I've recently returned after not playing for 8 months or so, and in order to get back in the game and get used to how the skills work now I decided to make a new bear and get a feel for things, before I'd use the skillpoints on my lvl 42 beastmaster. Now the new one is lvl 30, but I figured I'll switch back to my old lvl 42 one now (if only because it has a founder title).
Much to my surprise, I barely notice any difference in damage output after switching to my old bear and getting the same skills I had on my new bear. I took screenshots of the character screens of the two to compare... the weapons are just about identical (the new bear found a ferocious pandora spear), but the old bear has almost double the strength and attack power. When I'm just smacking some bumblebees though, the old bear hits slightly harder, but the difference is less than 10%. So I took off some of my armor to drop my strength way down, and yes, my damage goes down only the teeniest tiny bit.
Did anyone else notice this? I'm very surprised and wondering if this is a bug/design flaw. Do the skills only look at the base weapon damage? Well, attack power seems to have a little bit of an effect, but when fighting naked and thus dropping over half my attack power only results in less than 10% difference in actual damage output, well, what are we really talking about there? It also makes me wonder if bear form actually works as expected. I don't think it's really worth it anyway and am always in grizzly, so I haven't put any skill points in it and can't really test properly.
I tested mostly with rage smash, but it seems to hold true for brutal strike and fury strike as well.