Hard crafting limits are not covered by your list, neither are adjustments to crafting outcomes, nor a pervasive skill bonus.
Hard crafting limits alone aren't enough. They'd need to be hard crafting limits backed up by total absence of the item from the spawns.
And more: those would have to be extensive limits - not just no mutagen, but no plate mail/survivor armor/broadswords or something like that.
If it was just limits on crafting but not spawns, it would be just another convenience, not a lasting advantage.
So not hard crafting limits, but hard existence limits on items. Or at least hard limits on usability of those items.
And even that would be unlikely to be enough, considering that guns and powered armor aren't craftable, so high end gear tends to be all drops.
Crafting outcomes would need to be altered in similarly invasive way: "exceptional broadsword" exists only if player is a 14 intelligence crafter, not 8 intelligence one that lucked out.
Or at the very least quickly drop in quality to player's ability to maintain it.
And even then, it again depends on very high tier items being craftable. Which goes against craft vs scavenge thing.
Skill bonus sounds like one of those "just do x" ideas, but is anything but:
Flat bonus would not be realistic at all (smart people don't swing clubs better) and would compete with dexterity.
Scaling bonus would suck at early levels (kinda acceptable, considering that's where crafting part should happen), then depend on skill caps and good scaling to prevent getting it out of hand. We don't have skill caps for most skills yet.
So we're stuck with a scaling bonus, but not linearly scaling bonus: linear would explode fast and turn the whole thing upside down.
Then there are temporary bonuses to consider.
So maybe not "redesign the whole game" complex, but it's not a fix on its own (unless the bonuses were stronger than bonuses from other stats), is less realistic than many ideas rejected for being unrealistic and is actually pretty complex to design.
tl;dr Craftable laser guns/power armors/monoatom swords/fusion reactors that degrade if used without high intelligence and can't be repaired without said high intelligence could save intelligence
You are taking all your value judgements about game mechanics and your evaluations of the value of game effects as unassailable truths
Ideas such as "annoying player is always bad", "burdening player with needless keypresses is always bad", "scrambling the UI and hoping the player will be lazy enough to be confused by that is a terrible idea" - yeah, those are unassailable truths. Intentionally introducing extra menuing or realtime lag (the latter actually happened in Wayward roguelike) to discourage using the best option is unthinkable and I would instantly think less of anyone who proposed that, without waiting for them to excuse themselves - the only viable excuse here would be "just joking".
In other cases, where a sane person could be expected to disagree, where I could possibly think "well, I missed that, my bad" or "that sounds like a good idea at first, but here is why I have to disagree" - in those cases I wait to be proven wrong.
If there is a case of intelligence being better than other stats in a way that doesn't depend on book grind (which is a giant flaw and becomes obsolete quickly) and doesn't become worthless by midgame, I'm still waiting to hear it.
- "A 10 skill character will get x damage per 100 moves with niten+diamond katana, but y (where y>x) with dragon style if he puts 4 points to intelligence instead of perception"
- "By getting 12 intelligence, you can achieve x% failure rate for common bionic early_game_bionic, which will carry you until you gain 5 unarmed and then zui quan will benefit you more than dexterity"
Except actually happening.
I'm specifically looking for arguments that aren't in the form of:
- "If I don't do the math on the whole thing and just go with what feels right, intelligence is not worse than other stats."
- "I enjoy suffering so I keep skill rust on and my legs in a nest of angry hornets. It's a bit too painful for me because I'm not THAT much of a masochist, so I keep my intelligence high to slow down the rust."
- "I roleplay my dumb characters in a way that makes them dumb."
- "I do not use all tools at my disposal but instead choose to limit myself with arbitrary rules that can't be translated into game mechanics."