Remember what happens next?

+Christian Blouin pens at least a GURPS 303 article on using social reactions and influence against PCs. Any time you’re “compelling” the characters to act a certain way, you need to be somewhat cautious, but still, it can be done, and often is an important part of a majorly fun plotline

Consternation about “player agency” only applies if the player feels she’s been denied agency. If, as I did once with a game of mine, which was a totally “this is a railroad adventure” prequel session to set up the main campaign, I pulled a player aside before a session and said “you’re going to hit the climax here; at one point, you’re going to get hit by a big magic user with a staff. At that point, your character’s soul will be plucked out and imprisoned Elsewhere; a demon mage will inhabit your body. At that point, are you willing to just unload on your fellow PCs? It’s dramatically appropriate to kill them all.”

Why yes, hes he was more than willing to have such an awesome end to the adventure. I didn’t force the role on him, he accepted it gladly. But his goals were changed.

Anyway, Christian writes some great stuff here, and it’s worth checking out in full:

GURPS Social Academy: PCs as targets of Influence Checks

This is a guest blog column by Geoffrey Fagan. He doesn’t have a blog himself, but participated regularly in the GURPS Forums under the username GEF.


Part IV: Influence
An Influence Roll takes the place of a Reaction Roll; use one or the other. Why do they use different mechanics? I have no idea. Influence Rolls are based on skill, which enables you to leverage the attributes on which they’re based, but they use the mechanic of a contest (against Will) and compress the range of possible outcomes (either Bad or Good, but never extremely so). Reaction modifiers generally apply to Influence skills, but there are exceptions, and the GM may waive any he wishes.
Intimidation is the Influence Skill based on Will. Since Will is cheap and valuable in its own right, this is a bargain, plus you can get lots of bonuses, for displays of strength, cruelty, larger size, for Hideous or worse Appearance (instead of a penalty!), and a +3 bonus for lying (Fast-Talk roll). Specious Intimidation (lying) can backfire, resulting in a Very Bad, rather than merely Bad, reaction if you fail.
Carousing and Sex Appeal are based on HT. Of the two, Sex Appeal applies in more contexts (but only among half of the population), and it results in a Very Good reaction, instead of merely Good, upon success. However, it’s based upon an implied promise, so you could get a rep as a tease if the promise is never fulfilled.
All other influence skills are based on IQ. Savoir-Faire is the easiest, though context-specific. Streetwise is conceptually Savoir-Faire for the street, but it’s special in that it ignores all the usual reaction modifiers, so if you load up on reaction penalties, be sure to learn this skill! Diplomacy is the hardest Influence Skill to learn, but worth it, because you get a normal Reaction Roll in conjunction with the Influence Roll and take the better result. Effectively, Diplomacy compresses the range of reaction results only on the bad side.
Of course, the GM is free to call for an Influence Roll based on other skills; likely candidates are Administration, Interrogation, Leadership, Merchant, and Teaching. Remember that the differences between these skills have to do with approach, and the context in which each approach is appropriate; any Influence skill can be used toward any goal, be it information, a fair price, or an end to hostility. “Dudley, mind your manners, young man.” “Yeah Dudley, shut up or I’ll pound ya!” Different approaches (that is, different skills) avoid the penalty for repeated attempts; technically, trying Intimidation after Savoir-Faire has failed is not a repeated attempt for Savoir-Faire.
Synergy
What if you want to leverage a high attribute and the points invested in an Influence skill, but you don’t want to compress the reaction results? Well, GURPS has a general rule for using skills in conjunction: Roll the helper skill first, and modify the primary roll by + or -1 on success or failure (doubled for crit success or failure). There’s no reason why a generic Reaction Roll can’t be the “primary” in this case, effectively turning a reliable Influence skill into another +1 modifier.
Of course, you can use a secondary Influence Skill to assist an Influence Roll. Fast-Talk, whether it represents a glib deception or literal fast talking, leaving the subject no time to think things through, works well with any Influence Skill and especially Intimidation, as noted above. Other good helper skills for Influence rolls include Psychology or any related skill (Body Language, Detect Lie, and Fortune-Telling) to read the subject’s motive, and any skill that can establish rapport (Acting, Current Affairs, Connoisseurship). “Hey, how ‘bout them Giants?”

