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TH SUMMER 2020 BREAK OFF: Martial Arts
Break out topic for things that didn't make it onto Agenda

"Martial Arts, why is this skill so much worse than Brawling, and how do we fix it?"

"I think Floki's topic would be interesting to discuss, and I also want to know if there's anything that can be done to make Martial Arts as a skill less of a joke than it currently is. I think something like making it compatible with certain cybernetic weapons would make it a decent equvialent to Brawling."

"I Also would like to discuss how martial arts is also much worse than Brawling and what can be done if anything to help improve it, if anything at all. Or perhaps it is fine."

"I'd also like to see some more discussion on how martial arts can be improved, especially things such as a cyberknux equivalent and more weapons options for martial artists other than the staff (even if they are stastically identical) to differentiate the styles."

Brawling is a stand alone skill, with its own stats attached. These stats are NOT the same stats that you typically use with Martial Arts. This means that the stats that make you good at Brawling are in general, different than the stats that make you good at Martial Arts/weapon fighting.

Martial Arts is a support skill. It uses the same general stats that most weapons and other skills like long/short_blade, pistol, rifle, melee, etc. use. This means that investing in Martial Arts is much cheaper, because you have all the supporting stats already.

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.

There is no plan to change this, it is working as intended.

That makes sense, but what about cybernetics discrepancies? If this is supposed to be a backup skill, why not let martial artists have backup chrome to give them that fighting chance when not armed with conventional weapons?
If Martial Arts is a support skill, my main question is... Why?

IRL, martial arts are basically a more effective form of brawling. MMA is filled with muay thai, judo and wrestling. The only reason apparent in your post is because it shares stats with other common weapon types and is therefore 'cheaper' to get. And I guess that's fair enough, even if it doesn't make much sense IC.

But if this is the case, it really needs to be made clear ingame, because nowhere is it mentioned that Martial Arts is a support skill or not as strong as other weapon types, until you're already in the dome and possibly spent skills/advantages on it.

Seems like an odd way to categorise it, only a bit disappointed.

If expert martial artists are never going to be better, can we at least make this clear to new players. Frankly, I think most new players are probably going too see martial arts versus brawling and think "it makes more sense for martial arts to be better." because... it does IRL.

Like I said previously, is getting a cyberknux equivalent for martial arts something that could at least be considered if no changes to the skill are going to be made?

One simple reason why MA is support is "You never lose your weapon"
Neither does brawling, so that's kind of a moot point., HC.

As it stands, then, there is no reason to take MA over brawling. You get all the same benefits, a full on combat skill, and brawling stats also help other skills and aspects of combat, especially since most weapon users are likely to have high brawl stats anyway.

The stats that matter for brawling and the stats that matter for other weapons have some overlap, but they're not the same stats. Brawling characters have spent a lot of UE in stats that are primary stats pretty much only for brawling.

Still, I think making clear that Martial Arts aren't balanced as a primary combat skill is important for folks making characters. Maybe on the archetype page.

I said one reason, Sly. Brawling has other advantages and disadvantages I won't get into on here.

As with the last thread, I really wish more people would FOIC about what kind of things MA can and can't do before claiming they can or can't in these threads.

I think it's fair to at least have a blurb in the help file that martial arts are considered a 'support' or secondary skill.
So there's several problems with this. I'm going to cover the most blatant ones first..

A: Players aren't informed that this is a secondary combat ability. And that they should eventually branch away from it into other pursuits.

B: there are many players that take messaging both in the skills system and in game world as hints that MA should be on par with brawling.

C: If brawling is supposed to be above MA, in placement, why is brawling allowed in certain tournament bouts, where other mainline weapon types are not? That doesn't seem fair if there's an imbalance between the two?

D: Why is there a massive amount of depth put into what is a support skill? With multiple styles and the like, this creates mixed messaging in the system. And would indicate that Martial Arts should be considered a primary method of fighting.

I feel if this is really the case, then it should be applicable for those who have specialized in martial arts exclusively to request a partial reroll and a change to their character to use one of the mainline non-support weapons as well as martial arts.

Please add big bold text that's hard to miss, overlook, or ignore on the help files for the skill stating it's a supporting skill and not intended to match up to other 'mainline' combat skills, please, please, please.

Just so players OOCly/ICly know that MA is designed to be used to supplement other combat skills, and not be something you want to base your entire character identity off.

I hate thinking people are chasing a rabbit and that they just need to get harder, better, faster, meaner at slap-boxing and keep dumping more time into it when they'd get better returns elsewhere.

That said: so long as it's clearly outlined as a supporting combat skill? I think it's in a perfectly fine place where it is now. Some cool additional thematic weapons down the road might be nice, but now that we know it's apples and oranges we're comparing when talking brawling vs MA? I think that's great that it's been spelled out to us.

