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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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In Dark Alleys
Day Jobs, Skills
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 6
10:22am EST - 1/01/2016
Day Jobs are, predictably, what we're doing while we're not out doing our Secret Life thing, unless we're a Professional in which case the two are basically the same. Some give us Bonus Points(because they suck), others cost us Bonus Points(for being awesome), and some do neither. Of course we still have yet to know how many Bonus Points we start with(if any) or what else they can be spent on. The book helpfully tells us that we can learn more about them on page 111. We're currently on page 58.
The Day Job section also doesn't get any introductory art, so let's pretend we're in a better setting and that one of the optional Day Jobs is Pirate Space Robot.
Most of the jobs have both perks and drawbacks, even the better ones. Sometimes they're minor, for instance, Alternative Health's perk is that we meet a lot of people(which could be handy for, say, an Outcast or Survivor keeping an eye out for shit going down). While the Drawback is that on account of us being unconventional, we have no pull or authority within the legit medicine establishment.
"Boring Customer Service Job" has the disadvantage "has to deal with lots of crazy assholes," factory workers effectively have a lower Endurance because they're exhausted at the end of every work day, that sort of thing.
Interestingly enough, while these Jobs set our skill costs(apparently, skills are still a chapter away, so not sure what these numbers actually MEAN...), none of them have any skill requirements
. As far as I can tell, we can be a Medical Professional with Int 1, or a firefighter(Dangerous Field Job) with rock-bottom physical stats.
It's not that fascinating a chapter, but there are some interesting bits.
From Business Manager:
+4 BP for Useful Inventory (PC makes or carries something that may be useful in an adventure, e.g. reproduction medieval armor, occult books, bondage gear)
I like how swords, De Vermiis Mysteriis and gimp suits are rated as being equally useful for an adventuring party in this setting. Only a few of the other optional bonuses for professions are very useful or interesting, though, for instance, an IT tech might be maintaining some FBI databases or something, giving him tangential access to information that way.
Numbers-wise, starting with a shop full of leatherware, having your own car, being a member of the Mafia and having access to the FBI's databases is rated as being of equal cost. Some of these seem a bit handier than the others.
Homemaker is an optional job, with disadvantages for either having a spouse that thinks you should be barefoot-and-pregnant, or having kids that need taking care of. Both of those make for excellent quest hook-ish things, I'd note. Having to take care of things without disturbing your family life, or reapers hounding your car while driving the kids to school.
Some of these things, though, just seem like there's no way to use them in the game. Like being the District Attorney or a police chief. I mean, these are roles that NPC's could fill, but not PC's. They're so high-profile that having any sort of Secret Life outside of a Professional would border on the totally impossible. Though it does conjure up the image of a "loose cannon" cop Lost who gets drunk and pops up in criminal lairs with a ridiculous handcannon, or booze-walks the SWAT team past hostage-taker cordons to attack them from behind.
Or for that instance, why are there even rules for being a Religious Professional who becomes a bishop? I mean, yeah, sure, a priest who's a Survivor or something could be fucking interesting, and it's basically where Cannibals would start out, I suppose. But which of these Secret Lives would at all work with being a goddamn bishop?
Being a social worker and a prostitute are of the same cost level, despite it being noted that prostitutes are regularly victims of hate and violence, and the worst it says for social workers is "the work is stressful and tiring." Sure seems a lot less bad than the risk of being stabbed by some maniac because he wants to make a vest out of vaginas.
But that's really it, I'm sure that there are some minor things I might've missed, like maybe some of the skill costs are completely irrational, but right now we just don't know enough to make sense of it. But we might soon! Because here's the Skills section.
Again no art for this section. Lame-sauce.
But at any rate, we have 100 skill points to spread between some skills here. Basically all skills are split into the categories ACAD(Academic), ATHL(Athletic), CMBT(Combat), CRTV (Creative), CRIM (Criminal), TECH (High Tech), INVS (Investigation/Espionage), LABR (Labor), MEDI (Medical), PEOP (People) and TRAD (Traditional).
Our profession determines what the skills in each category costs.
For instance, let us say that our obese Hispanic astronaut is a FORMER astronaut. He/she is an Outcast who saw the terrible truth behind the Moon Landings and, while drowning his/her panic in Twix bars, got out of the business and became a Paranormal Professional.
This instantly eats up 10 of our skill points to learn Act Normal(otherwise we'd have to be a homeless guy, retired or homemaker, I guess the kids don't mind their mom clawing at their faces to get the bugs out). If we wanted a better job, we'd have to burn 20 or 30 points on it.
Being a Paranormal Professional also takes up 4 Bonus Points, but we'll burn that bridge made out of numbers once we get to it. This leaves our skills costing the following:
Skill Costs: ACAD 5, ATHL 7, CMBT 15, CRTV 5, CRIM 12, TECH 7, INVS 10, LABR 6, MEDI 7, PEOP 6, TRAD 7
Fighting is going to be ridiculously expensive to learn, criminal stuff as well, and oddly enough, for someone whose job is likely going to involve a lot of research and investigation
, INVS is our third-most expensive category. Flipping ahead to page 136, it seems that just BUYING a skill only means we can use it at all, it takes another purchase(another level) to get any bonuses, in this case +4 per level above the first.
