I'm new here and this is my first question, so please excuse me if I didn't follow the rules or something.

I received my 5th edition D&D books recently and I'm working on a basic translation of the rules so I can play with some friends (French speaking).

Anyways, it took me a while to get my head around the whole Proficiency thing.

I think I understood how it works now and to which rolls I have to add the proficiency bonus.

However, after creating a sample character of each class for my friends to pick from, I couldn't stop thinking that something didn't seem quite right.

Here is a quick example;

The Fighter has a +3 STR modifier meaning that with a weapon he has Porficiency with he attacks with D20+5

The Druid has a +2 DEX modifier meaning that with a weapon he has Proficiency with he attacks with D20+4

I feel like this is a little unbalanced, the Fighter except for a few class perks (which the Druid also has by the way) has nothing "special" nor attractive.

Both the Fighter and the Druid have very similar attack rolls, they both have unique class perks, but the Druid also has a bunch of Cantrips and Spells.

What incentive do players have for picking a Fighter over a Druid?

For a moment I started thinking that it would make more sense if each class was proficient in an ability score instead.

This way the Druid would be proficient in Charisma, to help his spellcasting abilities, but would not have such a high DEX attack roll. - making the spellcasting ability the attractive part of playing a Druid.

The Fighter would be proficient in Strength, to help his close combat attack rolls. - making his high chances to land attacks in close combat the attractive part of playing a Fighter.

Did I misunderstand something when it comes to Proficiency? Am I reading too much into this and should spend time playing the game instead of asking these questions? Haha :)

Let me know what you guys think!


  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi guys, OP here :) Quentin true, you are right, they are a class perk but that does not address nor answer my question. @lithas you got me right my question is more about balance and underpowered/overpowered classes but I'm sure the writers have tried the game and are very experienced and know what they are doing. I'll get a few games under my belt and see how it all works out :) I was just curious to see what others think and wanted to make sure I got the whole proficiency thing right. Javelin thanks for the tour :) I'll give it a try! \$\endgroup\$ – Lochness Jan 6 '16 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would also like to point out that anyone who makes a Melee Weapon Attack adds their STR Modifier to their Attack Roll, and similarly anyone who makes a Ranged Weapon Attack adds their DEX Modifier to their Attack Roll. There are exceptions for both cases, like Finesse Melee weapons and Throwing Ranged weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Jan 6 '16 at 22:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Is this question about Proficiency, or is this question intended to be about class comparisons? The title led me to believe that Proficiency was the question, but if the intent was to compare classes, the question title needs to be edited to reflect that, as does the question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 7 '16 at 0:06

Your problem is that you are only looking at the to-hit bonuses, which can be deceiving. You are missing a big part of the picture, namely the weapons themselves, and are downplaying the importance of class features.

Let's look at the damage output. The fighter, being proficient in all martial weapons, takes a greatsword (2d6), hitting for 7+3=10 damage on average. The druid's highest damage finesse weapon is the scimitar (1d6), for an average of 3.5+2=5.5 damage, which is just over half the fighter's. But we're not quite done yet. The fighter takes the Great Weapon Fighting Style and re-rolls all 1s and 2s, increasing his average damage by another 0.5.

Now, this damage is meaningless without hitting anything first, so let's see how our characters are stacking up here. The important thing to note here is how much more often the fighter will hit compared to the druid, which varies depending on the enemy's AC

Against AC 15, the druid hits 50% of the time, the fighter 55%, which is (55%/50%-1)×100% = 10% more often. At AC 18, the druid has a 35% chance, while the fighter's chance is 40%, which is already 14% higher.

If you combine hit-chances and damage rolls into average damage per round, assuming an AC 15 enemy, the fighter ends up with 0.55×10.5 = 5,775 dpr. The druid gets 0.5×5.5 = 2,75 dpr, less than half the fighter's.

Looking further ahead, the fighter's higher level class features enhance his ability to hit things with heavy sharp objects further. In particular, the 5th level feature Extra Attack outright doubles the fighters damage output. The druid compensates for this lack of martial prowess with it's own class features and spells.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrLemon thanks a million man :) Super helpful comment. I'll get to playing a few games and see how it all pans out! Looks like later down the line things will balance out :) \$\endgroup\$ – Lochness Jan 6 '16 at 22:08

In fifth Edition D&D a design choice was to simplify bonuses to attacks, saving throws, and skills as compared to previous editions. What proficiency represents now is simply this: as you go up in level, you get better at things, and not just combat.

