Back in the Saddle - NWPs

The following system allows all characters to choose proficiencies of their liking, while still rewarding (or penalizing) those characters with exceptional relevant ability scores.

Characters begin adventuring with the standard number of proficiencies. This number is determined as per Table 34 in the Player’s Handbook. This may be increased (at the DM’s option) by the amount in the “# of Languages” column of the Intelligence Table (PHB Table 4). Any proficiency may be chosen, but if it is outside of a character’s normal Proficiency Group (Table 38), a penalty must be paid equal to one proficiency slot. Furthermore, if players wish, their characters may choose to specialize in a proficiency (see below).

Proficiency Checks

d20 + Ability Modifier + Check Modifier + Experience Modifier +/- Difficulty Modifier compared to the following table:
If a character tries a proficiency for which they haven't allocated any slots they roll a d10 instead of a d20.

Score Result
0 or less Mishap
1 to 5 Failure
6 to 10 Partial Success
11 to 19 Success
20 or more Success Plus

Mishap = The attempted action fails miserably, causing a mishap of some sort: injury, accident, damage to equipment or property, etc.

Failure = The attempted action fails to achieve the desired result.

Success = The attempted action achieves the desired result.

Success Plus = The attempted action is successful, and achieves the most desireable result.

The first modifier is based upon the proficiency’s relevant ability (RA) score. While this system deemphasizes the dependence of proficiencies on ability scores, it still stands to reason that characters with exceptional abilities should receive higher (or lower, as the case may be) chances of using a specific skill. To determine these modifiers refer to the following table.


The second modifier that may be used to adjust the die roll is the check modifier listed for each proficiency (PHB Table 37). If the DM chooses to use this modifier, it represents the intrinsic difficulty or simplicity of a skill or proficiency. For example, mining is always a tricky proposition, hence the -3 penalty. Reading and writing, on the other hand, is a fairly simple task once the skill is acquired and therefore bears a +1 bonus.

The third modifier is the experience modifier. This reflects the progression of a character’s skill as he learns the tricks of the trade. For PCs, this amounts to receiving a single +1 bonus that may be applied to any one proficiency each time a character gains an experience level. For example, after going through three levels, that dwarven fighter (who runs a mine in the adventuring off-season) would be able to run his mining check with no penalty due to his experience.

The player must choose which proficiency will be modified upon gaining the new level. Unlike proficiency slots, experience modifiers may not be saved from level to level. If they are not used, they are lost.

The player may select any of the character’s proficiencies, though ideally it should be a proficiency which was actively used at some time while earning the new level. The only restriction on this choice is that a newly acquired proficiency cannot be chosen. For example, upon gaining third level, a fighter gains both a weapon and nonweapon proficiency in addition to a +1 experience modifier. Desiring to gain some long-range attacking ability, he chooses a short bow for his new weapon proficiency, and the bowyer/ fletcher nonweapon proficiency. At this point, however, the fighter cannot apply the experience modifier to his bowyer/ fletcher ability, as this is a newly acquired skill he has yet to exercise. Later experience modifiers may be applied upon gaining subsequent levels.

NWP Specialization
Like warriors with their favorite weapons, characters may choose to concentrate their studies in a specific area and increase their skills in that field. Unlike weapon specialization, however, any character may specialize in any nonweapon proficiency, regardless of their class. This assumes, of course, characters pay their initial penalty slot for NWPs outside their proficiency group. Note also that characters may choose to specialize in more than one proficiency, and may specialize more than once in the same proficiency.

To specialize, a character need only to “buy” the proficiency a second time. An NWP normally costing two proficiency slots costs another two proficiency slots to specialize. Note that if characters choose to specialize in a proficiency outside of their Proficiency Group, they need not pay the penalty slot again. Once a character has learned the fundamentals of a proficiency, he may always work to refine those skills without penalty.

Specializing in a proficiency increases that skill’s base proficiency score. The first specialization gives an additional experience bonus of +2. Should the DM allow it, characters may opt to continue to specialize. A second specialization would further raise that experience modifier by an additional +2. Subsequent specializations would only result in an increase of one to the BP score, making such endeavors impractical in most cases.

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