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Old 01-27-2017, 12:29 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Veterinary is the IQ/H TL skill of caring for sick and wounded animals. The defaults are Animal Handling (any)-6, Physician-5, or Surgery-5, and Diagnosis, First Aid, Physician and Surgery have defaults to Veterinary. Optional specialisation in a type of animal is possible, and while the Animal Handling list of categories might seem useful, Animal Handling's narrower scope for more intelligent animals isn't obviously applicable here. The skill appeared at GURPS 1e.

Modifiers include +5 for an animal that knows and trusts you, and -2 or worse for an unfamiliar type of animal, plus the Animal Friend and Healer talents. Medical equipment modifiers are potentially applicable, too.

I wasn't entirely sure about the scope of this skill with respect to the human-orientated medical skills, so I asked PK, who discussed it with Kromm:

Quote:
Originally Posted by PK
Per Kromm, the intent is for Veterinary to replace Physician; it's the skill of treating and patching up animals. That would leave Diagnosis and Surgery as additional requirements for a full-service vet. Rather than require vets to buy off physiology modifiers, I'd suggest* that any campaign in need of detailed vet rules split both skills into two mandatory specialties, Animal and Human, with the additional rule that neither Diagnosis (Animal) nor Surgery (Animal) can exceed Veterinary skill.

* Until we publish something with more detailed rules.
Those (Animal) and (Human) specialties presumably default to each other at -5, given the existing defaults structure and physiology modifiers.

In modern training, a newly graduated veterinarian with a four-year degree can go straight into practice, while a newly graduated doctor needs years of further training. This has to imply that there are limits to the detail that veterinarians go into, compared to doctors, and loss of animal patients is certainly more acceptable than humans dying. Pharmacy for animals is pretty similar to the skill for humans, at least on Earth, and many real-world veterinarians have been trained using pharmacology texts written for medical schools. Acquiring familiarity with a new type of animal takes a year, or a breeding cycle (whichever is less, per Social Engineering: Back to School), and this presumably isn't full-time work, given that newly trained veterinarians are familiar with several types.

Veterinary is a common template skill for low-tech nomads and traders and the people who look after their beasts of burden, plus roving druids and medics at any TL. Knights usually leave it to specialists. Creatures of the Night has animal parts that need Veterinary to extract, and High-Tech has tranquiliser guns. Martial Arts has Pressure Points as an option for use on animals, which becomes more plausible with this skill, and Monster Hunters uses it for identifying animal-like monsters. Power-Ups 3 and 7 have examples for Veterinary, which will come in handy for upgrading animals via Powers: The Weird.

This is a skill I've often taken, but less often used. I usually take a point of it on any character with Healer talent, and the Romany wise-woman I'm playing has more than that, since it's one of her assorted ways of earning a living. It was the key to a favourite rules abuse I had before 4e: take Animal Empathy, which used to give +4 to Veterinary, and then spend a point on it with a old-style Optional Specialisation in Equines, producing a skill of IQ+7 for horses for a total of six points, and a good way to make a living anywhere that has horses. That really did have to go.

What have you done with this skill?
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Old 01-27-2017, 12:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Well, point-crock aside, Vetrinary (Equines) is a good way to make a living anywhere that uses horses.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

A "budget" party in a knightly setting had a vet in place of a healer, mainly but not entirely played for laughs.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:08 PM   #4
simply Nathan
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Our thief/prospector was our primary non-magical medical expert as well, due to having non-crap IQ. She specialized in veterinary and surgery while the wizard had a single point in First Aid becaus Physician was TL-locked.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
In modern training, a newly graduated veterinarian with a four-year degree can go straight into practice, while a newly graduated doctor needs years of further training. This has to imply that there are limits to the detail that veterinarians go into, compared to doctors, and loss of animal patients is certainly more acceptable than humans dying.
In some ways it's also that there's just less to learn because there's been far less study done than on humans. Not because it's easier to treat a housecat, but that Veterinary is somewhat fragmentary in comparison simply due to lack of priority.

That said, I'm always impressed that e.g. a small animal orthopedic surgeon that specializes in dogs and cats is still pretty good with badgers, which are fairly closely related, or rabbits, which aren't even in the order Carnivora. Conversely I suspect a vet with large-animal training is fine with humans... in the areas known by Veterinary science.

Conversely, I suspect a physician or surgeon working on an appropriately sized mammal would actually do OK. They'd want to brush up on e.g. dog cranial facial nerves before doing facial surgery on a dog, but surgeons are expected to review even human anatomy before each procedure. And the facial nerves in mammals are actually pretty darn similar once you get over the different morphology.

But things get weirder from mammals to reptiles, and from mammals to fish is even weirder, and mammals to birds isn't great either. That's a bigger problem than simple familiarity IMO.

I'm pretty sure your average vet isn't really equipped to treat squid, or giant clams, but I'm not sure anyone is really equipped to treat giant clams.
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Old 01-27-2017, 03:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I'm pretty sure your average vet isn't really equipped to treat squid, or giant clams, but I'm not sure anyone is really equipped to treat giant clams.
Depends. Do you have a magnum of white wine and a pound of garlic?
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Old 01-27-2017, 03:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

It's rarely been relevant since I don't run a lot of low-tech games. (And in a fantasy game I could easily see it being eclipsed by healing magic, just as Physician can be.) Apart from characters of John's, the only character in my archives who has it is my Doc from the abortive After the End PBF game.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:23 PM   #8
Flyndaran
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

The +5 for those trusting the vet is a weird bonus. Why doesn't Physician get that? Few human patients are as docile as many pets.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
The +5 for those trusting the vet is a weird bonus. Why doesn't Physician get that? Few human patients are as docile as many pets.
My take on that is how familiar the vet is with the patient. When you know animals behaviour you can spot what is out of place easier.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:49 PM   #10
simply Nathan
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Veterinary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
The +5 for those trusting the vet is a weird bonus. Why doesn't Physician get that? Few human patients are as docile as many pets.
Ooh, I know! My druid should take four levels each of Healer and Animal Friend and cast Shapeshift Other onto his wounded patients in order to treat them for an additional +5. It's the perfect plan!
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