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Old 02-04-2017, 05:03 PM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptability

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One of the things I contemplated while I was on hiatus was if I should strictly adhere to the alphabetical order found in the Advantages Trait List (p. B297-298), and as you can tell by today's entry not covering Courtesy Rank, I decided to allow the defining trait (the one that will be among the tags for search purposes) to be the main determinant of order. This also pushes Rank bad to be closer to things like Reputation and Status. So with this note out of the way, we'll move onto our actual subjects: Cultural Adaptability, Cultural Familiarity, and Xeno-Adaptability.

Basic

We begin with Cultral Familiarity (p. B23), a Mundane, Social Advantage presented in the Social Background (p. B22-25) section of Characters, and costs 1 or 2 CP per culture. I was a bit surprised: even though Cultural Familiarities has its own section on the character sheet shown there, Cultural Familiarity is not explained in GURPS Lite. As the name suggests, this trait reflects your knowledge and understanding of a particular culture, including many aspects of communication and etiquette. All characters start with their Native Cultural Familiarity for free, but others must be purchased. Mechanically, if a character unfamiliar with the relevant culture attempts to use a Skill with a significant cultural component, that character will suffer a -3 penalty to those Skill rolls. The text provides us with a long (but not exhaustive) list of affected Skills: Carousing, Connoisseur, Criminology, Dancing, Detect Lies, Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Games, Gesture, Heraldry, Intimidation, Leadership, Merchant, Poetry, Politics, Psychology, Public Speaking, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, Sociology, Streetwise, and Teaching.

GURPS uses pretty broad definitions of culture; real-world examples given in the text are East Asian, Muslim, and Western. This is further emphasized by the cost; the 1 CP version is for Cultural Familiarities belonging to your own race (or a similar one), such as all I just listed. The 2 CP cost is for cultures that are truly alien. Still, this can add up in your typical fantasy campaign, which brings us to our next trait: Cultural Adaptibility (p. B46) costs 10 CP. It is still a Mundane trait, though it is cinematic and as such unlikely to be available in a realistic game. It also counts as a Mental trait rather than a Social one; all cultures of your race are familiar to you. Xeno-Adaptibility (p. B46) costs 20 CP and takes it one step further; your character is familiar with all cultures in your game world, even those of other races! These traits can be essential for particular, archetypal characters and even in a setting where they don't save any CP, still save you tedious record keeping.

Other Supplements

GURPS Powers does a little with these traits, explaining what kinds of powers suits them, and using them in an ability or two. GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks brings up something from GURPS Martial Arts called Style Familiarity. It is a Combat Perk that functions as an Unusual Background and has several benefits, making me wonder if I am reading it wrong as it seems to exceed what you normally get for a Perk. If I do understand correctly, it includes some niche aspects of Cultural Familiarity (namely those pertaining to the martial arts style in question). In Power-Ups 3: Talents, Cultural Adaptability is presented as a potential prerequisite trait for the Cultural Chameleon Talent, while Xeno-Adaptability serves the same purpose for Alien Friend Talent. Other than Xeno-Adaptability, the other two also come up in Social Engineering, though not as much as I expected. I am not complaining, but worry I missed them in the text (I am still not very familiar with it).

Other Supplements that reference Cultural Adaptability, Cultural Familiarity, and/or Xeno-Adaptability will be added as they are brought up in the discussion, but these are what I could quickly find before posting.

Useful Links

Cultural Familiarities - I am pressed for time and have not finished the thread, but it contains a very useful Kromm quote here.

