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I want to build a character with the maximum number of skill proficiencies, 18. 20 levels to work with, multi-classing, feats, all official published books, starting with standard point array.

The best I have achieved is a Half-Elf (2 skills), Rogue 1 (4 skills), Lore Bard 4 (3 skills, and the Skilled feat for 3 more skills), Knowledge Cleric 1 (2 skills), Warlock 2 (Beguiling Influence Invocation, Deception and Persuasion), from any background (2 skills).

This is a total of 18 Skill Proficiencies, 5 of which have expertise. I have only used up 8 character levels. Is it possible to do this with even fewer levels?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, I edited the title because "Jack of All Trades" is a game feature ultimately unrelated to the question. I think it's clearer this way. I hope the new title is to your satisfaction! \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Apr 18 '18 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ is Unearthed Arcana legal for your purposes? There are feats for each skill that give you proficiency in that skill, or expertise if you don't have it already (I'll wrap this in an answer once I know if UA is ok). \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Apr 18 '18 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related question here \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 18 '18 at 16:51
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If they don't need to be concurrent, or always available, this can be achieved with two levels of Cleric in the Knowledge Domain, which grants:

Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to tap into a divine well of knowledge. As an action, you choose one skill or tool. For 10 minutes, you have proficiency with the chosen skill or tool.

It's not quick, but will legitimately grant you any conceivable skill proficiency in a pinch, as well as all tool proficiencies. And in the right circumstances, ten minutes can be a long time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ One of my favorite classes. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Apr 18 '18 at 15:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, it's like downloading knowledge in The Matrix. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Apr 18 '18 at 18:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mbomb007 I know Kung-Fu... \$\endgroup\$ – Robotnik Apr 19 '18 at 0:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might also be worth noting that Channel Divinity uses refresh on a short rest. (You get 2 uses per rest at 6th level, and 3 uses at 18th.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 19 '18 at 0:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Robotnik Forgot the "Whoa" \$\endgroup\$ – Veskah Apr 19 '18 at 3:17
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You seem to have the bases covered, however...

There are other sources of skill proficiency.

  • Taking Rogue to 3, and selecting Scout, will give you Nature and Survival, and the equivalent to Expertise on both.
  • Fighter 3 and either Cavalier or Samurai provide one more skill choice, too.
  • Bladesinger Wizard 2 for Performance.
  • The Prodigy Feat grants an extra skill proficiency and effective Expertise and other things.

Fastest path...

Seven levels, eighteen proficient skills, eight with Expertise.

  • 4 from Variant Human - one base, three via Skilled feat.
  • 2 from Background.
  • 6 from Rogue Scout 3 - four base, two from Survivalist. Four will have Expertise.
  • 4 from Lore Bard 3 - one via multiclassing, three via Bonus Proficiencies, two of which will have Expertise.
  • 2 from Knowledge Cleric 1 grants two proficiencies with Expertise built-in via Blessings of Knowledge.

More Rogue!

Continuing to L6 in Rogue gets two more Expertise picks. Continuing to L11 gets a minimum possible d20 roll of 10 on any skill check via Reliable Talent, which is great for a skill monkey.

More Expertise!

Mutually exclusive with the above option, continuing to L10 in Bard and L6 in Rogue, plus spending an ASI for Prodigy somewhere along the way gives you five more Expertise picks. The skill pick from Prodigy will go to waste, but the goal was fastest, not most efficient or most suitable to any other purpose.

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You can have every permanent skill proficiency by level 7

4: Variant Human (Feat: Skilled, Skills)
2: Background
4: Rogue 1
2: Knowledge Cleric 1 (Blessing of Knowledge)
4: Lore Bard 3 (Bonus Proficiencies, multiclass Proficiencies)
2: Warlock 2 (Beguiling Influence invocation)

You will also have 6 expertise with this build. 2 each from Blessing of Knowledge (limited selection), and each Expertise (Bard and Rogue) .

Going Further

From here there are two builds that emphasize particular things for a skill monkey:

  1. Reliable Talent

    • Concentrate on Rogue (to Rogue 11) and you can pick up Reliable Talent which will give you a minimum result of 10 + modifier for every skill check.
    • Choosing Scout as your Roguish Archetype will get you 4 more expertise (2 must be Survival and Nature). You can get one more expertise via the Prodigy feat.
    • This will put you at level 17.
  2. Maximum Expertise

    • Advance to Scout Rogue 6 and Lore Bard 10; spend one of your ASIs on the Prodigy feat to get the most possible expertise (13 total). 2 each from Survivalist (Nature amd Survival), and both Expertise (Bard and Rogue), and 1 from Prodigy.
    • This will put you at level 19

No Variant Human?

If your table is not playing with the variant human, level 8 is the fastest (per your question posting). Then just add 1 level to the final level of my "Going Further" builds.

