Proficiency questions for new player

I apologize if these are so obvious they shouldn't need to be asked.  I haven't read the book cover-to-cover and am jumping around making some guys to see if I like the "feel" of the game first.

1) The Dwarven Vaultguard has the Alertness proficiency.  Alertness says he gets a +4 to hear noise or detect secret door.  But, what is he adding +4 to?  I've only seen the base hear noise and detect secret door on the Thief's Skill chart.

2) I rolled up a Dwarven Craftpriest.   He gets a +3 for every proficiency roll (other than identify masterworks) - so that means all his other rolls get a +3 no matter what, right?

3) the Theology proficiency says Dwarven Craftpriest gets this automatically - so this does not count against his # of proficiencies?    Also, this isn't mentioned in the Craftpriest section, only under Theology or am I missing it there?

4) do you ever get better at proficiencies?   For example, at first level if I take Trapping I have to roll 11 or better.   What happens at level 7?  Is it still 11+?


PS- I'm sure I'll have more questions but really like what I'm reading so for - have looked at many OSR type games the past few weeks and othis is certainly one of the ones that stands out for quality.  I read ACKS a few years ago now regret not diving in farther back then.   Better late than never, right?





Re: Base Throws: Any throw not specified as being a different number is usually 18+

Re: Masterfulness: "Proficiency Rolls" are basically anything that would be a skill check in D&D. The text should call out any proficiency roll as such; off the top of my head, this means craftsdwarfs are really good at using the Heal proficiency to Cure Light Wounds, designing and penetrating disguises, assessing buildings, and determining the magical properities of items by taste.

Re: Theology: You are correct in that there is a dispute between the proficiency text and the craftpriest text. Class features do not count against the proficiencies you may take.

Re: Improving: Most proficiencies, you can invest additional profs in to improve. So if Trapping lets you suceed on an 11+, then taking Trapping a second time would boost it to a 7+. If you do not invest in proficiencies, then they do not improve, and a level 14 god-emperor with healing 1 is exactly as skilled as a 0th level peasant with healing 1.


  1. The target values for standard Throws like Hear Noise and Detect Secret Door are under Dungeon Adventures on pg. 93. Dwarves are at 14+ and 18+, respectively.
  2. For other Proficiencies they learn, yes. This came up recently, as there are somethings called out as "Proficiency Throws" that are not learned. An example escapes me at the moment, but just assume you get the +3 on Throws for other Proficiencies you have selected under Proficiencies (i.e., 1 Class and 1 General + Intelligence bonus at 1st Level).
  3. Yes, they have Theology, although it's not called out as such in the Class description. It is, however, mentioned under the Proficiency description for Theology. It does not count against their available Proficiencies.
  4. Some Proficiencies specify how they improve. Others do not improve. On pg. 56 it states: Unless its description says otherwise, a proficiency may only be selected once. If a proficiency can be selected more than once, then the proficiency throw value required for success is reduced by 4 each time the proficiency is selected.

Glad to hear you've come back to ACKS!

As a new player, I wonder why that stuff is buried on page 93 and not more obvious - not everyone has played D&D a billion times and knows this stuff in their sleep...what if ACKS was the first RPG I found not the 10,000th that I've found?   :)

Is the "assume 18+ if you don't see it stated otherwise" spelled out somewhere?  PDF search not finding it - is this another thing assumed to be common knowledge or am I just being a doofus again an not seeing it?

For one, you'd probably read the whole book before playing. I don't mean that to be in any way facetious, either! I have a lot of the same frustrations and errors so far, but they almost universally result from never having sat down and actually read the whole book. Why? Because I've played umpteen different variations of the game previously. This is not to say that doing so cures this problem entirely - there's a certain amount of disorganization based on the way the book written and structured - but it alleviates it a great deal.

I don’t think even reading the whole book would save you, because it’s too much to keep in RAM. I’ve run plenty of wargames where we all read the whole rulebook and promptly forgot a bunch of rules during the first couple of games.

This is true, and I acknowledged that. But it greatly improves the situation, and it's a big difference from someone who's totally new to the game, and someone who's played for ages. I dunno...I just hink it's really easy to overlook the slightly negative effect of that experience.

EDIT: Again, just to be clear, I am not arguing that there's nothing confusing about the rulebook - there is! - just that there is a difference in how someone without prior experience approaches ACKS.

I think it is fair to say that I went in with a lot of assumptions and thus didn't realize ACKS did things differently until it came up. Reading the thing cover to cover might've helped.


That said, the book does have some severe ergonomics issues where nothing is ever technically in the WRONG place, but it does seem like it takes me more guesses than with other systems to find what I'm looking for. That said, I think Alex knows and feels bad about it, so we try not to mention it too much.

The book was absolutely written as if you would read it cover to cover, and as a result many mechanics are in the wrong place when you want to use it as a reference. The inspiration/guide for the presentation was BX, which very much introduced rules in an as-you-are-ready-for-them format. Unfortunately (a) few players that buy ACKS read rule books that way anymore and (b) ACKS is a teensy bit longer than BX. So it didn't quite work as well as I'd hoped.

If someone is so inclined, it would be helpful to me if you started a thread mentioning the rules you find least accessible/hardest to find or learn in actual play.


Dreaming of 2nd edition, huh?

Nothing like opening a can of worms!

But back to my questions ...   :)

Essentially you have a 10% to do stuff that's not explicitly stated you have a better chance (if I'm doung my 18+ on a d20 math correctly) that right?




tcgb, I find the ACKS reference tables (from the download section) invaluable at collecting key numbers spread across the book in one place for easy use at the table - and yes,they have the open doors stuff right on the first page.  Some stalwarts put them together ages ago:

Regarding the last question, 18+ is basically a 15% chance and is the closest you can get to 1d6 on a d20 - it's a good guideline to use when there's no rule.  Lots of things that were 2 in 6 chances in the old BX system are now 14+ in ACKS (like elves detecting a secret door).

No. The stuff mentioned is explicitly's and there.


By "10%" I meant "15%" of course.  I was using that new metric math.


I get an "access denied" message trying that link.  Perhaps they've vaporized my account for being a troublemaker.    I'll try at home - maybe it's this phone that is the problem.

Just as background, ACKS core was written for a broad OSR audience, some of whom demonstrate their OSR -ness by despising anything that smells like a skill system. Therefore, ACKS core walks the difficult path of Proficiencies being presented as optional (with a light hand).

As time has passed, it seems people who like ACKS like Proficiencies, and there are numerous posts on the forum asking for more detail and explanation on Proficiencies and related throws.

Still, there are many who tweak Proficiencies and throws to their tastes, such as d6 rolls, ability checks, etc. “Every campaign is a law unto itself …”

I think the Autarchs have way too much cool stuff in the pipeline to seriously contemplate a 2nd edition. However, I dream of a glorious 10th Anniversary Deluxe edition – largely the same as ACKS core, but with a wealth of clarifying sidebars and cross-references. And a few key bits from D@W, maybe. And an integrated Auran Campaign primer. And a Judge’s Screen, darn it.

You had me at "glorious 10th Anniversary Deluxe edition."


I get an "access denied" message trying that link.  Perhaps they've vaporized my account for being a troublemaker.    I'll try at home - maybe it's this phone that is the problem.


Weird, I'd drop support (email in the footer) a note about the downloads section.  I thought it was public for all forum folks.

Shut Up And Take My Silver Talents!