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Support characters
Not support skills

Let's stop using the expression "support skills."

It was an unfortunate thing started in a thread about Martial Arts, which was reacted to violently, the poster's intentions were mis-interpreted, Johnny himself said no skills are support skills, the entire notion is fraught with bullshit, misunderstanding, and at times, even bad faith.

I would have posted this on another "bitching" thread but it got locked before I could put it in that context. That's fine, it should be called out on its own, so that it's effective in ANY context where it needs to be re-stated.

"Support characters" is a valid concept. "Support skills" is not. "Support archetypes?" Equivocal but again it's going to be about how someone plays it, not about what their mechanical capabilities are.

"Support" is an RP choice.

I agree on the fact that it's a misnomer and has the wrong connotations.

I'd even argue that all skills are support skills, if anything, as they're there to support RP.

Every other skill is there to support Heavy Weapons.

More seriously, yeah, the idea of support skills just kind of makes combat skills sound more important than everything else, which shouldn't be the case.

I don't have OOC chat on and haven't encountered the support terminology outside of the Martial Arts thread you mentioned, so could you give me a definition of what exactly a 'support character' is in this context?
There's nothing happening in OOC Chat.

Look at the most recent "bitching" thread in Anything Really for the context that triggered this.

But really, I'm speaking plain english. If a character is supporting another one...

It's a behavior, not a mechanic. That's the point.

PCow

It's the misconception that non combat characters are main roles and non combat characters are support roles. Allegedly these "support" the "main characters", because there's the misconceptions that only the combat characters get up to the big gritty plots and the pilot/driver/jockey only has a filler scene.

Okay, so a 'supporting character' during an action. Does sound like there's less of an 'archetype' given how temporal that is. Got it, thanks. The whole support skills idea made it sound like it was more of a 'build' type thing.
Ehh. I don't know.

I think it's good to be realistic that some skills are good on their own, and other skills only really reach their true potential in concert with others. Slither was the one who made the distinction in the first place, and it was clearly reflecting some kind of underlying balance so I don't think it's entirely incorrect to think of them in that way.

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.

I think it's good practice to think of skills this way personally. Some are good if you just pour all your UE into them, others are really only effective when paired with other skills that harmonize together across similar stats. Some do things on their own, others do some stuff in concert with other skills. Maybe the nomenclature could change, but I don't think the categorization is wrong per se.

That right there is 100% what not to think.
To be clear what I'm responding to:

The whole support skills idea made it sound like it was more of a 'build' type thing

"support skills" is simply not a valid idea.

I do agree with making a distinction between support skills and support roles, or whatever term terminology people feel would be less misrepresentative.

For example I would tend to think of pilots as support roles because reasons, but I wouldn't consider piloting a support skill -- it's very much stand alone and mechanically deep on it's own and a character can absolutely dedicate themselves to it and derive a lot of fun gameplay entirely from that skill without any others.

Conversely I wouldn't consider any combat archetype to be a support role but I'd definitely consider dodge to be a support skill in that it's something that only really becomes maximally effective in concert with other skills.

@0x1mm

I think labelling skills that exclusively maintain or repair objects but do not create or act on their own as support skills is pretty acceptable, though seemingly entirely distinct of what people tried to label with it originally.

@beandip

If we treat sindome as a movie/book/, there are 100% skillls and builds that a most commonly associated with the 'climax' of a plot, or give the 'money shot' scene. Those are primary skill/archetypes.

On the same token, there are skills and builds that in of themselves can not possibly drive a plot climax. They enhance it, they build up to it, but at the end of the day they are not capable of a compelling enough action to be the penultimate resolution. These are support skills/archetypes.

I strongly feel that saying "There is no such thing as a support skill" is disingenuous. Yes, every skill can have an RP plot built around it, but those plots and scenes are build-up or resolution to the 'main event'. They for sure can be used in conjunction -with- a primary skill/archetype to enhance the scene, but referring to my previous bitch post, they certainly are not in any way a means of resolving a story in a compelling way.

You know what's more CP than that?

"Support characters" running circles around the entire game through solid plotting because that shit is all done in the shadows.

"Money shots" are more visible but I'd argue less primary than that, in CP.

I don't think that's true, RSB.

It's all a matter of perspective. Skills complement and support our characters, their archetype and their stories. Someone who uses what may be considered 'support skills' for 'support characters' to build up a large monetary empire, as an example, could then turn around and hire combat characters to push the story to the climax of the third act. That is turning combat character and 'primary roles' into support roles; they're supporting the story of the 'support' character, only brought into the story due to that character's wealth and decisions to invite them.

@Beandip,

The money shot is the resolution of a plot, and if you can not meaningfully achieve it, the whole arc falls flat, and people are left feeling unfulfilled. There are unequivocally skills that are much -much- better at generating a satisfying climax than others.

