I can see it being easily explainable when having proficiencies from a class or background, as the person will have been proficient in these skills for some time before the campaign starts and will have learned specialist information about that subject.

However, when gaining skill proficiencies via a feature or feat at later levels, such as the two Intelligence skills you gain from Domain of Knowledge, picking three skill proficiencies as a a bard of the College of Lore, gaining expertise in Nature and Survival as a rogue Scout, or gaining a feat such as Skilled or Prodigy, does this proficiency represent a sudden aptitude for figuring things out in that subject and discovering such information, or does the proficiency suggest that they've suddenly picked up the information they didn't have before?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just because there may not be an answer in the books doesn't make this opinion based. It makes the answer 'this is not defined in the books'. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Apr 17 '18 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Isn't anything not defined in the source material subject to DM fiat? To me that is entirely opinion based. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 17 '18 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a note: “up to DM fiat” doesn't qualify as “Primarily Opinion-based” for holds/closes; see the FAQ. However, I think DM fiat is a red herring. Asking “what does it mean?” seems to me to instead run up against one of our content rules: it's likely to “be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise”. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 17 '18 at 15:08

In a similar way to how leveling is an abstract concept, proficiency represents you finally reaching a certain level of knowledge to be considered an 'expert'.

Essentially you always knew things, but now you can pass the tests and get the qualification.

It doesn't represent a sudden epiphany, though you could RP it that way if there was some event that triggered the memory of that hidden knowledge.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This very line of thinking is the reason that I encourage my players to plot what skills they will pick up and build them into their character concepts from the ground up. It's easier to say that a character was skilled but not expert than it is to say that they woke up one day and knew how to survive out in nature... Alternatively, I give my group adequate downtime for them to venture out into the wilderness and pick up a few skills, or train under a mentor - whatever is most fitting. In other words, I try to avoid the inexplicable sudden epiphany that the RAW suggests... \$\endgroup\$ – Joshu's Mu Apr 17 '18 at 14:57

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