I dropped my original idea to make it faction-specific when I realized how I would still not be Ferengi if I'd live after human or vulcan ethics. But I think the system I suggested would hit more than 2 birds with a stone. It would make exploration (especially relief effort and ground missions) more interesting, give species some sort of meaning (and honestly I don't feel much difference between them, the species traits are minimal and don't really give me options others wouldn't have) and adds missions that aren't too hard to implement. Its just a bar where certain rewards are unlocked or re-locked at a certain value.
Adding to that, and to support the topic here to make it more attractive to play real races instead of aliens looking like playable races - there are also new options for traits in here. Vulcans or Betazoids or Ferengi would natutally get traits that boost diplomacy.
Empathy isn't a "combat skill" that should be put to use to expose enemies - instead, this skill should add a 30 % better chance to expose a spy, or highlight the "right" answer in a dialoge box to make a connection with a newly discovered (and pretty angry) species.
I bet everyone immediately has an idea how good (or bad) the species of choice is with words in general. A Klingon or Nausicaan would have "intimidating" as a skill - diplomatic opponents more likely fear them and agree to their terms just to save their ass.
As a Ferengi, I'd want "silver tongue" as a trading skill, which gives me a % chance to pay less to vendors and cargo ships/get more for things I sell to them (real people only, wouldn't make sense to talk a replicator into a bargain, though I would certainly try, lol)
The trading skill should also be optional for Bolians; after all, they are a "unwritten book" in canon, and one of the few constants is that people speak of "Bolian cargo ships" more than "insert other species here cargo ships".
With "optional", I mean - I think each species should have 1 major (mandatory) skill + 3 selectable. Where Ferengi get 30 % chance with the mandatory "silver tongue", Bolians can pick it for 20 % as selectable skill, but a Klingon wouldn't get it in the selectable list at all. Just an example, there are other skills that should be limited to certain species, too. There's no point in letting a Vulcan pick "aggressive" either.
However, these special traits would only be available for non-alien species. I see no conflict of interests there - if the customization gets some better options within the playable races. Its minor cosmetic options. I think about hybrids that were present in almost all Trek series. Give humans the option to make the eyes deep black for a half-Betazoid, or allow variations of skin colors or forehead details in the direction of half-Klingon.
Maybe, and that's just a sudden flash in a brain with a serious lack of caffeine.... Add "hybrid" as selectable skill with additional options.
Example: I want to make a human-Betazoid hybrid. I'd be empathic, but not as strong as a full Betazoid.
I pick "human" as species, with the traits:
- mandatory human skill (whichever it would be, lets assume "leadership")
- optional warp theorist
- optional creative
- optional hybrid - here I can pick any of the "species only" traits, in this case "empathic", and its auto-reduced to 50 %
The canon nazi in me would want to leave the Bolian species trait out for humans, or - even funnier - trigger a video sequence: "Why you were never born: Your mom was poisonous to your dad", but I could live with it if such details were left out. :p
you should inspect most of the Humans or Vulcans looking character you see ; you'll discover that a good part of them are actually Aliens made to look like a canon race. Why ? Because of traits.
Not just traits. A corollary issue to this one is the customization aspect. All of my characters and BOffs, around 18 or so imagined personages, are aliens, but only 2 are Aliens. The rest are meant to be humans and stock races like Andorians, Orions, Tellerites, etc.
The racial customization slider presets, generally, are more underwhelming than the racial trait presets. There's little upside in making a preset toon, imo. Make an alien and get a better deal all round. The system needs overhaul to make it worthwhile and make actual variety desirable.
I think most of all Cryptic needs to get away from the idea that traits must always contain straight bonuses without any drawbacks. Ferengi are another race that falls inthe category of extreme species, like Gorn and Betazoids, that really sort of need some drawbacks to account for all their advantages. Ferengi are highly intelligent for the most part, cunning and good with logistics, but thei're also usually somewhat cowardly and not physically strong. Near immunity to telepathy is another positive trait that they have.
I think that all races that have so many outstanding qualities in Startrek also have a lot of drawbacks. Like Vulcans, while highly logical and analytical usually lack intuition and gut insinct, and are also relatively predictable. Those are all aspects that could be represented to further the uniqueness of a race.
One thing that I feel relatively strongly about is that humans should serve as the "blank slate" race, not aliens. Of course StarTrek takes a very optimistic look at humanity, but since humans do form the baseline for all comparison simply due to the fact that all players are human I think they should also form the baseline for unmodified characters and as such not need a race trait.
I think the best thing that Cryptic could do is to design a race trait for every race that is comrpised of advantages and disadvantages which are part of any character created from that race. Humans have neither advantages nor disadvantages. A vulcan would have something like a bonus to strength, and the ability to mind meld and nerve pinch, but a lower chance to crit because they don't rely on luck and instinct as much. Stuff like that, for every race. Then every character would get to pick 2 space traits and 2 ground traits.
Alien races could pick an alien equivalent of all the race traits, so basicly aliens are exactly the same as a race character, just give you the option to customize their looks how you like them. So for example Gorn would have their Gorn race trait and then if you made an alien character you could pick the race trait "Behemoth" or something like that which gives exactly the same bonuses, just gets incorporated into your newly created species. This allows alien characters to pick race traits that are only available on other factions for preset canon races, so if you wanted to play the equivalent of a Gorn in federation you could create that, just like you could create the equivalent of a Betazoid for Klingon.