[Sword & Sanity Dissected] Skills

Heroes in sword & sorcery (S&S) adventures are highly skilled individuals, and this should be reflected in the player characters when playing in such a game. Below I will share how I handle Secondary Professions and Proficiencies in my current sword & sanity game.

The game mechanics discussed can be used for any edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but are specifically written for Castles & Crusades. As with most game materials I will present, this article is considered Open Game License (OGL).

Secondary Professions

When creating a character the player initially chooses a Primary Profession or Career Path, which is reflected in the character class they choose to pursue. In addition to their Primary Profession the player should also consider what their character’s Secondary Profession is going to be as well. This will help flesh out the character’s background, and the overall feel the player is trying to achieve.

It is not required, but if the player needs a reference then here is a list of possible professions:

  • Alchemist (make alchemical compounds, powders, potions)
  • Armorer (make, repair & evaluate armor and weapons)
  • Bowyer/Fletcher (make, repair, & evaluate bows and arrows)
  • Brewer (fire-building, herbalism, cooking)
  • Carpenter / Woodworker (carpentry, carving)
  • Cook (cooking, herbalism)
  • Farmer / Gardener (basic agriculture)
  • Fisher (swimming, nets, and small boat handling)
  • Forester (basic wood lore, lumbering)
  • Gambler (knowledge of gambling games)
  • Groom / Husbandman (animal handling)
  • Hunter (basic wood lore, butchering, basic tracking)
  • Jeweler / Lapidary (appraisal of gems and jewelry)
  • Leather worker / Tanner (skinning, tanning)
  • Limner/Painter (map making, appraisal of art objects)
  • Mason (stone-cutting)
  • Miner (stone-cutting, assaying)
  • Navigator (astronomy, sailing, swimming, navigation)
  • Sailor (sailing, swimming)
  • Scribe (reading, writing, basic math)
  • Shipwright (sailing, carpentry)
  • Tailor/Weaver (weaving, sewing, embroidery)
  • Teamster/Freighter (animal handling, wagon-repair)
  • Trader/Barterer (appraisal of common goods)
  • Trapper/Furrier (basic wood lore, skinning)
  • Weaponsmith (make, repair, & evaluate weapons)

Secondary Proficiencies

I am not a big fan of hard-and-fast skill lists. I prefer the approach that was taken in the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, where the players were allowed to purchase a number of Nonweapon Proficiencies that were for the most part broadly defined. I prefer to call them Secondary Proficiencies.

For my game, every character begins with 3 Secondary Proficiency slots, with an additional number of slots equal to the character’s Intelligence bonus. So a character with an Intelligence of 18 begins the game with 6 Secondary Proficiency slots (3 to begin with, and 3 more for INT). Also, to reflect the highly skilled nature of a S&S hero the characters gain an additional Secondary Proficiency slot every odd numbered level, so at 3rd level they gain an additional slot, and again at 5th level, and so on.

Secondary Proficiency Groups

Below is a list of Secondary Proficiencies broken up by character class group. The proficiencies listed under General are open for everyone to buy no matter the class. The remaining class groups have the allowed classes listed in parentheses next to the group name. I have not taken the time to define each proficiency, as time and space does not allow for it. For additional information on proficiencies I suggest referring to the AD&D 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook.

Proficiencies cost one slot to purchase, unless marked with an asterisk, which then doubles the cost. Additionally, it is possible to purchase a proficiency that is outside the scope of your character’s chosen class grouping simply by doubling the slot cost of the desired proficiency. For example, if a Druid wants to be proficient in Blind Fighting it will cost 4 Secondary Proficiency slots to purchase.

Finally, proficiencies can be purchased multiple times at the same cost for each slot. The main benefit of doing this is that each slot gained in a specific proficiency will add an additional +2 to any proficiency check that is required during gameplay. Listed next to each proficiency is the defining attribute for that proficiency, which is used when making proficiency checks.

General (All Classes)

  • Agriculture (INT)
  • Ambidexterity (DEX) * [+2 bonus / slot to offset any dual-wielding penalties until 0 is reached for each hand]
  • Animal Handling (WIS)
  • Animal Training (WIS)
  • Artistic Ability (WIS)
  • Blacksmithing (STR)
  • Brewing (INT)
  • Carpentry (STR)
  • Cobbling (DEX)
  • Cooking (INT)
  • Cryptography (INT) *
  • Dancing (DEX)
  • Direction Sense (WIS)
  • Etiquette (CHA)
  • Fire-building WIS)
  • Fishing (WIS)
  • Forbidden Lore (WIS) *
  • Heraldry (INT)
  • Hypnosis (CHA) *
  • Languages, Modern (INT)
  • Leatherworking (INT)
  • Mining (WIS)
  • Navigation (INT)
  • Pottery (DEX)
  • Riding, Airborne (WIS) *
  • Riding, Land-based (WIS)
  • Rope Use (DEX)
  • Seamanship (DEX)
  • Seamstress/Tailor (DEX)
  • Sensing the Unknown (CHA) [1st slot free / each additional slot costs 1]
  • Singing (CHA)
  • Sorcery (INT) *
  • Stonemasonry (STR)
  • Swimming (STR)
  • Weather Knowledge (WIS)
  • Weaving (INT)

Priest (Cleric, Druid, Monk & Paladin)

  • Ancient History (INT)
  • Astrology (WIS) *
  • Engineering (INT) *
  • Divination (WIS) *
  • Healing (WIS) *
  • Herbalism (INT) *
  • Languages, Ancient (INT)
  • Local History (CHA)
  • Musical Instrument (DEX)
  • Numerology (WIS) *
  • Reading/Writing (INT)
  • Religion (WIS)
  • Spellcraft (INT)

Rogue (Assassin, Bard, Monk & Rogue)

  • Ancient History (INT)
  • Appraising (INT)
  • Blind-fighting (WIS) *
  • Disguise (CHA)
  • Forgery (DEX)
  • Gaming (CHA)
  • Gem Cutting (DEX) *
  • Juggling (DEX)
  • Jumping (STR)
  • Local History (CHA)
  • Musical Instrument (DEX)
  • Reading Lips (INT) *
  • Set Snares (DEX)
  • Tightrope Walking (DEX)
  • Tumbling (DEX)
  • Ventriloquism (INT)

Warrior (Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Fighter, Knight, Ranger & Paladin)

  • Animal Lore (INT)
  • Armorer (INT) *
  • Blind-fighting (WIS) *
  • Bowyer/Fletcher (DEX)
  • Charioteering (DEX)
  • Endurance (CON) *
  • Gaming (CHA)
  • Hunting (WIS)
  • Mountaineering (DEX)
  • Navigation (INT)
  • Running (CON)
  • Set Snares (INT)
  • Survival (INT) *
  • Tracking (WIS) *
  • Weaponsmithing (INT) *

Wizard (Wizard & Illusionist)

  • Alchemy (INT) *
  • Ancient History (INT)
  • Astrology (WIS) *
  • Engineering (INT) *
  • Divination (WIS) *
  • Gem Cutting (DEX) *
  • Herbalism (INT) *
  • Languages, Ancient (INT)
  • Numerology (WIS) *
  • Reading/Writing (INT)
  • Religion (WIS)
  • Spellcraft (INT)

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