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Old 09-05-2015, 07:31 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

Gesture is the IQ/E skill of communication through improvised gestures. The only default is IQ-4, and no skills default to Gesture. With a skill roll, you can communicate one simple idea, or understand an idea that someone else is trying to communicate to you; you only seem to need Gesture skill at one end of the link, and either end will do. Cultural Familiarity modifiers definitely apply, since Gesture uses the gestures that are fairly universal within a culture. Other modifiers would include taking extra time, and some kind of visibility penalties. Some skills, such as Soldier and Scuba, have associated sets of gestures, and anyone can pre-arrange gestures for anticipated situations. The line between Gesture and sign languages seems to be that true sign languages allow you to say more or less anything, but require a degree of training comparable to learning a spoken language and don't have defaults.

Lip Reading is the Per/A skill of telling what people are saying by visually observing their speech. It default to Per-10, and no skills default to it. You must be within 7 yards, or have equivalent vision (presumably, a Speed/Size/Range penalty of no more than -3), and all Vision modifiers apply. A skill roll lets you understand a single sentence of speech, and you need to know the language being used: applying the -3 for Broken comprehension or -1 for Accented seems entirely reasonable. People who suspect they might be lip-read can use easy countermeasures, like covering their mouths. Critical failure means you were noticed, if that's possible.

Characters with Deafness or Mute get to count the time they spend communicating with sign language, Gesture or Lip-Reading as study of those traits. I've never seen anyone play such a character, although I've seen ones with Hard of Hearing or Blindness.

Although both of these skills date back to 1e, they have always been pretty specialised. They appear on quite a few 4e templates, Gesture as a common option for stealthy and military types, and Lip Reading for face men, investigators and spies, but (almost) always as options. Banestorm's intelligent animals usually have Gesture, especially the dolphins. DF2 has some useful rule clarifications for these skills and DF4 has manuals for them. DF16 gives Gesture a range, of the viewer's Per in yards, adjusted by SM and vision modifiers. Madness Dossier makes Gesture important, and has a specialised vocabulary, based on primate observations. Monster Hunters 2 clarifies the boundary between skill-specific gestures and Gesture skill. PU3 has Talents that include Gesture, but not Lip Reading, and PU7 has Wildcard skills that include both of these skills. Powers: Enhanced Senses has an ability that boosts Lip Reading, and Psionic Powers has one for Gesture. Social Engineering points out that Physiology modifiers would apply for cross-species Gesture, and Back to School covers teaching via Gesture.

I haven't found a template that's good at Gesture, for routinely communicating across a language barrier. Space would be a logical place to find it, but it isn't there. I think the only character I've ever had with either of these skills was a Madness Dossier commando. I remember considering Gesture for a 3e character with Language Talent, but taking a sign language instead.

What have you done with these skills?
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Old 09-05-2015, 05:22 PM   #2
Donny Brook
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

I've seen lip reading a couple of times in specialist spy situations. We use gesture a lot especially for intra-team communication during action and combat, to the point I'd say it's SOP among our regular group.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:05 PM   #3
Not
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

Any theories as to why HAL9000 was programmed with Lip Reading? Or does it use the PER default?
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

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Any theories as to why HAL9000 was programmed with Lip Reading? Or does it use the PER default?
Why would he have to be programmed? Maybe he figured it out. He was getting pretty paranoid; he might have thought reading lips could be useful.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:34 PM   #5
Overheat
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

Playing a Deaf/Mute PC would be an interesting challenge. If they do not share your sign language, you have to roleplay getting what you have to say across. The funny part is, you would most likely be using your real life IQ-4 Gesture default.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:49 PM   #6
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The line between Gesture and sign languages seems to be that true sign languages allow you to say more or less anything, but require a degree of training comparable to learning a spoken language and don't have defaults.
Actually the line between Gesture and sign languages is more between cinematic and realistic than anything else. It exists to do a fairly common trope in adventure fiction of a certain era - "By signs I informed the savages that they were now subjects of the Great-King-Across-The-Water, and that he commanded them was to show me the source of their vast quantities of gold. They soon understood me, but delayed to argue among themselves in their barbarous gibberish as to who should have the inestimable honor of guiding our party to the mines...."
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

A related question is the line between Acting and Gesture. At what point are you making yourself understood by acting out a scene, rather than conveying meaning through Gesture?

As far as I can tell, Gesture is the only skill that is useful under the RAW for communicating with someone who does not share any mutually comprehensible language. As such, it should figure prominently in first-contact templates, whether scouts, merchant explorers, or anthropologists.
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:30 PM   #8
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

Acting is not what professional actors do. That's Performance.
Acting is what spies and con-men do.
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:30 PM   #9
ericthered
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

I recently built an NPC with Lip Reading for a game. She's a clairvoyant, which is why she has it. a narrow group of people who will almost always take lip reading.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gesture and Lip Reading

Just as an idea for how entertaining mistakes can be there's a Youtube channel called Bad Lip Reading.
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