I recall the basic mechanics and head back to page 3 to confirm them.
"All mechanics are based on a simple system: The sum of attribute + skill + modifier(s) + 1d20 must be equal to or higher than the difficulty of the proposed action."
It's FAR easier and cheaper to have 20 in an attribute, than it is to have a rank of 6 in a skill, meaning that attributes matter way more and, I assume, cover multiple skills to boot. Going ahead one page confirms this. So unless later pages tell us that the original, simple description of the basic mechanics was just a lie, we don't really NEED much more than that first rank in a skill.
Seems like difficulty checks tend to come in increments of 10, too. 10, 20, 30 for Easy, Moderate, Hard. So from chargen we can essentially be sure of beating every Moderate check and have a 50% chance of hitting Hard checks, and that's completely without skills.
The Hard example for Business(An Academic skill) is "Hard (30): Borrow money to buy a shipment of 100,000 pens from China then sell them to an American company at a 100% markup."
So with 20 Intelligence(the governing stat) and a bit of skill in this, we can basically double our money regularly if our GM is a chump and just goes straight by what it says in the book. A lot of these skill examples are AMAZINGLY useless, though. As in, something that could never conceivably come up in an urban horror game.
Law, International: "Hard (30): Prepare a brief, on behalf of one country, seeking reparations from another country for war crimes." Maybe if reapers were behind that genocide, otherwise... not really seeing it.
Science: Psychology (INL)- This is knowledge of the theories and research concerning the workings of human and animal minds.
Easy (10): List some of the consequences of not enough dopamine.
Moderate (20): List Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Hard (30): Name the likelihood of each attachment style.
I like how the trivia that is Maslow's Hierarchy is more complicated to understand/remember than neurochemical voodoo. Or at least, to me, the outsider of the subject who knows about Maslow's but couldn't tell you shit about dopamine to save my life, it just seems a bit poorly conceived.
Bicycle (AGY)- This is training on various terrain with racing and mountain bikes. Gives the following maneuvers (with +4 for each level after the first, see Vehicle Skills, p.137).
Jump (20): Jump the bike over holes or obstacles.
Sharp Turn (20): By leaning over almost to the point of touching the ground, the PC can make tight turns.
Skidding Turn (30): By skidding the rear tire, the PC can make incredibly fast and tight turns.
Stairs (20): Go up or down stairs or similar impediments.
Swerve (20): The vehicular equivalent of a dodge.
Law: Criminal (INL)- Prerequisite: Law: Basic (1). This is knowledge of prosecuting or defending those who have been accused of crimes.
Easy (10): List the elements of murder.
Moderate (20): Figure out whether the ‘deal’ the district attorney is offering a criminal defendant is a good deal or not.
Hard (30): Get the evidence obtained from a not-quite-legal police search thrown out.
So according to In Dark Alleys, pulling a "tight turn" on a bicycle is barely any more difficult than, or costly to learn, than enough law to defend and counsel people effectively in court.
This also seems to have taken Kult's lead on the Fist of the North Star thing. Check this out.
Assassin: Unarmed (Combat)- Techniques for quick and efficient unarmed killing of a surprised opponent. Gives the following maneuvers with hands and feet:
+4 to Grab (Strangulation)
+0 to Special Action: Neck Breaking (Requires a hold on the victim’s head. If successful, instant paralysis and death. STH + AGY +1d20 vs. 40)
+4 to Stomp
+0 to Knockdown
Now, starting with 20 in Strength and Agility is relatively trivial, though it might require us making our character a drooling retard, so let's just say we have 15 in each, if we're #47 we have to be pretty physically fit anyway. Just there, we've got 1d20+30 vs. 40, that's a 50% chance to instamurder someone. But for every rank we have in this over the first, we get a +4. Assuming we've got a class that doesn't have prohibitive casts on CMBT skills, we can pretty much guarantee an instant kill on anything with a head that we can sneak up on.
And this is what we can do well before even reading the combat rules to break its numbers, contemplate supernatural powers or anything else. Outside of this, the CMBT skills are just lising every damn kind of weaponry you can learn, from Anti-tank rockets to kung fu.
The CRIM skills kick us into game-breaking with the first column as it lists its first (40), or "legendary"-level difficulty.
Black Market (CHM)- This is knowledge of where and how to purchase illegal goods and services, how to bribe officials, where or how to sell illegal goods and services and how to determine the value of black market goods and services. The PC is at -10 in any other than the PC’s home area and -20 in other countries. This skill also allows the PC to start play with illegal items (see p.88).
Easy (10): Buy an infraction level item (e.g. a dime bag of marijuana) or pay for a blowjob.
Moderate (20): Buy a misdemeanor level item (e.g. a switchblade) or bribe a cop to forget about a speeding ticket.
Hard (30): Buy a felony level item (e.g. a machine gun) or hire an assassin.
Legendary (40): Buy a capital level item (e.g. weapons-grade plutonium) or hire mercenaries to overthrow a government.