Cases
Salesmen are merchants and probably have Merchant skill, but the art of getting someone to tell you what they want or need, or convincing them that they want or need what you have to sell, and getting them to listen to the pitch is all about Influence. Intimidation is rarely the right approach, but any of the rest work fine; a good salesman probably has Fast-Talk at minimum for the “elevator pitch” and another couple chosen for his market (Savoir-Faire for the luxury boutique, Streetwise for the black market, Sex Appeal for charming his way past the “gatekeeper” receptionist, Carousing for taking the businessman out for a drink).
Interviewing uses Interrogation skill in coercive situations; that could include actual torture, or just keeping a suspect in a locked room drinking coffee with no bathroom breaks. In a non-coercive context, like a journalist getting a story, that’s just a “request for information” Reaction Roll or Influence Roll. Influence Rolls compress the results, so the best the journalist can hope to get is Good, but that’s usually enough for info. A journalist should have a toolkit of multiple approaches.
Anyone who makes his way in the world by the good will of others needs high Reaction Modifiers to get results better than Good on ordinary Reaction Rolls, but with all those modifiers, effective Influence skills are cheap! So pick up a few. Depending on your natural social environment, pick up Carousing, Savoir-Faire, or Streetwise, just to fit in, and you can always use it as a helper for a generic Reaction Roll. 
GURPS 102
This overview of social traits is by no means the last word, just my attempt to highlight the value of an aspect of GURPS rules that can be overlooked. For an in-depth treatment, see GURPS Social Engineering. For a light treatment, see GURPS Monster Hunters 2. The latter supplement outlines an abstract approach to gathering clues to track down the monster of the week, but it works just as well for finding buried treasure or a kidnapper’s hideout. Of course, requests for information and their attendant Reaction Rolls are a big part of any investigation. 

This is a guest blog column by Geoffrey Fagan. He doesn’t have a blog himself, but participated regularly in the GURPS Forums under the username GEF.

Part III: Reaction Modifiers
When you can’t do it on your own, you ask for help and roll on the Reaction Table. This is the one time in GURPS, other than damage, when you want to roll high! To understand how this works, understand the table: It’s on page 560 of the Basic Set (Campaigns). You’re looking for at least 10, for 9 means no help, and 6 or less could create a hindrance. Even a 10 means the best you can hope for is directions to the nearest gas station.

13 is a Good reaction. People are pleasant, but that’s it. The merchant still sells at list price, but he gives you service with a smile.

16 is Very Good. Now that merchant actually gives you a discount. The cop lets you off with a warning.

19 is Excellent. Half price. The bandits who ambushed you let you go and apologize. If you ask for help, they help in every way within their power. That bears repeating: Every way within their power.

Now as you may infer from that last entry, Reaction Rolls take modifiers that can push the result above 18 (or below zero). Some of these modifiers are situational, but some are permanent features of your character sheet. If you have a Reaction Modifier of +6 (a Beautiful Appearance), then a quarter of the merchants you meet will sell at half price. If there are 4 merchants in town, the odds are high that at least one of them will.

The general rule for reaction modifiers is that they cost 5 points per level. That’s what Charisma is, a generic reaction modifier, independent of circumstances. You’ve got it – whatever “it” may be. The opposite of Charisma is an Odious Personal Habit, which can be something specific (like excessive vulgarity), but it doesn’t have to be. Your character can be generically creepy just as his opposite number is generically cool.

Appearance and Voice act like Charisma with slight limitations (vision- and hearing-based respectively). With a good voice (or disturbing one), the discount is not evident; that’s because it’s balanced by a modifier to certain skills as well as reaction rolls. In a campaign with alien sapience or fantasy races, Appearance may not provide universal benefit, but it always applies with members of your own species. Past the first positive level, Appearance is half off because it only applies to members of the opposite sex (or who play for the other team). Fashion Sense is a level of Appearance with a transferable benefit, and it comes in a perk-level version (from Power-Ups 2): Looks Good in Uniform. Negative Reaction Modifiers count against the campaign limit for disadvantages, so while it may be interesting to play the Ugly guy with a lovely Voice, you wind up with a net neutral Reaction Modifier but still count 8 points against the limit.

