The City of Lives
Contacting is the ability to find things out from people. A character may know a guy, who knows a guy, or maybe they just know the right questions to ask. Whatever their methods, they know how to find things out by asking around. Characters with high Contacting include courtiers, information merchants, and spies.
A character with a high Contacting skill knows a wide variety of people and has at least a mild amount of connection with virtually any organization. There are Contacting stunts which give a character deep ties to a specific field like crime or business, and those allow a deeper level of contact within that field.
Contacting does not work in a vacuum. The character needs to be able to get out and talk to people for it to be useful, and when that isn’t possible, neither is Contacting. Contacting is also limited by familiarity—a character finding themself in an entirely unfamiliar environment may encounter difficulties increased by as much as +4. Thankfully, Contacting also covers the skill for building new social networks, so if a character stays in an area for any amount of time, they can diminish the difficulty by one per week spent.
- Gather Information [Contacting]
As with the research trapping from Lore, gathering information begins with a question, except the character goes out and talks to people, trying to find the answer to a question like, “Who’s trying to kill me?” The player describes where their character is going to talk to folks (usually “the street”), the GM sets the difficulty, and the player rolls at normal, at which point the GM passes on whatever the player has discovered. If the Contacting roll fails, then the research time investment table may be applied; instead of needing a library, the character needs people to talk to. These people must have the right level of access to answer the question; this corresponds to the “quality” of a library. If the character is being “shut out” for one reason or another, no amount of dogged persistence through time investment is going to help. When that happens, it usually means there’s another problem the player needs to solve first.
One important warning about authenticity—being the most informed guy and knowing all the latest gossip isn’t necessarily the same thing. Contacting finds out what people know, and people always have their own biases. Information is only as good as the sources it comes from. Contacting rarely tests the veracity of the information provided—save by the discovery, through several sources, that contradictory answers are coming from different sources. If a character wants to determine the truthfulness of the information they’re finding, that’s a more in-depth conversation, and may involve Empathy, Rapport, Deceit, and more.
- Getting the Tip Off [Contacting]
Contacting also keeps the character appraised of the general state of things, and acts as a sort of social Alertness, keeping the character abreast of things that might be coming their way. It’s far from foolproof, and like Alertness, the GM is usually the one to call for a roll—a player can’t go out looking for a tip off (though they can tell the GM they’re going out talking to their contacts just to check on what’s up, which is a good hint that they’d like a tip off).
- Rumors [Contacting]
Contacting is also useful for planting rumors, not just for ferreting them out. The player simply tells the GM what rumor they want to plant, and the GM may assign bonuses and penalties based on how preposterous or reasonable the rumor is. The GM then uses the final roll to determine what the result of the rumor is.
It’s worth noting: the character’s roll is also the target for someone else’s Contacting roll to find out who’s been spreading rumors, so be careful!
- Contacting in Conflicts [Contacting]
Contacting can be used as a Maneuver skill in Social conflicts.