A character in the AD&D game, like anyone else, has a variety of skills and
talents. He is good at some things (because they are used in his profession or
hobby) and poor at those he has studied casually or not at all. These skills and
talents are called proficiencies.
Proficiencies aren't exactly like the skills people pick up in school or in
the "real" world. They tend to be unrealistically broad or narrow, depending on
the subject. The fishing proficiency, for example, assumes the character knows
everything about both rod-and-reel fishing and net fishing. In reality, these
are two vastly different skills.
At the other end of the spectrum, weapon proficiencies tend to be very
precise, highlighting the subtle differences between weapons. A long bow and a short
bow differ in size, weight, pull, arrow length, and balance. Each demands
different practices to get optimum utility.
When using proficiencies, remember that these rules are not intended to
recreate reality. It might have been more realistic to list different proficiencies
for each aspect of medieval botany--horticulture, herbalism, mycology, etc. But
in the context of a game, these are much better grouped under a single
proficiency. Individually, each proficiency would be of such limited usefulness that
all of them would become worthless. Other proficiencies, particularly weapons, go
to the other extreme.
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