Skill Point Progression System
for use with any Palladium System game

This system is designed to provide greater flexibility that does not require modification of any other aspect of the system. You just drop it in and go.

Why a Different Skill System?

The biggest complaint I have and hear of regarding the Palladium System in general is ... lack of power balance between characters (no easy way to fix that).

The second biggest complaint is regarding static skill progression. Skill selection is great. The ability to have a wide variety of skills is easy. Three problems arise, however, with advancing characters and keeping in character:

At First Level
Starting Skill Slots | O.C.C. Only Skill Points
What Counts? | The Finer Points...

Leveling Characters
Bonus Skill Slots | New Skills/Combat Abilities
Updating Slots and Skill Points | Raising Skills

Examples | Variations on a Theme (possible rules variations)

Rules Summary

At 1st level (after selecting skills):

When leveling your character:

On Skill Types

What importance do the various skill categories in an O.C.C. have when using this skill system?

O.C.C./R.C.C. Skills matter for purposes of the O.C.C. Only Skill Points. O.C.C. Skill categories after that vary a lot from one game to the next. Using this system, there are no categories beyond O.C.C. Skills, Non-O.C.C. Skills and O.C.C. Abilities (those abilities that function like a skill, but that you will only find in the O.C.C. description, not in the skills section). The highest set of bonunses provided to skills outside of O.C.C. skills is used for all of the character's other skills (whether they are normally referred to as O.C.C. Related Skills, other Skills, Secondary Skills, etc.

At First Level

Calculating Starting Skill Slots ... for raising and purchasing skills later

At character creation, after skills are selected, the Starting Skill Slots need to be totalled. The number of Skill Slots is based on the skills the character selected, with different types of skills either adding to the total or not. The list below breaks them down based on the function of the O.C.C. Abilities (those abilities that are not listed in the skill section but that have percentage rolls), O.C.C. Skills, O.C.C. Related Skills, Other Skills, Secondary Skills, etc. alloted to the character at 1st level:

Totalling up the skill slots (listed next to the skill type in parentheses; see What Counts and What Doesn't), you then record the number (this will change as skill slots are gained and skills are purchased). The total number is the character's available skill slots for the next level.

Calculating O.C.C. Only Skill Points ... for raising O.C.C. Skills/Abilities later

Count the number of O.C.C. abilities that have a skill roll (those abilities that are not listed in the skill section but that have percentage rolls) and keep that number separate. This number translates into skill points (they cannot be used to purchase new skills) that can only be spent on O.C.C. skills and O.C.C. abilities.

What Counts and What Doesn't

There are four broad categories of skills/abilities and they count a little differently:

What About Non-O.C.C. Skill Points

General Skill points are assumed during 1st level and are figured out using Skill Slots at every other level. At first level you are assumed to have purchased level one in each skill that provides you a Skill Slot. This will make more sense once you level your character to 2nd and see how Skill Points work.

Duplicate Skills

The same skill provided from two different sources. When this occurs, the better one is the one you want to raise (if there is a better one). There is no reason to purchase a skill twice. Using this system, the Professional Quality "gained" by purchasing a Domestic or Performance skill is simply not worth it. Just spend more points into the skill.

There are circumstances when a particular skill will be given to a character from two different sources (O.C.C. and martial Art, two different skill programs, etc.). In these circumstances:

Record Skill Slots and O.C.C. Only Skill Points

At this point you know how many Skill Slots you will have available to you next level. You want to record this on your character sheet. This number has the likelyhood of changing based on the level. You also want to record your O.C.C. Only Skill Points (this number may change of additional O.C.C. Abilities are granted later on).

Leveling Characters

When leveling your character:

Determine Bonus Skill Slots (if applicable)

Every character gains a number of bonus skill slots based on their O.C.C. (just add them all up) and look at the New Skill Progression Table. Determine whether a bonus skill slot is gained at the level you are raising your character to.

Bonus skill slots do one of two things:

Purchase New Skills and HTH:Combat/Martial Art Forms

These are permanent new additions to your character, access to a whole new element of knowledge or capability. As such, the cost is permanent. Upgrading skills is done on a by-level basis (and so the cost is temporary as well).

Purchasing New Skills (with existing Skill Slots)

New skills are purchased on a one-for-one basis with Skill Slots (you lose a skill slot and gain a new skill at first level). Any new skills you purchase this level includes the first level (you don't spend Skill Points to buy it). Gainin a new Skill Slot works a little differently and is covered here.

Upgrading/Purchasing Hand to Hand Combat and Martial Art Forms

These other skill-based abilities can be purchased as a character increases in experience:

Raising Martial Arts

The assumption is that Hand-to-Hand Combat and Martial Arts will raise in level with the character, starting at level one when it is purchased or newly upgraded. To raise HtH and Martial Arts as skills see Variations at the bottom of this document.

