An Opinion Thread: Skills A is a Trap?

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Rule of Three

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« on: <09-02-15/1033:49> »
I'm learning.

Like any good runner, I wish to keep educated and will state my ignorance on this topic.

We have a multitude of questions about the idea of Skills A being a bad choice; there are few people willing to truly explain how they got that opinion.

Let us try.
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« Reply #1 on: <09-02-15/1039:54> »
That is the view for priority character creation.
It implies that you spent too much on skills and neglecting metatype or resources.
For a human or elf, Skill A isn't that bad, but for other metatypes, you'll take a hard hit elsewhere.


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« Reply #2 on: <09-02-15/1048:04> »
I wouldn't say trap.

Attributes are more important than skills - this is almost universally true except maybe for very specialized builds like certain riggers.

High Magic/Resonance beats usually skills, since they deliver bonus skills/groups

Races bring attribute points and special attribute points, so they are more valuable than pure skills

High resources can compensate for certain skills through additional Attribute points, bonus dice to certain actions, skillsofts etc.

Low level skills can be easily bought with starting karma.

The two point PQ: Jack of all Trades allows you to buy low skill ratings very cheap

This makes it seem as if skills are at the end of the priority list.
Nevertheless are skills usually my second or at least third priority in any build. And if I can manage it, I'll take them as A together with attributes in a Sum2ten build.

Why? Because skills let you do things from the get go with no tedious grinding phase in game. That's important since I usually do not play in campaigns that stretch over years with the same character.

So my answer is: It depends on your playstyle.
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« Reply #3 on: <09-02-15/1127:00> »
Yeah, a lot of builds don't need a lot of skills (a bare bones street samurai or combat adept can get away with D in skills easily enough) but picking A in skills allows you, not necessarily to be more flexible, but to be specialized in a lot of areas.  You can have a skill group at 6 and another at 4, and still have enough points to have 5 more skills at 6 with specializations.

I most often see it for things like deckers (who use a lot of skill points and so need a lot if they want to do more than just hacking), riggers, and magicians.  Archetypes that have a high "skill requirement" so to speak, where there's four or more skills that are required to do the basics of the job.

While those have other choices that more naturally would be at A (resources or MAG/RES), those can be worked around.  Special Attribute Points from metatype help if you pick B for MAG/RES, and you can make a decker with a B in Resources, they just will have less general 'ware and a cheaper deck, but it's a relatively small downgrade since cyberdecks only give small upgrades for massive jumps in price.  The Hermes Chariot can go a very long way with the right programs, modifications, and modules, especially combined with things like Overclocker and Quick Config.

I'm not saying A in Skills is the best choice, but it's certainly valid and viable.
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« Reply #4 on: <09-02-15/1135:11> »
Skills are much easier and cheaper to raise in play than Attributes. Skills give progressively less bang for your buck at higher priority than Attributes, Magic, money, or Edge, because all these things are harder to raise or have no guarantee of payout after chargen. These other priorities also sometimes give corollary effects that cannot be duplicated after chargen (free spells, for example).

A low skill build with high attributes is much more viable than the reverse, especially if ware is involved. A low skill build with narrow skill focus is oftentimes more useful than a high skill build with the points dropped around everywhere to get a bunch of dice pools of 5-8.

Skills are not all of equal value and frequently new players don't know that some are very low value (Banishing, Astral Combat), extremely niche (Diving, Free Fall), that redundancy is not useful (taking the whole Firearms Group), or that some skills have very specific rules associated with their use (such as how you actually use First Aid, the initial threshold, and the cap on boxes healed; this is the #1 thing people miss I would say and it's why FA <6 is worse than a medkit every time).

The jack of all trades concept is easier to pull off after play begins than at the start especially with JoAT providing significant karma discounts to the most relevant levels of skill.

Attributes form a broad base of competency, while skills form a narrow one. If you want to be very competent you need good ratings in both. But there is something to be carried away with skills with the result of being middling at a lot of things.

I feel like high Skills often stem from the incorrect notion that one runner needs to cover a lot of bases, which is simply u true outside of a solo game, and even then, there should be NPCs to hire.

Some builds like high skills more (like Decker) but for others it really represents a trade off where you could get something much better.
Playability > verisimilitude.


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« Reply #5 on: <09-02-15/1135:19> »
My personal view is that Skills A is only a trap if you don't also take B or maybe C in Attributes (like if supplemented by cyber or a metatype with good starting stats).
As skill + attrib is the base for skill pools, having a high skill pool but low attributes often gains you very little and often leaves gaping holes in the build like poor physical resilience, i would suggest rebalancing Skills + Attribs slots.

