Weapon Proficiency Options

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A character must have a Proficiency with a weapon to use it normally. To become proficient, the character “spends” one of the Weapon Proficiency Slots he has on that weapon. Each slot can buy proficiency with one weapon. If he uses a weapon he’s not proficient in, he suffers an attack penalty: –2 for weapons which are completely unfamiliar, or –1 for weapons that share a group with those for which he already has proficiency. (That penalty is worse for non-Warriors.)

Class Group Non-proficient Familiar
Warrior –2 –1
Wizard –5 –3
Priest –3 –2
Rogue –3 –2
Psionicist –4 –2
Nonclassed NPCs –4 –2

Group Proficiency

Many weapons are very similar in construction and techniques of use; for example, using a bastard sword with one hand is not too much different from using a long sword. Both weapons are heavy, two-edged blades that rely on slashing or chopping strokes to cut through armor. All weapons are categorized in tight groups, which are further organized into broad groups. The particular group a weapon belongs to is noted on the Weapons page.

Tight groups serve two functions in game play. First of all, all weapons in a tight group are considered to be related to each other. A character who is proficient in one weapon belonging to a tight group is automatically familiar with the other weapons of that tight group and has a reduced penalty for non-proficiency when using them.

Second, characters can learn to use all weapons in a tight group with a weapon group proficiency. Weapon group proficiencies cost two slots, but may include a number of weapons. For example, a character could use a weapon group proficiency to gain proficiency in crossbows; by spending two slots, he actually gains proficiency in four different weapons.
Some tight weapon groups are further organized into broad groups. For example, the tight groups of Axes, Picks, Clubbing Weapons are all part of the Cleaving/Crushing Weapons broad group. Proficiency in all of the weapons of a broad weapon group can be learned for three proficiency slots.

A full list of available weapon groups can be found under: Weapons.

Although it is possible to become proficient in an entire group of weapons, this doesn’t mean a character can specialize in an entire group of weapons.

As before, each weapon specialization costs one Weapon Proficiency Slot in a weapon the character is already proficient in. A character can’t pay two points to be proficient in the Fencing Blades group and then another two to specialize in the same group: He’d have to take one-slot Specializations individually for Dagger, Stiletto, Main-gauche, Rapier, and Sabre.

Let’s say a character wants to know how to use every type of blade ever made…but he wants to be especially good with the Long Sword. As a first-level Warrior, he receives four Weapon Proficiency Slots to start with. He spends three to take Proficiency with the entire Blades broad group, and spends his fourth to specialize in Long Sword. He has his wish: He can pick up and use any blade weapon without penalty, but is particularly adept with the Long Sword.


To specialize in a particular weapon, the character must devote an extra weapon proficiency slot to it. Only Warriors (including multi-class warriors) may gain weapon specialization.

Specializing in a melee weapon provides a character with two main benefits: first of all, he gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls and a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon; secondly, he gains an extra attack once per two rounds. A 1st-level fighter normally attacks once per round, but a 1st-level long sword specialist attacks three times per two rounds.

Characters who specialize in a ranged weapon (including slings and thrown weapons), gain an increased rate of fire with these weapons and a +1 bonus to attack rolls. If a character specializes in a weapon that can be used either for melee or as a missile weapon (spears, daggers, hand axes, etc.), he gains the melee benefit described above when using the weapon for hand-to-hand combat and the increased rate of fire for using the weapon for ranged attacks.

Characters who specialize in a bow or crossbow gain a +1 bonus to hit at any range (normal range penalties still apply, of course), an increased rate of fire, and a new range category: point-blank. Point-blank range is 30 feet for bows or 60 feet for crossbows. At point-blank range, the character gains a +2 to damage. Note that even with specialization, an archer cannot shoot at a target within melee range of him.

Specialist Attacks per Round

Weapon 1st-6th level 7th-12th level Level 13+
Melee Weapons 3/2 2/1 5/2
Blowgun 2/1 5/2 3/1
Bolas 1/1 3/2 2/1
Bows 2/1 3/1 4/1
Hand/Light Crossbow 1/1 3/2 2/1
Heavy Crossbow 1/2 1/1 3/2
Cho Ku No 2/1 5/2 3/1
Thrown Dagger/Knife 3/1 4/1 5/1
Thrown Dart 4/1 5/1 6/1
Arquebus 1/3 1/2 1/1
Javelin 3/2 2/1 5/2
Sling 3/2 2/1 5/2
Staff Sling 2/1 5/2 3/1
Shuriken 3/1 4/1 5/1
Other Thrown Weapons 1/1 3/2 2/1


There are swordsmen, and then there are swordsmen. A warrior who devotes his life to the study of martial combat and the characteristics of a single type of weapon can become a weapon master—a fighter whose precision, quickness, and skill are virtually unequaled anywhere.

Weapon masters are rare characters. Only single-classed fighters can ever achieve weapon mastery, and even then they do so with time, study, and sacrifice. To achieve mastery in a weapon, a character must first specialize in the use of that weapon. Then, at any time after he reaches 5th level, he can spend another proficiency slot to become a weapon master. He can continue to devote proficiency slots to the study of his chosen weapon, but can’t progress faster than the rate at which he gains new weapon proficiency slots.

