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Life Science Skills Are Important
Meta around these skills is incredibly frequent

There is a category of skills that are broad within this game. There are then categories of skills which are VERY VERY narrow. And categories of skills which are somewhere in between. These are necessary distinctions. As they provide a foundation for game balance... Focusing particularly on the first. These broad skills are necessary as to describe each field they represent is not as simple as saying, "Mechanic," or "Swordswoman" which have very specific concrete connotations. But instead this broad category allows for the player to ultimately customize the skill to their choosing and how it interacts with their character. In a way a skill like mechanic or Long Blades doesn't, and in fact, shouldn't allow. These skills within this category are ultimately, on their own, miniature single skill archetypes of their own. And they have to be. Because to represent their varieties in all their forms would crowd out the skills screen with pointless skill upon pointless skill.

These skills are the Life Science skills. https://www.sindome.org/help/game/life science skills/ Found there.

They are also very heavily underutilized in my experience. Both for their systems, and for their RP.

Now, that being said, They are broad because for systematic simplicity, it has to be. And they exist in a category of skills that all are that way. So I find no problem with them. Because in the field of Life Sciences all of the skills are broad, and it's because these aren't representing on specific class or type of science, but a broader field of study... An archetype of the sciences. With there being only possible debate between medical and bio tech being separate even though those are technically a similar field systematically and tend to come in pairs, I'd say they are ultimately separate from a definite RP standpoint. A bio Tech studies the mechanic interfacings and a medical student studies the purely natural ones.

Of these skills the I'd say, Artistry is the most broad, but also the most simultaneously unnecessary.. There is not a single point to artistry in the game beyond customization(IE RP) and prestige(IE RP) to hire an artist in this game. And that is a mark in Artistry's favor, in my opinion. If you were to separate out say tailoring from Artistry, you would remove an already scantily useful skills only money making use and turning it into something that simultaneously makes both more pointless.

Artistry is a broad skill, in a category of broad skills, it is just the most widely adopted skill from this category in the game. With the most systematic context given to it.

This is a good thing ultimately. As it allows artistic characters too initially feel out how their character might do something... And because of the broad amounts of systems it interacts with, it enforces the notion that it should be considered normal(In our worlds sense) to know a little about artistry. Pretty much everyone in the modern day has taken a 2 week course on artistry.

And that brings me to my next topic... The other skills in this category, cause hooo boy do I have a lot to say on the failure to self enforce the RP here.

We are constantly told that we as starting characters are not capable of being truly skilled and that is something we build up to being.

We are constantly told that Ordinary is not ordinary to us, but rather relative to the world's ordinary.

And... We ignore this a lot of the time... Myself included before I did a lot of thinking over the past week or so.

Largely because humans are pattern recognizing and forming beings, we ignore critical aspects of these skills in our day to day RP.

A mixer PI or Solo should study forensics, just as a corpsec or judge should. Because forensics isn't JUST studying dead bodies, it's also, studying scenes of crimes or even non-crimes, establishing schedules... Events...

It's specifically, according to the definition in the help file...

The use of science, technology and common sense to investigate physical evidence to discover factual details.

Note the words "common sense" there. Let's apply the same logic of artistry's and in fact every other skills system's to the RP surrounding Forensics for a moment.

A character without forensics should be hamstrung when asked to find someone or something. Or utterly reliant on instruction from those who have studied it. It is not a narrow field, but rather an illustration of a massively broad field. Encompassing, and I'm gonna give an example of just how impactful some of this -SHOULD- be to players without it.

Crime Scene Research(These bullets are coming from somewhere? If Forensics: "What roofs are nearby?" Else: "They came from above me and to the right.. FUCK I JUST GOT SHOT..")

Psychology(He was likely attacking the man because of the bounty put out on him, but why? If Forensics, "He was desperate for money, The bounty was under 10k. And he wasn't an easy mark, this implies desperation, or inexperience." Else: "Fucker was bound to die anyway. Bounties aren't something you avoid for very long.")

