I am a new player creating a rogue character and I'm struggling to understand how the skill system works. I've spent about an hour searching through the Basic Rules and can't find anything. I'm specifically wondering what to put for skills that I'm not proficient in.

I picked the skills acrobatics, sleight of hand, perception, and insight to be proficient in. My criminal background gives me proficiency in deception and stealth. So what does "proficiency" mean in terms of skills as opposed to items? How do I fill these in?


2 Answers 2


I suggest you carefully read through Chapter 7 of the Player's Handbook (PHB) or Part 2 of the players basic rules.

An explanation on proficiency bonuses can be found on page 173 of the PHB or page 57 of the basic rules.

An explanation on the relevant numbers you need for ability (skill) checks can be found on page 174 of the PHB or page 58 of the basic rules. The most relevant part regarding what numbers to fill in for each skill can probably be best explained at the top of page 175 of the PHB or page 59 of the basic rules.

If you're still having trouble after reading through this chapter please be very specific about what doesn't make sense and update you're question accordingly.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Am I using the wrong book? There are only 110 pages in the pdf that I downloaded. \$\endgroup\$
    – user23475
    Jun 18, 2015 at 2:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ So you're using the free basic player rules? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2015 at 2:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. Are you saying there's a different set of rules? \$\endgroup\$
    – user23475
    Jun 18, 2015 at 2:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Players Handbook (abbreviated as PHB) is the hardcover rulebook that has a lot more character options than the free Basic Rules PDF. (Basic has the same rules, just less options). I notice Purple Monkey has now added the Basic page numbers - that should help you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Jun 18, 2015 at 2:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @avuong2962 - it's not a waste of time, it is the purpose of this site: To provide concrete answers to specific questions about roleplaying games. You're driving the site, not wasting its time! Welcome and stick around! \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Jun 18, 2015 at 8:21

SHORT ANSWER: Proficiency bonus is based on the Level of a character and nothing else, class or race don't matter, only the level of your character. "Characters have a proficiency bonus determined by level" (PHB 173). For every skill you are proficient in you get the following bonus based on the level of your character:

Level / Proficiency Bonus
1st: +2
2nd: +2
3rd: +2
4th: +2
5th: +3
6th: +3
7th: +3
8th: +3
9th: +4
10th: +4
11th: +4
12th: +4
13th: +5
14th: +5
15th: +5
16th: +5
17th: +6
18th: +6
19th: +6
20th: +6


Each Class has a "Proficiency Bonus" chart under that class in "Chapter 3: Classes" in the Players Handbook (PHB). For some classes the chart is a stand-alone chart, like the fighter's (PHB 71). For the Druid the proficiency chart is part of the spell chart on (PHB 65). All the classes have the exact same proficiency bonus chart so you can look at any class to determine your proficiency bonus.

If you make a check on a specific skill you are proficient in, a weapon you are proficient in, or a spell you get both your standard modifier for that ability AND your proficiency bonus.

"Your proficiency bonus applies to:

• 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 12)

It took me a while to figure this out when I started playing and I think once players get it down it is very simple and they forget how complicated it can be for beginners. The PHB really does not lay this out very clearly, the necessary information is spread out over 3 or 4 chapters when it could be simply stated in one or two paragraphs and a single chart.

I hope this helps you. Best,

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks this helps a little more than the accepted answer, altho the other is nice to know where to find this info in the book. \$\endgroup\$
    – prufrofro
    Sep 25, 2018 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, @prufrofro, I edited to include quotes and references from PHB, unfortunately I don't have the basic rules short book. I hope this helps. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Oct 1, 2018 at 3:56