Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fundamentals: Savoir-Faire

This is my first thought when I hear the
I was browsing the official Steve Jackson Games Forum, and noticed a conversation about how many people have taken the Savoir Faire skill, and for what reason. The question struck me as inspirational, because I realize even though it is a skill that almost anyone is always recommended/required to have a point in at bare minimum, it almost always seems like a "waste" besides as a device for defining character. Today, I'd like to brainstorm some ways that I might make this skill more useful.

What's it Do?

Well, by rules as written, the default use case is to allow an Influence Roll instead of a plain Reaction Roll when meeting someone of the specified social circle. It is also very susceptible to negative modifiers from relative social standing, (eg, even if you know how to behave around the mafia, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be trading in great deals of respect if you are otherwise a no-one.) So, for one without any decent social skills, that alone feels like a pretty useful benefit, but let's see how else we might use this skill.

Savoir-Faire as a Foot in the Door

Perhaps Savoir-Faire can have a bit of an overlap with the Area Knowledge skill but instead of focusing on the geography, it is focused on the people. Knowing when and how it is appropriate to approach the master of a training hall, or the chief of police, and what kinda gifts grease the wheel of the social vehicle, and what kind constitute a thinly veiled attempt at all out bribery might be aptitudes hidden behind the usage of the Savoir-Faire skill.

Savoir-Faire as a Ceiling

Savoir-Faire is an easy difficulty skill, which is similar to Swimming. While Swimming, any skill in use is capped to the lowest between the two of the skill that we want to use and the Swimming skill. In the same vein, perhaps Savoir-Faire is not (as) useful by itself, but it allows one to have the tact to successfully negotiate while minding the appropriate decorum for the social group in question.

Savoir-Faire as a Complementary Skill

Instead, it might be used to help with the use of negotiation skills and used in a complementary manner for a small bonus in the way that all complementary skills work.

Savoir-Faire as a (Limited) deterrent to Acting or Disguise

Savoir-Faire assumes you know the uniforms of the group and the social mannerisms as well. Perhaps a quick contest of perception based Savoir-Faire can tell someone is wearing a fake uniform, or inexpensive clothes at the country club. A plain ol' vanilla IQ based version might pick out some queues from an otherwise flawless performance that things aren't exactly on the level.

Other Thoughts

This was a short post, but I dunno, Savoir-Faire is a weird skill, and I think having a bunch of different ideas in front of me makes it easier. One interesting novel idea that I heard, but I can't relocate it to give credit where it is due, is the idea of using Savoir-Faire to understand if someone is acting out on purpose or to make a point. I kinda like when people find a way that is almost the inverse (contrapositive?) usage that actually makes sense.

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