Why is it skills generating the climax and not RP, by the way?
The nuances of code and building characters eludes me.

I'm more with HolyChrome: all skills are secondary to roleplay: "all skills are support skills, if anything, as they're there to support RP."

I get where others are coming from. If you want to be more competitive, you can think having the mindset that there are support skills. At a certain point, there's no cause to invest more in some skills if you get what you need out of their functionality. Disguise could be considered supporting in this aspect. Maybe even chemistry or artistry.

Play your way and have fun, but note that a character who hard passes on a combat role does not make them a "support." With enough social connections, roleplay, and money, these "support characters" can fuck your world.

As I see it, we are all support characters when were working for another character, organization, or job. Combat moneyshots, medical practices, tailoring, decking... if we get paid to do it, we are support characters in service to another.

When we act on our own accord is the rare chance when we become a central character.

I think labelling skills that exclusively maintain or repair objects but do not create or act on their own as support skills is pretty acceptable, though seemingly entirely distinct of what people tried to label with it originally.

I wouldn't make that distinction myself. From that thread I linked, my take away was that certain skills were balanced around the idea they would be used to support other skills.

Dodge isn't balanced to be as effective as say, long blade on its own. It's a skill meant to support other skills, so it's balanced around being used in concert with others.

Auto or aero tech on the other hand don't mechanically synergize with other skills to a greater effect, they are skills that operate on their own and have their own dedicate systems and coded mechanics, and aren't balanced around boosting something else (insofar as I know anyway!).

They might be taken by support roles sometimes but I wouldn't personally consider them support skills.

If a skill is support or not is up to each character, there are degrees of competency after all. As archetypes go, any one can compete with each other for money and who wins more usually doesn't have to do with skill rolls.

You could be the max ue chad, that only hits walls because that's the best they can come up with or be the proactive immy rapper with hustle that has a meteoric rise to stardom. So its much more relative and less quantifiable that folx might think.

I think that you have to take into account who and what you are as well.

Sure, if you are into gang RP, being a tailor, or decker, or what not might not really be considered a "primary" skill for that RP. Being able to beat someone down is likely the resolution to a lot of those plots.

If you're an executive, or in a corp, your ability to pummel someone is not really going to be all that important. The resolution to the plots you are into are likely less physical and more strategic. You have people to do that for you... and they can be interchanged at will (with chy/influence/threats of course). You could care less if Joe Baka has a climactic moment, because you can buy a dozen Joe Baka's to get the job done.

I guess all I'm saying is that support is probably very much in the lens of who you are and what RP you are doing.

Slither was the one who made the distinction in the first place

You don't recognize what a mistake that was?

You didn't see the explosion of confusion, resentment, denial, contradiction, and staff-delivered refutation that resulted from that?

That is not the message anyone was supposed to take from the statement you quoted. Slither literally recanted. Johnny literally said "I didn't know any skills were support skills."

I posted this topic because I feel like we're still trying to un-do the damage from that unfortunate post. The evidence is there. This topic is here to point new players at when they are discouraged from developing particular types of characters based on this mistake.

I get the points that veterans are making. I'm just recommending that the phrase "support skills" not be used. It's too misleading.

Actually I think that post was great, and cleared up a lot of player confusion. I think there were (and are) widespread misconceptions about how some skills function or how things work in concert, as is inevitable in a game that obfuscates mechanics.

Ultimately I think the issue is that everyone has their own concept of what support means, and also conflating roles and skills and archetypes and playstyles. I think that's just inevitable with a large group of people who have to understand the game behind a veil and aren't provided any common language to discuss it.

That said, I understand why some players might not like that whole thing and would want to do away with the whole discussion.

There is a spectrum on which players sit, the gradient which goes from players who want to view Sindome as what it can be, over to the players who want to view it as it [is]. All players will sit between these two sides and move back and forth as their approaches or sensibilities change.

Players who prefer to see the game as what I can be will tend towards downplaying the rigidity of skills or archetypes, will more often disregard mechanics in favor of flavor, and are more often players who want as much obfuscated as possible.

Players who prefer to see the game as what it is will prefer to be realistic about which skills have coded depth and effectiveness, preference archetypes that have been demonstrated to be fun and popular, and are often more keen to understand how systems work under the hood.

Neither side is any more right than the other, and all players sit somewhere in between. Both of these approaches and types are necessary for a fun and developing and dynamic overall game, both to push the boundaries on what is possible and to take best advantage of the game as it is at any given point.

I think a lot this disagreement over the idea of support or secondary or whatever category of skills can be drawn along this spectrum where there are some players saying 'well this is how you see X being used' and others responding with 'but that doesn't mean X can only be that'.

Some skills won't do as much as others, or translate into obvious success as readily. This is true.

A character's skill choices won't define their roleplay or the fun they have. This is also true.

