First and. Foremost I really enjoyed the concepts of the half-elf and half-orc in the playtest, especially once they became heritages instead of a regular ancestry feat.
Something I think would be really cool to have in 2e would be something like that for more races instead of mostly environmental variants. This way we could have some similar ancestry feats attached to them.
The example my playgroup discussed most would be for the goblin ancestry. You could make a Half-orc-like heritage feat, but since it’s for goblins, you become a bugbear instead, to emphasize the increased size and strength, and provide proficiencies for iconic bugbear weapons. How cool would a Giant Totem Bugbear Barbarian be? Or throw everyone for a loop with a bugbear bard? Or for a more half elf type you could be a hobgoblin, emphasizing grace and dexterity. As the game grows you could keep tying races to these variants and add similar feats, but with the appropriate racial flavors. The possibility is probably one of the things I would be most excited to see and explore if done well.
But unlike PF1 where adding a second class made for some haphazard addition, it would be a simple matter of making the dedication feats grant an increase proficiency. For a feat, your wizard gets a bump in attack bonus, and later feats could increase it further, or build the later bumps into the feat itself. You could create a level 5 or 10 feat that could have language like "Increase your proficiency with simple and martial weapons by one step. (Untrained to trained, expert to master, etc). At level 15, increase your proficiency by an additional step." Now you can have a wizard that when leveled high enough could be master, or maybe even legendary, with all the proficiency that entitles them to. If that is too powerful, separate it into two feats, or make it a feat you can take a second time.
The whole concept of this would hinge on more classes getting more automatic upgrades on certain features, and even allow various archetypes to include some of these automatic gains to keep value beyond the dedication. Even a level 20 Wizard should have enough experience in wielding his weapon of choice to be considered at least trained in the weapon, or even maybe even expert, considering how many adventures he must have taken. This would allow for a similar bonus to a 3/4 or 1/2 BAB scenario. Setting each class to reach certain proficiencies at certain levels would help create the differentiation that is somewhat lacking in certain options. Casters getting slower gains in exchange for their spell roll increases would be fair, and not allow that same fighter who spent the time practicing his sword forms, and using them constantly to be only a couple points ahead of the wizard who uses his +5 Staff predominately as a walking stick.
So far, my group and I have been pretty satisfied with the playtest. Moreso once that patches started coming out. One thing has stuck out for me as a constant annoyance, both in my game, and on several boards, and that is the issues of the proficiency system. +1 every level no matter what, and an extremely small bonus for increase proficiency level has near constantly been a point of contention. For example, in Chapter 3 of Doomsday Dawn, we had a Paladin, the armor expert, in +2 Full Plate, having only a couple AC points more than the Monk in no armor, purely due to proficiency. That being said, what I think may be a good solution is making the proficiency ranks (Untrainted, trained, etc) act as gates or limits as well as an additional bonus. For example:
Legendary-Max Proficiency +25 (20 levels +5 Bonus)
Mechanically, increasing your rank would allow your skill to rise to its cap, so someone untrained in martial weapons, like a level 10 wizard taking a feat to give himself trained status, would suddenly increase to +10 bonus.
Combined with more feats or class abilities adding improvements to these ranks, especially for non-skill proficiencies, and it would allow for greater distinction between characters. A level 20 legend in martial weapons would be able to have a +25 to hit, which would far outstrip someone who was only trained at +10, or an expert at +15. I don't necessarily feel like this is a perfect system, but I do feel like it would make for greater variability in classes and characters, and make more of the choices we have matter.
I welcome anyone's thoughts comments or ideas on how this might be improved. If nothing changes, we still enjoy the new system, but what I could always do is make it a house rule at my table, so I want it to be the best it can be.
While I do agree that changes to the skill system were necessary, increasing the untrained penalty to -4 I don't think is a great solution. So I have this thought, but life has gotten in the way of reading through the forums as thoroughly as I'd like, and if this has been shot down or repeated endlessly I apologize. So here goes:
Has the idea of the proficiency ranks acting not only as gates to new abilities, but caps as well been considered? You could increase the proficiency every level as you do now, but once you reach a certain level, it stops going up until you increase your rank. For example, untrained users may only be able to increase their proficiency rating to be equal to 0, effectively removing any penalty for it. Once you become trained, the cap increases to say +5, not counting any ability score mods or item bonuses. It wouldn't matter if you were level 5 or level 20, you would still only get that +5. Once your rank goes up again to Expert, your cap increases to say +10, and you automatically increase up to your cap or your level, whichever is lower.
Overall, this lets someone who has spent their resources increasing their skill to the maximum to feel powerful and skillful, while still allowing a natural progression of scores.
Rant over, point made, and if anyone has a better idea than this one, I am keen to hear it, and thank you for reading.