Advocate Specialities

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Advocate Specialities

Postby PaulB » Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:13 am

Having read through the Skills section and discussed it with friends, I can't see how Advocate isn't a root with Specialities. To take a real world sense check, you can't practice law in Scotland with only a knowledge of English law. Equally, an individual trained in corporate law would not stand up to handling criminal, environmental or immigration law.

Given the standard Traveller campaign likely means running afoul of law enforcement and customs on a regular basis, transporting refugees and contraband, etc., I can't see how Advocate can get such a vague and frankly unbelievable skill compared to Art, on the very next page, that warrants seven listed Specialities!
Last edited by PaulB on Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:40 am

List out the specialties that skill should have then. Shouldn't there be more doctor types as well? What do you think?
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby PaulB » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:13 am

I'm not an expert - I just have friends in law who seemed highly amused that Advocate could cover interstellar law so cleanly and simply!

I might suggest the following, but believe that any Skill check should have increased Difficulty wherever a Traveller practices outside his home system! An additional Speciality might be to add a new system.

Contract Law - The Traveller is practiced in the meticulous details of binding agreements, filing cases, investigating clauses, and handling plea in the negotiation of settlement or conduct within a contract.

Corporate Law - The Traveller has practice in handling businesses, large and small, handling mergers, restructuring, securing capital, and representing companies in the negotiation and closure of deals.

Criminal Law - The Traveller has the training and street-smarts to handle cases of misdemeanours and crime, with minor fraud to money-laundering and terrorism. They have a familiarity with witness statements, medical reports, court management and judicial appeals.

Litigation - The Traveller is savvy in the resolution of disputes and claims, dealing with the minutiae of regulations and transactions. You have a keen commercial awareness and the ability to communicate facts and strategies.

Oration - The Traveller is practiced in the art of public or ceremonial speaking, delivering with eloquence and skill.

Reputation Management - The Traveller has a fair expertise in matters of the media and intellectual property, understanding the important of image and brand. You have a strong grounding in matters of privacy, defamation and injunctions against the media.
Last edited by PaulB on Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:40 pm

Don't forget Oration - part of Advocate is the ability to speak well in public, not tied to LAW at all and can be used by a lot of other types (such as Entertainers).
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby PaulB » Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:51 pm

Good point. List updated.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby DickNervous » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:03 pm

While I agree that having specialties under Advocate isn't a bad thing, I think they should, for playability, be a bit broader. A GM can always add to the list if they want to. Perhaps something like this:
  • Business Law: This would include anything that involves business. It could be Mergers and Acquisitions, contract or trade disputes, reputation management, even trademark or patent law.
  • Criminal Law: Anything that is related to a crime of any type from theft and assault to murder to embezzlement.
  • General Law: This would include everything else, including general litigation. It could be anything as simple as being an awesome and influential public speaker to a crack legal researcher to just knowing enough about the law to talk your way out of almost anything.
Then the GM can break these down if they deem it necessary to their campaign or if the players request.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby nawara » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:15 pm

As a guy who knows a little bit about this in real life, I would recommend against specialties.

Scottish Law and English Law are an unusually distant example, since the Scots kept the Roman Civil Law. They're about as opposite as you can get without talking about Islamic Law. A better comparison would be American and Canadian law, both of which derive from the same Imperial legal system (though separated by more than 200 years of development). And they're really not that different. Certainly not more than could be modeled by saying "you're on an alien planet with an unfamiliar legal system, so take disadv... a bane."

As for different specialties, American lawyers have to minimally qualify in every type of law and the better kind can bring themselves up to speed in a new area fairly quickly when they're doing a pro bono project. Most things don't require you to be the greatest X Lawyer of all time. Just being a good lawyer with a good treatise on X is good enough in almost all circumstances. I can only imagine how much better Lexis is going to be 3,000 years in the future.

Most importantly, though, there's nothing actually fun about playing a lawyer character who is only good at responding to §1983 complaints and sucks at everything else.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby -Daniel- » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:26 pm

I have to agree with nawara. While I understand the desire to break this (and many other) skills down to a much greater granular level, we need to keep playability in mind. I can't imagine very many games require Advocate (Environmental Law) for example. Yet that is what one of the lawyers I work with is. Let's keep it as a general skill and if a referee wants to break it down for a particular game focused on a court house then they can.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Sep 09, 2015 6:04 pm

PaulB wrote:I'm not an expert - I just have friends in law who seemed highly amused that Advocate could cover interstellar law so cleanly and simply!

