Motorics (MOT) covers your peripheral nervous system, your five senses, and your vestibular system. It’s our take on the classic Dexterity and Perception stats, but not only. Motorics also has an added mental aspect – your street smarts, the ability to think on your feet and maintain a poker face in stressful situations.
Above all, the Motorics skills make you cool.
And, unlike the other skill sets, they don’t come at a huge cost. Put too many points into Physique and it turns you into a violent animal – something like Marv from Sin City. Overdo Psyche and you’re Dale Cooper on MDMA. Too much Intellect turns you a Holmesian pedant. The twist with Motorics is – there is no such twist. Ultra high levels of the Motorics skills surprise you with expanded functionality. It’s the stabilizing element of your build, the binding agent.
A high Motorics cop is one smart, streetwise operator, closest to the classic Detective archetype: your Johnny Dollar or Sonny Crockett. It’s also the flashiest attribute animation-wise, and definitely the best-dressed.
Which is not to say that the Motorics skills make you perfect. You may come off as jumpy or high strung. A bit of a cokehead, even. But, honestly, that’s nothing compared to the trouble you can get into with the other three.
Let’s have a look at what these six desperados can do for you.
H/E, as we shorten it, makes you fire that gun. Makes you fire it good. The more H/E you have, the more precise your aim. And, be it a Villiers 9mm, a Kiejl Armistice, or a banged up old Liljeqist in your hand, you’re going to want to be very precise, because bad, bad, very bad things will happen if you aren’t.
Not only is H/E for aiming, or throwing – it’s also for catching. You’d be surprised how useful that is. Your partner just threw you the keys to your patrol vehicle. It’s a cool moment, but Benny Shitfingers drops them in the sewage. Vehicle inoperable. Mob boss flips a coin in your direction: here’s a tip rent-a-cop. Blam, he pokes your eye out with it.
It’s incredibly uncool to not catch things.
Oh and remember when I said it’s for using firearms? Well, the twist here is: it also analyzes them. Pick up a gun and H/E will tell you things about it: weight, calibre, reliable range. Good to have in a murder investigation if firearms are involved. And they always are. Revachol is a very gunny place.
Reaction Speed also gets a little gunny. Lets you dodge incoming gunfire. It’s the yang to H/E’s yin. The anti-gun. Your danger sense. Your dodge skill.
On the mental side of things, it’s also your mental alacrity and street smarts. It helps you dodge snipes of the verbal sort: quick jabs and cheap shots, dramatic moves people try to pull on you. Reaction Speed is an alarm system.
Overdo levelling this one and you’ll develop that jumpiness I mentioned. Surely a small price to pay for not being, you know, dead. Or standing there with your mouth agape, trying to come up with a cool comeback after the she’s already gone.
If you want to build a mental powerhouse, max up on INT Skills like Logic, Conceptualization and Visual Calculus, then throw Reaction Speed in there too. They’ll call you Johnny Big-Brain now! It’s possible to be very intelligent without it, but it’s a slow, studious intellect. Reaction Speed gives you smarts.
I’s perhaps the quintessential hardboiled detective skill in the game…
…second only to Perception. This one’s a giant. It’s the magnifying glass in your hand that allows you to see the drop of blood in the fish tank. The keen ear that catches the sound of breathing under the floorboards. Perception governs your sight, smell, taste, and hearing.
Because it’s so all-encompassing, it’s better to say what it doesn’t do. Perception does not read tells and body language (that’s Composure, another Motorics skill). And it doesn’t detect microscopic details with your fingertips (that’s Interfacing, another one). But you’re still going to want to put a few points into this one, believe me. And, yes, it does yield clues too. A lot of clues. Even too many, perhaps? A high Perception cop is going to be drowning in little notes about the things they saw, heard, or smelled – some of them extraneous, or even misleading.
But still, be careful – too little of this one and you’ll be on an experimental playthrough of Disco Elysium: The Adventures of Johnny Blind.
Perception does all sorts of nice things outside of dialogue too, affecting how you interact with the game’s ultra-detailed art. It detects hidden containers for you to loot, and reveals hidden objects in the world – footprints on the floor, for example. Then you can use Visual Calculus (an Intellect skill) to read their size, make and so on – another example of Intellect and Motorics having great synergy for a classic detective build.
Also, expect to find hidden areas: secret rooms, doors, and rooftop paths in the city of Revachol.
The city’s also littered with these little green orbs you can click on; classic “question mark” moments that provide quick observations like: “someone left the stove on,” “water’s dripping from this tap.” Some of these orbs are only visible to higher Perception characters. You can use these hidden, golden orbs to question people: “You just renovated, but the tap’s leaking?” This is one more way environmental exploration (crime scene analysis) and questioning people (interrogations) are connected in Disco Elysium.
