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Old 04-22-2017, 10:07 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

The rules for skill familiarity are in a box on B.169. As written, they apply to operating equipment, but various skill descriptions, notably Mechanic/TL, make it clear that they also apply to maintaining and repairing equipment. B.169 says you need eight hours of practice with a piece of equipment to become familiar with it. I've been reading some manuals for historical equipment, and getting rather dubious about acquiring real-world familiarity with something big, like a TL6 heavy bomber or TL7 warship, in eight hours.

Now, familiarities are an optional rule in practice. Some games use them, some don't. Heroes in cinematic games are usually naturally familiar with everything they run into. The default cinematic realism style of GURPS makes them optional, and acquiring them in a day-long montage is OK. However, a gritty cinematic or realistic game makes it plausible to use them, or at least make gestures towards acquiring them, even if you don't list them all on character sheets.

So some sort of rule on how one acquires familiarity with big, complicated pieces of equipment seems like a good idea. But it's not obvious how to define such a rule. It has to be workable for fictional machines and vehicles, where one simply can't look up how many kinds of maintenance crew are required. I'm willing for familiarity for maintenance to have a different learning time to familiarity for operation. But we don't have many numbers defined for all equipment.

We have cost, and using that is going to need some kind of log scale. We have the number of people required to operate something, but the advent of computers reduces the need for crew while increasing overall complexity, so that's not very good for maintenance familiarity. What else? Weight is a poor guide to complexity.

For maintenance, take cost, divide by $1000 and round up. That gives us a number with a range between 1 and a few thousand. Apply that to the linear measurement column of the speed/range table, read off a speed/range penalty, take its absolute value and add 1. That's the number of days you need to acquire maintenance familiarity, so that's 1 day for things costing $2000 or less, 2 days for $3000, 3 days for $5000, and so on. An $8M helicopter is 21 days. An $18K speedboat is 7 days. This is looking vaguely plausible.

For operation, I'm tempted by the idea of days equal to the number of people you need to operate the equipment. But those are actual days of using it. Pilots usually spend much more time becoming familiar with an aircraft, but there are comparatively few hours of flying in there, because aircraft are expensive to operate. Does that work?
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Old 04-22-2017, 10:44 AM   #2
Daigoro
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Go off of SM for vehicles?

Then compact, complex things like computers could use Complexity.

I can see TL having some effect, but it would be a complicated interaction. Vehicles would be more complex for the same size but different TL, but then technology-aided learning would bring the time back down again.
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Old 04-22-2017, 03:29 PM   #3
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The rules for skill familiarity are in a box on B.169. As written, they apply to operating equipment, but various skill descriptions, notably Mechanic/TL, make it clear that they also apply to maintaining and repairing equipment. B.169 says you need eight hours of practice with a piece of equipment to become familiar with it. I've been reading some manuals for historical equipment, and getting rather dubious about acquiring real-world familiarity with something big, like a TL6 heavy bomber or TL7 warship, in eight hours.

Now, familiarities are an optional rule in practice. Some games use them, some don't. Heroes in cinematic games are usually naturally familiar with everything they run into. The default cinematic realism style of GURPS makes them optional, and acquiring them in a day-long montage is OK. However, a gritty cinematic or realistic game makes it plausible to use them, or at least make gestures towards acquiring them, even if you don't list them all on character sheets.

So some sort of rule on how one acquires familiarity with big, complicated pieces of equipment seems like a good idea. But it's not obvious how to define such a rule. It has to be workable for fictional machines and vehicles, where one simply can't look up how many kinds of maintenance crew are required. I'm willing for familiarity for maintenance to have a different learning time to familiarity for operation. But we don't have many numbers defined for all equipment.

We have cost, and using that is going to need some kind of log scale. We have the number of people required to operate something, but the advent of computers reduces the need for crew while increasing overall complexity, so that's not very good for maintenance familiarity. What else? Weight is a poor guide to complexity.

For maintenance, take cost, divide by $1000 and round up. That gives us a number with a range between 1 and a few thousand. Apply that to the linear measurement column of the speed/range table, read off a speed/range penalty, take its absolute value and add 1. That's the number of days you need to acquire maintenance familiarity, so that's 1 day for things costing $2000 or less, 2 days for $3000, 3 days for $5000, and so on. An $8M helicopter is 21 days. An $18K speedboat is 7 days. This is looking vaguely plausible.

For operation, I'm tempted by the idea of days equal to the number of people you need to operate the equipment. But those are actual days of using it. Pilots usually spend much more time becoming familiar with an aircraft, but there are comparatively few hours of flying in there, because aircraft are expensive to operate. Does that work?
I have nothing to really add here except I like it and it makes total sense to me. Nice job, John
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Old 04-23-2017, 02:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Familiarity is oddly defined, but it seems that the default assumption is that a different model of a thing should be a different skill the example of "two similar models of Colt revolver should be considered identical" is the guide I'm using here.

Something like Mechanic (Heavy Airplane) is already a game convenience; technical crews have their own specialists, and engine repair is quite different from bodywork repair. For that matter, repairing a Merlin engine that was mounted in a Spitfire really ought to be the same skill as repairing a Merlin engine that was mounted in a Lancaster - but if the ground crewman chose to learn Mechanic (Heavy Airplane) rather than Mechanic (Internal Combustion Engine) he's has no default from one skill to the other, never mind Familiarity. I'm not convinced that the vehicle-type Mechanic skills really work with Familiarity except on a case-by-case basis.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:24 AM   #5
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
For maintenance, take cost, divide by $1000 and round up...
Slightly simpler for the same answer:

That gives us a number with a range between 1 and a few thousand. Apply that to the linear measurement column of the speed/range table, read off a size modifier and add 1. That's the number of days you need to acquire maintenance familiarity...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
I have nothing to really add here except I like it and it makes total sense to me.
I'm not sure it's quite that good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
Something like Mechanic (Heavy Airplane) is already a game convenience; technical crews have their own specialists, and engine repair is quite different from bodywork repair. For that matter, repairing a Merlin engine that was mounted in a Spitfire really ought to be the same skill as repairing a Merlin engine that was mounted in a Lancaster - but if the ground crewman chose to learn Mechanic (Heavy Airplane) rather than Mechanic (Internal Combustion Engine) he's has no default from one skill to the other, never mind Familiarity. I'm not convinced that the vehicle-type Mechanic skills really work with Familiarity except on a case-by-case basis.
I did try to fix this, but without notable success.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:39 AM   #6
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
but if the ground crewman chose to learn Mechanic (Heavy Airplane) rather than Mechanic (Internal Combustion Engine) he's has no default from one skill to the other, never mind Familiarity.
Mechanic specialties default to each other (at -4 in 4e).
Fixed skill to skill defaults are never quite right (these would be the same skill if there wasn't *something* you can do with one skill you can't with the other), but it's not as bad as you make it out to be.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:21 AM   #7
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Mechanic specialties default to each other (at -4 in 4e).
Fixed skill to skill defaults are never quite right (these would be the same skill if there wasn't *something* you can do with one skill you can't with the other), but it's not as bad as you make it out to be.
Ah, I lost track of that when I checked because it wasn't listed with the other defaults.

I was deliberately choosing a perverse edge case, and I agree that they work well a lot of the time.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:32 AM   #8
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Defaults at -4 are fairly painful for mundane "professionals" with skill 12 or so. PCs with higher skill levels can risk using them when it matters.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

"Sure, you have Carpentry skill, but you have never used a Stanley hammer so you're at -2 to drive the nail."
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:37 AM   #10
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Time to learn familiarities

Never used a nail gun, only hammers, would be -2, usually handled by taking extra time.
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