[Where I read] The Complete Bard's Handbook and The Complete Thief's Handbook

Jinx999

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Boating is basically the smuggler's skill. However, looking at the skill list, I can't help but wonder how many Skill Slots you got in 2nd Edition, because there's a lot of basic stuff there.
 

Crowqueen

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Boating is basically the smuggler's skill. However, looking at the skill list, I can't help but wonder how many Skill Slots you got in 2nd Edition, because there's a lot of basic stuff there.
Very few. On the other hand, there's no concept of improving on these proficiencies; you either have them or you don't, and since they are hard-coded into ability checks rather than rolls against a difficulty class, they are basically static; you can do it or you can't, and as long as the attribute is high enough the probability of success is almost at the 'taken for granted' level. (Although with the Astrology proficiency, and doubtless with others, rolling a 20 results in a wildly inaccurate prediction or other flavoursome failure.) So limited slots doesn't necessarily amount to curtailing what your character can do as much as they make it an 'all or nothing' proposal.

The alternative to this system is either randomly roll to see what your character's professional background was or 'go look it up in a library/on Wikipedia and if you can find out how to do something, [e.g. build a siege tower or make herbal remedies] then you can do it'. Interesting approach, but probably going to hold the game up a bit where a single roll will determine the outcome of an event. I think the 2e NWP system was, as written in the PHB, much less of a skill system and more a bit of background knowledge to flesh out your character, and this is an attempt to make proficiencies a little more useful within adventures.

Also remember that many kits get bonus proficiencies. My Mystic mage learned how to cast horoscopes and acquired religious knowledge for free, before I started spending my proficiency slots, because it fits the otherworldly, sagacious nature of the class (he's basically an arcane rather than religious guru). So a smuggler or mariner kit (there is actually a Mariner class in Dragonlance which is a fighter/thief hybrid) should get Boating for free, freeing up actual slots for other skills. My impression is that 3e replaced kits with prestige classes (Pathfinder has gone back to the kit idea with Archetypes) and free proficiencies simply become class abilities. So a 3e Mystic might have some sort of minor non-magical divinatory power given to him at first level rather than being given or forced to spend points in Profession: Astrologer.

In 2e, to be honest, I would expect to be ruling as DM that a character can dabble without a skill slot for some basic skills most adventurers should know or learn to do on the job, such as rowing a boat. But a really skilled mariner would get to do the skilled manoeuvring of boats, know the tides, rocks and currents of at least their local area, and where the best landing places are, and should be spending proficiency points to learn that particular skill.
 
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Leonaru

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In 2e, to be honest, I would expect to be ruling as DM that a character can dabble without a skill slot for some basic skills most adventurers should know or learn to do on the job, such as rowing a boat. But a really skilled mariner would get to do the skilled manoeuvring of boats, know the tides, rocks and currents of at least their local area, and where the best landing places are, and should be spending proficiency points to learn that particular skill.
This. I handle them like the thief skill. If the thief is just trying to get past a sleeping guard, he simply succeeds automatically. An alarmed guard, on the other hand, requires a check. The same goes for proficiencies; a smuggler only makes a check if teh weather is bad etc.
 

CaliberX

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I know 2e's proficiency system had a lot of issues, but after dealing with the ocean of feat-bloat that afflicted both 3.x and 4e, and after seeing 5e's struggle with getting a sensible skill system together, I wonder if some means of cobbling together the concepts the feats and skills are supposed to represent into something akin to 2e's proficiency system might not be the way to go. More OT, my 2e days largely saw proficiencies of the non-weapon variety ignored, so these sections were largely skipped over. Shame they weren't something I was interested in exploring back then.
 

