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Equipment Familiarity


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During our next campaign I intend to introduce a number of new technologies

and pieces of equipment into the setting, in order to give it a little more colour

and the "feel" of a continually changing and developing world.

The player characters will of course be unfamiliar with the newly available gad-

gets, and I am looking for a simple rule to make this unfamiliarity felt during the

game.

Since I did not find anything in the BRP core rules, I think I will make the use of

an unfamiliar device one step more difficult than usual (e.g. from Automatic to

Easy or from Average to Difficult) until the characters has used the device suc-

cessfully at least once.

Does this make sense, or do you see a problem with this ?

Thank you. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I don't see a problem.

Back in the RQ2 era, there was a rule that a character's skill was havled when he picked up a different weapon that his own. The idea was that broadswords are not made on an assembling line and the character would be unfamiliar with the heft and balance of a different weapon. Eventually, the character would get used to the new weapon and his skill would go up to normal.

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At the same time, a great deal of effort is spent on ergonomics and other such human factors issues. In many ways, the more modern something is (or newer versions of the same product), it should be easier to use. Take fore example, Microsoft Windows....ok, bad example. But look at various websites, the newer cars, MP3s, automatic transmission vs 'stick'... in many cases there's a bit of a learning curve, but frequently that is clobbered by the power of the newer capabilities.

IMO, it sorta depends on many issues. Technical sophistication, safety features (conceivably, there could be some type of IDing so only 'friendly forces' use the weapons, and man-machine interface. I would think consumer products would be a bit more intuitive than products with a heavy military or technical bent.

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Personally I'd go with a time factor, like 8 hours of practice or 100 rounds of ammo through a new type of gun etc. I wouldn't think grabbing a weapon in combat and hitting something with it once would really be adequate to get the feel of a completely new weapon.

Perhaps allow an INT or skill roll after each combat / practice session to see if they have mastered the feel of the new weapon.

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What Atgxtg said - except in your case we are talking about equipment rather than weapons. With weapons I still use the rule of "make it through one combat and you're away". For equipment I thing the "one successful use" works, because that covers the whole process of using the equipment. If you're going to introduce a practice or training rule, I'd just go with a "basic training" requirement similar to learning a skill for the first time, except instead of a basic chance it brings your skill up to full.

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How about using the skill check system?

If a character makes a skill check and improves his (modified) skill score he is then considered familiar with the item. If it above his normal skill score, his skill improves as well (as normal).

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How about using the skill check system?

If a character makes a skill check and improves his (modified) skill score he is then considered familiar with the item. If it above his normal skill score, his skill improves as well (as normal).

Er, doesn't that mean less-skilled characters would find it easier to become familiar?

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Thank you all very much for your ideas. :)

I agree that most comparatively simple consumer goods do not require much

familiarity to use them. However, I was thinking of the more "professional"

stuff, in the case of my setting for example something like a new type of

artificial gill or diving hardsuit, or a new kind of weapon ( a gauss harpoon

is under development ...).

A time factor or, in the case of weapons, an "ammunition used" factor could

be a possibility. On the other hand, I have seen people attempt to get some-

thing to work, or to fire guns on the shooting range, for hours on end with-

out any kind of success, or hit.

As for training, this is a good idea. At least I could give the characters a num-

ber of opportunities to use the device and score a success in non-dangerous

situations.

Thank you again. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Er, doesn't that mean less-skilled characters would find it easier to become familiar?

Yes, slightly, but less-skilled characters are less likely to get the check in the first place. This would be important if characters are only making a handful of rolls (one or two for each day's work) during a week.

For instance if the GM was having the characters make a skill roll a day to simulate normal work (to see how producting the shift was), then, with a 5 day work week, and a DIFFICULT roll a guy with 100% skill and a guy with 50% skillmatch us as follows:

Guy with 100% skill:

Chance of getting a skill check over 5 days: 96.875%

Chance to Gain Familiarity: 48.4375%

Guy with 50% skill:

Chance of getting a skill check over 5 days: 76.279%

Chance to Gain Familiarity: 57.202%

I suppose a GM could give any character who earns a skill check with the item an IDEA roll to see if the "gain familiarity". Or just say that by earning a check the character knows enough to become familiar with the item.

Edited by Atgxtg

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I suppose a GM could give any character who earns a skill check with the item an IDEA roll to see if the "gain familiarity". Or just say that by earning a check the character knows enough to become familiar with the item.

Sounds good!

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Something like a new hardsuit is an incredibly complex piece of kit with different user interface, maintenance routines, emergency procedures, balance, etc. Learning how all of that works is going to take time and building the muscle memory to be familiar is going to take longer. Maybe after a successful skill check means you know the emergency extraction technique, but it is not likely you can do it from memory in a high stress situation. That takes muscle memory and muscle memory only comes from lots of practice.

Best way I can give an example is to use the pistol. Take a police officer who has trained with and carried a Glock for a couple of years. he knows the gun and has practiced so he can perform routine tasks without thinking. He gets a job with another agency and is issued a Sig P226. Five minutes with the gun and manual and he knows how the gun works, but I guarantee you that without a lot of practice the first time he pulls the gun from the holster he will forget to take the safety off. Muscle memory from his training with the Glock will kick in and the Glock does not have a manual safety (unless said individual is in Spain). Now imagine being 100m down in a new hardsuit and all the emergency alarms go off. Instinct is going to have you going through emergency procedures as you are are familiar from the old suit and in the new suit that could be disastrous.

I would suggest assigning a familiarity penalty based on the complexity of the new item, reduce the penalty for training and have the rest of the penalty go away with practice/use time. Example; Mk.X Hardsuit, -60 familiarity penalty, reduced by 20 for training course, and reduced by 1 per hour of use/practice. Take the class and four 10 hour days of work/practice and the penalty for the Mk.X would be gone.

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I would suggest assigning a familiarity penalty based on the complexity of the new item, reduce the penalty for training and have the rest of the penalty go away with practice/use time. Example; Mk.X Hardsuit, -60 familiarity penalty, reduced by 20 for training course, and reduced by 1 per hour of use/practice. Take the class and four 10 hour days of work/practice and the penalty for the Mk.X would be gone.

Thank you very much, I like the idea. :thumb:

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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