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Jo'Mase's AD&D Proficiency Rules



I have changed these weapon proficiencies, all now cost only 1 slot. Also a few new ones are added.

-Shield Prof: gives the user the ability to get an extra -1 AC defensive bonus to his shield defense, and it grants the user the same effect as ambidexterity, but for his chosen shield only.

-Armor Prof: reduces enc. for the chosen armor type by 10%. Also reduces armor penalties, removing 1 point of penalty to AC/Init. and DEX checks.

-Armor Optimization: this skill requires armor proficiency in the armor worn and is chosen to apply to a specific armor type. The user can use his armor as a shield of sorts, and position himself in such a way that a blow lands in a less vital area or better armored area. If effect, this skill is the same as Martial Defense(see below).

-Archer Style: gives reduced speed factor of 2 and allows longbow or heavy crossbow to be used from a mount. It also reduces the hit penalties for mounted combat by -2 to hit. Specific weapon type must be chosen, bow, crossbow, sling, etc.

-2 Weapon Style: as normal but weapon mastery bonuses only apply to the primary weapon, and if a small weapon(1 size smaller than the user) is used in the off hand, the -2 hit penalty for the offhand is removed.

-2 Handed Style: reduces speed factor by 3 for 2 handed weapons and imposes a -1 on foe's saves vs criticals done by the weapon. In addition, it reduces the speed factor of 1 handed weapons used 2 handed by 1.

-Conan Fighting Style: this style can only be taken by warriors and only those who have specialized in 2 Handed Style. It costs 1 weapon slot. This style does not give any of the bonuses of 2 Handed Style, as it is it's own style. The user must employ a weapon with both hands. This weapon must have a speed factor(after all modifications) of 6 or less to use this style without leaving the user open to attack due to lack of weapon control. If the weapon has a speed factor above 6, the user will suffer a -1 AC(Dodge) penalty. The user of this style seeks to so assail his foe(s), that they make a mistake he can capitalize on, due to the fact they are desperately trying to fend off the attacker. If the user hits his foe by 5 or more than was required, he can take advantage of the opening in his foe's defense during his next attack. This bonus only applies to the user, and only to his next attack. The user can choose 1 of the following bonuses to his next attack: critical number reduced by 2, +2 to hit, +2 to damage, -2 on foe's save to avoid a critical hit, or a +4 to hit bonus for purposes of canceling out called shot penalties. The user can choose to combine the bonuses of any 2 of the above effects, with each at half effect. A +1 to hit and +1 damage, for example.

-Single Weapon Style: this style gives a free dodge/block. In addition, the user can choose one other bonus of 3 each round: a speed factor reduction of 2, a -2 AC bonus or an initiative reduction of 2. The off-hand must be empty and unused to get this latter bonus, but if the off-hand employs a buckler or a parrying weapon(main-gauche, for example), though he does not get to choose 1 of the 3 bonuses above, he gets the benefit of the item in his off-hand. Only these 2 items can be so employed and not violate the style, and the buckler gives its usual AC bonus and can be used for the free block, giving its bonus to the block, while the parrying weapon can not only be used for the free block(giving its bonus), but also can allow the free block to be used as a defensive disarm instead.

-Shield/Weapon Style: gives an bonus that depends on the type of shield used. All shields get their defensive bonus(including magical plusses) as a to hit bonus when blocking attacks(as long as the attack is not 2 or more sizes above the defender). The user gets access to all special shield maneuvers, and gets the ability to use the shield for a single parry without losing his shield's protection. The user can use his off-hand attack as a shield bash instead, or a defensive disarm if his shield is designed for such. These moves do not cause the shield's bonus to be lost, but only for this 1 free parry/bash.

Buckler: this shield gives a -1 AC defensive bonus. The buckler is so small and light that it can be easily moved up the arm and out of the way during combat should the user wish to use his shield arm for another purpose, like using a two-handed weapon or a second weapon in his off-hand. The act of moving the buckler up the arm delays remaining actions by a phase. The buckler imposes a -2 to hit on shield arm uses only, no penalty to the primary hand.