I think everyone is asserting the correct views from their perspectives and there's no one correct approach, which is not to say that this sort of discussion shouldn't happen -- I think it's good for all players to understand how different players approach the game and how different approaches are valued by different people in whatever ways.

Skills aren't the ultimate determiner of q character's success or failure at RP. An Immy decker is not resigned to being a 'supporting character' because they're not a badass solo. It's your willingness to engage with the game's theme and world that will carry you forward or not. If you play as though you're disenfranchised because your coded skills can't kill people and level buildings so you're better off just sitting back, the mindset will leave you sitting back forever because it doesn't drive you to engage in plot. So I agree, putting things in terms of 'support' or 'main' isn't a very good way to think of things and will actively hamper you.
i dont think its really surprising that people consider others as support characters considering the mechanical disparity between what combat characters can do versus say, a decker or someone using a 'lesser skill'

even if you engage with theme 24/7, there's only so much you can do with less coded support

You can be a combat character and be an absolute lump with no real bearing on anything. You can be a decker and mix it up with other PCs with not much mechanical support, but good roleplay and engagement. Mechanics don't drive the game: roleplay does. Your stats and skills giving you something your character does competently does help contribute to things, but it's not the bedrock of what goes on in game.
Martial arts was described as a "support skill" because it's designed as a backup for when you're caught off-guard without a weapon. No matter if you're ready or not, martial arts can be used to defend yourself. That's the only sense in which it's a support skill.

I do basically zero combat, and I constantly feel like a protagonist. I don't think of my character as "support" at all, because this is a social game about contacts and roleplay, and that's the game I'm playing. Worry less about which skills are considered optimal in the meta, and more about what you can make happen in the world.

Just because it isn't coded doesn't mean it can never happen. GMs totally can make you do things that wouldn't normally be possible with just a command.
even if you engage with theme 24/7, there's only so much you can do with less coded support

I have seen some pretty successful characters who don't appear to be using much of any coded support. What is a lease owner doing codedly to hustle people to their club?

Don't actually answer that.

I think @BlazingCoconut summed this one up the best.

It is all a matter of perspective.

If you are the person behind the scenes pulling all of the strings, it does not matter if your character gets to 'kill Joe Baka' in some big climax. The big climax is that Joe Baka died.

It could be argued that the character killing Joe Baka doesn't even get a climax, even though they bring the plot to a close, or close out a major chapter in the plot. They're nothing more than a cog in the machine. A tool being used by someone else.

Others have touched upon theme, from embracing it to interacting with it.

I fully agree with that. Sindome is a rich enough environment and the character base is diverse enough that it is completely possible to "be successful" and drive meaningful, engaging RP beyond the limited options inherent in the 'attack' and 'posture' commands.

The longer I play here, the more I realize that there is a sizeable population of smart, scheming, conniving, long term strategically thinking players actively engaged here. The glimpses that I get into their machinations are nothing short of inspiring. Most of the time we only see the fallout; the flash of violence on the street or in the club, the hour or two of vitrolent SIC tirades.

Alright... No. The game requires far too much investment to not at least warn people what they're getting into. First off, it's dishonest to tell people staff are going to invest time in them if they pick lesser codedly supported skills for example. Not everyone gets the time or the attention, and the way a lot of things work here is incredibly biased. Secondly not all skills are equal. Helpfiles even advise new players against some skills. There are skills that require staff support as sure as there are support characters. Many people are playing characters supporting others by either contributing to schemes that win or being the coffers of the downtrodden. As the player whose happily played the loser time and time again, I can verifiably say I've supported others by losing. And I can say established players who have magnetic personalities and make plots tend to be main characters... Slither even goes so far as to catergorize players into three types: group a as the timesinks, group b as the unintiated part timers and group c as the lifer. If you're a or b in the spectrum, chances are you're a cog rather than a person turning the wheel. Persistence might be the name of the game to making it to main cast, but coded skills absolutely fucking matter too. You folx ought to know that every single character who's reached legend status and is mentioned regularly in the anuls of sindome lore had some combat skills and had other characters supporting them and their plots. It's a boldface lie to say there aren't supporting characters or even that all are treated the same. There's humans in charge and humans are inherently biased. At the same time, we have to trust the bias and the system to be reward players who keep it in theme and give back to community rather than constantly take. The success of Sindome shows the staffs skill in mitigation and warrants trust. This is truth.

It's still heavily disingenuous to say there are no support skills. The support label on martial arts was clearly unintentional, but it makes a good point... The MA skill is still great and requires less investment than other skills. I've seen characters with martial arts use it to lay waste to an entire swarm of gangsters and the character was even deadlier with a gun. But MA obviously isn't as good as long blade in scenerios because of the lack of high end weapons or cybers to support it. It really is better as a "support" skill to use in conjunction with others.