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Old 08-01-2015, 05:12 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

Fortune-Telling is the IQ/A social skill of talking to someone to learn about them and using the information to make predictions about their future that can be passed off as supernatural divination. It does not provide any special way of knowing the future, and works much better on people who are keen to believe in it. It defaults to IQ-5, Fast-Talk-3 or Occultism-3; knowledge of occult beliefs and practices, and suitable props, are helpful in maintaining the illusion. The skill is useful for characters with actual divinatory abilities, as it let you present predictions in culturally acceptable ways. It requires specialisation in a particular form of divination, such as astrology, crystal-gazing or tarot. No skills default to Fortune-Telling.

If you have a subject who actually believes you can tell the future, and you take the time to do a "full reading", it's possible to use this skill instead of Fast-Talk, Interrogation or Psychology, by steering the subject towards a particular course of action, or asking leading questions. This kind of usage is at -3; Empathy and Charisma bonuses apply to all uses of the skill.

Fortune-Telling isn't a terribly common skill on templates, usually showing up on fringe types of magicians, like DF Shamans, or scholars and sacrifice-survivors from Dragons. Fantasy-Tech has rules for casting horoscopes and for using Fortune-Telling to boost Esoteric Medicine. Fantasy has guidance for Fortune-Telling as a magical ability that can reveal the future, and Horror has both charlatans and true Tarot-readers. Worminghall has several uses for the skill, as do Low-Tech's medical skills. Powers and Enhanced Senses have abilities that can improve the skill, and PU3 and PU7 have examples that include it. Psionic Powers and Psis have powers that work well with it. Social Engineering points out that Fortune-Telling can be useful to convince someone you have special insight, and Supers provides ways to use the skill to analyse real special insights, in place of IQ. Chinese Elemental Powers makes Fortune-Telling (Feng Shui) useful for interior decoration tasks up to the terraforming scale. Urban Magics has rules for really effective Fortune-Telling, and Underground Adventures for fraudulent dowsing.

I don't think I've ever had a character with this skill. My tastes as a GM are more towards the practical and effective: when I've used NPCs with abilities of questionable validity in this style, the players haven't responded much.

What have you done with Fortune-Telling?
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Old 08-01-2015, 06:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

Here's a question: if fortune-telling is malarkey, why does it require specialization?
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not View Post
Here's a question: if fortune-telling is malarkey, why does it require specialization?
Because, presumably, doing it convincingly in different ways requires being proficient in different styles of behaviour.

Astrology, at least, does require following some fairly complicated arithmetic procedures, consulting charts, and similar things. You can take training courses in it. However, drawing specific, personal conclusions about the client from that contains a large element of "making it up", and the whole basis of the process doesn't seem to be based on any real influences.
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

This skill is interesting because its quite specialized, rarely used, has a definate adventuring purpose, and I've never heard anyone say it ought to be replaced.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

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This skill is interesting because its quite specialized, rarely used, has a definate adventuring purpose, and I've never heard anyone say it ought to be replaced.
OK, I'll say it. It ought to be part of acting or fast-talk. Now, if the stars or the tea leaves or the goat entrails actually did have messages, it's entirely different.

Supposing it remains, could I get a new specialization for holy trances of the Delphic or St. Theresa sort? I can't see Autohypnosis serving, at least in the Basic write-up.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not View Post
OK, I'll say it. It ought to be part of acting or fast-talk. Now, if the stars or the tea leaves or the goat entrails actually did have messages, it's entirely different.

Supposing it remains, could I get a new specialization for holy trances of the Delphic or St. Theresa sort? I can't see Autohypnosis serving, at least in the Basic write-up.
I find it depends on the setting whether Fortune-Telling is kaphlooey or not. Fortune-Telling in a Low Fantasy game where the Tarot cards really do have magic, the stars and planets (which would include the sun and moon, but not Earth) really do influence peoples' personalities and hence their futures, tea leaves really do have discernible patterns that can be read, and other stuff like that can be interesting to have in an NPC's hands, but I can't really think of its use in a PC's hands. Even in today's world, Tarot and astrology have a LOT of information that has to be learned before you can use it in a convincing manner, particularly if you intend to try and con someone who has studied the subject themselves. I can see it as a complementary skill to Acting or Fast-Talk, or those as complementaries to Fortune-Telling, though.

That said, "Oracular Trances" should be a valid specialization. Funny thing about skills with specializations: the ones listed in the Basic Set are not inclusive, after all.
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Old 08-01-2015, 09:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

The skill would perhaps be better named "Cold Reading", though there's more to Fortune-Telling than that as described in Basic.

Whether or not it's part of Acting or Fast-talk seems to be a question of taste for skill granularity. GURPS is normally pretty fine-grained, with separate skills for everything. Fortune-Telling does however include a lot of information, behavior, and purposes not normally part of FT or Acting. Not all actors can do cold reading; I suspect few of them can. So, it'd be a mandatory specialization -- which really isn't much different than a separate skill. If you wanted to go that route, you might as well change all three into mandatory specs of "Deception". That gravity well will then start tugging on Performance as well. (The place you're most likely to see cold reading in the current day, apart from charlatans, is in a magic act.)

If divination actually works in the setting, then there will be different Advantages and associated skills for those abilities, much as Occultism does not cover the "professional" skills of using actual magical spells or psi abilities. Even if divination is real -- perhaps especially if divination is real -- you may well still have fakers.
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Old 08-01-2015, 09:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

GURPS has had several different treatments of Fortune-Telling as a skill that genuinely lets you know the future. Fantasy treats it as another option for the skill, but one that has to be supported by buying levels of Skill Bonus with Preparation Required. Some other books suggest buying the advantage Precognition. Chinese Elemental Powers allows buying the feng shui specialization as a cinematic skill after taking Blessed: Harmony with the Tao, in the same way that you can buy Blind Fighting or Power Blow after taking Trained by a Master. I think that's a better treatment than the one in GURPS Fantasy; I hadn't thought about the logic of cinematic skills nearly as much back when I wrote that.

Fortune-Telling as a mundane skill seems to cover approximately the same ground as the social engineering technique of Elicitation: Getting people to reveal information to you while seeming to talk about something else. In that approach, you take a penalty to an Influence skill, but give a penalty to the other person's Will; buying up the technique reduces the penalty. I'm not sure what Influence skill would fit reading someone's cards; probably the closest is Fast-Talk. In such an approach, the divinatory aspect might be fitted in as a complementary skill roll vs. Occultism. Or you might take Fast-Talk (Fortune-Telling) as an optional specialty. I suppose you might even do both! Having a special purpose social skill for this was more of an ad hoc solution, like having a special purpose social skill of Panhandling.
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

I frequently use it (design settings where it can be used) as a Complementary Skill for various psi skills, mostly ESP, and have considered it for a spell prerequisite.
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Fortune-Telling

Intelligence Analysis

Fast Talk
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