Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Proficiencies 101 (continued)

This post is the second 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 further defines classes using proficiencies.  This is accomplished in two ways.  First, and most obvious, each class includes a proficiency list of the proficiencies that may be selected by a character using a class selection choice.  The number of proficiencies on each list is determined by a simple equation revealed by the custom classes construction system in the Player’s Companion, but the important point is that the number will be far below the total number of proficiencies in the system.  This necessarily focuses each class design to choose carefully what proficiencies will be available to characters of that class.  (Note that the examples that follow are limited to the Adventurer Conqueror King system main rulebook.)

Some proficiencies are broadly available to classes with a common feature, such as spellcasting: Battle Magic, Prestidigitation (all spellcasters, plus the Bard), Quiet Magic and Unflappable Casting.  Other proficiencies are available only to a specific group of classes, such as arcane classes: Black Lore of Zahar, Elementalism and Familiar.  Or divine classes: Contemplation, Divine Blessing, Divine Health, Laying On Hands and Prophecy.

Second, the totality of the class proficiency lists further defines class by the extent to which certain proficiencies are restricted to a class or group of classes.

Only the Thief, Assassin and Elven Nightblade have access to certain back alley proficiencies: Combat Trickery(incapacitate), Contortionism, Skulking and Sniping (includes an Explorer who selects Ambush).  Both similar and dissimilar classes may have access to proficiencies other classes do not have access to: Berserkergang (Fighter, Vaultguard), Climbing (Assassin, Explorer), Elven Bloodline (Mage, Bard), Soothsaying (Mage, Spellsword), Survival (Fighter, Explorer).  Rarely, a class uniquely has access to, or does not have access to, a proficiency: Ambushing (Explorer), Lockpicking (Thief), Transmogrification (Mage), Weapon Focus (all except Mage).

The Adventurer Conqueror King system defines race and class simultaneously via class.  Therefore, the same means of further defining class may also be used to further define race.  For example, unlike classes might have some similar proficiency choices because they are the same race, or some proficiency choices may even be limited to only characters of a specific race.

Both the Elven Spellsword and the Elven Nightblade have access to: Beast Friendship, Mystic Aura, Passing Without Trace, Precise Shooting and Sensing Power, and uniquely have access to Wakefulness.  Both the Dwarven Vaultguard and the Dwarven Craftpriest have access to: Caving, Craft, Endurance, Engineering, Illusion Resistance and Mapping, and uniquely have access to: Dwarven Brewing and Goblin-Slaying, and do NOT have access to Running, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling and Weapon Finesse.  [Why do I feel compelled to add a Running, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling, Weapon Finessing dwarf to my game?]  Of course, there are a lot of proficiencies the Vaultguard and Craftpriest do not have, but in comparing like classes, these four stood out to me as absent and likely purposefully so as a race defining feature.

Dwarven Brewing may be my favorite Adventurer Conqueror King system proficiency.  Mechanically, Dwarven Brewing answers the question, in a world were dwarves are completely non-arcane, what kind of dwarf could identify a potion with a sip?  A dwarf who enjoys his beer and ale, of course!  However, Dwarven Brewing is all about adding flavor to a character.  As a Judge, I love that.  An adventure involving a secret brewing recipe immediately springs to mind.  And, coincidentally, I played in a campaign that began with the apparent assassination by poison of a church official, and eventually led to a local brewery.  I would have loved to have had Dwarven Brewing in that campaign.

This concludes this week’s post in my Proficiencies series.  I plan to post in this series every two weeks until it finishes.  Next up, I take a break from analysis of the system and discuss players customizing their characters and Judges further customizing their games using proficiencies.


  1. Enjoying this breakdown of the prof's. I'm finding the ACKS rules to be pretty good so far, and after only five sessions of using them, they have become my favourite. I've been mucking around with the character design from the players companion, and your breakdown has helped me re-think a few things. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. This is a great and useful article. I had thought to go through the proficiency list with colored highlighters to identify all the overlaps but you've done most of the work for me so now I don't have to mark up my book!
    I've also been really digging into the rules and have been enjoying them. I'd love the opportunity to play/run with them at a table but I may not get to any time soon. So far, I'm seeing MUCH more good than bad.

    My only "concerns" so far are with the race as class concept. I fear that it will ultimately lead to class bloat as they attempt to fill the niches left by bolting class to race. Basically, instead of having a cleric class and the humana, elven and dwarven races, they're forced to create three separate classes. So now you've got 3 unique cleric-types in the world. Will we also need separate racial mages? Separate racial explorers, etc? Hopefully they can contain the desire to fill out the checkboxes with new classes. I'm hopeful that their publishing of the "how to build a custom class" in the companion will limit the push for more and more new classes. And maybe this is just me being worried for nothing because I'm so used to WotC and their propensity for creating bloated unweildy content packages.

    Anyway, great writeup, keep up the great work!