CCP Nozh explains the 5 subsystems built upon each race's Tech 3 hull: Electronic, Defensive, Offensive, Engineering, and Propulsion.The various subsystems available within those categories will alter a ship's attributes and bonuses while also changing its shape and appearance. He notes that the price of a given subsystem won't make one superior to another, but rather each choice or combination will have its own particular strengths and limitations. This system will allow for, literally, thousands of combinations of subsystems across the four races' ships, and this is before factoring in the myriad ship fitting setups with modules that has always been a staple of the game.
Skill-wise, entry into Tech 3 will be rather basic but will require much more training to fully master. When it comes to the skill requirements to fly Tech 3 ships, there's good news and bad. First the good: the skills needed for each of the five subsystems are Rank 1 skills, meaning they'll train very quickly. The bad: the reason they're less time-intensive is that they'll be collateral damage if your ship is destroyed.
CCP Nozh explains this potential skillpoint loss in more detail: "Due to the sudden rift in the symbiotic ship relationship that exists between a pilot and a Tech 3 ship, losing a Tech 3 ship will result in a random skillpoint loss from one of the racial subsystem skills. The penalty is one level off the top. Observe that whether that is a downgrade from, say, level 2 to 1 on your underdeveloped electronics or a painful fall from level 5 to 4 on the spit-polished offensive subsystem, is entirely dependent upon lady luck. Ejecting or self-destructing does prevent the penalty, giving players an incentive to abandon ship from time to time."
The ship subsystems will require further balancing leading up to the March 10th launch of the Apocrypha expansion and as such the devs are inviting feedback from the players about the Tech 3 cruisers -- Legion, Proteus, Tengu, and Loki -- on the Singularity test server. The end result, hopefully, will be as Nozh describes it: protean new ships that "can align beautifully with virtually any fleet on any mission, but just as well prowl as lone wolves."
Check out "Strategic Cruisers: A New Breed" for more on Tech 3 and what the players are saying about it. More dev blogs are to follow in the coming weeks, focusing on how players will manufacture Tech 3 ships and the game mechanics surrounding this new dimension to the game.