Dresden Files: New York
A measure of your network of friends and associates.
The Contacts skill doesn’t work in a vacuum—you need to be able to get out and talk to people for it to be useful; when that isn’t possible, neither is the skill. Contacts are also limited by familiarity. Finding yourself in an entirely unfamiliar environment means drastically increased difficulties (+4 or more) on your Contacts rolls. For every week you stay in the area and expand your social networks, the familiarity penalty is reduced by one
Information gained from a contact is only as good as its source. The Contacts skill discovers what people know, and people always have their own biases and are sometimes just plain misinformed. If you want to determine the truthfulness of the information you’re uncovering, that means more in-depth conversation with individuals (possibly involving Empathy, Rapport, Deceit, Intimidation, and more) or more-likely independent verification through legwork
Finally, it is difficult to use the Contacts skill secretly as it usually indicates that you are going out and talking to a lot of people or otherwise put out the “word on the street” that you are looking for information on a specific topic. If you’re asking some particularly sensitive questions, word is likely going to get back to the people who have the real, deeper answers—people who might see shutting you up as the best way to keep their secrets.
Use Contests to try to get answers to a question or questions you have. Describe where you are going to talk to folks (usually “the street”), and the GM sets the difficulty. Roll normally, and then the GM explains what you discovered. If the roll fails, then you may need to take extra time to try to succeed (page 316).
Works similar to the “answers” and “research” trappings from Scholarship (page 140) but requires people to talk to. These people must have the right level of access to answer the question. If you are being shut out (or the information is too secret), no amount of dogged persistence through time investment is going to help.
Getting the Tip-Off
Use Contacts to keep apprised of the general state of things, sometimes without you going out and making an active effort. The Contacts skill acts as a sort of social Alertness, keeping you abreast of things that might be coming your way (Like if someone else is using contacts to try to dig up information on you).
Use Contact to declare you know or otherwise have access to/a working relationship with someone. Deeper connections may come about through concerted effort or the application of stunts. You can roll Contacts as a declaration in any scene to establish that you have a contact at hand, whether in a certain location or in a certain group of people. See page 319 for setting difficulties for Contacts rolls,
Use Contacts to shape public opinion on groups/individuals/objects. Tell the GM what rumor you want to plant, and she assigns bonuses or penalties based on how preposterous or reasonable the rumor is. The GM uses the final roll to determine the result of the rumor. Can be used as a maneuver or a Social attack. Your roll is also the target for someone else’s Contacts roll to find out who has been spreading rumors.
Ear to the Ground: You have your fingers on the pulse of things, with plenty of friends who can give you a heads up. The difficulty of any Getting the Tip-Off (page 124) roll is reduced by two.
I Know Just the Guy: When you’re looking to gather some information from your network of contacts, you have unerring instincts for finding the right person, fast. When using the Gathering Information trapping (page 123), your efforts are at a +1 and are 1 time increment (page 315) faster.
Rumormonger: You know exactly how to get the word out, gaining a +2 on your efforts to spread rumors.