I might suggest the following, but believe that any Skill check should have increased Difficulty wherever a Traveller practices outside his home system! An additional Speciality might be to add a new system.

Contract Law - The Traveller is practiced in the meticulous details of binding agreements, filing cases, investigating clauses, and handling plea in the negotiation of settlement or conduct within a contract.

Corporate Law - The Traveller has practice in handling businesses, large and small, handling mergers, restructuring, securing capital, and representing companies in the negotiation and closure of deals.

Criminal Law - The Traveller has the training and street-smarts to handle cases of misdemeanours and crime, with minor fraud to money-laundering and terrorism. They have a familiarity with witness statements, medical reports, court management and judicial appeals.

Litigation - The Traveller is savvy in the resolution of disputes and claims, dealing with the minutiae of regulations and transactions. You have a keen commercial awareness and the ability to communicate facts and strategies.

Oration - The Traveller is practiced in the art of public or ceremonial speaking, delivering with eloquence and skill.

Reputation Management - The Traveller has a fair expertise in matters of the media and intellectual property, understanding the important of image and brand. You have a strong grounding in matters of privacy, defamation and injunctions against the media.
Very cool differentiations of Advocate there. Now to find a Referee to allow such skills to help a player shine during a game where it would make sense to have happen in a game.

With art, just the art piece is replaced to fit an art skill/situation. For advocate, it may be an entire political/government situation that needs replacing. I see Oration getting lots of use as a persuade skill.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby PaulB » Wed Sep 09, 2015 6:25 pm

-Daniel- wrote:I have to agree with nawara. While I understand the desire to break this (and many other) skills down to a much greater granular level, we need to keep playability in mind. I can't imagine very many games require Advocate (Environmental Law) for example. Yet that is what one of the lawyers I work with is. Let's keep it as a general skill and if a referee wants to break it down for a particular game focused on a court house then they can.
To play Devil's advocate, on this basis, shouldn't we collapse a skill like Art, because how many games require a sculptor?
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:48 pm

PaulB wrote:
-Daniel- wrote:I have to agree with nawara. While I understand the desire to break this (and many other) skills down to a much greater granular level, we need to keep playability in mind. I can't imagine very many games require Advocate (Environmental Law) for example. Yet that is what one of the lawyers I work with is. Let's keep it as a general skill and if a referee wants to break it down for a particular game focused on a court house then they can.
To play Devil's advocate, on this basis, shouldn't we collapse a skill like Art, because how many games require a sculptor?
Sculpting would not be limited to just sculpting though.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby NOLATrav » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:17 pm

Perhaps Advocate should be geared towards adventuring...

Imperial Law: dealing with the nobility and government issues, requires high SOC for the highest cases

Trade: merchants, mega corps, star ports, ship mortgages and skipping, maybe belters

Criminal: smuggling, piracy, law level, combat in public areas

General Practice: catch-all for malpractice, insurance, etc etc

Art could definitely be simplified:

Visual Arts, including performance/dance, sculpture, holography and graphical/interface design

Audible Arts, including instruments and writing music, song and subsonics and so forth for aliens

Written Arts, including oration

Just thinking out loud...
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby -Daniel- » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:45 pm

PaulB wrote:
-Daniel- wrote:I have to agree with nawara. While I understand the desire to break this (and many other) skills down to a much greater granular level, we need to keep playability in mind. I can't imagine very many games require Advocate (Environmental Law) for example. Yet that is what one of the lawyers I work with is. Let's keep it as a general skill and if a referee wants to break it down for a particular game focused on a court house then they can.
To play Devil's advocate, on this basis, shouldn't we collapse a skill like Art, because how many games require a sculptor?
I would not have any issue with that. However, I will still remain with my position that advocate should remain a consolidated skill.

On a side note, I kind of wanted to have an NPC with Art (Interpretive Dance) -3 just to see how the players would react once they saw it. :mrgreen:
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby nawara » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:59 pm

There isn't a single skill in Traveller that doesn't represent something where there would be varying levels of skill between people with professional specialization. The electronics skill has a computer specialty, sure. But the computer specialty doesn't account for the difference between programming, networking, and productivity. If you have a programming specialty, it's not going to account for the difference between C, Java, Ruby, and Python. If you have a Python specialty, it's not going to account for the difference between guys who do Big Data and guys who do Django. At some point you just have to say, "hey, this is a roleplaying game and I don't want my character to be completely useless."

