The Bard has proficiency with 3 instruments (e.g, Lute, Viol, Panflute) and starts with 1 (e.g. Lute). Selecting the Entertainer background allows for proficiency with 1 other instrument (e.g. Drum) and starting with a 2nd musical instrument (e.g. Panflute). Is this overlap correct?

In particular, can my lvl 1 Bard start with proficiency in Lute, Viol, Drum, Panflute, and begin the campaign with a Lute and Panflute in his inventory?


1 Answer 1


Yes, the Entertainer background is exactly that - a 'background' feature. It reflects what the PC did before they took up the life of adventuring. The overlap of having two musical instruments thus applies. It reflects that your Bard character's entire life has been immersed within the world of entertainment - as such, they have mastered (and possess) a wider range of instruments than a person beginning their career as a bard might normally expect to have. Do remember however that the DM is the final arbiter of their campaign and you should always run questions by them before simply accepting anything someone unaffiliated with your group says.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you're missing an important bit. Everything you say is correct and the character could start with the 4 instrument proficiencies and 2 instruments listed. However, per "Proficiencies" on PHB p.125 OP has another option: he could choose any other type of tool proficiency instead of a musical instrument from his background. (E.g. smith's tools, herbalism kit, &c.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I completely agree. I was simply responding to what Orem had proposed regarding the instruments. That said, whilst he would have other tool proficiencies available, by choosing Entertainer he is really making it clear that the Bard he has envisaged is steeped in that musical tradition - thus the extra instrument. Outside of a Gaming Kit (and possibly a Forgery tools dependant upon the backstory of the PC) there wouldn't be many tool proficiencies that would realistically be applicable to the entertainer background. I take your point however. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glenn Dyer
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 10:21

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