Non-weapon Proficiencies

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Acquiring Proficiencies

Most of what a player character can do is defined by his race, class, kits, and ability scores. These four characteristics don’t cover everything, however. Characters can have a wide range of talents, from the potent (and intricate) arts of magic to the simple and mundane knowledge of how to build a good fire. The character’s magical ability (or lack thereof) is defined by his class. Lesser abilities, such as fire building, are defined by proficiencies.

A proficiency is a learned skill that isn’t essential to the character’s class. A ranger, for example, may find it useful to know something about navigation, especially if he lives near an ocean or sea coast. On the other hand, he isn’t likely to suffer if he doesn’t know how to navigate; he is a ranger, not a sailor.

Even newly created, 1st-level characters have proficiencies. The number of proficiency slots that a character starts with is determined by his class, as shown in the Table below. Each proficiency slot is empty until the player “fills” it by selecting a proficiency.

Thereafter, as the character advances in experience levels, he gains additional proficiency slots. The rate at which he gains them depends on the group he belongs to. The Table lists how many nonweapon proficiency slots the character starts with, and how many levels the character must gain before he earns another slot.

  • Initial Nonweapon Proficiencies is the number of nonweapon proficiency slots that character has at 1st level.
  • Advancement tells how quickly a character gains additional proficiency slots. A new proficiency slot is gained at every experience level that is evenly divisible by the number listed. A warrior, for example, gains one non-weapon proficiency slot at every level evenly divisible by 3 (He gets one new slot at 3rd level, another at 6th, another at 9th, and so on.)

Unlike weapon proficiencies, in which some weapons are not available to certain character classes, all nonweapon proficiencies are available to all characters. Some nonweapon proficiencies are easier for certain character classes to learn, however. When a player selects a nonweapon proficiency from those categories listed under Proficiency Groups (see below) for his character’s group, it requires the number of proficiency slots listed. When a player selects a proficiency from any other category, it requires one additional proficiency slot beyond the number listed.

Proficiency Slots by Class

Class Initial Non-weapon Proficiencies1 Advancement Available Groups
Fighter 3 +1/3 levels Craft, Martial, Pastoral
Paladin 3 +1/3 levels Martial, Pastoral, Spiritual
Ranger 3 +1/3 levels Detection, Martial, Survival
Barbarian 3 +1/3 levels Martial, Pastoral, Survival
Berserker 3 +1/3 levels Martial, Spiritual, Survival
Harper 4 +1/3 levels Academic, Larceny, Martial
Cleric 4 +1/3 levels by Religion
Crusader 4 +1/3 levels Martial, Social, Spiritual
Druid 4 +1/3 levels Pastoral, Spiritual, Survival
Monk 4 +1/3 levels Academic, Craft, Psionic, Spiritual
Mystic 4 +1/3 levels Pastoral, Social, Spiritual
Shaman 4 +1/3 levels Pastoral, Spiritual, Survival
Wizard 4 +1/3 levels Academic, Craft, Sorcerous
Sha’ir 4 +1/3 levels Social, Sorcerous, Survival
Runecaster 4 +1/3 levels Academic, Craft, Martial, Sorcerous
Spellsinger 4 +1/4 levels Performance, Social, Sorcerous
Psionicist 3 +1/3 levels Craft, Detection, Psionic
Thief 8 +1/2 levels Detection, Larceny, Social
Bard 6 +1/2 levels Academic, Larceny, Performance, Social
Shadow Walker 6 +1/2 levels Craft, Detection Larceny
Spy 6 +1/2 levels Detection, Martial, Social
Lone Wolf 6 +1/2 levels Larceny, Sorcerous
Tinker 6 +1/2 levels Craft, +1 of the player’s choice

1 Add bonus slots for high Knowledge to the Initial number.

  • Note: The character’s Kit and Homeland may significantly alter the list of available proficiency groups.

Proficiency Groups

Detailed listings of available proficiencies and their effects can be found on the following pages:

Using Nonweapon Proficiencies

When a character uses a proficiency, either the attempt is automatically successful, or the character must roll a proficiency check. If the task is simple or the proficiency has only limited game use (such as cobbling or carpentry), a proficiency check is generally not required. If the task the character is trying to perform is difficult or subject to failure, a proficiency check is required. Read the descriptions of the proficiencies for details about how and when each can be used.

