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Old 10-10-2015, 10:11 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

Hidden Lore is a category of skills, which cover information that is kept secret for some reason, neglected, or lost. You thus have to specialise in a particular variety of Hidden Lore, which is IQ/A, with no default. Starting play with a Hidden Lore skill requires justification in the character's back-story, and the GM has the option to charge an Unusual Background. Acquiring Hidden Lore in-play requires finding a source of some kind, and the amount you can learn may be limited. Displaying Hidden Lore knowledge may be hazardous: it often has powerful people trying to keep it secret. Hidden Lore seems to have appeared in Compendium I for 3e, as a method of grouping the assorted lore skills from 3e worldbooks.

The Illuminated advantage provides a kind of default for this skill. Having Mundane Background bars you from having it, and having Supernatural Features helps people with the skill use it to identify your true nature.

The example specialisations in Basic are Conspiracies, Demon Lore, Faerie Lore and Spirit Lore, plus Things Man Was Not Meant To Know for an example character. Hidden Lore is normally solid, factual information, not theorising or mythology, although it isn't necessarily up-to-date or complete.

The knowledge from Hidden Lore may be within the provinces of many other skills, such as Area Knowledge, Conspiracy Theory, History, or Occultism. The complementary skills rules from Action may well be useful.

GURPS supplements have added a lot of specialisations, some of them setting-specific. Banestorm has (Demons), (Dragons) and (Earth) specialisations, and points out that any new arrival from Earth effectively has Hidden Lore (Earth), complete with powerful people on Yrth who want to suppress that knowledge, and are quite willing to suppress the possessor to achieve their goal. Boardroom and Curia points out that occult organisations are likely to have Hidden Lore, and adds (Cabal). Crusades has (Religious Objects), Dragons has (Dragon Lore) and (Dragon Society), and DF uses all the Basic specialisations and adds (Cult Secrets), (Divine Secrets), which sounds particularly hazardous to know, (Elder Things), (Elementals), (Lost Civilisations), (Nature Spirits), (Magic Items), (Magical Writings), (Psi), (Servitors of Good), (Subterranean Creatures), and (Undead). Horror discusses the relationship between Occultism, Export Skill and Hidden Lore in different styles of campaign, and adds (Vampire Lore) and (Witchcraft). Madness Dossier uses (History B), which may be the most intrinsically unhealthy specialisation to date, and (Psis). Infinite Worlds adds (Confidence games), (Gates) and (Things Man Was Not Meant To Know) and the Cabalists of Britanica-6 have (Egyptian Cults). (Demon Lore) is really valuable in Locations: Hellsgate and the Tower of Octavious; Metro of Madness adds (Metro) and Worminghall has (Urban Secrets).

Martial Arts has (Secret Styles), and the idea of fraudulent martial-arts teachers generalises to mail-order "Hidden-Lore" courses. Monster Hunters adds (Angels), (Cryptozoology), (Extraterrestrials), (Free Spirits), (Lycanthropes), (Mummies), (Restless Undead) and (Sacred Places), some of which have mutual defaults. PU2 has Secret Knowledge, a perk-level Unusual Background, which is very applicable to Hidden Lore, and PU3 and PU7 have plenty of examples that use this skill. Psionic Powers has (Underground Terrorist Cells) for an example character, and Psis has (Astral), (Psis) and (Tricks). Social Engineering has (Prison Lore), Space has (Lost Civilisations) and Supers has (Supers) and (Mysteries of Nature). Thaumatology has a lot about the roles of Hidden Lore skills in campaign, and a magic system based on them. Age of Gold uses (Secrets of Old Kingdom Egypt); Chinese Elemental Powers and Magical Styles have uses for standard specialisations, and Ritual Path Magic does likewise, and adds (Ley Lines), (Magical Architecture) and (Sacred Places). Urban Magics adds (Urban Secrets). Underground Adventures adds (Chthonian Lore) and Zombies uses standard specialisations, plus, of course, (Zombies).

I used Hidden Lore in my Laundry campaign: "Laundry Lore" was a condensed version of Call of Cthulhu's Cthulhu Mythos skill, concentrating on recognising weirdness and knowing what to do about it. The Laundry could teach two points' worth of it without doing any special harm to their staff members' sanity. The Weird War II campaign I'm playing doesn't use Hidden Lore skills explicitly, but the team's reports and records would plausibly amount to a source for Hidden Lore (Magical Secrets of WWII).

What secrets have you wished had remained hidden?
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Old 10-10-2015, 01:14 PM   #2
ericthered
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

On the occasions I've used Hidden lore, I've found them to be a great way to introduce the setting: When the list of hidden lore are (immortal humans), (undead), (gates), (near fae), (high fae), and (demonic fae), it tells a lot about the setting in very few words.

I'm of the opinion that hidden lore should be customized for each campaign.
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Old 10-10-2015, 02:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

In my DF game, the cleric has Hidden Lore: Undead. The wizard has Hidden Lore: Monsters and Hidden Lore: Magical Writings.

