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Old 05-23-2015, 06:24 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

Farming is the IQ/A TL skill of growing plant crops on a large scale, and the associated practical knowledge. It defaults to IQ-5, Biology-3 or Gardening-3. There would seem to be scope for optional specialisations, such as (Rice) or (Oranges). There are no listed modifiers in Basic, but some of the Gardening modifiers below would make sense, as would generic equipment modifiers. These could sensibly include the quality of your seeds or other starting stock, fertilisers, and measures against weeds and pests. Doing irrigation is also Farming, or Expert Skill (Hydrology). Farming animals is herding, (Edit: According to LTC3) which is done using the appropriate Animal Handling specialisation, with Farming and Veterinary as likely supporting skills.

Gardening is the IQ/E non-TL skill of growing plants on a small scale, and associated practical knowledge. It defaults to IQ-4, or Farming-3, and has lots of modifiers: -2 to -4 for each of an unfamiliar method, such as hydroponics when you're used to soil; a different class of plant, such as herbs, vegetables or trees; or a different geographic region, which presumably means a different climate. Equipment modifiers would also make sense.

Farming appears on a reasonable number of character templates, given that GURPS doesn't try to provide templates for populations. Gardening is rarer, usually appearing as a hobby. Bio-Tech has some material on high-tech farming. DF7: Clerics requires Farming for clerics and holy warriors of agricultural deities, and DF9: Summoners gives spirits of place Farming. Fantasy has agricultural disasters, and Fantasy-Tech has floral clocks, via Gardening. High-Tech has Farming as a skill for getting chemicals to make explosives. Low-Tech and LTC3 have more detail about low-tech Farming and some on Gardening. As usual, PU3 and PU7 have examples including these skills. Chinese Elemental Powers has abilities that can boost them, and Ultra-Tech supplies weather control satellites and harvester swarms. Zombies reminds us that after an apocalypse, you still have to grow food.

Although Farming has been the most common job skill in human history, it isn't all that exciting, or important in most adventures. I have played in a (OD&D) fantasy campaign where there was an important school of "Land Magic" which raised crop yields impressively, producing a major disaster when the land mages were conscripted for a war and lots of them got killed, but that was definitely an exception.

I don't think I've ever had a character with either of these skills. They're worth having in GURPS for simulative purposes, and I'm keen to be surprised by stories of their use in adventures.

Last edited by johndallman; 05-27-2015 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 05-23-2015, 07:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

If you ever make a Classical Hero, e.g. Odysseus or Achilles, they should have a point or two in farming. Heroes were farmers inasmuch as they owned land and directed slaves to make the land productive. There's a whole chapter of the Iliad that's about the image on the shield Hephaestus builds for Achilles; the images worked into the gold are of farmland and vineyards.

Don Quixote also talks about wanting to retire from knight-errantry and take up farming, but I can't recall he ever shows any competence at it.
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:43 AM   #3
Kromm
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post

I don't think I've ever had a character with either of these skills. They're worth having in GURPS for simulative purposes, and I'm keen to be surprised by stories of their use in adventures.
Gardening is valuable when your Herb Lore user doesn't want to go questing for everything needed in a potion. Granted, it's mostly useful in campaigns where heroes can be at least semi-settled and there's downtime between adventures for crafting . . . but then it's very handy. I tend to have it work in a pass/fail manner, so high skill levels aren't terribly relevant – but I also treat it as one of those skills to which Time Spent doesn't apply (plants grow at a fixed rate), so if you're raising delicate rarities that give -10 to skill because the GM doesn't want them to be too common, you can't offset that with extra time and will want high skill. I suppose yield (in terms of doses of final potion) could depend on margin, too.

Farming mostly shows up in my low-tech fantasy campaigns, where it acts as the "go-to skill" (see Go-To Skills, Action 2, p. 10) for navigating the lands, structures, and traditions of a rather huge percentage of the world's population. For instance, if you're in the countryside and need to locate a well in a hurry or food to steal, or just want to figure out which way to go to find a farmhouse or get off of farmland and into the wilderness, it's the skill to use. A really settled hero could also use it as a job skill. Come to think of it, a wealthy general PC who had lands and holdings used it that way in one of my campaigns; in that campaign, the "gentleman farmer" needed Farming, which acted as the supervisory skill to laborers who mostly just used ST.
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Old 05-23-2015, 01:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

I imagine it's good to have an apprentice Herbalist Gardening ally/hireling that grows a player's garden while they adventure
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Old 05-23-2015, 04:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

I have a character in one of my campaigns who maintains a herb garden in the courtyard of the PCs' fort to support his TL3 medical skills. He has a point or two in gardening to do this.
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Old 05-23-2015, 06:34 PM   #6
scc
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Gardening is valuable when your Herb Lore user doesn't want to go questing for everything needed in a potion. Granted, it's mostly useful in campaigns where heroes can be at least semi-settled and there's downtime between adventures for crafting . . . but then it's very handy. I tend to have it work in a pass/fail manner, so high skill levels aren't terribly relevant – but I also treat it as one of those skills to which Time Spent doesn't apply (plants grow at a fixed rate), so if you're raising delicate rarities that give -10 to skill because the GM doesn't want them to be too common, you can't offset that with extra time and will want high skill. I suppose yield (in terms of doses of final potion) could depend on margin, too.
You might well need a Gardening roll to pick wild herbs as well
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Old 05-23-2015, 06:35 PM   #7
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

I've probably used it for running the farm rolls somewhere, though most of the games I've run that would come up would be using Pendragon and a Stewardship roll instead.

It's come up in Space games occasionally as a where should we put the colony sort of roll.

I planned to ask for a roll once to determine that the problem of the week was a new crop disease and not a wicked spell, but IIRC the PCs didn't bother to investigate before charging off so it ended up not mattering.

I'm pretty sure I called for a roll against Farming to pick out the likely locations to search for the drug lord's operations (it would've made sense and there was no aerial surveillance in that campaign).
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Old 05-23-2015, 08:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

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You might well need a Gardening roll to pick wild herbs as well
Wild herbs seem to be Naturalist. That's one case where I would not let you substitute Survival for Naturalist.
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Old 05-23-2015, 10:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

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Wild herbs seem to be Naturalist. That's one case where I would not let you substitute Survival for Naturalist.
Gardening would still allow you to pick them (Or whatever) and it also depends upon what you want to do. If you're picking it for eating/preserving Survival would work, but if your picking them for scientific study or for use in a magic potion Survival won't work because you'll want certain parts kept in tact
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Old 05-25-2015, 10:48 AM   #10
Railstar
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Farming and Gardening

One obstacle that stands out to me is the skill uses tend to be very long-term. In Low-Tech 3, the mentions of Farming or Gardening skill seemed very few under agriculture, the main mention of the skills I remember is under Agricultural Environmental Quality, so there does not seem to be many rolls of either skill as an active use. Even then the skill use is just one roll per year. On the other hand, I suppose giving a role could be used to minimise hazards (such as how much of a rainfall shortage can the irrigation compensate for?).

Although it could be used to evaluate farms or gardens… might even work a bit like Urban Survival but for rural manors, where it gives you an understanding of patterns that help you find your way around – for instance the coastal raider with Farming or Gardening might be able to guess the plausible layout of a plantation he is attacking. Or it might combine nicely with trade skills to see what can be grown somewhere, and therefore what might be a good thing to import?

On that theme, since our expected campaign direction is going to be about maroons forming their own settlement, we could probably use Farming & Gardening to evaluate potential sites or to generally find suitable land for cultivation. Maybe that would be the way to link skill to productivity? Have the margin of success determine how much land could be made feasible for farming on?
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