Its a one or the other unless there is legitimately no expectation the char has ever encountered enough free water to submerge in. Terrain 'Survival' of some kind, likewise, I almost killed a party of "City Folk Adventurers" that got lost in a 'Mirkwoods' and couldn't feed or un-lost themselves before they found some civilization.

For a Non-cinematic stuff I dont force chars to take a set amount of everyman skills though I do require at least 2 "NON-combat job skills" at a level that can reasonably earn Status0 money or sufficient RP experience and backstory to justify it. I mean everyone has to come from somewhere and getting to adventuring age in a "TL4+" setting means having learned something to justify feeding you. One at minimum skill 14 and a supporting skill at minimum 12 is all I require, after that the player is free to choose.

I'll give you some non-cinematic skill examples as a sort of baseline. Cooking, Gardening, Sewing, Housekeeping, Farming, Animal Handling, Animal Husbandry, Riding, Teamster, Carpentry, Masonry, Leather work, Weather Sense, Area Knowledge, Hiking, Games, Merchant, Singing, religion .... All these skills could be legitimately expected to be in a "Pre-Modern" non-city person in some quantifiable manner. Men would be expected to at least have a basic ability to care for themselves (sewing, cooking), women would have to know how to help around a farm/business in case of illness, absence or death (Farming, animal handling). I dont think any one would disagree with that basic precept.

Cooking is a convenience and character flavor for my adventurers. If no one has it, the party will get some miserable rations and I will push small morale type penalties for the general miserable nature of their existence till its resolved (permanently or temporarily). I wont kill players for lack of a cooking skill, unless its uniquely thematic to a situation. Sewing likewise, if no one in the party has the skill at all, you will eventually get a minor reaction adjustment for looking like a bachelor/farmer/adventurer/bum that doesnt have a mother/sister/money to have their garments properly mended. No adventurer ever died from an undarned sock or a hole in a cloak :) hehheh.

Where it gets out of game and into simulation is when trying to realistically quantify Non-Cinematic skills for game play. I ran into this with my idea of a real "Every Peasant" template, where I was trying to show the difference between a 40pt peasant and a 150pt starting adventurer. The problem is that a peasant isnt an adventurer, but they do have to keep themselves and their loved ones alive and hopefully have some good times along the way.

I did the exercise in an attempt to show that 150pts can be incredibly exceptional depending on the baseline of the world. The problem is when you really consider it (as you have quite ably shown) the time spent those skills are obviously more than a 40pt char could achieve but these are largely all Non-Cinematic skills IMO and thus become handwavy for Game play NPCs.

At this point you end up in the debate about what does "Default" vs. 1pt vs. expert really mean in real terms. While I can quantify it for my setting, it may be completely different that what you come up with for your setting and for the purpose of Game play unnecessary for the players to have fun.

I don't think I would use your mechanic if for no other reason I would have to completely adjust my points baseline which would skew my whole world in terms of managing NPC encounters. Also I would have a hard time adding in all the RP/game play reasons for players to have to have all that stuff on their character sheets.
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:25 AM   #12
Aldric
 
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

I already have a system of templates in place, so the characters are built with race, background and professional templates, so I don't see the need to add further rules.
Templates are mostly there to help players build their characters, not to restrict their choices, so if someone really doesn't want background skills, they're free to skip them, and suffer the consequences
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Old 07-02-2020, 06:47 AM   #13
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Sewing is uncommon in the modern era. In pre-modern societies though, almost every woman should have a minimum of 4 CP invested in it by the time she marries, as she will need to make the clothing for her family. By the time that she is 50, she will likely have a total of 20 CP invested in it, and that is assuming that she only is sewing one hour a day. Cooking, Gardening, and Housekeeping would likely be at similar levels, as it is what housewives did in pre-modern times.
In north western Europe some variety of spinning was nearly universal, as was weaving (common pretty much everywhere). In many places basket-weaving also. And then there's Brewing...

However, most people just won't be constantly improving all their lives. Once the level in a skill is high enough that normal daily use isn't a challenge, most people only improve very slowly, if at all. They might spend their energies on learning another skill, but more likely they just get bored and cruise.
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Old 07-02-2020, 07:55 AM   #14
ericthered
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

I give free points for background skills all the time: I usually use templates or give 10 points of "Flavor" skills. I find that 10 points is usually more than enough, and I think 20 points would be excessive.


I get where you are trying to go with the Ignorant disadvantage, and its a good idea, but it doesn't line up with your categories. Current affairs is irregular enough that we've gotten used to people who don't know what's going on, and games and area knowledge are more for my sanity than that of others.



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I don't quite get the concept. It appears to be "if you don't want to spend the points, you don't have to, and I'll even give a disadvantage that provides you with more point"? That seems to be [encouraging] the PCs to be isolated from normal society, which I assume isn't the intent here.

