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Old 08-02-2016, 06:37 AM   #41
Mailanka
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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Sometimes — in the heat of battle, say, when you don't have the time to rack your brain for the exact anatomical details you've got to take him down right now right now take the <censored> shot already! — yes, you do need to roll. The out-of-combat situation is easily handled by a high TDM for a simple situation like you suggested, and a much lower one for more complicated uses.
You don't need a roll. Can you justify it? Sure. But why would you want to justify a whole bunch of rolls if they're not strictly necessary? Remember back in 3e when you could require people to roll their Language skill all the time, to make sure they could catch everything? Even if your comprehensions is far better than Broken, odd dialect or archaic words or sophisticated vocabulary might mean you lose some of the meaning! Did that sort of thing justify the rules from 3e? Sure! Does it mean that all those rolls are strictly necessary? Of course not! "You know it or you don't" is enough for 90% of situations and 90% of players.

The same applies here. You should roll for things were dramatic tension matters and you should aim for fewer, rather than more, rolls, especially during moments as tense as a fight scene. You want that roll, and the tension of the moment, to turn on whether the character hits or is hit. Can you imagine the anti-climax of passing your physiology roll ("Oh, I remember where a Vulcan heart is!") only to miss? And then next turn, forgetting where the heart is, so you can't make that particular attack?

That doesn't sound like a rollicking good time to me. That sounds like a bundle of bureaucratic frustration in the name of "realism." I like realism, but I don't like excessive rolling. I think an "anatomical familiarity" is a sufficient nod to realism (If you don't have it, you don't know where a vulcan heart is. Too bad!") without requiring constant, moment-by-moment rolls. And for those rare edge cases where players really aren't sure if they'd know, roll IQ or Physician.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:53 AM   #42
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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You don't need a roll. Can you justify it? Sure. But why would you want to justify a whole bunch of rolls if they're not strictly necessary?
You seem to be confusing "requiring a roll" with "sadistic GMing". If you've made the roll to locate a creature's Vitals once in a combat, I'm certainly not going to require you to roll it for every attack! On the same token, though, not requiring that roll can massively decrease dramatic tension — perhaps not in the case of Vulcans, as you suggested, but in the game that caused me to mention it the particular speciality is Physiology (Demons), where “demons” are an alien race with an incredible degree of morphogenetic variation (think Zerg or Tyranids).

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The same applies here. You should roll for things were dramatic tension matters and you should aim for fewer, rather than more, rolls, especially during moments as tense as a fight scene. You want that roll, and the tension of the moment, to turn on whether the character hits or is hit. Can you imagine the anti-climax of passing your physiology roll ("Oh, I remember where a Vulcan heart is!") only to miss?
And for some (not all — possibly even not most) games, that's fine. For others, the dramatic tension hangs on figuring out how to damage it, and then seeing if it worked
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:55 AM   #43
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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You don't need a roll. Can you justify it? Sure. But why would you want to justify a whole bunch of rolls if they're not strictly necessary?
You seem to be confusing "requiring a roll" with "sadistic GMing". If you've made the roll to locate a creature's Vitals once in a combat, I'm certainly not going to require you to roll it for every attack! On the same token, though, not requiring that roll can massively decrease dramatic tension — perhaps not in the case of Vulcans, as you suggested, but in the game that caused me to mention it the particular speciality is Physiology (Demons), where “demons” are an alien race with an incredible degree of morphogenetic variation (think Zerg or Tyranids).

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The same applies here. You should roll for things were dramatic tension matters and you should aim for fewer, rather than more, rolls, especially during moments as tense as a fight scene. You want that roll, and the tension of the moment, to turn on whether the character hits or is hit. Can you imagine the anti-climax of passing your physiology roll ("Oh, I remember where a Vulcan heart is!") only to miss?
And for some (not all — possibly even not most) games, that's fine. For others, the dramatic tension hangs on figuring out how to damage it, and then seeing if it worked — and once you've solved that puzzle, the actual defeat of the monster, while still hazardous, is the denoument, not the climax.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:16 AM   #44
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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but in the game that caused me to mention it the particular speciality is Physiology (Demons), where “demons” are an alien race with an incredible degree of morphogenetic variation (think Zerg or Tyranids).
In that case, I think the problem is a definitional one. The skill involved there isn't really Physiology. I mean you wouldn't allow Physiology (Animals) and allow a roll for both humans and jellyfish would you? For something that varied, it's no longer [a] species, it's either multiple species or far enough from real world biology that "species" isn't a meaningful category for it.

That's not to say there isn't a reasonable skill here - maybe even a realistic one. But it's Find Weaknesses or something rather than Physiology, and probably does work just about as well on normal animals (or robots for that matter) as it does on "demons". Physiology (species) would then negate the need to roll against that skill at all if you have it for whatever you happen to be fighting.