Crowqueen

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I know 2e's proficiency system had a lot of issues, but after dealing with the ocean of feat-bloat that afflicted both 3.x and 4e, and after seeing 5e's struggle with getting a sensible skill system together, I wonder if some means of cobbling together the concepts the feats and skills are supposed to represent into something akin to 2e's proficiency system might not be the way to go. More OT, my 2e days largely saw proficiencies of the non-weapon variety ignored, so these sections were largely skipped over. Shame they weren't something I was interested in exploring back then.
Feats are something that confuse me and I often either take ones that grant passive bonuses (such as Endurance) or simple, easy-to-remember actions like Cleave in 3.5 or Vital Strike in PF. But I'm not sure feats are under discussion here. NWPs are more like skills than feats.

When rolling up the character for our new game, I was certainly looking at NWPs as skills rather than background details. I took ones that would give me boosts to knowledges such as Spellcraft and History, and made a cute attempt to use Astrology to divine our fortunes going into Castle Greyhawk (just to give the mage something to do at a low-level). For 3.X I think a lot of the skills can be useful, but I'd agree, the system is far too complicated, and needed the slight simplification that PF gave it. But then again, I'm OK with the concept, certainly over someone going away and having to do independent research on how their character might build a siege engine.

The thing with 2e is that it made the assumption that there was going to be a lot more role-playing than other editions of D&D. (Not saying you can't RP with other editions, just that 2e put especial emphasis on it.) I was flicking through the Horde box set for the Forgotten Realms this morning, and there's a lot of role-playing ideas in there but few actual game stats, probably assuming the owner also has the Oriental Adventures book/box-set. So although this is a prototype of the 3.X system, the assumptions of 2e still lean towards using these skills as flavour for the character rather than making it a comprehensive and particularly relevant dungeoneering system. But this is, as I said, a step towards such an idea.

And my players do enjoy messing about with their NWPs. The minotaur in my Dragonlance game, a pre-gen listed as having the Armourer profession after growing up as a blacksmith tasked with the standard fantasy 'impossible quests' by the father of the cow he fell in love with (I love minotaurs...), stopped the first night at a hunting lodge to bodge together a suit of new armour out of some human-sized suits of studded leather. He aced his proficiency check, so I let him have it as an effective piece of armour :D. Give people new toys to play with and they'll play.
 

DoctorDogGirl

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What follows next in our collection of skull-duggery suggestions is an explanation of what NWP various Demihuman races can take. Nothing really surprising here, other than Dwarves are pathologically incapable of boating. Then there's explanations of what Kits are, how you can only take a Kit at the start of a game, and so on.

Anywho, here's our first Kit.

Sadly, we got the same basic archetype in the CBH.

Description: Acrobats are related to bards, as both ostensibly have the profession of entertaining others.
See!

Some would say they do this to avoid "real" work. And both characters are wont to support themselves by unorthodox means when there's a slump in their "regular" business.
Dick Grayson wants to stomp a mudhole on you!

Because of the physical demands of their vocation, Acrobats must have minimum
scores of 12 in Strength and 14 in Dexterity.
Robin is a dangerous-dangerous man.

Role: Even Acrobats who are not inclined toward larcenous behavior are rarely looked up to by the rest of their society. People who become Acrobats or actors often were born into the middle class, though their status actually becomes lower. The middle class delights most in the entertainments. The lower classes are usually too busy struggling to survive, and may be tied to their land or profession in the manner of serfs.
I'd question the issue of the Middle Class as Carnival Folk are a class all their own.

The nobility and wealthy people are "above" the crude entertainment of the crowd; and even if they might see a circus on occasion, it would be socially impermissible to join it. Except in unusual circumstances, then, Acrobats will come from the middle class. A player character might be different, if a player wishes, but he will need a plausible explanation of the situation. Because of the social disgrace, it is likely that any entertainer from wealthy or noble class will be disowned.
Running away to join the Circus *IS* one way of escaping an unwanted marriage.

