Obsidian's Project Eternity Kickstarter has passed $1.8 million, which means they'll add another playable race & class and another companion. The seventh update features a video of Tim Cain and an explanation of non-combat skills.
In putting together our non-combat system, we have made a list of goals for the design of these skills and the rules they need to follow.
• Non-combat skills are gained separately from combat skills. You shouldn't have to choose between Magic Missile and Herbalism. They should be separate types of abilities, and you should spend different points to get each one. • Non-combat skills do not use the same resources as combat skills. You don't spend the same stuff for a non-combat skill as you do for combat skills. Some don't use anything at all to use, so you will never find yourself unable to blast an opponent if you get caught sneaking. • All non-combat skills are useful. If we add lockpicking to the game, we will make sure that there are locks to pick and worthwhile rewards for getting past them. • All non-combat skills can be used frequently. If you take disarm traps as a skill, you should expect more than two traps in the entire game world. Frequency of application has a large impact on how useful something is. • Combat can be avoided with non-combat skills. There will often be ways to avoid fighting. Yes, we will have the standard methods of talking your way out of a fight or sneaking around an encounter, but there will be other ways too. Perhaps you can re-sanctify a desecrated cemetery to prevent any further undead from rising, or maybe figuring out a way across a ruined bridge will always avoid the bandits on this side of the river. • Avoiding combat does not lead to less experience gain. You shouldn't go up levels any slower by using your non-combat skills rather than your combat skills. We plan to reward you for your accomplishments, not for your body count.