Thursday, January 4, 2018

More on Skills - Hunting

Hunting skill

Hunting skill is introduced in Book 6, Scouts, and also appears in the expanded career tables in Citizens of the Imperium in the Hunter career (shocking, I know). The skill is described thus:
Hunting: The individual is skilled in tracking and hunting animals. In animal encounter situations, this skill is used to enhance the chance of any specific type, of achieving surprise on such animals, and of surviving such encounters. DMs based on specific situations should be generated, and hunting skill should be a favorable DM.
The right gear and a faithful friend are worth a +1 DM

Reconnaissance can be used as Hunting minus 1.
Hunting can be used as Survival minus 1, but only for the purpose of finding food. 

Hunting is a major component of Adventure #10, Safari Ship. In that book, the hunting process is given an elaborate treatment, more than I could go into here without leaning on the copyright laws. Plus you may not have access to that adventure. Here, I present my personal ideas on the subject.

My reading of the Hunting skill leads me to conclude that the skill affects four things:

One, the likelihood of having an animal encounter generally. Hunters know how to operate in the field so that they don't spook potential game. In Book 3, there is a basic 3 in 6 chance of having an animal encounter in any given terrain type. In Supplement 2: Animal Encounters, each terrain type has a specific throw to determine if an encounter happens. Hunting skill can be a +DM to either throw. "We came here to hunt for Tabrazian pinch-backs, not some scrawny tree-dwelling nut grubbers. Bump the roll down two, please."

Two, the likelihood of a particular type of animal being encountered. Here I think the Hunter should make an Education related throw to find out if he knows what kinds of creatures inhabit the terrain type. This reflects professional knowledge and familiarity with the specific world. If the throw succeeds, the referee should let the player see at least the Animal Type column for the terrain. Then, after the referee makes the throw to determine specific type, the Hunter can apply his skill to "bump" the roll in either direction. But it should be from memory, not reading the table. "There are rhino-sized tree dwelling pouncers in these mountains. Trust me, we want to avoid meeting those."

Three, a better probability of achieving surprise on the animal hunted (or whatever is encountered).  In addition to the normal Surprise DMs given in Book 1, the Referee can allow the hunter to add his skill to the party's surprise throw. As an addition to this, the Hunter has a better chance of getting an advantageous initial range. Referees may allow the hunter's skill as a DM on the encounter range table. This can be of great benefit when stalking dangerous game, such as Barsoomian White Apes.  "Oh crap, they're charging. Full auto, NOW!"
If surprise is achieved, the first shot hit or miss (unless by a silent weapon) will end surprise and provoke a reaction roll for the animals' first reaction, whether Attack or Flee. 

Four, Hunting skill can serve as a defensive DM when attacked in melee by an animal. Referees may require an explanation of why the Hunter is familiar with the animal's attack methods.  "Oh, everybody knows that the Dorothuan snuffle-hunter always goes for the neck. Their favorite prey has a long neck, and one bite's usually good enough to snap it."

How does one Hunt?

Simply go into the terrain type of the player's interest, and announce that the PC is hunting. The player has to do this if they want the PC's Hunting skill to influence encounters. If the player does not intend to hunt, animal encounters may still happen, but by normal procedures only.

It may be possible that Hunting skill can even improve damage when hunting; reflecting the hunter's knowledge of the target animal's weak spots. Let the player make a throw to know weak spots, then apply whatever extra damage the Referee decides. "With a Schamellian Ice Demon, you've got to put the first one right between its' gill slits. Hit it anywhere else, and you'll only make it mad" or "the Glaudenese sword-nose has a nerve cluster just ahead of its' rear legs. Hit that and it's paralyzed; brings it down in one shot".

Hunting can also be for the purpose of study, or photography. In these instances, achieving surprise is critical, to allow the PCs to observe the animal without disturbing it. If surprise is not achieved, the PCs may have to stalk the animal, and over time the Referee can allow another encounter and another chance to gain surprise.

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