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Old 08-22-2015, 04:46 AM   #1
johndallman
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

Gambling is an IQ/A skill, described as "skill at playing games of chance", but it always seems to be played as skill in betting, on games of chance, sports, or anything else, so as to win money, or at least lose more slowly. It defaults to IQ-5 or Mathematics (Statistics)-5 and no skills default to Gambling. The skill hasn't changed very much since GURPS 1e.

Roll Gambling to tell if a game is rigged, to identify other players in a game who have Gambling skill, or to estimate odds in any situation, not just betting. When gambling against "the house", roll Gambling with the GM's modifiers; when gambling against someone else, use a Regular Contest of Gambling skill: the relevant Games skill would presumably be complementary to that roll.

Cheating at Gambling is done with Sleight of Hand, for card or dice games. To spot cheating, use a Quick Contest of the better of Gambling or Vision against Sleight of Hand, or whatever skill (or IQ) is being used to cheat. Modifiers include +1 to +5 for familiarity with the game, -1 to -5 for rigged games, and -3 for Killjoy. You get +4 to Gambling when playing against someone with Easy to Read who tries to bluff or mislead you. Gambling has its own special Disadvantage, Compulsive Gambling.

Games is the IQ/E skill of playing a specific game: specialisation is required. It's also used for knowing the rules of a specific sport, so as to be able to act as a judge or referee, but actually playing the sport is a Sports or Combat Sport skill. A sports player can try to use the appropriate Games as an Influence skill against a referee, but high skill is recommended, since this use is at -3. B.226 lists Games (Darts) as a skill, so other games, like billiards, which require physical skill, but not athletic ability, are presumably also Games specialisations. Games defaults to IQ-4, and takes Cultural Familiarity modifiers. Games (sports rules) specialisations can default to closely related rules at -2, but few normal games default to other games. Savoir-Faire (Dojo) can default to a relevant Games skill. Games are not normally TL skills, but players from later in history get +1 to effective skill when competing against earlier players. Games is in 3e Compendium I, and may originate in GURPS Vikings.

The example GURPS adventure, Caravan to Ein Arris, has quite a bit of gambling in it. It has a house with Gambling-18, which I suspect is some combination of very good familiarity with their own games, and it being easier to have odds stacked against the player by raising the house skill than by explaining to a novice GM how much to penalise the PC's skills.

Gambling is common on templates as a form of entertainment, as a vice, and as an accompaniment to social skills. Games is less common, with (Chess) as the commonest specialisation on character sheets. Banestorm has politically important Polo matches and the Great Games, a kind of equivalent to the Olympics; even the obscure city of Abydos has its own Games. DF2 has some simple, but effective rules for Gambling in town, and DF14 adds Psi-cheating. Fantasy has magic via gambling, and Games specialisations of (Tournament Rules), (Duelling) and (Magical Duels). Infinite Worlds: Britannica-6 is a setting where Gambling skill is essential in high society. Low-Tech has a variety of equipment for game-players. Magic has an elixir that aids Gambling, and Martial Arts has lots of Games skills, while Gladiators is a setting where Games and Gambling interact, and Yrth Fighting Styles adds detail to Yrth's Games specialisations. As usual, PU3 and PU7 have examples that include these skills. Powers provides ways to cheat at Gambling -- or just improve the odds a trifle -- as do Psionic Powers and Psis. Thaumatology has more of those.

I don't "get" Gambling, possibly because I assume I won't be lucky, and really don't believe that my desires, however strong, have any effect on the universe. In consequence, it's something I've never taken for a character, simply because roleplaying it wouldn't be interesting. A few characters have had Games skills, but they've never been significant in play.

What have you done with these skills?
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Old 08-22-2015, 06:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

As a teenager, I was interested in gambling (probably because it was forbidden to me due to my age), so I would often work gambling into the campaigns I ran. Bars and taverns would often have some form of gambling available to patrons, for instance. The gambling rules in many RPGs left much to be desired, and would often poorly replicate the real world by stacking the odds heavily for or against the PCs. Eventually, I made up my own gambling rule system that worked with all the RPGs I ran.