Evidence finding and chains of evidence(Get killed, If forensics: "Maybe I should go to the people who run the streets here see if they know more?" Else: "Who the fuck knows how I got killed, anyone who saw it is probably too fucking pussy to tell me anyway.")

I could go on, but there are many places where character routinely take steps that if you applied the rationale that was imposed in every other system, to the RP of the skill, you would be incapable of it.

Next up... Chemical

Does your character look at drugs and just know what they do? They should have at least a little chemical then. Unless it's just very general surface level knowledge acquired purely from use...

Chemical effects not just drug making but knowledge of ANY drugs beyond the surface level, and even then, not much is surface level. How this should play out.

With Chemical, Dealer, "Marcy is THE fucking feel good drug, it makes your mind get in the groove and your whole body vibrate with the energy of a neutron fucking star. Stimulate your senses and get yourself a bump today."

With Chemical, Scientist, "Marcy is a stimulant, MrC, with a lowercase r, and it works on the frontal cortex to stimulate transmission of hormones from the mid brain and increase blood-flow to the prefrontal cortex, this causes a chain reaction of energy and a sort of sense of wakening, creative energy over flows. Accompanied with it's stimulant properties is a bevy of side effects including, increased sense of social awareness and empathy, confidence, and psychosomatic physical effects as an example, some users report a vibration like feeling in the sexual organs. And so on."

Without Chemical. "I dunno, just makes me feel good, hard to describe. REAL good for sex though. Hear deckers use it sometimes too."

I'm gonna stop here, before I go into the two more systematically driven skills here, because I may spoil some things with them... And do artistry next.

Artistry is not too broad, as long as the characters are being policed/self-policing enough in it to not be instant multi talented superstars. And as far as I've seen, off the top of my head, they are policing enough. There have been a few weird ass cases... But that's mostly stomped out pretty quickly as characters find what they like to do in character.

It's kinda like a middle or freshman high school art class. You're gonna learn a bit of everything at the start, so that next year/after a month or so of play, you can pick the elective you actually want to specialize in.

Changing the pace a bit, just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. This is the central tenant for all of these skills. Think about your RP. And how your characters might apply these skills. And then also think about the systematics of artistry and every other skill in the game. And contrast that with the relevant field of knowledge skill here.

Because you're not a modern human, you're a post-modern human... Skills flesh out what your character knows, attributes just provide the capacity to know it.

Further most of these other life science skills especially in comparison to artistry, are heavily underplayed -and- under enforced at current. So players do need to think about things a bit more... And self police as well.

If you don't have forensics, maybe you can't identify your very plain looking friends corpse... Hell maybe you don't want too, because without the grounding in those sciences, bodies skeeze you out.

If you don't have medical skill, don't have knowledge of the basics of gendered anatomy. Maybe struggle to train your body after a certain point, because you lack the knowledge of targeted exercises that would allow you to work muscle groups you don't know about.

If you don't have chemical knowledge, maybe don't have a memorized list of what each drug does in general. Maybe describe drugs in words like, "I need my happy pills," or "Gimmie those eye needles." Cause you know what they do but can't recall exactly what they are called. Bumping it up to the names of the drugs in question as you raise your int(And thus have a better memory) and so on.

If you don't have bio tech or a biotech around, maybe you know the names of some of the implants if you're smart(And thus have a good memory)... Or you just know what they do, and you describe shit as, "Those go fast juices," or "That thing that stops me hurting so much."

This is already getting long... But ultimately, players use these skills all the time in RP... I've seen it everywhere... And yes it's hard to think of these things in tense situations. Like the forensics under gunfire one above, but they are VERY relevant to think about after the fact. And trace through if your character would have known. Or wouldn't have known.

People slip, people RP smarter, better, more skilled than they are all the time... But like with anything, take some time, look at your character and think about, what they know? And why? What are they good at? And why? And then slowly think through situations?

