Action 4 is undoubtedly an iteration of the Specialty packages Kromm created for his GURPS campaign, The Company, back in 2009. This is a good thing.
Reading through The Company Document (page with link here, direct attachment link here) is interesting, as many of specialties are lifted almost verbatim (I'll bold examples) from the word document to Action 4.
For example, The Languages Speciality from The Company Document (which I'll call TCD from here on out):
LanguagesEvery Company operative is expected to be bilingual, at least – but a trained interpreter is a valuable resource for a squad, given that there’s no way of knowing where the next job will be. You’re multilingual in the extreme and have a trained ear even for languages you don’t know. This specialty is most effective when paired with something like Impersonation, Social Engineering, or Spin Doctor.Advantages: Acute Hearing 1 ; Language 1 (Native) ; Language 2 (Native) ; Language 3 (Native) .Perks: Accent (any one for any language known) .Skills: Linguistics (IQ/H) .
And the same from Action 4:
LinguistSo, both include Acute Hearing 1 as well as Three Languages at Native Comprehension. TCD has 4 points in linguistics and a perk, while Action 4 springs for Language Talent and a single related skill at 1 point. This is pretty indicative of a lot of the packages from TCD to Action 4- they ditch perks and they tend to skew skills towards more of an action oriented game.
You’re a trained interpreter or just a “citizen of the world.”
You’re multilingual in the extreme and have a trained ear.
Advantages: Acute Hearing 1 ; Language Talent* ; Language (any at Native) ; Language (any other at Native)
; Language (yet another at Native) .
Skills: One of Gesture (IQ/E) , Lip Reading (Per/A) ,
Public Speaking (IQ/A) , or Writing (IQ/A)  – or Linguistics (IQ/H)  in a realistic campaign, though Action
doesn’t use that skill.
* When doubling up, choose Cultural Adaptability  or
Voice  the second time.
Records Falsification from TCD:
And from Action 4:Records FalsificationYou can fake just about any kind of document: identity cards, ledgers, police reports, and (in a pinch) banknotes. Given the Company’s shadowy existence, this specialty is in great demand. Company ops don’t have to do this sort of work themselves – they can request it from their handlers in advance – but field Agents often run into situations and timelines that render such orders infeasible during an assignment.Perks: One-Task Wonder (Administration defaults to full IQ when filling in/interpreting forms) .Skills: Accounting (IQ/H) ; Computer Operation (IQ/E) ; Counterfeiting (IQ/H) (from Forgery) ; Electronics Operation (Media) (IQ/A) ; Electronics Repair (Media) (IQ/A) ; Forgery (IQ/H) ; Photography (IQ/A) .
You can fake documents of most kinds: identity cards, ledgers, photographs . . . even banknotes, in a pinch. To falsify
digital records, tack on Computer Intrusion (p. 13).
Skills: Accounting (IQ/H) ; Administration (IQ/A)
; Computer Operation (IQ/E) ; Electronics
Operation (Media) (IQ/A) ; Forgery* (IQ/H) .
* Counterfeiting (IQ/H) defaults to Forgery-2,
which usually suffices because it rarely arises in
Action. If it’s essential to a character concept, take
it instead of Forgery and use Forgery at its Counterfeiting-2 default.
Both have a spattering of the same skills, although the point values differ a little between the two. Perhaps the biggest difference are the skills that later get removed with Action 4- Electronics Repair (Media) is completely ditched, as is the perk in favor of putting actual points in Administration. Action 4's specialty just makes more sense than the one in TCD.
So what do we know about Action 4?
- Action 4 has effectively been in development for almost 6 years since the specialty packages concept have been kicking around Kromm's head since around that time (at least)
- Action 4 is sleek, lean, and based off something that works- I used TCD for my Agency 17 game and all of my players ended up with very capable, interesting characters to play. I still suggest using specialties to my players to this day, and I'll likely allow players the choice of choosing between the ones laid out in TCD or Action 4.
- Hell, I still routinely build NPCs off TCD to this day.
- There's new specialties in Action 4 completely left out of TCD, such as Journalist, Bon Vivant, Researcher and Fireman, which expands from purely the espionage roots of TCD into incorporating a wider selection of Action Roles.
- Action 4 takes the default agent template of TCD and breaks it down to a lower point total and then encourages people to select from power-ups which allows for even made tailor-made characters without moving away from Templates.
- I would love to see this expanded to non-action genres, although many specialties could easily be converted without much effort.
- Somewhat more realistic specialties would also be fantastic