Questions
  • How have Cultural Familiarities been used in your games?
  • Has anyone ever taken Cultural Adaptability or Xeno-Adaptability? If so, how did it work out?
  • Anything you like about these traits?
  • Anything you don't like about them?
  • Anything you might change or, conversely, think is just right as is?
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Last edited by Otaku; 02-14-2017 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 02-04-2017, 05:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

One thing you might do is add a thread to the Resource board for these. Like the one johndallman did for his skill of the week.
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Old 02-04-2017, 05:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
One thing you might do is add a thread to the Resource board for these. Like the one johndallman did for his skill of the week.
I know this sounds lame but, it is pending. XD Short version is I've had a bit less free time and a lot more distractions lately, and have not risen to the occasion. >.> I thought I might catch up tonight, but was tapped for last minute babysitting duties. Now I get to wait for between one and four of my nephews to arrive, with the timeframe being "Sometime after six..." (it is 6:20 PM local time). XD
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Old 02-04-2017, 05:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

In my world, all the PCs would be expected to come from the main culture. As there are only a small handful of other cultures in existence they could potentially interact with, Cultural Adaptability and Xeno-Adaptability are far more expensive than would make them worth putting on templates.

A character brought in from another world would be better statted up with a Quirk: No Cultural Familiarity because of the vanishingly tiny chance of running into another outworlder from the same cultural region of the same world. He would be expected to buy this Quirk off in play as his character became familiar with the world.
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Old 02-04-2017, 07:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

CF is fairly important in my current fantasy campaign, Tapestry. I have seven sapient races (all humanoid), each with multiple large culture areas, three at a minimum. The PCs come from four races and five culture areas.
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Old 02-04-2017, 08:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

I dont recall ever using Cultural Adaptability or seeing it in a campaign I ran.
CF gets a little use, mostly as background but most people playing a social type would rather absorb the penalties than buy anything more.
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Old 02-05-2017, 02:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

Hmm, your OP seems not to point to the list of modern CFs.

Here it is:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
We have never published such a list, but behind the scenes, we use this one:
  1. Latin American (Mexico and parts south)
  2. Anglo (the U.K. and its English-speaking former colonies, including the U.S.A.)
  3. Western European ( "the Continent")
  4. Eastern European (the former Soviet Bloc)
  5. North African (from the Mediterranean coast south to the Sahel)
  6. Sub-Saharan (specifically as contrasted with North African)
  7. West Asian (from the Mediterranean east to Iran)
  8. Central Asian (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and so on)
  9. South Asian (dominated by India)
  10. East Asian (China, Japan, Korea, etc.)
Of those, I'd say you could afford to break up Latin American and South Asian further, and Sub-Saharan a lot further, if the campaign requires it. But if you want an even 10 to hit Cultural Adaptability on the head, this list works well enough.

You would almost certainly find "Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously" (Pyramid #3/44: Alternate GURPS II) and "Speaking in Tongues" (Pyramid #3/54: Social Engineering) to be of value, then.
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

Space talks about these on page 219, and notes the switching point to Xeno in case like Star Trek's Federation, in which case you must leave the Union. I have to wonder how things work if there are human members of multiple different multi-species unions
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

http://ashtagon.deviantart.com/art/C...romm-499953038

I drew a map of Kromm's CF areas a while back.
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Old 02-05-2017, 05:34 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#31): Cultural Familiarity, Cultural/Xeno-Adaptabi

It's quite routine in games I play for characters to have one or two extra Cultural Familiarities, learned if the character has spent a while in a relevant area, or has studied the language intensively with a native speaker. It's one of the things you need to pass as a native.

For example, the WWII game I play in did successive scenarios in Egypt, Libya and Mandatory Palestine, and taking Cultural Familiarity (Muslim) seemed reasonable as a "Got used to the area, can be polite to the inhabitants" marker. That game uses very broad CFs: Western, Muslim, East Asian, African and South Asian are the main ones.

I have taken Xeno-Adaptability once, in the TORG campaign we played. Thorfin Fairhair was a dwarf from the Norse/Fantasy realm that had overlaid the British Isles and Scandinavia, so almost everyone he met was a different species. He was a bard and our face-man, which people thought was weird for about half a minute each. I'm not sure it was actually cost-effective, but it was fun.

Infinite Worlds (p173) has rules for CFs changing over time: -1 of CF penalties for each two TLs of difference. I think this is actually a bit friendly, but it matches adventure fiction. In my Infinite Cabal campaign, several of the PCs have learned CF: Ancient Rome, and since the peace between Infinity and Centrum, CF: Centran.
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