Look at your characters stat sheet, and consider, "If I don't have forensics, how would I know the exact direction that bullet hit me from enough to make a guess at the exact rooftop that person is on?" Or, "If I don't have medical, how do I know that there's actually an anatomical component to virginity?" Or "If I don't have Chemical knowledge how do I know what marcy withdrawals look like specifically?"

Because if you don't have artistry you can't really paint? Right? So how would you know or use these incredibly specific pieces of skills that are in the game if you don't have them?

Fuck remind me not to write posts at 6AM again. This was hopefully mostly coherent.

And Jesus fuck it's four pages long... I'm sorry.

I already do this but maybe it's helpful for other folks. 👍
I don't agree with the cum hoc ergo propter hoc premise that if skill X includes knowledge of Y, knowledge of Y necessarily requires skill X.
Tl;dr

Just because you know about something doesn’t mean your character does.

It's not A occurred and thus B has occurred and has been caused by A, which is what Propter hoc is about. It's literally a foundation stone of the skill system. It's not thing a has occurred... It's thing A through Z has occurred and this a - d needs to occur more. It's not correlation equaling causation, it's just correlation, full stop.

Can you use a disguise, without doing it wrong without skill? Even easy ones that make sense to be set it and forget it?

Cause you fix someones wounds, bar stopping bleeding?

Can you pick up a sword and reasonably expect to hit anyone effectively?

All of these things are subject to natural abilities influence. but in general it is an absolutely that if you lack the skill, you cannot do the skill in any meaningful capacity.

There are VERY very very VERY few things you can do in this game without skills related to the subject in question. And some of those are being removed of late. Like with recent changes to SIC trackers.

There is a very limited pool of things that don't require skill checks that I can think of... And a lot of them make sense, some are necessary for game balance.

It's not A occurred and thus B has occurred and has been caused by A, which is what Propter hoc is about.

After this therefore because of it and with this therefore because of it are two different concepts. If Forensics includes critical thinking skills as part of its conceptual package, it doesn't strictly follow that therefore critical thinking skills require Forensics.

It's not critical thinking in general. It's critical thinking in regards to physical evidence.

Essentially yes, you can think critically about a situation in the moment without forensics... But like with disguise the data will be of limited use to you without the contextualization of the data.

It's not purely critical thinking to say, "The gunshots came from above me, therefore there are 3 roofs it could be, and x roof is most likely, I will check there." That's the example of the skilled at forensics thought... The non-skilled at forensics thoughts would be slower. More piecemeal, "It came from above, and to the left... Fuck I got shot..." look up, get shot again, "There's three roofs up there... I hate getting shot, fuck." Move to the east. Get shot again, "He's still got eyes on me, therefore he's X. Fucking bullets hurt."

More evidence is needed for someone without forensics to come to the same conclusion that someone with forensics might reach in moments.

I really don't see what the issue is that you're presenting. Your character knows what the game tells them, anything more is metagaming. Which is already enforced.

If you don't have a way of knowing something in-game, the game will not tell you. If you hear a gunshot from X direction, you heard it, you do not need an RP skill for flavour to have heard it and determine the gunshot you heard and the bullet that entered your body thereafter were causally related. You may choose to do so, at your role-playing discretion, but this is hardly required.

As far as I am aware there are no cases where the player will receive system feedback which they must subjectively disregard based on their own interpretation of their relative and associated skill level. Skill is factored into relevant mechanical feedback already.

I don't think people need to take biotech to know what chrome to get, chemical to know what drugs to take, mechanics to know which car to drive, Munitions to know what mods to put on their guns...

A lot of this is just common sense, or failing that INT based, as one of the substats.

>Knowledge (KNW) is any knowledge that's not technical in nature.

If you've got high enough INT, I think it's safe to say you can forego sprinkling points into every skill just to have a basic conversation about them, especially when relevant to your role.

The skills, themselves, are your knowledge of application.

Do you need medical and chemical to jam a needle full of drugs in your eye? Of course not. And it'd be silly to gate everything behind super low tier skill buys.

