Monday, August 13, 2012

Proficiencies 101: Skills

This post is the seventh 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 I categorize as skills.  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.

In a nutshell, the Adventurer Conqueror King system approach to skills is: With a proficiency throw of 11+, Success.  Additionally, when a proficiency can be selected more than once, then the proficiency throw value required for success is reduced by 4 each time the proficiency is selected.  That’s it (or nearly so).  Very simple.  Or perhaps simple enough, given that some argue passionately that skills are unnecessary burdens on the Judge’s discretion.

In the Adventurer Conqueror King system main rulebook, there are 26 proficiencies that include a skill benefit.  Ten of these are crafts, discussed in my fourth post on proficiencies: alchemy, animal husbandry, art, craft, engineering, healing, knowledge, labor, performance and profession.  Three other crafts do not specify a skill benefit in the rulebook, but a Judge might easily choose to do so: manual of arms, navigation and seafaring.  With a proficiency throw of 11+, a character might be able to tell a cataphract from a hobelar, identify a constellation in the night sky or recall just the right knot for the job.

The adventuring proficiency is uniquely very much defined by the Judge.  The rulebook states "All player characters are assumed to have Adventuring for purposes of the proficiency throws of standard adventuring tasks."  This proficiency represents knowledge common to all adventurers, which may vary by campaign world and Judge.

One skill uniquely scales: loremastery (scaling is discussed in my fifth post on proficiencies).  Loremastery is not unlike the knowledge proficiencies, but represents more of a breadth of knowledge rather than a specific knowledge.

There are seven “pure” skill proficiencies: caving, collegiate wizardry, disguise, mapping, mimicry, naturalism and tracking.  These proficiencies provide a skill benefit and nothing else.  Tracking uniquely specifies a number of potential modifiers to the standard proficiency throw of 11+.

Finally, there are seven proficiencies that provide a skill benefit plus other benefits.  Dwarven brewing, land surveying, magical engineering and military strategy provide a skill benefit and a bonus to another type of action – a craft bonus, a hide bonus, a magic research bonus and a mass combat initiative bonus, respectively.  Contortionism and theology provide a skill benefit and an ability, and beast friendship provides a skill benefit, an ability and a bonus to reaction rolls.

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

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