I do think Physiology (species) probably is a perk, or a low cost advantage. It's a broad familiarity akin to Cultural Familiarity, or Ambidexterity, something that counters a penalty that would otherwise apply to a bunch of skills, but goes away for all of them once you understand it for any of them.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:29 AM   #45
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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And for some (not all — possibly even not most) games, that's fine. For others, the dramatic tension hangs on figuring out how to damage it, and then seeing if it worked — and once you've solved that puzzle, the actual defeat of the monster, while still hazardous, is the denoument, not the climax.
That's an exceedingly specific situation. How often will that come up? Is it worth spending 8 points on? 4? 2? 1? If it's one, why not a perk?

And what happens if your players fail? What then? I roll to see if I know where the monster's vitals are and success or victory of the entire encounter comes down to me having the right skill and also got lucky enough to roll?

Perhaps you'd enjoy that sort of game, but I certainly wouldn't.

A skill should have a variety of uses, a variety of modifiers, and be useful at a variety of levels. Skills like Physician and Surgery and Diagnosis certainly fit that bill. Physiology does not. Physiology is a lot closer to Cultural Familiarity than it is to Savoir-Faire.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:36 AM   #46
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Combat Physiology is a thing -- where are all the good places to hit someone (or something). But its probably either a perk, as mentioned, or an easy skill. And an easy skill covering more than one creature.

If I was going to try and encourage that type of skill I'd certainly slightly nerf combat without it and give bonuses if you have it. I probably wouldn't bother unless it was a game with lots of exotic creatures: bug hunt, a fairly wacky DF, Old Man's War and so forth.

I actually had another thought: Physiology uses the word species, but I suspect that it actually works better on the level of Genus or family. Those are admittedly scientific terms, but how much difference is their really between a lion and a tiger? Or various forms of deer? those differences can probably be subsumed in familiarities.

Of course, the skill is almost always used for humans, which are the sole member of our genus and family. In a setting where we are not, you're likely dealing with fantasy, and fantasy writers and fond of doing things like giving dwarves two livers and other things that would make taxonomists either very frustrated or very excited.
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:03 PM   #47
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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Were it up to me, Physiology would be reduced down to a "Anatomical familiarity" perk. If you have it, you can perform surgery at no penalty, or target the race's vital organs with attacks.
IRL Physiology does not equal Anatomy. (Thought it was worth noting.) Physiology is almost more like biochemistry mixed with a bit of physics. Sort of.

And then there's pathophysiology...

But anatomy is even taught totally separately.

Mind you, I'm talking modern practical scientific definitions. I'm pretty sure that classically "physiology" is something like "the study of living systems," which could be interpreted pretty damned broadly.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:10 PM   #48
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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...
I do think Physiology (species) probably is a perk, or a low cost advantage. It's a broad familiarity akin to Cultural Familiarity, or Ambidexterity, something that counters a penalty that would otherwise apply to a bunch of skills, but goes away for all of them once you understand it for any of them.
I so agree. Having to roll all the freaking time just to avoid a massive penalty to your hard bought medical skills takes time, lowers success below reason, and makes little sense as to how to make a competent vet, for example.
If a not insanely high IQ character wants to make such a vet, the best bet is always to buy those medical skils multiple times as if they had zero cross over with each other.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:00 PM   #49
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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IRL Physiology does not equal Anatomy. (Thought it was worth noting.) Physiology is almost more like biochemistry mixed with a bit of physics. Sort of.
...
I always took Gurps Physiology to mean macroscopic single species biology, and Gurps Biology to cover the rest.
Knowing how to prepare cyanide in the field requires Poisons, in a lab Pharmacist, identifying its effects with Diagnosis, and what it's doing on a sub-cellular level with Biology.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:57 AM   #50
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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IRL Physiology does not equal Anatomy. (Thought it was worth noting.) Physiology is almost more like biochemistry mixed with a bit of physics. Sort of.

And then there's pathophysiology...

But anatomy is even taught totally separately.

Mind you, I'm talking modern practical scientific definitions. I'm pretty sure that classically "physiology" is something like "the study of living systems," which could be interpreted pretty damned broadly.
Right, but I'm discussing the Physiology Modifiers sidebar on page 181. The idea there is that you suffer a penalty to certain rolls (Body Language, Diagnosis, Pressure Points, etc) unless you succeed at a physiology roll with the relevant racial specialty. Thus, if you want read a Xenomorph's body language, you need to pass Physiology (Xenomorph), or if you want to patch up your buddy Xenomorph, you need to pass Physiology (Xenomorph), and so on. I haven't found the rules for it, but most people also apply this to making targeted attacks at vitals.

This rule, specifically, I think should be covered by a perk, rather than requiring players to purchase the relevant physiology per species: they'll never spend more than 1 point anyway, as they guy who dumps 8 points in a couple of Physiology skills is almost certainly going to be eclipsed by everyone else.

What else physiology should do, I don't know. Perhaps it's a perfectly relevant skill, but I'm not sure what it covers that Physician or Biology does not cover, and it's a Hard skill.
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