In the game systems of old, namely Dungeons & Dragons, characters perfected their skills by advancing to new metaphoric levels of experience. Nothing could make them advance faster than old-fashioned experience in the field. When Palladium Books unveiled their game system two and a half decades ago, their game engine not surprisingly followed these same traditions. Characters would advance in metaphoric levels of experience, and their skills would advance in this method.
While yes, people in real life advance their skills, not all of their skills advance at exactly the same rate. A good example of this is my own experiences growing up. In the autumn of 1993 I learned to fire and maintain a rifle, a little Marlin Model 25 .22 caliber bolt-action rifle, with an 8 shot clip. It was good fun, but I wasn't very good at it. Still, I put a thousand rounds of ammo through that little beauty, just practicing. Not surprisingly, I got better, and before too long I was able to tag a 4" target from a range of a hundred yards over open sights, about 30% of the time.
Around the same time, I had my first real computer experience at Norman County West High School. Once again, it was good fun, but I was terrible at it. I couldn't find my way around even the simple Apple computers we were using.
Fast forward to December of 1995, when I procured my first computer, an Acer Aspire, with it's 32 megs of RAM, 1 Gig hard drive, and a little 14.4K modem. At that time I was horrible with it, I couldn't find half the stuff I was looking for, and my typing was horrible.
Today, I am not quite a computer whiz, but I can maneuver myself around the internet with the grace of an eagle on the wind. I can type at speeds exceeding 100 wpm. I can also find any program on my computer without difficulty. I am also reasonably proficient with writing simple web based material. (Obviously...) Translating this into game terms, I have no doubt advanced in metaphoric levels of experience, with my computer operations skill having reached the high 80% range. By game standards then, I should also be far more accurate with the rifle today than I was in 1993. Put the rifle in my hands now though, and I will show you how to miss the broad side of a barn.
What?! Why is that? Simple. I have not fired a rifle since that autumn, and skills do not advance through metaphoric levels of experience in real life, if anything they get worse without practice. They advance through one thing, and one thing only - practice. Just because I have grown proficient with one skill, it doesn't mean I am any better with another. As the old adages go, "Practice makes perfect."
The Red River Valley Gaming Group discovered this problem years ago and developed our own house rules to correct for this oversight. Once again, it was fairly simple in it's processes, but yet it allowed skills to advance at their own rates. See Skill Advancement 1.0 for details.
The only problem with the system we developed then, however, was that it only allowed for skills to advance. It didn't allow for them to atrophy, as they do in real life. We've all heard the line, "I've forgotten more about ________ than you will ever know." Here is a simple solution for skills to atrophy.Technical: Computer Operations: 45%+5% Lv:1 (This:________) (Total: _______)
This new system displays all of the same information as our previous system, with one major difference. The skill use slot has been broken down into two parts.
The first part, the "This" slot, indicates how many times the skill has been used since the character attained their most recent level of experience. In this system the skill must be used at least one time per skill level, before the character advances to the next level of experience. If the character fails to use that skill at least that number of times, the skill will lose ONE skill level, and it's percentage will drop accordingly.
The second part is the total skill use section. This slot will keep track of total skill uses, and will be used to determine the skill level advancement, as before.Physicals
Back in the old days of our first RIFTS world, we misinterpreted the physical skills as to advance the character's physical stats EVERY time the character reached a new level of experience. It was no surprise then that once our characters reached high levels, that their physical strengths sometimes exceeded that of many Gods!
When we figured out the actual idea behind physicals, we stopped that practice dead in its tracks. With our second system, though we had planned to advance our character's physical skills, it was complicated and difficult. This new system is far better rigged for physical skill level advancements.Physical Skills Level Advancement
This section will describe what a character attains from high skill level skills of this class. Note that each physical may only be used 3 times per week, game time, and expect to gain any benefit from them. As described before, if the skill is not used at least one time per skill level, within the course of a level of experience, one skill level is lost.
I personally feel that this is very realistic in representing physical skills. You either stay the same, inch forward, or you slide backwards.