I was just wondering: so do you think that the addition of nonweapon proficiencies was, in general, a good thing? I've often found that it limits rather than frees players to try things that they have written down, at least in D&D, and I've never really understood why they were added to the game. Did Oriental Adventures influence 2e at all? What were the thoughts behind making them a part of the game?
Mr. Cook's answer:
"I think they were a good thing. One of the things dreadfully lacking from AD&D was any sense that your character had a real life beyond class skills. This gave players a way to create a more culturally informed background for their character. Well-used and applied, proficiencies were a way to say things like "This is the result of being raised by farmers/wolves/priests/pirates." It got people to think about their characters as something other than being sprung fully formed from the forehead of Zeus. Now proficiencies didn't work as well when they just became excuses to do special things in combat. At that point they lost the sense of making your character more than a class and became another way to munchkinize him.