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Gradual retraining for max UE characters
Stolen from the thread Neural Remapping

Wanted to bump this idea from Slither, give it it's own thread, and give it a resounding +1. Please replace one-time respecs with this.

"I've talked with one or two admin about the following idea that is somewhat similar to this. It's just an idea, not something we are planning to implement right this second, or even one that I've gotten signed off on by other admin. So it might never happen.

A system that allows you to slowly 'forget' or 'untrain' a skill (or perhaps even a stat), perhaps 1 point a day for a long period of time. That UE would be partially refunded-- not sure how much, probably 1/4th of what you spent or something.

This would allow you to 'forget' a skill (or maybe a stat), entirely over a period of time, getting a bit of the UE back to spend each day. In the long run it would mean that you wouldn't end up with skills you never use, and you wouldn't end up with those skills counting against your max experience when you hit the limit.

It would also allow characters at max experience to slowly reshape their characters over time as they go through in character changes, and thus not stagnate or feel that once they hit the cap they don't have room to change or grow.

It would reduce the need for a full respec and it would treat the entire experience the same way it works in real life. If you are a master with a gun in your early life but then stop shooting because you get out of that criminal life, or retire from the WJF, those skills would slowly deteriorate as you put your efforts into something else (like making WJF bobble head art or something).

Thoughts?"

-Slither

+1
This is a classic mechanical way of handling max-xp characters and is a proven positive mechanic among other systems. I highly recommend it.
I loved it the first time it was brought up and I love it now, too!
I like this but I think there ought to be some kind of a limit on it (such as only skills decay, not stats), otherwise characters who were around for a long time could slowly fine-tune themselves into the most efficient killing machines possible.

Stats still have the disadvantage of splitting between two substats though, right? Wouldn't that be a balancing factor there?
Agreed with Vera. Part of SD's cycle is eventually tiring out from your character and sunsetting in some way or another, and there's already been (arguable) examples of people staying around for way too long. I feel like this would be another reason to keep these characters going arbitrarily.

I believe Slither mentioned it being a major chunk of chy to get it retrained, but when you're talking about fine-tuned killing machines, that's not that hard a goal to reach.

Maybe forced vacation time along with it? Cutting the return of being even -more- efficient? Or just a few "soft" respecs allowed after the first? Allowing players a few second minor retries?

@Something_Wicked

There's been characters in the past who respecced and ended up broken because of it. There's also ones that've become gods overnight because they learned their stat lean was "wrong".

Not trying to poopoo the idea altogether, but I'm extremely wary of the implications and effects this would have on character lifespan.

If a player wants to keep their character around way past their prime I don't think anything is going to stop them. There's already a lot that works against them that I can't go into here.

Wouldn't be against this idea though. Being able to get rid of stuff you no longer use or don't need as much would be nice since respects often go wrong and not all were done at max EXP. For instance, unless you were extremely diligent then most characters before the @stats --defined update and the clarifying of skill levels are now at a disadvantage in terms of character builds.

I don't think that update will make any character a god if they're doing the apartment karate thing, but gradual retraining could help older PCs keep up with stuff like that.

How long a player plays their character is up to them, and if the system allows for someone to be too powerful relative to other players that is a problem with the system and not the player.

Skill decay is a smart way of handling the current (very clunky) skill system, which heavily favours players who knew how to optimize their stats from the outset versus those who learned as they went and did not remake new characters just to optimize.

It also allows for realist gradual retraining. You could even have it occur organically where you progressively start to forget your oldest skills after a period and are refunded that UE to either put back into those skills to represent 'staying sharp' or invest in new skills to represent learning new things.

No one's suggesting that we force people to quit their characters... but some people totally need to give it up.

But really, it's not like it should be enforced and we all know better... but seriously, come on, time to walk away.

Joining others in saying that I think this is a fantastic idea, I've absolutely adored it since the initial proposal and have been really wondering if it was ever going to gain more traction.

I'd honestly rather see it pushed further and offered as a universal game mechanic, not just max-UE characters, who represent such a small % of players anyway. I think we'd see a bump to character / player longevity in general (maybe not massive, but still) if players had some mechanic by which to adjust their stats this way over time as 1) the players learn more about the game, how it works, and the place in it they want to find themselves, and 2) characters change over time, along with their goals.

