Monday, May 7, 2012

Playing With Proficiencies in ACKS

Generic Adventuring Party
Our Party Has No Women or Hobbits
(That I Know Of ;)
I like to house rule.  That really isn't a secret.  The only difference is that 15 years away from the DM's chair has taught me to be organized right from the start of the campaign.  Notice I didn't use the phrase "more organized"?  Trust me, it wouldn't have applied back in the days of my gaming past.

It's kind funny, but when I read the Adventurer Conquerer Kings System rules the first couple of times, or at least did my usual chaotic flipping back and forth through the rule book style of reading, I never realized that proficiencies in the ACKS system do not get modified by a relevant ability score bonus (or penalty).  It wasn't until my players started making their characters that I realized this was not part of the rules.

Now, it could be that it isn't part of the rules because the assumption is you'll be rolling 3d6 for ability scores, and you'll be limiting the success of PCs that take proficiencies linked to abilities that give that particular character a penalty.  It could be the writers didn't want to stress the importance of ability score (which I don't see, as they certainly are an important bonus or penalty in combat).  If I'm going to run a campaign that is going to rely as much on "the role" as "the roll", this was something ripe for house ruling.

I didn't go through the list of proficiencies and assign relevant abilities to them.  Instead, as the use of the skill came up in game play, I suggested the ability that I felt was relevant and instructed the player to add their appropriate bonus or penalty to their roll.  If they thought another ability was just as relevant or more so, I would have been receptive to their line of thought if they could support it.  Of course, now that proficiencies such as Alchemy (Int) and Tracking (Int) have come into play, I'll need to make note of the decisions made.

As for the proficiencies themselves, I found the use of them strictly by the book was limiting.  I had no idea I would feel this way until the situations game up, but encouraging use of player skills and abilities outside the struck and limiting box of the written rules has always been an important part of play to me as a GM.

When the Elven Nightblade made his tracking roll, he wanted more than just direction of the tracks (direction was pretty useless in the limited mine they were investigating).  He was looking for relevant facts.  He rolled a decent success, and I explained the tracks were from a creature that apparently was reptilian, bipedal, with bare feet (clawed at that) with possible a slightly stooped gait when it moved.  I didn't spell out "troglodyte", but they were getting close.

When the Mage asked if he could use his Alchemy skill to inspect the especially stinky dung, as it might be component for a potion or such, that was exactly the types of skill use I want from my players.  I doubt that troglodyte dung is a common alchemical substance, but I am fairly sure it is a rare one, if not maybe even uncommon.  So I allowed the roll.  If he had just made it, I would have given him a vague answer, that coupled with other (previous) clues, may have allowed the party to reach the right conclusion.  But Greg aced his roll, and I told him exactly what it was.

So there we have it, a house rule we started the campaign with, and a house rule that came into play because it made sense for the type of game I like to run.

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