Monsters seems a bit over-broad, but I allow it to represent a broad but shallow understanding of various monsters. What kind of Goo is that? Does it resist fire, or grow when you try to burn it? Specific questions come with a big penalty.

Undead is a deeper understanding of undead. What is that thing called, will it paralyze me, does it cast powerful spells, and what are my odds of turning it?

Magical Writings hasn't come into play much; I think the player has forgotten her character has it. For common scrolls and spellbooks written in a language the character can read, I don't require rolling against this skill. But it would come in handy when dealing with strange glyphs (helpful, or explosive?), magical ciphers, recognizing which language an obscure ancient text is written in, etc.
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Old 10-10-2015, 04:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

In our 500 pt Supers game my skill monger picked up Hidden Lore (Finance) after several campaign events tracking and exposing money sources for a conspiracy group.
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Old 10-10-2015, 06:31 PM   #5
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
On the occasions I've used Hidden lore, I've found them to be a great way to introduce the setting: When the list of hidden lore are (immortal humans), (undead), (gates), (near fae), (high fae), and (demonic fae), it tells a lot about the setting in very few words.
Yes. For that reason, I'm fond of the Hidden Lore list from GURPS DF, because it kinda defines the pseudo-world. These are the things, and items not on this list are not things.

Of coures, the GM can always introduce new mandatory HL specializations during the campaign, but that wouldn't usually be in the spirit of GURPS DF.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I'm of the opinion that hidden lore should be customized for each campaign.
Did you mean for each campaign, or for each world?
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:36 PM   #6
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

The thing that most bothers me about Hidden Lore is the unifying feature isn't anything about the material covered, but the entirely peripheral fact that it happens to be hidden.

What skill do I take to know this stuff in a world where they teach courses in this at the local community college? If you can answer that question, why wouldn't you use the same skill in the world where it's hidden? If you can't, that's seems like a pretty big hole in the skill system. Surely if this stuff is worth spending points on where it is secret, it can't *all* be rendered not worth knowing just because somebody prints a textbook.
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:37 PM   #7
ericthered
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
Did you mean for each campaign, or for each world?
When I GM, there really isn't a difference: I thrive on building settings, and each campaign will be a different setting. But yes, technically its by setting, not campaign.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:38 PM   #8
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
The thing that most bothers me about Hidden Lore is the unifying feature isn't anything about the material covered, but the entirely peripheral fact that it happens to be hidden.

What skill do I take to know this stuff in a world where they teach courses in this at the local community college? If you can answer that question, why wouldn't you use the same skill in the world where it's hidden? If you can't, that's seems like a pretty big hole in the skill system. Surely if this stuff is worth spending points on where it is secret, it can't *all* be rendered not worth knowing just because somebody prints a textbook.
GURPS lacks an open-ended "Knowledge" skill. But having those in RPGs is a non-trivial design decision. D&D 3rd Edition had an open-ended Knowledge skill, but in the Revised Edition they changed it to closed-ended, that is with a finite list of topics that a character could know a about. My homebrew RPG doesn't currently have an open-ended Knowledge skill. I might add one, but I'm not sure.

In GURPS, Hidden Lore seems to fulfil that role, as a limited version of an open-ended knowledge skill, although GURPS DF seems to mean to make it closed-ended, with a finite list of subjects as implied by the Templates in volume 1 and 4 (the Sages volume).

My beef with Hidden Lore, predictably, is that there's no mechanic for players to purchase the right during character creation to start with Hidden Lore. I think that it'd be better if Hidden Lore was renamed to Knowledge (I'd suggest Esoteric Knowledge but that could cause confusion with Esoteric Medicine), and then the worldbuilder designates the mandatory specializations that Knowledge can have, and he also decides which of the mandatory specializations are freely available and which costs an UB, and of these which UBs are 1 point, 2 point, 5 point, 10 point, 15 point or 25 point ones.

Thus, in a world in which Knowledge (Demons) or Hidden Lore (Demons) is taught in every cathedral school, there'd be no UB associated with it (there might be a general 1 point UB for Cathedral School Educated but that UB Perk would give you access to a wide variety of scholarly skills, not just one), whereas in the pseudo-world implied by DF the privilege of being able to have extensive and factually accurate knowledge of Demons costs an UB of 1 or even 2 points, and in a world in which knowledge of Demons is very rare, it would cost a 10 point UB, or 25 points in a world where Demons are very widely assumed to not exist.
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

I have used Hidden Lore as a player and GM.
As GM I treat it like a UB for specific info.
I also use it for plot hooks and to further the plot.
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Hidden Lore

Power Reincarnate in DF11 (based on Reawakened) does give a default to Hidden Lores. The Elder Gift talent for Dark Ones and Elder Things in DF3 includes it. This can be a potent combination.
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