For the following reasons, I believe Bartering should be collapsed into Speaking:
- Linguistically and logically, Bartering is a special case of Speaking.
- Bartering doesn’t change any real outcomes. At most, it slightly delays them: you scavenge slightly longer and then you get what you wanted.
- Bartering is useless when NPCs are running away, or hostile, which means it’s often useless if you are bad at Speaking.
- Bartering is useless when NPCs are allied, which means it’s often useless if you ARE good at Speaking.
- Bartering is practically useless when NPCs are neutral, excluding occasional very rare shopkeeper NPCs: you can just follow them around until they kamikazi into monsters, then take whatever you wanted for free.
- Bartering is useless early game, because anything you need is either cheap (trade for random junk around you) or priced beyond anything you have access to.
- Bartering is useless late game, because you have plentiful valuables to trade and the margins don’t matter.
- Speaking is already not very useful compared to other skills, and could use some more utility.
- Possible future improvements in NPC behavior and interaction are not likely to change Bartering’s usefulness significantly, unless the total structure of the game is radically redesigned to have abundant shopkeepers and settlements.