Other sources of Reaction Modifiers are Status and Social Regard (culture-wide) and Rank (organization-wide), discussed in Part I, and Reputation, which is based on your personal legend and not that of the group to which you belong. If your character has a Reputation for competence in his field, that’s included in the Talent that makes him so capable. While the special effects differ, Reaction Modifiers are mostly fungible for game purposes. Whether people like you because of your looks or title, they still help you.

The degree to which people help depends in part on your roll, but also on their ability, and how much it costs them. Answering questions costs them nothing, so they’ll do that with even a moderately good Reaction Roll. In other words, information wants to be free, so a good Reaction Modifier can be as useful as a Contact.

Conditions

As the example of Appearance illustrates, Reaction Modifiers can be conditional. Beauty always is, and Reputation usually is. A modifier which affects only some Reaction Rolls is cheap, and as with an Ally-Dependent, a rep which gets you a bonus from some folks and a penalty from others counts its net value against the campaign limit for disadvantages. That brings us to the point of this article. If everyone despises you, that is a crippling disadvantage, and you might as well make a character with HT 7. However, if some people like you and some don’t, that’s cheap overall, yet almost as beneficial as if everyone likes you! You may not be able to get help from just anyone, but you can always get help from someone.

Characters with mixed reaction modifiers are quite believable. Imagine a Triad enforcer in old San Francisco. He’s a member of a minority (Social Stigma) and has a Reputation that gives him a +2 bonus in Chinatown and a like penalty with the cops. Such a rep is a mere perk if he’s recognized half the time. About town, he’s scorned (Reactions -2), but among his own people, he’s respected and feared (Reactions +4 when recognized). He might get thrown out of the fancy stores downtown, but he can always get a good deal nearer the docks.

Thresholds

What Reaction Modifier do you want? A review of the Reaction Roll table suggests some breakpoints:

+7 means that you never experience a Poor reaction in the absence of situational penalties, and that a quarter of the time, you get an Excellent reaction! If this is all from Charisma (35 points), it’s a level of “animal magnetism” bordering on psychic influence. A realistic cap on Charisma might be +3, with which you’d need Beautiful Appearance to make up the difference (net cost 27). In this case, you occasionally suffer a Poor reaction from members of your own gender, and get an Excellent reaction from them only 10% of the time, but generally you experience Very Good reactions, enough to do all your shopping at a discount, get any information you ask for, and talk your way out of any potential conflict. This is a good target for a “face man” character concept. Downgrade Appearance to merely attractive, but add Voice (net cost 29 with Charisma), and you get +6 across the board, and still +5 over a telephone. If you have to save points on this build, replace Charisma with Pitiable, if it works with your concept.

Instead of Appearance, take a Talent at level 4, for minimum cost 35 points with Charisma +3. Now, you get +4 to several skills, and +7 to reactions from the people with whom you deal most often. From others, you rarely experience a Bad reaction, and you get a Good reaction half the time. This is an excellent build for a leader in his field, and if that justifies a couple levels of Rank, which comes with a level of Status, it alleviates the need for one level of Charisma, net cost 40 points. Even for a 100-point character, this is quite affordable, as the Talent makes for impressive skill levels. Since a highly skilled professional can make a lot of money, the concept can extend to Wealthy, providing another level of Status, obviating another level of Charisma, net cost 55. Now that’s a big chunk of points, but it gets you a character with +4 in certain skills, +3 to +8 for reaction rolls, plenty of his own money and access to the resources of an organization. Not bad. Remember that when you have discretion over whom to ask for help, you can choose someone with whom your larger Reaction Modifier applies, in this example preferably someone in your own organization.

+4 means that you never suffer worse than a Poor reaction, so some folks are rude but none are violent. Most of the time, you’ll get a Good reaction, meaning that the people around you are pleasant and you don’t get ripped off, and they answer your questions accurately if not thoroughly. Every once in a while, you’ll meet someone who’ll do everything in his power to help. This is a good level to shoot for with any character, at least on a conditional basis, arguably the best bang for the buck, and you can get it from a single advantage (Appearance, Reputation, Talent). Of course, a fitting Talent may be worth the cost for its skill bonuses alone, but don’t overlook the way its Reaction Modifier can make life easier.

