I brought up EU's albatross nature at the last Tea Tyme with Ryme, where he said he had no answer to my question. Now, since the chat is both length-limited, and the Tea Tyme was time-limited, I thought I'd bring this to the boards, where people can discuss it without worrying so much about length and time.
So, let's look at Electronic Understanding:
it augments somewhere between two and four skills (game manual says two - Mind Jab and Psionic Blast, but evidence exists that it also augments Wind Warrior - which the game manual does not mention - and apparently spading has also showed it helps with Mind Poke). ANYWAY, it only augments these limited skills against one particular kind of foe: the robot. And this augmentation is almost meaningless, since it just says "you can do damage against them too!"
Now, players (at least in retcon) have very few reasons to be exposed to robots. They appear in the City of Lost Robots - also, guardian orbs appear in the various parts of the Casino. Also, one occasionally meets robots among the Unborn. In a retcon/ascension context, that's basically it. Of course, all these areas must be visited between levels 5 and 8. Meanwhile, EU is a level 11 skill. Arguments that it's helpful to newbies (or helpful to no-skill Psion runs) don't hold water, when it doesn't even become effective or available until the end of the quest cycle.
So, it appears as though EU is completely a failure at assisting Retcon. At least, unless you allow the perming of skills, in which case a Psion could enjoy the effects of the skill from level 1.
Of course, if you allow the perming of skills, EU also fails, because there are skills from other classes that are more useful against robots than the psion skills could be, even with EU (at least, barring going overboard on skill points).
Conclusion: there is almost no reason for a player to make EU permanent. And, if there is no reason to make EU permanent, why does it exist as a permable skill? (I emphatically disagree with Harry when he says not every skill needs to be retcon relevant. Any skill that can be permed should be retcon relevant. Otherwise, why bother?)
to use a KoL example: EU is almost like the pre-NS13 Spirit of Rigatoni. It's the one skill that is consistently recommended to NOT be permed.
EU is a great effect. It adds a lot of flavor to Psions. (and pretty much only psions, since it just affects psion skills)
At the same time, making it a skill kind of gives Psions a raw deal, especially having it occur so late in the game. And making it a *permable* skill (especially after ensuring it's almost totally useless) just seems like a bad move.
This is not an argument to remove EU entirely, just to remove it from the list of class skills. It is almost entirely irrelevant in terms of retcon. It makes much more sense as a class inherent. If it were a class inherent, it would start becoming useful from the first level of a Psion, when the class most needs it. Consider:
If you treat 'level-1' as the # of "skill points" in the effect (capping at ten) then:
a 1 level Psion would do 50% damage to Erobots, and 10% damage to Probots
a 2 level Psion would do 55% damage to Erobots, and 11% damage to Probots
a 11 level Psion would do 100% damage to Erobots, and 20% damage to Probots
a 12 level Psion would do the same, etc.
Ryme expressed a fear that, were it an inherent, it might stop people from using non-psion attack skills. I disagree. Because the vast majority of foes in the game are NOT robots, people might very well perm the psion attack skills, and just use them on non-robots (and use other attack skills on robots themselves).
The only arguments FOR EU seem to be "it helps newbies and/or those in no skill runs" which I believe has been thoroughly debunked. The other argument I've heard seems to be "some people love being high level, and have no incentive to retcon, and use this skill." I believe making it another inherent of the Psion addresses this (especially if any skill points already invested are returned)
Of course, the one problem with making it an inherent is that now Ryme would have to come up with FIVE class skills (elemental 13, elemental 16, gadgeteer 5, gadgeteer 9, and psion 11) instead of just four.
I'd like to hear thoughts from anyone else on this skill. I think I've addressed the main arguments for it:
* Newbies/no skill runs! - comes too late
* Skills shouldn't be retcon-relevant! - yes, they should, if they're meant to be permed
* People will never perm and/or use psion attack skills - there's no reason to believe this will change
Alexander CherryTwisted Confessions