I want to make a Rock Gnome Artificer (from Unearthed Arcana) but there is something I'm not happy about with the character I'm planning.

Rock Gnomes (PHB, p. 37) get proficiency with Tinker's Tools:

Tinker. You have proficiency with artisan's tools (tinker's tools) ...

Artificers (p. 2) get to pick two tool proficiencies:

Tools: Thieves' tools, two other tools of your choice

and may get more proficiencies from other class features, for example (p. 6):

Master Smith

When you choose this specialization at 1st level, you gain proficiency with smith's tools ...


My problem is this Artificer feature (p. 3):

Tool Expertise

Starting at 2nd level, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses any of the tool proficiencies you gain from this class.

Since I got my proficiency with tinker's tools via the Rock Gnome racial trait Tinker, rather than from the Artificer class, this means I do not get to double my proficiency with tinker's tools, since Tool Expertise only allows you to double your proficiency with tools gained from this class.

To my mind, an Artificer (or at least, a Gunsmith Artificer, which is the archetype I'm going with) would be good with tinker's tools, since it fits with the flavour of the mechanical theme, such as the Mechanical Servant feature (p. 4). Rock Gnomes are also naturally good with tinker's tools (as their description in the PHB makes clear). So it would stand to reason that a Rock Gnome Artificer should be extra good with Tinker's Tools. Or at the very least, I want mine to be.

But as it stands, a Rock Gnome Artificer will always be worse with tinker's tools than any other Artificer (who picked tinker's tools as a chosen tool proficiency), which annoys me. I'm not going to ask why this was worded in this way, or why Artificers don't all get proficiency with tinker's tools for free or anything else like that; this is not a question.


Instead, I want to know if there's any other way for my Rock Gnome Artificer to have double proficiency with tinker's tools. For example, can I just take the same tool proficiency again via Artificer, even though I already have it via the Rock Gnome's Tinker racial trait, so that I qualify for Tool Expertise? I'd even be happy with a way that doesn't involve Tool Expertise at all.

Is there a way for a Rock Gnome Artificer to have double proficiency with Tinker's Tools? Besides the DM saying "screw it, you just do because I say so". Anything official or UA is fine, but no homebrew or DM fiat. Also I'd prefer no multiclassing, but if an answer mentions it alongside other potential solutions for completeness, I won't complain.


4 Answers 4


You could take the UA Wonder Maker feat

Since you are already using Unearthed Arcana content, you could try taking the Wonder Maker rock gnome racial feat from Unearthed Arcana: Feats for Races. Among other benefits, this feat includes:

When you make a check using your proficiency with tinker’s tools, you add double your proficiency bonus to the check.

Considering that it also adds some options to the Tinker trait, it seems like a good fit for an artificer.


The Good

If a character would gain the same proficiency from two different sources, he or she can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (skill or tool) instead. (PHB 125).

That would imply that you could pick the proficiency as artificer, swap out the racial copy to something else, and thus get Tinker's Tools as a 'class proficiency'.

The Bad

The above passage comes from the Backgrounds section. An unhelpful DM could argue this only covers background proficiencies, despite the generic wording of the text.

The Ugly

Ugly as in 'ask your DM', but I am hard-pressed to see a DM enforce a hurdle to your abilities because you are racially inclined to be good at them. As a DM, I would rule you can apply it to "thieves' tools and two tools of your choice", effectively stripping off the whole 'where from' bookkeeping and boiling it down to 'as many and as fixed a set as intended'.

The Bottom Line

Ask the DM if it is ok to count Tinker's tools as one of the three. If the DM is doubtful about going against RAW, suggest that it is allowed by RAW with the above setup. If that doesn't get him either, and you think it worth the price, request you forfeit the racial proficiency so you can pick it via class.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I really like the idea of just saying "thief and two others" without trying to figure out origins for each one. A rock gnome-artificer-guild artisan could have an awful lot of tool proficiencies and there's a point where keeping track of all that gets to be a burden. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 13:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I realize this may be splitting hairs but isn't your character a gnome first then chooses a class? Makes more sense that the class proficiency is redundant and not the race's... but again just splitting hairs here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth it is possible to be argued, sure. My counter-argument would be that the passage doesn't call for changing the second instance specifically. In the end of the day, it is a DM call every which way. My argument's job is to tell said GM 'look, it's not exactly houserulling. If your only grievance is sticking with RAW, well, that you can still do'. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 10:07

Just an update: with Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, the rules on all this are clearer. Of course, TCE shook up character creation by allowing a lot more customization, which explicitly includes swapping proficiencies around including moving other proficiencies to tools, but they also changed the rules for this specific scenario...

First: artificers now get proficiency in "Thieves' Tools, Tinker's Tools, one type of artisan's tools of your choice" from the class, so there's no question of them being excluded.

Additionally, with the Artificer's Tool Expertise (which now comes at level 6), "your proficiency bonus is now doubled for any ability check you make that uses your proficiency with a tool." So there's no question of any tool proficiency being excluded!

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. You might want to make it a little more explicit that the update came via publishing an official source material and is not an updated UA. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 9:48


If a character would gain the same proficiency from two different sources, he or she can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (skill or tool) instead. (PHB p. 125)

Choose the tinker's tool proficiency from the class and swap out the one from the race.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the rule only applies to background proficiencies; it doesn't normally allow you to swap out any proficiencies gained from race or class. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 11:00
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast to be exact, the rule only appears in section about background proficiences, but there is no such limit in the rule as written and Jeremy Crawford twitter is not RAW, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 14:17
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast the rule may apply to proficiencies gained at character creation but JC is wrong that it only applies to background proficiencies. If that were so it would say so. It doesn’t, it says “from two different sources”. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 19:44

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