Assigning Skills–Any Alternatives to the Pyramid?

I have never been a fan of the pyramid scheme used in most Fudge games to assign skills with. You get one skill at Superb, two skills at Great, three skills at Good, etcetera, etcetera. There are variations on this basic concept where there are broad skills, and focused skills, but in the end they are still just pyramids that restrict characters from having many skills at high ranks without having a great deal more skills at lower ranks.

I know that these systems are meant to enable players to create the characters that they want to see in their stories, but these systems have always seemed highly artificial to me. They seem to force a player to choose a character concept like “lawyer”, “soldier”, or “doctor”. I’ve never felt like I created the character that I really wanted to play with such systems.

Yet I have not discovered a method for assigning skills that I like yet for the Fudge system. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I do not like how skills are assigned in most RPGs. The one exception is Top Secret/S.I. from TSR.

Top Secret/S.I. used points and pre-requisite skills to control character advancement. Skills were fairly low in cost to acquire with skill points at the lower levels of the skill, but to truly master a task required a significant investment of skill points. Furthermore you could not acquire some skills unless you had certain pre-requisite skills. The system could be a pyramid if the player wanted it to be, or it could be relatively flat. Player choice was all that mattered.

I want to try and create a Fudge skill system that has the same feel as the Top Secret/S.I. system. I also want to hear about the systems that others use in their Fudge games, or any other RPG for that matter. Is there a system that has really stood out for you and your games? If so, share it in the comments section below.