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Old 08-09-2014, 11:42 AM   #11
Otaku
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

Driving has probably seen the most purchasing in the campaigns I've played in, but even then it was mostly about getting to a destination, and was usually Automobile or Motorcycle (long before it was known to play card games on the latter). Piloting for spacecraft would be next, usually with the "crew" set-up so that worst case scenario, someone was looking after something at default while the skilled character(s) were busy.

A lot of this was the settings, plus as I often stress, 3e. Running Skill gave a movement bonus back then and any of the settings advanced enough to have a collapsible (or similarly portable) bike tended to have other elements that made it a low priority for whatever utility it offered, especially in light of those times you just knew you'd be better served putting those points into Acrobatics, Climbing, Hiking, Jumping, Running and/or Swimming.

In real life vehicle access is pretty important; skill too (I realize that most people worldwide use the default). I've lived in the Midwest my whole life, so I can't tell you about the driving hazards in other parts of the U.S. but here you've usually got towns that are spread out and there aren't convenient ways to get from one to the other except by driving. If you live in one of the major cities, its not too inconvenient, but anything less and either you're assumed to have a vehicle (that you can drive) or are "that person" always getting rides (sadly right now I am one of them). From daily inconveniences to getting along with local regulations to simply enjoying life, access to a good automobile is pretty important.

Bicycles aren't too bad in some areas, but only when the towns are relatively close and with easily traversed territory between: I grew up not too far from a really small town but as I lived on a farm with at least two miles of gravel road before hitting pavement, neither I nor any of the people I knew farther out bothered trying. On the other hand youth living in said really small town sometimes would bicycle to a reasonably large college town that was 5-10 minutes away by car (and thus 20-40 minutes of bicycling, I think).

This does bring up a somewhat important drawback of using bikes versus automobiles: it is often a workout. Depleting fuel can often be easier than running down your own FP, and if you have gotten at least a bit of a work out you'll need to wash up if your character (or in real life, you) are going any place where that would be an issue, and may make you more detectable in "adventure" scenarios. Still better than walking, of course.
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:53 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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In the campaign I was talking about, I required everybody to select three areas to shine in (people could "double up" or even "triple up," but nobody did). The original team ended up with a driver who was also good at burglary and procuring illicit gear, an intelligence expert who was also a field medic and trained in small-unit tactics, an investigator who was also a traceur and a hand-to-hand specialist, a sniper who was also comfortable with heavy weapons and explosives, and a social engineer who was also adept at languages and small-scale theft. That is, just one driver, and he had other jobs. Since then, group members have come and gone, and people have picked up new skills. Driving is definitely a top-tier, high-priority skill both for recruitment ("Hey, he's a good driver, let's get him on the team!") and self-improvement, but it isn't anybody's one-and-only job.
That'd be fair. "I can drive, but I can also do other awesome things," like the Transporter. You still run into the problem that the totally awesome chase scenes are "Watch Bob get to play a really awesome mini-game while the rest of us sit around," though I suppose the smart ones are taking pot-shots while Bob is making his amazing Drive rolls, and possibly, you have other characters doing other things.

(I run into a similar problem with Hacking, especially in games like Shadowrun).

An aside: If I want to run a totally radical '80s character, where would I find Skateboarding? Or Surfing? Are there skills for those?
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Old 08-09-2014, 12:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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An aside: If I want to run a totally radical '80s character, where would I find Skateboarding? Or Surfing? Are there skills for those?
I want to say those are specialties of Sports, although taking Skiing and renaming/reimaging it for those skills isn't entirely out of the question. Comes to about the same, DX/A IIRC.
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Old 08-09-2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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That'd be fair. "I can drive, but I can also do other awesome things," like the Transporter. You still run into the problem that the totally awesome chase scenes are "Watch Bob get to play a really awesome mini-game while the rest of us sit around," though I suppose the smart ones are taking pot-shots while Bob is making his amazing Drive rolls, and possibly, you have other characters doing other things.
A good GM/scenario will give the non-drivers things they can do while the chase is on. Shooting at the opposition, providing first aid to a hurt person, looking through the documents that were stolen, calling for backup, directing backup to intercept the opposition, or a bunch of other things that could fit their skill set and the scenario.
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(I run into a similar problem with Hacking, especially in games like Shadowrun).
Hacking is a very similar thing gameplay wise. And it's often seen as the major/only focus of a character concept, giving the character in question little else to do.
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Old 08-09-2014, 01:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

I don't think I've ever seen a Bicycling roll either. It tends to be a skill you drop one point into so you can use a bicycle as a transportation utility, not something you are ever likely to need to roll against. Still, while it's not a genre I've ever cared for myself, there do seem to have been a fair number of anime based around the characters being professional racers. Bicycling works as well as any other vehicle skill for that. Maybe better, since bicycle races usually move through the countryside rather than around and around in a circle, and last long enough and move slowly enough your support team can do something interesting in the vicinity before the race is over.

Piloting I think has problems with either too many or not enough things jammed into the same skill. If it's going to be separate from Driving and the several different watercraft skills, at minimum the air and space versions ought to be separated too.

