I agree with the general gist of this post but believe I have a more convenient suggestion to implement.
My suggestion to address the "UE disparity problem" would be not to lower the cap but to instead raise the base capability of characters. To give a rough example of what I mean; characters would start at level 10, and progress to level 20 as opposed to starting at level 1 and progressing to level 10. That way characters are still rewarded for investing UE with progression in their chosen fields, but can only get twice as capable as a new character, as opposed to potentially 10 times more powerful. This suggestion would allow even the full UE characters to keep their current stat allocation (and the incremental adjustments to ability that the large ue count provides) but would level the playing field between oldbie and newbie to a more fair and balanced one.
With that suggestion out of the way onto my stance on the topic that has come up which seems to be "Is the current UE system an issue?". My short answer on this is yes. More on why to follow.
1) The mechanics exist to support the roleplay, so whilst it is entirely valid to say that "roleplay is more important than the mechanics", when the mechanics often dictate the direction of the roleplay it is entirely worth critiquing the mechanics.
2) Sindome is a PvP game, which means that player characters will come into conflict with each other to generate much of the excitement.
3) Sindome is an RPG, which inherently means that older charcters with more exp are more mechanically powerful than newer ones.
4) In most PvP enabled RPG games some form of balance exists to ensure the playing field between competitors is somewhat even. This forces players to use their wits to out do one another in their chosen field and come out on top. In a Sindome context this use of wits is read as roleplaying.
5) Sindome bucks this trend amongst PvP rpgs by allowing characters of a high level to engage in conflict with lower ones, placing the lower level characters at a significant disadvantage.
6) This issue applies to more than just combat. To provide some non-combat examples:
6a) Player tailors can produce better goods because they have more UE but are under no obligation to charge more, making life harder for a beginner tailor to enter the market.
6b) An experienced security/electro_tech technician can just install -more- than a low level one and its in better. As a result of this players have little incentive to try and give the newbie security technician a chance and either not have their wares installed, or have them at risk due to a poor instillation.
Point 5 is the most open to dispute here with the most common arguement being "roleplay can overcome a UE difference". This is true, it can, but it's far harder than it should be. When the chips are down, mechanics matter. I'll use combat here as it provides some of the most clear cut examples and this is a scenario I have seen play out multiple times over my Sindome "career". Read it over and think back to see if it seems familiar at all:
-> Rookie John doesn't like the cut of Oldbie Bill's jib. Whether Bill hurt John in the past and John is looking for revenge, or perhaps John simply wants his fancy boots, John is going to take Bill down. He schemes for weeks and roleplays his ass off, hires a crew of five either by spending his total savings or sheer force of charisma. Then he strikes when Bill least expects it. Bill throws up his guard and strikes them dead to the last man.
Did this example reward strength of roleplay or strength of mechanics? Shouldn't we always be seeking to reward the strength of ones roleplay?
This has dragged on longer than intended, but I'll finish by saying I love you guys and I love the fact everyone is willing to take the time to discuss this civally.