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Old 01-18-2019, 04:28 PM   #1
Alonsua
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Default Make contact skill great again.

From an organization perspective and as far as I know, the contact skills are limited to the level 21 according to basic. Are there any rules to surpass the limit, aside of increasing its cost? Does the advantage appear in any other book? What would you think should be the top level and why?

Last edited by Alonsua; 01-19-2019 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 01-18-2019, 04:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

Not aware of anything that ups the effective skill level as part of the advantage.
However that high a skill can absorb most penalties pretty easily and intrudes on PC capabilities. Someone with that skill should be more an Ally or Patron rather than a generic contact IMO.
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alonsua View Post
As far as I know, the contact skills are limited to the level 21 according to basic. Are there any rules to surpass the limit, aside of increasing its cost? Does the advantage appear in any other book? What would you think should be the top level and why?
On one hand, extending the advantage upward would be a trivial exercise in arithmetic. But on the other, it's perfectly valid to say, "No, no one in the world is that capable," or, "No, you can't start out the campaign knowing history's greatest expert in tactics." Or to say, "Yes, you can have a Contact who's that good, but it's 100 points of Unusual Background for each +3 above effective skill 21."

What is the top possible level depends on the setting. If, for example, you are a member of a tribe of 500 people living in an isolated valley, it would be perfectly plausible for you not to know anyone with effective skill higher than 15 in anything. In a galactic empire, you might have access to effective skills far higher than 21.
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
If, for example, you are a member of a tribe of 500 people living in an isolated valley, it would be perfectly plausible for you not to know anyone with effective skill higher than 15 in anything. In a galactic empire, you might have access to effective skills far higher than 21...
if I have understood the advantage well, this implies that it is the score resulting from the sum of the personal skill of the characters, their ability to work in teams and their equipment. Therefore, I infer that a score of 21 is equivalent to a personal skill of 15, approximately.

For this reason and given that, although they are not numerous, the characters at the top of their profession have a personal skill of about 18, the limit should be increased to at least 24. What do you think?
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Old 01-19-2019, 07:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

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Originally Posted by Alonsua View Post
if I have understood the advantage well, this implies that it is the score resulting from the sum of the personal skill of the characters, their ability to work in teams and their equipment. Therefore, I infer that a score of 21 is equivalent to a personal skill of 15, approximately.

For this reason and given that, although they are not numerous, the characters at the top of their profession have a personal skill of about 18, the limit should be increased to at least 24. What do you think?
It depends on organizational resources. If you have skill 18 and live in a village of 500 people, and in your view your village is "the people" and everyone is is "weird foreigners" or "monsters," then your skill is what you are inherently capable of. If you can draw on the resources of a galactic empire, I could see 24. For an organization in a present-day Earth nation, 21 is probably about right.
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:07 AM   #6
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
It depends on organizational resources. If you have skill 18 and live in a village of 500 people, and in your view your village is "the people" and everyone is is "weird foreigners" or "monsters," then your skill is what you are inherently capable of. If you can draw on the resources of a galactic empire, I could see 24. For an organization in a present-day Earth nation, 21 is probably about right.
Personal skill of 18 is considered to be "the bests around", i.e. exceptional hostage-rescue operators and snipers or exceptional role-players, pyramid regulars and Kromm impersonators. By TL8 the maximum equipment bonus is +4 and by the invention rules you can receive support for at least an extra bonus of +4, which stands for 18+4+4 = 26, thus I think that a cutting-edge or peak present-day Earth organization should be able to reach 24, dont you think so?
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Old 01-19-2019, 09:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

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Originally Posted by Alonsua View Post
Personal skill of 18 is considered to be "the bests around", i.e. exceptional hostage-rescue operators and snipers or exceptional role-players, pyramid regulars and Kromm impersonators. By TL8 the maximum equipment bonus is +4 and by the invention rules you can receive support for at least an extra bonus of +4, which stands for 18+4+4 = 26, thus I think that a cutting-edge or peak present-day Earth organization should be able to reach 24, dont you think so?
No, I don't.

The Basic Set provides for up to effective skill 21. While GURPS calls itself "generic" and "universal," that has to be assumed to apply to present-day Earth. Therefore effective skill 21 is the highest that's properly available on present-day Earth. It's reasonable to suppose that the same limit would apply to an ancient empire or medieval kingdom or church; they wouldn't be better than the present day.

Remember that a Contact is someone who has a position in a local organization: a large business firm, a military base, a crime family, or the like. There's nothing in the description that implies that it's a cutting edge organization, or that it has access to the most highly skilled people on Earth. You can suppose, if you like, that that effective skill 21 represents actual skill 18 with +3 from organizational support, or actual skill 15 with +6 from organizational support; but it's not reasonably probable that you will have that confluence of extreme skill and huge resources in one organization.

I don't know where you get the +4 to inventors. I don't see such a rule in the Basic Set chapter on gadgets.

Now, yes, you might have a Contact who is a member not of a typical business firm, military outfit, police force, or the like, but of an extraordinary one. There's a comparable rule in the Basic Set: Unusual Background (Gadgeteer Friend) for 15 points. Paying 15 points is probably fair for having a Contact with skill transcending the normal limits—one who has actual skill 18 or higher AND extraodinary organizational support.

Or you could say that an organization with such amazing capabilities, and one that is willing to put them at the PC's disposal in adventures, is not a Contact but a Patron, and a fairly high-end one.
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Old 01-19-2019, 10:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

I see no reason a GM could not house rule extending the skill table for contacts upward. Note however, for what it's worth, the Contact text speaks about "effective" skill level which may make some difference to this choice.

I personally don't particularly like the Contact advantage and have tinkered with two alternative approaches.

One is saying that Contacts bring something like a hypothetical Expert or Professional Skill matched to their actual situation in the setting. So to use examples from the text: (a) a wino Contact has Professional Skill (Wino) and can assist with appropriate questions that might touch on (for example) Streetwise, Scrounging, or Urban Survival, or (b) a head of state Contact has Expert Skill (Statecraft) and can assist with appropriate questions that might touch on (for example) Politics, Area Knowledge, or Strategy.

The other method is to replace the Contact advantage with Ally, adding appropriate Accessibility and Environmental limitations.

The emphasis on 'appropriate' in both cases reflects the verisimilitude requirements of the setting.

Edited to add: To my mind, any way you look at it, a Contact should be an actual NPC in the campaign, not a stand-alone ability of a PC.

Last edited by Donny Brook; 01-19-2019 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 01-19-2019, 10:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

Honestly, I think the rules are fine as they are, because they are, ultimately, intended for player characters, and PCs should be limited in who and what they have access to. If anything and anyone can be purchased as an Ally, Contact, Gadget, etc., then there isn't anything to strive for, and there is no challenge - and pursuit of a goal is kind of the point of adventures, isn't it?
If the GM wants to create an NPC and give them contacts or abilities beyond what PCs have access to, then the GM can do that, without having to cost it out or justify it by rules; that's one of the advantages of being the GM. But Players should have a set of consistent, cohesive rules to go by (like GURPS), and getting around in-game limitations should require clever, in-game use of available resources, not game-breaking rewrites to just grant higher and higher rolls.
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Make contact skill great again.

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
Note however, for what it's worth, the Contact text speaks about "effective" skill level which may make some difference to this choice.
I did not really get what that meant when I read it.

I got it now. That "effective skill" rule is OP and I do not like it either. "Hey you have this very easy and this impossible tasks: roll both of them against 21".

Last edited by Alonsua; 01-19-2019 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Revised.
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