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What skills are support skills?
Starting this discussion off

Martial Arts is a support skill.

Brawling is a primary skill.

Source: Slither in

What about other skills? Which ones are intended to be support, and which ones are intended to be a primary skill?


Bio Tech




Aero Tech

Auto Tech

Electro Tech


Secure Tech












Brawling - Primary

Martial Arts - Support


Short Blade

Long Blade


Sub-Machine Gun


Heavy Weapon


Every skill is a support skill for your RP.
Considering the confusion and frustration expressed in the thread that has made this one necessary, let's try to be more constructive Reefer. :)

Like, sure, of course they are, we get it. But that's not the point.

I think systems, programming and cracking are all sort of support skills to each other. Not sure which is a 'foundation'. But I'm not sure.
Not all of these are clear-cut. For example For some tasks, Artistry is a primary skill, but for other archetypes it is a support skill.

Defining a skill as support or primary requires a bit more specificity. If we are talking 'Combat', there are skills on that list that have no conceivable way of supporting combat even indirectly, so a third category should be added. Perhaps 'Tertiary skills'?

I'm all for transparency on this subject, but I don't want to comment without getting a thumbs-up from staff, since this could easily be considered IC information.
What is the point?

Slither went out on a limb to delve deeper into mechanics and balancing for an explanation to the community but it's only resulted in people freaking out about something they do not understand. In turn, people are now asking for more insight into mechanics.

I think this thread should probably be nuked from orbit.


That's because they're needlessly obfuscated to even people who have used them fo 20 years, with the results of their skill rolls often categorically contradicting what IC resources have long told us they're supposed to do/mean.

Which doesn't even touch on the idea that people at the town hall were mentioning electro_ and secure_ tech stretching tech characters thin across 2 skills needlessly to try and get to a place to make money when there's at least a very vibrant and lucrative IC need for those skills whereas deckers are asked to invest in THREE skills even though there's almost zero IC income available outside of like 2 positions at 1 corporation, and if you want to play a mix jockey AKA Case from Neuromancer...welp.

Let's review the way Slither explained Martial Arts:

"Martial Arts as a skill will never be as good or do as much damage as other weapon based or brawling based skills. It is not intended to. Martial Arts is a skill to give you a fighting chance if you are unarmed, or coming out of the vats."

Does anyone else feel like that's saying two completely contradictory things? How is one t have a fighting chance if the skill is deliberately unable to match up to any other combat skill?

I think it's saying a fighting chance as opposed to having nothing.
I really wish this latter thing was mentioned in a help file or something, because, I always thought brawling/martial arts were more or less the same codedly, but different for flavour. So I always preferred MA.
reefer, as someone who didn't know that staff even divided skills into primary/support or something along those lines - i don't see why they shouldn't be more transparent about other skills

this is basic info that people should be informed about, the obsession about "FOIC" for this kind of thing really confuses me, especially when it's in regards to ooc game mechanics

I am also someone who didn't know we divided skills this way. >.>
I kind of think 'primary/secondary' is a little bit of a misnomer. While this is a gross oversimplification, there are two unarmed skills, and each has a drawback. One requires unusual stats and one does less damage.
Reefer, people freaked out because they were just told a skill almost everyone assumed to mainly just be a stat/fluff variant to brawling was actually deliberately and significantly inferior.

This is the kind of thing that can seriously mess with people trusting the game and saying 'shh just don't talk about it' is exactly the attitude that caused the problem in the first place.

As someone who's played off and on for several few years, including a character that was primarily built around the martial arts skill... this is a bit of a disappointment. This type of information should be part of the archetypes and/or stats/skills helpfiles. FOIC shouldn't be used for something so basic and counter intuitive as the martial arts support skill revelation. I get stats aren't everything, but they are certainly important to have a general understanding of when going into char gen.
This isn't about stats.

People aren't even going to know what stats to build up until they find out IC from a mentor, just like any of the other 32 skills.

That mentor can tell them how to synergize to take full advantage of the development they're going to put into martial arts. That mentor can tell them the weaknesses in time for them to maybe change directions - just like as can happen with all of the other 32 skills.

Do you choose stats and skills at char gen? If yes, then basic information needs to be provided.
I don't think there's support or primary skills.

All primary skills are useful for a reason and have specific purposes.

Martial arts is good if you don't have a weapon or if you just came out of the vats. It will save your ass if you get disarmed, or you lose your main weapon in combat.

Brawling can achieve the same effect but uses a different combination of stats, much like other firearm-based skill variants.

