I think that annoying thing is not the obligation to buy non-tailored abilities, but the need to remember them. No matter what great abilities you imagined and plan to use - to stand out - you have to keep in mind that some points should be stored for mechanics-tied abilities. In other systems this annoyance is absent because points for _attributes_ and skills are separate.
ERP has no skills derivative or dependent on related attributes. So where's the obligation to buy non-tailored abilities? If the player is frustrated because his concept assumes a higher level of several abilities than what's possible at first level, why not start the campaign off at a higher level? That would grant more character points to work with.
In Eldritch, I think, this can be done with pre-gened archetypes or templates, like a concept basis - warrior (weapon skills), dodger (agility and reflexes), sturdy (endurance, resistance)... They would work like racial packages. Just grab a package or two (with listed CP cost) - and you don't have to worry about basic abilities.
We did this on page 11 with the occupations, though even those are only presented as a list of suggestions. They don't subsume mechanics-tied abilities exclusively, as you can see. Must every rogue have high speed and willpower? Why force that? A thug or con-man may not.
2) We can't predict every concept that will be played with Eldritch - and we shouldn't, that would be a restriction, right? So, what the system really need is guidelines for different abilities.
You mean guidelines for creating new abilities or variations on existing, right?
Here and there I encounter various solutions of unusual mechanics: add plain modifier; you can't use Mastery under these conditions; use only basic ability die rank under these conditions; add the lowest die from the ability chain; avoid abilities that add to damage; apply this Specialization as Mastery for following Specs; and so on. I don't know which is more balanced, precise or gets better results.
Hmmm. "apply this Specialization as Mastery for following Specs"...that's an interesting one. Odd. Pardon my ignorance, but could you cite a page number for that?
There should be guidelines for implementing various concepts into action. They should answer such question as:
- How to represent tricky abilities in terms of the system? For example, what Specializations and Masteries fit Speed ability (for speed-centered character - some humanoid cheetah)? What other abilities are recommended for such concept? What difference do they make mechanically?
When you ask "what other abilities are recommended for such concept" you're talking about templates. That's not a bad idea, but it's a little different than the occupational chart on page 11. You're talking about something more fleshed out for each concept. Such a thing could fill an entire book on it's own (never a bad thing!). And I think templates are the best way to exelmply various uses of the broad-based skills in the game, rather than trying to list more and more words to describe additional specializations and/or masteries.
- How to represent even more tricky concepts - such as mounts, familiars, construct crafting, skyship sailing, cursed characters? Usually these questions are addressed in supplemental books, I know, but most of them can be dealt with easy and elegant principles. As with pet dragon above: most of his draconic features were unusable by the character (the dragon just wouldn't use them for character's benefit) while few of them that were useful were bought with CP, just like if they were the character's abilities. Balance - check, elegance - check, minimum rules modification - check.
My only concern there is I've only got 96 pages to work with and it's already filled out. Something in the core rules would be removed to make room for that stuff...it would work better as supplemental. Again, like templates, a book of examples is a better guideline than trying to write a step-by-step guide to "tricky concepts". Better to show than tell in those cases.
- How to handle unusual situations? What difference does it make if the conditions are beneficial or otherwise? What if the character acquired a special tool? What if he has to use his ability in unusual way or aimed for unusual results? How does one ability/character help another?
One example here is extra invisibility rules. I can need the need for the additions brought up there to be in the core rules, and I can stuff it into a sidebar, so expect that. As for those other questions...I thought those things are better handled by the GM on the fly. The only conditional modifiers I've seen deal with things like height advantage, speed of opponent movement, or flanking, or terrain considerations. Do you want a chart for that stuff, as in D&D?
As a bonus, ideas for exciting concepts and how they are represented in Eldritch abilities. Now that would be a tasty part! Read and spark your imagination, get instant desire to play and experience something not felt before!
Again, templates. I think a book of templates is a great idea.