Well, if all classes have access to all skills, and all classes get the same amount of skill points, and all classes can raise all skills by the same amount per level, that would put a dent in the viability of a class system IMO. I'm just not sure about barbarians being great at lore and alchemy.
Good point. It seems there was a comment about no one who isn't a Rogue being quite the absolute best at lockpicking, etc., in update #36. So, it's the same idea you're suggesting. Which I think is a very good, really. I think it's more a matter of bad implementations in the past. It's really hard to gauge it with math ("what percentage of effectiveness should we allow a Barbarian to have at lore and alchemy?", for example) and call it a day. You often run into a system that says "Hey, Barbarian! You can totally pick some more potion-making instead of
some more skull-demolishing. Of course, A) you'll be delaying progression in what Barbarism is all about, and B) your potions will pretty much never be useful." The system wasn't really designed with the effects of a Barbarian taking Alchemy skills in mind, but then it was decided that more options were better than fewer, so it was tossed in and "controlled" with a hard skill cap.
Obviously all the bad implementations weren't quite so simplified, but I'm wordy enough without citing all the variants from that basic concept from 5 different sources, in MLA format. The point is, you don't want to offer an option that's basically a lose-lose situation. But, then, in that same example, if you simply don't allow the Barbarian to even TAKE Alchemy or Lore or anything that isn't femur-fracturingly applicable, then you basically make it so that a Barbarian has no variance.
Of course, a lot still depends on other factors. Take lockpicking. If the Rogue's the best (100%) at it, and a Priest can only get to pretty good (80%) at it, then there should be a reason to pick 80% lockpick skill (as opposed to there being absolutely no reason to pick it... I'm not saying there should be a reason to always pick it.) This is affected by chest placement, and the progression of chest skill checks, and the usefulness of chest contents at various levels, etc. Which is really just balancing, when it comes down to it. But, since the class mechanics (and limitations) exist within pretty much every other element of the entire game, you have to build these mechanics and decide how to introduce variation accordingly.
And, I understand the idea of the Priest's use of lockpicking being moot because it's a party-based game, and the Rogue will always be better. But, with, what... 12 classes? 13? More than 6 classes... and 6 party members total, and at least one NPC companion per class? That gives you many feasible party builds that don't involve a Rogue, but you may still want to be ABLE to pick locks, and you accept that you won't get to pick all of them. That just seems like a very inefficient use of content to give people the viable option of having an entire party makeup with no Rogue (maybe they just don't prefer the other class mechanics) and then have them still go through the exact same world FULL of locked things controlling characters who all just shrug at one another at the mystery mechanism that is a lock. You'd pretty much hafta severely lessen the significance of getting past locked things, or balance every class-ability-restricted segment of the game as a fully standalone, optional part of a far less homogenous game world. Imagine if only certain classes could even engage in dialogue (much less gain access to more dialogue options).
I think it's obvious I'd like that but of course it depends on how much depth is gained by this. In Darklands playing your alchemist resulted in taking different routes gameplay-wise; you were actively questing (and spending time and money on) gathering new recipes. You had to buy raw materials. If alchemy (or any other skill) comes down to "something to click on while resting" then of course nothing is gained by having characters built around this.
Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to say that an alchemist party member who pretty much couldn't even fight has absolutely no use or place in any RPG gameplay, whatsoever. And I totally understand the value of such a particular balance of skillset and restriction in a party member, given the right gameplay environment to support it. It's really just a matter of other design foundations in P:E that we know aren't malleable enough to support that type of character without making it a completely different game.