Sadly we don't get to add together two stats for this one, so we'll have to actually invest in the skill itself. But even so, it would be trivial to have the 20 Charisma to give us a shot at making this work at all, and if we choose to start as a gang boss or something, we could relatively easily pump skill points into this and start off making nukes in our basement.
Knowing how to deal with being high without being useless(Drug Resistance) is also a Criminal skill, I guess that in the world of IDA you don't smoke up unless you've got a felony record.
Remember the "Law" skill that would basically let us get defendants out of court thanks to procedural infractions? It's got LITERALLY the same costs and difficulties as "Card Counting," a skill for getting a bonus to playing Poker and Blackjack. I mean. Really? Not to impugn poker players, but REALLY?
HIGH TECH posted:
Anonymity (INL)- This is knowledge of how to access the internet while concealing the source of the access. This is typically done through anonymous re-sender servers operated by privacy advocates.
Easy (10): Send an anonymous email for a $5 fee.
Moderate (20): Make an anonymous VOIP phone call for $1/minute.
Hard (30): Chat anonymously, live and for free.
Invest your points correctly and you can either buy machineguns on the black market or chat anonymously online!
These tough choices, man!
Data Pirating (INL)- Prerequisite: Research: Internet (2).
This is knowledge of how to obtain free software, music, even movies and television files via the various file sharing networks and piracy rings on the internet. Downloading the data can take seconds or days depending on the size of the file and amount of success. A PC with this skill starts with $2,000 in pirated data per skill level, anything else must be pirated during gameplay. The skill also includes knowledge of how to crack the copy protection or digital rights management schemes meant to protect data from being pirated.
Easy (10): Find an mp3 of a rare track from an out-of-print album by a popular country singer.
Moderate (20): Find a camcorder-taped copy of a major motion picture that just came out.
Hard (30): Find and crack a major A/V editing software suite weeks before it goes on sale.
Even accounting for the fact that IDA came out in 2006, this is pretty hard to excuse. Note the prereq., note that "criminal law" has one less rank of prereq costs. It's literally costlier to know how to find a shitty, handi-cam movie online than it is to know how to be a lawyer in fucking court. My God.
This whole section is just a mess of badly conceived numbers. Investigation for some reason houses a "WMD's" skill, a Brainwashing skill and a Torture skill. The latter two will, again, if you min/max, basically allow you to crack anyone's will easily. They get to oppose you with their Willpower, and only that, no beneficial skills, so you're pretty much guaranteed to have the upper hand on them if you invested in the skill at all. And WMD's I guess is there so you know what to do with the fucking weapons-grade plutonium you've got in your garage.
Psychotherapy (CHM)- This is training in helping people overcome psychological problems and traumas using various forms of therapy (talk therapy encourages people to discover their own feelings and mental processes; cognitive therapy teaches people to avoid illogical or harmful thoughts; role-playing therapy helps people prepare to deal with real-life situations; exposure therapy helps people deal with fears by slow exposure to the source of the fears).
Easy (10): Help a patient overcome a mild phobia.
Moderate (20): Help a patient deal with the psychological effects of a recent severe trauma.
Hard (30): Help a patient overcome an ego dystonic sexual fetish.
Legendary (40): Help a patient discover that he or she is paranoid and delusional.
Note that psychotherapy has no theoretical prerequisites at all, and depends entirely
on your Charisma and nothing else. Your intellect is irrelevant, your psyche is irrelevant, your willpower doesn't matter, nothing but how charming you are. This skill is also filed under People skills, alongside stuff like Seduction.
Also, hey, check it out. Even if you have a Charisma of 0(impossible) and only first-grade training in psychotherapy, it's 50-50 odds to rid someone of a phobia! Man, check all those suckers actually STUDYING this shit. Curing people is EASY AS BALLS. I mean, shit, if we actually had the appropriate stat and skill points we could heal everyone's brains easily.
...hang on, wasn't this game supposed to be about craziness and psychological horror? Hm.
Surgery's got much the same difficulty levels. Fixing someone who's been stabbed through the fucking heart
is pretty much guaranteed to succeed if we have just basic levels of Surgery and an above-average Intelligence. How are there even any Survivors in this setting? They just need to get near an even vaguely-competent doctor and they'll be healed.
After all the other categories, though, there's the Traditional, or TRAD category of skills that all Day Jobs have an easy time learning, relatively speaking. Even hobos can be skilled acupuncturists! Similarly, tracking, wilderness survival and building a storm shelter out of discarded tin cans. And I do mean every Day Job. While it's cheapest for Homeless, Retired and Alternative Health Day Jobs(5 per skill or skill rank), it's only 7 for someone who's working in "Trendy Customer Service," Politician or Religious Professional.
I guess even the bishops have to blow off some steam by hunting The Most Dangerous Game.
This section is just an utter fucking mess.
At least that's it for the skills. I was going to do the Supernatural Skills, but this post is already pretty bloated, so I'll save that for tomorrow or something. There is some crazy shit over there.
Next post! ULTIMATE GENITALS
! (yes, that is a real sidebar title)