When I went to college, the first math course I took included quite a bit of content on probability. Although I knew the basics of probability (thanks partly to the DMG), the course went into much more detal and included explorations of many real-world examples...including gambling, naturally. There ended my interest in gambling. Since I was not then of age to gamble legally, I never did get a chance to lose big bucks in Nevada. (When I attend conferences in Las Vegas, I will throw a few dollars in the slots each day. So far I've gone to three conferences there, and I'm up by a few hundred. So maybe this probability thing is all just anti-gambling propaganda and I should go for it. :) )

These days, I'll onclude gambling where appropriate in my RPGs, but it's not usually handled in detail. I'll just call for a roll for the outcome of the evening, or something along those lines.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

Games comes up often as a background skill in games I play and run, but that's due to our characters often being teenagers in the modern era.
We've had occasional characters roll off it to see who wins during some more relaxed moments, but it's never been a skill that holds any serious weight to it, since none of our games have ever had being good at a game be of any real importance beyond wanting to be good.

I'm pretty sure I've had characters with Gambling, but it's been even less significant than Games, and I generally dislike gambling in general, so I couldn't even name my characters that did take it without digging through old sheets.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

The last time I used campaigns was in my Interstellar Wars campaign. One of the characters had Games (Fighting Video Games) as one of his important hobbies. On one of the planets the crew arrived at he went to the local starport arcade to see what they had and ended up getting into an extended Skill Contest battle with the best player in the arcade. This led to them becoming sort of friends...they were then surprised many many sessions later to find out that she was the daughter of the planetary governor and her friendship became really important for political struggles they had gotten themselves into.

Gambling came up in my fantasy campaign when the players were low on money.

Gambling came up in my espionage campaigns quite a lot to simulate that Bond in the casino moment.

Yeah...like many of the skills you bring up, when players have a skill, I find ways to make that skill meaningful.
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Old 08-22-2015, 12:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

Games has come up occasionally as the sort of thing that qualifies you as enough "one of us" to allow some other social interactions with members of a subculture, but I don't think I've ever had a plot point depend on it. Win a game against me and I'll grant you something (or let you live) is a pretty traditional plot, but at the moment I can't recall ever actually using it.

It's perhaps come up a time or two in a keep the kid entertained while the rest of us do something important situation, or the skill to roll against to appraise game related loot. And I've had a recognize these as clues and set up the chessboard according to this game record as a key to opening something, but I don't recall if I called for a skill roll for that or if was an out of character puzzle.

Gambling is a cinematic skill for a type of cinematic actions I've never really liked anyway, so it doesn't come up. Even less now, since I've decided that Background Knowledge (Gambling Games) is a much better way to record "my character knows how to play most/all casino games" on a character sheet than taking a point in Gambling.
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Old 08-22-2015, 01:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

I've decided that video games are not Games (computer) but Hobbies (Video games).
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Old 08-22-2015, 02:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

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Originally Posted by Not View Post
I've decided that video games are not Games (computer) but Hobbies (Video games).
Much of the problem with Games is that plural. The skill is actually Game, not Game*s*. It lets you play one game really well. This works just fine for a video game - there are people who spend ridiculous numbers of hours on a single one and get really really good at it. The problem is there isn't anything in the skill list for the character who plays a lot of different games.

This is the thing I rather like about Background Knowledge (gambling games), it does a reasonable job of saying you know lots of games well enough to play them (i.e. it gives you a default at all of them) but aren't amazingly good at any of them. I think for the majority of characters with video gaming skills this would work fine too. Somebody who happens to be pretty good but not a world class competitor in several different ones might want to consider the Dabbler perk.

Actual skills in GURPS are intended to be quite good by hobby standards. Skill 12 in a Game ought to be good enough place in enough tournaments played for money you could do it as a job, albeit probably a Struggling one.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

I actually believe that Games (Video games) is a valid specialization. You might split it into shooting games vs. non-shooting games, but speaking as someone who is terrible at video games in general, there is a basic repertoire of skills to playing most games, and enough similarity to most of the games that someone who is good at one can rapidly pick up enough to beat someone who has been playing just that game much longer but games in general not so long.