Small Shield: this shield gives a -2 AC defensive bonus, divided among opponents as the user wishes. The primary hand is at no penalty, but the shield hand has a -2 to hit.

Medium Shield: this shield gives a -3 AC defensive bonus, divided among opponents as the user wishes. The primary hand is at a -2 to hit penalty if the shield is used actively, but the shield hand has a -4 to hit in such cases.

Body Shield: this shield gives a -4 AC defensive bonus, divided among opponents as the user wishes. The primary hand is at a -2 to hit penalty if the shield is used actively, but the shield hand has a -4 to hit in such cases. The user is hindered by the shield, this means he suffers a -1 to hit, and has his movement rate reduced to normal.

-Ninja Fighting Style: this style can be taken by warriors/adventurers only. It costs 1 weapon slot. It requires both hands be placed on the weapon used. The weapon in question must have a speed factor(after all modifications) of 4 or less. The user is entitled to a free unarmed attack in addition to his regular attacks. This unarmed attack will impose the usual penalties for attacking an armed foe, unless the user creates an opening for it. If the user hits his foe with a regular attack and hits by 5 or more than was needed, he gets to use his free unarmed attack without provoking the usual penalties of such an attack. This style works well in combination with martial arts styles A and B.

-Kendo Fighting Style: this martial art style is quite different from the unarmed styles A-D. This style focuses on using a single weapon with astounding skill. Only warriors can take this style, and they can use it only with a weapon in which they have specialization or better. This style costs 1 weapon slot and requires specialization in 2 Hander Style and proficiency in martial arts Style D. The Kendo specialist gains the bonuses from both those styles, even though it is normally not allowed to use more than 1 style at a time. This style can be used with a single weapon, held in both hands. The weapon must have a speed factor(after all modifications) of 4 or less. When these requirements are met, the user gains the full benefit of the Kendo Style. This style focuses on mastery of a weapon and its use not only in attack, but in defense.

-Martial Defense: this defense requires the user to have proficiency in Style D martial arts. It allows the user to "roll with a punch" so to speak. It acts in the same way as a dodge attempt does, except it is attempted after an attack hits, rather than declared before the attack, as a dodge is. The defense can only be attempted if a dodge or block was not already attempted. It takes up 1 action/attack, so the defender must have 1 remaining in the round(a free dodge can be used for this), but the DM can allow the defender to abort his next action to take this special defense. The defender rolls as if dodging the attack that hit him, but rolls against AC 0, not AC 4, as this is a difficult maneuver. If the "dodge" succeeds(ie. hitting AC 0 but rolling lower than the attack roll which hit him), he suffers only half of the damage the attack would have inflicted(rounded up). The damage is halved after armor defense, if any, is applied. If the "dodge" fails, the defender takes the usual damage and the action he spent on this move is used up, just as in a failed dodge.

-Bow Proficiency: non-proficient bow users get only a ROF of 1 in addition to the non-proficiency to hit penalty. Proficient users(or partially proficient if the user has yet to remove the total non-proficiency penalty, see below) of a bow get a ROF of 3/2, the full ROF of 2/1 is gained only when an additional 1 slot is devoted to the bow and this can only be done after all non-proficiency penalties have been removed(see below).

-Crossbow Proficiency: a crossbow can be used by any warrior without penalty, no slots are required. Other classes receive only half the usual penalty if non-proficient with one, and can treat all crossbows as a single weapon skill, so gaining full proficiency in 1, gives full proficiency in all crossbows.

-Sling Proficiency: those proficient in the sling(cost of 1 slot) can get the same rate of fire as a bow, 2/1, by spending 1 extra slot, but as with the bow, only when all non-proficiency penalties are removed. The ROF for mastery will advance then as if a bow.

-Thrown Melee Weapons: by spending an additional slot above proficiency in a weapon that can be thrown, it can be thrown with the same rate of fire as a bow, 2/1, but only if the non-proficiency penalty is fully removed, as in the case of the sling and bow above. The ROF for mastery will then advance as if a bow. Weapon mastery applies to the throwing of such weapons only if this extra slot is spent. Even then, the user decides which aspect he is mastering(melee or missile). The mastery bonuses apply normally to that aspect, but when used in the other way, the user acts as if of 1 level of mastery less. Daggers(thrown) get a ROF of 3/1 if this extra slot is spent, and just add +1 to their ROF if they have mastery. Darts do not increase their ROF with this extra slot, but instead double their range and do d4 damage.