I'm talking about it's use in RP not in combat...

For instance...

You hear a gunshot to the east on X street. Which runs east to west... Systems knowledge oocly tells me it's within my characters hearing range, and thus I should be able to arrive at it within a set range, because I have oocly experienced the limits of my hearing and loud noises before.

Is that a sensible thing for my character to know? No it's not, at least not without some forensic knowledge. because my character wouldn't have that common sense to put together that physical evidence.

For medical, is it sensible for my character without medical to know the muscle groups and be able to name specific muscles? Maybe. Have they been told about it ICly? If they haven't, what's your justifcation, and would that justification also rely on knowing some background medical knowledge?

Grid works for learning skills, and history, but random facts related to those skills should rely on those skills as well.

Is this really that hard to parse? Justify your characters abilities and knowledge within the system.

Get asked about cyberware or anatomy in character, "I dunno, ask a cyber doc." Or, list off some wrong or partially incorrect bullshit. Don't give all the facts, and definitely don't fully correct information if your character doesn't have the full justification for that information. If you get a pain editor, or If you get a cyber eye, you might know how it functions... But you don't know how it operates, hell you probably don't even know how it's installed.

The forensics references are really the only place this gets muddled, because common sense relating to evidence is a human thing to come up with, pattern recognizing creatures and all... But it doesn't have to be a correct pattern you follow in the moment.

You're being followed, you don't need to know you're being followed, just because a hood is perpetually 1 tile behind you. Without forensics, you probably lack the ability to put together that that hood is the same hood every time you look.

The reason I bring up all these examples, is that they are things I've done, before I really looked at the skills, and really compared how all of the life science skills get treated, compared to the other skills.

And Meat I'm not saying that you need it to know how to use it... System's wise you don't?

But maybe you might need it to determine using it incorrectly is a bad idea

Dealer says jam it in the eye and press the Injector. But someone says they free base that shit. Do you know it's bullshit? Do you have the chemical skill to determine that?

I'm still unclear that the problem or complaint is. That not enough characters take niche skills for purely role-playing reasons? The adversarial capped UE skill system doesn't encourage that, and the rules don't require it, so... you can encourage people to do so, but players will generally optimize to the best outcomes, not the most interesting ones.
There's actually a definite rule that requires it, that being the forbiddence of metagaming, Specifically the very first part.

""Metagaming is the act of crossing IC/OOC lines either passively or

actively. For instance, using information you as the player know to

benefit (or even hinder) your character is active metagaming.""

And well this is also a request for the players to give these skills more relevance. By policing our own RP to better encourage the use of these skills not only systematically, but also thematically.

The problem here is that that's not being done... And players and characters, including myself, are getting known as knowledgeable because their players are ultimately knowledgeable about the systems.

Having Immy's show up with relatively close to no other chemistry knowledge and know what weed withdrawals look like or even how weed withdrawls interact with the users psychology? That's not right.

Having one month in combat folks know exactly how combat drug cocktails will react? That's not good RP.

It's not fun to be a doctor when everyone is loaded to bear with medical knowledge OOCly and uses it ICly. Especially when we're CONSTANTLY told that our character's are basically incapable of being smart at the start.

You don't see people questioning artists on why they can't just draw their own shit on a canvas ICly and hand it over for completion to an artist, because that's a pretty bullshit thing to do... Even if I have seen people do it. Should I be able to do essentially the same thing with chemistry, by denying that chemist the opportunity to hype up their drugs, and having my meat head explain exactly what the pro's and con's of the nA series are?

We should RP courteously in a subject which our characters are not experts. And remember at all times what our characters strengths and weaknesses are, and RP towards those.

This is a plea for people to remember that. Even myself. Because I've noticed myself slipping on this... As well as other people.

Yes, there are already rules for metagaming, but I don't think you are not saying there is endemic metagame violations that are going unpoliced. I think what you're saying is you're annoyed that niche skills are often not very useful, which I agree with, but this is a function of their coded practical use and what outcomes they offer.

