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What happens if you get the Weapon Master feat and select a specific weapon whose general type you are proficient with?

Weapon Master

You have practiced extensively with a variety of weapons, gaining the following benefits:
[...]

  • You gain proficiency with four weapons of your choice

So let's say you are proficient in martial weapons and you decide to also become proficient in longswords. Do these effects stack proficiencies?

The name of the feat makes it sound like it's for martial classes, but it seems this feat is useless for them if they don't stack.

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Using the feat in this way does nothing. You cannot add your proficiency bonus again.

The rules are quite specific. From the Players' Basic Rules, under "Proficiency Bonus":

Your proficiency bonus can’t be added to a single die roll or other number more than once. For example, if two different rules say you can add your proficiency bonus to a Wisdom saving throw, you nevertheless add the bonus only once when you make the save.

Occasionally, your proficiency bonus might be multiplied or divided (doubled or halved, for example) before you apply it. For example, the rogue’s Expertise feature doubles the proficiency bonus for certain ability checks. If a circumstance suggests that your proficiency bonus applies more than once to the same roll, you still add it only once and multiply or divide it only once.

So no, if you're proficient in martial weapons and you take the Weapon Master feat and choose longswords, you don't get any more proficient. The feat is for characters who aren't already proficient.

As an edge case: notice that Fighters and other classes are proficient in "simple and martial weapons" but "all armor and shields" - the wording leaves open the possibility that simple and martial weapons might not cover all of them, and indeed it doesn't cover improvised weapons (though if that's what you're after, Tavern Brawler is probably a better choice.) If you come across an exotic weapon (though Wizards hasn't published any so far), this feat might be useful for these classes as well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There are plenty of weapons that can be taken from monsters that are not on the weapons list. This feat could be useful for them. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Oct 13 '16 at 4:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DerekStucki Can you give a source/example? \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Oct 13 '16 at 16:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ From creatures in the SRD: chain devil's chain (unless it's attached?), a horned devil's fork (unless it's too big?), lizardfolk's spiked shield, merrow's harpoon (too big?). So, 1-4 options there depending on DM, plus whatever else is in the MM or adventures. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Oct 13 '16 at 22:49
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No, proficiencies do not stack. If you already have proficiency in martial weapons, the Weapon Master ability granting additional weapon proficiencies does nothing.

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