Personally, I like the chatter system for the most part. Gossip is fun, although hearing 'X creased Y, Project Z is in phase 1, 2, 3...' ad nauseum can get exhausting.
I think it's okay for bartenders to talk chatter in crowded bars. It's weird that the place has to be empty.
After dozens of tries in many areas of the game I was always told no by the bartenders, so I stopped trying.
I guess I needed more Charisma or better clothes, but I felt I had already made high investments there relative to most characters. You shouldn't have to be a stunning knockout wearing amazing clothes to get some chatter in the Drome.
I do, however, understand the desire to reward characters who have made very high investments in Charisma. They should be rewarded, of course!
The biggest help would probably be Ganger Violence Summary. No list of 24 skirmishes. If 2 Ganger factions fight and one wins - mark it on a tally board and let me know whose making the most moves at the end of the week. In the case of a fellow faction member ganger, a weekly breakdown of drug/weapon/armor coverage would be awesome i.e. "We've been solid on bolos but Waukeem won't stop bitching about there never being any Marcy."
Locking out a feature from a good chunk of the playerbase, when the feature's whole point is to spread (mis)information... Seems counter-intuitive, and charisma is already plenty useful for other things, especially with recent changes. I'd definitely favor charisma as a way to bypass requirements instead of being the requirement itself. Bartenders can have close ugly/obnoxious friends, after all.
Although there's a bunch of other NPC types that do chatter, I've also found those to be pretty prohibitive with requirements, not just bartenders.
(Edited by MirageGM at 7:20 am on 12/9/2021)
I think making it so anyone can hear chatter (but charismatic characters hear more and can spread rumors) would go a long way.
I would want to make PC-spread chatter be something anyone can hear, along with "tip line" chatter and anything else staff decides.
I would want to make X kills Y and Project chatter be gated (while it gets repetitive and should get cut down or made more useful, especially the X kills Y, it is good paydata and paydata should be gated.) Also gated should be "big hats are in fashion" kind of chatter.
Finally, spreading chatter should be a skill check.
The system needs to reward folx that have put some points into relevant skills/stats. It isn't straight charisma, it's mixed with a variety of things, perhaps stealth or trading or artistry or decking, depending on the situation. Sometimes it picks the best skill from a list of them and uses that.
The rumor system already makes it more likely that a highly charismatic or smooth talker will get their rumor pushed through.
Keep the feedback coming. I'm making the simple adjustments that have been called out here.