Raising skills that come with a Martial Art Form is done treating the Martial Art as a Skill Array so it takes one Skill Point to raise all of the skills in that Array and not spending that point means not raising any of those skills.

O.C.C. Skills are not allowed to be sacrificed to raise Hand-to-Hand Combat (or to purchase a second form).

* Separate/Additional Form: Rather than upgrading your existing martial art form, you can become a truely flexible opponent, learning to fight with more than one style. This requires more effort and concentration to keep the two styles separate and is more expensive as a result (+2 skill slots).

NOTE: All forms of Hand-to-Hand Combat and Martial Arts that are upgraded reset to level one at the level they are upgraded. Upgrading HtH: Basic to HtH: Martial Arts at 3rd level would cost 2 of the character's skill slots, remove the bonuses from HtH: Basic, and add the bonuses from HtH: Martial Arts at level one.

Updating Skill Slots and O.C.C. Only Skill Points

Once Bonus Skill Slots have been added to the Starting Skill Slots (or Skill Slots from the previous level) and any purchased Skills, HTH Combat and Martial Arts have been subtracted, the remainer is the number of Skill Slots remaining for use next level AND the number of Skill Points available this level to raise skills.

Check to see if your O.C.C. grants you a new O.C.C. Ability at the level you are gaining. If so you raise your O.C.C. Only Skill Points (spending the one you just gained this level on this new ability).

Record on your character sheet how many Skill Slots and O.C.C. Only Skill Points you have (this will be important when starting this over next level).

Raising Skills

Now you spend Skill Points to raise your existing skills (except any new skills you purchased this level as your purchase includes the first level). Each Skill Point represents one level of a skill (e.g. if First Aid is Base Skill: 60 + 4% per level; each Skill Point spent on First Aid represents 4%).

Skill Points only matter while leveling your character and can be used as a way to define the level of the skill (e.g. "I have spent 5 skill points on First Aid" would be the same as First Aid being at 5th level or 80% using the above example).

Each new level (2nd and up) the player purchases any new skills, reducing the number of available skill slots. The remaining skill slots make an equal number of skill points available to raise the level of existing skills (except any new skills you purchased this levell they cannot be raised the same level they are purchased). Skills can only be raised up to two levels higher than character level (3rd lvl. character can only raise skill to 5th lvl. proficiency). Points can be saved and be spent on the following level in addition to the points available at that level.

Tracking Skill Points

Tracking Skill Points is a really good idea. It keeps you from getting confused about how moany points you have spent and allows you to go back and double-check your work. This is not as difficult as it may seem.

There are three things to keep track of that will count towards accurate percentages on skills and knowing how many Skill Points have been spent:

The easiest way to do this is to have the level of a skill written down next to the skill, with skills that do not have a percentage associated with them left blank.

Variations on a Theme

No system is perfect and, more importantly, no system will please everyone. Here are some suggestions to modify the system, tailoring it to your needs and wants:

Buy Back Ability Bonus Skills

There may be circumstances when it makes sence for a character to loose one of the Ability Bonus Skills. In this case they remove the skill and remove the bonus it provided. If a roll is involved ideally the amount that was rolled would be removed, but if not, remove the average, round down (e.g. 2d6 would become 6) and that would be removed from the appropriate attribute or score. Starting the level that the bonus(es) is removed, the character gets a Skill Slot back.

Hand-to-Hand Flexibility

Allow O.C.C. Skills to be traded in when upgrading Hand to Hand Combat. Normally O.C.C. Skills are not allowed to be sacrificed to raise Hand-to-Hand Combat. Doing so should reduce the Starting Skill Slots for the character as well (same as it would for sacrificing any other type of skill for a HTH Combat or Martial Art Form.

Martial Skill

Allow Hand to Hand Combat and Martial Art Forms to be treated the same as any other skill (purchased using Skill Points). They then count toward Skill Slots and they are raised only when the player decides to raise them (although they are a little more expensive):

Percentage Array Skills Raise Separately

Instead of having skills such as Gymnastics count as a group of skills which you gain 1 skill slot for and raise together, have them count as 2 skill slots and raise each of the individual "mini-skills" separately.

Weaker Skill Progression

If you feel that progression after 1st level progresses too quickly then when a Bonus Skill Slot is gained just grant a Bonus Skill Slot. This means that they can either use the skill slot as extra Skill Points or to purchase a new skill (requiring the existing Skill Slots to power an additional skill in addition to the character's other skills. NOTE: An Ability Bonus skill replaces the whole skill slot as normal.

Too Complex

This system assumes that Hand-to-Hand Combat will always be raised and that physical bonus skills will always provide the bonus. You can ignore the subtraction of skill slots and make your players spend the skill points at each level. This also requires that you count every skill toward available skill slots at 1st level. Then, just allow 1 skill point per skill when leveling (this will guarantee more points than normal for those who purchase more physical bonus skills).