If a fighter spends another proficiency slot on a melee weapon he already specializes in, his attack and damage bonuses both increase to +3.

For ranged weapons the attack bonus at all range categories increases to +2. For bows and crossbows, his point-blank bonuses increase to +3 as with melee weapons. (Remember, this bonus doesn’t take range modifiers into account, so the archer has a total of +2 at short, +0 at medium, and –3 at long range, if the penalties are factored in.)

High Master
By spending a second slot on mastery (for a total of 4 slots), a character can become a high master. High masters increase the speed factor of their chosen weapon by 2; for example, a dagger would have a speed category of 0. High masters also score critical hits on rolls that beat the AC of their target by 3 or higher (rather than 5 or higher).

High masters who specialize in bows, crossbows, slings, or firearms gain a new range category: extreme range. For all weapons, extreme range is 1/3 farther than long range. Extreme range shots have a –10 penalty to hit before adjustments are made for the effects of mastery.

Grand Master
High masters who spend one more slot (for a total of 5) on learning their weapon of choice can become grand masters. Grand masters gain one additional attack per round above and beyond a specialist’s rate of attacks for their level. Grand masters also increase the amount of damage. The weapon’s base damage dieis increased to the next greater die size against all opponents. A long sword thus inflicts 1d10/1d20 points of damage in the hands of a grand master. If the weapon causes multiple dice of damage, all of them are increased. Thus, a two-handed sword in the hands of a grand master inflicts 3d8 points of damage on large targets. Needless to say, grand masters are extremely dangerous opponents.


All characters are presumed to be better with one hand than the other—in real life, most people are right-handed, quite a few are left-handed, and only a very few are truly ambidextrous. When a character is first created, the player should specify his handedness (right or left). If he does not specify one, the DM should assume the character is right-handed.

If a character, for whatever reason, fights with his off-hand instead of his good hand, he suffers a –2 penalty to attack rolls with all attacks. For example, should a character find himself with his right hand chained to a wall, and yet he needs to draw and throw a dagger and must use his off-hand, he’ll then suffer the –2 penalty to attack rolls.

If a player wants his character to be ambidextrous, he must devote one weapon proficiency to Ambidexterity. If he does so, he’ll be able to fight normally with both hands, and will be equally adept at non-combat tasks with both hands.

This doesn’t give him two attacks per round. It just means that if he loses the use of one hand, or drops the weapon in that hand, he’ll be equally adept with the other.

Unarmed Combat

Though everyone has a certain knowledge of punching and wrestling, so that everyone can be considered to have a “weapon proficiency”, you can Specialize in either of the two techniques. To Specialize, you must devote a weapon proficiency slot to the technique. Any character of any class can Specialize in Punching or Wrestling (or Martial Arts, described later), but only a Single-class Warrior or Monk may ever specialize in more than one of these techniques. Fighting style specializations (i.e., Single-Weapon, Two-Hander, etc.) do not grant any bonuses to Punching, Wrestling, or Martial Arts combat. They’re of use only to combat with melee weapons.

Punching or Martial Arts: If a character spends one Weapon Proficiency on Punching or Martial Arts Specialization gains the following benefits:

  • He gains a +1 bonus to all his attack rolls when punching;
  • He gains a +1 bonus to all damage when punching;
  • He gains a +1 chart bonus with all punching attacks;
  • He gains one additional punching attack per combat round (both hands must be free, holding nothing, for the character to gain this benefit).

The chart bonus is a reflection of the character’s superior accuracy with punching. When the character successfully hits, the roll itself determines which maneuver was made (see the chart under the Unarmed Combat page). But on a successful hit, the punching specialist can modify that result. If he has a chart bonus of +1, he can choose the maneuver one higher or one lower on the chart.

Wrestling: If a character spends one Weapon Proficiency Slot on Wrestling Specialization he gains the following benefits:

  • He gains a +1 bonus to all his attack rolls with Wrestling;
  • He gains a +1 bonus to all damage with Wrestling (that is, all his maneuvers will do 2 points of damage plus his Strength bonus, and continued holds cause cumulatively 1 more point of damage for each round they are held);
  • He gains a +1 chart bonus with all Wrestling attacks (see punching above);
  • He gains a +2 to Strength, only for maintaining a wrestling hold (i.e., a Strength 15 character rolls against Strength 17 when maintaining a wrestling hold, but only for that purpose).

Continuing Specialization: This is an option that is only available to single-class Warriors or Monks (or Warrior/Monks). If the warrior continues to devote Weapon Proficiency slots to an unarmed combat style after he is already specializing in it, he gets the following benefits.
For each additional slot devoted to his art:

  • He gains a +1 bonus to all his attack rolls with his combat style;
  • He gains a +1 bonus to all damage with his combat style; and
  • He gains a +1 chart bonus with all attacks in that combat style. With chart bonuses of +2 or more, the character can choose any maneuver within the range of maneuvers covered by his chart bonus.

A character (even a warrior or monk), may not spend more than 1 proficiency slot for specialization at any given level. Thus, a 1st-level character may not gain more than a +1 specialization bonus.

Weapon Proficiency Options

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