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Old 09-23-2016, 03:50 PM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

Research is the IQ/A TL skill of finding information in (semi-)organised collections, such as libraries and filing systems. The defaults are IQ-5 or Writing-3, and there are prerequisites of literacy in at least one language, and of Computer Operation at TL8+. Current Affairs and Typing have defaults to Research. Several Expert Skills can also substitute for Research within their fields, and at the GM's option, any mainly book-learned skill can be used at -2 for Research into that skill. Optional specialisation would work for this skill, but doesn't seem to be commonly taken.

With a successful roll, you can find information that exists to be found. Some GMs give you more information on a large margin of success. This is easy to rationalise as following clues and putting information together from several sources. The skill takes language modifiers, and could plausibly take cultural unfamiliarity modifiers. Modifiers for Time Spent are clearly applicable, as are bonuses and penalties for the size and organisation of the material available, and the searching or index tools available. The skull appeared at GURPS 1e, and seems to have been influenced by the Library Use skill in Call of Cthulhu.

Research is an extremely common skill on templates for characters who use information, from academics, detectives and demolitions experts to spies. Action has rules and modifiers for the present day, and Bio-Tech for finding genetic information. DF uses it for getting hints about dungeons in advance, finding the names of things to summon, and checking up on a sponsor's information, while Fantasy has library size modifiers and searches for historical omens. High-Tech has comprehensive library rules and computer-based Research, and Infinite Worlds gives Infinity portable computers with databases that give large skill bonuses -- with a successful Research roll. LTC1 has low-tech library rules and several useful things to research. Monster Hunters makes Research an important skill in preparation for combat, and Mysteries has guidance on its use in criminal investigations. Power-Ups volumes 3, 6 and 7 have examples for this skill, and Powers uses it for Oracle (Digital).

Social Engineering points out the usefulness of Contacts with Research, the need for the skill in verifying foreign credentials, its use as a complementary skill, in finding archives to search, the advantages of finding someone who has already done the research, and in guiding political campaigns. Thaumatology emphasises the importance of Research in summoning, and offers the research-centred campaign structure. Alchemical Baroque reminds us that efficient library catalogues are a fairly modern invention, Ritual Path Magic makes Research important for finding grimoires and sacred sites, and Urban Magics uses it in gem-based magic. THS: Changing Times has uses for the skill in memetics and computer security, and it can help you find out how to fight Zombies.

A question tangentially related to this skill: in GURPS, what skill do you use for doing research work in an experimental or observational science? Not looking stuff up, but trying to extend scientific knowledge? There's a bit of a gap between Research skill, and the invention rules. Some GMs rule that you use Research, but the alternative seems to be the science skill, probably at some kind of penalty.

What have you dug up in a library that changed the game?
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Old 09-23-2016, 04:42 PM   #2
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

One important modern application I keep wavering back and forth on being Research, Intelligence Analysis, or an entirely separate skill is dossier building. The art of combing through public records, credit reports, home town newspaper morgues, high school yearbooks, usenet posts, facebook pages and the like to construct a capsule biography of somebody. In a way this is the thing that Zeroed opposes, only all at once instead of to answer a specific question.
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Old 09-23-2016, 04:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
... on being Research, Intelligence Analysis, or an entirely separate skill is dossier building.
I'm pretty sure that's Research, possibly with an optional specialisation.
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Old 09-23-2016, 05:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
A question tangentially related to this skill: in GURPS, what skill do you use for doing research work in an experimental or observational science? Not looking stuff up, but trying to extend scientific knowledge? There's a bit of a gap between Research skill, and the invention rules. Some GMs rule that you use Research, but the alternative seems to be the science skill, probably at some kind of penalty.
To actually extend scientific knowledge I would think is a straight out Science roll, or better yet, one for theory and one for Lab work which would keep it in line with prototype rules from BS. The bonuses and modifiers from 473 seem pretty legit.

Research Techniques
I might let someone buy off as techniques the penalties associated with arcane info storage. Frex, does any one still use a card catalog or dewy decimal system anymore? Microfiche? Microfilm?
How about SQL as a technique in either this/comp ops/ or Comp Programing?
Google Fu?

