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Old 08-20-2010, 02:51 PM   #1
Sense of Duty (Kittens)
 
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Default When does one use Scrounging?

Scrounging is a cheap skill, but it does not seem to have much that is not covered by other Per skills. When searching corpses for goods is a Scrounging or Search rool necessary to make sure you got everything? What skill is the guy who routinely checks under vending machines for change employing? Scrounging? Observation? Urban Survival?

Scrounging does not seem to be a useful investment of points at all.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

It's the go-to skill whenever a plan calls for old planks, a plastic trash can, foil gum wrappers, a lump of horse manure, etc. It'll turn up, say, old fat or used painting solvents when you're in a modern urban alleyway, about to commit arson, and need a makeshift accelerant. It can find you an improvised weapon that won't simply break on the first hit if you're in the woods, a barroom, the kitchen, etc. when the ninjas attack. It'll turn up odds and ends that could cut costs when making repairs or inventions (Gadgeteering even formalizes this). And it's the skill to use whenever you have lots of something – buttons, bullets, screws, whatever – and need just the right one.

Without this skill, you're pretty much stuck using Per at -4. With it, you're using full Per or better. If you raise it enough, you can try rolls at -10 to locate something useful instantly; e.g., spotting an improvised weapon as a free action in combat.

Not a game session goes by when players don't use it in my campaign. Of course, I run very think-on-your-feet campaigns where the players brainstorm in the real world and come up with plans that require specific items that are plausibly present but which I don't regard as automatic. If you just assume that sort of stuff is automatic, then Scrounging won't matter much.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sense of Duty (Kittens) View Post

When searching corpses for goods is a Scrounging or Search rool necessary to make sure you got everything?
Search is for sweeping a specific person or area for deliberately concealed items. Scrounging is for walking around the battlefield after 1,000 orcs and 1,000 dwarves kill each other, and locating the specific bits of armor and weaponry you need to equip yourself.

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What skill is the guy who routinely checks under vending machines for change employing? Scrounging? Observation? Urban Survival?
That's definitely Scrounging. Observation is scouting for criminal, espionage, military, or police purposes; it's for spotting guards, security, and counter-observers, and concealed vehicles and strongpoints. Urban Survival is about knowing which saggy floors in old buildings will cave in, deducing whether water found in a city is safe to drink, and locating warm vents to sleep next to. Neither has much to do with finding specific, useful items you have in mind for some plan.
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Old 08-20-2010, 06:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

How about the skill exhibited by Radar O'Reilly on M*A*S*H, various characters on "Baa Baa Black Sheep", or the James Gardner character in "The Great Escape", involving coming up with some needed item by whatever means, often via a perhaps complicated chain of trades, and often enough something somewhat underhanded? This could be a particular style of Merchant and occasional other skills like blackmail, but the details come across to me more as a special effect of Scrounging. Characters usually refer to the activity as "scrounging" but of course that doesn't mean much in game terms.
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
How about the skill exhibited by Radar O'Reilly on M*A*S*H, various characters on "Baa Baa Black Sheep", or the James Gardner character in "The Great Escape", involving coming up with some needed item by whatever means, often via a perhaps complicated chain of trades, and often enough something somewhat underhanded? This could be a particular style of Merchant and occasional other skills like blackmail, but the details come across to me more as a special effect of Scrounging. Characters usually refer to the activity as "scrounging" but of course that doesn't mean much in game terms.
Probably a mix of skills. Scrounging to locate the desired item and social skills depending on how you are going to get it.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

Something like that is mentioned on pg 83 of GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces. I've always assumed that such situations would be examples of Scrounging based upon IQ rather than Per.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

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Originally Posted by Owen Smith View Post
Scrounging is very useful for a character in the British armed forces (any of them). Our forces are short of equipment and money to buy such all the time. Scrounging in the RAF might turn up spares for an aircraft when officially no such spares are available; your character might find some forgotten at the back of a warehouse or find a friendly stores man who happens to know of another squadron that over ordered...
The movie "operation pettycoat" (and the remake) have some of the greatest example of military scrounging i know off :)

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Old 08-21-2010, 12:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

Scrounged items aren't deliberately concealed, although they may be lost in clutter. Search, I suspect, involves a certain amount of "Where do logical thinking organisms keep their stuff? We should look there." whereas the things you find in a Scrounge situation haven't been stored, filed, hidden, or put away. Often they've been just dropped, or thrown in a heap, or abandoned. Logic and convenience don't factor into Scrounge, and Scrounge often involves improvising approximate solutions rather than getting specific items.

Or to put it another way, for narrative-driven games, Search mostly involves things the GM knew were there, Scrounge involves creating solutions out of the generic "background scenery".
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Old 08-21-2010, 05:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

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Scrounged items aren't deliberately concealed, although they may be lost in clutter. Search, I suspect, involves a certain amount of "Where do logical thinking organisms keep their stuff? We should look there." whereas the things you find in a Scrounge situation haven't been stored, filed, hidden, or put away. Often they've been just dropped, or thrown in a heap, or abandoned. Logic and convenience don't factor into Scrounge, and Scrounge often involves improvising approximate solutions rather than getting specific items.

Or to put it another way, for narrative-driven games, Search mostly involves things the GM knew were there, Scrounge involves creating solutions out of the generic "background scenery".
Scrounging still involves a degree of 'knowing where to look' of course, but I like the way you have put it.
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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
It's the go-to skill whenever a plan calls for old planks, a plastic trash can, foil gum wrappers, a lump of horse manure, etc. It'll turn up, say, old fat or used painting solvents when you're in a modern urban alleyway, about to commit arson, and need a makeshift accelerant. It can find you an improvised weapon that won't simply break on the first hit if you're in the woods, a barroom, the kitchen, etc. when the ninjas attack. It'll turn up odds and ends that could cut costs when making repairs or inventions (Gadgeteering even formalizes this).
I have always thought of it as virtually a necessary skill for gadgeteers. And you will always want it when your last-ditch stratagem calls for "two geese, a roll of duct tape, 23 toothpicks, and some sodium benzoate." :)
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: When does one use Scrounging?

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Originally Posted by Not another shrubbery View Post
Scrounging still involves a degree of 'knowing where to look' of course, but I like the way you have put it.
Well true - with Scrounging it's a different kind of psychology at work ("how people treat things they don't particularly care about" vs "how people treat things they think have some value") and due to the way many things Scrounged are abandoned, you also need to know where they'd blow, or how they'd settle, or how the locals treat garbage collection.

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Originally Posted by Not another shrubbery View Post
I have always thought of it as virtually a necessary skill for gadgeteers. And you will always want it when your last-ditch stratagem calls for "two geese, a roll of duct tape, 23 toothpicks, and some sodium benzoate." :)
"Finding a irrational pile of random crap" is definitely right up the alley of Scrounge. It's a good skill for scavenger hunts.

EDIT: I have Absent Minded, definitely the full -15 point version. When I have something in my hand/hands and my attention gets focused on something else and I need a free hand, I literally have no concious awareness of the process of freeing up the hand. It just shows up miraculously empty for me to use. Meanwhile, I've put my car keys in the freezer, my book on top of my computer monitor, and the asprin have been neatly filed in the bookshelf. Everyone who lives with me has to develop some Scrounge just to help me find my stuff.

It gets 10x worse if it's something the cat might like, because she might HIDE it after playing with it, and then you have to know to switch from Scrounge (Human) to Search (Feline). I'm pretty sure that's how my car keys ended up in a boot a few months ago - it's just too inconvenient for me to absentmindedly stuff them in a boot, whereas it's right at cat level...
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