Our skill advancement rules are COMPLETELY different from Palladium Books. As mentioned before, you CAN allow a skill to advance beyond your' present level of experience by reselecting it at character creation, or even later in life. (ie. When you get a new skill slot.) We have had two forms of skill advancement in the past. The first was of course as the book had it. Your' character goes up a level, you go through and advance all of their skills as is appropriate. We did throw one twist on it however. IF you changed Occupations, and you decided you wanted to continue advancing the skill, all you had to do was reselect it under the new O.C.C. and it continues advancing as normal. Yes, that would mean that skills advance terribly fast - they creep towards the end of one O.C.C., then skyrocket ahead as you change O.C.C.s. Some of us still use this rule, but others do not. In '01 we developed a new version of skill advancement, that blows both the conventional old system out of the water, and our modified system. We do not advance skills per level normally. Your' character MUST use those skills to become better. Practice DOES make perfect, and you are never going to be perfect at something, unless you in fact practice it. We got terribly tired of seeing characters with skills at 98%, from both of the earlier systems, that they'd never used in their lives! Sooo instead of allowing that to continue, we added some book work to our characters, and made it count per skill usage. For example;
This is the way the skill would appear on our character sheets. To break it down you have; The percentage, the bonus it advances when the skill goes up a level, the level the skill presently is, and the last section there is for skill use marks. To attain a new level, you must use the skill ten times the present level of the skill, to make it to the next level. (Skill Lv x 10 uses = NEW skill level.) This means that 1st level Streetwise, must be used 10 times, before it may advance to 2nd level Streetwise, and thus boost the percentage to 28%! Then, you MUST remember to do this next part, erase all of the skill uses out of the last slot. You are starting over at zero skill uses. Sooo to go from 2nd level, you must use the skill twenty more times to attain 3rd level, thirty more times after that to attain 4th level, 40 more times after that to attain 5th level, etc. This rule is strictly optional, even for our group. Not all of us use it, but some of us do. I like it because it's realistic. I have characters who are 6th level who have some skills at 10th level! Climbing a single mountain, can make these characters near expert mountain climbers, because of the experience they gain in doing so. The same is true of a fighter pilot in training. You won't crash and burn on your' landings anymore, at 1st and 2nd level, if you practice, practice, practice! It also encourages a player to use all of his or her skills instead of just sitting back and letting everyone else do everything. There's a big reason to try to get in there and do something! This rule also works for weapon proficiencies, Hand to Hands, and similar. NOTE for WPs and Hand to Hands, it does not go per attack - it is per usage. Like say you get into a battle, and you are firing your' rifle for several long minutes in a shoot out - that's only one skill use, it doesn't count for each shot. Same with hand to hand use, you can duke it out with a guy for hours, melees upon melees, and it only counts as one skill use. ON the other hand, during practice, for instance if the character is working out, swimming, sparring with another character or NPC either with weapons or without, you would have to continue doing so for a half hour bare minimum to get a skill use. IF you are using multiple weapons, like a knife in one hand, a sword in the other, and using martial arts as your' base fighting form, you enter a battle - that is three skill uses, one for each skill you are actually using. A player is on his or her honour to keep track of this stuff. At the end of an adventure a Game Master can ask how many skills were used, and can tally up the experience accordingly from that. 25 a pop, as normal!
With both of our modified systems, it is possible for a character to attain very high level skills. Skills that have been developed beyond the charted abilities. We have made up alterations for what happens for a character, who has gotten to such high level abilities.
First off, working out is not as simple as it sounds. You go, work out for a half hour, and you're done? That's not how it is in real life. You have to warm up first, we figure for about a half hour, before you break into a physical skill, an ancient WP and/or a Hand to Hand skill. You have to practice any one of these for a half hour before you can add a skill use. I can hear it now, "What stops a player from using all of his physical skills, EVERY adventure?!" - simple, the character's own endurance. You work out too much, you're going to conk out. MAXIMUM number of hours for working out is PE/5. Meaning, that if your' character only has a P.E. of 10, you can only work out for 2 hours - a half hour of working out, and three physical skills.
The benefit? Simple! The character retains his or her definition! The character has already advanced about as much as he or she can from that skill, BUT every 10 levels you may add ONE point to any one applicable attribute, whether it's PS, PP, PE, PB, or SPD. The one exception is ME, you may also opt to add it to ME, to account for dedication and will power to stick with the physical skill.
The penalty for working out? You get sore, and things just don't work at peak efficiency when you are keeping the ole body up. For every hour of working out, you suffer the following cumulative negatives;
-10% Spd/hour of workout.
-10% Initiative Bonus/hour of workout.
-10% Parry & Dodge/hour of workout.
-10% Damage Bonus/hour of workout.
Thus, a character who has a PE of 20, and worked out for 4 hours, if he has a +3 to Parry, and he gets into a bar fight shortly after working out, rounding down the character only has a +1 to parry! The good news is, however, that the character only needs sleep to recover. For every hour, past the first three hours of sleep, the character recovers 20% on all abilities. Thus, the same character who worked himself out silly for four hours straight, if he got into a bar fight the following day after having at least five hours of sleep - would be at peak efficiency!
The penalty for not using the skills at all? This is a bit more ominous, I can already hear the players squealing in fear. First off, you must use the skill AT THE LEAST 6 times a month, to keep the bonuses it gives your' character. If the character is 10th level or higher however, he must use the skill 10 times a month or more to keep the extra bonus he got at 10th level. IF by some miracle, the character made it to 20th level, the character gets another bonus - BUT he must use the skill at least 20 times a month. That's getting a tad on the rediculous side. Eventually, he's going to falter and lose that extra bonus. What happens if you lose your' bonuses though? You have to work out TWICE as much the following month, to regain your' abilities.
Essentially, SURE our characters may play hard, may be able to be big walking talking tanks of muscle and machismo, but unless they make a dedication to maintaining that artificially enhanced muscled out body, it's not going to stay that way for long - especially if all they do is swill down beer, eat huge slabs of beef, and party throughout their adventures.