There is a lot of merit in the very simple mechanic of “Spend a point to do something awesomely” but it raises a very interesting question of what “awesomely” means. The least interesting answer is greater efficacy – a bonus. Unfortunately, it is also the most common answer because things are measured by numerical values in most systems.
Another definition is one of spotlight and style. In terms of story “awesomely” also means “dramatically appropriately”. In the right situation, it is a tool to let a player declare that this skill *matters* in this context.
When talking about simple tiered systems, I admit a temptation to boil a system down to no skill, skill, skill awesomely, then make skilling awesomely a function of spending currency. Weirdly, this is probably what it would take to make me like gumshoe style ablative skills – guarantee that my having the skill will be respected, but allow me to spend to make it remarkable.
When I started writing this, that didn’t appeal to me much – I like general point pools more than specific ones, but as I think about it, that could totally work in actual play, especially if one of the upshots of awesomeness is that you can get in on something you maybe normally wouldn’t be able to.
Of course, the trick is then to avoid bidding wars. That is THE WORST part of systems like this. Hmm. Ok, next challenge.