The different games and controllers are probably just familiarity penalties. Also, There's a case for a lot of DX-based rolls.

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For me the gambling skill listed was always about managing wins and losses -- Mostly inapplicable to cases that use pure chance (roulette) but applicable to say, poker.

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What have I actually used? I've seen chess used in play, mostly as background cementing a friendship between a PC and an NPC. Both had an actual point in chess, which meant they were actually fun for each other to play.

I think you'd need skill 14 in a game to make money off of it. Its an easy skill. But it all depends on how you stat your NPC's. Which varies wildly.
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Old 08-22-2015, 04:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

I see Gambling on quite a few character sheets in my collection, generally only once per party (usually someone in a rogue sort of role). I don't think it's ever come up in play. Games has been a colour skill too, though one Transhuman Space character of mine has points in Robo Rally (it plays it with the logistics AI, with real NAI-driven robots).

I note with interest that Business Acumen boosts Gambling, but Mathematical Ability doesn't.

The trait you want for winning at games of chance like roulette or slot machines is Serendipity, I think. (Let's be generous and assume an "honest" game which merely favours the house by a lot, rather than an actually rigged one.) I've seen long arguments about whether something like poker, which most definitely has a strong skill component, should come under Gambling or its own Games specialty; on balance I'd probably go with the latter, though if a player had assumed the opposite I'd let him shift the points on the spot.

I think I'd probably use either Games (something appropriate) or Gambling as a proxy for Savoir-Faire (Casino), a skill otherwise so narrow in scope as not to exist. This is simply behaving in such a way as to blend in with other patrons, knowing how you go about getting chips, the conventions of the game you're playing, and so on. (All right, you could probably base it off SF (High Society) too, though a lot of casinos these days have nothing to do with High Society.)

On the Games side, while the rules are quite explicit about specialising in a particular game, I suspect I'd be generous with defaults. Certainly if (like many of us here, I suspect) you've played a lot of different boardgames you're likely to be able to work out what's going on in a new one rather faster.
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Old 08-22-2015, 06:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Gambling and Games

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
I see Gambling on quite a few character sheets in my collection, generally only once per party (usually someone in a rogue sort of role). I don't think it's ever come up in play. Games has been a colour skill too, though one Transhuman Space character of mine has points in Robo Rally (it plays it with the logistics AI, with real NAI-driven robots).

I note with interest that Business Acumen boosts Gambling, but Mathematical Ability doesn't.

The trait you want for winning at games of chance like roulette or slot machines is Serendipity, I think. (Let's be generous and assume an "honest" game which merely favours the house by a lot, rather than an actually rigged one.) I've seen long arguments about whether something like poker, which most definitely has a strong skill component, should come under Gambling or its own Games specialty; on balance I'd probably go with the latter, though if a player had assumed the opposite I'd let him shift the points on the spot.

I think I'd probably use either Games (something appropriate) or Gambling as a proxy for Savoir-Faire (Casino), a skill otherwise so narrow in scope as not to exist. This is simply behaving in such a way as to blend in with other patrons, knowing how you go about getting chips, the conventions of the game you're playing, and so on. (All right, you could probably base it off SF (High Society) too, though a lot of casinos these days have nothing to do with High Society.)

On the Games side, while the rules are quite explicit about specialising in a particular game, I suspect I'd be generous with defaults. Certainly if (like many of us here, I suspect) you've played a lot of different boardgames you're likely to be able to work out what's going on in a new one rather faster.
Precisely why board games are also a hobby. You can rule a -4 default for games where strategy actually matters (e.g. Chess, maybe Backgammon or Pachisi). Or you might rule otherwise. Broad familiarity with board games might not be at all useful in a chess match, after all.

Honestly, an American or German of a certain age is likely to remember the rules and have some competence in dozens of board and card games. Those of another age are likely to know dozens of computer or video games. I'd hate to have to specialize gardening by plant species. A character sheet can get cluttered up mighty quickly.
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