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Old 12-20-2014, 08:16 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Crewman is a family of IQ/E occupational TL skills that provide the ability to serve as part of the crew on a large vehicle, with a separate skill for each vehicle type. There is no default between these skills, although there's a general IQ-4 default. They provide familiarity with life aboard, safety measures and damage control, such as patching holes. They also provide a basic knowledge of map reading, meteorology and law for the vehicle and its environment, although this always requires a skill roll, and let you operate the controls, on a DX-based skill roll. Crew quality on a vehicle is measured by average crewman skill, which can be rolled for success in entering and leaving port, difficult conditions and battles.

The Spaceships series has many examples of using Spacer skill, which generalise to other skills. DF4: Sages has manuals for Seamanship, among many other skills. Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers has some rules for the effects of magically altered environments on Crewman skills and Underground Adventures suggests how you might use Seamanship in place of some applications of Masonry.

The canonical Crewman skills are for airships, surface ships, spaceships and submarines. The existence and importance of these skills varies by TL: Seamanship dates back to TL1, Airshipman and Submariner to TL6 and Spacer to TL7. In complex and dangerous vehicles, such as TL6 submarines or TL7 spacecraft, knowing the relevant Crewman skill is a good idea merely for travelling on the vehicle, since it avoids you being a menace to the vehicle and crew.

Low-Tech adds another skill: Oarsman, for rowing or paddling large ships, defaulting to and from Seamanship at -2. There should arguably be Crewman skills for large aircraft, used by airliner cabin crews and bomber crewmen (this was in G:WWII, as Aviation), and for trains, used by railway conductors and brakemen. Gigantic mecha and land battleships might well have Crewman skills of their own.

The various Crewman skills appear in templates in Action, Banestorm, Abydos, Bio-Tech, Crusades, Dungeon Fantasy, Fantasy, Horror, Madness Dossier, Infinite Worlds, Britannica-6, Lands Out of Time, Martial Arts: FCCS, Psis, Reign of Steel: Will to Live, SEALS in Vietnam, Space, Tales of the Solar Patrol, Thaumatology: Alchemical Baroque, and Magical Styles. PU3: Talents and PU7: Wildcard Skills have plenty of examples that include Crewman skills.

The commonest Crewman skill in published templates is, by a long way, Seamanship. I've had characters with Seamanship, Spacer and Submariner, but not Airshipman, to date. They're enabling skills rather than ones with which spectacular feats are performed, but that doesn't make them useless.

What have you done with Crewman skills, or failed at through lack of them?
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Old 12-21-2014, 03:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

I think it's one of those skills where having it when needed is considered routine, but not having it when it is needed is considered a disaster.
If you have Crewman-25, the likely result is likely something along the lines of:
Quote:
Originally Posted by hypothetical GM
OK, so you're the first in line for promotions. Your high skill increases the average skill level of the ship's crew by a whopping 1. You're still less important than the characters with Shiphandling, Repair skills for repair teams etc.
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Last edited by vicky_molokh; 12-21-2014 at 07:15 AM.
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Old 12-21-2014, 04:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

One thing which I like the Crewman skills for is spotting problems. If you have Crewman-25, yeah, you might still not be able to actually fix up the rigging as well as someone with, say, sewing, but you're going to spot that it needs fixing in an instant. I would allow Crewman to count as any relevant technical skill of the same rank for the purpose of spotting faults in the given environment.
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
I think it's one of those skills where having it when needed is considered routine, but not having it when it is needed.
I'm having trouble parsing this sentence.
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

All the standard Crewman skills have shown up on characters in various games I've run. The generic merchant-ship crewman in Last Days of Atlantis, several of the British secret agents in Irresponsible and Right, and of course the Age of Sail Pirate Crew. Spacer in the various space games, of course. Airshipman in Crimson Skies, but more in The Riddle of the Hills, my Edwardian steampunk one-shot. And Submariner with two separate sets of agents who ended up spending time aboard the things (the WWII spies of I&R, and the robot-fighters in Reign of Steel).

All that said, I don't think I've called for rolls against them very often. It's more a case of having spent a point in the skill meaning you can live a reasonably normal life on board the vessel in question; you don't need a crewman looking over your shoulder to keep you safe, and you don't need to stay in the passenger areas.
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not View Post
I'm having trouble parsing this sentence.
Edited:
I think it's one of those skills where having it when needed is considered routine, but not having it when it is needed is considered a disaster.
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Old 12-21-2014, 11:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Quote:
Originally Posted by Idiosyncratic View Post
One thing which I like the Crewman skills for is spotting problems. If you have Crewman-25, yeah, you might still not be able to actually fix up the rigging as well as someone with, say, sewing, but you're going to spot that it needs fixing in an instant. I would allow Crewman to count as any relevant technical skill of the same rank for the purpose of spotting faults in the given environment.
Yeah, this is how I see it as well.
Its a good broad default for things relative to shipboard life that can be used as a complimentary skill or a default for other skills.
Say Streetwise off Seamanship instead of IQ for finding the best bars in port for example.
Another idea is to treat it as a Wild Card skill without the cinematic benefits.
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Old 12-21-2014, 12:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Spacer came up often in my Space Cowboys game. There were rolls to understand the significance of one's ears popping, and rolls to patch the holes that were letting the air out. On more than one occasion, the ship's cook took the controls while the regular pilot was unavailable, or overly inebriated. Easily the most popular skill on all the PCs' sheets.
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Old 12-21-2014, 01:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Another idea is to treat it as a Wild Card skill without the cinematic benefits.
That would be like the way that Soldier covers the basics of many other skills, and can substitute for them for easy tasks (those where the other skill would be a bonus of +4 or more), such as sending a message on a reasonably user-friendly radio set, or field-stripping his rifle.

Seamanship would cover the basics of Carpentry, Sewing, Mechanic, etc. for their application to ships.
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Old 12-21-2014, 02:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Crewman

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
That would be like the way that Soldier covers the basics of many other skills, and can substitute for them for easy tasks (those where the other skill would be a bonus of +4 or more), such as sending a message on a reasonably user-friendly radio set, or field-stripping his rifle.

Seamanship would cover the basics of Carpentry, Sewing, Mechanic, etc. for their application to ships.
Using Crewman as a kind of boosted default for anything routine on a ship sounds quite reasonable. I was about to suggest it until I saw your post.

I love skills that reduce the risk of dreaded skill bloat too common in 3rd edition.
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