Reference: Basic Rules Page 7 (PHB p. 12)

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)

While at first level this may seem to make the Druid a lot like the Fighter per your example, at later levels the Fighter gets to make multiple attacks while the Druid still has one, but also has his spells. In any case, the Fighter can use more kinds of weapons and more kinds of armor than the Druid can. (See the Martial Weapons versus Simple Weapons on the Weapons Table in the Equipment chapter of the rules. (Basic Rules is page 46, PHB is 149)

  1. If I attack with a battle axe and am not proficient, my attack roll is: d20 + Strength Modifier
    If I attack with a battle axe and am proficient, my attack roll is: d20 + Strength Modifier + proficiency bonus (+2 at level 1, +3 at level 5, and so on)
  2. If I make an Acrobatics check and am not proficient, my roll is: d20 + Dexterity Modifier

    If I make an Acrobatics check and am proficient, my roll is: d20 + Dexterity Modifier + proficiency bonus ((+2 at level 1, +3 at level 5, and so on)

Your question strays into comparative choices between classes, which is a very different question from simply applying proficiency as a reflection of "as you go up in level you get better at a lot of things" ... not just combat.

The table entitled Character Advancement (p. 10 Basic Rules, p. 14 PHB) shows how the bonus increases based on character level from +2 to +6. On that same page, please review "Tiers of Play" since that is part of the explanation of how things will change as the game progresses.

... the four tiers of play ... are a general description of how the play experience changes as characters gain levels.
In the first tier (levels 1–4), characters are effectively apprentice adventurers.
In the second tier (levels 5–10), characters come into their own. Many spellcasters gain access to 3rd-level spells at the start of this tier, crossing a new threshold of magical power with spells such as fireball and lightning bolt. At this tier, many weapon-using classes gain the ability to make multiple attacks in one round. These characters have become important, facing dangers that threaten cities and kingdoms.

And so on for higher tiers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the comprehensive answer I'll keep reading and learn more about the game and longer term :) \$\endgroup\$ – Lochness Jan 6 '16 at 22:15

You are correct in your how you interpret proficiency, and at low levels the math does look very similar. However, did you remember your fighter's fighting style? That gives the fighter extra damage, defenses, or accuracy depending on what you take. Additionally, the druid can't wear armor as heavy as the fighter's. Also, look at the proficient weapons. A druid is restricted to simple weapons, while the fighter can use a much stronger weapon.

Look at higher level features as well. As the fighter levels up, he gets to make multiple attacks, and depending on his subclass can get other further enhancements to his attacks, while the attacking druid only gets his one attack with a lower ability score. In the fighter's case, he also gets more ability score increases than any other class in the game, so can select more feats if you are playing with them, or can just go for better raw stats.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @Ethan :) I'll give less weight to the attack rolls and look at the bigger picture :) \$\endgroup\$ – Lochness Jan 6 '16 at 22:13

The classes don't have any set base ability scores but a pregenerated character for a module can. Normally, the DM decides on how you can allocate, buy, or roll for ability scores. A fighter can just as easily have a +2 DEX as a Druid can have +3 STR. Because you, the player, normally have more freedom in allocation of these ability scores, this shouldn't be a factor in selecting a class, especially since MAD (Multiple Attribute Distribution) has been fixed a great deal in 5e.

Fighter Pros and Cons


  • Low MAD (Usually CON and STR/DEX)
  • 5 Archetype features
  • 7 Ability Score Improvements/Feats!!
  • Most melee/ranged attacks in game with an action.
  • Action Surge (Which can double their already amazing number of attacks per round)
  • Indomitable helps prevent them from getting taken out early in fights via failed saves.
  • Access to every weapon, armor, and shield.
  • Plethora of options for custom-ability.
  • Great for multi-classing


  • Gear dependent, especially if you want to have good AC.
  • His core feature, extra attack, isn't more special than any other class until level 11 when he gets extra attack(2).
  • His proficient saves are Strength and Constitution which stinks if you want to build a ranged fighter as you'll have a high dexterity. Only wind spells and spells that push you require strength saves.
  • Capstone is extra attack(3) which makes sense, but is 9 levels from extra attack(2). It feels like an ability you should have at high levels, but not something that takes till level 20 to get.

Druid Pros and Cons


  • Low MAD (CON & WIS) - This means high natural Hp, high perception, and high wisdom save (most common out of all saves.)
  • Knows every druid spell for their level. Always.
  • Shape Shifting gives great versatility. Damage and Tankiness.
  • Most Health in the game with Shape Shifting.
  • Access to best Crowd Control in game.
  • Access to best Counter Crowd Control in Game.
  • Gets Cantrips (infinite spells)
  • Gets Level 9 Spells (Strongest spells)


  • High MAD (If you're a land druid.) You need to add DEX to your needed ability scores for initiative and AC. A shape shifter doesn't worry about it because they take the creature's stats.
  • Difficulty scales with DM experience. This isn't necessarily bad, but can make or break an experience for a druid player, especially if they are new: You can ONLY shift into an animal you've seen in person and newer players have to read about every beast they can transform into. It's kind of like Pokemon but with WAY more statistics and features.

    - Gear restricted. Cannot wear any metal armor or shields.

There are plenty of reasons to pick a fighter over a Druid. The best one is that you want to play a fighter type character. Both classes are very different so trying to compare them is like comparing apples to oranges. I say go with your gut on this one and play what you think you'll have more fun playing.


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