Ehh, its more of "If you spend the points in the expected places, you don't get a reaction penalty for being an odd-ball.
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:46 AM   #15
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

Most people have some level of Current Affairs in real life just from gossiping. For example, the Regional specialty would cover the gossip of a local farming village, where everyone knows the health and welfare of everyone else. In more modern societies, the specialties of business, celebrities, sports, etc. might be more common.
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:31 PM   #16
ericthered
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

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Most people have some level of Current Affairs in real life just from gossiping. For example, the Regional specialty would cover the gossip of a local farming village, where everyone knows the health and welfare of everyone else. In more modern societies, the specialties of business, celebrities, sports, etc. might be more common.
But people don't get the cold shoulder because they don't have ANY current affairs skills. The might get a cold shoulder because they don't have a specific current affairs specialty, but I have a hard time seeing people care about an individual having at least some current affairs specialty. If anything, a very odd or unpopular current affairs specialty is likely to cause more problems than no current affairs skill at all.
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:15 PM   #17
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

Someone who knows no Current Affairs is incapable of just chatting, which can make socialization awkward. Chatting is an essential part of social grooming, and anyone who is incapable of just chatting will often be seen as standoffish or weird. When it comes to pre-modern societies, chatting is the primary social activity, as it gives a good excuse for a break from labor.
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:46 PM   #18
ericthered
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

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Someone who knows no Current Affairs is incapable of just chatting, which can make socialization awkward. Chatting is an essential part of social grooming, and anyone who is incapable of just chatting will often be seen as standoffish or weird. When it comes to pre-modern societies, chatting is the primary social activity, as it gives a good excuse for a break from labor.
They can still chat, its just a one-sided chat... which most people actually like, as long as the other guy pays attention. People love to instruct the unlearned after the manner of their own personal wisdom.
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Old 07-03-2020, 01:58 AM   #19
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Someone who knows no Current Affairs is incapable of just chatting, which can make socialization awkward.
That seem excessive.
I doubt the current weather is worth a Current Affair skill, so you will have something to chat about.
Likewise with the litany of past and present illness and pains, or the success/failures of children.

That said, any character in my games (barring very special cases) start with at least :

**Perks
Mundane background(current living area) [0]
Cultural familiarity(native culture) [0]
Dabbler perk (select skills covering your background) [1]

**Skills

Area Knowledge (current background) [1]
Current affairs(select 1 between sports, politics, pop culture, local news, internationnal news) [1]
Housekeeping [1]
1 Cp in One of Carousing, Connoisseur (any), Games (any), Hobby Skill (any), Musical Instrument (any), Singing, or Sports (any) [1]
Computer Operation [1] (if applicable - replace with a low-TL daily skill otherwise)
1 Cp in a Professional skill or job prerequisite skill [1]
1 Cp in Savoir-faire(job related) or streetwise or an influence skill [1]
1 Cp in swimming or hiking or driving or bicycling or riding [1]
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Old 07-03-2020, 03:24 AM   #20
bocephus
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Default Re: Background Skills [House Rule]

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Someone who knows no Current Affairs is incapable of just chatting, which can make socialization awkward. Chatting is an essential part of social grooming, and anyone who is incapable of just chatting will often be seen as standoffish or weird. When it comes to pre-modern societies, chatting is the primary social activity, as it gives a good excuse for a break from labor.
Actually this is utterly untrue. Its common at least in the past 5-10 years to think that, but small talk is about discovering commonality with people not a test of current affairs.

There isnt really a skill that equates to that in GURPS Basic RAW (I don't have the social engineering book(s) or Action spy stuff, it might well be there). Current events doesn't really work because its supposed to be gathering "news" not gossip. However the fact that there really isn't a skill that denotes "small talk, insinuating yourself into a group, assembling tid bits of info to get a local picture, a low level version of spy craft if you will", I have always offered Savoir-Faire (Status0 minus) {Default IQ-4} to offer a skill that allows a player to be seen as "one of the 'lower Status' people". Think that people of lower status don't ostracize people of a higher status as much as the other way around? Think you aren't gonna get charged more because you look and talk "Posh"?

To your real life situation:

Im not saying you dont have struggles with it in your real life, but you can cultivate techniques to talk to people without caring at all about a Kardashian or a Geissen (If you dont know one or both your actually fine and that illustrates my point) you can still talk to people. In fact you can have an easier time of it because it comes across more refined to avoid trash as a commonality and still be able to connect. You can make NOT knowing these things a conversation topic. Yes they will KNOW you aren't a local. Its not about fooling people into thinking you know them, its about letting people know you're enough like them to be allowed to join their group.

I live in Europe and dont come from here. I have never lived in any region (US or Europe) more than six years so I dont have those deep friends/family/school connections many people have in local gatherings (I have a weekly coffee with a group of people that have know each other for 30+ years).

I dont follow sports, reality TV, social media, or magazines. Politics, religion, and hot button topics are always taboo unless you know your audience well (never introduce a polarizing topic unless your ready to be on the wrong side of it). I have no trouble at all integrating into a party, business lunch or group conversation, its a skill you can cultivate like any other and it has little to do with "Current Events". In fact unless you know your audience you can make it worse by being on the wrong side of the group think.

Small talk is SMALL, safe, a gentle probe to get to know someone. You can always talk about food, sports (if its your thing), hobbies, local area things to see and do, or you listen and find a way to gently join in, or you just listen and learn about the people there, nodding along when it seems correct. When some one asks "do you know what I mean?" you look them straight in the eye, smile genuinely and say "Not a clue, I barely follow the language your using / only lived here for 2 years / went to school in a different country / dont watch TV / what ever, Im just nodding along trying to fit in". You'd be amazed how quickly that breaks the ice.
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