I run a skill intensive game. Your skills are every bit as important as your M.D.C.™ or your P.P.E.™ Because of this I have increased the skills in my campaign drastically and made some more refined. Because of this it is very advantageous for players to gain new skills. Palladium® gives a method for gaining new skills in Hero’s Unlimited Second Edition™ page 48. This really works well in Hero’s Unlimited™ but is a little too slow for what is needed in a skill intensive campaign. I still let my players use this system, if they want too. It has its advantages. All it requires is Time and Money and a location to learn. PC’s frequently are not in one place all that long so it would be hard to justify they’re using this method. The second problem would be the long-lived races. Many could have all the skills, and why not. If I were a dragon best believe my first fifty years or so would be at some sort of a place to get an education. Thank you I will take all the skills.
So what to do? Players frequently are on the run and have little time to learn. Yet there are places where you can learn things in an intensive manner. The military and intelligence agencies use them. I know a former Military Doctor who said he learned more about surgery in the first few weeks in Korea than he had learned in med school. So how do we put this into game mechanics? It obviously can’t be free to pick up skills, so use experience.
Imagine I am a 3rd Level Head Hunter. He realizes that he needs to learn how to fix his hover bike. It keeps getting shot up and he needs to learn how to fix it since its hard to always hall it to a mechanic. He knows a mechanic that might be able to teach him. He approaches the mechanic and asks to learn. The mechanic is busy so he offers him to work for free the next month and 2 spare energy rifles he’s gained. The mechanic allows it. Now they spend the next month elbow deep in grease and parts. At the end of the month he has automotive mechanic at level 1.Now the mechanics of it
Prerequisites: The player must have all prerequisites of a skill before learning it. This means for example if I want to learn Computer Programming, I must have Literacy and Computer operation prior to learning programming. If there is a basic level of a skill it must be learned first. For example if you want Math: Advanced, you must have Math: basic first.
Skills Allowed: You are allowed any skill in which you have the prerequisites and do not need a special ability you do not have. For example you may not take Track by Scent unless you have special ability that allows you heightened sense of smell. One cannot learn to identify runes if one has no magical ability.
Finding a teacher: In order for a person to learn a skill one must find someone to teach them. The requirements for a teacher are they must have third level of competency in the skill or for physical skills have had it for three levels. Just because you find someone capable of teaching doesn’t mean they will. Certainly they will charge. How much do they charge? How much does the PC’s have? Maybe they will take it out in trade; this is a great adventure hook. The price should also depend on the skill. Getting someone to teach you cooking is not going to be as expensive as demolition disposal. This is an excellent way of lightening the parties’ pockets.
The Time: How long does it take? Well here I would say the basics of most skills could be picked up in one month. The exception is if you are using Martial arts from Ninja and Superspies™. They would take at least six months up to a couple of years for the advanced ones. Moderate this depending on what the character knows. If he already knows Hand to Hand: Martial art going to Isshin-ryu should only take a few months to learn the basics. Now going from Hand to Hand: Basic to Aikido is going to take a couple of years.
The Price: Nothing in this world is free. Skills aren’t either. They cost experience. If you want a skill you do not have it will cost you a third of your experience for your level. Lets say you’re a second level Coalition Grunt™. You would need 2000 experience to go up a level and you want a new skill. You will need to spend 667 experience points to gain a skill. Skills that normally count as two times as much cost twice as much. Improving you combat ability cost depends on you O.C.C.™. If you are a class that cost more for better combat you pay more. For Example you are a ley line walker. You have Hand to Hand: Basic. If you want expert it cost you like a normal skill since that normally cost two and you already have basic, if you wanted Martial arts it would cost you twice. Here is the kicker if you found someone with a marital art out of Ninja and Superspies™ and could get them to teach you it would be four times. Marital arts out of Ninjas and SuperSpies™ always cost double anyways.
So here is an example of the process. We will take Talad a 5th level Cyberknight™. He finds a little old man from Ancient China who somehow got to Rifts® . He finds the old man knows Zanji-Shinjinken-Ryu, the ancient art of Samurai Swordsmanship. He asks the old man to teach him, being a Zen Buddhist tells Talad he will teach him only if he submits to additional training and recovers a lost Katana. First Talad learns of the Katana and gives it to the old man. Now the old man says he must learn the wisdom of Buddha in Chinese. First Talad Takes a month to learn Chinese and burns 2667 experience points (1/3 of his level). Unfortunately Talad doesn’t have enough experience to buy Philosophy: Zen Buddhism. So he goes out to do a few good deeds, then returns to learn Philosophy and spends another 2667 experience points. The old man sends him off to think about what he has learned (and gain enough experience to continue studies). Talad returns and learns Zanji-Shinjinken-Ryu in six months and pays 5333 experience (all named martial arts cost twice another skill). Now Talad is still fifth level and had first level in Chinese, Philosophy: Zen Buddhism and Zanji-Shinjinken-Ryu.
Have you ever witnessed someone who is very good at what they do but at the cost of there other abilities. This is possible. It is also possible to take that new skill and work on it hard to bring it up to the rest of your skills and even surpass it. The rule of thumb is this a skill can only be brought up to 50% higher than you level. So if you were a fifth level Cyberdoc™ and you could raise your MD in cybernetics to the equivalent of 8th level. (5 x 1.5=7.5, round up). This looks pretty good, but what’s the cost? Nothing is for free. To increase your skill it cost 1/5th the experience for the level. So our second level Coalition Grunt™ wants Radio: basic as if he were third he will have to pay 400 experience (2000/5=400). This lets you be better at one skill or improve some bad ones but is not very practical in the long run since, if you pay for 5 skills you could have increased all your skills by going up a level.
Exceptions. Named martial arts cost double, and skill that cost double will cost twice as much xp. Weapon proficiencies and Hand to Hand skills may not exceed your current levels, This is to prevent unbalancing of the combat system.