+1 means you’ll never suffer Very Bad reactions, let alone a Disastrous one, and most of the time, you’ll get at least Neutral. If you have 4 points left over, buy Attractive. Conversely, with -1, you’ll still manage a Neutral or better reaction half the time, so it’s not crippling. With -3, you’ll suffer a Poor reaction (or worse) most of the time, and that is crippling if it’s not a conditional penalty. If you’ve reached that point, you may as well pile on more!

This is a guest blog column by Geoffrey Fagan. He doesn’t have a blog himself, but participated regularly in the GURPS Forums under the username GEF.
Social Traits
GURPS addresses social traits in its game mechanics, comprehensively, in a couple of ways: Those traits that establish existing relationships, and “Reaction Modifiers” that affect the formation of new ones. No matter how great your PC is on paper, the real secret to “power” gaming is your ability to influence the plot, and to do that, you need to have some traction in the setting. That’s what social traits get you.  

Part II: Relationships
Usually, a player
creates his character, and the GM creates everything else, but certain traits
on a character sheet allow a player to take a step into the GM’s domain. By
defining relationships for his character, the player requires that certain NPCs
exist in the setting. As a rule of thumb, think of three relationships for a
starting character’s backstory: Family members, old school chums, the bully who
beat you up, maybe a former mentor. Even a deceased relation can provide a plot
hook, but living relations may be may be represented as traits on your
character sheet
If you have an
existing relationship with another character, then he might be your Patron,
Ally, Dependent, Enemy, or Contact, or if he’s just an old friend, perhaps a
Claim to Hospitality. A single individual can justify more than one of these
traits. If you’re a spy, and you work with a spy for another country, he could
become your friend and yet work against you on a future mission where the
interests of your countries diverge. At least he’ll apologize before he shoots
you. All of these traits require interaction with the GM, for the player
proposes, but ultimately the GM decides, and while it is traditional to let a
player run his character’s Allies, especially in a fight, the GM is free to
co-opt control of any NPC. The decision to do so is ultimately helpful to
players, because it puts their characters in the spotlight.
A sidekick is an Ally
less powerful than you are. For 9 points, he’ll be pretty good, though (75% as
good as you), and he can hang around most of the time (95%). That’s good enough
to be an honorary party member, and he can augment your character with skills
that you can’t afford for yourself. Maybe you’re a cowboy and good with a gun,
and your ally is a half-breed Indian with good Stealth. Even if his skill-set
is similar to your own, it never hurts to have a capable pal watch your back,
and bandage you up if you live through the fight. If your Ally is a loved one,
maybe your little brother, you actually get points back for having him as a
dependent, too! Add the value of Ally and Dependent together to determine the
net cost of the relationship, and that’s what counts against your campaign
limit on disadvantages.
Allies need not be
human. That same cowboy could have a horse as an ally, and that’s the best way
to model a horse with unusual intelligence, training, and loyalty. In a fantasy
campaign, a witch’s familiar is an Ally, and it makes her eligible for a steep
discount on supernatural advantages (Granted by Familiar, 40% off).
A more powerful
character is probably a Patron instead of an Ally, though the defining
difference is the nature of the relationship, not the point cost. An Ally is
there with you in the thick of the action, whereas a Patron helps you out with a
job offer, vouchsafe, supplies, or maybe an extraction when your exfiltration
goes awry. Pay careful attention to the various modifiers that go into the cost
of the advantage: One of the best is to cover the cost (and licensing) of
special equipment. Kit for a medieval knight is expensive, and they two ways to
get it are with Wealth (or some variation, like Signature Gear) or a Patron.
The latter provides a better plot hook, though. Remember that a patron with
money, position, and supernatural powers is of no use if you can’t reach him.
The Patron advantage
is very flexible, for it can model anything from a parent who helps out with
tuition or a senior officer who shepherds your career, to a god from whom you
can call down curses upon your enemies. In the latter form, it’s the ultimate
super power, though quite expensive. Patrons typically come with a duty, though
it’s not mandatory, and you can even have a Secret Patron who helps you for