It can be difficult to invest even say 20 UE (blah blah 20 UE isn't much blah blah) because you're new and don't know better about some skill or are figuring the game or a character out a bit, and just...have that lost forever. Even if it's relatively trivial...it just feels junky. Whether that amount of UE is 'a lot' or not, it's going to bug you, probably. Whether you accidentally spend UE, or spend it on a misguided bit of character growth, I don't think you should have to play a character for almost 3 years or w/e to get a chance to change that.

Yes, more knowledgeable players will be able to 'min-max'...they already can. That doesn't change anything.

It'd be nice for players to not feel like they have to perm every time they play long enough to learn something meaningful about How Things Work and realize their character is kinda borked and they have to now play another 2.5 years to fix it.

Yes, we get it, you can balance things to an extent with more allies, more chrome, better planning...that doesn't change how it -feels-, and people will still feel bad, perm stupidly, whatever.

Even if it's a low drain...let people decay something, a skill / stat, slowly, and give them like a 25 - 50% refund. Maybe give an option....the more slowly you decay, the more % you get back.

Well let me share an example from personal experience.

I played a character who did something for like a year and a half and then TOTALLY switched tracks and did something else. I was able to become reasonably competitive against 2+ year old characters with my new archetype because the game doesn't totally require you to just be specialized at one task, and I think that's super cool.

If those 2+ year old characters had been 5+ year old characters who'd had years to incrementally fine-tune themselves I might not have stood a chance and they'd just be parked at the top of the food chain forever. The top-level characters would tend to eventually become ridiculously minmaxed just to stay competitive with each other. This is part of the reasoning behind limiting respecs I'm sure.

I think the game's better if it's not like that and there's more jockeying for position, but I also want this random skill I accidentally put 1 point into off my sheet. So like I said, put some limits on it. Make things only decay to a certain point and/or make only skills decay.

Yeah, I have to agree this system hits a -major- drawback if it allows a character to endlessly fine-tune and experimentally improve themselves to min-maxhood, which is a process and endgoal I hate with a passion. The respec system isn't perfect either, but at least forces you to commit.
I actually had an issue pertinent to this a while back. I accidentally assigned UE to the wrong thing, and it was a decent amount too. So I ended up a small chunk of UE in something my character will never use and has no reason for knowing.

Sure, it was my fault, and in the long run, it's not a big deal, but it's still a bit jarring to open up the character sheet and see it there. I did xhelp and remember being told there was nothing they could do about it. It put me in the awkward position of considering asking for a respec just to get rid of those points.

I think if we could come to an agreement as to how to limit this new system so people don't min-max, this could be very beneficial for all sorts of characters, not just max UE ones.

What about the idea of just making min-max codedly not possible, if it's a problem for the game?
I like this idea, whether it's for old characters or new alike. I would however like to know -how- it would work, as I'd prefer to have the skills I -want- to keep not gradually decay just because I didn't use them in a while.
I agree that degrading stats is way too abusable. But skills are totally fine. Here's my suggestion from the other thread:

Set a skill to degrade, then lose 1 point in that skill per day. 25% of UE is refunded in available UE, the other 75% go back into your UE pool.

> @degrade heavy_weapons

Your ability with heavy_weapons will now degrade.

-or-

You have no ability in heavy_weapons to degrade.

> @degrade

Degraded skill cleared.

If we did something like this, I would dislike any kind of 'degrade' setting that auto degrades at regular intervals. I prefer having to manually choose to degrade a given attribute again and again. Like spending reverse-UE.

I also don't think you should get ANY UE back from lowering or removing attributes. None. You simply gain UE at the usual rate. I can't think of a reason why a UE refund of any kind is needed or good.

I personally don't mind the lowering of stats or the removal of advantages but I'd want rate very carefully controlled. It should take so long to move a decent leveled skill back to nothing that it's prohibitive. It should take twice as long to lower stats than skills. But I'd want lowering rate to be largely equal to raising rates. So if it would take 120 days at 3 UE a day to get from 0 to where my Basket Weaving skill is today, it should take that long for me to reduce it back to zero.