-INT Slots: Only warriors can use them for weapon slots, other classes can only use them for NWP slots.

-Broad/Tight Groups: only warriors can take advantage of these, others must buy weapon prof. individually.

-Fighting Styles: only warriors can specialize in more than 1 fighting style, and Mages cannot specialize in any.

Weapon Proficiency: when a PC puts 1 weapon slot into gaining proficiency in a weapon, he does not become automatically proficient in it. Each such slot removes a -2 from the non-proficiency penalty, and actual proficiency is not gained until enough slots are devoted to the weapon to remove the penalty totally. Thus, warriors need only spend 1 slot as normal, but priests require 2 slots per weapon and wizards require 3 slots per weapon to get full proficiency. Finally, only warriors can spend more than 1 slot on a single weapon at 1st level. War priests may also be allowed to spend up to 2 slots on 1 weapon only at 1st level, but all other classes can only spend 1 slot per weapon at 1st level. Thus, they will not be able to gain full proficiency until they attain more weapon slots as they advance in level and spend them to improve their skill in a weapon.


All NWP are now handled in a different manner than the usual AD&D fashion. Taking a NWP out of your category still costs 1 extra slot, and each proficiency still has the same cost, but the mechanics of determining the rating is new and other new features have also been added. The former Rogue Proficiency Category is now the Adventurer Category(see New Class: Adventurer).

Improving Skills

Each level a PC gains, gives him 3 proficiency points which he may spend to improve his proficiency ratings. These proficiency points can only be used to improve a skill the individual has full proficiency in. If the individual has not spent all the required proficiency slots for a particular skill and so only has a partial rating in it(see Determining the Skill Rating of a Proficiency below), he cannot improve that skill with these proficiency points until all the slots required are spent, giving him full proficiency in it. A skill rating can only increase by 1 point at most each level in this way. Improving skills with these points costs a given number of points to increase a skill’s rating 1 point. Improving skills in the Novice level ranking(skill rating of 1-6) costs 1 point to increase the skill rating 1 point. Improving from a rating of 6 to a 7 costs 2 points, and each 1 point rating increase in the Skilled level ranking(7-12) costs 2 points. To go from a 12 to a 13 rating costs 3 points, and each 1 point rating increase in the Expert level ranking(13-18) costs 3 points. Finally, to go from an 18 to a 19 rating costs 4 points, and each 1 point rating increase in the Master level ranking(19+) costs 4 points. If a PC wants to use his proficiency slots themselves to improve existing skills, each one converts into 3 proficiency points. If a PC does not spend enough points into a skill to increase the rating 1 point, those points are kept in that skill(but do not help it’s rating yet) and allow for the next level’s points to finish off the improvement. Finally, proficiency points can only improve skills, they cannot buy new ones, only true proficiency slots can do that.

Controlled Improvement

Although a PC can choose where his proficiency points go, the DM is free to control this allocation process. Generally, only those skills used in play should be allowed to be improved significantly. If a PC wants to improve a skill not used much that level, he would need to pay more and spend more time improving it during training than if he improved a skill he used significantly. This is a DM call, of course, but I offer a few ideas for the DM to go by.

First, a PC is always allowed to spend at least 1 point into any skill he has. This simulates the fact that any skill can be improved with training, although it may require more work for improving some skills than others. If the PC did not use that skill much, double the cost of training by doubling the time required for such training to improve his rating in it, when he has placed enough points into it to get the improvement. If he used the skill enough, in the DM’s opinion, do not impose this penalty.

