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Diving into AD&D's Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

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Pat:
I prefer the original version of the proficiency system in Oriental Adventures. It had a wider range of proficiencies than both the DSG and WSG combined, it was a lot easier to gain new proficiencies based on what happened during a campaign (it didn't distinguish between weapon and non-weapon proficiencies, so they were acquired more gradually and could be used for either, instead of clumping weirdly), the lack of a class tax allowed more character concepts, they weren't tied to ability scores, and those who were proficient automatically succeeded (the roll only determined whether it was a regular or a superior success).

Svenhelgrim:
At the time, I loved having the NWP’s to flesh out a character and give it more options.  But as time wore on, the chance to perform tyese skills were too static.  Not sure how it was in 1e, but in 2e you could improve your change to succeed by “1”…or you could choose another non-weapon proficiency, and if you had a high stat, you could be an expert at that “skill” despite having never performed or had any training in that skill before you took it.

One example that comes to mind is the “Riding” skill (I am going by memory here so the names of these NWP’s might be a little off). 

A horse nomad barbarian at level 1 gets Riding NWP.  Has a wisdom of 10, basically has to roll a 10 or lower to do his riding thing. As he levels up he can make his riding an 11 or lower, or choose an entire new skill.

Now the cleric, who grew up in a cloister and never rode a horse before gets his new NWP and chooses “riding”.  Since his wisdom is a 16 he is now a better horseman than our horse nomad barbarian who grew up riding horses.

The rules were full of glaring inconsistencies like this.  Having a skill syestem was a long-awaited mechanic, but they botched it. 

Now in 5e we have the opposite problem where Billy the Hun can make an Arcana check to decipher the magical runes and if he rolls high enough he can read what the wizard could not (because the wizard rolled a 1 on his check). 

Don’t even get me started on the “social” skills like Diplomacy, and Intimidate.  People treat them like they are mind control…

…but I digress…

The rest of the Wilderness Survival Guide was great, offering all sorts of Man-vs.-Nature challenges.

DM_Curt:
The thing I took away from WSG when I first encountered it back in Nineteen Eighty....mumble mumble, Damn I'm old, was that there were things in D&D that could kill or hinder you, but you had to solve them in ways other than killing them back, other than dungeon traps.
To this day, I feel that environmental effects are an important aspect of a game, either to bring home the feel of the story, or to make combat more interesting.

HappyDaze:

--- Quote from: DM_Curt on October 19, 2021, 11:13:31 AM ---The thing I took away from WSG when I first encountered it back in Nineteen Eighty....mumble mumble, Damn I'm old, was that there were things in D&D that could kill or hinder you, but you had to solve them in ways other than killing them back, other than dungeon traps.
To this day, I feel that environmental effects are an important aspect of a game, either to bring home the feel of the story, or to make combat more interesting.

--- End quote ---
I wish they had carried more of that over to 5e. The exploration pillar is pretty weak compared to combat and could use some help. Of course, in 5e, anything that doesn’t kill you can generally be wiped away after a long rest, so the only way to make the environment hazardous is to use the exhaustion rules (which are not generally thought to be well made).

Pat:

--- Quote from: Svenhelgrim on October 19, 2021, 09:12:05 AM ---At the time, I loved having the NWP’s to flesh out a character and give it more options.  But as time wore on, the chance to perform tyese skills were too static.  Not sure how it was in 1e, but in 2e you could improve your change to succeed by “1”…or you could choose another non-weapon proficiency, and if you had a high stat, you could be an expert at that “skill” despite having never performed or had any training in that skill before you took it.

--- End quote ---
Each new slot is +2 in the DSG and WSG. But even with the doubled bonus, getting a new slot every 3 or 4 levels means natural talent (the ability score) is far more important than skill (the number of slots used). That's why I prefer the OA approach, where proficiencies are detached from ability scores (there's a fixed target number for each proficiency, instead of rolling against a stat), and it's assumed anyone with the skill is competent, and automatically succeeds (only roll if it's important to distinguish between a normal or superior success).

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