If we make massive changes time prohibitive and do not provide UE paybacks and force people to regain at the usual rates, I think it would prove challenging for someone to tweak to perfect min-max. Not impossible but harder. Also the rate would make it easier for staff to spot problem adjustments and it would mean that it would take a while for hard earned paydata on a PC to be made useless using this system - a good thing in my opinion.

@Grey0

Unlearning should take as long as learning it took? Sounds good to me.

I don't really care if you get it refunded or not, but it would be good if it at least got refunded in your max UE pool, so that you're not actually limited and getting less points than other characters in the long run.

The general consensus appears to be you should be able to gradually degrade your skills even before you reach max UE, but your stats cannot be changed. This allows characters some flexibility in exploring different aspects of the game and fixing those pesky mistypes while still being slow enough that investing in skills is still a meaningful investment.
I don't know about 'general consensus'. I for one would prefer it if stats could be reduced if decent checks and balances can be put in place and I think it's worth the effort to try and create such checks and balances.
Doesn't refund directly to you, will add back to your pool? That would make sense.

Possibly also put a cap in place on investment along the spirit in respecs of 'you can't remove something you're known for just for the hell of it.' Past a certain point of UE, it's not going anywhere.

I'm going to point out though re: stats that any kind of reallotment isn't going to be possible to prevent from being respent on stats.

Let's not manufacture consensus, please. It's a way of silencing discussion.

I see no issue with stats and skills degrading, being able to re-train your body over time does make sense, though it also makes sense this is a slower process.

I think even a very slow allowance for change over time rather locking people in would encourage more archetype exploration rather than the glut of combat archetypes which have been so well-demonstrated as working, versus others that might be good but you risk spending a year just to find out.

Re: Grey0.

So if it would take 120 days at 3 UE a day to get from 0 to where my Basket Weaving skill is today, it should take that long for me to reduce it back to zero.

I might be wrong, but I think it would take longer to lose 1 point per day than it took to invest 120 days in a skill.

I also don't think you should get ANY UE back from lowering or removing attributes. None.

If it were that way, it would have zero value to anyone who wasn't max UE (or reasonably close), because you'd be removing a skill in return for a miniscule reward 3 years later. Giving a pittance back immediately provides incentive to keep your sheet tidy.

@Kiwi

I like your thinking. If your skill in one thing is very, VERY high, you can't degrade it. It is something that is so deeply rooted in you that it's could be something you've learned from a very young age. Something your character does naturally at this point.

I might be wrong, but I think it would take longer to lose 1 point per day than it took to invest 120 days in a skill.

I don't understand what you are saying here. We have a set UR rate and a set cost for stat and skill increase based on the curve. We don't have any kind of defined reduction rate so I don't see how we can compare them. What I was trying to express was that the rate needs to be carefully considered and that, in my opinion, the decrease rate should match up with increase rate. Not be faster in any way.

If it were that way, it would have zero value to anyone who wasn't max UE (or reasonably close), because you'd be removing a skill in return for a miniscule reward 3 years later. Giving a pittance back immediately provides incentive to keep your sheet tidy.

It has plenty of value. Those two U level skills you accidentally invested in go away. Yes, it will take you a sngle UE gain longer to reach max UE than it would have if you hadn't made the mistakes but at least you could do something abut it now instead of waiting a year hoping for a respec.

Additionally, I don't know why we should incentivize people to 'tidy up their @stats' or to make more drastic changes to their characters. I see no benefit to the game at large to 'encourage' either thing. I can, however, see some down sides to allowing rapid shifting.

ICly, people spend a lot of time learning about other people. They pay for paydata. They hire snitches. They kiss people's buts. All so they can gauge what a person can do, can't do and how competently. So I think changes to your character need to be done at a controlled rate so as to not make hard earned info become useless, or worse, incorrect to the point of hurting you.

OOC side. Some have voiced concerns that are valid in my opinion. Like slowly min-maxing your character to an insanely optimized degree or using a system like this to change a character TOO much. My suggestions are things I think might help combat this. That includes NOT incentivizing people to change things. Just my opinion of course.

