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Old 08-09-2014, 06:16 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

Bicycling isn't Driving (Bicycle), because it's easier than that, but it can be treated the same in most ways. It's a common background skill of the twentieth century, for the cheapest form of vehicle, and sees a revival in post-apocalypse settings but I suspect it doesn't get used a whole lot in games.

Driving requires a confession. I cannot drive (sight too poor) and don't really understand the emotional importance of the skill to so many people. Seeing it used a lot in games for (Automobile) and (Heavy Wheeled) made me wonder about the arbitrary quality of the boundary at 5 tons weight. That's 10,000lb, as GURPS always uses short tons, and since having a vehicle change skill when it gets a cargo loaded or removed seems silly, I presume it's maximum loaded weight, which is the weight in vehicle stats anyway. I could believe in lighter vehicles that had (Heavy Wheeled) characteristics, like vertical steering columns and air-brakes, and ought to use (Heavy Wheeled), but that comes under Rule Zero.

Piloting has a similar arbitrary boundary between (Light) and (Heavy) aircraft, and maximum take-off weight is a standard attribute for real-world aircraft. One could change the division to (Single-Engine) and (Multi-Engine) since single-engine aircraft over 20,000lb MTOW are mostly jet fighters capable of over 600mph, and thus (High-Performance). Air crashes are deadly, hence Piloting has an important rule for critical failures: if your skill is 15+, re-roll critical failures, which only happen on a further failure.

Vehicular dodge is Handling + Skill/2; note that there is no +3 as for personal dodges, but Handling has significant variations, in the range +/-4, although most vehicles are in the middle of that range. Skill is the main thing though; do the operator's Combat Reflexes apply?

High-Tech has rules for bicycle movement and load-carrying, notes on Driving, and more vehicles. Ultra-Tech adds more, and the Action series fills in more details.

What have you done with these skills in a game that was weird or amusing? What's missing, or wrong? Does it all feel convincing?
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
High-Tech has rules for bicycle movement and load-carrying, notes on Driving, and more vehicles. Ultra-Tech adds more, and the Action series fills in more details.

What have you done with these skills in a game that was weird or amusing? What's missing, or wrong? Does it all feel convincing?
Supers also has a section om muscle powered vehicles.
I have given gnomes bycycles as a racial tech.
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Bicycling isn't Driving (Bicycle), because it's easier than that, but it can be treated the same in most ways. It's a common background skill of the twentieth century, for the cheapest form of vehicle, and sees a revival in post-apocalypse settings but I suspect it doesn't get used a whole lot in games.

Driving requires a confession. I cannot drive (sight too poor) and don't really understand the emotional importance of the skill to so many people. Seeing it used a lot in games for (Automobile) and (Heavy Wheeled) made me wonder about the arbitrary quality of the boundary at 5 tons weight. That's 10,000lb, as GURPS always uses short tons, and since having a vehicle change skill when it gets a cargo loaded or removed seems silly, I presume it's maximum loaded weight, which is the weight in vehicle stats anyway. I could believe in lighter vehicles that had (Heavy Wheeled) characteristics, like vertical steering columns and air-brakes, and ought to use (Heavy Wheeled), but that comes under Rule Zero.

Piloting has a similar arbitrary boundary between (Light) and (Heavy) aircraft, and maximum take-off weight is a standard attribute for real-world aircraft. One could change the division to (Single-Engine) and (Multi-Engine) since single-engine aircraft over 20,000lb MTOW are mostly jet fighters capable of over 600mph, and thus (High-Performance). Air crashes are deadly, hence Piloting has an important rule for critical failures: if your skill is 15+, re-roll critical failures, which only happen on a further failure.

Vehicular dodge is Handling + Skill/2; note that there is no +3 as for personal dodges, but Handling has significant variations, in the range +/-4, although most vehicles are in the middle of that range. Skill is the main thing though; do the operator's Combat Reflexes apply?

High-Tech has rules for bicycle movement and load-carrying, notes on Driving, and more vehicles. Ultra-Tech adds more, and the Action series fills in more details.

What have you done with these skills in a game that was weird or amusing? What's missing, or wrong? Does it all feel convincing?
I've never used Bicycling in GURPS. I've built a character in another campaign who was a modest super-speedster with a ruggedly built bicycle for extra speed. And I once ran a campaign where a character who was a Ben Grimm knockoff travelled in a pedalled vehicle—but it was a van with the engine yanked out, not a bicycle.

Bicycles would be very appropriate in a steampunk campaign. The bicycle (a) was the great liberatory mobility source and (b) was the original technology that led to automobiles and airplanes.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I've never used Bicycling in GURPS.
We've used them somewhat in a WWII campaign, since they were widely used in the UK and Europe of the period, owing to the near-complete absence of gasoline. We just use them at default, I don't think any of the PCs actually have the skill.
Quote:
Bicycles would be very appropriate in a steampunk campaign. The bicycle (a) was the great liberatory mobility source and (b) was the original technology that led to automobiles and airplanes.
Now you have me wondering about how to justify a steam-powered bicycle. It's not easy, and it may be time to break out 3e Vehicles.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

I've encountered Piloting a lot, mainly in Light Airplane and High-Performance Spacecraft. None of my players or characters have ever taken Bicycling, though now I'm getting the urge to make one of those stunt freestyle cyclists for a game (as others have said, most people just use Bicycling at default or with the Dabbler perk).