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Old 09-23-2016, 05:26 PM   #5
Refplace
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

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Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
To actually extend scientific knowledge I would think is a straight out Science roll, or better yet, one for theory and one for Lab work which would keep it in line with prototype rules from BS. The bonuses and modifiers from 473 seem pretty legit.

Research Techniques
I might let someone buy off as techniques the penalties associated with arcane info storage. Frex, does any one still use a card catalog or dewy decimal system anymore? Microfiche? Microfilm?
How about SQL as a technique in either this/comp ops/ or Comp Programing?
Google Fu?

Nymdok
I think I would rate each search engine as a familiarity.
Probably the older methods of finding the data too.
So mr. 2020 guy walks into the Newspaper to get some information and when he is pointed to the basement filing system can still use Research but is penalized for an unfamiliar (tech penalty too) system but would get used to it in a reasonable time.
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Old 09-23-2016, 08:45 PM   #6
dripton
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

Surprisingly, Research has come up quite a bit in my DF game. There's a library / temple of the God of Knowledge in town, and both the Cleric (who gets in free on scholarship, after passing a difficult Theology test) and the Wizard (who failed his test and has to pay in books or cash every time he visits) just love the place.

PCs have questions; libraries have answers. Unfortunately, the kinds of questions they usually have (How do I cast Lightning? Who is the dude on the statue I saw in the dungeon? What does this weird magical ring do?) usually don't have easy answers. But, hey, worth a shot.
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Old 09-23-2016, 09:05 PM   #7
whswhs
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
High-Tech has comprehensive library rules and computer-based Research, and Infinite Worlds gives Infinity portable computers with databases that give large skill bonuses -- with a successful Research roll. LTC1 has low-tech library rules and several useful things to research.
Are there such rules in High-Tech? Oh, computer-based Research, no doubt, but I don't remember library rules, whereas I definitely wrote some detailed ones for Low-Tech itself—effects of colophons, tables of contents, indexes, card catalogs, and so on on Research rolls. I think I at least significantly extended whatever rules were in High-Tech and the Basic Set.
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Old 09-23-2016, 09:11 PM   #8
whswhs
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
I might let someone buy off as techniques the penalties associated with arcane info storage. Frex, does any one still use a card catalog or dewy decimal system anymore? Microfiche? Microfilm?
How about SQL as a technique in either this/comp ops/ or Comp Programing?
Google Fu?
My home nonfiction library is in Library of Congress order (Dewey Decimal, pfah!), with the numbers written inside the back covers. I've used university libraries for so many years that I have an intuitive sense for where most subjects fall in LoC. And it's very helpful when I want to cruise the shelves and see what's been written on an arcane topic like animal visual senses or grammaticalization in linguistic evolution.
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Old 09-24-2016, 12:35 AM   #9
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Are there such rules in High-Tech? Oh, computer-based Research, no doubt, but I don't remember library rules, whereas I definitely wrote some detailed ones for Low-Tech itself—effects of colophons, tables of contents, indexes, card catalogs, and so on on Research rolls. I think I at least significantly extended whatever rules were in High-Tech and the Basic Set.
High-Tech P18, first column. Definitely less complete than your rules in Low-Tech, but an upgrade on the Basic Set.
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Old 09-24-2016, 03:51 AM   #10
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Research

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
One important modern application I keep wavering back and forth on being Research, Intelligence Analysis, or an entirely separate skill is dossier building. The art of combing through public records, credit reports, home town newspaper morgues, high school yearbooks, usenet posts, facebook pages and the like to construct a capsule biography of somebody. In a way this is the thing that Zeroed opposes, only all at once instead of to answer a specific question.
I'm sure that's Research. It's certainly finding data, and collating found data into a continually usable form is an important part of any Research above default - otherwise you just have a heap of notes that you have to shuffle all the time. What you do with that data might be Intelligence Analysis (or Psychology, or Leadership, or Brainwashing...).

I rather like the way that this skill became absolutely critical for every Ally AI assistant in Transhuman Space. Much of the point of having those things is being able to subvocalise "What's this about?" whenever you run into something unfamiliar.
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