I’ve talked about non-weapon proficiencies before, I toyed with the idea of spending 6 months doing something automatically qualifies one to add a bonus NWP, but I don’t think now that that is such a good idea. NWP indicate some kind of mastery. A person with horsemanship can do things with a horse that would be impossible by the normal layman, thus, six months really isn’t that long of a time to achieve mastery. Perhaps, with free NWP, the amount of slots required should be doubled. A guy who spends an amount of time which satisfies the DM, the Dungeon Master can award a point, or half a point depending on how you want to think about it.
Penalties are multiplied by four (x4) for folks who are not proficient in a specific skill, however if an expert is present, this improves ones chances of succeeding, penalties will only be doubled if a WIS check is successful. Half a point will give you a bonus, if no expert is present, you can make an attempt at x2, or if a professional is present, you will do your checks as if you yourself had the NWP.
Of course, this assumes that the NWP in question normally requires only 1 slot. If the NWP takes more, then this number is also doubled, and this skill cannot be attempted until you have at least half of the points required. Skills that do not require an ability check are completely open to the DM’s personal interpretation if they can be applied or not, even if an expert is present.
If, when a player wishes to spend a natural slot on a skill which he has been awarded a bonus Prof., he can either replace the prof. slot and eliminate the bonus point system, or use the bonuses to achieve true proficiency, which again, is open to the interpretation of the DM on a personal basis because not all NWP are treated the same & breaking them down simply makes this rule more difficult to use at the table.
BOOKS & YOUR CHARACTER
I am a reader, as I bet you that all players of D&D are. I collect many many books, and have learned much from them. Placing books in a personal living quarters tells a lot about the person who lives in the space. They also add color to the world in which you are describing. Naturally we don’t want to get over-board, giant libraries full of millions of books make a wonderful setting, but is this practical in a world which has no printing press?
I think that it is safe to assume that all books are written by hand. Any pictures or illustrations were completed by artists, and this makes them very expensive. A large hall full of books would indicate a very very wealthy (or brutal) owner. Books are treasure, even the non-magical variety. These books do qualify as Art Objects, books came in all shapes and sizes, from small pamplets to giant tomes which required 2-3 people to carry. They were encrusted with precious metals and jewels, and we can use this to determine what in fact is in these books.
Practical books are still worth a ton of money because they have been personally penned by a master. Books regarding topics such as mining, woodland survival, ancient history, or what-have-you, would provide a accurate picture of how to go about mastering these skills. Of course, this requires the user to know how to read.
How do we actually go about using this? Well, there are two ways. A person with a book can use the information within the book to perform the skills inside. Before this can be done, the players reading skill must be checked, if this is passed a wisdom check is in order. If any of these checks are failed, the DM has to decide how bad the effects will be. Perhaps it just means that the proficiency was failed, this can either have no effect or an adverse effect. If both checks are successful, the player can make the proficiency skill check, depending on the difficulty, it can have a penalty applied, again, up to the discretion of the DM.
The other way to use this is by allowing the player to use the book to give him the NWP once he’s earned a slot. This is assuming that the character is reading the book in his down time. This will save money on training, and it makes sense too. One of the most common complaints is the level up process in regards to NWP. One day the player wakes up and he suddenly knows everything about the weather! Granted, it isn’t totally realistic, but I think that it is a step in the right direction for folks who struggle with this logic.
Personally, I can see how this can come in handy to the Dungeon Master. If you are planning something which requires a specific skill, we can use books to perhaps put it into their hands. But books can provide more then just NWPs, through books we can really specialize our campaigns.
BOOKS HAS EVIDENCE
Through books, we can give the players hints at what is going on. Say they are going to delve deep into the forgotten temple of some long extinct civilization, selling them a book can help you give them facts which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to ascertain on their own, which in turn, can strengthen your story.
Legends also can be learned this way, of course the books won’t get it all right, but it will give hints. The ancient tale of King Edward slaying the dragon Ilnihtan, the dragon was an evil green dragon, and now the land and water appears to be poisoned once again, could this be related?
Vampires, ghosts, witches, any monster we can dream of may have a book which the characters can find, and these books will be full of superstitions, wards, weaknesses and strengths of the creatures.
It doesn’t take much of the stretch of the imagination to see the unexploited potential that books can have with just a little bit of cleverness. Of course books also present some problems. Clerics and Mages can obtain the Reading/Writing NWP for 1 slot, however Fighters and Rogues must spend 2 slots to obtain it, but I think that this really depends upon your milieu. A learned society would offer this proficiency to all of its people, especially many elven societies. One must ponder how literate the region is, perhaps in some higher cultures where learning is important, Reading and Writing would be a basic skill which would be free to those characters who hail from them.
We also must remember them when bad things happen. Books require great care, especially old books, which wizards and clerics would be seeking to obtain their NWP. Thankfully (depending on how you look at it), the DMG has a handy dandy saving throw chart for paper vs. all kinds of terrible conditions which adventurous souls put themselves and their property through. A fireball or submerging in grimy sewer sludge could easily destroy a book if the proper precautions are not taken, but as the old saying goes: The Dungeon Master Giveth, and the Dungeon Master Taketh Away.
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