Finally, there are certain Thought Cabinet projects that allow you to auto-succeed, say, all hearing-type Perception checks. So there are workarounds for a low Motorics character who wants to play the “blind saxophone player” cop. (Please don’t. Also, there are no saxophones in Elysium.)
Savoir Faire is all about style, subterfuge, flair. Even sexiness to a certain extent. It’s our combined Acrobatics and Sneaking skill, with an added zest of verbal flare every now and then. The full package for a slippery roguish detective. You’re basically a ninja-cop, or what our worldbuilding calls a Sambo artist. (Sambo, short for Samaran Boxing, is a communist martial art from Sapurmat Ulan.)
You may also be… a bit of a douchebag, to be honest.
A police detective who sneaks out of conversations and pulls acrobatic moves can come off as an exhibitionist. The other Motorics skills affect your personality in surprisingly (for the Metric system) agreeable ways, but this one’s a wild card.
On the other hand, it’s extremely useful for sneaking into places. It lets you interact with the game’s environment in some pretty flashy ways, where our combat system blends into an acrobatics system for jumping, climbing, etc.
The twist here — and the importance of this cannot be overstated — is that Savoir Faire also lets you dance.
Composure is your poker face. The Motorics firewall for your inner turmoil. And also its reverse – your ability to read other people’s body language and tells – to see beneath their facade.
Composure and Perception go well together, making for an ultra-vigilant cop. Composure and the Psyche skill Volition are a good combination for a man of steel who never cracks under pressure. And you’ll be under a lot of pressure in Disco Elysium. Or, if you want to be the expert in reading people, combining Composure with another Psyche skill, Empathy, gives you X-Ray vision into people’s mental states.
If Savoir Faire sexes you up in a slightly douchey way, Composure does the stomach-in, shoulders-back type thing. A trustworthy sexiness. Great posture.
The big twist here is that very high Composure becomes your fashion sense. First of all, it criticises other people’s sartorial choices – not only are they sweating and obviously hiding something, they also have a lame floral shirt. Second, it lets you push your fashion sense on them. Make your partner wear a stupid orange pilot cap. You look too cool for others to not trust your advice.
Interfacing is the final piece of the puzzle as your fine motor skills. Digital dexterity. Fingerworks. Oh boy, does this one do a lot of things — it basically does all the rest: takes notes and helps with handwriting analysis; interprets electrical circuitry; instructs you on how to use a simple blue button; runs your hands across the gear shaft of a motor-carriage; disentangles a Stereo 8 tape from a hawthorn tree, patches it up, and plays it at night on your short stint as a tape-jockey; runs diagnostics on a motor lorry; picks locks; does a great massage; finds microscopic tears in body cavities…
In some extreme cases (very high Interfacing needed), you can even perform what we call a phenomenological transfer: put your hands on the steering levers (motor-cars in Elysium do not use wheels) of a Coupris Kineema and know precisely what its mileage is, how it was treated by its last owner, and what road it was last driven on.
Interfacing is one of those rare skills in the Metric system that sometimes borders on the extraphysical. Extraphysical is what we call the realistically supernatural. The real deal. Reality-breaking. Interfacing’s extraphysical effects are much, much more subtle than those of the Physique skill Shivers, which puts you in touch you with the city of Revachol, but they’re there, connecting you to machinery, electrical circuits, and, most curiously, radiowaves.
You see, in Disco Elysium you can circuit-bend into radiocomputers. These machines have on-air processing. Large prime number stations criss-cross the air. Advanced tape computers use arrays of antennas to sieve through their calculations to perform advanced calculus on site: to run programmes and communicate between the remote corners of the world. There’s a Ream A24 Prefect console somewhere down there, in a hidden basement – or a church, who can say? – that you can use to circuit-bend into remote units. Access personal information, read love letters, learn ancient secrets.
Tape computation has existed in this world for hundreds of years. Who knows what you’ll find…
Oh, what’s that, mom? What am I doing? I’m playing a seventies-style cop with a handlebar moustache who frequency-hacks into ancient radio stations. It’s not basic dungeons and dragons.
That’s all for Metric, the system that powers character creation in Disco Elysium. We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts and have gotten some interesting ideas for your build.
Next time we’ll talk about the Thought Cabinet, where you develop character traits for your cop, giving your skills new and strange sideeffects.
After that we’ll finally be ready to talk about the Elysium setting – its technology, geopolitics, schools of thought, and culture.