For PCs who wish to place more than only 1 point into a skill at a given level, so as to improve skills they are already Skilled or better in, the DM should limit the number of these extra points he can place into it, by assessing his use and overall devotion to the skill in question. If he did not use it much, he must roll a d20 for each of these extra points he desires to place into the skill, and only if the d20 roll was HIGHER than his current skill rating, can that point be added. If the roll was equal to or less than the skill rating, that point cannot be placed there, and must go elsewhere. This limits the amount of improvement toward skills the PC has not been very devoted to. For every extra degree of devotion the PC showed toward the skill during that level, allow him an extra d20 roll for each extra point he wants to place into it. This makes it more likely for him to be able to improve his skill, but does not insure it. As long as any of the d20 rolls for each of the points in question rolls above the current skill rating, allow that point to be added.

Time Based Skill Improvement: for those who are not adventurers and spend most of their lives doing 1 or a few tasks at which they are very skilled, they also increase in skill, but not with level, rather, with time. For every year a person performs his skill, he has a chance to improve his skill. He rolls a number of d20’s and compares them to his skill rating. For every roll that was above his rating(yes, for each proficiency check failure, in a sense) he gains 1 proficiency point to improve that skill. Novices(rating 1-6) roll 3 dice each year, Skilled people(rating 7-12) roll 2 dice each year, Experts(rating 13-18) roll 1 die each year and Masters do not get to roll dice, but must purposefully seek to improve their skills in some special way(new discovery, secret formula, seek a greater master, etc). Thus, you can see that it is unlikely for any normal person to ever become a master. Only special people who seek to improve their skills specifically, or those lucky enough to be trained by a master, have a chance to become masters themselves. Those who seek such special training or are trained by a master can add 1 to the number of dice they roll each year. The DM can also give other bonuses as he sees fit.

Violating Rating Improvement Limits: for each extra point of improvement the user desires for a skill, he must pay an increasing improvement cost in proficiency points(PPs). The 1st extra point costs double the usual cost for such an improvement. Additionally, if this is attempted, the user must first determine if he can handle this increased improvement rate. Before the PPs are spent for this extra point, the user must roll a d20 check against the current rating of the skill he is trying to improve in this way. Only if the roll was HIGHER(that is right, only if he actually FAILS the roll in the usual sense) can these PPs be spent to improve the rating that extra point. If the roll was not higher, he cannot spend the PPs on that skill, and must wait until next level to improve it further. Training time/cost for this extra point is likewise doubled. Assuming the user was able to proceed and improve the skill that extra point, he can try for another point of improvement, which requires another d20 roll against his now improved(current) rating score, to allow it, as above. The cost for this 2nd point of improvement over the 1 point limit is now tripled in terms of both the PP cost and training time/cost. This pattern is repeated, with the cost increasing 1 multiple factor(quadrupled, quintupled, etc.) for each extra point, and the d20 check must be passed for each desired improvement in this fashion, as above.

Determining the Skill Rating of a Proficiency

The base rating for all proficiencies is calculated using the same basic formula. The rating the formula gives is only gained when the full number of slots usually required is spent. If fewer are spend, then divide the rating by the number of slots required, and this value is how much of the rating 1 slot will give. The formula for figuring out the base rating is to find the usual rating the score would have in AD&D, and divide this by 3(round off). This is the base rating.

Skill Rankings

Each skill will have a rating which is used to make proficiency checks against. However, there are 4 ranks in every rated proficiency: Novice, Skilled, Expert and Master.

Extraordinary Feats: only those who are Skilled, Experts or Masters in their skill can attempt such feats, which go beyond the usual functioning of the skill. They are feats which attempt to get more out of the skill in question than it was normally designed to give. Thus, only self imposed penalties count toward the feat penalty limits below. If the user is just trying to get the normal result from the skill, yet circumstances are imposing penalties to this, do not count these penalties as extraordinary feat penalties, since no unusual result is being tried for. Only those penalties resulting from trying to get more out the skill than it normally gives count as extraordinary feat penalties. When such a feat can be attempted, and the exact penalty it imposes is up to the DM. However, Skilled users can only attempt such feats with penalties of -4 or less. Experts can attempt such feats with penalties up to -8. Only Masters can attempt a feat which requires a -9 or greater penalty.

