I apologize for the confusion with the skills system. I hope to revise it extensively for the final book although I like certain aspects of it such as how it allows for a good bit of character diversity and customization while restricting access to some skills and powers.
Hopefully the following examples will help clarify:
Yári Gágaryan, a 1st level Astronaut, rolls 18 on the Astronaut Skills/Powers selection Table and is allowed to choose 6 skill/powers from the first 8. Consulting the table below he chooses to skip engineer and gunner skill and takes the next six: space swordsman, energy pistol, navigator, pilot, PSY luck, and empathy. Alternately he could have taken the first six (engineer through pilot) or skipped the first skill (engineer) and taken gunner through PSY luck or taken multiple levels in one or more skills (e.g. he skips engineer and gunner takes space swordsman, energy pistol +2, navigator and pilot-six skills from the first eight with energy pistol +2 counting as three skills).
control of self
Yari reaches 2nd level and gains "1d4 (+ PSY Power Success modifier) Level 1 skills or powers with the least advanced skill, or lowest available on the list being mandatorily chosen first." The reference to Level 1 skill/powers is definitely confusing and should read Astronaut skills/Level 1 PSY powers.
We will assume he selected space swordsman, energy pistol, navigator, pilot, PSY luck, and empathy at 1st level. He rolls a 4 and may take control of self, bio-PK I, third eye, and suggestion. If he wanted he could, instead, go back and pick up engineer or engineer and gunner or add skill levels (+1, +2, etc.) to any other Astronaut skills or powers.
The rules are not clear on what happens when all Astronaut skills/Level 1 PSY powers have been taken; he could take up to +5 in each which would probably take him up to at least 20th level or so. It should be noted that the rules do not specifically state that skill levels can be added to powers but the intent was that they may be so that PSY luck +2 would add a +2 modifier on the skills/powers success table when attempting to use the power. Additionally I would allow characters to learn/create other Level 1 powers or skills not on the list.
I believe the secondary mechanics of gaining PSY powers was pretty clear, one can attempt to learn almost any power but failure is a possibility:
“Additionally at 2nd level and all subsequent levels an Astronaut may roll on the skill success table in an attempt to gain up to 1d4 (+ PSY Power Success modifier) higher level powers. The player may select which powers he or she will attempt to acquire and the level of the power is applied as a penalty to the roll (e.g. an 2nd level astronaut attempting to learn a Level 2 power would need to roll 13 or better, a 9th level astronaut attempting to learn a 6th level power would need to roll at least 9. A successful roll acquires the power. A natural 20 is always a success and a natural 1 always fails.”
It would be possible for a character to attempt to gain four or more powers, fail on each roll and gain no additional higher level powers.
Background skills or additional background skill levels are not typically available as part of the class skill system excepting those that appear on both background and class charts. At the discretion of the referee background skills or skill levels could be substituted for class skills, otherwise there are several ways (in the current rules) to gain background skills after play begins:
Learning Background Skills
Additional background skills and increased proficiency in known background skills may be attained in game. A Basic skill may also be learned in one month at a cost of CR 1,000. A Technical skill may be learned in 4 months at a cost of CR 5,000 and an Expert skill may be learned in one year at a cost of CR 10,000. The time required to learn the skill assumes full-time study or practice. Part-time learners must multiply the time by 1d4+1.
Alternately, a character that has made use of an untrained skill on multiple occasions, been involved in activities related to the skill, or used a known skill may, upon gaining sufficient experience to increase in class level, roll on the skill success table to gain the skill or additional proficiency, The character’s INT modifier applies and a successful roll acquires the skill. No more than two background skills or proficiencies may be gained per level.
In Spaceswords & Glory, as all characters are beginning above 1st level, I would allow each character to attempt to gain two background skills or proficiencies per level above first in this manner.
About Gear and Starting CR
In Spaceswords & Glory, as characters are career military officers and beginning at higher than 1st level I think it would be fair to multiply randomly generated starting CR x (character level x2). Gear and money are a bit peripheral to this campaign though. It might be interesting to determine if one’s character maintains a home, estate, etc, and come up with monthly upkeep costs and monthly naval salary. Imperial naval crews also receive bonuses or shares from captured enemy vessels or equipment.
As for standard gear, I will try to inventory the ship’s stores soon but assume any standard equipment will be available at no charge.
It would be helpful if characters standard gear for aboard ship activities and for “away missions” was noted on the sheet. Watch the encumbrance rules though…
Unusual personal items will need to be paid for though and will be dealt with case by case. Assume a pet costs (1d4 x CR 100) x hit points. Extremely dangerous pets might not be welcome aboard ship. Slaves and basic robots cost (1d2 x CR 1000) x hit points and a Yeleth or advanced robot costs (1d2 x CR 5000) x hit points. A monthly payment schedule could be arranged to finance expensive purchases.