Don't want to start a huge thing. But on combat/xp - it fits with making different characters, and sticking to role-playing them, doesn't it.. I mean, when you come from a role-playing background, this stuff always annoys you in crpgs. In a game, an actual Druid, or true neutral characters, would hardly gain any experience at all, for example. They would never resolve any conflicts on their own, they would avoid combat, they would talk a lot and discover secrets - but never actually use them for anything. A good wizard would collect the hidden scroll - and.. teleport back to the library, and stay there for a month, and mechanically gain nothing. Unfortunately, the thief always is a mass-murderer, no matter how skilled, etc.
So in games, you don't play a neutral character. You choose one because of alignment restrictions. And then the game requires the Druid of the hidden leaf to murder thousands of critters for no reason, etc. And the design simply allows you to add small "alignment" addons in conversations, but not really let people role-play them. Even if you managed to sneak past everyone, the xp penalty is crippling.
I'm just thinking that I'm sure Obsidian simply choose this because it broadens the role-playing options they can put into the game. Now the pirate can sneak into the stronghold, hold up the boss, and resolve the situation without bloodshed - and that's a good solution to the quest, like any other. The Druid can avoid exterminating the spiders and ruining the ecosystem forever - and sympathetically confront the Ogre as a fellow creature deserving of life no less than anything else.. without having to wash off the spider-goo from the armor first, etc.
..No one ever reacted to that in an rpg, by the way? The story demands that there's a crazed druid with a scar in his soul running around killing people. And you sort of want to tell the guy that: yeah, but that's all right. I've killed 100000 people so far, and it doesn't bother me at all! You should really just stop worrying so much!
And then the game has you bash the guy's head in, after your animal companion rips his arms off, for the good of nature's balance.
Crpgs as they are usually done aren't very deep. It's usually one type of character, just with different labels. And they shouldn't be like that.
There's just no reason for it, right..? Unless you somehow want to make the point that having less role-playing options, makes the game more "accessible". Or something of that sort.