I'm new to D&D and trying to create a character to play with. I'm a bit confused by the skills. My character is a bard with the entertainer background. The bard class gives me three skills of my choice, and the entertainer background gives me proficiency in acrobatics and performance. Does this mean I have 3 skills of my choice, plus acrobatics and performance? Or does this mean I have three skills of my choice and if I choose acrobatics and performance then I get proficiency in those two skills?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, and welcome to RPG.SE! This seems like a solid first question, so I'm guessing you've already checked out our Tour - but if you haven't, it's under the 'Help' menu at the top of the page. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Aug 24, 2016 at 4:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of What happens if I get the same skill from both my background and my class? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Aug 24, 2016 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin Not a duplicate. The "dupe" question is asking what happens when you get the same skill from both your class and background whereas this question is asking whether you get the skills from your background as well as those from your class. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1, 2016 at 4:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleMonkey that is the reason SE asks for five votes to close. One can be mistaken. Five not so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Sep 1, 2016 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


"Having" a skill in 5e is "proficient in" said skill.

Skills are boolean - either you're proficient (and add your Proficiency Bonus and the attribute modifier to the rolls) or not (in which case you still get to add the attribute modifier).

So, since you took the entertainer background, yes, you "have" those two skills, acrobatics and performance.

The Bard class doesn't specify which skills, so any not granted by race or background are fair game to pick. Three more skills, you pick, become proficient.

So you should "have" a total of five proficient skills. The other skills all are non-proficient (at least until you get Jack of All Trades feature).

Bards' Jack of All Trades makes unskilled rolls half-proficient - half your proficiency mod is used unless you're proficient.

And one other thing: If background and class give the same skill, you can pick any other skill instead for the overlap.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Two things: First, always remember that Jack of All Trades rounds DOWN. Second, @aramis can you tell us where the skill overlap is described? \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Aug 24, 2016 at 19:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ it was referenced here on this post [rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/19790/…. Its at PBR, p. 36; PHB, p. 126 @Javelin \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2016 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say any other skill -- does that mean any other? Could you take, for example, Religion? Or does it need to come from the approved list? \$\endgroup\$
    – UrhoKarila
    Aug 27, 2016 at 6:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @UrhoKarila My read is that, if both have option lists, eg: BG sayd "Pick two of X,Y,Z" and Class says "Pick two of W,X,Y," you're essentially stuck with taking W,X,Y, and Z; if BG says "Take A&B", and Class says "Pick 2 of A, B or C", you'll have to take C, but that extra one can be any other skill. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Aug 28, 2016 at 1:29

It means you have proficiency in three skills of your choice plus proficiency in Acrobatics and Performance skills. You will be proficient in a total of 5 skills.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "if I choose acrobatics and performance then I get proficiency in those two skills" makes me think there is misunderstanding and questioner thinks that having skill and having proficiency is different things, when rules states that any character "has" all skills, but proficient only in some. I don't see point in posting another answer, so I suggest to you to reflect this misunderstanding in your post and I think this answer will be complete. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 24, 2016 at 5:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RollingFeles edit away if you want \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Aug 24, 2016 at 9:23

You have proficiency in all of the skills your background gives you, plus all of the skills your class gives you.

Having proficiency in the skill and "getting" the skill mean the same thing. In both cases, it means you get to add your proficiency bonus (which as a 1st level character is +2) to d20 rolls made with that skill, in addition to the ability modifier associated with that skill.


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