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Old 04-22-2016, 03:02 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

Mimicry is the IQ/H ability to imitate voices. There is a general default of IQ-6, and no skills default to Mimicry. Specialisation is required, and the available specialisations have defaults of their own: (Animal Sounds) and (Bird Calls) to IQ-6, and to each other at -6, and (Speech) to Acting -6 or Linguistics-4. Somewhat confusingly there is also a Mimicry [i}advantage[/i], which makes the skill redundant. The main use of this skill is to deceive, and this works vs. animals and birds on a successful roll against the right specialisation. Fooling people that an animal or bird sound is genuine requires a contest against Naturalist-3 or Perception -6; impersonating a specific person's voice requires a roll at -3, in a contest against the IQ of anyone who knows the voice. The last can be bought up for a specific voice with the Impersonation technique. Rules for accents are on B24, and are mildly complicated, especially since the introduction of the Accent perk. Mimicry appeared in Compendium I for 3e.

Singing is, simply, the HT/E ability to sing well, with the quality of the performance measured by the margin of success. It defaults to HT-4, and no skills default to it, although it's a valid prerequisite for Group Performance (Conducting) and Musical Influence. The skill dates from GURPS 1e.

The modifiers for Singing include language modifiers if you're singing in a foreign language, a flat -2 if the audience doesn't understand the language you're using, or -2 for Stuttering, which is also applied to Mimicry (Speech) per Social Engineering. Both skills get +2 from Voice, and are the only two skills that are almost entirely about using your voice.

Both of these skills appear on more templates than one might expect: Mimicry has uses for hunters and other outdoorsmen, and Singing is common for characters who aren't professionals, simply as a form of entertainment, before the advent of music broadcasting and recording. After the End uses Mimicry for adopting groups’ styles of speech. Fantasy requires Mimicry for learning the languages of sapient animals (or those animals learning human languages), and offers Channelling based on Singing. LTC1 has several musical techniques based on Singing. Power-Ups 1, 3, 6 and 7 have examples for one or both of these skills. Powers offers characters with both Mimicry skill and the advantage the chance to use the skill in place of IQ with the advantage, or Singing with Rapier Wit; Enhanced Senses has Voice Profiling, which boosts Mimicry (Speech). Psionic Powers has Electronic Voice Phenomena, which work with both these skills, and Social Engineering has expanded rules for Mimicry (Speech), plus using other skills and advantages to boost both skills. Thaumatology has several ways to use these skills with magic.

Singing is a skill where reasonably realistic, if talented characters can reach very high skills. HT12, Musical Ability 2, Voice and four points in Singing produce skill (Correction!) 18, which does suggests that great opera singers can exceed skill 20.

I think I have to plead guilty to dabbling in Mimicry (Speech). “Doing voices” has always seemed easy and entertaining to me, and I’ve always liked radio comedy. I find it hard to do them while GMing, though; thinking about what people say takes enough concentration that doing the voice at the same time is a problem.

Last edited by johndallman; 01-03-2017 at 06:42 AM. Reason: Skill level error
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Old 04-22-2016, 03:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

I'm also fairly bad at doing voices while GMing, though if it's a single NPC who's chatting with the PCs I try to throw in an unusual vocal pitch or accent, or something along those lines. I'm playing at the moment with an on-line group which releases its recordings, and I'm trying out accents for my PC there.

Singing is a bit odd to me, with "the audience liked your song" as the defined success state rather than "the song was well sung", and if we'd had complementary skills when 4e was being written (to allow technical quality to be separated from audience-pleasing) this might have worked better. Many opera singers and fans will tell you that not knowing the language (as performer or audience) doesn't necessarily impair the quality of the performance, and completely meaningless words can still be sung well; is that really at a -4?
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Old 04-22-2016, 04:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

I've never liked that Singing was based on HT. I've never cared quite enough to go through all the work to move it to anything else: An argument can be made to base it off of IQ, but its not a terribly strong option either. You could base it off of 10 ... but then it'd occupy a weird spot shared only by wacky magic system suggestions.
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Old 04-22-2016, 04:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I've never liked that Singing was based on HT. I've never cared quite enough to go through all the work to move it to anything else: An argument can be made to base it off of IQ, but its not a terribly strong option either. You could base it off of 10 ... but then it'd occupy a weird spot shared only by wacky magic system suggestions.
Per would be plausible. It would work well with the birds that can sing well.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Per would be plausible. It would work well with the birds that can sing well.
Would explain people "learning by ear" and being thrown of when they try to sing next to me.

Singing is HT-based because it relies so strongly on respritory health, particularly for holding long notes. Per is as good a choice for its own reasons, but DX, IQ, or Will all seem to be poor (general) fits.
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Old 04-23-2016, 12:50 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

That's what I've done for a while now: not jus for Singing, but for a variety of skills that are focused on aesthetics: musical instruments, art, landscaping, even cooking and brewing as long as the intent is to produce something that looks/sounds/smells/tastes good, I allow the skill to be floated to Per.
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Old 04-23-2016, 05:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

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Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
Singing is a bit odd to me, with "the audience liked your song" as the defined success state rather than "the song was well sung"
That phrase survives from 1e, where the targets for being generic and universal, and simulationist, weren't so high. There's a case to be made, for example, that Singing should have specialisations by style, but this isn't something that most gamers will want to bother with. Vocal register (soprano, tenor, etc.) is something players should just pick, within the range of plausibility.
Quote:
Many opera singers and fans will tell you that not knowing the language (as performer or audience) doesn't necessarily impair the quality of the performance ...
In the operatic style, sung words are normally incomprehensible to the audience, in live performance or recorded.
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Singing is a skill where reasonably realistic, if talented characters can reach very high skills. HT12, Musical Ability 2, Voice and four points in Singing produce skill 12, which does suggests that great opera singers can exceed skill 20.
That's skill 18!
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Old 04-23-2016, 02:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
In the operatic style, sung words are normally incomprehensible to the audience, in live performance or recorded.
People who don't like the heavy metal growl say it's incomprehensible, but it really doesn't take much listening to get your ear in. I'm not an opera devotee but the casual listening I've done certainly doesn't sound like it's incomprehensible - I just don't know Italian, and don't have an ear for "German sung with Italian Vowels" or "French sung with Italian Vowels" or the other variations.

Perhaps that's what a point in Connoisseur gets you.

Anyways, I listen to a lot of foreign language music, and I'm not sure why there's the -2 penalty for not sharing language. If you're relying on the lyrics to help you manipulate the audience, yes that would be a penalty - but that's assuming the lyrics were any good. There's a lot of pop and rock music where I think it sounds better if you don't understand them :)
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Old 04-23-2016, 02:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Mimicry and Singing

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Anyways, I listen to a lot of foreign language music, and I'm not sure why there's the -2 penalty for not sharing language. If you're relying on the lyrics to help you manipulate the audience, yes that would be a penalty - but that's assuming the lyrics were any good. There's a lot of pop and rock music where I think it sounds better if you don't understand them :)
Yeah, I think my split artistic influence skill system might look something like:

(technical quality: singing, musical instrument, speaking) as complementary skill to (influencing a crowd: performance, influence skill)

So if I want to do the classic Cyberpunk rockerboy thing of getting a crowd riled up to riot at a particular target, everyone in the band uses their singing/instrument skills as complementary to the leader's Fast-Talk which actually gets the mob started.

Or if I'm a classical cellist trying to impress an audience, I use my instrument skill plus Performance.
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