I've been mulling over some things, and thought I'd do some mulling in public to see if anything comes out of it...Skills
I used to pepper my games with skills. Through paying attention to what really was going on in my D20 games, I've realized that most of the time, non-combat skills are meaningless. Particularly troublesome are the social skills.
For my current Cold Iron campaign, I took a new path. There are still combat skills because they make sense. I put a bunch of things (like thieving and scouting) into abilites that each character gets two of (though some races may use one of them up), and warriors get additional ones with levels. Then I set up proficiencies to cover all the other skill uses (like swimming, climbing, riding, cooking). The abilities work to some extent: quick draw is cool, scout and thief see occaisional use, medic looks good on paper and never comes into play, combat riding works, swashbuckler makes the lightly armored character more viable, paladin works. The proficiencies might as well not be there, is that desireable? Lots of games get away without much in the way of skills (D&D did so for many years). Is player's attraction to skills just part of the 8 page background phenomena, perhaps with an even worse twist (if my sheet says I'm really good as a cook, but cooking skill is never checked, then my character concept is never negated).Alertness
I came up with a nice scheme for setting encounter distance based on how well people make alertness checks. Also handled waking up at night. The basic idea has merit, but one problem is there's such a wide swing, that the two characters to maxed out alertness are the only ones that really matter (unless someone rolls a 90+). One result is that an ambush has a 25% chance of succeeding, which actually is too much. So this system needs some tuning. One thought is to use Alertness bonus rather than raw altertness (which will cut the swing between poor and good in half).
The really good thing about the system is that it has mostly eliminated the GM's ability to negate a player's choice to have a good alertness, especially when they roll well. Of course the GM can over use ambushes, but so long as the PCs have a decent chance of detecting ambushes, their choice and good rolls are still meaningfull.Clean up Spell Casting
Spell casting requires too many rolls. It winds up being too easy to whiff. Taking 2 turns to cast a spell is a book keeping nightmare. Spells need to be balanced for a 1 turn casting time (though it's nice that Cold Iron makes it advantageous to continue to use low level spells - this is a feature worth keeping).Treasure Economy
Need guidelines on how much treasure to give out. Need to better educate players about why they should use charged items and potions. Spell casters need to have as much reason to use charged items and potions as the fighters so that treasure expenditures between characters are more balanced.Equipment and Encumbrance
Good things about encumbrance are a real benefit to being strong (less penalty for wearing heavy armor), but there are a lot of encumbrance modifiers that are almost meaningless in Cold Iron. Weapon choices are nice, just eliminate bunk weapons (maces, some of the bows and cross bows). Trim the non-combat gear way down (just declare everyone has an adventurers pack - who cares if the PCs always have rope when they need it...plus, if they have to drop the pack in combat, you can still deprive them of the pack, and the rope...).