Monday, 16 April 2012

N is for Non-weapon Proficiencies: Hitting the Trail with the Wilderness Survival Guide

"WSG gets proficiency checks right, correcting a major DSG error". So said Carl Sargent in White Dwarf 85.

It is an interesting point. I wasn't overwhelmed by the DSG non-weapon proficiencies.

But I have to confess I am struggling to find the difference, or at least see why the WSG is better than the DSG.

The DSG states "Under normal conditions, there is no chance of failure involved when characters attempt to use most nonweapon proficiencies... A Proficiency Check for use of a proficiency is necessary in two cases: to determine if the specific task is performed within a given set of limitations [time pressure, inadequate resources], or to gauge the quality of a piece of work when such an evaluation is desired."

This sounds pretty good to me.

Compared to WSG "Unlike a weapon proficiency, the possession of a nonweapon proficiency does not always mean that the character can realise the benefits of having a certain skill"

Mechanism in WSG is: d20 roll against proficiency using one of the six ability scores as the base, 19-20 automatic fail (exceptions exist).

Wilderness Proficiencies on offer (some of the 25 anyway):
Alertness - surprise only on 1, first make prof check against wisdom at +1 penalty
Animal Handling, Lore
Direction sense
Fire building
Healing - same as DSG able to give 1d3 hit points back to wounded character if character tended within 1 round, increase healing per day if healer in party, and if can tend character in same round as poisoned +2 to save. Additionally in WSG, healer can treat diseases.
Plant Lore
Riding, airborne - gain some flying feats to impress the ladies with
Riding, land-based - as above, but on the ground - vault into a saddle, urge mount to jump obstacles, spur mount onto greater speeds, leap from the back of mount and make a melee attack at +4
Running - sprinting or distance options
Survival in cold and heat, desert
Tracking at half chance as ranger
Weather sense

So any idea what was right and what was wrong in the Survival Guides, when it came to proficiencies?


  1. For one, the way the DSG is written, you get worse at a proficiency the more you improve it. "The player rolls ld20 and compares the result to the character’s ability score in the area listed for that proficiency. In many cases, a proficiency will be listed with an Ability Check modifier (see the specific proficiencies). This is a die roll modifier. Thus, a +3 makes a d20 roll of 12 equal to a 15. In addition, as a character uses additional proficiency slots to improve a given proficiency (instead of adding a new one), the proficiency die roll modifier is increased by 2 for each additional slot." Also, if you roll a 3 or less, you fail. For a proficiency with no modifier and a base ability of 10, that's a 35% chance of success.

  2. Weapon proficiencys make my brain bleed, so I can't help you there.

    On the other hand, passing through on the A-Z trail, I'm happy to meet you.


    1. Bit freaky. Searching for non weapon proficiencies and find you...

  3. Thanks Talysman, got it now.
    And thanks for stopping by Amanda.

    1. As I wrote in my own post, I never noticed it, either, until I went back and looked for a possible difference. i think the reviewer's comment was pretty justified.