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Old 01-11-2015, 08:44 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

Current Affairs is the IQ/E skill of knowing what's going on now: the "news" and related matters. It's a TL skill because the means of accessing information vary so much by TL, and it requires specialisation because nobody knows about everything. The defaults are IQ-4 and Research-4, and there are modifiers: -1 per day without access to news (this can be per week in places where news travels slowly), -3 if you have only one source, and +1 or more for good access to news, from a job where a lot of it goes by, good contacts, and the like. Collections of old books are no use for Current Affairs, and come under Research.

The specialisations in Basic are Business, Headline News, High Culture, People, Politics, Popular Culture, Regional, Science & Technology, Sports, and Travel. All the specialisations default to each other at -4. The Geographical and Temporal Scope rules on B176 are sometimes applicable, especially at TLs without electronic communications.

Current Affairs is good for gathering intelligence information from the media, which makes it valuable for spies. It's also a vital skill for journalists of any kind, especially commentators, and for bards. Action has it as a skill for finding out things from the media, or other legitimate sources by asking around, and Dungeon Fantasy has it as the skill for accessing the rumour network. Social Engineering uses it for locating prominent experts, as a Complementary Skill in speech-making or debates, for accessing rumours (a news organisation bought as a Contact Group provides a lot of Current Affairs specialisations), and as a default for many forms of Heraldry. More generally, many skills might default to Current Affairs for stuff that's currently in the news, and having History and Current Affairs for the same field can provide useful insights.

While the standard specialisations are very widely applicable, new ones are sometime needed, although less often than with Connoisseur. Horror offers Infernal, Occult Underground, and Supernatural specialisations, although they probably won't all exist in the same campaign. Infinite Worlds has Current Affairs for a historical era, since it allows access to multiple worlds of any era.

Quite a lot of the Talents and Wildcard skills in Power-Ups 3: Talents and Power-Ups 7: Wildcard Skills include a few specialisations of Current Affairs relevant to the trait, and Trivia Sponge, Bard! and History! have all of them.

Some people may omit sub-fields from their Current Affairs skills. I'd claim Current Affairs (Sports), but only for cricket - I don't take any interest in other sports, and actively shun anything to do with soccer, which is what most people in England regard as the significant sport. In the same way, people with Current Affairs (High Culture) may be dedicated and knowledgeable opera fans without a clue about events in the world of ballet. The great advantage of these subset skills is they take less time to keep up-to-date.

What have you done with Current Affairs in a game?
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:51 AM   #2
roguebfl
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

I often use Current Affairs(Pop Culture) on some of my teenage characters who stays up with the gossip as a background/colour skill though I not too often had to roll against it

Current Affairs(Politics) is a good skill to figure out who's playing who when your Adventures starts feeling like a pawn 8)
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:54 AM   #3
Anders
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

How come there's no Current Affairs (Criminal)? Or is that Streetwise?
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:06 AM   #4
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

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How come there's no Current Affairs (Criminal)? Or is that Streetwise?
Also because anything that qualifies a *current* is either not publicized enough you could learn anything about it, or the authorities have heard it too and the arrest of everyone involved was already part of the headline news specialization.

Stuff that isn't fairly public information isn't available with Current Events. Current Events (Politics) won't tell you anything about the politicians *secret* motives or plots either.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:06 AM   #5
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

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Originally Posted by Anders View Post
How come there's no Current Affairs (Criminal)? Or is that Streetwise?
I think it is. The things that Streetwise specifically lets you do have substantial Current Affairs elements, although Streetwise is also an Influence skill.
Quote:
Originally Posted by p.B223
A successful Streetwise roll might let you learn (among other things) where any sort of illegal “action” is; which local cops or bureaucrats can be bought, and for how much; and how to contact the local underworld.
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Old 01-11-2015, 10:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

The -1 penalty per day is brutal, and it makes the skill only suitable for cyberpunk data brokers buying and selling hot 0-day information, courtiers who have to know the absolute latest rumors and so on. In any setting without constant news updates or an extremely active rumor mill and a need to know what's in the news right now, this skill makes no sense as written.

Of course, you could throw the penalty out, or treat it more like Area Knowledge, with a -1 for every change in magnitude or location... so knowing news from a couple of months ago would be at -3 instead of -60, and 10-year-old news might be at -5 and at that point you're probably better off using Research instead unless you're ludicrously well-informed. And then the GM would just rule that you can't roll for information more recent than the last time you've checked your sources. This makes so much more sense to me.

I had a character who was kind of a genius at reading people, crowds, and social systems (including economics); she could plausibly reenact the bit from Watchmen where Ozymandias watches a hundred television channels at once and then makes stock picks based on the tenor and symbolism of the commercials. I'm pretty sure she had Current Affairs skills, but she never actually rolled against them (actually, that character never really realized her potential; I don't have good enough social skills of my own to play a social genius without help, and either the GM didn't get the concept or he wasn't really on board with it).

Last edited by Xplo; 01-11-2015 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

In GURPS Fantasy I proposed a modification of Current Affairs for low-tech societies with slower communication: for any specialization other than one's local community, the update cycle is one week rather than one day. I think without some such modification the skill becomes pretty much meaningless before the printing press.
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Old 01-11-2015, 12:13 PM   #8
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
In GURPS Fantasy I proposed a modification of Current Affairs for low-tech societies with slower communication: for any specialization other than one's local community, the update cycle is one week rather than one day. I think without some such modification the skill becomes pretty much meaningless before the printing press.
I don't understand that modifier in the first place.

Presumably if the current adventure relevant news didn't break before the last time you had access to the media, you have no chance. And if it did, any time modifiers would be for how long ago it was news, and not how long it has been since you had access to stuff that had nothing to do with the topic at all but happened to be current.
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Old 01-11-2015, 12:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Current Affairs

In a lot of my more recent builds, I've been combining groups of Current Affairs skills with the Dabbler perk, to get the general level of someone who pays attention to some aspects of the news more than others, but not enough to justify the skill, itself. This works very well for Current Affairs, better than many other skills that have multiple specializations.
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