Some random house-ruling thoughts.1
Dispense with fixed stunts. Instead, I’d adopt a house rule (which I can’t find a reference for now) that allowed players to “lock” an aspect to behave like a stunt: substitute one skill for another, grant a “permanent” circumstance bonus, a new function for an existing skill, etc.
Add experience in the form of adding personal Aspects, based on events in play. (Adding to skills is a little messier, especially for those of us who like the Skill Pyramid.)
A radical redesign would eliminate the standard attributes (ST, DX, IQ, HT). Anything directly dependent on them would use a base of 10. Characters could increase derived attributes and skills through existing advantages: Extra HP, Extra FP, Strong/Weak Will, Talents (for some cluster of related skills), etc.
Another radical redesign would change the basic mechanic into 3d6 + modifiers, roll HIGH. Skills (and ST/DX/IQ/HT if they still exist) become bonuses or penalties. Roll-over mechanics makes computation of difficulty penalties easier, and allows GMs to use secret target numbers or levels of success. The bell curve of 3d6 makes calculating appropriate target numbers a little trickier than, say, in d20, even if they’re on approximately the same scale.
An idea I’ve been toying with for a while is “skills and only skills”, inspired by Castle Falkenstein, some versions of D6, Basic Roleplaying/Legend, FATE, and GUMSHOE, among others. It’s exactly what it says: characters have only “abilities”, with no mechanical distinction between innate characteristics and learned skills. “Strength”, “Health”, and the like are just another ability, or cluster of abilities. Abilities need to be largely orthogonal, although “occupations” or the like may make certain combinations cheaper to reflect commonly associated abilities like Athletics and Health.
Tallying how many of these suggestions have appeared in published works, how many have featured in game designs I’ve suggested, and how many have been emphatically rejected or proven unworkable is left as an exercise for the reader.
(2021-05-17) I rewrote this sentence to remove the original inspiration for this post, which wasn’t really relevant and might be a dead link anyway. ↩︎