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Can a wizard learn a single weapon proficiency (similar to how they can learn a tool set or language, which use Training rules), or are costly and over-blown options like multi-classing, feats, or becoming a Bladesinger the only way?

I know that getting a level of Fighter, or taking the Weapon Master feat, or choosing the Bladesinger archetype would work, but all of these also gain many more things than just proficiency with a sword. They are also either difficult (multi-classing sacrifices a whole wizard level), or very expensive (devoting the character's future to being the Bladesinger archetype), or outright impossible (a DM's game may simply not include the multi-classing or feat options). It seems such a pity when Training rules are right there, but they don't cover learning new weapon proficiencies.

It's possible that I'm fixated on wishing I could just Train for using a sword and I'm overlooking something else.

Is there any simple way that isn't hugely expensive to learn proficiency with just the sword? Is it easier than I am seeming to read it?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 4 '16 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are satisfied with one of the answers feel free to accept one of them. The one that best answers your particular question. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Mar 5 '18 at 16:06
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Other than the obvious Feat and multi-classing there is a section on training in the DMG and thus totally optional, but it is on p231.

  • The character gains inspiration daily at dawn for 1d4+6 days.
  • The character gains proficiency in a skill.
  • The character gains a feat.

If you can get a feat by doing this or proficiency in a skill (pointing out that these don't count against your normal feat progression), I don't see anything game breaking to train for a single weapon. This is covered under unusual and usually unavailable training as a reward so it could be something to work toward by gaining renown with a guy that knows a guy for example.

This approach is entirely in the wheelhouse of DM allowance though and I would never allow it out of the box to be honest, as in Level 1.

This answer is based on the assumption that you already have a Wizard created and not necessarily an elf of any flavor, since the question was edited a few times by a couple of moderators this point may not have been clear, as in whether generating one from Level 1 or an existing Wizard of any race.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You say you don't see anything game breaking: could you address whether this would be balanced with, say, a fighter investing the same time to acquire a cantrip? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 3 '16 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Ranged versus melee? I don't think this answer needs to address scope creep beyond the original confines of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 3 '16 at 20:00
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Be a High or Wood Elf.

While this doesn't help an existing character, a new PC can be a High Elf or Wood Elf Wizard, who gain sword proficiencies as racial traits.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This was already implied with the part about being a Bladesinger which, out of the box is restricted to elves. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Aug 3 '16 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Picking an archetype and a race is very different than just picking a race and the objection to the archetype was how it affected the future, not the character's background. \$\endgroup\$ – Gregory Avery-Weir Aug 3 '16 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ A +1 for High Elf; remember, their sub-race stat bonus is +1 Intelligence. And you get several other weapon proficiencies to go with it, as well as an extra wizard cantrip. High Elves are exceptionally well suited, mechanically, for being wizards. \$\endgroup\$ – tzxAzrael Aug 4 '16 at 1:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GregoryAvery-Weir The question was "...way for my wizard..." which I took to mean they would have already picked a race and this would thus be logically after their apprenticeship or academy studies to become a wizard. As the question was edited at least 5 times while I watched it is hard to determine exactly which approach they desire, as to be a BS you would have had to be an elf from the start typically. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Aug 4 '16 at 13:44
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As answered here, the only way to gain a weapon skill without spending a feat or a class is to have a GM who allows you to get training. It make sense that it's not that easy to learn how to properly wield a weapon.

It's not that simple to become a proficient at wielding a sword, or any weapon for that matter. It's not just about being smart or strong. Being a real swordfighter requires knowledge of several stances and their strengths and weaknesses, how to dodge and parry without losing body parts, and how to fight against other types of weapons efficiently. This requires several years of training and practice before you can properly use a sword in a real fight.

A friend of mine has been training in swordfighting for half a year now, and in matches he's still getting destroyed by most of his fellow students.

Everyone can swing a sword around and hope to hit something, and so can your wizard. But the penalties reflect that he doesn't really know what he is doing, as you would expect from everyone without proper training. And a feat or class represents that training.