Limiting Reductions

I like this. It would be cool if the game could keep track of a "Min-Level" for stats and skills based on what you raise them too. Something like "As soon as you hit D level in Basket Weaving you can no longer drop below H level - no matter what." Or maybe just adjust the reduction rate to make it very difficult and time consuming beyond a certain point.

No idea what would be fair as I don't fully understand the systems behind all this but I am confident that something could be worked out if staff decided that restrictions like this where appropriate.

Skills Only

I feel it's silly to make this skills only as, unless staff decides to remove a system that is already well established in the game, characters who seriously want to degrade their stats can (to some degree at least). Just food for thought.

Keeping to the Core

While I originally felt that this kind of slow re-write should include removing and regaining advantages, I am now thinking that, if anything is to be restricted, these would be good. After all, they tend to be selected to support the core of your character and if your use a system like the one proposed here to rewrite your character in a way contrary to their core concept there is a good chance you will no longer enjoy the benefits you once gained via advantages. Or disadvantages that didn't used to be a concern might now hurt you.

characters who seriously want to degrade their stats can

An IC solution for an OOC problem?

Well, you say that as if this isn't a game, meant to be fun, not already filled with and designed around a great many of those exact things, in one manner or another.
@Diamond

How do you define "minmaxed"? You can't just block a very specific combination of stats can you? It's not just a variable you can set a min or max value to.

It's possible to attempt to min/max but I don't think the extra UE crammed into something makes much difference at the upper level. I think a lot of people confuse optimization for 'min/maxing' as well. On Sindome it's possible to 'multi-class' but there's heavy emphasis on being good at something and hiring others for everything else.

Really don't think it's an issue.

I've encountered a few characters who were obviously mathematically tuned to murder perfection at the expense of all else and it's a lot less fun to have them in the world than characters who know how to drive or use the grid without a skillsoft.

If that's how you wanna build your dude then cool, however max UE should be a spot where you start building others up and planning an exit rather than fine tuning your situation to totally cement dominion over the game for years to come.

I am confused how you could "mix-max" if your skills/stats degraded.

Stat investment is obfuscated and random, skill investment is basically 'more = better'. It's not like there's a bunch of combat skills you have to balance, it's like primary weapon+dodge.

If someone wants to invest everything in pistol and that becomes a problem for the game, that's a symptom of an underlying issue, not a reason to prevent people from customizing their characters.

Ooh, I do like the idea of "once you get to a certain level, you can't go below a certain lower level." Thanks, Grey0, for the differing viewpoint.

This discussion is gradually growing beyond my comprehension. My only skin in this game is that I want to tidy up my sheet and fix (numerous) mistakes. 😅

Though for the record I agree that pure investment in combat is waaaaay too powerful compared to everything else (I believe we've had this discussion before), but limiting that to players who happen to know how good dedication to that level can be from the outset just creates two strata of players -- those OOC in the know from the start and those not.
Should someone who was a nerdlinger decker for 3 years be able to completely reinvent themselves into a professional sniper with dangerously low intelligence and absolutely no computer skills whatsoever? You can't do that now with a respec, and that's a good thing. People should have to respect their past RP choices.
I completely changed professions and life directions like twice IRL and still rose to the top of my field even though they were totally unrelated paths, that is hardly unrealistic. Why wouldn't a computer expert be unable to train over several years to become a great marksman? The same training is allowed to new characters.

Physical transformations are not unrealistic either, and if you can 'train' intelligence and luck mechanically, you sort of have to treat them as things that can be gained or lost. Only allowing them to degrade to certain thresholds makes a lot of sense to me, however.

I think a decker should be able to turn into a sniper in the long run, be the sounds of this idea it would be a looooong process, so small changes wouldn't be so tough, but going from smart decker to dumbass super soldier would be uber long term.
I really don't understand why people think you need to be dumb to be a good fighter. Not going to go further than say this isn't true, nor is it even expected of upper end characters though. Nobody gets anywhere by being stupid. Nobody.
Every point you don't put into INT goes into a combat skill.
@0x1mm

That's a good way to have characters who never perm out because they can just try out new archetypes without having to lose their UE....

