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Old 02-14-2015, 07:57 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

Disguise is the IQ/A TL skill of changing your appearance using clothing, makeup and prosthetics. You don't need it for simple disguises like changing clothes, but for more comprehensive work, this is the skill. Assuming a disguise takes 30-60 minutes and a Disguise roll. It takes equipment modifiers (Basic has disguise kits), including -5 for no equipment, +4 for Elastic Skin, -1 to -5 for impersonating someone very different to yourself, and penalties for different build, unnatural features and some specific disadvantages. Differences in SM usually mean automatic failure. The defaults are IQ-5 and Makeup-3. If there's more than one species in a setting, cross-species penalties for similar species are -2 to -4, and each target species requires its own specialisation. I think that means that Joe Human needs Disguise (Elf) to try disguising himself as one, and he suffers the cross-species penalty.

To fool someone that you aren't yourself, or that you're someone they know, via disguise, win a quick contest of Disguise against their Perception, Criminology or Observation. They may get to use other skills, depending on circumstances. If you also need to use Acting as part of the disguise, you only have to roll the worse of the two skills. This piece of the RAW refers to "person or group" in a way that makes sense for Acting, but not Disguise, unless you're actually allowed to make a single Disguise roll against a group, in contradiction of the rules under Disguise. Social Engineering sorts this out and has better rules for combining Acting, Disguise and Mimicry.

Disguise (Animals) is a separate IQ/A skill, with no default to or from ordinary Disguise, intended for deceiving non-sapient animals. It's largely about dressing in animal skins and disguising your scent, and is used for low-tech hunting. The modifiers are +2 for approaching from downwind, -1 per animal in the group above 1 (-1 per extra 10 for herd animals) -1 to -3 for old disguise skins, and +1 to +3 for a successful Naturalist roll to behave correctly, or -1 to -3 for a failed one.

Makeup is the IQ/E TL skill of stage makeup. I suspect the crucial difference is that it doesn't attempt to make you look like someone else - actors tend to be egotistical - but like a version of you that's plausible for the part you're playing. This could plausibly be changed to an optional specialisation of Disguise, which would give it the right difficulty. The defaults are IQ-4 and Disguise-2; there are no listed modifiers, but equipment modifiers seem reasonable, while most of the Disguise modifiers don't apply, because you aren't actually trying to fool anyone. Social Engineering uses Makeup as the skill for faking the signs of injury.

Disguise is a common template skill for spies, assassins, and the like, but rarely a primary skill. Makeup is rarer. Action 2: Exploits usefully clarifies the difference between disguising yourself as "not you", or as someone specific. Bio-Tech has Plasti-Skin, usable for Disguise, Disguised Appearance surgery, and Polykeratin Disguise. Crusades has the original Assassins, for whom Disguise was a primary skill. DF16 has more about Disguise (Animals), and Fantasy has Makeup as a skill for making temporary magical tattoos. High-Tech provides more disguise equipment, although the advanced stuff takes a long time to use. Horror: Madness Dossier provides the Perfect Facial Recognition perk, +2 to penetrate Disguises. Magic provides Illusion Disguise, and the illusion spells it modifies. Monster Hunters has the clearest rules on disguise equipment. There are talents, perks, quirks and wildcard skills that include or affect Disguise, and Makeup, in the appropriate Power-Ups volumes. Powers has abilities that aid disguise, including an interesting variation on Elastic Skin, done as a Glamour; Enhanced Senses has abilities that aid in penetrating disguises. Psionic Powers has astral disguises and countermeasures, and the Mold Flesh power, which does very fine disguises, rather permanently. Supers has rules for maintaining a secret identity, which is easier than impersonating someone else. Ultra-Tech has more equipment for Disguise, some of it very effective, and Zombies covers disguise as a zombie, and its drawbacks.

I haven't used Disguise much in a game. In the WWII secret agents game, we tend to rely on having correct enemy uniforms, language, Savoir-Faire (Military) and so on, although that may be running out of steam as we do operation after operation; one party member has Disguise, which we've used on people we were trying to smuggle out of enemy territory.

What have you done with Disguise that was cool?
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Old 02-21-2015, 05:19 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

The only times I can remember these skills being used, it's been "make me look plausibly like a (person of this particular sort)", or more generally "make me not recognisable as me", not "make me look like that specific guy". I suspect the latter is mostly cinematic, given how bad a job films do of making actors look like real historical people.

Of course Disguise is a vital skill for infiltrator robots in Reign of Steel.
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Old 02-21-2015, 05:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

It is odd how Disguise Animal assumes every other life form uses scent. While some like bears, deer, and rhinos have far more acute olfaction than dogs, some rely purely on vision. Birds don't care how much we apes stink, and neither do giraffes, I believe.
And to give a weird response, back before diabetes knocked out much of my sense of smell, one would need to disguise their scent from me, to a degree. Specifically, some humans can detect sex, age category, major aspects of diet, general health, if sleeping or recently awakened, and a few other aspects under optimal conditions.
At the risk of offending some, I could also detect something that only bisexual women give off, and something else that only non-gay men give off with very few exceptions.
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Old 02-21-2015, 05:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

I'm sure Make-Up is culturally defined. Not just for performance but to progress toward however they define beauty. And a society's (sub)culture's beauty ideals quite often disagree with normal or common biology.
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Old 02-22-2015, 06:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

Lately, I'm seeing Disguise used to hide the race of the user. Not much else.
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Old 02-22-2015, 07:01 AM   #6
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Lately, I'm seeing Disguise used to hide the race of the user. Not much else.
Race-race, or species-race?
I can imagine adjusting my appearance to look sub-Saharan, but not a freakish fantasy dwarf.
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Old 02-22-2015, 07:10 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Race-race, or species-race?
I can imagine adjusting my appearance to look sub-Saharan, but not a freakish fantasy dwarf.
I do not think it is easy to answer your question. If a biological group can interbreed with humans*, but can only procreate by hybridogenesis with humans, is chimeric tissue-wise, does that count as race-race or species-race?

* == and some others quite close to humans.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
I do not think it is easy to answer your question. If a biological group can interbreed with humans*, but can only procreate by hybridogenesis with humans, is chimeric tissue-wise, does that count as race-race or species-race?

* == and some others quite close to humans.
True, all of us may be human, but I sure as heck can't disguise myself as a normal Masai or Efe pygmy or they as me.
While most depictions of elves are local humans with trivial differences.
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Disguise, Disguise (Animals) and Makeup

Considering the genre I have most GM'ed in GURPS has been espionage, Disguise and Make-Up have often been used in my campaigns. So often, in fact that it is really too numerous to mention. I mean, in nearly every single session of many of these spy campaigns Disguise, at the very least, comes up.

Two uses of Disguise and Make-Up that I remember from over the years.

1) Two spies in my Operation Midnight campaign were in Russia trying to do their surveillance...they ended up using Disguise to pass themselves off as homeless people and were able to get the sort of invisibility/being ignored that homeless people often get that allowed them to stake out a critical place for hours without raising eyebrows.
2) In an ISW campaign with spy elements, an entertainer was able to use the Make-Up skill to make it look like another character had been beaten up as part of a plot to turn the crowd against a local politician at a rally and also to cause a disturbance.

It is funny...so many of the Skills of the Week that are listed as not at all central or relevant in most campaigns end up being the ones that have been really central in many of my campaigns.
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