For the time being the GM is fine with me just buying up the Peer talents that make sense, which is good.
Yeah, unless I've spent some in-game time building up those relationships, I don't feel that I should be able to just spend some Xp and write: "Peer (Arbites)" or whatever to my character sheet. I can accept a little of "I did this on my down time" but even if my Fellowship was 60, it seems to make much more sense to have these Peer talents as plot or game-dependant than tied to the XP progression tables the way they are. While it is certainly likely that a generic assassin will be more lilely to have underworld contacts than Astartes contacts, the tables break down for these types of talent especially.
The players I play with are not really the type to think that giving someone special permission to buy a Talent or a Skill that makes sense is unfair. After all, that type of thing works to everybody's advantage in the end and all of our character concepts are different enough not to step on eachother's toes too much. ("You want Master Chirgeon because you feel your Moritat training makes you intimately familiar with the human body? Sounds good to me." "Your psyker wants to buy Exotic Weapon (Needle Rifle) because you found one during your travels and there's no good reason a human being with time and means couldn't learn to use it? Go for it.")
As I look over the different options for our characters, I'm realising what LC1984 has pointed out: after a few ranks, everybody starts to look the same because everybody can eventually buy everything and has accumulated enough experience to do it. The individual feel of the specialities seems to get lost somewhere along the way and the only way to "fix" it is to give characters a few 'bonus' abilities that only they can have. But they get them at Rank 9 which kind of defeats the purpose of having something to strive towards in terms of character improvement.
The Skills Mastery seems particularly broken the more i think about it: 500 XP buys you +20 to all of the skills in the group? That's not so bad for some groups with three skills (like the Investigation group) but it's insane for skill groups like Forbidden Lore! (I believe you shouldn't be able to buy Forbidden Lore except for individually; that knowledge is supposed to be hard to come by, after all!)
Worse, it raises the question: if I'm paying the full 500 XP for Althletic Mastery but I've already spent some precious XP on buildling some of the skills up but not others, shouldn't I be able to get some XP back or somehow reduce the cost of Mastery? (Obviously, if most of my skills are at +20, I understand I can buy the missing skills if it's cheaper but it often isn't.) It seems to make more sense to either: allows players the ability to increase a skill to +30 to represents how badass they've become at it, or make it a Talent which gives you some sort of bonus to using all the skills in the group (maybe a flat +10 or a free extra degree of success on any rolls in the group if you're trained or are Basic skills.)
I hear what you're saying Darth Smeg: I can see some of the problems. But we do want to give it a whirl. But it's plain that some things will need to be changed to make this more enjoyable.I'm thinking of proposing the following provisional changes to our group:
. All Skill Mastery Skills on the character progression tables are replaced by the ability to increase a skill already at +20, to +30. Basically, any skill that is part of the mastery group can be selected. Each purchase costs 200 XP. If characters have not trained a skill in the group up to +20, they can instead choose to increase their training in one of the group skills by +10 (up to +20) at a cost of 100 XP per skill advancement.
. Alternately, a character which is at least trained in all of the skills in a mastery group can instead by a new ability called Mastery which grants the character a free extra degree of success on any successful roll using the skills in the group. This has the listed cost as per the advancement table.
. Peer Talents can be purchased as they appear on the advancement tables. Alternately, a character can purchase the peer talent for any group the GM feels is appropriate based on the campaign or character development at a base cost of 500 XP. With the GM's approval, the Fellowship requirement should be waived as necessary.Guidelines for Good Reputations should follow similar rules.
. Other Ascension talents should be available as per the advancement table. Some can be made available to the characters earlier if desired (and approved by the GM) by increasing the XP as GM judges approriate.
. I'm a little less certain about how to deal with Paragon talents. If you already have all of the talents in the group, then you should just follow the guidelines in Ascension. But should you be able to buy them flat out even if you haven't even invested any XP in buying any of the included Talents before? I donèt feel that makes sense. Maybe the rule should be: a character can opt to by any of the talents which are part of the Paragon group at a cost of 200 XP each, if they do not have it listed as less costly as part of their pre-Ascension carrer advancement paths (This works for some but not all of the Talent groups, though.) Once character has all of the Talents in the goroup, they replace them with the paragon Talent entry from Ascension instead.