Q - What is the point of Levels in this skill based game?When using Explore's Class system levels are obviously a useful concept, since double XP = +1 skill rank in all your skills. When you go classless this reason for levels vanishes, since you gain skills as you go and not at discrete intervals. However we still have some bonuses that are (1) things you want every character to improve at, (2) things you don't actively train to improve; specifically Save bonuses. Save vs death by sword or death by lightning bolt are both things that every character must improve at, but giving them as an option to spend points stops character advancement being "what's my character training to improve" but "what makes my character build most effective". Giving these as bonuses related to the overall number of XP is an obvious solution, and this makes them into level bonuses.
Q - Why are some skills "bonus skills"? I should decide what my points get spent on.Originally Parry was a separate skill you spent points on, but I noted that it had the same problem as save bonuses (what exactly are characters doing to improve their Parry?) and is only a skill that would be taken by someone who understands the mechanics of the game. I prefer choices to be based upon character conception.
Perception was originally based upon level (like the saves) but characters who had Scout, Thief, or Ranger wanted to use these skills instead of Perception (as it was better). Likewise this skill seemed dissociated.
Thirdly there were originally several Arcane skills which you got for free as a consequence of spending points on learning spells (for every point you spent on spells you got a point to spend on Arcane skills). By being "free" it meant that people spent points on these skills without detracting from their core spell skills, but some skills were *far* more useful than others, so I decided to combine these into a single Arcane skill.
Copying this style of the Arcane skill for Parry and Perception is a simple solution, and it allows you to choose the skills your character is actually training at. There is a massive simplification that parry and dodge are the same skill, and it can be strange that putting points into Bows or Athletics gives you bonuses on these, but it's not that much of a stretch that any training in these combat related skills improves your combat awareness. One strong advantage is that now putting points into Acrobatics improves your ability to Dodge which I'm very pleased with.
Q - Why do Rangers have Bow skills? Aragorn never used a bow!(You can substitute any class you like for Ranger here).
Like all classes, Rangers are culture specific professions. The world of Explore is not Middle Earth, and this is the set of skills that the Rangers here have. If your conception of the world is different as a referee you can easily modify the classes or create your own. If your conception of your own character is different you can create your own customised character using the skill points system.