Proficiency is one of the most important mechanical parts of a character. It is a central part of any character or creature’s statistics, and it’s a defining part of what they are good at. Proficiencies come from several different sources, and apply to a variety of subjects, but they are measured by the same bonus.
You either have the proficiency or you don’t. You will gain proficiencies from your character’s race, their class, their background, and occasionally from some other sources.
Table of Contents
- Proficiency Bonus
- Types of Proficiencies
- Sources of Proficiencies
Every character and every creature has a proficiency bonus, starting at +2 and growing as a creature becomes more powerful or as a character gains levels. This bonus applies to every d20 roll where one of your proficiencies applies.
Not everything which requires proficiency will use your Proficiency bonus. Proficiency in a language allows you to speak, read, and write in that language, but you don’t receive a numerical bonus related to that capability.
Note that your Bonus typically does not contribute to damage with attacks. This is a common error made by players new to the game.
In addition to adding to dice rolls, your Bonus is sometimes used to limit how often you can use specific abilities. Options which work this way were introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, so if you’re still working from the core rulebooks you won’t need to worry about them.
Types of Proficiencies
- Armor (Light, Medium, Heavy, and Shields)
- Saving Throws
- Artisan’s Tools
- Gaming Sets (Dice, Cards, Dragonchess, etc.)
- Vehicles (Land Vehicles, etc.)
- Other Tools (Thieve’s Tool, Herbalism Kit, etc.)
- Weapons (Simple and Martial weapons)
Sources of Proficiencies
Your character can gain proficiencies from several sources.
While many races don’t provide proficiencies, some will provide them in armor, skills, tools, and weapons. For example: dwarves gain proficiency in a few weapons, while half-elves get to select two additional skill proficiencies.
Your class can provide proficiency in armor, weapons, saving throws, and skills. Most classes will give you four skill proficiencies, but some grant more. Proficiencies in armor and weapons varies greatly between classes.
While this is not always the case, some classes grant additional proficiencies as you gain levels. For example, the College of Valor Bard grants them in medium armor and shields at 3rd level, while the College of Lore Bard grants proficiency in three new skills at 3rd level.
Every character’s background will provide proficiency in two skills plus any two proficiencies in languages and/or tools.
Various feats can provide additional proficiencies.
- Heavily Armored: Heavy armor
- Light Armored: Light armor
- Medium Armored: Medium armor and shields
- Resilient: Saving throws for one ability
- Skilled: Three skills
- Weapon Master: Your choice of four weapons