Home » Ancient Posts » ACKS, Lords & Wizards, and the Problem of Proficiencies    
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What bothered me in reference Feats is what bothered me about skills. Mind you, I still love RuneQuest 1978, which sucked away many hours of my life over a six year period, and Call of Cthulhu just isn't the same without that skills system. So what's my complaint?

Most skills and Feats should never be rolled. They should be, and only feel real when, actually role played. If this gives the advantage to a player who actually can act, then my groups have always been the most unfair of all. They are still, however, the most remembered of all.

Players, as most humans, will rise or lower to the best or worst of expectations. Feats and too many skills crush player creativity, reducing them to dice-rolling machines.

My best and only consistent house rule was and is: if the PC attempts something that is exciting, hilarious, or entertains the hard working gamesmaster, it's probably gonna work… dice or no dice.


Most problematyczne fiat in acks? Mapping:-)

Rachel Ghoul

Is it? It *seems* bigger from a psychological perspective.


@Porphyre: The system I'm planning to try is basically the same as D&D Next's Advantage bit, at least as it was first presented. i haven't followed the playtest closely enough to know if that's still they way they are doing it.

@Rachel: Rolling twice and using the best result is about like adding +4 (or +5) to a D20 success roll as far as effect on the results is concerned — if I correctly remember what I figured when first used the idea many years ago.

Rachel Ghoul

…Porphyre's *might* also do, looking at it, but rolling twice and picking the best is pretty powerful. And Florian has a point about the Adventuring proficiency. I'd have to look through again but I think most of the skill-type proficiencies have lower difficulties than 18 so broadening it might work very well.

Rachel Ghoul

Looking at the bribery one at least, I'd probably reduce the bonus by 1 for not having the proficiency– so a small bribe, for example, would just be a straight reroll of the reaction.

As to the other examples… I kind of like what Troy's driving at.


The " every man can try" proficiency is named "Adventuring" in ACKS. The target is an 18+ that should work nicely for your pit trap. Bribery is also easily managed: Just charge 4x or 6x the amount for people without the proficiency and/or limit the max bonus to +2.

Just out of curiosity: Will Lords&Wizards have thief skills?


I'm no 3E player, but I think that what you call "feats" actually are skills in this edition. Skills were just a flat bonus to the D20 roll, some skills being labelled as "untrained" (anyone can try) other "trained" (you cannot try if you haven't it). Feats were some kind of hodge-podge of proficiencies, special powers, and really "méta-gamey" mechanic-wise stuff (like "if you have feat X, you don't suffer Attacks of opportunity").

Otherwise, why not use the "Advantage" mechanic of the (still ongoing) D&DNext playtest?
Roll twice, keep the best roll. With this method, anyone can try, those with the proficiency have a significant advantage over "untrained " ones, and you don't need to bother adding bonuses…

Greyhawk Grognard

With Adventures Dark and Deep's skill system, the general rule is that anyone can do anything, but someone with a skill will usually do it better. Functionally, that means a character with a skill in something gets a -2 bonus to their roll per skill level, while someone without the skill doesn't get the bonus.


You could maybe try labeling some of these proficiencies as "Advanced." For example, "Advanced Trapping." Like you said, anyone can set a pit trap or deadfall trap, but something like a Ugandan Spring-knife Trap takes some training and practice. By adding "Advanced" in front of it, you're cueing the players that this is something no novice could do.