Saying that one skill is "support" and the other skill is "primary" is a detriment to players who have invested heavy UE in the "support" category and still were successful in their field using that UE investment.

This is weird and I agree with everyone who is saying that it needs clarification.

I always thought that 'brawling' was synonymous with untrained street fighting. That's not to say that a street fighter can't be dangerous or lethal because they definitely can.

Where as martial arts implies intentional training and developing techniques that will give a 'martial artist' inherent advantages over the typical 'untrained street fighter'.

I'd encourage anyone who's master of their own domain IC to stop jerking it and start churning out educational materials for us unwashed masses. Immy's Guide to Withmore, Soloing for Dummies, Grow Your Own Schwag in 5 Easy Steps, This 1 Simple Trick Will Have You Rolling in, I Don't Know, Chrome Grills? (Dentists Hate Him!!!). Whatever!

I've just observed how well-recieved IC reading materials have been in the past with never a soul complaining "Well, it's taking away from my RP as a mentor!". I'm off in tangent land here but just hoping anyone who knows something, says something. IC. If you know something, say something, publish something on the shiny new Grid, or exploit it in a book deal. Withmorians just need to read more.

However, not everyone uses the Grid, I can't imagine how you use it with a screen reader, but maybe it's possible. Not only this, but the fact that not everyone wants to share their secrets as then they will not be the best in the field anymore.
Sure, fair point with the Grid. Also that's exactly my point, if you really -are- the authority in-game when it comes to your field? Yeah, you should probably be altruistic about it in the name of cooperative competition. Even profit off it.
Does that mean however, that you can not have any inherent skill from before Withmore? If you can't know what exactly it will do. The fact MA is much weaker than brawling is illogical from a realistic perspective to begin with. If you have to use game logic IC, then it all sort of falls apart.
I have played a martial arts character in the past and I can most certainly say if I would've known it was significantly less viable as a combat skill compared to brawling I would've most certainly not taken it. It does seem that this information should be known on some level just so people are aware. If they want to build a character around it they can make that decision going in and knowing what they're getting into.

As for Electro-tech and Secure-tech, I don't see the skills as uselessly spread out. I've played a techie for quite a few characters and while the grind to get up and running is harsh. It's no more difficult than say chemistry which takes a lot of stat dedication. I think what you can do at what skill level may need to be looked at and adjusted a little, personally, but I don't know if I think having to dedicate a lot to an role is bad, it'd just be nice to see very dedicated roles like that able to make some flash faster.

For example Chems is a great skill, but It's hard to make bank until you've sank a lot of time in it, so perhaps people working with those support characters more and more, will shift those support skills into something necessary. I'm not sure if I've added anything helpful to this, but this is just my opinion on it I guess.

happy playing!

I'm already kind of branching off a bit from the thread's topic and don't have any ideas to -specific- to the MA v. Brawling stuff so I'm going to tap out here. I think villa and Pavane had some good points from what I recall.
I've been told ICly by every other character it's come up with that disguise is hands down superior to sneak. In my personal experience, very rarely do I see solos or dips or people on the run, etc. using sneak as a primary mode of evasion or subterfuge over disguise. In combination with, yes, but almost never by itself. Even with minimal UE investment, a simple disguise can protect you from veteran characters if you the player are smart about it. Sneak, in a word, can't.

Do I think this is thematic? Absolutely. It's 2105 and given the host of tech available, the old fashioned sneak has measurable disadvantages before contesting of stats is even a factor.

But I do think this puts sneak very firmly in a support role for any playstyle where obscuring yourself might be even remotely necessary.

Ratchet, it totally depends on your character and their goals. Sometimes being seen as a face in the crowd is enough, but other times, not being seen at all is waaaaay better.

It's important to remember that what people tell people ICly is geared from their own playstyle preferences and experiences too. Maybe for a different archetype sneak is 100% better.

Could be. But for me, after a year on my current character and significant investment in sneak, I can safely say that I would never have considered it at chargen knowing what I know now. It just feels like a I wasted months of UE and that sucks.
That the above isn't what the thread is about, I know, but I spent a large portion of my time trying to use sneak as a primary skill, and it never worked out even half as well as the disguise skill I've invested less than two weeks worth of UE into.

Could it be my playstyle? Maybe. I guess. You don't know what you don't know, but from from my seat and looking at what my experiences tell me, it walks and talks like a support skill.

I have used stealth as a primary skill (that is to say, to make money, with ONLY that skill and nothing else) quite effectively, so perhaps you were doing something wrong.

That being said, yes, two weeks worth of disguise is a lot more usable than two weeks of stealth for many reasons we can't go into.

