Thursday, March 29, 2012

Proficiencies 101

The Adventurer Conqueror King system is a spiritual successor to the B/X rules.  Proficiencies may be the greatest divergence of the Adventurer Conqueror King system from B/X, allowing players to further customize their characters, and, potentially, allowing Judges to further customize their games.  This post is the first in a series of posts that will take a closer look at proficiencies in the Adventurer Conqueror King system main rulebook.

The Adventurer Conqueror King system rulebook includes 96 proficiencies, or 114 proficiencies including maneuvers, styles and weapon groups as unique proficiency choices.  37 of these proficiencies are categorized as general proficiencies.  Characters learn proficiencies as either class or general proficiencies based upon the Proficiencies Gained per Level table on page 56 of the rulebook.  The rate of proficiencies gained on this table is based upon the rate of improvement in a class’s saving throw progression.  For example, over a 14 level career a Fighter class character will select 5 class proficiencies and 4 general proficiencies.

The creators of the Adventurer Conqueror King system have stated that they wanted the system to be playable without proficiencies, and designed the system with that in mind.  This is one reason why the rate of proficiencies gained is based upon an otherwise existing feature of the system, saving throw progressions.  However, for most of my games, I find the broader selection of proficiencies presented in the rulebook to be one of the most compelling and interesting aspects of the Adventurer Conqueror King system.  (And the “severability” of proficiencies makes them a perfect “hook” for Judges to further customize their games, a topic for future posts …  But let’s return to thoroughly examining proficiencies as written.)

By way of analysis, we might categorize proficiencies based upon their function in the game.  My analysis uses the following categories.  (Note that these categories are created by me purely for analysis and discussion.  As labels they are not a part of the Adventurer Conqueror King system.)  A craft or profession (hereafter craft, for brevity) produces income either through producing a good or rendering a service.  A feat provides an ability or power that a character would not otherwise have.  A skill is a specific type of proficiency that requires a successful throw to benefit from.  Such benefits are unrelated to other functions in the game, such as combat or casting a spell.  A trait provides a bonus to other functions in the game, such as initiative or attack throws.  I found it insightful to consider each proficiency as one or more of the above four categories.  It’s important to note that a proficiency could be in more than one category.  For example, crafts are generally also skills, in that they include knowledge relevant to the craft, such as identifying quality goods or a famous practitioner.

By the numbers, the Adventurer Conqueror King system includes:

13           crafts
62           feats
26           skills
41           traits

I will delve into each category in a future post.  For now, let’s continue our high-level overview.  Two other characteristics were notable to me as I read through each proficiency.  (Again, these labels are a convenience of my analysis and discussion.  They are not a part of the Adventurer Conqueror King system.)  Some proficiencies scale.  By scale, I am referring to a benefit provided by the proficiency that automatically increases as the character’s level increases.  Also, some proficiencies are tiered.  Tiered proficiencies provide different benefits as additional proficiency selections are invested in that same proficiency.

The Adventurer Conqueror King system includes:

14           scaling proficiencies
12           tiered proficiencies

This concludes this week’s post in my Proficiencies series.  I plan to post in this series every two weeks until it finishes.  On deck, how proficiencies further define classes and races, and more on the variety of proficiencies.


  1. Looking forward to the next part of this series. :)

  2. Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to do this. I have to say the proficiency presentation in the book is a little overwhelming, this gives a good framework for thinking about them.

  3. Great analysis! I would like to add that this proficiency system in particular and ACKS in general read, to me, as though combat is not a particular focus of this ruleset. Very few of the proficiencies seem to lead ones character to be a super powerful combatant. They are, as you say, more flavorful and interesting. Contrast this to 4E design where nearly every skill, feat, ability etc somehow relates to combat and I start to see a system that is very much focused on the part of the game it should be.