I'm trying to plan my character ahead of time. I've read that some bonuses add up and some do not (so you chose the highest). I'm not clear on what it depends on. Is it origin (racial/class/feat/power in use)? And if so, when do they and don't they stack?

For example, would Bard Of All Trades (+3 to all untrained) and Blindfighting Sentinel (+2 Perception checks. Which I am untrained in) add up?


2 Answers 2


CatLord's post is correct, but not complete: One exception that should be mentioned is

Untyped Bonuses

According to the Dungeons and Dragons Rules Compendium (pub 2010) Untyped Bonuses all stack so long as they don't come from the same source.

Untyped Bonus: Some bonuses have no type ("a +2 bonus," for instance). Most of these bonuses are situational and combine with other bonuses, including other untyped bonuses. However, untyped bonuses from the same named game element (such as a power or feat) are not cumulative; only the highest applies, unless otherwise noted. (Dungeons and Dragons Rules Compendium, Page 28)

(It appears that my remembrance of specific types of bonuses stacking was a hint of memory left over from 3rd edition, where some types of bonus—like Dodge Bonuses—stacked, while most other types of bonus did not.)


Much like in 3e, you use the highest of a given bonus type that applies to the roll.

On page 275 of PHB 1

Attack rolls, damage rolls, defenses, skill checks, and ability checks are often modified by bonuses and penalties.

Bonuses: There’s one important rule for bonuses: Don’t add together bonuses of the same type to the same roll or score. If you have two bonuses of the same type that apply to the same roll or score, use the higher bonus.

Penalties: Unlike bonuses, penalties don’t have types. Penalties add together, unless they’re from the same power. If two monsters attack you with the same power and each causes you to take a penalty to a particular roll or score, you don’t add the penalties together; you take the worst penalty.

In your example, both modifiers are "feat bonuses", thus a character with both would only get +3 to untrained Perception checks

Bard of All Trades

Benefit: You gain a +3 feat bonus to all untrained skill checks

Blindfighting Sentinel

Normally, a character grants combat advantage to enemies the character can't see, and a blinded character takes a −10 penalty on Perception checks. A character that has the Blindfighting Sentinel feat does not grant combat advantage to enemies due to blindness or invisibility, and does not take a penalty on Perception checks while blinded. Additionally, the feat grants a +2 feat bonus to Perception.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I seem to remember there being a couple of exceptions to this: a couple of specific bonus types do stack. I might get my books out and check if I get a minute. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2022 at 23:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZakA.Klajda : Is that specific instances, or general rule? \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Dec 14, 2022 at 12:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZakA.Klajda See. That's what I keep reading, in conversations about specific cases. This is why I was hoping to aggregate here all the info/rules on this to be able to refer back to it. I hope you find it! \$\endgroup\$
    – Bear
    Dec 14, 2022 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CatLord Does this aspect of penalties work the same in the penalties you inflict? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bear
    Dec 14, 2022 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bear : I didn't see anything about modifiers in the DMG that was contrary, so I would say it applies to any/everyone \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Dec 14, 2022 at 19:29

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