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I'm designing a Wood Elf Outlander Warlock (in D&D 5E) who only has one hand. This makes my arm near to useless. As an Outlander, I am proficient with a musical instrument, and have skill proficiency in Survival.

I have designed the character as a self-sufficient hunter, who uses everything from a kill: hides for clothes, meat for food, and bones as a carving medium.

What I would like to do is trade the musical instrument proficiency for a proficiency with a type of artisan's tools that would be used in carving bones into practical things I could use, or decorative items I could sell.

Would this trade-off be balanced?

Since a musical instrument is a potential spellcasting focus, I wasn't sure.


I've asked a follow-up question here: What kind of tools would be used to carve bone?

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Yes, it would be acceptable.

Tool proficiencies are not used often (unless it is in Thieves Tools) and their influence on the game is minimal. So, switching musical instrument proficiency for artisan's tools proficiency should not imbalance the game. Rules for background customization (PHB 125) states: "choose a total of two tool proficiencies or languages from the sample backgrounds", further proving that switching one tool for another for your background is supported by the game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The secondary question has now been edited out and asked separately, so you may want to update your answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 2 at 6:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ As of Xanathar's guide to everything, tool proficiency is now meaningful and have clear uses. For example, wood carvers tools: Arcana, History. Your expertise lends you additional insight when you examine wooden objects, such as figurines or arrows. Nature. Your knowledge of wooden objects gives you some added insight when you examine trees. Repair. As part of a short rest, you can repair a single damaged wooden object. Craft Arrows. As part of a short rest, you can craft up to five arrows. As part of a long rest, you can craft up to twenty. \$\endgroup\$ – JDM7 Oct 2 at 11:55

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