Not all characters benefit from large skill pools, often a character concept requires them to be good at just one or two main things (combat adepts/street sams etc) and Skills C is more than enough, but there are a host of char types that benefit from a large skill pool to draw on, especially if you're in a very small team (like 1-3 people, one of whom is a pure decker or whatever) and have to cover a lot of ground, or if your concept is more of a generalist or lone wolf. There are some really good generalist builds out there ( i had a thread open a while ago on the topic) which are more than playable in shadowrun and for me, that kinda proves that Skills A is viable for at least something.
Here's an idea of what i'm talking about:

A-Skills (46/10)
B-Attribs (20)
C-Resources (140k)
D-Meta (human, 3)
E-Magic (0)

BOD 3 (+2)
AGI{5}(+3)   20/20
CHA 4 (+3)
INT 4 (+3)
LOG 3 (+2)
WIL 3 (+2)

EDG 5 (+3)

Qualities + Karma:
Starting +25
First impression (-11)
X2 R2 skills (-12)
SiNner; National (+5)
Distinctive Style; scarring (+5)
Martial art + 1 maneuver (-12)
Mild, uncommon allergy; Antibiotics (+5)
Contacts (-5)
Martial Arts:
Quarterstaff fighting
 +Jiao Di (-1 penalty to knock down)
 +Sweep (inflict full damage with knockdown as stun)


Stealth 5
Influence 5       10/10

Computer 5 (Matrix search +2)
Automatics 5 (SMG +2)
Locksmith 5 (Maglock +2)
Con 5 (Fast talk +2)             46/46
Clubs 5 (Batons +2)
Perception 5
First aid 4 (Gunshot +2)
Forgery 3 (ID +2)
Gymnastics 1 (Climbing +2)

Pilot ground 2 (6 karma)
Pilot air 2 (6 karma)

Gear: 140,000 NY

Smartlink 0.2ESS 4,000
DataJack 0.1ESS 1,000

Wired reflexes(used) R1 2.5ESS 29,250
Reaction Enhancers(used) R2 0.75ESS 19,500
Muscle replacement R1 1ESS 25,000
(89,250 spent   -4.55 ESS)

Electronics + ID:

Erika Elite Commlink (DR4) 2,500      3050
 +Sim module, hot 350
 +Trid projector 200

Meta-link Commlink (DR1) 100

Fake SiN R3 7,500
 +Fake Weapon License R3 600
 +Fake Cyberware License R3 600       8700

Glasses R4 400
 +Vision enhance R1 500               1675
 +Low Light 500
 +Flare Comp 250
 +Image Link 25

Earbuds R2 100
 +Audio enhance R1 500                 850
 +SSF R1 250

Weapons, Armour + Clothing:

Telescoping staff 350                  450
 +Personalised grip 100
{7 DV/5 ACC/Reach 2}

Ares Crusader II 830                  1330
(integral gas vent 2, smartgun)
 +Folding stock; powered 50
 +Vision mag 250
 +Flashlight 50
 +Concealable Holster 150
{7 DV/ACC 7/3 RC}

Ingram Smartgun X 800                 1115
(integral suppressor/gasvent 2/smartgun)
 +Folding stock(powered) 50
 +Personalised Grip 100
 +Foregrip 100
 +Sling 15
 +Flashlight 50
{8 DV/ACC 6/4 RC}

Ace of Coins Jacket (arm 7) 2100     2600
{+3 social limit, +1 social DP}
 +non-conduct 2 500    2/10

Lined Coat (arm 9) 900
{-2 concealability modifier}         1400
 +chem protect 2 500

Helmet 100                            350
 +Image link 25
 +Microtransceiver 100
 +Radio signal scanner 100
 +Flashlight 25

Vehicles + Drones:
Suzuki Mirage 8,500                 10000       
 +Morphing Plates 1000
 +Spoof chips 500

MCT fly-spy 2,000                    3000
 R3 sensor suite
 +Camera (low light 500)
 +Omni directional Mic
 +Laser Mic (SSF 250)
 +Directional Mic (SSF 250)
 +Motion Sensor
 +Radio Signal Scanner

13,000                        123,770 total so far
Tools + Misc:

Locksmith kit 500
Disguise kit 500
Forgery Kit 500
Medkit R4 1000

Gecko kit 250
Autopicker R4 2000
Cellular glove molder R4 2000

Middle lifestyle (1 month) 5000
Squatter lifestyle (1 month) 350
 -Dangerous area

Casual Clothing 50
Smart Clothing 250
14900                        138,690 total so far
Silver Credstick 20
 -130 spare NY from chargen embedded
Machine Pistol;
120 regular rounds 255
 x3 clips

130 regular rounds 275
 x3 clips     
40 explosive rounds 325
 x1 clip
40 Stick'n'shock rounds 325
 x1 clip       

1180                        140,000 total
Knowledge skills: 14pts
English N
Spanish 2
Chinese 2
Japanese 2
Area Knowledge 2
Gang identification 2
Bars and restaurants 2
Politics 2
Contacts: 12 pts + 5 karma
Fixer 4,3
Journalist 3,2
Decker 4,1

Limits + Dicepools:

