I have been wrestling with the NWP section of Andras for quite some time. I've even wrestled over the name. Since I want a skill system, it seems to follow that I should just call it a skill system. We'll see where the internal debate leads. At this point, the main reason I do not want to call it a skill system is that I do not want to get too close to d20, 3e or Pathfinder when handling these player abilities. As I said, we'll see.
Looking for inspiration for developing the system, I kept re-reading the chapters on Proficiencies in the PHB and the DMG. I even went back to Skills and Powers and looked at their redo of proficiencies. Considering the way that so many thing in Andras are already roll-under, I like the S&P way of doing it. I liked that in the S&P, the starting point is much lower than the starting point in the PHB. For example, Agriculture is INT+0 in the PHB. while in S&P, the starting score is 7 before adding adjustments for ability scores. If you have a character with 15 INT taking the agriculture NWP, a first level character will have a 75% chance of success. According to the S&P, the base score of 7 would be modified with a +2 due to Intelligence giving a final score of 9. Odds of success are 45%.
This may seem like no big deal, but it becomes an issue with Class NWPs like Spellcraft. Under the PHB, a wizard with 16 INT has a starting score of 14 for Spellcraft, whereas the S&P wizard would have a 10. That's a 20% differential. It strikes me as important because I still want 1st level character to be limited, but have more definition than their class description.
Sounds great, but I'm not using the character point system for character advancement. How would this look when the NWP's start with less power, but have the ability to improve over time? Would improvement over time re-create the overpowered feeling I get from the 2e proficiencies rules already?
Then I looked to my copies of Dragon. In particular, I found #225 to be very interesting. In it, Clayton Beal provides a revised proficiency system that keeps scores a little lower, but provides a simple way to determine advancement. In essence, every skill starts with a 10, it is then modified per the NWP in the Player's Handbook and then modified with the bonus from the ability. In other words, using a character with INT 15 taking the Agriculture NWP, the character starts with 11 as a score. Calculating that out, start with 10, then modify by 0 because Agriculture is INT+0 in the PHB, then modify by +1 referencing a table in the article. This is lower than the 15 under the original rules and higher than the 9 calculated from the S&P.
What about our Spellcraft example? Original PHB - 14, S&P, 10. Article in Dragon Magazine - 10. A base of 10 is modified by -2 (from the listing in the PHB) and then modified by a +2 from the ability score (INT 16).
So we have the NWP's calculated, how about advancement? Every level, a character can advance the score by one on an existing NWP. These points cannot be saved from level to level. Increase the score by one per level, or lose the point. What about third level characters that gain new NWP slots and the +1 bonus point? The bonus point cannot be added to the new NWPs, only the existing ones. So if my character wants to add the Bowyer NWP, the +1 point cannot be applied to it.
Now for the fun part, out of class NWPs. Under S&P, a character of one class that chooses a non-weapon proficiency from a different class receives a mild penalty. Under the rules in the PHB and Dragon 225, it costs double the slots. This may seem a minor trifle, but using Spellcraft as an example, a Rogue looking for the Spellcraft NWP pays 3 character points plus 2 extra for a final cost of 5 character points. In the Dragon Magazine article, it costs two proficiency slots. Considering that a character can take disadvantages in S&P, two points doesn't seem a high enough penalty. (An article in the same issue of Dragon demonstrates this with an 8 step process to create an S&P character.)
The word count is already high, so I'll end here. When I work out the final rules, I'll post them here as a PDF. It may not be the skill system in OpenQuest, though that is tempting, but it feels like 2e without the ability inflation.