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Old 10-11-2014, 09:34 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Camouflage is the IQ/Easy ability to conceal things and people from sight, using equipment. It defaults to Survival, presumably for the current environment. To see past Camouflage, the opponent must succeed in a Quick Contest of Vision or Observation against Camouflage - and range penalties apply. Sometimes Camouflage won't hide you completely, but only give an attacker -1 to skill to attack you. It does not improve Stealth, but if you use them together, an opponent who hears you still needs to overcome Camouflage to see you. Camouflaging something large is at a penalty equal to its SM; a bonus of the absolute value of SM could conceivably apply for small objects, but I reckon it depends on circumstances.

Equipment modifiers are very important with this skill, and High-Tech has lots of detail about them on p76-77: note that basic khaki, feldgrau or olive drab uniforms give +1 to Camouflage. A ghillie suit is inconvenient, but gives huge bonuses: a basic +3, and up to +8 for a highly skilled user. It also notes (p203) that you can use Camouflage to conceal traps outdoors, and that sensors can be Camouflaged (p205). Low-Tech adds to this (p126) with details for inappropriate clothing, use of paint, and garments less drastic than the ghillie suit. It also covers camouflage of doors, locks and traps. LTC3 has uses of Camouflage in hunting and trapping. Ultra-Tech has real-time active camouflage systems, bestowing the Chameleon advantage (B41) which does give a bonus to Stealth, plus programmable camouflage systems, which benefit Camouflage skill. Tactical Shooting adds lots of detailed advice on using Camouflage and SEALs in Vietnam has detailed period equipment. Fantasy-Tech 1 has a TL4^ ninja suit.

Camouflage is a basic military skill, but WWII doesn't actually have much to say about it, assuming that the basic idea is well-known. It wasn't universal in European-style armies before the start of the twentieth century, but it was always vital for less formal combat and hunting. Camouflage appears on templates in Action, Banestorm, Dragons, Dungeon Fantasy, Fantasy, Gun-Fu, Horror, Infinite Worlds, Lands Out of Time, Madness Dossier, Martial Arts, Fairbairn Close Combat Systems, Monster Hunters, Psis, Reign Of Steel: Will to Live, SEALs in Vietnam, Space, Supers and Zombies. It also appears on styles in Martial Arts, Yrth Fighting Styles and Tactical Shooting. PU2: Perks, PU3: Talents and PU7: Wildcard Skills have plenty of examples that include or assist Camouflage. There are no spells to boost the skill in Magic, but Conceal will substitute for it, andThaumatology has a Path/Book ritual that boosts this skill.

It seems clear that Camouflage gives static concealment: you don't have to make ongoing skill rolls to use it, provided you don't move. But if you move, Stealth is how you remain unnoticed. It's not clear if Chameleon gives automatic success at Camouflage, but I'd feel tempted to give it twice the bonus it gives to Stealth, which would mean that someone with Chameleon 3 and default Camouflage would be rolling at IQ+8, for close to automatic success.

Have you done something amazing with Camouflage in a game? Has it been more than a necessary skill for "we wait here and then ambush them?"

Last edited by johndallman; 10-11-2014 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Fix typo
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Old 10-11-2014, 11:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Going by my character archives, this is a very common skill, mostly because it shows up on military templates; but I haven't seen it actually used very often. In my WWII campaign, when the PCs are operating in enemy territory, it gets rolled to conceal an overnight (or more often over-day) hiding place.

Arguably it ought to be at least somewhat TL-based: while the basic principles of breaking up outlines may remain valid, the way you do that against overhead IR observation isn't entirely the same as what you do to stop deer noticing you. Perhaps a case for familiarities.
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Old 10-11-2014, 11:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Not something I've done or seen done, but I'm planning a 15-16 camouflage for my character in an upcoming TL6 game (the Survival default is neat; thanks for reminding me about it).