Skills are technical means of interfacing with mechanics in the game at a professional level of some kind. I think you've expanded the conceptual definitions of these skills far beyond their actual or realistic function ⁠— which is to say it's not practical that a character be versed in organic chemistry to know what a hangover is, nor is it reasonable to expect that in a system which completely discourages this sort of broad and shallow skill investment.

Not playing to the appropriate Knowledge or Charm (both in the sense of the player exceeding and falling short of those stats) is probably endemic, but this is basically unenforceable since these stats are obfuscated to the player themselves, and outright hidden to other players.

To be clear, I'm a strong and consistent advocate for improving the viability of non-combat skills, and making some of the well-developed but inaccessible mechanics more open to players.

However, asking players to inhibit themselves beyond what is required in order to improve the prospects of those specializing in underdeveloped or under-tuned skills is treating the symptoms and not the cause.

The solution to these issues is to improve the mechanics and/or benefits of such skills to bring them into parity.

I think I've elaborated on the function of the skills to the clear extent...

In my opinion... For skills which lack systems to enforce RP, it is up to the players to police those skills uses within themselves. You see this with Artistry. You see this with combat skills. Combat skills are self policing, claim to be a badass with no combat skills, someone will smack you down.

You may not need chemistry or medical to know what a hangover is... You've probably experienced one a time or two.

But you probably would need it to know offhand that a quick way to temporarily cure it is more alcohol. And that water is a good thing to drink with booze to prevent hangovers. You might not need it to know that if you spent a lot of time bartending and observing the regulars(Int, slash memory substat).

And I mean, if you want to go for a PURELY systematic defense of your ideation on skills and them being purely to define interactions with systems...

Hangovers don't exist ICly. Drink as much as you want as often as you want. Up till you get alcohol poisoning.

Being wounded doesn't tell you how you should behave. Feel free to fuck, and dance, and ignore grievous wounds after the exhaustion has gotten better.

You don't have to enter the laid command. It's not automatic and systematic, go ahead and ignore it.

I could go on for many MANY MANY cases, where there are no systems enforcing the use of something, but you -should- most definitely RP your character in a way as if there were systems attached.

For instance, characters without grid skills wiping their own nodes because they are able too and the node themselves are unprotected to start? Do you have someone with the requisite skills guiding you? Then sure. If not? Why are you doing that? How do you know how? And how does that further communal RP?

This game is ultimately entirely RP, with systems placed in the secondary focus to it.

Knowledge defines your memory. However, if you don't have the requisite RP to use that memory. Skills define your knowledge base. THEY are what you know on a permanent or professional basis.

Splitting hairs over this is ultimately pointless, you using knowledge you have OOCly to create advantages ICly, is meta. And is against the rules, and is going largely unpoliced at current.

Here have a flow diagram.

Do you have the skill?

If yes,

Explain it in a manner befitting the level of skill.

If not,

Are you smart enough to possibly remember the fact from RP long ago?

If yes,

Explain it with factors muddled depending on distance in time. You as a player might have logs and/or a near eidetic memory honed by years as an autodidact. But does your character?

If not,

Has it come up in RP in the last day?

If yes, repeat it as you heard it there in your own words?

Something new... Refer to the top of the flow chart.

Don't wipe your own grid node, something I've seen happening more and more.

Don't meta about drugs you shouldn't know about.

Don't bring up cyberware functions most people wouldn't know exists if you haven't experienced those.

In short,

Don't know more ICly than your character would.

If a player is breaking the rules on metagaming the place to voice that is xhelp.

I don't believe that the hypotheticals you've described (knowing how candy will get them high without being a chemist, being able to think critically about cause-and-effect situations without forensics, being able to do strength training without medical skills) rise to the level of metagaming abuse.

A player who takes these into account may be role-playing well, one who doesn't is not however violating the rules as written.

You need to distinguish between RP that could be improved and what produces interesting RP, versus and what is rule breaking or required. Muddling these distinctions is not going to encourage players to better outcomes.

