In defense of the CT Experience System...
It is a widely held view that CT doesn't have an experience system (or that it doesn't have a "good" experience system). Heck, I've held this view myself in the past. But, upon closer examination, CT's system works extremely well.
To understand the system, you've got to understand something MWM wrote in the LBB1 experience rules: "Skilled marksmen achieve their best work when at the peak of their training."
What Marc discusses here is the "fluidity" of skills in Classic Traveller. We tend to think of them as stagnant. Once you get a skill level, then it stays there, at that level, with only a small chance to move any higher after character generation.
What Marc is alluding to, though, is that there is some fluidity to a Classic Traveller skill--that sometimes a skill can drop if the person becomes "rusty" in that area of expertise. But, no skill can be dropped lower than Skill-1.
Right now, I type pretty fast because I do it all the time. I know I'll never forget how to type, but I also know that if I didn't do it for a long period of time, I wouldn't be able to type as fast as I do now once I picked it back up (but I will eventually regain my skill and possibly increase it).
That's the type of thing Marc is discussing in the LBB1 Experience rules. This is also alluded to in the Experience Limit rule. If you've got an INT-7 and EDU-9, then you can know a total of 16 skill levels at any one time. If you're at your limit and want to learn a new skill you can do so as long as you degrade one of your current skills--of course, you could always try to raise your EDU first so that you won't be at your limit!
Raising your EDU by one point takes 50 study sessions, and a maximum of 2 study sessions are possible per week. So, in six months, a character could raise his EDU by +1.
The rules in LBB1 are typically used when you are teaching yourself the new skill.
What most people miss is this: The LBB1 method allows you to incease your skill level now! You don't have to wait four years! If you make your throw, you get an immediate increase in skill now.
It is only after a long period of time that another roll is made to make the improvement permanent.
For example (straight out of the book), Johnson has skills of Foil-0 and Revolver-3. He chooses to practice these weapons. He has to throw 8+ for dedication of purpose. If successful, his skills are immediately improved to Foil-1 and Revolver-4.
That's not a bad deal, is it? Especially when characters have, on average, about two skills per term?
There's also the rule where Skill-0 skills are permanently raised to Skill-1 using the training rules. So, even if Johnson drops his training, and doesn't stick it out the entire four years, his revolver skill reverts back to Revolver-3, but his foil skill stays at Foil-1.
Again, not a bad deal at all.
Now, when you drop a skill you were improving, or you fail your roll, you cannot attempt to increase that skill again for a year. This will keep players from raising every Skill-0 they have to Skill-1 quickly (you've got to pass a 8+ throw, with no modifiers, to improve from Skill-0 to Skill-1. If you fail, you can't attempt that skill again for a year.)
Now, if you do make your roll, you get another skill boost right then.
Johnson has Foil-0 and Revolver-3. He decides to practice these two skills.
He rolls for dedication. 8+, for each skill, and makes both rolls.
Now, Johnson is Foil-1 and Revolver-4.
This is a temporary boost in his skills, and he can choose to continue the training program for four years. Or, he can drop it and try something else.
Let's say he drops it. Johnson's skills become Foil-1 and Revolver-3. The foil skill does not drop because of the rule that skills never fall below Level-1.
At any one time, a character can train up to two skills. For weapon skills, a character is allowed to train one blade and one gun skill. Other types of skills can be trained two at a time.
The procedure is this:
1. Pick two skills. Weapon skills can be Skill-0. Other skills must be Skill-1.
2. Roll 8+ for dedication.
3. Immediately raise skill levels by +1.
4. At any time during the 4 year training period, the player can decide to stop training his skills. The trained skills will revert one level--but Skill-1 is the lowest a skill can be reduced. These skills cannot be trained again for a year.
5. Second dedication roll required after 4 years of training. If successful, the skill improvements become permanent.
What about new skills--skills for which the character has no expertise?
LBB1 allows the training of Skill-0 or better weapon skills and Skill-1 or better non-weapon skills. What if a player wants to learn a new non-weapon skill?
This is where LBB4 comes in. On pg. 27 of Mercenary, rules are provided for skill improvement through use of an instructor.
So, a PC can take a class or higher an instructor to teach him a new skill.
Time take equals the a number of six week periods times the new skill level being taught. So, Skill-1 would take six weeks. Skill-2 would take 12 weeks. Etc.
At the end of the course, the student rolls 9+ to earn and learn the new skill. There are DMs for INT. And, there are restrictions for instructors.
In conclusion, the Classic Traveller experience system really is a pretty neat system. Immediate benefits are to be had. But, there are limits to keep characters in-line with skill acquisition from character generation (since chargen is basically short-hand for adventuring).
The biggest mis-conception about the CT experience system is that it takes 8 years to improve your character. This isn't quite true. A player can improve his character quite a lot by starting several training programs with his current skills. He gets immediate benefits if dedicated to the program. If he chooses to drop training, then the skill drops too. Weapon skills at Skill-0 get a permanent boost to Skill-1.
And, a new skill can be learned in as little as six weeks with the right instructor.
Plus, a character's EDU score can be increased by a maximum of 2 points in a year or 6 points in 4 years.
If you consider the whole system, it's really rather well balanced.
And, you don't have to keep track of experience points!