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DMG p.231

A character who agrees to training as a reward must spend downtime with the trainer. In exchange, the character is guaranteed to receive a special benefit.Possible training benefits include the following:

  • The character gains inspiration daily at dawn for 1d4 + 6 days.

  • The character gains proficiency in a skill.

  • The character gains a feat.

Does this means that if I find someone willing to train me I can gain a feat at any level?

For example, I am a rogue and help some animals in a forest that a retired ranger protects. In gratitude for what I did, the retired ranger told me that he is willing to teach me the Dual Wielder feat. So I can learn that feat without the need of being a 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, or 19th level?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Much of the DMG includes rules alternatives vs. the standard rules of the PHB, its at your DM's discretion. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 20 '15 at 11:43
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Yes, but it's not common

The rules you're referencing are in a section of the DMG suggesting rewards for characters for DM's looking to go beyond the usual treasure. As such how often they appear in a game, and what form they take, is very much up to the discretion of the DM. If you're interested in something like this you should talk to your DM about it and see where it goes.

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Yes, but...

Yes, this does mean that it is possible to gain feats without qualifying for them with levels in a class. But this is not intended to be a loophole to get infinite feats. On the contrary, it should be a rare occurrence, and a reward for pleasing someone powerful by doing something remarkable.

As the first part of the Training section you quote says:

This kind of training isn't widely available and thus is highly desirable.

And as the introduction to Other Rewards on DMG 227 says:

This section presents a variety of ways that gods, monarchs, and other beings of power might recognize the characters' accomplishments, including supernatural gifts that give characters new capabilities; titles, lands, and other marks of prestige...

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I believe we are forgetting the direct nod to 'Downtime Activities' that the DMG entry alludes to.

DMG pg 231 : "...must spend Downtime with the trainer..."

PHB pg 187 Downtime / Training : "...The DM determines how long it takes....Training takes 250 days and costs 1gp per day..."

The entry in and of itself kind of contradicts itself. Training takes 250 days....but the DM ultimately determines how long it takes. UP TO 250 days perhaps is what it's saying... Both Downtime and Training during your Downtime is critically outlined on page 187 . I strongly believe this DMG entry is offering the GM extra options for what page 187 is ruling on.

So yes.... you could learn Duel Wielder from the Ranger, but it's going to take a LOT of time, and quite a bit of GP , unless your DM (being the ultimate authority on all that) says otherwise. During that time, the world will go on without you, things might change, enemies may grow stronger and you wont otherwise being using that time for adventuring. Why? Because teaching a Rogue skills only a Ranger may have takes time....it's not just instantly bestowed upon you for being a helpful member of society. You'll have to learn it the hard way. It's a rewarding sacrifice mechanic :)

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    \$\begingroup\$ The 250 days is specifically for training a tool or language. That said, it is also a guideline for those DM's that wish to allow it (just like most things in the DMG are), not a hard and fast rule. If this is the baseline of training, then a feat would likely take a year or more, as they are far heavier time investments. Of course, as deities can grant them, the training time can be cut down to 0 in extreme cases. It's all about the choices the DM makes for the story, but isn't really contradictory because they are simply options. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Apr 20 '15 at 17:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Aviose I did catch that the PHB entry mentions this is specifically for tools or a language, just like the PHB mentions a few other things that the DMG expands upon as options. This DOES seem to be the baseline for training, as both entries match the keywords of it being during downtime, and coming from a trainer (unless it comes more magically or godly gifted from a powerful being.) I agree that no matter what our interpretation is, however, these are always only ever guidelines. I just wanted to point out what I felt was an important link between the two texts. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Apr 21 '15 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a note, due to the time cost, it would be best to undertake this training in between adventures, if your DM both allows it and provides sufficient downtime. \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Time - Reinstate Monica May 8 '19 at 18:58
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Theoretically, yes. This could be the an answer to a fighter's lack of stuff to spend gold on beyond platemail, but once again its up to the DM. Personally I would allow it if i felt the deed warranted it and the amount of time was applicable. If people want to curb it a little, they can simply say they don't get the ability score enhancement.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't that "curbing" just defeat the point by making it not actually a reward at all, and just an overly complex way of picking a feat? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 17 '16 at 12:33

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