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I am very new to D&D, but I cannot seem to find when to add the proficiency bonus. From what I can tell from the character sheet, there is a proficiency bonus for a specific task, and another (on top of the list of proficiency bonus) that says: "Proficiency bonus: +2". What is this and when do I add them?

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Proficiency Bonus is, in general, added to rolls for things you are proficient in.

Proficiency Bonus

The table that appears in your class description shows your proficiency bonus, which is +2 for a 1st-level character. Your proficiency bonus applies to many of the numbers you’ll be recording on your character sheet:

  • Attack rolls using weapons you’re proficient with
  • Attack rolls with spells you cast
  • Ability checks using skills you’re proficient in
  • Ability checks using tools you’re proficient with
  • Saving throws you’re proficient in
  • Saving throw DCs for spells you cast (explained in each spellcasting class)

PHB - Chapter 1, p. 12.

The spot on the character sheet is just for you to easily write it down and refer to when filling out the rest of the character sheet. For example, when filling out the character sheet you will fill in the circles next to skills you are trained in to remind you that you have proficiency with these skills and add your proficiency bonus to your MOD for that skill.

It should be noted that proficiency is never added to damage rolls.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Might want to point out the major exception where you don't add your proficiency bonus to a roll you're making with something you're proficient with: damage rolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – AgentPaper
    Dec 25, 2014 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ A question that will add one additional clarification: When you make a general ability check, that's not for a particular skill and not a saving throw, do I understand correctly that there is no way you can add your proficiency bonus to that? (So if a rogue has proficiency in Intelligence saving throws, that's nearly useless because they virtually never come up?) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 25, 2014 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleVermont That's a saving throw, not an ability check. No one has proficiency in general ability checks. (Except bards can add half their proficiency bonus to them, but that's a class feature, not proficiency. ) \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Dec 26, 2014 at 0:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what I thought. One more detail -- a character can have proficiency on a few types of general ability check for a particular ability by using an appropriate "kit" -- for example the thieves' tools kit for doing an unlock doors DEX check. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 26, 2014 at 15:29
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You add your proficiency bonus whenever you're proficient.

For example, suppose you are in a forest. You encounter a large pit, which you want to jump over to save time. The DM tells you to make a Strength (Athletics) check, as this requires the Athletics skill to accomplish. Suppose you have no proficiency in Athletics. You will just add your normal Strength Modifier-you won't worry about your bonus or anything.

However, suppose you DO have proficiency in Athletics (indicated by the filled bubble next to it). Then, you will add your proficiency bonus instead of adding your normal modifier, because it is higher.

At Level 1, you have a +2 proficiency bonus, which means, on skills you are proficient in, you add 2 to your normal modifier with your ability. If you have a +3 modifier in Dexterity but are proficient in the skill Acrobatics (which is a Dexterity skill), you will add 2 to your modifier of 3. 2+3 = 5. You'll obviously want to add your +5 bonus instead of your +3 modifier, so that's when you do that.

Basically, add your proficiency bonus whenever you are proficient in that skill.

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