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    Advice on alternative stat development systems

    Hey all im new here and in need of some advice for game development. I am not seeking to develop my own stand alone game as such i play within the 3d world second life and i have created a Game User Interface that is scripted to be a roleplay combat system. However i scripted it to be more like an mmorpg so you kill for experience, level up, gain stat points per level you can assign to your character tree etc etc but one of the pitfalls i have found is that with the small amount of players in second life you soon end up with high level characters that low levels have no chance of killing to gain any experience from. So my query is this, rather than a vertical levelling system what other options are there. I would like to create something where people can improve their skills and their attacks yet do not reach such high levels they are miles apart from other players.
    With a levelling system it gives people something to strive for and i cant think of a way to do it so that players would still want to play. So far i have the following ideas :

    Health and mana is a set amount, it doesnt change HOWEVER when you start up the system and go through the character selection pages you can choose a series of skills at the end. One of these is mana control which would give you a higher mana amount and less cost per spell attack. Another is body control that would give you a higher health amount and reduced damage per attack or a hand 2 hand based stat that would deal you bonus combat damage and give you a greater stamina base.
    Also i had the idea of attacks having a 3 tier system. Tier 1 would be a base damage for each attack and tiers 2 and 3 could be achieved by either purchase or another idea i had was to have a special attack bar that if increased would give access to tier 2 and 3 level attacks.

    This is all very well and would work however without a levelling system i am unsure how to work the players stat tree. If you think of levelling as a vertical system where you move up, i want to create something that is more horizontal so players can improve their skills across the board but at the same time will stay within a range so that everyone can fight everyone if you get me.

    Any ideas would be much appreciated if anyone has any
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    Just a random toss out...

    Uber individuals will always exist. They get so uber that they can wipe out vast groups of noobs without a scratch. But what if the fact of grouping granted a disproportionate buff applied against the level of the opponent? This way uber players could be treated as boss targets by noobs -- really hard, but not so far out of reach that they aren't able to compete. This also provides an incentive for new players to start grouping early on and a disincentive for high level players to try picking on bands of noobs.

    The buff can't apply to groups as a blanket, though. It must scale with the relative level of opponents, otherwise bands of noobs would become uber gangs picking on unbanded noobs, and bands of bands of noobs might mob high level players as well. So some toying with the idea is necessary.

    Another way to approach the problem is to completely remove leveling as a concept. If you want an advancement system you could have advances occur in specific stats, but not let those stats influence PvP as much as PvE (player characters interactions would mute the effect of the stats, maybe).

    You can combine the level advancement idea with the stats advancement idea by making every X number of stat or skill increases earned (of any type) equate to a level-up. If you add a level cap to this then players have to make interesting choices about how they want to design their capped-out character instead of just leveling up to be uber.

    Ultimately, creating compelling gameplay is about forcing players to make interesting choices, and the most interesting choices always involve tradeoffs. "I can hit hard, but I can't carry much loot, so its pointless to be able to hit too hard because I can't get anything back for it." The previous statement is easy to substantiate if you have, say, a mostly item-based combat system where stronger weapons are always heavier, and each player has a weight cap, for example.

    Anyway... just create interesting choices based on some sort of total-capacity cap.

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