If you’ve played Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), then you’ve come across the word proficiency. Maybe you’ve seen it on character sheets and wondered how it works.
Can you have double proficiency in D&D?
Characters can have double proficiency in D&D in specific circumstances. However, characters cannot stack proficiency bonuses without expertise. Characters start with proficiencies based on Race, Class, and Background. Characters gain proficiencies by practice, leveling up, feats, and epic boons.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about “Can you have double proficiency in D&D?”
What Is a Proficiency in D&D?
Proficiency is how well your characters perform a task from a roleplaying viewpoint.
Characters can gain proficiencies in all kinds of things—skills, saving throws, the Arcana school of magic, weapon use, etc. Your character’s class, race, and background usually determine their proficiencies.
For instance, a Sailor might gain proficiencies in Athletics and Boating.
A Mountain Climber might choose proficiency in a climber’s kit that includes a harness, gloves, rope, boot tips, and pitons.
Related: Pitons in D&D (Complete Guide)
You can also gain proficiencies in tools (i.e., bagpipes, cobbler’s tools, chef tools, carpentry, etc).
Race also provides certain proficiencies. For instance, if your character is a Dwarf, the Race will grant them better proficiency in the Dwarvish language and its dialects.
As you play D&D, you can also develop additional proficiencies.
Your character gains proficiency in languages or tools by:
- Practicing a skill for 250 days of downtime
- Spending 1 gold peice per day for 250 days
Therefore, characters only gain extra proficiency when the Dungeon Master (DM) allows for long periods of downtime between adventures, when a character has the money, by magic, or by homebrew rules.
Here is a great 4-minute video that simply explains abilities, proficiency, and saving throws for beginners:
What Is a Proficiency Bonus in D&D?
A proficiency bonus is a numerical score added to most of your dice rolls (or checks), making them more likely to succeed. Think of it as a modifier that increases the effectiveness of a character’s ability checks.
Although the proficiency starts at low levels, it increases as you level up.
As an example, let’s look at two fairly similar checks—an attack roll and an ability check.
In both, you need to roll a twenty-sided die (d20). If your modifier is +4, you’ll beat the Difficulty Class (DC) of 14 if you roll a 10 or higher.
To know your proficiency bonus, look at the table that appears on your character class description in the Player’s Handbook.
For 1st-level characters, it will almost always be +2 regardless of Race or class.
What Is Double Proficiency?
Double-proficiency is when a character is twice as proficient in a single skill or tool. If you homebrew special rules, a character might get 1 + twice the modifier of an ability score. If a character has a proficiency bonus of +2 and they are proficient in thieves’ tools, they’ll get a bonus of 4.
Your character’s proficiency bonus starts at 2 + the modifier of your ability score.
To have double proficiency in a skill means that your characters have all the proficiencies for two rolls.
For example, if they have short bows and longbows proficiencies, they would get proficiency for both weapons by rolling 4d6 under their ability score.
Using either weapon is extremely easy for the character.
A character with double proficiency in carpentry is a highly skilled wordsmith. In fact, a player with this double proficiency might serve a group of adventurers by building a shelter, weapons, or other useful items for the campaign.
Earning double proficiency is often a result of a specific and somewhat rare campaign situation.
However, a Dungeon Master can also homebrew temporary or even permanent double proficiency.
Can You Have Double Proficiency in D&D? (Detailed Answer)
The simple answer is yes. But only when the circumstance allows you to have it.
There are certain instances where your character can have double proficiency with a set of skills, tools, and weaponry. But you’ll only get the bonus on one roll for each kind. For example, if you gain double proficiency in forgery and thieves tools, the bonus would only help with one or the other.
So, if you choose to gain double proficiency in thieves’ tools and forgery, you’ll be able to make a roll with either skill set.
Your bonus would only apply to one category—not both.
The only way to officially get a double bonus is with expertise, not double proficiency. We’ll talk about expertise later in this article.
These rules apply to many things in D&D, but they are probably most important in class abilities.
For example, let’s say your character is a Fighter with the Battlemaster archetype. Your superiority dice will show that you have double proficiency with two weapons or sets of tools/weapons.
If you were a level 1 fighter and had the Fighting Style ability of Two-Weapon Fighting, you’d have a bonus of +1 on both your main and offhand attacks.
However, if you picked Great Weapon Fighting, you’d get a proficiency bonus on the damage of only one weapon.
In short, double proficiency is not always better than single proficiency (when it comes to bonuses).
Also, the circumstances in which you can have double proficiency are typically limited to very few specific circumstances while playing.
According to the official rules, you cannot stack proficiencies in D&D. According to D&D Basic Rules V0.1 Chapter 1, P. 7, you cannot add the proficiency bonus to a single roll or any other number twice.
That means you can only receive a proficiency bonus on a roll once, regardless of how many times you are technically proficient.
However, there are circumstances in which you can decrease or increase proficiency with a set of tools/weapons/skills, but only on one roll.
Occasionally, your character’s proficiency bonus gets modified (halved or doubled) before applying it.
If circumstances call for multiplication of a proficiency bonus on the same roll, you are to apply it once and then halve it once.
While you can not stack proficiency, the D&D rules accept a Rogue’s Expertise feature.
Expertise allows you to double your proficiency bonus.
A character with expertise at 1st level gets to choose one skill and tool proficiencies—or two skill proficiencies.
As your character reaches higher levels, he or she can again choose more proficiencies.
You can theoretically get proficient in all 18 currently available skills. Depending on your Race, Class, and Background, you can start with multiple proficiencies from each category. You can also multiclass, pick up a Skilled feat, and eventually earn an Epic Boon of Skill Proficiency.
Your characters’ Race and Class will often determine how many language, tool, and weapon proficiencies they get.
The number of proficiencies will then add up as you choose or gain them in each category.
To put this into perspective, at 1st level, you will pick a class for your character.
If you choose Bard, your character will get three skill proficiencies and three musical instrument proficiency.
If you pick Half-elf for the Race, your character will get two additional proficiencies in skills (Survival and Insight). If you further choose Entertainer as your background, you’ll have two skill proficiencies (Acrobatics and Performance). You also get two tool proficiencies (musical instrument and disguise kit)
At this level, you might accumulate seven skill proficiencies and five-tool proficiencies.
You can add to this number at level three as you select an archetype.
As you level up, you pick up more proficiencies.
At higher levels, you can earn feats, such as Skilled, that allow you to add to your proficiencies.
At even higher levels, you can earn a Boon of Skill Proficiency that grants a character proficiency in all 18 available skills.
Keep in mind, that most D&D groups enjoy better gameplay when no single character is highly proficient in all skills, tools, and languages.
There is something to be said for a group of adventures who must rely on each other to survive.
We’ve mentioned both of these common D&D terms earlier in this article. It’s helpful to know the difference.
While both improve performance, they work differently.
Double proficiency allows your characters to apply extra talent to tools or skills in specific situations.
This is true even if a character is not technically proficient with a tool or skill.
On the other hand, expertise is a class ability that allows your characters to multiply the proficiency bonus to a single skill every time.
Expertise is one of the few class abilities that allow you to surpass the bonus cap of +10 in D&D.
You can take advantage of expertise by playing a Bard or Rogue, as these two classes come tailor-made for expertise.
You can also gain expertise by multi-classing as a Bard or Rouge.
It comes down to your personal preference for the type of character you want to play.
Conclusion: Can You Have Double Proficiency in D&D?
This article is based on the official rules for Dungeons and Dragons. Your Dungeon Master (DM) can make up (or homebrew) any special rules for their groups.
That means a DM can allow characters unlimited double proficiency with double the bonuses.
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