If a proficiency check is required, the Table below lists which ability is used with each proficiency. Add the modifier (either positive or negative) listed to the appropriate ability score, this determines your “Proficiency Score”. Then the player rolls 1d20. If the roll is equal to or less than the character’s proficiency score, the character accomplished what he was trying to do. If the roll is greater than the character’s score, the character fails at the task (a roll of 20 always fails, even if your proficiency score is greater than 20.) The DM determines what effects, if any, accompany failure.

Of course, to use a proficiency, the character must have any tools and materials needed to do the job. A carpenter can do very little without his tools, and a smith is virtually helpless without a good forge. The character must also have enough time to do the job. Certainly, carpentry proficiency enables your character to build a house, but not in a single day! Some proficiency descriptions state how much time is required for certain jobs. Most, however, are left to the DM’s judgment.

The DM can raise or lower a character’s chance of success if the situation calls for it. Factors that can affect a proficiency check include availability and quality of tools, quality of raw material used, time spent doing the job, difficulty of the job, and how familiar the character is with the task.

When two proficient characters work together on the same task, the highest ability score is used (the one with the greatest chance of success). Furthermore, a +1 bonus is added for the other character’s assistance. The bonus can never be more than +1, as having too many assistants is sometimes worse than having none.

Nonweapon proficiencies can also be improved beyond the ability score the character starts with. For every additional proficiency slot a character spends on a non-weapon proficiency, he gains a +2 bonus to the character’s proficiency score. Character’s with proficiency scores of 20 or greater may be able to regularly succeed even at highly difficult tasks that incur significant penalties.

Many nonplayer craftsmen are more accomplished in their fields than player characters, having devoted all their energies to improving a single proficiency. Likewise, old masters normally have more talent than young apprentices—unless the youth has an exceptional ability score! However, age is no assurance of talent. Remember that knowing a skill and being good at it are two different things. There are bad potters, mediocre potters, and true craftsmen. All this has much less to do with age than with dedication and talent.


All characters and are able to Climb and Jump to aid them in getting around. Both of these core skills function similarly to Non-weapon Proficiencies and are modified by the possession of certain NWPs.

Climbing Chance: All characters are able to Climb. Climbing requires a check against the character’s Muscle score, in the same manner as a Non-weapon Proficiency. This check is subject to the following modifiers:

Situation Modifier
Character has the Mountaineering proficiency. +2
Rope assisted. +10
Abundant handholds (brush, trees, ledges) +8
Sloped inward +5
Character is Small sized. -3
Armor worn. -1 per 10 lbs. of armor.
Per level of Encumbrance. -1 per level above unencumbered.
Character is free climbing (not using tools). -5
Slightly slippery (wet or crumbling) -5
Sloped outward -5
Slippery (icy, slimy) -8
Climber wounded below ½ hp -2

Aside from jumping or flying, the quickest way to get down from a height is to rappel. This requires a rope attached at the top of the climb and a skilled Mountaineer to set up the rappel and to hold the rope at the bottom. When rappeling down a surface, a Climbing check with a +10 bonus must be rolled. Free rappels (with the end of the rope unsupported at the bottom) are also possible, but the modifier is only +6. Of course, a failed check results in a slip sometime during the rappel (the DM decides on the damage suffered). A character can rappel at a speed equal to his normal movement (120 feet per round for an unencumbered human). One other thing to bear in mind is that there must be a landing point at the end of the rope. Rappelling 60 feet down a 100-foot cliff means the character is either stranded at the end of the rope or, worse still, rappels right off the end and covers the last 40 feet much faster than he did the first 60!


Jumping Chance: Any character can attempt to make leaps (horizontal jumps) and springs (vertical jumps).

If the character has at least a 20-foot running start, he can Leap (broad jump) a distance of 2d6 feet, plus a number of feet equal to any damage adjustment from his Muscle score (thus a character with a Muscle of 18 can Leap 2d6+3 feet). With the same start, he can Spring vertically (high jump) 1d3 feet, plus his Muscle modifier (as above).

From a standing start, a character can Leap 1d6 feet, plus his Muscle modifier. And can make vertical Springs of only 1 foot, plus his Muscle modifier.

A character with the Jumping Non-weapon Proficiency adds one die to the distance he can leap or spring (i.e. he can make a running Leap of 3d6 feet or a vertical Spring of 2d3 feet). A character with the Athletics Non-weapon Proficiency uses the next larger die type (i.e. he can make a running Leap of 2d8 feet or a vertical Spring of 1d4 feet). A Barbarian adds his level to the distance of all Leaps, and half his level to the height of all Springs.

Non-weapon Proficiencies

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