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Old 04-09-2024, 08:09 AM   #11
ericthered
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Nobody does Surveying at night. Nautical chartmaking is different.
I think if the thing you're surveying is big enough (Like US state borders), star readings are relevant.

But those are very special cases. The vast majority of surveying will be smaller than that. It is a "famous" case worthy of a PC, and so worth noting. But surveyors should get their basics down first before worrying about astronomy/navigation.
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Old 04-09-2024, 10:59 AM   #12
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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Would some form of navigation be any use? Or astronomy ... Charles Mason was hired for a reason after all...
Surveying defaults to Cartography-3 or Navigation (any)-4. I think "any" may be too broad; I can't see hyperspace navigation, for example, having any relevance.
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Old 04-10-2024, 08:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

Thanks folks.
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Old 04-10-2024, 01:30 PM   #14
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Nobody does Surveying at night.
Unless you're trying to determine the height of a hill or mountain in pre-modern times. In those cases, a bonfire on top of the mountain can be seen at greater distances than a heliograph or similar signaling devices. Set up your surveying gear at a known distance from the mountain/hill, take an elevation reading focused on the bonfire and use trigonometry to determine the height.
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Old 04-10-2024, 01:45 PM   #15
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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But surveyors should get their basics down first before worrying about astronomy/navigation.
FWIW, the Lewis & Clark expedition carried sextants and other navigation tools. Taking readings of the sun can help determine latitude and hence distance traveled over the previous 24 hours (assuming daily sun sightings at local noon). Navigating by the stars can also be helpful when there are few obvious landmarks, such as on the Great Plains.

While historical surveyors probably didn't know that much about astronomy, some of them might have had a basic working knowledge to predict things like eclipses. This would be particularly true for a ship's officer turned surveyor, since sailing ship masters and navigators had a decent practical knowledge of the subject.

18th and 19th century voyages of exploration were sometimes sent to far parts of the world for the purposes of observing eclipses or other astronomical phenomena in addition to charting the ocean in a particular area. Any well-equipped sailing ship had books which predicted sun and moon movements, which in turn could be used to predict local sunrise and sunset times as well as tidal action.

I've updated my suggestions for a historical surveyor to include Astronomy and Navigation skills, which were serious omissions.

Modern surveyors might have Navigation skill if they have to find their way through the wilderness (e.g., a pre-satellite USGS expedition to map a remote area of the Continental US or Alaska or a surveyor who has to survey a big chunk of desert), but most are just confirming boundaries which were laid down long ago and working close enough to roads that they don't need Navigation skill. Area Knowledge will substitute for surveyors who only do local or regional work and Area Knowledge (Highways) might serve for surveyors who travel long distances.
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Old 04-10-2024, 01:50 PM   #16
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
Unless you're trying to determine the height of a hill or mountain in pre-modern times. In those cases, a bonfire on top of the mountain can be seen at greater distances than a heliograph or similar signaling devices. Set up your surveying gear at a known distance from the mountain/hill, take an elevation reading focused on the bonfire and use trigonometry to determine the height.
How pre-modern are we talking about? I looked into the history, and it appears that the heliograph was actually invented AFTER the electric telegraph; that's why heliography uses Morse code.
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Old 04-10-2024, 05:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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I've updated my suggestions for a historical surveyor to include Astronomy and Navigation skills, which were serious omissions.

Modern surveyors might have Navigation skill if they have to find their way through the wilderness (e.g., a pre-satellite USGS expedition to map a remote area of the Continental US or Alaska or a surveyor who has to survey a big chunk of desert), but most are just confirming boundaries which were laid down long ago and working close enough to roads that they don't need Navigation skill. Area Knowledge will substitute for surveyors who only do local or regional work and Area Knowledge (Highways) might serve for surveyors who travel long distances.
A kind of surveyor who will also have Navigation in the modern world is a military engineer. Combat Engineer will likely have Orienteering (or Navigation/Land) along with Surveying (laying out Camps etc) and of course skills in making things go boom! A common disadvantage would be Hard of Hearing (also common amongst cannon cockers).
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Old 04-12-2024, 06:20 PM   #18
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A kind of surveyor who will also have Navigation in the modern world is a military engineer.
I was deliberately trying to keep my templates suitable for civilian or para-military characters. They could easily be attached to any military template to create a military surveyor.

Historically, many surveying expeditions were military in nature and many notable surveyors were military engineers. On campaign, they often operated independently, away from the army's main body and were subject to the same risk as other scouts. In a historical or steampunk campaign, they'd make interesting characters with a built-in motivation to go to a particular location and poke around.
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Old 04-13-2024, 09:51 AM   #19
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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A kind of surveyor who will also have Navigation in the modern world is a military engineer.
I don't know about that. A lot of civilian surveying jobs are likely to start with hike through the woods/abandoned fields to a specified coordinate and find the survey marker you are using as a point of origin there. That sounds a lot like a navigation/orienteering task to me - or whatever skill you'd use for geocaching.
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Old 04-14-2024, 05:46 AM   #20
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Default Re: What Skill(s) for a land surveyor?

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I was deliberately trying to keep my templates suitable for civilian or para-military characters. They could easily be attached to any military template to create a military surveyor.
Well the person I was thinking of when I posted had the MOS Combat Engineer. However when I met him he was a Captain in the US Army Reserves. He and his wife were party members in a GURPS run I played in. In GURPS 1E he showed me how ugly a combo Broadsword 21 and Shield could be.

So an Army Reservist doing a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer would strike me as firmly 'para-military'. YMMV of course.
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