Upstate New York, thank you for asking :-).
I personally like having some kind of limit to the number of skills a
character can know. However, I also like the idea of a diletante, or
a character who has picked up a bunch of disparate specific skills
that he needs to pursue a particular role, i.e., I learn Archery,
Tracking, Summon Fairies in order to be an "elf". The latter ability
is very important if you want players to be able to extend the
available roles in the game. If you lock them into pre-defined skill
trees, then you'll limit them to your original vision.
Maybe a better way to approach this is to limit the total number of
skill levels a character can have based on some sort of "age". A
young character might be able to learn only 5 levels of skills.
Whether he learned Combat to level 5 or five different skills to level
1 would be up to him.
> But the problem is, if you can study a skill for free, many characters
> will send in the orders:
> study 101 1
> study 102 1
> study 103 1
Big time committment for the first study of a skill? Say, 2 months?
That's not unreasonable at all, as anyone who has tried to pick up a
new skill will tell you. Certainly learning Spanish has taken me a
year to get basic proficiency, and as I recall Judo and Karate took at
least two months to even learn the basics.
-- Scott T.