I had absolutely no idea martial arts was a support skill and have often considered it for many of my characters. I would never have found out if not for this thread, but now I am relieved I know. It makes no sense to me from a realistic perspective. I understand balancing stats and such for fairness is important, but IC there is no code, if martial arts is weaker than brawling IC, then people might start to think they're actually characters in a videogame. This sort of thing can really ruin immersion. But I think at the LEAST, this should be stated in a help file on martial arts.
I know MA is now revealed to be a support skill, but I still feel like MA should be at least as strong as brawling, make it a standalone skill, maybe? Instead of focusing on stats that also encompass other weapon types, make it a standalone skill as I feel like it's impossible to just be pretty successful as a martial arts master. Maybe make martial arts have higher scaling (whatever you want to call it) with skill (since MA in real life is more focused on skill and technique than power) and maybe make it use intelligence for a stat (again, since martial arts use skill and technique)...
Wow, just like others in this thread, I had absolutely no idea that MA was a support combat skill and not as effective as other combat skills. If I had known this, I wouldn't have put as much UE into my char's MA skill over the past few months. I feel kinda silly now...The amount of personalization (i.e. different styles) involved in MA kind of gave me the impression it was a skill on par with other fighting skills, especially brawling.

I really wish there was more messaging in chargen and also just in general that stated that MA isn't on par with the other combat skills. Similarly to others, I wish I could get a re-roll for the UE I funnelled into MA with the thought that it would be my primary fighting style. However, I know that this may not be your main priority at the moment, and I understand.

Nevermind chargen. There are no skills that give you OOC clues what they're for, how they're used, or what stats you need.

What's missing here is the IC knowledge. Every skill is learned IC. The IC mentorship should be the channel via which this information is given, and, now, there's no reason for anybody who's in a position to give it, not to.

I think people have been avoiding (not entirely, but largely) using their IC position to just come out and say "Martial arts is limited, you're gonna want a synergizing weapon too." Because, their players have been thinking that something was broken.

Now that we all know it's not, let's go ahead and use the same IC voice that we use for:

- Teaching guns

- Teaching decking

- Teaching securetech

- Teaching roof jumping

- Teaching everything

Please add big bold text that's hard to miss, overlook, or ignore on the help files for the skill stating it's a supporting skill and not intended to match up to other 'mainline' combat skills, please, please, please.

Echoing Talon here and requesting it be done for all skills that are intended to be support skills.

This thread should be proof enough that people don't understand what skills you shouldn't base an archetype around.

I'm not sure I understand your point, beandip. How is finding out IC going to help someone who wrote martial arts as part of their history, statted around it only to then find out it's not meant to be used as a standalone weapon skill?

FOIC is fine, but character gen needs to be crystal clear and there are already drives for other elements of it to be tweaked, like job availability, UE, etc. Imagine writing a character as a hopeful gunslinger only to find out handguns are designed to compliment other weapons and are outperformed by rifles in every way?

Too bad, should've asked IC whilst in character gen. I don't want to rant too much, but in my experience, explaining OOC mechanics IC has never been interesting for me. It's just awkward, short conversations that lead nowhere and feel forced to the point that a lot of times players just say fuck it and use OOC. There are many things ingame that should be hidden and involve fun RP finding out, but stats and skills just lead to frustration 99% of the time.

I remember having this problem before when I realized an element of stealth did not operate in a way that would seem the most logical. It was not fun finding out, it didn't lead to good RP, and affected my character negatively IC because of an OOC thing.

FOIC isn't to gatekeep. It's to create RP.

Some partly related discussion here:

My feeling is that the FOIC emphasis of Sindome runs somewhat contrary to how character creation works, where players are made to assign a non-insignificant amount of UE towards skills they may not understand, and are not given the tools to learn about until after the fact.

Martial arts is its own skill. You should not compare it to Brawling just like you should not compare Pistols vs. Rifles.

It is its own skill with its set of pros vs. cons. Saying that Brawling is superior in every sense is simply misinformation. While Slither says that MA is meant to be used as a support skill, there have been many extremely efficient combat characters who relied on MA alone and still outdid their armed counterparts. So to me this seems like people are complaining about:

- A skill they never used

- A skill they weren't even good at in the first place

- A skill that will OBVIOUSLY be inferior when you bring weapons and firearms into the equation (don't bring Taijutsu into a carbine shootout)

I believe it's fine as is.

It's no different than any other skill which you don't learn to execute until you've learned IC - whether from experience or metorship.

Rigging? We get riggers through the Omega gate all the time. Deckers? Same. Cyberdocs? There's a lot to learn and a lot of stat development before you're there. All of it's passed on IC.