You don't need UE in Chemistry to remember what your candyman told you.

You don't need UE in Forensics to have at least one eye to recognise the ink your friend had is similar to the corpse's laying in your bed.

You don't need UE in Medical to know where's gauze and where's ointment.

You don't need UE in Bio to remember how that roboty colour eye is called.

You don't need to make a fuss out of something that neither breaks rules nor 'common sense'.

You do realize that that's what I'm talking about?

Improving your RP.

Distinguishing between what you know ICly and OOCly.

And that the muddling of those lines could RAPIDLY lead to metagaming, that is also very hard to track.

Hypothetical here I know, worst used argument but it's an obfuscated version of a story I saw happen:

Tim thinks that Anyi knows about the markets. Anyi is a modestly decent RPer, but isn't a shopper at the markets, Anyi has very little to their character sheet as far as charisma, as well as very little as far as Trading skill. They just have an OOC intuition and bargaining skills to RP with, and knowledge from a previous or even current character about markets and who buys what for how much. They then proceed to spread this information to other younger fixers like Tim and develop a reputation as a minor or even major fixer to some people.

Meanwhile Anyi is silently becoming a combat monster with RP that they just kinda fight a lot. Also meanwhile, actual fixers linger and languish a bit because their potential students and minions, are brought in by Anyi in her quick schemes based on systems knowledge, and basic IC explanations of how the markets work. This is something that I have seen that has happened twice with not one but -two- people that I know of.

Good RP is paramount, Know what your character knows. And avoid meta.

And ZyCyril,

You would need memory for most of that, if you didn't have the skills.

Staff will bug you if you're RPing beyond what's on your sheet. With that in mind, try not to worry what's on everyone else's
Is this a complaint about the skills themselves not having more coded limitations or peoples' RP?

Either way, I think this is a case of scratching the paint on the walls.

You're going to lose people on this idea when you suggest their characters shouldn't be able to tell what direction a gunshot comes from, even though the game tells them, unless they have some minor investment in forensics. Or that their characters shouldn't be able to remember the basic names of drugs and instead refer to them as 'happy pills'. It's perfectly fine if you want a character to have their mind so destroyed by drugs and alcohol or neurological damage that they can't remember a basic three to five letter name for a drug. But suggesting people are being meta if an ordinary person remembers those small names or that they need to put some UE into chemistry to justify it is just never, ever going to go over well.

Like ox and Vera wrote - staff can and will talk to players they feel aren't playing the stats/skills of their characters correctly. if you think there's an issue with specific people doing so that isn't being addressed or noticed, send in an xhelp or write to [email protected]

Now, if you want to talk about the rest of the playerbase not going to people with certain life science skills as primary parts of their character and creating scenarios or jobs for those characters to do, I agree that's a potential issue and something we can all do better in. if there's a situation, no matter how small or large, where I can find a reason for non-combat skill characters to use their primary skills and get RP out of it and get paid for it, I will. And I encourage everyone who doesn't to do so. It's rewarding and fun.

If someone's cheating, call it out.

If you're just annoyed by their RP, chill yourself out.

Calling them out for THAT is an ugly thing to do.

I probably shouldn't comment here because there's a lot I don't know...

But how would I RP a skill if I have no idea if I'm good at it or not. After creation, there are verbs that seem to indicate progression, but I'm pretty sure a new character isn't actually good or not.

Can you meta something that you have no idea if you are good or not?

RP that you’re not good until you know that you’re good. If you don’t know something, your character doesn’t know it either. Ignore the little adjectives in @stats and go by your actual IC experiences.
So without being meta, it's a skill that doesn't seem to have any coded application for how I'm using it. It makes it very hard to know the amount of my skill that I can let my character have without having an idea if I'm good at it or not.
In cases like this where you need some advice on skills and application, this is where would I would xhelp and talk to a GM. They can give you advice on approach and then you can talk more openly without worrying about giving away information IC.
Cool thanks!