I think ideally, the best thing that could come out of this thread is, every skill should be at least a little useful even with just some startup investment, and I do think some skills fall short of that.

I think this whole thread's a massive misunderstanding. Slither termed martial arts as a 'support skill' not because it's intended to be weak or inferior. With enough investment, it'll perform just fine. It just doesn't take off as fast in investment because it synergizes well with weapon skills while brawling is standalone, so brawling has a buff. Martial arts doesn't enjoy the same buff because that'd make it OP.

There are no skills that are weak and only intended as a 'backup.' Martial arts just happens to function well as one, so it's helpful to think of it that way.

disguise is hands down superior to sneak[/b]

For what, exactly? There are things that you can accomplish while sneaking that you simply can't accomplish through disguise, and vice versa. If someone told you that IC, there had to have been a context. Even if only in the teller's mind. And/or in the listener's mind. Even if they weren't telling each other what each of their own contexts were.

This is how misunderstandings happen.

Sneak is hands down superior to disguise in many situations, where disguise would simply not work.

One of the scariest characters I ever dealt with was a martial arts master. He mowed through seemingly everyone without problems. I think when Slither said that martial arts was a support skill, what he meant was that most martial artists graduate to using a more chy intensive weapon skill and rely on martial arts as a backup. That doesn't mean you have to do that, it's just a common progression. Brawlers on the other hand often commit to brawling because there's not as solid of a crossover ability from brawling to other weapons.

I definitely like the idea of condensing and redefining skills that aren't broad enough, but IMO when it comes to discussing stronger skills and weaker skills the conversation should really be not that martial arts is weaker but that combat skills in general are vastly better than non-combat skills in most situations and that combat archetypes are much stronger than non-combat archetypes.


It's hard to offer context here without divulging IC info.

Let's just say that between what I'm assuming are more seasoned players (Mentors, higher ranking members of factions, perceived 'elites', and my own experience, the message for me is, "This entire archetype, which touts stealth as primary in the BGBB is actually better served in general by learning disguise."

Add on that ICly, with the exception of Judges and one single other incident, I can't recall ever having been intentionally killed or captured by a character that wasn't wearing a shroud (ballpark of fifteen to twenty times on killings).

Though the street sam archetype doesn't even include disguise as a recommended skill (stealth, in fact, is) , the vast majority of killers I've encountered use disguises to do their dirty work. That isn't to say that all killers are street sams, but even so, when disguise is so heavily used despite so many archetypes that don't even recommend it? At the very least, that seems to imply disguise is a primary skill.

I've use stealth extensively over the last year. Between what I see (In my relatively limited experience) as niche opportunities, and the amount of tech out there that simply beats stealth, its uses are limited from my point of view. Disguise is universally useful in an everyday sense, and for any -character- regardless of archetype.

I think it boils to down to a simple concept mechanically. Concealing your identity is preferable to concealing your presence a lot of the time. Why? The risk of being seen hiding your presence seems higher than the risk of being seen hiding your identity. Disguise doesn't require a contested skill check (to my knowledge). It's just there until it fails. There is no mechanical way to see through a disguise other than your own skill failing or you the player doing it poorly. There are contested stat checks to see a sneak. There are IC devices that see sneaks. It's far more fallible a skill than disguise for concealing yourself. It's far more expensive in terms of UE investment to yield consistent payoff. That last one alone makes it a support skill in my opinion, unless, like Sly (if I'm understanding correctly), you do nothing else.

This is the can of worms that was opened by the "source" linked in the original post: We're now never going to get away from people insisting that skill A is "primary" and skill B is "support". Glad we have this new vocabulary.
The Archetypes are labelled similarly already. I.E. Recommended skills and useful skills.
Recommended and useful *for that archetype*.

That isn't at all saying that skill A is support and skill B is primary in the global way this is being taken.

I think things are definitely relative though. While those people did (according to you, I'm not jumping into too much IC stuff here) kill you while shrouded, they didn't kill you with a shroud. In that case the disguise WAS the support skill. Hell, they may have even used stealth to chase you down or circumvent some of your backup.

Besides skills like heavy weapons which aren't codedly supported, I think that most skills have a role. Support and primary are going to be subjective based on the sector, the player, their role, and the job they're trying to achieve. Also down the road there's always a respec available if you feel like you're really missing out. : )

That's why I tried to give it some context without giving up IC data. It's easy enough to check the BGBB to see what archetypes have stealth and disguise as recommended or useful stats in their desc.

Even so, disguise does seem to be universally good no matter what you play. That isn't a complaint about the skill. It's just an observation.


That's a good point. +1