Besides, a great tort lawyer is a hell of a lot better at a pro bono crim case than a great sculptor is at dancing or playing the violin. Instead of thinking in terms of Traveller specialties it might be better to just assume that the default represents you working in a somewhat familiar legal tradition but on a fact pattern or statute/case line that you don't work with on a regular basis. If you actually are doing exactly the kind of law you do for a living and you're not working on anything particularly novel, I don't know why you'd even bother rolling. (At worst you should get an automatic boon.)

A great lawyer is a great lawyer. Research, writing, oral advocacy, and tactics matter. You don't have to have the specific cases and statutes memorized; you can look them up. The elite corporate litigator is probably going to destroy the overworked ADA on the minor possession case he picked up pro bono, just as the retired federal prosecutor is going to kick the absolute bejeesus out of the small-town ambulance chaser who's trying to shake down his friend's gift shop. I've seen both of these happen.

We don't bother having a separate specialty for each separate firearm model, and that's a lot more easily justified than Advocacy specialties in a setting where there's an Imperium transmitting shared legal values and education (not to mention a shared body of trade law), and in a setting where every lawyer has a Library (which I assume is at least as useful as Lexis or WestLaw).

If there were specialties they would need to just be Imperium, Aslan, Hiver, etc. But most characters are going to take Imperium because that's objectively more useful in most campaigns, so you might as well just assign a bane when you're outside your legal tradition and a boon when you're working in your character's specific practice area.

Most importantly, though, the space it would take to add this in is space that would have to come from somewhere else. If space could magically be freed up, it would better be devoted to Droyne, Hivers, K'kree, Zhodani, bringing back the Sample NPCs chart, some common ship upgrades, a Heavy Freighter, a Close Escort, a Corsair, or any of a number of other things.
Last edited by nawara on Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby anselyn » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:02 am

nawara wrote:If there were specialties they would need to just be Imperium, Aslan, Hiver, etc. But most characters are going to take Imperium because that's objectively more useful in most campaigns, so you might as well just assign a bane when you're outside your legal tradition and a boon when you're working in your character's specific practice area.
The change I'd make is a little swap so that the skill level applies to all uses of the skill and there is a +1 for the area of speciality. This keeps the skills more generally useful but it's more rewarding when your speciality comes into play - even if it's almost there as flavour text.

So - Gun Combat(Slug)-0 would be familiarity with all guns from an ability to fire slug throwers (+1).
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby grauenwolf » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:47 am

I am hesitant to add more specialties as skill points are hard enough to come by as-is.

In regards to advocate, I think of it more as the ability to look up and understand local laws than memorizing the laws of one given planet or scenario.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby -Daniel- » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:23 am

anselyn wrote: So - Gun Combat(Slug)-0 would be familiarity with all guns from an ability to fire slug throwers (+1).
While I appreciate what you are trying to do, I really think we should just stick to zero means zero and 1 means 1 etc.
This zero really means 1 just feels counter intuitive to me.
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby anselyn » Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:07 am

-Daniel- wrote:
anselyn wrote: So - Gun Combat(Slug)-0 would be familiarity with all guns from an ability to fire slug throwers (+1).
While I appreciate what you are trying to do, I really think we should just stick to zero means zero and 1 means 1 etc.
This zero really means 1 just feels counter intuitive to me.
Yes. I see your point.

If Family(Member)-N is most naturally taken to be specifying a skill of N in Member then remembering the Family skill is being defined first isn't intuitive.

In play, I'd guess a group of characters might have one of them with Engineer(Speciality) who would most often be using the Engineer level skill. Equally for Advocate(Sophont Rights) - the Advocate for the normal usage.

However, in a fight everyone with Gun Combat(Member) will always whipping their carefully-equipped Member out so Gun Combat would usually be giving the wrong number. And, of course, this last case is really the play default. :wink:
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby allanimal » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:03 am

anselyn wrote:In a fight everyone with Gun Combat(Member) will always whipping their carefully-equipped Member out so Gun Combat would usually be giving the wrong number. And, of course, this last case is really the play default. :wink:
Really? I'd say guns come out about once every three sessions or so in the regular game I am in. Packing heat and ready to shoot is not the default in my group.
I guess my point is, we should not make too many assumptions about others play styles...
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Re: Advocate Specialities

Postby grauenwolf » Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:31 am

allanimal wrote: Really? I'd say guns come out about once every three sessions or so in the regular game I am in. Packing heat and ready to shoot is not the default in my group.
Same here. The PCs tried to shoot their way out of a situation one time. After the first character was hit with a rifle bullet and nearly died, the players universally decided that guns were a really bad thing and haven't resorted to them since. (Except for shooting wild animals.)

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