Attack, SMG: AGI 5/Weapon 7/Smartgun 2 = 14
Attack, staff: AGI 5/Weapon 7/Reach 2 = 14
Con: CHA 4/Skill 7/Quality 2/Armour 1 =14
First Aid: LOG 3/Skill 6/Eqpt 4 =13
Locksmith: AGI 5/Skill 7 =12
Data search: LOG 3/Skill 7/Hotsim 2 =12
Pilot, hot-sim: REA 7/Skill 2/Hotsim 2 =11
Perception: INT 4/Skill 5/Enhance 1 =10

INI, Meat= 11 +2d6
INI, Hot-Sim= 8 + 4d6

[Mental] 5
[Physical] 7
[Social] 5


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« Reply #6 on: <09-02-15/1316:24> »
Skills A is not always a trap but under priority rule Skills A mean that something else is not A.
The other thing is that not all skill groups are equally useful.
*I have problems with clarifying my point in English, so sometimes I might sound stupid or rude.*


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« Reply #7 on: <09-02-15/1347:46> »
To be fair, most of the skill groups have at least one duff skill that you wouldn't pay for if given the option


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« Reply #8 on: <09-02-15/1355:41> »
That's the reason I almost always take the stealth group. Sneaking, palming and disguising yourself are skills every shadowrunner should possess
talk think matrix

To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield
Revenant Kynos Isaint Rex


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« Reply #9 on: <09-02-15/1441:25> »
Skill A for your average starting player is a Trap.
Why? b/c the Average starting player doesn't fully understand the opportunity cost. They don't see the full picture, just a lot of numbers. All to often Skill A is used to generate characters with a pile of redundant skills or comparative pools that are to low to be viable, when you see this Skill A is for sure a Trap. Now folks arrive at this for a long list of reasons, NPC opponents in the core are built very generically, often focused on high rating skill groups, as mentioned above the skill listing was a really big number so they went with it, or maybe characters from their favorite (Insert thing here) do all these things, Insert thing here being SR Book, TV show, comic book etc . 

Now can you make builds where Skill A is optimal? Of course. But it takes experience with the system, and a clear understanding of how the game is played.
« Last Edit: <09-02-15/1451:47> by Marcus »
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« Reply #10 on: <09-02-15/1442:12> »
When 5e first came out, I made a character for Missions using Skills A.  He's a jack of all trades/spy kind of character who's very deliberately designed for open play (when you don't know what skills you can expect to be at the table).  When JoaT was published, I went back (as an experiment--you can't actually do this for Missions) and tried out a few different remakes, including the obvious Attributes A/Skills B, and then run each through the 200+ karma progression I'd earned at that point.  I expected the Attributes A version to come out well ahead--I had spent a fair amount of karma raising Attributes on the "real" version.  I was surprised when the Skills A original came out ahead.

Now, that's a very small sample and discovering Skills A is good for a jack of all trades character isn't exactly a groundbreaking finding.  Most archetypes are invested in the depth, not the breadth, of their skills.  Nevertheless, I don't think the idea that Skills A is always a trap is accurate.  Any character you make will involve some tough choices--"can I make this guy work with fewer nuyen/skill points/attributes?" is a question you should always be asking yourself if you're concerned with efficiency.  But there are certainly circumstances in which Skills A is a solid choice.
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« Reply #11 on: <09-02-15/1522:24> »
What do you mean by ahead?

Corollary: in your play experience, did you find that you had skills on your sheet that were minimally useful?
Playability > verisimilitude.


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« Reply #12 on: <09-02-15/1614:11> »
So I think I asked about this once as well. While it hasn't been a long time since and I am not quite so experienced as many others on the board I have made a ton of characters for NPCs while running, helped players make PCs and played in a few games as well and my findings are that skills never really FEEL like a trap. At the end of the day that is what matters really as it's a game you play for fun. Some characters almost feel like they require A in skills (I made a face/rigger and it felt pretty much unthinkable to go below B.) I am playing a troll mage and my skills are higher than my attributes. Every player in my game has a C+ skills priority. Like many have said it is most important to just remember you are giving something else up for the skills, but I don't think it is always a bad trade.

The one think I would say is that unless you are non-magic I wouldn't bother with skills D. May as well go E at that point and maybe pick up Jack of all Trades.


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« Reply #13 on: <09-02-15/1658:28> »
Skills A is not always a trap but it can be a trap option very often. Mostly what happens is a person takes Skill A and then feels the needs to cover everything, and often ends up being good at nothing, and having terrible defense and offense.

Skills A is almost never  a good idea for an awaked character, a primary combat character, close combat adept, . If the majority of your time is going to facing opposing rolls by other specialized characters it's usually a terrible idea to take skills A.

Riggers, decks, faces, Infiltration specialist benefit from skills A, primarily because each of these archetypes has two groups for which they want all the skills in that group.

Generally Skill A is acceptable so long as you remain focused in your skills distribution, and that your attributes support those skills and that you maintain a credible defense.

« Last Edit: <09-02-15/1746:29> by ikarinokami »


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« Reply #14 on: <09-02-15/1739:51> »
I'll dispute that faces want or need everything in both Acting and Influence. And deckers don't need Software beyond one point and a Data Bomb specialty.
Playability > verisimilitude.