But then, many people who seek employment as entertainers didn't leave their previous lives out of choice, anyway. A noble-born Acrobat was probably disowned (or worse) before he took up that profession, and might even have assumed a new identity.Acrobats from other backgrounds may have histories, too —things to hide, and enemies to fear. One thing they like about the circus is that nobody presumes to remove anyone else's mask or make-up.
Wow, they're really obsessed with the disowning part. Of course, I always enjoyed the character of Dandelion from the Witcher series who is *SPOILER* an extremely high-ranking nobleman but who gives two **** and becomes a bard.

The circus may indeed get its own history. Run by a competent swindler, a circus may make piles of money from gullible spectators. It could bring in even more by having its own Cutpurses, who are permitted to work the crowds so long as they give a percentage of their take to the circus management.
Wow, they just love the stereotypes around here don't they.

Acrobats are almost always wanderers. A small town quickly tires of its entertainers, so they must move on to the next, where their tricks and displays may be considered new and impressive.
The exception, of course, is the Acrobat from the D&D cartoon. She was the Monk, though.

Sheila was the Thief (And strangely resembles my idea of a young Imoen).



Nonweapon Proficiencies: Required: None. Recommended: Alertness, Disguise, Fast-Talking, Juggling, Musical Instrument, Riding, Rope Use, Ventriloquism.
Obviously, Tumbling didn't exist yet.

Skill Progression: Among the basic thieves' skills, climbing walls is the one most applicable to the Acrobat's overt profession. Their lightness of step leads to excellence in moving silently, so this skill also is likely to improve rapidly. Finally, many an Acrobat supplements his circus income by picking the pockets of the audience when he is not actually performing.
I wonder if Rope Use would cover Tightrope Walking in this universe.

Equipment: In order to make use of their Acrobatic skills, Acrobats favor the least and lightest equipment possible. If the optional encumbrance rules (Player's Handbook, pp. 76-79) are used, Acrobats should not be permitted more than light encumbrance. Acrobats may encumber themselves more in special situations (e.g., carrying a wounded comrade to safety, hauling a great hoard of treasure), but they will invariably seek to divest themselves of the excess weight at the first opportunity.
I'm tempted to say, "No shit, Sherlock." Then I remembered all of the stuff I tried to get past MY Gamemaster.

Special Benefits: The abilities of jumping, tumbling, and tightrope walking are so crucial to this kit that the Acrobat should be able to have them as special abilities even if the DM has chosen not to use the nonweapon proficiency system. Further, because of their intense training with these skills, Acrobats should get a bonus of +1 whenever a proficiency check is required. This bonus is +2 if the Acrobat is wearing no armor (and, under the optional encumbrance rules, is unencumbered).
This is some lazy-ass game design here.

Races: The shorter races—halflings, gnomes, and particularly dwarves—often have difficulty with Acrobatic feats, on account of their body size and build. Dwarves, in addition, rarely have a temperament that would endear them to a circus show; though one can easily imagine cheerful halflings and mischievous gnomes entertaining a crowd. Dwarf characters, then, ought not to take this kit. Halflings and gnomes may, if they so desire, but they do not gain the bonuses listed under "Special Benefits" for jumping and tightrope walking. (They do receive the tumbling bonus.)
This is just Dwarf prejudice! You're preaching hate, man!
 
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Thanos6

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I could easily see a Dwarf acrobat who's popular with the crowds because you can't imagine a Dwarf normally doing all this stuff. The humor arises from the concept of a serious person doing silly stuff while remaining totally serious. Like Batman doing gardening.
 

Jinx999

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I could easily imagine Dwarf acrobatics involves a lot of rolls and ground moves instead of leaps and poses. It might even resemble break-dancing.
 

ChariotDriver

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Boating is basically the smuggler's skill. However, looking at the skill list, I can't help but wonder how many Skill Slots you got in 2nd Edition, because there's a lot of basic stuff there.
Classes had three or four NWPs to start, and gained another every three levels (actually, I think Thieves and Bards might have been every four levels). Optionally you could get more NWPs for high Intelligence. Kits vary a lot in terms of granting NWPs, iirc there was one which gave five and others that gave none at all.
 
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