I was surprised to note that the Kidnapper has Extortion as the required Lifepath skill, but Blackmailer doesn’t have it at all. I would think that Extortion is exactly what a blackmailer does. In fact, between Extortion and Hard Hearted, Kidnappers are better blackmailers than Blackmailers!
I have the understanding that blackmail is about threatening to expose information about someone that they do not want made public. There is no threat of physical violence.
Extortion generally has the overtones of violence. “I will shoot you in the kneecaps if you do not pay me money.” It is a lot more broad than simply revealing to the public something that the victim wants to keep secret.
Kidnap & Blackmail… what does it mean to be professional?
That’s something I find interesting. Both the people are committing crimes that depend on them being trusted to keep their word in order to profit.
Kidnapping is interesting because the professional kidnapper is more trustworthy than the one-off kidnapper. If you know the kidnapper is planning to do it again (but to someone else) it’s a clear signal that you can trust him to release his hostage once you’ve paid. To demand more might undermine his position in a future negotiation.
The one off kidnapper has no such planned future so he might as well ask for more money once you’ve paid. He’s the more danerous animal.
Blackmailers also need trust especially if they have a dangerous secret. So what if you pay and they still blab? If possible, when dealing with blackmail you should attempt to strike up an alternative deal. You want 10k now? No way, I’ll give you 300 a month, forever.
By negotiating in “forever” installments way the blackmailer is paid to keep shut up. If he blabs then he loses his income. A professional blackmailer might ask for this arrangement as it makes him more trustworthy than the dangerous one off guy.
The Extortion entry on p231:
“Who doesn’t need to know how to threaten friends and enemies alike so they pay you to remain safe and healthy? Makes a great way to recover taxed Resources.”
That’s blackmail to me! In fact, in my group’s last session less than a week ago one the PCs blackmailed someone and we all agreed that Extortion was the appropriate skill to use. I don’t see any other skill that could be used for blackmail. I agree with Hirram that this looks like an errata; Blackmailer should have the skill or a pre-req LP that has the skill.
Furthermore, the dictionary.com definitions of blackmail: “any payment extorted by intimidation, as by threats of injurious revelations or accusations” and “to extort money from (a person) by the use of threats”.
If it’s a criminal offence Amercement might work too?
“The court’s would certainly assess a punishment of mutilation for this offence… however in this time of peril a penalty of a monetary nature may be more appropriate…”
You’d probably need to be in some position of authority (or assumed authority) but it might assist in making a case?
(Amercement is one of my favourite skills in terms of colour!)
I think Amercement, Law, etc. would make excellent FoRKs. However, I think Extortion is still the appropriate skill- you aren’t trying to qccurately determine the penalty, you’re trying to extort money from him. Likewise, if you’re trying to persuade someone not to commit a crime, Amercement is a wonderful FoRK (as you explain the possible penalties), but the relevant skill is still Persuasion.
Still, Amercement and Law are awesome skills for any aspiring blackmailer! That and “I Know What You Did-wise”.
That’s the scariest wise I’ve ever seen.