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[Heroes & Horrors] Skill/ Proficiency system

by paladinn

In developing my hybrid OSR game, I’m incorporating a skill/proficiency system that borrows from 3x and 5e, from BECMI’s weapon mastery system, and from Chris Perkins’ AD&D 3e. As players of 5e know, there is a proficiency mechanic that grants bonuses at the following levels:
Level 1-4 +2; Level 5-8 +3; 9-12 +4; 13-16 +5; 17-20 +6

These bonuses apply to saving throws with proficient stats, attack rolls with proficient weapons, and skill rolls for proficient skills.

I like the basic concept, but I find it lacking in certain ways. First, I personally think it’s a bit generous for low-level players, especially for an OSR-level game. Second, it doesn’t allow for specialization with certain weapons and/or skills, thus preventing an avenue of customization. Third, higher level characters are no better at non-proficient saves and such than beginning characters.

In BECMI, the optional weapon mastery system provides, I believe, a model to remedy these issues. As I have adapted, there are 4 ranks or tiers of skill: Common, Basic, Expert and Master (I’ve considered having another rank, for a total of 5). There are 4 levels of bonuses instead of 5, gained every 5 levels instead of every 4.

The “Common” skill rank covers all non-proficient saves, skills and attack rolls. It reflects general competence and survivability as a character levels up.
Level 1-5 +0; Level 6-10 +1; Level 11-15 +2; Level 16-20 +3

The “Basic” skill rank covers all proficient saves, skills and attacks that typically come with a given class and/or race. For example, rogue-type characters have Basic proficiency in stealth, disguise, etc. and with Dex-based saves. Fighter-types have Basic proficiency with all weapons. Clerics have Basic proficiency with simple weapons (or their deities’ favored weapons). Wizards have Basic proficiency with staves, daggers, and not much else. Characters can obtain Basic proficiency in a normally non-proficient skill/weapon via an ability increase.
Level 1-5 +1; Level 6-10 +2; Level 11-15 +3; Level 16-20 +4

The “Expert” rank can be obtained by certain classes and subclasses. Only fighters and rogues/thieves can attain Expert rank, via class features or ability increases. Fighters gain Expert rank with 1 weapon at 1st level; rogues gain Expert rank in 2 skills at 1st level.
Level 1-5 +2; Level 6-10 +3; Level 11-15 +4; Level 16-20 +5

The “Master” rank can only be obtained by core fighters in weapon/combat skills, or by thieves in other skills. This rank can only be obtained by ability increases.
Level 1-5 +3; Level 6-10 +4; Level 11-15 +5; Level 16-20 +6

As in 5e, characters get an ability increase every 4 levels, at levels 4, 8, 12 and 16. Each increase can be used for either a +1 increase to 1 stat, a +1 rank to 1 weapon or combat skill, or a +1 to 2 non-combat skills. This way, thieves can get bonuses in the skills they wish (ala 2e); fighters can become more skilled with a given weapon; characters can learn skills otherwise unavailable; and a wizard can use a sword without injuring his/herself.

The bonuses aren’t game-breaking, but I’m hoping they might be enough for an OSR-level game, and enough to interest players who are more used to getting something shiny every level. Is it enough or too little/much?