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I'm statting up a very smart character for a hunter game (Int ••••) and would like to represent his ability to look over some theoretical work (briefly) and become an 'instant expert'.

I've noticed an ability of the same name exists in Changeling and Genius, but from the summary I read it doesn't seem quite right. I also know we of the encyclopedic knowledge merit which is certainly close but only represents a single fact (correct me if I'm wrong).

What seems appropriate is a merit granting an extended intelligence based skill check (fixed target number) to gain either •s in merit as dice towards a skill, or successes from the extended roll up to a maximum of X rolls (before it becomes down time XP expenditure) for a single check, once per day/scene/chapter. The alternative is to make it a custom endowment for my Hunter ... but an endowment is just a hunter-specific merit so that's no big deal in any distinction.

My question is, is there something out there that does that or similar already? If not is my proposal sound and not can I finalise the details and to what • rating?

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Take a look at this list. Specifically the merits Scientist's Sense and Good Brain. The second one needs to be adapted since it's for Promethean ^^ Both contribute to give a character the feel of a really good and fast thinker – Landir Apr 3 '14 at 9:43
@Landir That sounds like it could be an answer. – Jason_c_o Apr 3 '14 at 10:30
@Landir, Jason is right. That could be an answer. Especially with a better summary of some mechanics and a full book name. – Pureferret Apr 3 '14 at 12:37
I've had some experience using the "Good Brain" merit, so I've used it in my answer. I haven't tried "Scientist's Sense," nor have I used Common Sense much (ha!) in my games, so I don't know how well that would work in practice. – Jadasc Apr 3 '14 at 13:52
You know what? I wouldn't even bother with a merit for that; you're taking extra time and using a tool for an Equipment bonus, which will overcome any -1 or -0 penalty you might have for doing it unskilled. I'd say "take the time, spend a Willpower, and have done with it." – Jadasc Apr 3 '14 at 14:14
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The "Good Brain" merit from Promethean (Strange Alchemies, page 58) is three dots and removes the -3 penalty for unskilled Mental tests.

The alternate merit you've proposed is somewhat unclear and complex to a large degree. It appears to involve rolling the dice in the merit in an extended skill check to gain a variable number of phantom dice in a skill or as bonus successes that apply to another series of extended skills — but not too many — during the course of a single instance of play. Frankly, as a Storyteller, I'd call that not worth the journey. Reskinning the Promethean merit as "Instant Expert" is a simpler call, easier to implement, and gets you back in the game faster.

In further comments, you've asked about expanding this ability to non-Mental skills:

more with a caveat of having had to do some research into it. E.g. an hour studying a technical manual lets you reprogram a burglar alarm or fifteen minutes reading Bruce Wayne's twitter feed lets you know how best to persuade him on a business deal.

There's a merit from the classic World of Darkness games called "Jack of all Trades" that did that; it was a five-dot merit in most of its incarnations because it gave you a "phantom die" in anything you had no dots in. The flavor you want is "instant expert," though, and gaining +3 dice in any Mental skill after a little study fits in with that. The Physical and Social skills don't have the same penalty, so the feeling of expertise isn't there.

Personally, I wouldn't even bother with a merit for that; you're taking extra time and using a tool for an Equipment bonus, which will overcome any -1 or -0 penalty you might have for doing it unskilled. I'd say "take the time, spend a Willpower, and have done with it." If you found yourself doing it often, I'd recommend buying up higher Attributes to reflect your facility; a high Intelligence, Dexterity, and either Presence, Manipulation or both would do it.

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Good answer! The proposed merit is quite vague as I'm not sure where to pitch it – Pureferret Apr 3 '14 at 13:30

Interdisciplinary Speciality (•) - Research

What is being described is the ability to research a topic and gain a bonus from that research.

This merit (as described in the God Machine rules update) seems as though it would allow you to add a +1 bonus to some roles if the are deemed to line up with being able to research them. Obviously it's far fetched to apply this in combat to learn kung-fu , but researching someone's twitter feed, or a specific lock may allow you (with ST approval) to gain that bonus die.

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