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Old 12-08-2021, 01:01 PM   #11
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I

I think the primary skill for a long con is either Acting or Psychology (Applied) to get the mark off guard and/or tempt them. I think that each specific con starts out as one of those. Then if you make a specialty of it you can turn it into a technique and buy it up from the primary skill.
If this is an actual con rather than the undercover work also mentioned there's soem means of tranferring wealth from the mark. That probably needs Merchant or possibly Finance for very large value cons dealing with that sort of thing.

The undercover job still need Actign to carry out but planning would use Streetwise, Criminology or both.

At any rate you're going to need multiple rolls v. multiple skills but I believe the Skills in question probably already exist.

If your really want just one "Skill" to roll agaisnt I think you're looking at Con!.
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Old 12-08-2021, 01:01 PM   #12
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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I'm not sure that would be appropriate. Normally a professional skill involves work that you just do, dealing with data, or objects, or administrative procedures, or that sort of thing. It doesn't normally involve a contest against another person, such as is involved in things like force and fraud. But con games pretty much by definition involve a contest of the con man's skill against the victim's skill, Will, or IQ. I don't think GURPS usually does that sort of thing.

I think the primary skill for a long con is either Acting or Psychology (Applied) to get the mark off guard and/or tempt them. I think that each specific con starts out as one of those. Then if you make a specialty of it you can turn it into a technique and buy it up from the primary skill.
I get Acting as elementary to doing the con. I'm trying to figure out what you need to devise/plan it. Psychology (Applied) seems kind of better, but I'm not totally convinced by that either.

Like think of the movie The Sting. Psychology tells you how Doyle Lonnegan would react to the machinations at various stages, but does it tell you what those machinations should be and how to implement them?
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Old 12-08-2021, 01:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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I get Acting as elementary to doing the con. I'm trying to figure out what you need to devise/plan it. Psychology (Applied) seems kind of better, but I'm not totally convinced by that either.

Like think of the movie The Sting. Psychology tells you how Doyle Lonnegan would react to the machinations at various stages, but does it tell you what those machinations should be and how to implement them?
Okay, I getcha. I discussed this with Kromm, I think back when I was writing Social Engineering.

This is akin to running a dance troupe, or directing a movie, or setting up a staged fight, all of which use forms of Group Performance. But for activities outside an artistic context, especially those intended to put things over on people, the equivalent skill is Leadership. This is stated explicitly on p. 34 of Social Engineering: "Leadership for long cons and other real-world deceptions." And Leadership is one of the mandatory skills for the Long Con social art.
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Old 12-08-2021, 01:30 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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Okay, I getcha. I discussed this with Kromm, I think back when I was writing Social Engineering.

This is akin to running a dance troupe, or directing a movie, or setting up a staged fight, all of which use forms of Group Performance. But for activities outside an artistic context, especially those intended to put things over on people, the equivalent skill is Leadership. This is stated explicitly on p. 34 of Social Engineering: "Leadership for long cons and other real-world deceptions." And Leadership is one of the mandatory skills for the Long Con social art.
That's useful, but I'm still not sure it's what I mean.

It is conceivable to do an undercover operation or a long con alone. So while Leadership would be important for coordinating multiple people doing it, is there a skill that covers coming up with the idea/strategy independent of the coordination function? I suppose maybe there isn't and it's supposed to be purely on players to figure it out.
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Old 12-08-2021, 01:33 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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I get Acting as elementary to doing the con. I'm trying to figure out what you need to devise/plan it. Psychology (Applied) seems kind of better, but I'm not totally convinced by that either.

Like think of the movie The Sting. Psychology tells you how Doyle Lonnegan would react to the machinations at various stages, but does it tell you what those machinations should be and how to implement them?
I already talked about Law, Finance, Accounting, and various skills for impressive professions. I would add Administration. Most scams do not involve sophisticated planning though: find marks who are vulnerable to a kind of political propaganda, and feed it to them interspersed with requests for money. Create a fake business and raise money for it. Present yourself as an expert with an invention which can solve everyone's problems if you just have a bit more money to tinker with it. Pathological liars bounce from one deception to another as the first deception raises questions, socopaths have an instinct for climbing the "trust ladder" (attach yourself to marginal member of the group A, use that to build a relationship with local leader B, wave your hand at B when you get to know the leader of a neighouring group C- and make sure they never get together and realize that actually they all thought someone else was vouching for you).

The default GURPS character has few inhibitions (if they do, they have a Code of Honour, Truthfulness, Honesty, Pacifism, Sense of Duty, etc.) so they can think of ways to violate the law or justice without restraint.

I would use the professional skill for police to be familiar with the Mr. Big / Canadian Technique. Maybe Streetwise for things like the three-card monty. But the hard part is being willing to continually lie to vulnerable people, and how to get away with the money. Theranos never had that figured out, its possible that the directors convinced themselves that their tech would work if they had a bit more time and a bit more money.
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Old 12-08-2021, 06:36 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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Tough call. I'd probably err on the side of giving Danny and Rusty Expert Skill: Con Artistry. :)
This could also conceivably be a Professional Skill, although it wouldn't give you comprehensive or academic knowledge of cons you haven't personally pulled/seen pulled.

ES (Con Artistry) is more appropriate for corporate security types who "advise rather than do." Arguably, it's the same as Criminology optionally-specialized in Con Artistry.