Special Training

In the Dungeon Master's Guide, there is an alternative quest reward of special training where you can gain skill proficiencies with downtime. I chose to ignore this as it relies too heavily on DM fiat.

Magic Items

There are a few magic items can get you there faster if you are able to pick them up before level 7.

Essentially, there are some magic items found in the adventure Lost Laboratory of Kwalish that negate the necessity of some of the multiclassing in the character build. You can mouse over the spoiler box below for more information:

Two of The Ioun Stones among that of Historical Knowledge, Natural Knowledge, and Religious Knowledge can replace the need for multiclassing into Knowledge Cleric. However, these skills will not get a doubled proficiency when gained in this way. You could also collect these Ioun Stones to increase your character's aptitude in the skills even further if you wish as they provide a +1 bonus if a character is already proficient.

This reduces the minimum level to 5.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. I need to play this kind of character at some point! \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Apr 19 '18 at 10:00
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By level 8 you can have proficency in every skill with only 2 classes.

  • Half Elf gives you 2 skills
  • Background gives you 2 skills
  • Start as Rogue class gives you 4 skills
  • Multiclass into Bard, college of lore for 4 more skills by bard lv 3(1 from multiclass, 3 from college of lore feature)
  • At 4th lv Rogue you can take the skilled feat for another 3 skills
  • At 4th lv Bard you can take the prodigy feat to gain the last skill you do not already got.

At lv 15, Rogue 11/Bard 4, you will have Reliable talent for every single skill check and be able to have 9 expertise. With certain spells like 'Enhance Ability' or just other utility spells, you will be the ultimate skill monkey.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Scout 4 / Lore 4 build isn't the lowest level for gaining all proficiencies, but it certainly is actually reasonable, unlike the other multiclass abominations. Although, for actual play I would delay one of the feats and do either Scout X / Lore 3 or Scout 3 / Lore X as those are better cut-off points for spells and sneak attack respectively. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Apr 19 '18 at 0:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you get a skill from just multiclassing into Bard? \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 19 '18 at 13:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BlueMoon93 'Multiclassing Proficiencies' table on PHB page 164. Multiclassing into Rogue also gives you a skill, but in this case you can only choose from the Rogue's list. Bard multiclass gives you any skill of your choice. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Apr 19 '18 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mark Ah, correct! I had missed that \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 19 '18 at 13:49
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I put a lot of effort into trying to reduce this to level 6 but sadly we are 1 skill short of being capable of doing that.

Everybody gets access to 2 skills from their background, until a background offers a 3rd skill this means we require 16 from other sources.

Races: Changeling and Half-Elf both offer proficiency in 2 skills, while Human (Variant) allows for 1 (but has the advantage of a feat)

Feats: If you want all the skills at a low level then Skilled becomes a mandatory feat. For added Expertise (plus a skill proficiency) Prodigy is around now for Humans or Part-humans (like half elves).

Classes: Rogue - Starting as a Rogue allows 4 skills. ALWAYS start as Rogue, because it is the only class which loses a proficiency by multi-classing. (Bard and Ranger have 3 proficiencies but add 1 if you multi-class into them, Rogue adds 1 but has 4 hence the lost proficiency.) Scout Rogue adds 2 further skills.

Bard - Multi-classing adds 1 skill. Going Lore Bard at level 3 adds an additional 3 skills.

Ranger - Multi-classing adds 1 skill.

Cleric - Knowledge domain offers you 2 skills at 1st level.

Warlock - 2nd level Invocations offer you proficiency in 2 skills.

Generally speaking these are the combinations you will use to build that lower level skill master, other options add skills but at a much higher level:skill cost.

If you are building for not just skill proficiency, but Expertise as well, you would be looking at Lore Bard 10 Scout Rogue 6 Knowledge Cleric 1 as either a Human or Half-Elf (to gain the Prodigy feat). This would allow you Expertise in (Bard 3 and 10 each offer 2 expertise, Rogue 1 and 6 plus Scout all offer 2 each and Knowledge offers 2, plus 1 from the prodigy feat) so you have Expertise in 13 of the 18 skills.

Btw If you go Half-Elf Lore Bard 18 Rogue 1 Knowledge Cleric 1 you can gain Magical Secrets (18th) for any 2 9th level spells you fancy, plus cast 9th level spells while still being proficient in every skill (but only Expertise in 9 skills)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Phill, and welcome to the site. Check out our tour to see how we work here, and when you reach 20 reputation you're also welcome to join us in Role-playing Games Chat. When you say “reduce this to 6” at the start, what were you reducing to 6 exactly? I can't tell from context, I think you might mean levels, but it's not clear. It may be beneficial to instead simply state what build level you did reach. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 3 '18 at 10:02

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