Weapon Proficiency Skill (3.5e Variant Rule)
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Weapon Proficiency Skill
Let's just be blunt about this: Weapon Proficiency as feats suck. No-one enjoys having to give away one of your rare feats to learn how to use a slightly more elaborate weight-on-a-stick that, in reality, would take you something in the order of a week or two of practice to get the basics down. How did almost every civilization on earth, since the dawn of war, ever manage to train and outfit whole armies of peasants with spears on a dime if it took life-changing feats to learn how to use one properly? Why is swinging a warhammer such a inaccurate, messy ordeal when it is, again, just a fancy weight-on-a-stick and why does it require the equivalent of a milestone in your life to do slightly better? Why do we consider things as amazing and game-changing as manipulating magical forces via Metamagic (and Divine Metamagic, too!) and things like leading small armies to be on the same level as average skill with a longsword?
For lack of a more exhaustive list of comparisons, it simply doesn't make any sense, nor is it likely that the proficiency feats will ever appeal to players any more so. They simply cost too much for even the most roleplay-heavy players to not regret taking, and then when retraining rules come into play, they tend to get a bit weird (do you suddenly forget how to use a weapon when you retrain a weapon proficiency feat?), and muck things up even further. Essentially, weapons shouldn't require that rare flash of inspiration that is a feat to achieve what is essentially basic training and competency; Like many other things a character in Dungeons and Dragons can do, it is a skill that they should be relatively capable of learning with ease, should they apply the hours of practice required.
Enter the Weapon Proficiency Skill: a solution to the above problem.
Much like the Speak Language Skill, the weapon proficiency skill does not work like other skills. Instead, weapon proficiency works as follows:
- You start at 1st level with proficiency in specific weapons as designated by your class.
- You can purchase Weapon Proficiency just like any other skill, but instead of buying a rank in it, you choose a new weapon that you are proficient with.
- You don’t make Weapon Proficiency checks. You either know how to use a weapon or you don’t.
- Not all weapons are equal; proficiency with all simple weapons requires only 1 rank's worth of skill points to be invested. Proficiency with any one martial weapon also requires only 1 rank's worth of skill points. Proficiency with any one exotic weapon requires two rank's worth of skill points to be invested.
- Only the most martial of martial classes have Weapon Proficiency as a class skill. In the core rules, that is limited to the Fighter and the Barbarian. In Tirr, this also includes the Knight and Samurai. All other classes only have access to this skill as a cross-class skill, and therefore cost double the required amount of skill points to invest in order to gain proficiency.
This allows characters to be more diverse with their armaments and more unique in the world, and gives players a bit more freedom around proficiency that probably should have been around to begin with. It favors classes who tend to devote themselves completely to their martial prowess while also allowing other characters who dedicate time and effort to also expand their boundaries, instead of requiring huge chunks of their potential to be sacrificed in order to do something as simple as learning how to poke someone accurately with a spear.
Applying the Weapon Proficiency Skill to Non-Core or Prestige Classes
Questions are bound to arise when considering the vast amount of potential classes that might make use of, or come into conflict with this skill. To answer those questions, the following guidelines are provided:
Class Skill or Cross-Class Skill?
If the class in question, whether a base class or a prestige class, is a hybrid class (such as a Paladin or Psychic Warrior), or is a spell-caster (such as a Druid or a Wizard), or is a skillful class (such as a Rogue or Ranger), then it probably shouldn't get Weapon Proficiency as a class skill.
What about prerequisites that require proficiency feats?
For the most part, you can assume that if a character has proficiency in the weapon required by the class or feat they are trying to qualify for, it can essentially count as having the appropriate feat, as per normal.