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Old 11-01-2011, 02:47 PM   #1
NineDaysDead
 
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Default [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachability?

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Originally Posted by Social Engineering, page 25
It’s possible to look a crowd over covertly, while seeming interested in something else. Concealing such an inspection takes a roll against Acting; Savoir-Faire or Streetwise can substitute for suitable types of crowds.
Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachability?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Observation; basic Set page 211
This is the talent of observing dangerous or “interesting” situations without letting others know that you are watching.
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Old 11-01-2011, 02:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

Observation doesn't provide emotional or social context, only the tactical and physical kind. It can tell you who's armed and the size of their patrols, and note who has a black coat, white hat, or gold-plated pistol. It cannot tell you who is having a bad day or isn't liked by his pals. As written, it's intended to be a neutral intelligence-gathering skill that's as useful to robots and emotionless, socially useless AIs as it is to humans. Consequently, it doesn't include knowledge of how to stay off somebody's social radar, which is the concealment being discussed here. If physical or tactical concealment were meant, then Stealth and Shadowing would apply as well.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

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Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachability?
The published rules actually don't quite prohibit it; they say "a Per-based roll against a relevant skill."

However, I would probably disallow it, and here's why.

The primary skills involved are Influence skills, against which Per-based rolls are made. Other skills may substitute IF they can plausibly be used LIKE Influence skills in a particular context or for a particular purpose.

On the other hand, you cannot just use Per itself; you must use a Per-based skill.

Observation is, in a certain sense, a substitute for Per. But it's not a universal substitute for it. Rather, it's used as such in two specific cases:

First, when you're trying to scope out a situation analytically, so that you will be able to go away later and report on it—as might a military scout, a spy, a plainclothes detective, or a reporter, for example. The "go away later and report on it" aspect kind of precludes the obvious application to approachability.

Second, when you're trying to observe a situation unobtrusively or covertly. But in that case, Observation contributes the ability to cover up what you're attending to; it doesn't contribute the knowledge of social situations and motivations that lets you focus your perception on specific things. It's just as if you were asking "Why can't I use Observation to find edible plants in the wild, instead of Survival?"

Note, also, that the RAW do provide a mechanism for assessing approachability without being obvious: you roll vs. Acting (or, in some cases, Savoir-Faire or Streetwise). So that covers the benefit that Observation might otherwise justifiably provide. I suppose you could make a case for using Observation instead of Acting, but per Kromm, that's not the main thing it's for. . . .

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Old 11-01-2011, 03:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

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It cannot tell you who is having a bad day or isn't liked by his pals.
And Acting can tell you that? Looking at the approachability rules it seems like there is one roll to judge approachability, and a second optional roll to hide the fact you're looking. Why does the second roll need to be able to tell you anything about who is having a bad day or isn't liked by his pals? Isn't that the point of the first roll?

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
As written, it's intended to be a neutral intelligence-gathering skill that's as useful to robots and emotionless, socially useless AIs as it is to humans. Consequently, it doesn't include knowledge of how to stay off somebody's social radar, which is the concealment being discussed here. If physical or tactical concealment were meant, then Stealth and Shadowing would apply as well.
If it can hide the fact you're staring at someone to see if their armed, why can't it hide the fact you're staring at someone to see if they're approachable?
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

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If it can hide the fact you're staring at someone to see if their armed, why can't it hide the fact you're staring at someone to see if they're approachable?
I think you're misunderstanding something here (or perhaps misstating your point): Observation isn't "the skill of hiding the fact that you're making a Per roll.' It's "the skill of casing a place or situation." It's used to determine things like the angles of security cameras, the patrol routes that guards take, etc. Because of that, it automatically includes "...and I do it so that they can't tell I'm casing them." But you don't just roll against Observation when you're making a Per or Per-based roll and don't want anyone to notice you doing so -- that's not what the skill is for.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

Precisely. The operative concept for Observation is gathering intelligence on a tactical and physical environment. The "not being seen" part is completely incidental to this. It isn't the primary goal of Observation, and it doesn't mean that Observation can stand in for Acting, Camouflage, Stealth, or other forms of concealment. It is simply a postscript added to make clear that if you do it right, the process of observation does not corrupt your intelligence with an observer effect. Your lack of guile or stealth may well still do this; while Observation teaches you not to let your binoculars glint and not to write your nighttime observations down by flashlight, it doesn't teach you how to hide behind trees or pass as a garbage man. For that, you still need Stealth or Acting.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

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Originally Posted by Rev. Pee Kitty View Post
I think you're misunderstanding something here (or perhaps misstating your point): Observation isn't "the skill of hiding the fact that you're making a Per roll.' It's "the skill of casing a place or situation." It's used to determine things like the angles of security cameras, the patrol routes that guards take, etc. Because of that, it automatically includes "...and I do it so that they can't tell I'm casing them." But you don't just roll against Observation when you're making a Per or Per-based roll and don't want anyone to notice you doing so -- that's not what the skill is for.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Observation; Basic Set page 211
This is the talent of observing dangerous or “interesting” situations without letting others know that you are watching.
Please could you explain how the underlined sentence I quoted from you, relates to the section from the basic set quoted ?

EDIT:
If you can use Observation to hide the fact you're looking at stuff "...and I do it so that they can't tell I'm casing them", why can't you use it to hide the fact you're looking at other stuff?
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

Observation is described with the following words on page B211

Quote:
This is the talent of observing dangerous or “interesting” situations without letting others know that you are watching. Use this skill to monitor a location, a group of people, or your immediate surroundings for concealed or tactically significant details. ... A successful skill roll lets you gather information that is not specifically hidden. ... To spot deliberately hidden details – e.g., someone trying to sneak up on you, ...you must win a Quick Contest of Observation skill vs. ... Shadowing, ... (as appropriate) of the other party. ...
I do not see in that description any reference to needing Acting to go unnoticed. I also do not see anything that excludes the ability to discern data on emotional or personal factors.

(Edit: I would say that what it does not do is provide any insight into that data. Using Observation, you should notice that one member of a group stands apart from the others, but I'd say it takes a Psychology or other relevant skill to judge why.)

Last edited by Figleaf23; 11-01-2011 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:25 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
it doesn't teach you how to hide behind trees or pass as a garbage man. For that, you still need Stealth or Acting.
Why do you need to do either of those things? Isn't it enough to change what the target perceives from say "man in a bar, staring at me!" to "man in a bar."
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Social Engineering] Why can't Observation be used to covertly judge approachabil

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Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
Please could you explain how the underlined sentence I quoted from you, relates to the section from the basic set quoted ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Precisely. The operative concept for Observation is gathering intelligence on a tactical and physical environment. The "not being seen" part is completely incidental to this. It isn't the primary goal of Observation, and it doesn't mean that Observation can stand in for Acting, Camouflage, Stealth, or other forms of concealment. It is simply a postscript added to make clear that if you do it right, the process of observation does not corrupt your intelligence with an observer effect. Your lack of guile or stealth may well still do this; while Observation teaches you not to let your binoculars glint and not to write your nighttime observations down by flashlight, it doesn't teach you how to hide behind trees or pass as a garbage man. For that, you still need Stealth or Acting.
I think Kromm answered that question nicely.
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