Maybe someone else said this, but I think once you cap you should be able to get maybe 1 UP or unlearn point a/day that when you use it lets you unlearn stuff or maybe have this in an IC manifestation like cryo re-learning.
The speculative plague of both super combat optimized and archetype-exploring eternal max UE characters is a bridge that can be burnt if it ever arrives.

That changes to how the game is played might happen is to be embraced not feared. Almost no other game asks the same commitment of time and inflexibility of development that Sindome does. Allowing for slow 'repairing' of bad choices over time, or for redevelopment -- again over time -- is a step in the right direction.

No one should feel they have to stop playing a character they love because their character sheet isn't good enough to 'keep up with their peers', or they are unhappy with the mechanics of what they've chosen, or because they sunk a bunch of UE into skills that they can do nothing with.

No one should feel they have to stop playing a character they love because their character sheet isn't good enough to 'keep up with their peers', or they are unhappy with the mechanics of what they've chosen, or because they sunk a bunch of UE into skills that they can do nothing with.

--

Right, has that ever happened?

You don't think, in twenty years, in a game where choices are permanent, and there are skills that do literally nothing, that no one has ever made a different character because they got into situations or spent UE in such a way they would never be able to use the skills they had for one reason or another? And that some of them might've continued playing if they had a way of retraining into a different set of them?

The system already tacitly acknowledges the player psychology here by allowing for a maybe respec under conditions, possibly. It's clear the intent is not to make players feel imprisoned by their choices, nor to feel like they will be punished for making the wrong choice.

Slow redevelopment is simply an evolutionary (and in my opinion, more natural and realistic) mechanic based upon the same concept and reasoning.

Complete rebuilds and unlimited potential are never going to happen, there's too much room for abuse and it's not very themely to spend two years as a battle-hardened solo and then just totally shift gears to become a decker.

If you want to try out a new archetype, just vacation and play a new character for a bit.

We're talking about max UE characters here.

If you screw up with your UE investment early on you can always make up by assigning new UE into your desired skill until you reach the UE cap.

At that point you are eligible for a respec and you may decide to not invest UE into that shitty skill anyway but you still have to remain loyal to your character's core.

This system allows for unique character builds. For example, if you had to hide from the law for a month so you invested heavy in disguise and stealth, that's part of your character's development and core. Slow refinement leads to minmaxed builds with insanely optimized combat builds as oldbies gain OOC insight on which stat/skills are better for combat.

So yeah, I don't believe a max UE character permed out only because they once put 20 UE into heavy_weapons when they can just respec and get rid of it. If you're talking about newbies and midbies, maybe that's a different story.

My napkin maths says that at 1UE at day, a pure combat to non-combat conversion including skills and stats would take five to eight years. Double that if it's not a refund and simply a deduction from the max UE.

You really think that would be something that is likely to happen or that would be so powerful as to be abused, or that that timescale would be so unrealistic as to be unthemely?

Put a N% limit on how much stats can be degraded from the total investment if that's such a concern, but these worries about overnight archtype swaps are completely overblown.

Super new, but I absolutely agree with 0x1mm, it would take so long for these massive switches that seem unrealistic that they would absolutely be realistic. If you're a smart decker and you stop doing it for 5-8 years and just do combat training, you're gonna lose the sharpness of your mind, you're gonna forget exactly what to do when doing something like decking. Hell, for combat stuff in particular, if you get hurt and brutalized all the time, you're REALLY gonna forget some skills you haven't used in years.
Huh. I was just talking about this the other day in ooc-chat. Didn't know there was a thread about it. Glad it got bumped. +1
Can roast marshmallows over my firebrand comments up there.

Updated thoughts: There's not many max UE characters and I think the drip-loss of UE would be so small as to make for any game-warping skill meta changes, but I do think it would be a big positive to player psychology knowing that not everything is final, final.

I think it would encourage players to stick with characters they weren't entirely happy with in terms of skill distribution and off-set the benefits that come from having one character as a skill test bed and then rolling one more fine tuned afterwards.

My kingdom for an edit button.

So as to not make for any game-warping skill meta changes.