I'll join the chorus to say that the most important initial skill for any con artist is Psychology - to spot potential marks and figure out how to play on their psychological and ethical weak points.

Streetwise would be a handy complementary skill to recognize fellow con artists and to recognize the sort of criminal marks best avoided or handled with utmost caution.

Research skill might be handy to dig up personal information on potential marks or create convincing backstory for the scam or the scammer. Very useful for scams based on "lost treasures" or "hidden knowledge of the ancients."

Criminology skill would be handy to "con the cons," like in The Sting, by figuring out how criminal marks think and are likely to act.

After that, use the usual gamut of Influence skills: Carousing to put the mark at ease, Sex Appeal to manipulate them romantically, and Fast-Talk to tell a convincing tale.

Acting skill is important initially if you're misrepresenting who you are or faking credentials you don't have, after that it's vital for stringing the mark along.

Fortune-Telling might be useful for "cold-reading" marks and making them believe that you have uncanny powers of predicting the future - handy for stock market and rigged gambling scams.

Theology skill is vital for religious-themed scam artists, like cult leaders or dishonest preachers who quote scripture in order to gull the rubes into giving "love offerings" to their "ministry." It's also handy for faking religious devotion when attempting to fool people who believe that anyone who shares their faith is automatically honest and moral.

Public Speaking is also vital for religious frauds, as well as hucksters who deal with mass audiences of suckers, like old-time snake oil salesmen, or modern time-share condo, MLM, or penny stock hustlers.

Ignoring the Pyramid article referenced above, you could treat a long con as a regular Contest of Skill, where multiple success rolls are needed over a period of time to successfully pull off the scam, including the "blow off"/getaway. Play out vital scenes where the scam might go bad.
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Old 12-09-2021, 03:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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That's useful, but I'm still not sure it's what I mean.

It is conceivable to do an undercover operation or a long con alone. So while Leadership would be important for coordinating multiple people doing it, is there a skill that covers coming up with the idea/strategy independent of the coordination function? I suppose maybe there isn't and it's supposed to be purely on players to figure it out.
I think you are approaching the matter with a slightly unfocused view, in the end every con requires specific knowledge of the environment you are moving, so you need the distinct skills to understand what you can do and what you "can con" in any given situation.
From a GM point of view you can require your players to make a long task check involving various skills to come out with a con idea:
- Finance, Administration, Area Knowledge & Law for anything Business related
- Streetwise, Law, Savoir Faire (street/mob) for something like undercover operation
- Any professional skill according to the sector you want to create the con: any Performance/Art, Savoir Faire (High Society) or Gambling are all common tropes.
Imaginative obviously being a bonus.
Once you have the idea then you have to put into action with all the skills suggested in this thread
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Old 12-09-2021, 03:28 AM   #18
whswhs
 
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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Imaginative obviously being a bonus.
In GURPS terms, I don't think Imaginative would be a bonus; it doesn't give especially good ideas. See in particular the writeup on p. 19 of Power-Ups 6: Quirks. If you want bonuses, take a look at Versatile.
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Old 12-09-2021, 03:34 AM   #19
whswhs
 
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

Checking GURPS Social Engineering, I see that propaganda campaigns use the skill Propaganda, but other psy-ops campaigns of all sorts use Psychology (Applied). I'd suggest that the latter is the suitable skill for designing a new kind of con, especially a new kind of long con.
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Old 12-09-2021, 06:23 AM   #20
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Default Re: [Basic]What skills for a long con or ...

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... is there a skill that covers coming up with the idea/strategy...
Yes. Strategy.

In my mind, anyway. It's a topic I have scribbled notes on, thinking I'd write up a blog article some day. (I haven't done so.) Briefly, here:

The existing Strategy skill could be seen as a specific variety of the skill: namely, Strategy (Military). There should be other Strategy specialties out there.

Example: Strategy (Business), the theoretical skill that sets the Big Picture corporate goals, creates the 5-year and 10-year strategic visions, draws up new market entry schemes, decides what resources (time, people, capital) will be needed for big operations, creates timelines, assigns resources along the timeline, creates backup Plan B and fallback Plan C... Not the Economics and Market Analysis skills that advise the plan, or the Leadership and Administration and Merchant and Propaganda skills that carry out the plan, but the skill that sets the goals and creates the plans for achieving them. I'd call that Strategy (Business).

To plan an Ocean's 11-type con, I think the same sort of thinking applies: What are the objectives, and what resources (especially skills and people) are needed? Where and when do you deploy them? Who performs the diversions, how do operatives get in and out, who handles the hand-off of the booty? Who's told what, and when? What are the potential pitfalls, and the fallback plans at every step of the way?

Again, this isn't the Observation and Shadowing and Intelligence Analysis skills that are used to pick up info and advise the planning, or the Streetwise and Leadership skills needed to put together and command the crew, or the Stealth and social skills and thieving skills needed to execute, but the skill that creates the plan. (The plan that the targets or the cops or rivals then try to outguess.) To me, that's Strategy . . . (Criminal Operations)? (Cons)? Strategy (Something); not sure what the best name would be.

That's the rough idea, anyway, for the one thing I think is missing from "mastermind" templates, whether for a business or criminal organization or any big organization: no new skill, no funky new "mastermind" advantage, just more varieties of Strategy, like the one that the game already makes available to military organizations.

That's a rushed hack job at writing up the thought, anyway. Possibly interesting? Lame?
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