reasons unknown.
Contacts are
specifically defined as sources of information, the iconic example being a
cop’s snitch. GURPS is somewhat plastic, though, and variants that involve
specific services probably qualify, such as a black marketeer. He doesn’t give
you illegal guns – that’d take a Patron – but if you have the cash, he can set
up the buy. Contacts who capable, ready, and discrete are quite expensive, but
that’s okay, because a less-than-ideal Contact is actually a better vehicle for
driving drama in the story, and that’s the point of the game, after all. Remember
that Contacts are a mutual relationship. Usually thequid pro quo happens
off camera, but the GM is well-justified in using a Contact to start an
adventure or add a complication.
Claim to Hospitality
is the cheapest way to represent a friend, a single point, a perk. Most
realistic characters have at least one! The benefit spelled-out in the rule is
a place to crash, but don’t get wrapped up in that. With merchant house as a
specific example, it should at least extend to introductions to people known to
your host, a guide to the city, or any comparably minor favor. In modern times
it would include access to such conveniences as a phone, computer, and car (if
only when the host is not using them). Remember, you have the claim on a person,
not a rule, and he can do what a person could do, albeit not an adventurous
person (because then he’d be an Ally). Influence skills are appropriate to
determine just how much help you can get, hopefully with a bonus because this
guy’s already your friend, right? Just don’t wear out your welcome.
Dependents are Allies,
but so weak or so dear that they represent a net disadvantage in game terms
(though I would say that a loving, happy family is a net positive in real
life). The big advantage of this disadvantage is that you can get points for it
without being crazy or crippled, and simultaneously you provide the GM with a
plot hook to get you involved. He needn’t threaten Dependents directly; he may
just be able to start an adventure when your character goes to pick up the kids
from school, or leverage a husband’s desire to do well by his wife as
motivation to get involved with a high-stakes venture.
And that brings us to
Enemy, the best bargain in the game! Combat Reflexes gives you lots of benefits
for just 15 points, and attributes make you better at lots of skills, but Enemy
puts your character right in the spotlight and gives you
points back! Yes, your Enemy may hate you, but having one makes you important.
The enemies of your Enemy become your friends. The best Enemy is actually a
variant, a Rival, someone who isn’t trying to kill you, just to outshine you.
He’ll provoke the best from you in turn. If you reciprocate the animosity, that
may suggest another advantage, like Obsession. A Rival can also be an Ally, the
kind with a base cost of 5, because he’s never a mere sidekick. This is an
especially interesting relationship fraught with real role-playing opportunity,
and as with an Ally-Dependent, apply the net cost of the relationship against
the campaign limit for disadvantages. (While an Enemy need not be human, if the
whole universe is out to get you, look at Divine Curse instead.)
Scaling Up
Patron and Enemy both
can represent groups large and small, but what determines the value of these
traits is power, of which the membership roster is only one aspect. Claim to
Hospitality is built to scale into levels that don’t require specifying every friend,
so if you’re the popular kid at school, or a salesman who’s built up an
extensive base of customers who’ll take his call, just spend 5 to 10 points on
Claim to Hospitality. You can’t count more than a couple of Dependents, but
Contact and Ally scale up to groups with a caveat: To be eligible for the bulk
rate discount, they all have to be the same.

However, there’s a
trick you can play with Ally Group, if your GM permits it. Since this is a
primer, I won’t dwell on the mechanism, but in short it’s Cosmic Modular
Ability with an Accessibility limitation worth -80%: Individual Ally Can’t
Reallocate. Build your allies mostly the same, but reserve some number of
points, say 20%, for personal traits. For 50-point Allies, that’d be 10 points.
Then, divide that number by 2, and each of the mostly-similar Allies can have a
personal touch, worth 5 points in this case. One might have Absolute Direction,
and another might be emotionally Sensitive, and another might be a decent
(IQ+2) Carpenter and dabble (IQ-1) in artistic Woodworking. 

Looks like things are getting more interesting. Geoffrey Fagan made some notes on Social Traits in GURPS, with three more parts on the way (to appear weekly). Also, Roger Bell-West has started a blog of his own, and has penned an article on Rapid Fire and Shotguns in GURPS 4th edition.

