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I'm extremely new to D&D, and have little understanding on the game so far.

Right now, I'm creating my character, a Triton bard with a folk hero background, and I'm having trouble selecting proficiencies.

I was told that bards have no predetermined skill list to choose from, but that seems weird. I also have absolutely no idea how many skills to choose.

How many skill proficiencies do I choose as a Triton Bard?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Feb 24 at 23:41
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You should have 5

There are three possible sources to skill proficiency upon character creation: race, background, class.

  • Tritons don't give proficiency in any skills, so aren't relevant.

  • The folk hero background gives two skill proficiencies; Animal Handling and Survival.

  • Bards' starting proficiencies read:

    Choose any three

    So you can choose any three skills you'd like (choosing the same as given to you by your background doesn't do anything, so don't). Bringing your total up to 5.

    Here the Bard is different to other classes. The other classes choose (typically two) from a defined list, whereas the Bard has no such restriction. This is what people were referring to with "no predetermined skill list to choose from". You still choose from the list of skills as found on the character sheet, because those are the only ones that exist (in the game/edition).

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Bards get to choose any three skills at character creation. (PHB p.52)

Folk Hero background gives you animal handling and survival proficiencies. (PHB p.131. Note that by "customizing a background" on PHB p.125 you can actually move around those proficiencies.)

Tritons don't gain any particular skill proficiencies. (VGTM p.116)

So you get 5 skill proficiencies.

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There are two different concepts at play here. Firstly, there is Proficiency. Your 5th edition character has a "proficiency bonus" based on their level -- +2 at level 1. If your character is trained in a particular skill, saving throw, or attack type, you may add this bonus to the result of the roll. You generally don't pick your proficiencies outside of Skills (see below), and as a bard, that means you are trained in:

  • Light Armor
  • Simple Weapons, Hand Crossbows, Longswords, Rapiers, and Shortswords
  • Three musical instruments (your choice)
  • Dexterity and Charisma saving throws
  • Any 3 skills of your choice.

Secondly, there are the skill proficiencies themselves (page 174, Player's Handbook). While some classes are restricted to picking bonus skill proficiencies from a sublist, Bards have their choice of any of the lot! Just a perk of being a bard!

Your "Folk Hero" background already gives you proficiency in animal handling and survival, so pick from the below list, for your character has a total of Five proficiencies (3 from class, 2 from background), so pick three from these to complete your initial set of proficiencies:

  • Acrobatics
  • Arcana
  • Athletics
  • Deception
  • History
  • Insight
  • Intimidation
  • Investigation
  • Medicine
  • Nature
  • Perception
  • Performance
  • Persuasion
  • Religion
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Stealth
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