Friday, March 30, 2012

GURPS: where is the conversation skill?

GURPS: where is the conversation skill?

I bought social engineering a couple of months ago, and I've read through it enough, so I thought. Strangely I just realized while i was making my templates that there is no real conversation skill or feat.

Conversation is a shared dynamic action of communication that can run very deeply. It can be about several things at the same time, while appearing as something else entirely. It can be a interrogation task, diplomacy task, psychology profiling task, etc... and um, i may be wrong, but i cant find it in social engineering.

I know savoir faire is used for getting along, and it can be the first skill employed when talking about the weather, nothing, and socialy expected compliments and actions, but there is nothing really weaving this all together.

I guess the GM is really going to have develop his own method of resolution regarding social interaction. Im fine with that, but id rather make a generic system/processes that can be used with any game system. Basically its applying game theory negotiation processes in conversation and social interaction with consideration of attention and multi-tasking limits.

So the closest thing to a stop-gap for conversation is a savoir-fair while performing one other skill like diplomacy, psychology, interrogation, intimidation etc... for a rolled duration, 2d mins, using savoir-faire as a skill cap with a -2 for multi tasking. Failure is aborting the multi-task making the conversation segway to one or the other skill... On a margin of failure greater than 2, its a failed influence roll with the consequence of the worse of the two skills.

Sent from my iPad


Peter D said...

The answer is, the method and goals of the conversation tell you your skill. Want to seduce someone? Sex Appeal. Sell them something? Merchant. Find out what they know? Interrogation. Impress them with your social graces? Probably S-F. "Conversation" as a skill is too broad, because it doesn't have a goal or an end result.

IMO, anyway. You can always ask Bill Stoddard directly why he didn't try to include some overall "conversation" skill, but I think he'll echo what I wrote above.

justin aquino said...

My problem is that Sex-Appeal is not exactly a Mental Task; its an HT roll, stressing on appearance more than ability (because as an HT Ave skill, you really need the HT and appearance advantages). Merchant skillset is talking shop, but weaving that purpose with a multi-tasked goal like market analysis/interrogation etc. using subtleties to make people give away indirect clues you need is not something tackled.

Ex. Work Netoworking and Information Gathering. People always discuss their work to sell to their clients or to help vendors know how to sell best to them, but it is up to their discression how much information they give away. In such a competative world we are always gathering intel, and we always try to find information about the people and companies in the biz, in the guise of simple conversations. We try to measure the health of the business we are working with in case it may affect us, we gauge the attitudes, the metrics and the environment. We do it all while being polite, helpful, and talking about "nothing".

5stonegames said...

Conversation in GURPS is handled by reaction checks as per social engineering.

You add up your bonuses (for approach, charisma, looks, etc) and check the chart.

The skills represent a more trained formalized approach.

Peter D said...

Sex Appeal is rather more broad than that, especially in GURPS SE.


using subtleties to make people give away indirect clues you need is not something tackled.

Sure it is, check out p. 21 for Complementary Skills, and under Subtlety, p. 36. You just have to decide what you're rolling for, IMO - are you doing a deal but trying to pick up extra tidbits? Merchant. Just finding out how well you get along? Reaction roll. Want to find out information, period, and you're not doing a deal? Request for Information roll.

I think it's pretty well covered. I think you're looking at having a conversation, requiring a blanket skill for doing that, and then modifying it from there based on what you want. GURPS doesn't generally work that way - it starts at the specifics (what do you want to accomplish?) and then works to the general (how did that work out?)

Peter D said...

I took the liberty of forwarding a link to this post to Bill Stoddard. Unfortunately, without a gmail login he can't comment, and asked me to post his response:

Bill Said:
"There isn't a skill for conversation for the same reason that there isn't a skill for basic sexual activity (as opposed to advanced techniques, which have Erotic Art), or for walking, or for knowing elementary school facts like the capital of the United States: they're all really basic activities that more or less everyone can do without special training. You can certainly roll for them without a skill; if you do, you use IQ. Or you can just express curiosity about something and see what kind of reaction roll you get.

For comparison, you use Fast-Talk to totally flummox someone for a short time, or Acting to sustain a lie over time, but to tell a simple isolated lie about a single fact doesn't require a skill roll; rather, you just tell the lie, and if the hearer is suspicious, they roll a Quick Contest of Detect Lie vs. IQ.

If you're trying to gather information without actually asking, I suggest looking at the Social Perception rules.

If you're trying to carry on conversation that marks you as a member of some in group, shows sophistication, etc., you'd use Savoir-Faire or Streetwise. Both of those can be used for general conversation in appropriate social groups."

Hope that helps.


justin aquino said...

Thanks for the clarification 5stonegames, Peter D and Bill, of course.
I guess my confusion stems from my own definition of the task, which are different because Its cross disciplinary, if you use GURPS skills mindset, and involves activities of using Intel Gathering: skills and not just influence skills like Psychology, Body Language, Intel Analysis (etc), interrogation, detect lies and some game theory applied to the medium of skills/profession (if he made this move then he must know etc. etc.) as a set of "stances" not just influence "stances".
I guess I don't see conversation as a pure simple medium like walking, because unlike walking we can't easily multi-task conversation while its very easy to multi-task walking, breathing etc... note that Navigation/Orienting and walking can't be easily multi-tasked so as to provide another point of comparison at the level of mental/attention commitment to conversation.

You have not only clarified the system for me but allowed me to see how different my assumptions are. :D