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Old 12-16-2016, 11:57 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

Submarine is the DX/A TL skill of operating a submarine, corresponding to Driving or Piloting, and not to be confused with Submariner, the skill of serving as a crewman on a large submarine. The only default is IQ-6, and specialisation is required. The specialisations are (Free-Flooding Sub), (Large Sub) and (Mini-Sub), which have mutual defaults; you need Scuba or Diving Suit to travel on a free-flooding submarine. The skill appeared at GURPS 4e.

You roll against the skill to surface or submerge, and for hazardous manoeuvres, in combat or difficult waters. Failures can be anything from going off course to a collision; critical failures can trap you underwater. A case can be made for giving this skill the same rule as Piloting for re-rolling critical failures if you have skill 15+, since submarines are dangerous, but many mishaps seem to be failures of Navigation, Electronics Operation (Sonar) or Submariner. IQ-based rolls can be used to recall nautical rules, and for basic oceanography and chart reading. Modifiers include familiarity with the boat, penalties for it being in poor condition, and for navigational hazards.

For (Free-Flooding Sub) and (Mini-Sub), the person in control will be making Submarine rolls, and will be in full control. For (Large Sub), there may well be more than one person in control, often one for depth and one for heading, and the person in charge will be using Shiphandling (Submarine) to coordinate the crew.

Navigation in a submarine is presumably a familiarity of Navigation (Sea), possibly with penalties for the time since you last fixed your position, since you're using dead reckoning. Being at a high enough TL to have inertial navigation helps a lot, but it still drifts.

If I was playing a campaign that involved a lot of time on board the same submarine, I'd be very tempted to take an Equipment Bond with the boat. Sadly, you have to own it to do that, as in pay cash or buy it as Signature Gear.

Submarine doesn't see a whole lot of use on published templates. Action heroes with the right background can use (Free-Flooding Sub). Fantasy-Tech has a TL4 submarine which survived several dives, and Low-Tech has technical details and the (Unpowered) specialisation to operate it. There are applicable talents and wild card skills in the relevant Power-Ups volumes, and Space points out that aquatic species will use (Free-Flooding Sub), and won't need a skill for breathing equipment.

I've seen this skill used a fair bit in a Reign of Steel campaign based in Zone London, where we first acquired a Morag mini-sub, and then later a human-built ballistic missile submarine. We had one combat, against an Orca-bot, and that was quite enough, thanks. Mostly we just used the subs to go places, quietly and sneakily. Which is what submarines are all about.

What have you done with this skill in a game?
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Old 12-16-2016, 12:19 PM   #2
whswhs
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

I actually think I used it in my campaign set on the Pearl Bright Ocean (from GURPS Cabal), when the PCs encountered the Yithoglu. The Yithoglu forces included an underwater vessel powered by oar-wielding zombies, which I think would actually be Shiphandling, but backed up by Submarine (Free-Flooding, Unpowered).
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:00 PM   #3
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

Well, it depends on the aquatic species - dolphin-oids will still need air, and fish-oids may need pressure support if they want to go deep.

The most submarining I've done in-game was in that Reign of Steel campaign, where the party rode a salvaged SSBN from Britain along the Med, up to the Black Sea, and back. (This was loosely based on the Twilight: 2000 adventure Mediterranean Cruise.) The PCs weren't submariners themselves, though; they were the cargo who got sent ashore in a RHIB to do more conventional adventury stuff, so the submarine warfare was fairly abstracted/narrated.
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

I should think submarineing works poorly in an RPG. A sub like most warships performs as an organism and it is mainly the captain that has something to do. It can probably be done with a bit of ingenuity.

Submarine stories are probably best in novels where you can do justice to the tech-porn.
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Old 12-17-2016, 05:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
I should think submarineing works poorly in an RPG. A sub like most warships performs as an organism and it is mainly the captain that has something to do. It can probably be done with a bit of ingenuity.
If I were running a game with the PCs as submariners, I'd steal ideas from the GURPS Spaceships combat system, where multiple characters have stuff to do.
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Old 12-17-2016, 05:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

I can see Mini-Sub being used as a kind of "underwater fighter-craft", operating in squadrons. That'd probably be the only real time any of my players might take the Submarine skill.
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Old 12-17-2016, 06:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Submarine

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
The PCs weren't submariners themselves, though; they were the cargo who got sent ashore in a RHIB to do more conventional adventury stuff, so the submarine warfare was fairly abstracted/narrated.
This is probably the easiest way to use a large submarine in a game: as a means for putting a party somewhere they have the advantage of surprise, and can attack something important without meeting opposition they can't handle. While the PCs having Crewman (Submarine) is helpful for this, they don't need to be sub-drivers.
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