The systems doesn't matter, it's all about the setting in your head
At the time it felt like being stabbed. Icar version 2 was the best I could do and, looking back, it was mostly a mess. I took it to heart and rebuilt a huge amount of the game. That became version 3 (that Byrn first played at Uni) and then version 4 (which you can download). It's a hodge podge system.
What if he said it now?
I think there is reasonable cause to make the statement again. I've read quite a lot of systems since 1996 and have a different view on how they are actually used in game. If I were to rebuild the system now, what would it look like? What would it take to change?
I'm not rewriting anything yet. This post is really about exploring the idea for the sake of discussion. It's a healthy process to keep the energy flowing.
New Core Mechanic
I like the attributes of Battle, Shift, Meat, Soul and Wit. How about starting by simplifing all actions in the game to Attribute + Skill + D10 versus target number (14 probably nominal) or opposing roll (bigger wins).
Skills would not be tied to attributes and a have a range between 1 and 10 (ish).
If you're missing a skill then you can still try to do the task but you don't get that modifier. For example, if you try and drive a car without the Pilot Grav Skill, you're on Shift + Dice from the Pool (more below).
Equipment, weapons, bionics would give bonuses but not change the attributes.
All initiative would be Battle + Equipment mods + D10. Equipment could be bionics, spacecraft, vehicle etc.
Close combat combos would be about the same but attacking would not just be battle but Battle + Skill. If you're using moves from a skill such as Gun Fu then you need to roll that skill instead.
We'd get rid of the range modifiers. A weapon would have a single to hit (or miss) modifier.
Another jump - the shared pool
I am proud of my Shared Pool mechanic and enjoy the meta game that is built around players sharing a common resource pool. The number of dice left in the pool could also be used. The more dice there is, the more cunning the players have been. The more they have chosen to fail.
So, when you make any kind of skill check, the dice needs to come from the pool. When you're doing something that your character is brilliant at, then you don't need to take a die. If you're taking a risk then you can take more than one.
Simplifying weapons, damage and armour
Characters and vehciles still have hit points but no armour rating and no hit locations. Weapons would do damage per turn, rather than rounds and ammo. There is no blast factor. Weapons have a number of shots before reload is required.
Shields would take a certain amount of damage before they go down. If that damage is not done in a turn, then they automatically replenish.
When your hit points hit 0 then you need "serious medical aid". That'll be a stopclock for the rest of the team to save you. We play that right now so I would codify it.
Encumbrance would remain much as it.
All new sheets in the Equipment Index, although it would be easier to keep new equipment in balance.
Energy weapons would need a rebalance to justify their cost. Not having a blast factor means that their magic anti-shield capability is gone. I think I would adjust this using ammo carrying capability. 7.4 is huge. Energy is not.
What I like about the current system is that people get to choose a manoeuvre that then carries a risk and reward. What I don't like is that it's fiddly. I like that you're either predator or prey and as each you have a different goal. It works best against a single target but then multiple targets is a bit rubbish.
I think I would merge the vehicle combat rules in with the spacecraft combat. The whole team (inside the vehicle) would be there to try and maximise the combat initiative of the vehicle. If they succeed then they get modifiers to attack or get to flee etc.
As the game progresses, RP is spent at any time. You can wait until the end if you choose. RP is taken from the shared pool. One die from the pool would allow everyone to have a raise. Two dice would allow two raises or a skill etc.
Psychotheatrics would remain. I would keep the Skill Trees, which would govern when you could buy something. Owning a low level skill would be enought to buy a high level one. I would remove some of the restrictions around Close Combat combos.
All the skeletons (character types) would need to change. I might also change skeleton to "class". [b]*gasp*[b]
I think it might be wise to rename some stuff to make it more approachable and remove some of the more generic bits: such as mechasys systems.
Is that it?
Alright, that's quite a lot. It's much easier to edit down what you have than it is to start from scratch. The vast majority of the work in Icar is the graphics (which take ages).
What do you think? Should I try it? See what happens and release Icar 5?