So (as stated in my last thread), I'm back to CP after 14 years. Started when one of the guys in our group picked up the rules and wanted to try running it, so I grabbed a rulebook - but I can't own a game without wanting to at least run some one-shots. And I'm turning over some ideas to make the game fit my style; let me know what you think. (Most of this is inspired/informed by material on other threads, but I'm proposing it as one organic system, so I figured I'd put it all in one place.)
Skills at character creation:
One thing I always like in my games is inexperienced characters pulling a win out of the fire. 1st to 5th level is the "sweet spot" for me in D&D. So I want to avoid everyone having 9s and 10s in firearms skills (or whatever) right off the bat. At the same time, I don't want to slap a flat cap on - besides the fact that if I just say "no skills over 5 to start," everyone's gonna have every combat skill at 5, it's kind of arbitrary, and I want a high skill to be possible, just discouraged - i.e., you should have to sacrifice something for it. The system as it stands almost demands you pump your important skills up to the limit at chargen, because you'll have to pay through the nose in IPs to get them up later.
So, here's what I'm thinking about: Impose the same kind of curve on initial skill points as there is for improvement. Not the exact same math, mind you, but the same idea. Career and Pickup skill points at chargen are tripled. Buying a skill from 1 to 2 points costs 2 points per skill rank. From 3 to 5 costs 3 points (making this range the same effective cost as listed in the book). 6 to 8 costs 4 points per, and, finally, raising a skill to 9 or 10 costs (you guessed it) 5 points per rank.
The way I envision this working, buying skills from the "knows what he's doing" to "competent professional" range costs the same. Boosting skills up past that begins to get pricy. But, should you choose to spend the points on one or two key skills, you can recoup your "value" in 2-point buys at a discount. Hopefully, this will encourage a less specialized skill setup, and discourage one-trick ponies to a certain degree. It's a bit more number-crunching at chargen, granted, but not much.
Much has been said about the Solo's Combat Awareness, and its utility / power vs. other SAs. My personal POV is that the Solo's not over-powered, but rather that the other Roles are under-powered due to the limited nature of their SAs - let's face it, the Solo's gonna use his more, no matter what flavor of game you run. The Solo should shine in combat, no doubt - but the other Roles should have as many opportunities to use their gifts.
What I'm thinking is nothing new, but it ties into the other changes I'm making. I'm going to give the roles a selection of skills which they can add their SA bonus to. Not rocket science, granted, but I see it as an elegant solution, when balanced against my other SA change: SAs are capped at 5 on chargen. (This, of course, completely contradicts my earlier denouncing of flat caps - oh, well. ) I want to encourage the PCs to think of themselves as relatively inexperienced to start, and this will reflect that - not to mention keeping them poor and hungry to start off. (What's their motivation to go on dangerous and low-paying missions if they're not starved for cash, I ask you?) This should keep the number of cyber-psychos down a bit, too (at first).
This is something I butted against even at 14, when my only other RPG experience was AD&D - how to fit character concepts into the Roles that didn't fit the Roles. Now it rankles even more. At the same time, I don't have a problem with the Roles as archetypes. What I propose is this: Characters can take any of the established Roles, or we (for a PC, just me for an NPC) can sit down and design a new one. All it takes is a skill set, and choosing a few skills to add their SA to (possibly adding a special bonus use to the SA if it's warranted). This way, we can accommodate the random character concepts without having to shoehorn them into an existing role, but folks who just want to play a Solo or Nomad can do so.
Keep in mind, this is just how I'm planning on running my game, at least to start with. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your game - I'm just trying to tweak it to encourage the style of play I envision. I'm not saying the rules as written are broken (in fact, I'll probably be playing in a strict RAW game), I'm just doing a little tinkering under the hood. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.