Responding to both!

Social Traits Part 1 of 4


Social Traits

No matter how great your PC is on paper, the real secret to “power” gaming is your ability to influence the plot, and to do that, you need to have some traction in the setting. That’s what social traits get you. 

I think this is a nice point made here, in that while combat skills and other typical PC-sheet skills and abilities are an awful lot of fun, your place in society and your ability to use that (or be used by it) is dictated by these social notes.

Part I: Clout
GURPS has 3 traits that address social standing: Rank, Status, and Social Regard/Stigma. If you have any of these traits, you have a “place in society” that defines existing relationships with many other people.

Hmm. I think that there are ways to broaden this out considerably. Reputation can certainly dictate your place in society, or at least boost it (or detract from it, for that matter). Allies and Patrons can likewise count here; knowing that your foe has a Patron in the Guild of Messy Assassination might certainly give one a different appreciation of his place in society.

Furthermore, one big one missing is Wealth. +Sean Punch has elaborated at what Wealth entails thusly:

Wealth is a highly complex, abstract social advantage that encompasses about as much as IQ does, including but not limited to starting money, job qualifications, social connections, credit rating, land, and a hidden economic parallel to Status.

also

Wealth only changes if you specifically invest the required capital – taking it out of play – to buy, bribe, and insure your way to a social position where future changes in fortune won’t alter the respect and credit accorded to you. This is the big difference between somebody who keeps their winnings as liquid assets and uses them for trips, cars, and homes, and somebody who invests their winnings in nonliquid assets that will continue to make them money in the future. The former only requires cash; the latter also calls for points, which represent the work done to build networks.

As such, Wealth is an extremely Social trait and bears considering.

 If you are part of an organization, you have Rank…even if it’s just Rank 0, and even low Rank defines your character, be he a private in the army, journeyman of the Coopers’ Guild. The decision to make a character with Rank will guide your choices with respect to attributes, skills, talents, and other traits, usually including a duty. If you have any rank at all, you can request that the resources of your organization be allocated to your purposes (roll Administration), and the higher your Rank, the more of those resources fall under your direct command.

It would be a good idea to buy and read GURPS: Social Engineering to get the full take on Rank and what it can do. There are mechanics presented (the Assistance Roll) on pp. 51-52 of that book. Further, a guideline for how many people you have under your command (though I disagree in some of the particulars) is also presented on p. 14: The Arithmetic of Rank.

 In addition, Rank provides a reaction modifier within your organization, even for member outside your direct chain of command.

I had to go look this up – I’d need a better citation, but I think this isn’t true. It’s true if Rank replaces Status (the 10 points per level version of Rank), but the thing about Rank is it’s pretty absolute. Someone is either in your chain of command, in which case they obey you or suffer some degree of consequences, or they are not, in which case your Rank (but not your Status!) is mostly irrelevant.

For 5 points, a level of Rank means that up to a dozen people take orders from you; now tell me again how HT is undercosted! For 10 points, Rank 2 comes with a free level of Status. Remember that you pay for Rank you can actually use; if the sergeant really runs the platoon, then his Rank advantage equals what a lieutenant should theoretically have, while his boss only has Courtesy Rank!

The bolded bit isn’t correct, I think, by the rules in the Basic Set, nor its expansion in Social Engineering (p. 13). If you have the authority, regardless if you use it, you have honest-to-Kromm Rank. If you used to have formal authority, and now only get the trappings and courtesy of your former Rank, but cannot actually command obedience (though you may be able to get obedience thorugh successful use of influence skills), you have Courtesy Rank.

A good test: can the people you’re trying to get to do what you want be punished if they don’t obey your orders? You have higher Rank than they do. Can those people be punished for actually obeying your directions? You have Courtesy Rank!