Driving (Automobile) and (Motorcycle) get a lot of activity, as does (Halftrack) for snowmobile use; (Heavy Wheeled) and (Construction Equipment) don't seem to get the use they deserve.

One Driving specialty I've used is the following:
Hovercycle: Used for any high-speed craft that is handled like a motorcycle but uses a hover or contragrav system instead of wheels. Defaults: Motorcycle-2, other Driving-4. Motorcycle and Hovercraft both default to Hovercycle at -2.

I'm surprised the OP left Boating off the list of skills this week. Boating (Motorboat) sees a lot of action in Action! type games I've been in.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:21 AM   #6
Kromm
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

In my secret-agents campaign, Bicycling has come up several times. In countries with excellent road networks in good condition, it's a great way to move around while remaining relatively anonymous, as you aren't pulling in at service stations to buy fuel all the time and you aren't sporting a numbered plate. You can also switch to pedestrian pathways and wilderness as needed, and physically pick up and hide your vehicle. And in many places, you can travel anonymously in a huge peloton of commuters. Of course, it's slow and offers no cover whatsoever. Still, everybody has the Bicycling skill.

Driving is essential in such a game. It's one of the few ways to move a team of agents and their gear from A to B quickly and without the equipment or the agents' faces being too visible. It's often the best way to chase down rivals, too. And more dramatically and less realistically, a spy story without the occasional car chase is boring. The PCs in my campaign mostly have Automobile for ordinary street cars and Heavy Wheeled for makeshift armored transports and trucks loaded with surveillance gear. Motorcycle is well-liked by showoffs, and even Halftrack has shown up, for snowmobile action.

Piloting comes up least often. Aircraft are very, very powerful and useful for secret missions, but also costly and risky. They have to take off and land in suitable areas, creating dangerously predictable bottlenecks. They are easily tracked on radar, and usually are tracked outside of lawless areas. In many jurisdictions, you have to file a flight plan and show a lot of paperwork even to get onto the tarmac. Also, aircraft area easily crippled. Even so, the PCs find Helicopter and Light Airplane kind of useful – especially Helicopter, as such vehicles can take off and land almost anywhere, hover behind concealment, and allow relatively stealthy insertions and extractions.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
I'm surprised the OP left Boating off the list of skills this week. Boating (Motorboat) sees a lot of action in Action! type games I've been in.
I considered it, but decided to hold it over for a group with Seamanship and related skills.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

Driving or piloting by themselves aren't that interesting. It's what you do with them in a larger context that matters. For example, in a typical GURPS Cabal game, Driving just gets you to the library, or into the heart of the desert, or whatever. It's just a means of getting somewhere, and is about as exciting as Hiking.

In Action or Space, they can really come into their own. They become the killer app for chase scenes or dog-fights. That's really where you start to see people invest in them

That said, I'm not really a fan of characters that focus exclusively on those skills. I've played in an action game with a Driver. The result was you had the shooter and the assassin and the big guy and the infiltrator all go into the building to do the mission (the heist, the extraction, whatever), while the driver sits there bouncing behind the wheel waiting for the one moment where the rest of the heroes will come out and help him. Likewise, in a space game where most of your action takes place on planet, either you're in a space dog-fight scene where the pilot gets to shine (and nobody else does) or you're not, and he's bored.

The best way to use those skills in these sorts of scenes, then, is where either have lots of people with that skill (the Fast and the Furious model of "everyone is a Driver with a bit of something on the side, like big guy, investigator, or grease monkey), or you're in a situation where everyone has something to do, including the pilot, like the Captain-and-crew model (where the captain is shouting tactical orders, and the science officer is detecting weak spots in the enemy ship, and the gunner is firing, and the pilot is out maneuvering the other ship and exposing the ship's underbelly to the gunner)

If you want to bring Drive or Pilot (or... bicycling?) front and center, I think that's how you have to do it.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

I know people in real life who seem to be under the impression that Bicycling should be a prerequisite for Driving(Automobile). I surprised them by never riding a bike and learning to drive anyway.

In GURPS, I've never seen any vehicular skills learned; we used Teamster at default (without even rolling) to guide our loot wagon and one warrior in our party had Riding(Pachycephalasaurus), swinging his halberd around as his dinosaur rammed into his enemies.
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post

The best way to use those skills in these sorts of scenes, then, is where either have lots of people with that skill (the Fast and the Furious model of "everyone is a Driver with a bit of something on the side, like big guy, investigator, or grease monkey)
In the campaign I was talking about, I required everybody to select three areas to shine in (people could "double up" or even "triple up," but nobody did). The original team ended up with a driver who was also good at burglary and procuring illicit gear, an intelligence expert who was also a field medic and trained in small-unit tactics, an investigator who was also a traceur and a hand-to-hand specialist, a sniper who was also comfortable with heavy weapons and explosives, and a social engineer who was also adept at languages and small-scale theft. That is, just one driver, and he had other jobs. Since then, group members have come and gone, and people have picked up new skills. Driving is definitely a top-tier, high-priority skill both for recruitment ("Hey, he's a good driver, let's get him on the team!") and self-improvement, but it isn't anybody's one-and-only job.
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