There's definitely a hack-and-slash mentality since you get XP for destroying anything and everything--that part I don't like. I'm just now reading WoD after playing VtMB (and deciding I really can't play that til the kids get older unless I can find a group here in town that plays). I like how they reward 'quests completed' instead of 'things destroyed'--that makes more sense to me. In fact, it took me awhile playing VtM to be comfortable with the concept 'hey, I don't _have_ to kill all these guys--I can sneak around them/lure them away'. With the XP In D&D there's no real incentive built into the game to solve a problem in a creative way, like finding a secret door to get to a room that bypasses the monsters. That's always been an issue for that game. Unless you have a good GM.
In some of the published adventures the writers are now starting to say 'if they manage to make the monster happy and not kill him, give them the XP they'd normally get plus x amount for creativity'.
Why you'd want to have a fighter class and just pick 'scribe scroll' for the heck of it I don't know, so yeah, that skill would be useless. In some respects WoD is just as artificial--I have a decent dexterity, but that doesn't give me automatic knowledge of lockpicking or using firearms, and there are no skills outside the ones in the game (which admittedly are quite a few). Your clan does limit your choices somewhat--if you pick a Ventrue you're going to go for different skills than if you play Nosferatu, and in the computer game at least, since your disciplines are set, it does drive the skill levels you pick to a certain extent.
All that being said, a good GM will work with the strengths and around the limitations of the game for the sake of creating a good story for his/her particular group. If you have a fighter who's picked up a funky skill, a good GM can work with that and capitalize on that to create opportunities in the game that s/he might not ordinarily have with a 'regular' character, even if the skill choice is really dumb. So yeah, some skills work better with some classes than others, but that doesn't mean they're always useless. Right now our family game has a party of 2 paladins and a rogue (Jimbo of course.
). Jimbo decided to cross-class as a wizard to add in some magic-using for the party. I'll probably use the tips in DMG 2 to create a prestige class for him to meet the needs of our particular campaign. I think there's one in the 'Complete Adventurer' already but I think with the particular set of skills in our party we'll end up needing something more tailor-made.
In any case, we're having a good time playing together, which is the important thing.