Caving and Mapping Proficiencies

I’m not seeing a big enough difference between these two proficiencies to warrant them being separate. Can someone please illuminate me?

In fact, my reading of the Mapping proficiency suggests that it includes everything that one could do with Caving, plus the ability to draw a map. Since both are General proficiencies, why would one ever select Caving?

Both contain an eidetic memory component. One allows you to make maps. It’s not as if someone with Caving couldn’t simply draw from memory on the ground, so it seems silly that they wouldn’t also be able to make a map on parchment.

I’m also thrown by the idea that those with Caving can only memorize their route and the features of underground caves, cavern complexes, and rivers, but not smoothly hewn rooms, chambers, and corridors. It really doesn’t make sense the way that I’m thinking about it, which I admit, is likely totally wrong.

Why not simply have one proficiency to handle both since they seem so similar?

Malo Monkey,
It’s less about “dungeon” v. “cave” and more about functional versus spatial.

Caving allows the character to remember functional routes. The “map in your head” is a step-by-step navigation akin to Google Maps. So it’s helpful in guiding you to a location in functional terms - such as how far and in what direction it took to get to a destination from some other place. It’s not helpful in giving you that place’s spatial relationship to other points.

“Take the large tunnel about 100 paces, then turn leftish at the carved boulder. From there we go about 60 paces, and take the side tunnel to the chimney…”

Mapping allows the character to draw pictorial maps. The ability to read, let alone draw, pictorial maps was a rare skill in Antiquity.

As one source wrote, “maps are a distinct information system from written information. Most people today have little trouble converting locational descriptions into planar systems but this wasn’t necessarily as intuitive for people who rarely used the concept… Ancient travelers used distance and reckoning. They had the ancient equivalent of the steps you get from Google Maps when asking for directions. The Roman road network was a big help in this regard. When at sea, traders had lists of ports, how far away, and what you could expect to find there. However, it was quite rare for someone to have a pictorial representation of this information.”

I hope that helps clarify the difference! You could certainly collapse the two proficiencies into one, or rename “caving” to “underground navigation” if that helps clarify the difference.

Caving (G): The character has learned to keep a map in his head of where he is when exploring underground caves, cavern complexes, and rivers. On a proficiency throw of 11+, the character with this proficiency will be able to automatically know the route he has taken to get where he is, if he was conscious at the time.

Mapping (G): The character can understand and make maps, even if he cannot read or write. With a proficiency throw of 11+, the character can interpret or draft complicated layouts or map an area by memory. This proficiency can be selected multiple times.

Alex, thank you as always. That does clarify things a great deal.

Great! Cheers.

So, out of curiosity… how do you enforce this in play? A common result from the magic item table is a treasure map. Is this a treasure that you require the mapping proficiency to be able to use? Do you require literacy our the mapping proficiency?

When going into a dungeon, do characters need this proficiency to be able to map, or only to be able to map from memory? I tend to think of mapping as covered by the adventuring proficiency, and to be a player side thing, but this harsher reading would make this go from a rare proficiency to a crucial one. Is it only needed by the illiterate (low int) characters if they want to map?

In actual play, I allow any player to draw maps. But if the character has Mapping proficiency, I will assist them in making the map - providing more accurate lengths and widths, letting them know if they’ve made a blatant mistake, sketching the area out on a battlemap so they can copy it, etc.

It’s much harder to map when the Judge says “the room is roughly oval and about 50’ wide and maybe 30’ deep” versus drawing a shape on a battlemap for them.

I go a step further. One of the player has a Craftpriest henchman with both Mapping and Caving. He doesn’t add much to fights, but he very good at keeping up with the mapping. I update both the overland and dungeon maps after every session (we play online, so it works better that way).

Bad news is, he died at the end of last session from giant squid overdose. :slight_smile: So now they have three options: get him raised (luckily, they’re only a day away from a city with a friendly priest to help them with that), find someone else (that would be tough), or do it themselves (that might be a gong show, lol).