Thanks Kevin, for the insight on design intent. My main goal with this proposal was to make things less broken, and secondarily to make them more fun. Sounds like I may have missed some of the intended theme/atmosphere with my attempt to fix what I consider an obvious (albeit hidden) flaw with numbers, though.
My main frustration was actually that skill comprehension sounds like this amazing thing (3 point trait!), when… it really isn’t, IMO. Too much or not enough downtime is something that can be tweaked, whereas I feel like there are systemic limits to skill comprehension that get brought to the fore when Fast Learner comes into play.
Honestly, my main gripe is actually with Fast Learner. To be blunt, I consider that trait to be broken, from a balance and documentation perspective. 11 Int (3 points spent, compared to the default - same as Fast Learner) gives you a character that learns skills optimally from level 0 to level 5. 13 Int (3 points above my personal baseline) is sufficient to have optimal learning up to skill level 10. Likewise, 8 Int and Fast Learner is sufficient for optimal learning up to skill level 10.
And a statistic that I find particularly annoying: with 11+ Int, Fast Learner’s sole effect is to give you another 26+ levels before suboptimal skill comprehension kicks in. That’s not what I would expect from the available documentation, tbh. And if we’re using skill comprehension as a way to deter people from getting absurdly high skill levels, I’m of the opinion that Fast Learner works against the intentions of the skill comprehension system.
I’d be almost as happy if Fast Learner were removed (or changed to do something completely different, that matches the description). Removing it would make my perception of skill comprehension change from “broken”, to “arcane and maybe not doing what it’s meant to, at least not well”. I can live with the latter. It wouldn’t add anything to the game, true, but… eh, this may be a case where pruning is best.
A secondary criterion I’m using is whether or not it feels fun to play, and whether or not it gives me interesting choices with no obvious optimal solution. The read/practice/read cycle was entertaining at first, since I agree that it does fit rather well thematically, but over time I got less interested in that. I think part of the issue is that as I got more into the game, I felt more and more inclined to make optimal use of skill books. The change I proposed makes it more imperative that I make an informed decision about whether I really need to spend that XP now rather than later, which I felt to be a mechanical improvement over my current habit of letting my XP pool dictate when it’s time to head back (even if I don’t really need to head back). Hence why I proposed a change to the mechanics, rather than just proposing that we change or remove Fast Learner by itself.
Sounds like effort might be better spent making the downtime less grindy, rather than making it more feasible (albeit just as risky) to spend lots of time engaging with the outside world?