Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Proficiencies 101: Attention Min-Maxers! Or Proficiencies That Scale

This post is the fifth in a series of posts that will take a closer look at proficiencies in the Adventurer Conqueror King system main rulebook.

In my first post in this series, I defined several proficiency categories for analysis and discussion.  I mentioned that I would delve into each category in a future post, and this post will delve into proficiencies that scale.  By scale, I am referring to a benefit provided by the proficiency that automatically increases as the character’s level increases.

Proficiencies that scale are the proficiency selections that keep giving back.  This is why min-maxers will choose them.  Not that that’s a bad thing …  There’s really very little opportunity for abuse, unless the Judge isn’t careful with how these proficiencies stack with class powers, especially when custom classes are in play.  A power cannot normally stack with a proficiency which provides an identical benefit.  Judges should exercise caution when creating an exception to this rule.

One exception is the bladedancer class.  The bladedancer’s blade-dancing power is a class power version of swashbuckling that stacks with the swashbuckling proficiency.  This is a strong combination, but balanced by the bladedancer’s inability to use shields, wear armor heavier than leather, or wield missile weapons of any kind.  Similarly, the swashbuckling proficiency by itself is balanced by being applicable only when wearing leather or lighter armor.

Not all proficiencies that scale do so in the same way.  The simplest proficiencies that scale provide a benefit that requires a throw for success.  The proficiency will specify a starting throw target value and how that value improves as the character gains levels.  9 of the 14 proficiencies that scale are of this variety: acrobatics, arcane dabbling, black lore, climbing, eavesdropping, loremastery, mountaineering, prestidigitation and trapping.  Of these, acrobatics, prestidigitation, trapping and especially black lore provide additional benefits beyond the benefit requiring a throw.  For the black-hearted mage in your life, black lore is a must.

Eavesdropping warrants a special word because of its special application within the Adventurer Conqueror King system: carousing (i.e. seeking out rumors) is based upon a Hear Noise throw.  Any character can seek out rumors, but thieves and characters with the Eavesdropping proficiency will be the most successful.  Thus, Hear Noise has both a tactical and a strategic application.  You can listen behind doors, but you can also gather rumors about what may be behind those doors before you even find them.

Three proficiencies that scale in unique ways are contemplation, laying on hands and passing without trace.  Contemplation is particularly interesting in that it scales by available spell level (which is based on character level, but varies greatly by class).  Contemplation is a great choice for the primary healer in a group.

The final proficiency that scales is one of my favorite Adventurer Conqueror King system proficiencies: goblin-slaying.  In the Adventurer Conqueror King system main rulebook, only dwarven classes have access to goblin-slaying.  I like that.  A lot.  Not only does it uniquely define dwarves from humans and elves, it gives them exclusive access to one of the stronger proficiency selections in the system.

This concludes this week’s post in my Proficiencies series.  I plan to post in this series every two weeks until it finishes.

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