Status attends power, which is why you get some free with Rank and Wealth, but you can be powerful in other ways, perhaps a mighty wizard. The source of power is a separate advantage, but Status represents the perks, which are setting-dependent but should include partial exemption from his society’s Control Rating

Possible, but a setting-driven switch; this may or may not be true in any given campaign.

 and always includes reduced social friction: Higher Status means your character has more time to be productive. He calls on the mayor and walks right in; other folks have to wait, even if they had an appointment. Perhaps it’s less formal, and he gets face time with the mayor on a golf course, which helps explain why Status comes encumbered with a higher Cost of Living. The cost is warranted though, because Status also counts as a Reaction Modifier.

Now, this one is definitely true, though I had to go look it up. Conveniently, it’s under Status as a Reaction Modifier, p. B29.

Exemptions
If the usual laws don’t apply to you, then you have Immunity, Legal Enforcement Power, or Security Clearance. What all of these advantages have in common is that they can be revoked by others, so the PC must exercise good judgment in their utilization, or else produce such good results that his superiors will excuse abuses.
Immunity amounts to easing of social friction (a lot), so if you already have high Status, you shouldn’t have to pay for Immunity separately.

This might or mightn’t be true – the examples listed on p. B65 charge points for Legal Immunity and give the examples of a medieval bard, abbot, or duke – but it’s not RAW. If you can break the law to any extent, you must buy this, by RAW. Status does not give you an exemption to the law (though it might allow you to influence the end game, what you’re doing is still illegal for you).

 Suppose your campaign takes place in Eastland, and your character is the ambassador from Westland. Back in Westland, he’s a high Status individual, so take that as a perk equivalent to Courtesy Rank. Here in Eastland, nobody cares about barbarian honors, but the ambassador still has diplomatic Immunity.

This is a good, but very campaign specific example, and does not define the rules, but applies them with judgement. Now, that’s exactly the GM’s job! But a French Diplomat who also happens to be a high GURPS Status Duke and is currently in England will damn well reap the benefits of both Status (at the full level that includes Rank, likely) and any immunity he gets as an ambassador, probably at the 5 to 10 point level.

Similarly, Security Clearance is one of the benefits of Rank; take the advantage only if you have no Rank, or if your clearance exceeds that nominally associated with your Rank. A good example is the civilian contractor working on a secret weapon; since he has no Military Rank, he needs Security Clearance. Having one is a good way to get in on the action, or to get more intel once the action starts.

I’d probably phrase this as “Security Clearance can be one of the benefits of Rank.” Need to Know applies to even people of high rank, so just because you’re a General doesn’t mean you have instant access to The Dark Phoenix Files or The Manhattan Project. If you want that specifically, you probably have to pay for it.
Parting Shot #1


I found this about 4/5 on the GURPS 101 scale. Most of the advice is quite solid, but there are some rules interpretations here that, while justifiable/understandable, are not strict RAW. They make great house rules, though, and in some places there’s enough leeway in the rule itself that some of these are just points of discussion. No one would blink twice if told “Yeah, you’re a Status 6 nobleman, so no one of lesser status can charge you with a crime.”

The overall point that in genres apart from DF, where “Murder Hobo” is all the Status you need, is still quite applicable: points spend in useful social advantages are points well spent.


Rapid Fire and Shotguns in GURPS 4th edition

The first GURPS 101 article for Roger Bell-West, he tackles automatic fire ably and succinctly. Not much more to add. He doesn’t touch on hit location when using automatic fire, but I don’t think the basic rules for non-spray fire are any different. If your hit roll succeeds (and your foe fails to defend) your bullets go to the location you wanted them to. All the others miss by the basic rules.