I think this system would be beneficial to everyone, not just max-ue characters. Would let people fix mis-clicks or little attempts at a skill, then deciding to change character. It would have to be a choice if someone wanted to spend the UE to regain a portion of it, but it would be nice to have that without having to respec a whole character.
As a new player I understand that my experience here is very limited and even so, I feel like this would be a very good mechanic to implement.

I can already see how it would come into play down the line for my own character, and was I was curious about the systems for changing specialization, having now learned that the existing solution is a one time respec all at once, I think this proposed idea is infinitely better and more immersive. Allow things to be shaped over time and alongside RP rather than one day suddenly being different.

Awesome idea! +1

I've come around to a strange position on this...

There are pro's and con's to every feature and decision. So I'm going to list some of the con's here, that I foresee. I'll also discuss the advantages, mostly it's just gonna be a stream of consciousness ramble.

It might make people cling to their older characters. Even post max UE + reroll. Leading to a situation where a long term character has outlived their prime. In some ways the Max UE system can be seen as a clock... Once you've hit max UE you've hit your prime, and thus should have a limited period at the top of the heap. It is the GM's job to enforce this.

So next con I can foresee is that it might allow for too much fluidity in concept if this system is allowed. A story should have a beginning a middle and an end. It should not have a beginning, a middle, a middle, a middle, a middle, an end, a middle, an end. Which is essentially what this system would allow. While yes Sindome does provide for immersive roleplaying of the life of a cyberpunk exceptional individual. And often the warrior in real life does eventually retire to become an artist. The best stories in cyberpunk are almost targeted. Designed to create and evoke a feeling and portray a concept. Hugely Long term characters are close to antithetical to that. And a system like this while it would allow you to do things like fix mistakes on your sheet, it would also allow you to drift your concept away from the vision and intention. And at that point, you should consider whether or not you are still telling the same story that you were at the middle of your journey.

I feel like if you were to do something like this, then it should be at GM discretion and with plot reasoning and a review monthly to make sure you aren't using that skill. Because without that, it opens itself up too too much abuse. Basically it should be a slow reroll, and not a constant slow complete respec. Anything else would slowly open you up too character diverging from concept, which given the focus on narrative and roleplaying, would have a potentially bad effect on the nature of the games characterization.

tl:DR Remember, as much as you are playing a living breathing being, with thoughts that might diverge and change over time... You are still playing a character in a narrative, and at times that narrative should come first. Not your character. Leave room for other characters if you've been making moves along a road that would take you to a different space. Wrap things up, rather than clinging to the old. Go on one last big op, slowly fade to the background. And So on. Letting go is sometimes freeing. And this change might allow for greater levels of clinging to high or max UE characters.

I couldn't disagree more.

There's been like, a handful at most of characters possibly hitting max UE since I've been playing, and only one character who was anything like 'at the top' while having max UE and that plot situation was temporary.

On the flip-side there is an endemic issue with players abandoning characters. Like almost every single veteran will bemoan at some point how no one ever sticks around, or how everyone eventually ghosts, or people cannot be trusted to be there, et cetera.

If we end up with 30 characters sitting around at the top, habitually morphing into new archetypes across 8 years at 1 UE a day, then we can burn that bridge as we cross it, but I think we could do a lot more to encourage and incentivize players to stick with characters longer than do on average at the moment.

I don't think we should covet max ue PC's in any regard and spending coding time so they can be more dynamic seems silly. Buy a skillsoft or hire somebody.

I don't think we should be promoting a culture where oldbies are the end all be all. Instead, I think finding ways to put the power in new player's hands and forcing older players to seek them out to tap into those resources is where time/energy should be spent.

As far as I can tell, the only thing that happens from people coveting UE is a bunch of players sitting around waiting for their day in the sun that never comes because it reinforces the wrong values and is ultimately detrimental to the community.

I don't disagree Reefer, but to be clear the Max UE discussion came up because of fears over capped out characters respeccing over time, which I think at 10 years to respec is not something to be all the concerned over.

The original idea was that anyone could let themselves forget a skill for whatever reason, and I think that would have a positive impact on character retention.

People rolling new characters after 1-4 years makes sense, but I think the system right now could stand to do more to encourage players to at least make it to a year without feeling like they're behind the curve for whatever reason.