Penalty Guidelines: generally, if a significant hindrance to the normal operation of the skill exists(not an extraordinary feat), or if a significant extra effect is desired(extraordinary feat) or if an effect is desired that does not normally fall within the skill’s realm, but is related to it(extraordinary feat), the skill check will be at from -1 to -4. If the hindrance or extra effect is a major one, or the effect is only somewhat related to the skill, a penalty from -5 to -8 is imposed. If the hindrance would normally make the skill almost impossible to use or the extra effect is of great magnitude, or not normally a part of the skill, but only vaguely related to it, then the penalty would range from -9 to -12 and possibly more.

Bonuses for Persistence(Spending extra time to do the job well): if an individual wishes to spend more than the standard time required for the execution of a skill, he can gain bonuses to his skill check. This bonus can only help to a point, as some tasks may just be too hard for a low skilled individual to accomplish regardless of the time spent doing it. This bonus is applied first to negate any penalties to the check, then any left over is applied as a bonus to the check. This bonus does not change the individual’s rating, it just gives him a temporary bonus to his skill check. If this bonus is used to cancel out a penalty associated with an extraordinary feat, it can allow a lesser skilled individual to attempt a feat normally not allowed for his skill ranking. As long as the final penalty, after the bonus has reduced it, falls into the allowed feat penalty ranges for the individual’s ranking(0 to -4 for Skilled, -5 to -8 for Expert and -9 or more for Master), the individual is allowed to attempt it. Thus, a skilled weaponsmith is usually only allowed to attempt an extraordinary feat with at most a -4 penalty, but if he spent enough extra time on the task to grant him a +4 bonus, this would offset the penalty enough, so that he could attempt a -8 feat, which after the bonus is applied would be a -4 penalty, which falls into his allowed range and he could then attempt it.

The DM must determine the standard amount of time a skill requires, if such a time is not specified. For every multiple of 5 the individual lengthens this time he spends on the skill, he gets a +1 bonus to the check. This bonus cannot exceed +4. Thus, if picking a lock requires 1 round(12 seconds), then if the lock pick spent 5 rounds(1 minute) instead of just 1, he would get a +1 bonus to his check. If he spent 25 rounds(5 minutes) he would get a +2, spending 125 rounds(25 minutes) he would get a +3 and if he spent 625 rounds(2 hours and 5 minutes) he would get the maximum bonus he could get, +4. Of course, rushing a job would likewise impose penalties, and these penalties get very severe very quickly. I suggest for every halving of the standard time, impose a -4 penalty. So doing a job in a quarter of the usual time imposes a -8 penalty.

Opposed Rolls

Normal opposed rolls are only used if the Rankings of the skills in opposition are equal. If they are of different Rank, then to determine which skill succeeds, a modified opposed roll is used. The lower Rank skill suffers a -4 to its rating for each Rank below the higher Ranking skill it is. If this reduces it to 0 or less, then it cannot oppose the higher Rank skill. With this modifier, both skills then roll checks against their ratings(the lower Rank using the modifier rating) as in a usual opposed roll. The actual opposed roll is rolled first by the challenger, the one who is trying to foil the skill effect of the other, and if the challenger fails his roll(rolls above his rating, with modifiers as above), then the other just has to make his check as if he was unopposed(although if he was the lower Rank, he must still apply the penalty).

Novice: those with a skill rating of 1-6 are considered novices. They gain the usual benefits of the skill, but if they fail a check by 10 or more points, it is considered a serious blunder of some kind, due to their lack of experience. The Novice is permitted a save vs. paralysis with a -1 per point over 10 the roll failed by to avoid the blunder. The exact negative effects are left up to the DM, but could involve giving a false result, breaking/damaging an object involved in the use of the proficiency, triggering an even the skill was designed to neutralize/avoid, etc. Those of this ranking cannot fashion exceptional items related to their skill, nor can they perform extraordinary feats within their skill, ordinary successes and feats are all that they can manage.

Skilled: those with a rating of 7-12 are skilled. They get the usual benefits of the skill as in normal AD&D. When attempting an extraordinary feat, they must pass their skill check with the accompanying penalty(as the DM imposes), and failure indicates they do not achieve the desired result, plus, if they failed the check by 10 or more points, they suffer the same serious blunder result as for a Novice in this skill. They may also make a save vs. paralysis with a -1 per point over 10 the roll failed by to avoid the blunder. This serious blunder result can only occur if the Skilled user is attempting an extraordinary feat.

