People sitting around just studying is BORING. What's so interesting about this
Under all the proposals I've heard, that's exactly what's being encouraged.
Even Rich's idea to allow people to learn from experience got flamed pretty
harshly (though I'm glad he still rammed it through).
So, to deal with this, we need to either:
1.) Allow studying to proceed in parallel with other activities. This was the
basis of my original post
2.) Base advancement on pure experience. No studying occurs at all. This means
it's really hard to focus your advancement, it's hard to come up with a way
to measure "experience" with skills like OBSERVATION, and gets rid of teachers.
3.) Base advancement purely on quests. You have to go out and find things
to advance, but can't advance without making the proper discovery. Real hard
4.) Some combo of the above.
So, at a less detailed level, I think a good proposal for the way studying
should be done:
Most of the effort needed to advance is based on one or both of #1 & #2 above.
Higher levels are restricted by the need for quests (#3). Specifically, each
skill would have a bit-vector of accomplishments. For higher levels, a greater
number of the bits must have been set to reach the next level. For example, for
Trade, there would be a bit for every market in the game. Whenever you visit
a market whilke possessing some skill in Trade, it's bit is set. For level 2,
you'd need two bits set. For 3, 4 bits. For 10, all bits must be set.
For Magic, a similar system would be set up, but the bits would correspond to
copies of archane lore. Each book could be found via EXPLORE, and a Mage
possessing it would get his bit set. Personally, I'd have the book disappear
immediately (with all members of the party having their bit set, but no-one else
unless they re-discover it somewhere else). However, you could either have a
random decay factor (10%/month for it to disappear), or just let it kick around.
BTW, specific spells could require specific bits to be set (For example, only
the Necronomicon can teach the spell Summon Chaos).
In order to make finding the books reasonable, there probably should be some way
to get clues to unfound artifact locations - a seer, a library, or some other
Now, to deal with the two objects I expect to be raised first:
1.) Teachers: First off, teaching may no longer be a useful concept. However,
if you like it, make a teacher required for the last n days before advancing
a level. This doesn't mean a teacher necessarily can get you past everything -
no teacher, no matter how good, is going to make you a great bargainer unless
you've been to a few bazaars.
2.) Realism: This is actually one of the weakest criteria for a game - well
below "Is it fun" and "Does it add more than it causes in complexity". Also,
there are many versions of what's "realistic". Yes, in today's world people
sit around for 20 years learning from teachers. However, this hasn't always
been true. In a cargo-cult like setting (a society much inferior to the
artifacts it can discover around it), a teacher would be secondary to the
discoveries being made. For many magical settings, advancement cannot be
taught, it must be discovered by magical places and magical events.
P.S. Here's my first pass at what would be in the bit-vector for various skills:
Military Leadership: A bit for each group-based monster type (a group-based
monster is things like Orcs, Savages, etc, which fight in masses)
Combat & Archery: A bit for each different type of monster
Trade: A bit per Marketplace
Weaponsmithing: A bit per artifact examined
General Magic: A bit per magical tome
Equestrian: A bit per plain region visited
Forestry: A bit per forest visited
Mining: A bit per mountain region visited
Observation: A bit per land region, only set when an EXPLORE succeeds in that
location (10th level would only require about 30% of the bits being set)
Stealth: A bit per faction, only set after a successful STEAL from that
faction is performed (yeah, this one may be too tough, but would liven things
up a good deal!)
Construction: A bit per guild tower, city, and mythic castle (those castles the
game starts with)
Shipbuilding: A bit per shipbuilding Tome & artifact (A Melnibonean Golden
Barge, an Argonaut's diary, the figurehead off of Odyseus's ship).