An OXP could crank down the number of pirates in the Old Worlds, making them far safer than other, similar systems elsewhere. Provide an island of low-profit relative stability, where players can learn the basics and build up some skills and a bit of equipment, before heading out into deeper waters. The one tricky part would be fiddling prices on the fly to make sure that players don't make big profits trading between the Old Worlds and outside systems
The easiest way to OXP this would be by altering the government and economy types of the Old Worlds
- compact the governments to the Corporate-Confederacy range
- compact the economies into the Rich Ag - Poor Ind range
- to encourage leaving once you've got a few upgrades, reduce TLs around the region, so maybe nothing above 8
That would give a starting safe area (well, mostly safe - there'd still be a few pirates, but nothing organised or well-armed) with limited trade profits and equipment, that didn't require any sort of special-case rules.
Compatibility with other OXPs would probably be better if you instead picked a fairly isolated region - top-left, or the right side of the 'coathanger' cluster - which doesn't get much use otherwise, and moved the player start location there. To make it easier to set up the scenario file in the OXP and to avoid affecting other scenarios, the economy/government/TL changes should be in the scenario's savegame, not in its planetinfo.plist.
I've played again the tutorial which apparently uses strict mode
Not quite - it restricts which OXPs can be loaded, because anything which adds content to the space lanes, significantly rewrites the HUD, affects NPC behaviour, adds new 'default' equipment, etc. could quite easily break it - but it's not in strict mode.
OXPs which are compatible with it may include 'oolite-tutorial-compatible' in their manifest's tag array, and will then be loaded as normal, as documented on the Scenarios.plist page
There may well be some OXPs which could set this tag which haven't done so.
(Note: an OXP with that tag will also load all its dependencies whether they have the tag or not, so test carefully before adding it to a published version!)
Redspear brings up a ship trade as a little-mentioned strategy which actually does make sense - I have actually done this myself. In a similar vein I've sometimes wondered whether starting with 150,000* credits somewhere with a half-decent shipyard wouldn't be better than just being given the Mk III and a dollop of cash.
A problem here is that ship prices are way out of scale with equipment prices, for the amount you get.
A Cobra I with all optional upgrades is considerably cheaper than a stock Cobra III - and considerably better for everything except bulk hauling. Even a Cobra I with the few thousand in optional equipment you get for trade-in - losing around 40000 credits - is more dangerous.
Dividing the ship prices for Adder to Cobra III by ten and giving the player 16,000 to start with could work quite well.
- Cobra III traditional (and ~500 credits spare rather than 100) for probably the hardest start but good potential trade profits.
- Cobra I with two beam lasers, injectors, energy unit, some decent trading capital (or Moray with a bit less equipment, but an LCB for better trading)
- Adder with military laser, energy unit, injectors, various utilities
The other ships are very mispriced - the FDL and Asp are about equal with the Cobra III in combat, but significantly worse at trade, so should probably drop to around 15,000 as well. The Python, Boas and Anaconda are able to make very fast trade profits, so should probably stay at quite a high price, though except the Anaconda they could come down a bit too.
Of course, this sort of reduction would make almost all OXP ships very overpriced, so would be impractical to do in the core game.