PT Loot, Knowledge is Money
This is one of the older ideas I had, which I never wrote up. It will probably require some reworking of the skills system, but I think the effect would be interesting.
TL/DR: Skill unlocks and Skill Minutes becomes a form or rare loot.
In short, skills can become a ship store object. When purchasing a skill, the captain is given a window with two buttons, “Upload Now” and “Encapsulate”.
Upload Now places the skill certification in the Captain’s personal bio. This is how things work now.
Encapsulate places an item “Skill Certificate Encapsulation for SkillName” in the Captain’s ship. In the ship store window, the Captain can move this item to storage, mail it to another player, sell it in a shop, or activate it.
The Activation button for an Encapsulation gives three options. One is “Learn Skill”. If the Captain does not have the skill, they acquire license to begin training in the skill. The second option is “Convert to Memory Encoding Boost”. This converts the Encapsulation to Skill Timer Minutes. The conversion rate is one Skill Timer Minute per 1000 credits of the skill price. If the Captain tried to Learn Skill on a skill already possessed, a window saying “This skill certification is owned. Converting to memory encoding boost nanoparticles to prevent loss.” appears and the Encapsulation is converted to skill timer minutes. The third option is “Cancel”.
There is also an information icon in the upper right of the description. Hovering the mouse over this opens a pop-up that includes the description and basic information (dependencies and time) about the skill.
This change alone would make for a small benefit. A player with multiple pilots could have one buy a skill and mail it to another pilot in a remote location.
The purpose of this is to make possible a more significant change: finding Encapsulations as loot.
KINDS OF LOOT
It should be said up front that these loot items would be rare. Ship equipment would be more common. Active players may find one skill loot item a day. Also, the items below have ideas for distribution based on Law Level. Distribution could also be based on Tech Level. Further, while lower level items are also available, I would also suggest a tiny (~.5% or 1 in 255, depending on how generation is done) chance of the loot drop being one level higher than the area. As the pop-up says, sometimes you get lucky.
:: Encapsulations ::
Captains would have a chance of finding random skill Encapsulations as loot. This would require a way to tilt the loot generation to the law level of the area. In Terra and LL12 areas, the vast majority of Encapsulations would be Civilian level skills. This would be quite valuable to new players, as it could save early starting credits. Skills the Captain does not with to pursue could be converted to Skill Timer Minutes to help learn the basic skills a little faster. The highest end skills could be found in the most lawless areas. The distribution is not a tight band based on LL though. A captain in dangerous space could find a “Skill Certificate Encapsulation for Civilian Mining”, while an extremely lucky captain in Arlington could potentially find a “Skill Certificate Encapsulation for Advanced Jump Drive Systems”. Less expensive would always be more common, and more expensive would always be more rare.
:: Memory Encoding Boost Cartridge ::
The ship hold item “Memory Encoding Boost Cartridge: XX Minutes” is similar to an Encapsulation, but holds only memory encoding boost nanoparticles, or Skill Timer Minutes. My personal suggestion, in dice parlance of classic fantasy games, is (3d6|L2) x 10 minutes. Roll a d6 three times, add the two lowest (discard the highest), and multiply by ten minutes. This would heavily weight the random values to one hour or less, but very lucky players could get nearly two hours of skill timer minutes.
The MEB Cartridges are not pilot/captain locked. They can be stored, sold, or traded.
A possibility with the MEB Cartridges is to have five grades: Civilian, Administrative, Military, Experimental Tech, and Exotic Tech. In number generation example above, have the number of dice be d2, d3, d4, d5 and d6, dropping the highest die in each case. This would mean a Civilian MEB Cartridge would usually be 10-30 Skill Timer Minutes, while an Experimental Tech MEB Cartridge would contain a minimum of 40 minutes and potentially over three hours. This would make for easy Law Level distribution. LL1-2 could potentially generate Exotic Tech MEB-C’s, LL3-4 could generate Experimental Tech MEB-C’s, LL5-6 for Military, LL7-8 for Administrative, and LL9-12 could generate Civilian MEB-C’s.
:: Unsanctioned Skill Certificate Encapsulation ::
I will have a different post on “Unsanctioned Skills”. The short version is to have more “dead end” skills like “Microstar Reactors”, but make the items more unique. Some of these unique skills could also be Unsanctioned, meaning they are not purchasable, or only available for purchase in very low LL / high TL planets. Another possibility is a very small number of NPC’s which have one Unsanctioned skill for sale per day, at a high cost.
Go to the post on Restricted and Unsanctioned Skills for much more on this.
:: Hacked Skill Certificate Encapsulation ::
These Encapsulations, which can include both sanctioned and unsanctioned skills, are both rare and valuable. These Encapsulations have been boosted with experimental and unsanctioned memory induction tech. They can be stored, sold, or used like a normal Encapsulation. If converted to Skill Timer Minutes, the conversion value is doubled. Hacked Encapsulations are also more likely to be for high level than low level skills.
A Hacked Encapsulation has three major differences. The first is that it uses experimental injection of front loaded memories. While these memories are indistinct, it does help the Captain learn the basics of a skill almost instantly. When a Hacked Encapsulation is used, about 10% (possibly a random amount, otherwise 10%) of the minutes required to complete a skill are instantly advanced. For example, Civilian Jump Drive Systems requires 5900 minutes to complete. If a Hacked Encapsulation for this skill was activated, the captain would immediately advance 590 minutes, or 6h50m. This would immediately place the Captain a few levels into the Jump Drive skill.
The second major difference is learning boosters give a 10% bonus to time spent advancing the skill. Every hour spend on the skill advances an additional 6 minutes. For skills that take weeks to learn, over 16 hours per week required is eliminated.
The front loaded memory and accelerated learning combined cause skill learning to be completed in about 80% the normal time.
The third major difference is that the skill become dangerous to disengage. Once a Hacked Encapsulation is activated, the skill must complete. Pausing the skill acquisition is disabled. Further, Skill queuing is not possible until the skill ends. Every successive level of the Hacked skill becomes pre-queued and the queue cannot be broken. For example, a Captain using a Hacked Encapsulation for Cybernetics could learn the skill in 803.5 hours instead of 1003.5 hours, a reduction of over eight days, but would have the skill learning locked for over 33 days.
Skills make the game run. They are a commodity for governments and businesses. There is no reason they would not also become a commodity for crime syndicates and pirate factions. Information and skill would be a prime resource.
This would also be a perfect way to add Unsanctioned Skills into the game. Pirates would likely not sell their secrets at the corner market. However, a lucky captain could find the equivalent of a training video in ship wreckage. A player could pick the secrets of the factions from ruins and wrecks.
The MEB Cartridges also make perfect narrative sense. If certification is based on slow memory encoding during sleep or as a background process, it would make sense that different factions would find a way to do it faster. Someone who has mastered Novastone Refining would be valued for their skill, so it makes sense industries would find a way to get valuable assets faster.
The Hacked Encapsulations also makes narrative sense. Underworld factions, as well as intelligence agencies, would find less-than-safe ways to boost the process. The pilot using such an encapsulation would be locking in to the process, possibly for weeks. Or, the pilot could sell the valuable skills for a tidy profit.