Personally, I find the rules of Stealth and Camouflage annoyingly vague. Does a successful Camouflage negate the Plain Sight bonus for Vision rolls? Under what conditions does it make the character unseen, and under which does it merely provide -1 to be hit (why just to be hit and why precisely -1, no more?). How does moving slowly while wearing successfully-applied camo (e.g. crawling in a customised ghillie) get handled by the system? Etc. etc. etc.
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Old 10-11-2014, 03:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

It's a skill I honestly don't understand that well. I've been messing with a "tactical stealth" system concept for awhile, but I'm not really clear how Stealth and Camouflage really interact. Stealth seems to cover moving silently (that is, avoiding auditory detection) and hiding well (to avoid visual detection). It might "defend" against other senses, but that gets vague. It's not clear to me, for example, what skill I would use to avoid olfactory detection.

Camouflage seems to only help you avoid visual perception if you have appropriate tools and you aren't moving. In short, it seems to be something you use to hide something that is static (like throwing a camo-tarp over a tank or using camo to hide a sniper position) or as a sort of "second saving roll" against visual detection if your stealth roll failed. So, you step on a twig, the guard turns to look at you, you freeze, and you're in camouflage paint, so you roll camouflage vs his visual perception (with associated bonuses and penalties, like he gets a +10 if you're standing out in the open) and if you succeed, you remain undetected.

I think that's how it works. If so, it seems a rather marginal and niche skill compared to Stealth.
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Old 10-11-2014, 03:51 PM   #5
sir_pudding
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures clears up the difference between Stealth and Camouflage.
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Old 10-11-2014, 03:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
I think that's how it works. If so, it seems a rather marginal and niche skill compared to Stealth.
On the other hand, it's easier and can benefit from substantial equipment bonuses. And it may let you get rid of the 'in plain sight' bonus for enemy spotting.

Stealth is the premier skill for personal tactical sneakiness, but camouflage can have a lot to contribute to larger operations or ambushes.
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Old 10-11-2014, 04:25 PM   #7
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures clears up the difference between Stealth and Camouflage.
You probably saw me post something like this recently, but I'm posting this here for the sake of global discussion:
I'm getting the impression that the rules found there are adjusted specifically for DF, since they produce several oddnesses that feel at home in DF but not in a more generic campaign (e.g. tying the distance in yards to MoS, which is fine in a dungeon or DF wilderness, but doesn't make much sense for sharpshooter-range engagements).
IIRC Kromm once said that rulings in DF should not be fitted to the rest of the system without thinking twice. Or something like that.
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Old 10-11-2014, 04:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
You probably saw me post something like this recently, but I'm posting this here for the sake of global discussion:
I'm getting the impression that the rules found there are adjusted specifically for DF, since they produce several oddnesses that feel at home in DF but not in a more generic campaign (e.g. tying the distance in yards to MoS, which is fine in a dungeon or DF wilderness, but doesn't make much sense for sharpshooter-range engagements).
You are free to start your ambush whenever you can see the targets, the MoS range is the minimum engagement range.
Quote:
IIRC Kromm once said that rulings in DF should not be fitted to the rest of the system without thinking twice. Or something like that.
He also said in "Ten for Ten":
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramid #3/70: Fourth Edition Festival p. 15
Countless other rules that are too long for this piece
might have won a spot in the Basic Set, had they been in
the running 10 years ago (and had space there allowed!).
For instance:
...
• Ambushes (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness
Adventures, pp. 37-38) would clear up the scattered, oftencontradictory
rules for jumping your enemies.
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Old 10-11-2014, 05:12 PM   #9
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Ooookay, looking at Ambushes once again, I still have questions unanswered:

Does, or does not, use of Camouflage negate the Plain Sight bonus in the Quick Contest of Vision?
Camouflage helps one remain unseen on a failed Stealth roll. That seems to be an indication that it works on the move too, right?
So I get high Camouflage, and customise a Ghillie suit up to its +8 cap; does this neat bonus give me any benefits when I'm (well, my character) is trying to crawl or whatever? Or just gives the Camo+8 roll if I fail Stealth (and Stealth is rolled with no bonus even against vision)?
Under what conditions does Camo grant a -1 to be hit?
Since camo is good when hearing is not a factor, I have to ask: while range modifiers of Vision vs. Camo are pretty clear, what are the range modifiers of Hearing vs. Stealth? What is the 'base range' where Hearing+0 is contested against Stealth+0? The answer to this question greatly influences the cases in which Camo is or isn't a good/better deal.
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Old 10-11-2014, 06:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Camouflage

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Does, or does not, use of Camouflage negate the Plain Sight bonus in the Quick Contest of Vision?
Here's my house rule on how I play it in my games.