Actually, thinking about this for a moment, I just came up with a fun idea. Awesome – a new blog post with actual content!
This is a guest blog column by Geoffrey Fagan. He doesn’t have a blog himself, but participated regularly in the GURPS Forums under the username GEF.
Social Traits
GURPS addresses social
traits in its game mechanics, comprehensively, in a couple of ways: Those
traits that establish existing relationships, and “Reaction Modifiers” that
affect the formation of new ones. No matter how great your PC is on paper, the
real secret to “power” gaming is your ability to influence the plot, and to do
that, you need to have some traction in the setting. That’s what social traits
get you.  
Part I: Clout
GURPS has 3 traits
that address social standing: Rank, Status, and Social Regard/Stigma. If you
have any of these traits, you have a “place in society” that defines existing
relationships with many other people. If you are part of an organization, you
have Rank…even if it’s just Rank 0, and even low Rank defines your character,
be he a private in the army, journeyman of the Coopers’ Guild. The decision to
make a character with Rank will guide your choices with respect to attributes,
skills, talents, and other traits, usually including a duty. If you have any
rank at all, you can request that the resources of your organization be
allocated to your purposes (roll Administration), and the higher your Rank, the
more of those resources fall under your direct command. In addition, Rank
provides a reaction modifier within your organization, even for member outside
your direct chain of command. For 5 points, a level of Rank means that up to a
dozen people take orders from you; now tell me again how HT is undercosted! For
10 points, Rank 2 comes with a free level of Status. Remember that you pay for
Rank you can actually use; if the sergeant really runs the platoon, then his
Rank advantage equals what a lieutenant should theoretically have, while his
boss only has Courtesy Rank!
Status attends power,
which is why you get some free with Rank and Wealth, but you can be powerful in
other ways, perhaps a mighty wizard. The source of power is a separate
advantage, but Status represents the perks, which are setting-dependent but
should include partial exemption from his society’s Control Rating and always
includes reduced social friction: Higher Status means your character has more
time to be productive. He calls on the mayor and walks right in; other folks
have to wait, even if they had an appointment. Perhaps it’s less formal, and he
gets face time with the mayor on a golf course, which helps explain why Status
comes encumbered with a higher Cost of Living. The cost is warranted though,
because Status also counts as a Reaction Modifier. Likewise,
negative Status increases social friction, but the benefit is a reduced Cost of
Living. [Note: It is possible to have Status derived from someone else’s power,
perhaps parents, but then you’d still have a Patron on your character sheet. In
a setting where Status is determined by birth, such as one with a caste system
or hereditary nobility, then Status effectively includes Rank and costs 10
points per level.]
Social Regard is like
a little bump in Status that doesn’t increase Cost of Living. It’s mainly a
reaction modifier, but based on group affiliation rather than personal
reputation. Doctors may be high Status individuals because of their skills, but
if they’re more respected than other professionals, then they have Social
Regard, too. They’re members of an exclusive club with small but concrete benefits,
be they formal or informal, again campaign-dependent, and an obligation to act
in a manner that won’t result in censure by their peers. Social Stigma is the
negative version of Social Regard, but it still makes you a member of a group.
There’s always demand for capable members of a stigmatized group, and there’s
always a benefit when recruiting fellow members from your group (specifically
called out for Minorities), whether you’re forming the Ladies’ Historical
Society (when ladies are Second-Class Citizens) or the 42nd Street
Gang (when the predominant ethnicity along 42nd St is a
Minority and/or Outlaws).
Remember, having low
Status or a Stigma doesn’t preclude you from wielding wealth and influence, but
it may require you to do so from the shadows.
Exemptions
If the usual laws
don’t apply to you, then you have Immunity, Legal Enforcement Power, or
Security Clearance. What all of these advantages have in common is that they
can be revoked by others, so the PC must exercise good judgment in their
utilization, or else produce such good results that his superiors will excuse
abuses.
Immunity amounts to
easing of social friction (a lot), so if you already have high Status, you
shouldn’t have to pay for Immunity separately. Suppose your campaign takes
place in Eastland, and your character is the ambassador from Westland. Back in
Westland, he’s a high Status individual, so take that as a perk equivalent to
Courtesy Rank. Here in Eastland, nobody cares about barbarian honors, but the
ambassador still has diplomatic Immunity.
Similarly, Security
Clearance is one of the benefits of Rank; take the advantage only if you have
no Rank, or if your clearance exceeds that nominally associated with your Rank.
A good example is the civilian contractor working on a secret weapon; since he
has no Military Rank, he needs Security Clearance. Having one is a good way to
get in on the action, or to get more intel once the action starts.

Legal Enforcement
Power is not normally an automatic benefit for Rank and Status. If a medieval
knight has the low justice (ability to punish criminals from the lower
classes), then he should pay for Legal Enforcement Power in addition to Rank,
Status, and Wealth. It gives adventurers a right to interrogate people and even
shoot them, things they’ll probably want to do.