I don't mean to equate MA with rigging and decking, but, the only way this is different is that people didn't know that what we've been saying OOC about MA is actually IC.

Competent, available IC mentors are now free to say so instead of being muted by the player's OOC feeling that something's broken.


Maybe if you sought proper mentoring before deciding to invest UE you wouldn't have been frustrated... There's no way we tell players via OOC mediums, "ok if you want to be a badass Jackie Chan, invest X and Y here and there." Much like real life, it doesn't work that way.

It's absurd to think in a very minmaxy way where we look for the "best skill". The best skill doesn't exist, every skill is extremely circunstancial. And it is also not helpful to think we should balance them all to be equally powered across the board. Imagine heavy weapons existed: should a RPG be as efficient as a pistol just for the sake of balance? Or vice versa? You know the answer to this.

The issue is being confused here. I don't think anyone cares (much) that MA is not as effective as was otherwise assumed. People care that there was 0 reference anywhere in the game even hinting at the intended usage of the skill.

And mentorship, again, is irrelevant here, because even if, you decide to look for mentorship on your very first day (and through some miracle, get it), you've already dumped your initial stat allotment on your intended build and probably written your history, and if not, suggesting players hold off on writing a history until they get a profound knowledge of their intended skills is unfun and tedious even to experienced players, let alone new ones.

The issue here is clarity, not balance. By your argument, we should just remove all skill and stat descriptors and just tell people to go RP it out. There is absolutely a way to tell people OOC 'hey if you want to be a decker, get this and this'. The website has pages literally doing exactly that for every archetype. Mentorship is to gain a deeper understanding, mechanical or otherwise, of your chosen skill, not to know what it's even meant to do in the first place.

Initial experience is negligible and a good chunk of experience can be eventually reversed with a justified respec. Also, you can booth and re-roll always if you are that frustrated.

There are plenty of skills which even if a character has had previous experience in before entering the city, they work differently in Withmore and hence there is no 'Me or my character should have known how this or that works' beforehand. Even the most skilled chargen character is essentially a promising rookie at best.

I think the issue here is that its a combat skill and that it works differently than people expect, but with due diligence and field testing this should become apparent in time to its users.

As mentioned repeatedly, asking for guidance be it by mentor or paydata or whatnot is one of the fastest ways to better understand how your character and the game world works.

And as much as I would love to see some MA cyber like 'shock tonfas' or a 'laser whip', I understand the possible reason for them not existing is that it would upset the game's balance.

I don't know that I would classify the initial UE investment on skills as 'negligible'. It works out to around a month of full-time play, which could easily represent two to six months of play time to casual players. That's a big ask for a new player.

I also think new players often re-starting with new characters after a week or two is a part of problem that's having negative cultural impacts on how veterans engage with new players.

Personally I am of the view that entirely new players should not start with any skills, but in lieu of that I do think the guidance given to new players could be improved without compromising on still having a major IC component to learning.

I'm not sure how this doesn't make sense.

We have weapon based skills like long blade, melee, short blade, pistol, rifle...

Those do more damage because they use weapons.

Brawling does more damage with brass knux or synth knux and damage on par with martial arts, maybe a little less (depends on some other stuff) when you are unarmed.

Martial arts has bo staffs, which do more damage.

I'm not interested in making either of these better. What's the point of melee if martial arts is basically martial arts + melee weapons?

You are never unarmed when you have MA or Brawling, which is the advantage of this skill over something like pistol, which can do more damage but requires a weapon.

I never said we wouldn't consider cyberware for MA or other skills, I said we weren't interested in engaging with a conversation about how to 'fix' something that isn't broken.

If we had a combat system that more appropriately handled range while in the same room, meaning I could pull out a gun and shoot at you for 2 combat rounds before you closed the distance to hit me, we might have a different conversation about the amount of damage MA or Brawling does, but we don't, and thus, we need to balance things as such.

I posted this to shoot down the idea that all combat skills are INTENDED to do the same amount of damage or be on par with each other. They aren't just flavor. They literally do different things with different damages intended for different situations. Nothing is stopping you from being proficient in multiple skills.

I will look around for a good place to state this information and add it in, generally speaking.

(Edited by Slither at 6:27 pm on 8/10/2020)

Just add monowire filament MA chrome weapon a la Knux based on MA and adjacent stats to balance Brawling - MA out a bit more. Mega cool, mega themely, people who feel cheated for investing in MA are satiated, +10 points for Johnny Mnemonic Memes.
Well, I think that it makes sense that it's not balanced to be the same. It's reassuring to know that's a matter of intention. However, as a sort of 'backup' I think MA chrome would be very nice. It wouldn't necessarily 'balance' it to be the same as Brawling, but would put it on a level playing field of applicability as a true backup skill.
MA is absolutely in balance with Brawling holistically. It is not weaker people.