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Old 05-06-2014, 10:57 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

I've had a few characters with this skill, but its main use has always been as a perquisite for a job, or for confirming suspicious about crimes. Has anyone found more entertaining applications for it?
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I've had a few characters with this skill, but its main use has always been as a perquisite for a job, or for confirming suspicious about crimes. Has anyone found more entertaining applications for it?
I think I've had a character roll against it to figure out who really owned something once.

But it's not a skill that often gets practiced in exciting situations. I can imagine a sort out the bankruptcy scenario that could involve a few rolls against it, but that's almost a job roll really, and the exciting part of the adventure would probably be "negotiations" with the loan shark enforcers or discovering there was a crime involved or *being* the enforcers and chasing down the treacherous scum who ran off with a lot of the bank's money or something.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

One of the five player characters in my Transhuman Space campaign was an accountant and auditor. He joined the team mid campaign and provided them with the ability to review business records and find concealed financial trails of crimes or civil injuries. This wasn't a strongly action-oriented campaign, but an intensely investigative one.

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Old 05-06-2014, 11:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

I once had a Gormelite ship captain who was embezzling funds (and reinvesting them in weapons) using the skill. He had done everything in base 8 numbers, and when he was audited, he obfuscated using this method without explaining that he had done so. That was part of many of his tactics in that instance, one of them being outright intimidation. Of course, the Accounting skill contest was a single roll, supported by a couple of other tricks.

However, there's a reason why there isn't a DF or MH template for "Accountants" -- their job is highly technical but is ultimately not the stuff of adventure fiction, nor any other kind of fiction of which I am aware. Being an accountant, on the other hand, is considered a stable, good paying job. But rarely do we want to play decent, hard working characters who live mundane lives. So the Accounting skill only gets interesting when the character is embezzling, cooking books for money laundering, or running other similar scams. At that point it becomes "exciting", but really the exciting bit is usually what goes on around the use of that one skill.

When you think about it, how often has Lockpicking been exciting? Granted, since there can be timed elements of it, it can be critical to the success or failure of an adventure. But rarely have I ever seen it be "exciting" in the way that combat or social interaction can be. Unfortunately, the same goes for pretty much all technical skills in RPGs. They can be critical, the roll itself can have dramatic tension since the survival of the PCs, the success or failure of a mission, etc., can easily hinge on that one roll, but rarely do I see great excitement surrounding the use and application of any technical skills.

Perhaps others have had different experiences?
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:37 PM   #5
Kromm
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

Accounting has its uses in some genres; see Forensic Accounting (Action 2, p. 14) and the notes under Falsifying Records (Action 2, p. 26). Essentially, it's valuable for cooking books if you want to embezzle funds or hide a black project, and for turning up such skeeviness if you're an investigator. If the entire campaign is chases, fights, and ticking bombs, then Accounting is a terrible skill and a waste of points – but if the budget behind the cars, weapons, and explosives matters, or if the action results from finding out an embezzler or being found out to be one, then it has its merits.

In my secret-agents campaign, it's mainly used to gather intelligence once the team has captured their target's financial records. Successful rolls have let them pass anonymous tips to legit law-enforcers in order to discredit their enemies. In at least one case, it also helped them indirectly assess just how well-armed their enemies would be. Remember that it doesn't just cover ledgers and bank records, but also invoices, receipts, and other evidence of money changing hands. In my experience, the latter is usually the more interesting stuff for field-level spies.
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:13 PM   #6
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
One of the five player characters in my Transhuman Space campaign was an accountant and auditor.
The first THS campaign I played had two accountants for a while: one who was a professional moneyman and one who had it as a side-line. There was a certain amount of rivalry until the second one decided to emigrate to Mars.
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Essentially, it's valuable for cooking books if you want to embezzle funds or hide a black project, and for turning up such skeeviness if you're an investigator.
Definitely. In the above-mentioned THS campaign, a client of our "Vacuum Cleaner" (debris collection and general haulage) company was being framed as an embezzler. We managed to untangle the records and point her at a likely enemy, and got a useful contact out of it.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

I've been working on a Conspiracy-style Cabal game, and generally been interested in spy-thrillers and political games for awhile, and I've been surprised how often Accounting ends up turning up in my designs.

Accounting will let you funnel money from people, trace money back to original owners, and uncover secret projects and who their masters are. Accounting is a nice "professional skill," but it's a GREAT investigative skill.

I understand that what I'm talking about don't necessarily involve a lot of gunplay (except at the very end), but the nice thing about GURPS is that it supports quite a few genres. Note, for example, that Night's Black Agents, Kenneth Hites wham-bam Vampire Spy Thriller using the Gumshoe system also uses accounting for pretty much the same reason. The opening adventure (S)Entries includes, among all of its sniper-fights, ambushes, gasping confessions of working for vampires, trunks full of wild roses and dead bodies, some tracking down of money and who one's secret paymasters are. So not only does the game have Accounting as a skill option, it uses it in its intro adventure too.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

I had a global crime lord with Incompetence: Accounting. His lack of this skill was rather crucial, since his organization had problems turning in a profit (mainly because he didn't get how many of his people were stealing from him).
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

It's used fairly frequently in my fantasy campaign where the PCs are merchant princes and condottieri.

The most memorable occasion occured when the PCs were collecting a sizable debt from a consortium of prosperous merchants on behalf of the estate of a deceased nobleman.

The merchants felt strongly that the lender's death rendered the huge loan null and void, unenforcable and uncollectable. That was, in fact, why they took such pains to have the nobleman killed, leaving only two daughters who would be unable to bring any meaningful action against them, either legally or through other means.

The PCs felt that buying the debt from the estate and collecting it was a mitzvah, a heroic deed of kindness and mercy that also served as a shrewd investment. Consequently, they strongly felt that the merchants ought to pay them the full value of the debt and considerable punitive damages, for the effort involved in collecting.

In order to collect payment, however, the PCs had to discover the various diversified holdings of the merchants in question, none of whom was naturally inclined toward disclosing the totality of his wealth to either authorities or potential rivals.

It thus happened that the PCs burgled the well-protected town house of a respected merchant, in order to break into his private study and discover the secret set of books he kept, in addition to the ones he'd show the authorities when forced.

While hanging suspended by his legs from the ceiling, in order to avoid stepping on floors enspelled to creak if stepped on, and using magical vision to read in near-perfect darkness, a PC with Accounting 24 (and Efficient: Accounting) went through the secret set of books at blazing speed*, pin-pointing through key omissions and references to coded payments that all the merchants in question were involved in an off-shore investment.

Very off-shore indeed, as it turned out, as it was a trade mission to the court of the kingdoms under the seas, populated by sea elves, mermen, tritons and stranger beings.

After that, it was just a matter of a few strategic assaults and batteries, a murder or two and a judicious amount of Intimidation backed up with pretended-omniscience, and the PCs walked away with a highly satisfactorily settlement that was several times more valuable than the original debt.

*We dubbed this Combat Accounting, as he was on a combat timescale from having snuck past a golem guardian earlier. The golem actually stood outside the door as the worked.
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Accounting

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
It's used fairly frequently in my fantasy campaign where the PCs are merchant princes and condottieri.
While I've not had Accounting come up in a game, it comes up a lot in (well-written) fiction involving mercenary groups, and is likely to be equally useful for PCs who are in/running such groups.
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