as for first question: check for the AT86RF2XX_REG__PHY_TX_PWR macro and dbm_to_tx_pow function + rf231 datasheet
for the second question have a look at atzb-a-233-xpro module from atmel (can get it from mouser) if you are or ok with 233 and not strictly 231.
I'm a bit confused. Just some days ago @TobiasFredersdorf stated to work on this. Did you synchronize each others?
Regarding the module initialization: Honestly I don't quite understand your doubts. Yes it is a signed 16 bit integer in dBm. The quantization to valid values is done inside the function. It makes things easier for the netdev(2) abstraction.
You won't get an OpenLabs transceiver within days. By experience not even within two weeks. If you want to cross-test drivers you could
a) get an Atmel samr21-xpro (same transceiver as OpenLaps on board) and run RIOT
b) get a Phytec evaluation kit. There you can cross-test with kinetis kw2x transceivers on either RIOT or Linux
c) use the MRF24J40 with the Linux driver on a RasPi
d) work together with @TobiasFredersdorf. He hast the hardware available.