Expert: those with a rating of 13-18 are experts. They get the usual benefits, plus, do not need to make normal proficiency checks even when such a check is usually called for(except some opposed rolls, which must still be made). They are assumed to succeed at these tasks, but can only ignore such required checks if the penalty to the check at hand is -2 or less. If the situation required a check at a -3 or more penalty, they must then make the check, but reduce the penalty by 2 points. In addition, if they attempt an extraordinary feat, yet fail their skill roll, they merely fail, and are not subject to the serious blunder result possibility of the Skilled ranking.

Master: those with a rating of 19 or more are true masters. They get the usual benefits and can ignore normal proficiency checks(except some opposed rolls, which must still be made) as experts can, but can ignore such checks even when they require a check with up to a -4 penalty. Only checks which require a -5 or greater penalty force a master to actually make the check, and even then, he reduced the penalty by 4 points. As with Experts, Masters are not subject to serious blunders when attempting an extraordinary feat. In addition, Masters who happen to fail their checks when attempting extraordinary feats, do not totally fail, as with Expert or Skilled users, but are considered to still have achieved at least an ordinary success.

Dealing With Non-rated Proficiencies

For those few proficiencies which have no rating, the DM should assign a rating attribute to them, one which makes the most sense. Blindfighting and Mountaineering are 2 such skills, and if others exist, they should be modified in this way. Blindfighting is WIS based, while Mountaineering is DEX based.

Trade Skills

A trade skill is the skill a PC was trained/training in prior to his adventuring career. All PCs get to choose 1 trade skill at creation, which skill must be in a category they have normal access to for their class. They get 2 proficiency slots to spend toward this skill as free slots. They can also choose to spend up to 1 more(no more than 1 extra) of their initial slots toward this skill if desired. Whether or not their chosen skill costs 2 slots, both must be spent on it, with any extra slots being converted into 3 PPs each, and used for improving the skill. This is the only time when a skill can be improved more than 1 rating point without penalty, as it is assumed the PC had many years behind this skill already.

Rangers and Druids

Rangers and druids are both special in this regard, as their trade skills are chosen for them. Rangers get Animal Lore and Survival(terrain of his choice) to start with, while druids get both these and Herbalism as well. Both classes begin play with a rating of 7(skilled) in each of the skills they get in this way, but cannot use up to 1 initial slot to further improve them as other classes can.

Starting Age and Trade Skills

PCs are assumed to have put some years already into their trade skill(s), and even into other skills they possess. To determine how much improvement a PC can get in his trade skills, first determine how many years he has had to practice them. This is found by taking the PC’s starting age, and subtracting from it 2/3 the base age for his race. This base age is found in the PHB. Humans have a base age of 15, so the PC would find how many years he had potentially in his trade skill by taking his starting age, and subtracting 2/3 of 15, or 10. So a PC of 18 years of age who was human, would have 18-10 or 8 years of initial apprenticeship or practice at his trade skill. The longer lived races will have the advantage of many years in this respect, giving them a significant skill boost relative to the shorter lived races. But this is just another of their advantages, balanced by level limits or other such balances. DMs can rule that the longer lived races do not get all this time, as some may be spent on other things, like sword and bow practice for elves, or learning about stonework and constructions, for dwarves. But I personally feel they should get the full advantage of their extra years.

After the number of pre-adventure years are found, just use the rules above for Time Based Skill Improvement, giving the PC a number of rolls against his trade skill as his years indicate. This will usually let a PC begin with his trade skill at least in the Skilled ranking, and potentially(especially for long lived races) the Expert ranking.

Rangers and druids can divide these rolls up among their trade skills. If the DM desires, and the player gives sufficient background for it, the player can choose to use these years to improve his starting skills, not just his trade skill. If this is done, the player just divides the rolls he gets among his skills, but must spend at least half toward his trade skill. Rangers and druids can do this as well.