As to why the feat 'suddenly' gives you skills, that goes for most feats and abilities that you gain after creation of the character. This is mostly a roleplay issue. I've played with GMs that didn't allow players to get feats or abilities if they didn't beforehand let him know that they were training those, but most GMs don't care and just ignore the plot hole that it is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This makes sense, the same as the wizard's spell abilities taking a lifetime to learn, until the fighter's level gives that wizard ALL of the weapons knowledge, and the armor proficiencies, when I'm thinking of one, solitary weapon. Oh well, that one level of Fighter does seem to bring a lot with it, so it is probably the best option. Thanks much! \$\endgroup\$ – Venkelos Aug 3 '16 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Venkelos While a single level dip may not be the best in terms of verisimilitude, or "realism" it works well enough from a game mechanics perspective. You can still work with your DM to fold that multi classing choice into the story of your character within the campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 3 '16 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dennisch the question has morphed significantly since you answered; I think your post still contains all of the right ideas, but it no longer really reads like a direct answer to OP. Can I suggest you head up your post with something like "No, you can't train weapon proficiencies, per PHB p.*whatever*, and here's why that makes so much sense..." \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 3 '16 at 15:29
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Be a Variant Human.

(This will require that your DM allows the Variant Human racial type, in the box at the bottom of PHB p.31.)

Instead of gaining +1 to all 6 stats, you get +1 to two stats, and an extra skill, and an extra feat. Spend the bonus feat on Weapon Master, and gain proficiency with 4 weapons of choice, and a point of Dex or Str.

Yes, I saw that you didn't consider spending a Feat to be ideal, but this is an almost-free option which pays for itself quite well. As a human, choose +1 to your Dex and Int, and for the feat choose Dex again. Overall, +2 Dex, +1 Int, 4 weapons of your choice (which could all be swords if you like), and even an extra skill choice.

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Some Magic Items give weapon proficiencies

Although this doesn't help you get proficiency in any kind of sword, I want to point out that there is a way to gain proficiency with certain weapons outside of race/class or the Weapon Master feat, and that's by being attuned to certain magic items.

The only RAW example I can find is the Bracers of Archery, which gives you proficiency with Longbows and Shortbows. From the DMG, pg. 156:

While wearing these bracers, you have proficiency with the long bow and shortbow, and you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls on ranged attacks made with such weapons.

However, this also sets the precedent for a DM to homebrew other magic items that allow magic items to grant proficiency. Therefore, if your DM would be willing to help you get this weapon proficiency, you could have, say, a magic sword that gives you the proficiency with swords of its kind, or some other utility magic item (such as bracers, or example) that give you a weapon proficiency.

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For sake of completeness, and since most answer cover the rules in the books, I am going to take the homebrew route.

Very little homebrew

Adapting a background: Some backgrounds can be modified just a tiny bit to have proficiency with a weapon. For example with the Noble background, instead of a game set, your noble family's tradition is focus on fencing and rapiers. The soldier background can easily give you access to a weapon proficiency.

Adapting a race: This is a little bit more complex, since some races are hard to adapt but there are some that can be modified. For example, Dwarfs are very easy, you already have a weapon proficiency, now it is just a matter of being the Black-sheep Dwarf and learn how to use a sword or two.

Modifying the class: This might be frowned upon, but wizards do know how to use some simple weapons so it is not very far-fetch that instead of learning how to use the staff, dagger, darts, etc, he learnt how to use a single weapon.

Homebrew

The -you are a Wizard- option: You are in the realm of magic and, furthermore, you are a wizard, a scholar driven spell caster. You learn how to use spells by studying and that a guy called Mordenkainen create a spell to live in a mansion between adventures and a floating, invulnerable, sword. Your wizard can leave his footprint in his world by creating a spell that give you proficiency with a weapon. A cantrip or a level one or two spell might do the trick.

The magic weapon: If you can have weapons that can alert you from the presence of enemies, you can have a weapon that can (with a little bit of magic) bond with you and give proficiency with that weapon.

The -magic tome that turn into dust as soon as it is touched- path: Simple, elegant, with a title a bit too long but very fitting for an adventure. You heard about a tome that can engrave knowledge to the user. It might be cursed, or not, who knows, but that is how adventures roles.

There are more options but that would take forever to finish, and as the proverbial says; the DM is the limit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is anything wrong with my answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Chepelink Aug 4 '16 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Likely because it's preferable that it answer the question independently by including any necessary statements, and refer to other answers only to give due credit. Answers that don't answer the question on their own, as if no other answer existed, are “not useful” in their own right, as the downvote button's tooltip says. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 10 '16 at 1:30
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Goofy answer, but no one else has mentioned it

Well, there's always Wish - Learn lv 9 spells, cast Wish and wish you were proficient with Swords. It's pretty reasonable and unlikely to backfire spectacularly unless your GM punishes every Wish use, per the old tradition of 'Wishes always go hilariously awry'.

If your GM has a sense of humor, suggest that once you can cast a level 9 spell, you will Wish that you had always had Sword proficiency and get it retroactively back to this point in the game. When he chuckles and says 'Um, no' then go with Slagmoth's answer above.

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