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Old 08-22-2014, 01:24 AM   #41
sir_pudding
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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I'm of the opinion that designing a whole character for each contact would make them a pain for the GM.
Presumably this trait would include associated NPCs that don't get full character sheets. It would have to, just to include most Patrons. You don't want to make character sheets for the entire FBI.
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:44 AM   #42
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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I'm of the opinion that designing a whole character for each contact would make them a pain for the GM.
I'm of the opinion that while this is true, if we held it as a standard we wouldn't be playing GURPS. ;-)*

Knowing when to draw the line is difficult; if the PC is giving up points for someone (or something) or it is going to be recurring, that seems like a good reason to flesh something or someone out and in this case, a Contact is both. For a large group of functionally identical Contacts, a Template (perhaps with a few lenses) would be useful. With the usual character building shortcuts, it shouldn't be overly constraining and if it is, you probably just need to forbid the Advantage like one would the myriad other Advantages that also involve a similar level of work.

*If the emoticon wasn't indication enough, let me clarify that this was said in playful jest and was not an attempt at a serious counterargument.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:52 AM   #43
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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I'm of the opinion that while this is true, if we held it as a standard we wouldn't be playing GURPS. ;-)*

Knowing when to draw the line is difficult; if the PC is giving up points for someone (or something) or it is going to be recurring, that seems like a good reason to flesh something or someone out and in this case, a Contact is both. For a large group of functionally identical Contacts, a Template (perhaps with a few lenses) would be useful. With the usual character building shortcuts, it shouldn't be overly constraining and if it is, you probably just need to forbid the Advantage like one would the myriad other Advantages that also involve a similar level of work.

*If the emoticon wasn't indication enough, let me clarify that this was said in playful jest and was not an attempt at a serious counterargument.
If a Contact is just an externalized skill, then a full character sheet is overkill. If you are going to unify these traits it needs to include everything these traits do now, including everything from your brother that fights by your side, to summonable zombie hordes, to super Sentinel giant robots, to the guy at DMV who owes you favors, to the Professor who gives you magical artifacts and missions, to the FBI.
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:09 AM   #44
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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I'm of the opinion that while this is true, if we held it as a standard we wouldn't be playing GURPS. ;-)*

Knowing when to draw the line is difficult; if the PC is giving up points for someone (or something) or it is going to be recurring, that seems like a good reason to flesh something or someone out and in this case, a Contact is both.
However, Allies are purchased based on their character point total because they're going to be right there using their full abilities on your behalf. A Contact can be a literal god, with thousands of points, but all it does on your behalf is give you the occasional scrap of information, or do you a tiny favour.
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Old 08-22-2014, 11:11 AM   #45
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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I'm of the opinion that designing a whole character for each contact would make them a pain for the GM.
Probably, though personally I would be a lot more willing to deal with that than with a Contact as written.
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If a Contact is just an externalized skill, then a full character sheet is overkill. If you are going to unify these traits it needs to include everything these traits do now, including everything from your brother that fights by your side, to summonable zombie hordes, to super Sentinel giant robots, to the guy at DMV who owes you favors, to the Professor who gives you magical artifacts and missions, to the FBI.
The problem is that a Contact, as written, is not just an externalized skill. It sort of looks like it wants to be, but at the same time it constantly hints at concessions to the Advantage actually representing a person who does favors.

Without those concessions it looks a bit overly game-y, but with them it becomes a dubiously-defined mess.

(The price of Contacts is a separate issue, here.)


For Contacts, I tend to think Dresden Files, and then to think about how pretty much every character Harry deals with that way winds up doing things a GURPS Contact wouldn't do, but also not remotely acting like people expect from an Ally.
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Old 08-22-2014, 12:37 PM   #46
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Probably, though personally I would be a lot more willing to deal with that than with a Contact as written.

The problem is that a Contact, as written, is not just an externalized skill. It sort of looks like it wants to be, but at the same time it constantly hints at concessions to the Advantage actually representing a person who does favors.
I think it's supposed to either do favors that use that skill (a Physician contact sews you up) or that don't require a skill at all ("Mail this for me, will you?").

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For Contacts, I tend to think Dresden Files, and then to think about how pretty much every character Harry deals with that way winds up doing things a GURPS Contact wouldn't do, but also not remotely acting like people expect from an Ally.
Molly, Thomas, Karen and so on are definitely allies. Demonreach is probably a patron. The Blackstaff and Mab are definitely patrons. Mr. Monoc might be a contact. Mac is probably a contact.
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Old 08-22-2014, 01:23 PM   #47
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

Well, reading over this thread and other ones, I've come to two conclusions;

Keep Contact as is, but give them a Wildcard skill instead of a single skill. That's practically an entire NPC character sheet right there.

