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Old 11-29-2014, 01:53 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

Connoisseur is an IQ/A skill that represents educated understanding of art or luxury items (which is interpreted pretty broadly). It takes Cultural Familiarity modifiers and requires specialisation: the skill lists Dance, Literature, Music, Visual Arts, and Wine as specialties, and adds Fashion and Natural Environments on iconic characters. Any skill used to create, study or use an object provides a Connoisseur default to an appropriate specialisation at -3, and there's a general default of IQ-5. Killjoy gives -3 to all Connoisseur skills.

Connoisseur is valuable for buying equipment, assessing loot, and showing that one is cultured, so it's a useful complementary skill for many social skills (Social Engineering). It's also a job skill for professional critics, along with Writing. In the right kind of campaign, a job as a journalist-critic seems quite suitable for an adventurer, if not very macho. It requires decent IQ and a few points in skills, and provides a lot of reasons for travelling. A good critic will have supporting skills, such appropriate History specialisation(s). This might be a good cover job in Madness Dossier, where spotting attempts at cultural subversion is important.

Other GURPS books make it pretty clear that almost anything that's difficult to make or exists in lots of varieties can be a Connoisseur specialisation, and that their scope can vary widely. Examples include Antiques (Infinite Worlds), Architecture (Horror), Beer (Banestorm), Books (Infinite Worlds), Cars (Action), Coins (Horror), Cuisine (Banestorm), Guns (High-Tech and others), Fashion (Social Engineering), Food (Magical Styles), Jewellery (Casey & Andy), Melee Weapons (Action), Occult Items (Horror), Poetry (Alchemical Baroque), Rare Books (Urban Magics), Stamps (Horror), Vehicles (Monster Hunters) and Weapons (Martial Arts and others). It seems to me that you could use variations in scope of different Connoisseur specialisations to determine penalties for more and less general questions, rather like the way Area Knowledge does it (thanks to Phil Masters for this idea).

The expanded wildcard skills of Monster Hunters explicitly include appropriate Connoisseur specialisations, and this is expanded on in Power-Ups 7. Several Talents in Power-Ups 3 include Connoisseur specialisations, and more plausibly could, such as Musical Ability, or any other artistic talent. Connoisseur skills are often studied as hobbies, although they aren't Hobby Skills as defined by Basic.

My use of Connoisseur so far has included (Music) on a Dependent with Musical Ability, although the associated PC wants to buy it someday: it would have been useful twice so far in that campaign, and there's a lot more of it to go. My only PC who had it was a British diplomat of Chinese ancestry who had Connoisseur (Chinese Food), and liked to know all the obscure little places where they do something really well. It was his hobby, and occasionally useful in small ways.

Wat have you done with Connoisseur that was fun?
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Old 11-29-2014, 06:33 PM   #2
jason taylor
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

It would be a VERY good skill for a diplomat. Especially when combined with Savoire-Faire.

Remember the story of Chief of Macleod who took a dare from the King to see if he could make a better feast then the King's at the prodding of a courtier, anyone?

Macleod had Savoire-Faire, as well as Connoisseur(Gaelic poetry), bard, and what would be stage management? And of course Diplomacy.
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

Someone in my current game actually has this skill. But only because it's mandatory on the Dungeon Fantasy Knight template. Connoisseur (Weapons) is useful for picking out the more valuable weapons to drag back to town for resale. But Merchant is useful for picking out the more valuable *everything*, and getting better reactions from shopkeepers to boot.

I think this falls into the "too many similar skills" category. GURPS could do fine without it.
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

I actually use it quite a lot. In Cherry Blossom Rain, Connoisseur (Weapons) would let you roll to identify one of the magical weapons of the setting (The magical weapons of CBR weren't the sort of random magic items of DF, but rather each one was legendary and known, and someone with connoisseur could readily identify them, their history, who made them, what they could do, etc). Connoisseur (Tea) also came up quite a lot, and was worth modest reaction bonuses under the right circumstances.

My take on Cabal would use quite a few Connoisseur skills, since it's sort of "Wealthy dilettante antiquarian wizard: the game." You need it to firmly establish your credentials among the rest, as well as to pick out the stories behind many of the more specific items.

(I suppose a good way to describe how I like to use the connoisseur skill is as one of the "information feeding" skills. It's sort of a highly specific Expert skill)
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Old 11-30-2014, 12:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

A friend of mine has a character who hasn't yet entered play, but possesses Connoisseur: Women. An informal, yet structured study of the women of society of every class and caste.
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Old 11-30-2014, 01:49 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

Ah, recollections of the fourth ed playtest process.

As I recall it, Connoisseur was created in part because of the Who's Who books. The first draft of 4e killed Appreciate Beauty, because that was a weird Japan-specific thing, but I had to point out that we'd kludged it into one or two non-Japanese characters in those books, because they were famous as patrons of the arts. But perhaps more importantly, I for one was able to point to James Bond and to any number of cinematic master thieves who always know exactly what to lift when they get inside the art gallery...

It may not be important in every game. But when you need it, you need it.
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Old 11-30-2014, 01:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

The "levels of specificity" principle is quite important, by the way. You can be a Connoisseur of Fine Arts, or Western Fine Arts, or Western Painting, or Impressionist Painting, or The Works of Vincent van Gogh. A sufficiently picky GM could compose a table of penalties for moving up and down the ladder of detail, as has been done in the past for Area Knowledge.

And the default for the skill should, strictly speaking, only work for areas congruent to your background, or at least be subject to familiarity penalties. (Again much like Area Knowledge.) I know a little bit about western fine arts - I might even qualify for a Dabbler perk there. (I like museums.) My knowledge of pre-19th century Japanese art, on the other hand, could be engraved on the back of a netsuke piece. Although I do know what netsuke is.
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Old 11-30-2014, 02:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

Connoisseur like History, Literature, Area Knowledge etc. really should use the nesting specializations house rules mentioned by one author on these forums.
I think it was Mr. Stoddard, but if it wasn't, then I apologize to whoever came up with them.
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Old 11-30-2014, 03:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

This is a skill that seems to show up on about two or three characters per party, when not required by templates; it usually gets played as a colour skill more than a practical one. Music, Food, Wine and Literature are the most common specialisations. (Though one character in a Reign of Steel game did have Torture he was a wetwork specialist before getting frozen on the moonbase and a character from the 1960s psionic campaign had Drugs, because he would take pretty much anything to see what it did.)
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Old 11-30-2014, 03:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Connoisseur

I think it could work wonders for defining a unique culture. What one considers high society.
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