For the Plain Sight bonus, I always apply it. I stole this idea from Douglas Cole's site, but I've modified it a bit. Basically, everyone always gets a +6 to spot anything directly in front of them, +2 to the front sides (GURPS still considers this the front in tactical combat), and -2 in the rear sides (what GURPS calls "side" in tactical combat). You can't see behind you. If you're concentrating on spotting things around you, you get an additional +4, thus giving the full +10 to spot something in front of you if you Concentrate.

To balance the +10 to be spotted, I allow Stealth and Camouflage to provide cumulative bonuses.

A successful Stealth skill roll means moving silently and picking the "best" places to hide. Your margin of success (minimum 1) becomes a penalty to the other person's senses to spot you. (Against unsuspecting opponents, who aren't on guard in the least, I merely allow an uncontested Stealth roll to get by them.)

If you actually hide, and are not moving, and the area you hid in has visual concealment (e.g., bushes, lots of objects/furniture, etc.) you can also roll against Camouflage, modified for equipment based on how it matches your surroundings. On a success, this also gives a penalty equal to margin of success, which is cumulative with the Stealth roll bonus (i.e., you picked a good place to hide that you also blend in well with). Once you start moving again, you lose the Camouflage bonus. You can reroll when you pick a new hiding spot.

Failing one of the two rolls doesn't give any penalty, but it will make it difficult for you to beat a full +10 for others to spot you.

I make a single sense roll to notice someone, and note the margin, which I then use to determine at what distance he'd spot the hiding/camouflage person. If they move within that distance, then they're spotted. From that initial roll, I then apply the Time Spent rules so that starting at 2 minutes after searching a given area, the observer gets a +1, and an additional +1 for each doubling of the time. If you stay too long in the same area with an active observer (and let's be honest that most guards aren't that active), you'll eventually get noticed.

I've been using that for a few years now in my games, and it seems to work fine. Sure, assuming you have both skills at 14, with average rolls of 10, you're looking on average giving a total of -8 to their rolls, which against the +10 gives a final modifier of the opponent having a +2 to see you... but this quickly gets eliminated with the range modifier to vision rolls, and even more so with darkness penalties. You can still get much closer to someone with these than you could if you didn't have the skills. And if you want to get real close, then don't get in their line of sight.

The one issue I have with Camouflage that I haven't addressed yet is how it interacts with Darkness penalties. I'm thinking of capping Camouflage + Darkness modifier at -10, because eventually it's too dark for your camouflage to really have any greater difference, since your opponents can't even see the camouflage in the first place.


Side note on Stealth: Vicky, you also asked about the effect of Range on hearing vs Stealth. High-Tech clearly elaborates that sound drops by -1 for every doubling of distance. Myself, I simply use half the modifier of the Range/Speed Table, which comes out to roughly the same thing as that's roughly but not quite a -2 for every doubling of distance. The last thing you need here is the inherent bonus to hear the person in the first place based in what he's doing. Use the table in High-Tech to determine this initial modifier, apply half the Range/Speed modifier to it, and then reduce by your Margin of success on Stealth. At least, that's how I game it.

Even more of a tangent, but I apply light sources modifiers the same way. Each sources has a "starting light modifier"; e.g., a torch starts at -3, a flashlight at -1, and a floodlight at +6. Then, I use the Range/Speed Table modifier, halve it, and apply it to the starting value of the light source, and that's the "darkness penalty" you're standing in. A positive value doesn't give a bonus to see, but if you're in a positive value, the light source is "blinding" and gives you that value as a penalty while you're looking at it. This is also relevant in the "hiding" skills such as Stealth and Camouflage, but less directly so.
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