Actually I think breaking skills by operating environment might be the wrong way to go. There are about three kinds of vehicle skills distinguished more by the kinds of tasks covered than the operating environment. Those where when a crisis comes up fast reaction of the guy at the controls is critical (automobiles, speedboats, fighter planes, aerospace launches and landings), the ones where the crisis management skill tends to be good planning and giving orders, and carrying them out a second faster isn't often going to make a bit of difference (railroads, ships, airships, low thrust spaceships) and then there are crew skills, which mostly applies to that second category and may well include the physical steering of the vehicle.
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Old 08-09-2014, 01:20 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

I actually have never seen the bicycle skill as anywhere near Driving or Piloting. Those two are about controlling a self-powered machine: while bicycling is about providing steady power. I use it in the same way I use hiking, swimming, or running.
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Old 08-09-2014, 03:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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This does bring up a somewhat important drawback of using bikes versus automobiles: it is often a workout. Depleting fuel can often be easier than running down your own FP, and if you have gotten at least a bit of a work out you'll need to wash up if your character (or in real life, you) are going any place where that would be an issue, and may make you more detectable in "adventure" scenarios. Still better than walking, of course.
Depends on how you look at it. For a poor person, or a person without access to any fuel, trading Fatigue Points in exchange for not having to spend money on fuel is rather an advantage than otherwise. And in addition to that, as someone who bicycles rather often, I think that high skill in bicycling should reduce Fatigue costs of bicycling, just like with spells. An experienced bicyclist can go for a long time without resting.

Also, one can get pretty much anywhere if one has a bicycle that is capable of going over rough terrain. Sure, it might not get you there very fast, or very comfortably, but a bicycle is also fully capable of going through places that a car is not able to go, such as a forest trail or tight alleys. And in a post-apocalyptic setting, as mentioned, all the cars should be off the road, so there's nothing stopping one from using the highways to get anywhere one wants (unlike in reality, with all those damn motorists on the roads *grumble, grumble*).
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Depends on how you look at it. For a poor person, or a person without access to any fuel, trading Fatigue Points in exchange for not having to spend money on fuel is rather an advantage than otherwise.
If you are designing a character with one of the Wealth Disadvantages, it is certainly an option, at least if they need to be self-sufficient and faster than they can run or walk. The catch is that bike's aren't that inexpensive and you get what you pay for; the low income character might be better off investing in a good pair of hiking and/or running shoes than trusting its luck on a discount bike... and even if the shoes are super expensive, they also are something you can just wear and have with you much of the time. Lugging a bicycle around can be awkward. Lugging a car around is of course even worse. ;)

You also lose the benefits of using even a low quality vehicle; I've lived in central Iowa and southeast South Dakota; we don't have the coldest winters or the warmest summers or the wettest springs or the windiest autumns, but the weather can really pound you, making you wish you had an automobile of some sort. The option of not needing a hot shower after a drive someplace versus biking is also not to be ignored; depending on local water/energy prices, it really eats into fuel savings... and if that seems to superficial, there is always the "time" factor.

So bikes are worthless? Of course not. I merely wish to present a balanced view; there are likely many characters in the "sweet spot" where bicycling is the obvious budget conscious choice. I'll know I'll be rethinking it for my characters.

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And in addition to that, as someone who bicycles rather often, I think that high skill in bicycling should reduce Fatigue costs of bicycling, just like with spells. An experienced bicyclist can go for a long time without resting.
I believe if someone bicycles often enough that it costs them less fatigue, its called "Fit" in GURPS terms... and real life terms as well according to the bicyclists I know that like to brag. ;) If it really only applies to FP lost to Bicycling, I personally would prefer (as player or GM) to use Fit with the Accessibility Limitation "Only for FP lost due exertion while bicycling", which I imagine would drop the cost quite a bit, but I've never been good at estimating such things.

Of course, I find myself more and more disliking Skills that provide Advantage like benefits, and would prefer they merely justified purchasing such things. On the other than about 20 years ago I was trying to convince our GM that 3e psis should get an FP break a la mages using Spells. XD

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Also, one can get pretty much anywhere if one has a bicycle that is capable of going over rough terrain. Sure, it might not get you there very fast, or very comfortably, but a bicycle is also fully capable of going through places that a car is not able to go, such as a forest trail or tight alleys. And in a post-apocalyptic setting, as mentioned, all the cars should be off the road, so there's nothing stopping one from using the highways to get anywhere one wants (unlike in reality, with all those damn motorists on the roads *grumble, grumble*).
In the post apocalyptic setting, it also won't matter when those inconsiderate bicyclists hog the entire road while riding in packs either. ;) Kidding aside, indeed bicycling has higher utility in settings where it exists but automobiles do not (or in some other way constrained). Even in a modern campaign that is sticking to a single city, it could be a very good deal indeed.
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:51 PM   #19
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Piloting I think has problems with either too many or not enough things jammed into the same skill. If it's going to be separate from Driving and the several different watercraft skills, at minimum the air and space versions ought to be separated too.
You do realize that Piloting is split into 16 different mandatory specializations, right?
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:54 PM   #20
DouglasCole
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bicycling, Driving and Piloting

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Originally Posted by Tiggurix View Post
And in addition to that, as someone who bicycles rather often, I think that high skill in bicycling should reduce Fatigue costs of bicycling, just like with spells.
As noted later, this is a good case for justifying Fit . . . but you can also take a page from The Last Gasp and Technical Grappling, and have high relative skill in Bicycling give extra FP for cycling ONLY based on the fast progression of Trained ST (or in this case, likely trained HT).
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