Don't use anything of the Contact advantage. As long as an Ally is making those 1-40pts worth it, whatever the ally actually does doesn't matter. As a completely out-there example, Sahasrahla from A Link to the Past (a Zelda video game) is often throughout the game telepathically helping Link through information alone. He is a 'contact' in that he gives you information and stays out of harms way to help you more in the future. But he is also not just a repository of information but someone with a small amount of social clout, so he often helps you out behind the scenes. Built on maybe 75% of Link's value, he's just an Ally that happens to have not a single ability to help you in combat.
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Old 08-22-2014, 01:38 PM   #48
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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Molly, Thomas, Karen and so on are definitely allies. Demonreach is probably a patron. The Blackstaff and Mab are definitely patrons. Mr. Monoc might be a contact. Mac is probably a contact.
Mac is possibly a contact, but I don't think Harry actually goes to him for either information or favors, so I'd say probably not.

Butters spent a while being a Contact, I'd argue, though that no longer fits. There was that ectomancer Harry would periodically harass for help. Marcone is complicated, but he sometimes plays the part of a Contact. Harry originally had and used contacts (I think Karen among them) in the police, though Fool Moon pretty much wiped that out. The pizza-pixies initially were pretty contact-like.

The paranet, while not used very much, was pretty much a pure contact group.


(As the series goes on Harry is less and less an investigator as opposed to a troubleshooter with emphasis on the shooting...)
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:59 PM   #49
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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If a Contact is just an externalized skill...
...then I need someone to justify existence of Contacts and it still needs a major overhaul.

We can apply this same kind of logic to Patrons and Allies; even when they are designed as fully realized characters, your interaction with them can be extremely limited. Conversely, treating Contacts as no more than an externalized skill is begging for someone to "see the strings" because either you've got to be a master GM. Why? You're just begging for something to happen where you've either got to carefully keep your game from getting to a point where players have a chance to really interact with the Contact or design said Contact on the fly when the former eventually fails.

In fiction, while Contacts are usually away from the action, not all are. Much like an Ally, a regular and frequent Contact strikes me as a potential Dependent; you aren't especially close but especially if its a Contact your enemies perceive as valuable to you (or simply one prone to getting himself into trouble), that's not something I just pulled out of thin air.

If we are really worried about simplicity... shouldn't Contacts just be hirelings?
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:49 PM   #50
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Allies and Ally Group

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...then I need someone to justify existence of Contacts and it still needs a major overhaul.
Sometimes a character just knows a guy. It's certainly a legitimate kind of relationship in adventure fiction.
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We can apply this same kind of logic to Patrons and Allies; even when they are designed as fully realized characters, your interaction with them can be extremely limited.
If an Ally is going to fight in combat, you probably do want a lot of that information, and of course you need at least the point value based on the way Ally is constructed.
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Conversely, treating Contacts as no more than an externalized skill is begging for someone to "see the strings" because either you've got to be a master GM. Why? You're just begging for something to happen where you've either got to carefully keep your game from getting to a point where players have a chance to really interact with the Contact or design said Contact on the fly when the former eventually fails.
It's trivial to make up additional details as needed about an NPC. Much easier than making a full character sheet for them. It's even possible to make a sheet for them later, and "upgrade" the Contact to Ally (Butters in The Dresden Files). Ally requires the GM a character sheet for the character before the campaign even begins, which is, for me anyway, when the workload is the greatest already.
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In fiction, while Contacts are usually away from the action, not all are.
In GURPS they are. Use Ally if your "contact" is going to fight alongside you.
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Much like an Ally, a regular and frequent Contact strikes me as a potential Dependent; you aren't especially close but especially if its a Contact your enemies perceive as valuable to you (or simply one prone to getting himself into trouble), that's not something I just pulled out of thin air.
Sure. I think Contact/Dependent is as valid as Ally/Dependent.
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If we are really worried about simplicity... shouldn't Contacts just be hirelings?
No. You can definitely have this kind of relationship without paying the person for their services. If the NPC is only performing ordinary for-pay services and doesn't give the PC any privileged treatment at all, it's a waste of points to take it as a Contact (or Ally, or whatever).
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