Skilled might not be a sexy pick for a feat but man can it be effective. The 5E skilled feat is one that still catches the eye of new and veteran players alike because of the instant boost it can provide to a player character. This is the first feat certain classes look at and it has proven to be surprisingly powerful even for players whose classes don’t generally scream “skill monkey.”
The 5E skilled feat is almost always worth picking up. Widely considered the most versatile of all the feats in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the ability to instantly become proficient in three new skills can radically strengthen almost any character build.
Take a look at why from artificer to wizard every class in the book should take a serious look at using one level up on this powerful and versatile feat.
Breaking Down the Skilled Feat
This is a pretty easy feat to breakdown from the PHB because it is one single sentence.
Directly from the Player’s Handbook:
You gain proficiency in any combination of three skills or tools of your choice.5E Player’s Handbook, p.170
Simple enough, but it’s a powerful feat that is among one of the most widely used among all 5th edition DnD campaigns.
Benefit #1: Three new proficient skills (or tools)
Generally speaking, unless there is a party where no one has lockpicking skills, and the DM is a stickler for that rule, the tools are not where this feat is going to be used. It’s the actual skill proficiencies that will have players drooling. As they should, because this is an exceptional feat.
There are multiple ways to approach this. A rogue might go whole hog with every even tangentially useful skill to add to their already impressive array of skills. A sorcerer or wizard tired of failing an athletics or acrobatics check might get their gym work on. A bard taking care of skill checks for a party without a rogue might pick up some crucial skills or remaining Charisma-based skills to apply their amazing bonuses to.
Skills can be boosted to create player who notices every detail or to give a player short on skills a fighting chance of not blowing that stealth or perception check. Or maybe based on the skill split it even does a little bit of both.
Because of how proficiency increases with level ups, this feat becomes one that scales up with the players and stays useful in the long-term, as well. Those new-found skills will only continue to grow as a character levels up, and that’s even without including any additional boosts that come from future ability score increases that boost the parent ability score for these skills.
Proficiency Bonus Table:
- +2 up through level 4
- +3 at level 5
- +4 at level 9
- +5 at level 13
- +6 at level 17
You can use Skilled in a variety of ways and character builds to make it effective. This is one of the most versatile feats by it’s nature. The description might be short and sweet but this is a very powerful feat!
How to Maximize Skilled Feat in 5th Ed
Getting the most out of the 5E Skilled Feat is going to vary based not only on individual character builds, but also the makeup of the party as well as the particular campaign that is being run. Keep that in mind when deciding which skills to pick, and trust your gut instincts and experience within the campaign that you’re playing in.
With that said, here ae some popular general strategies for getting the most out of this popular 5th Ed feat.
Pick Up Commonly Used Skills
There are certain skills that are always useful. And while certain skills can clearly be left to a specialist (performance to the bard, sleight of hand to the rogue) there are skills that are almost always useful and frequently show up to affect every member of the party. These are skills that are always handy to have and will be called upon often by a DM.
Such crucial skills include
- Perception (Grug can’t hit what Grug doesn’t notice)
- Stealth (All the better for avoiding an arrow to the knee)
- Insight (One of the most underrated skills in all of DnD, IMO)
- Athletics (Think of all the times you thought “Oh crap” when a DM called for an Athletics check)
- One of the “get your way” skills (Deception, intimidation, or persuasion)
Fortify Clear Weak Spots
Have you almost drowned multiple times? Does your DM love dungeon traps and natural obstacles? This is a good time to grab some proficiencies in Athletics and Acrobatics. You don’t have to become a monk, but even a moderate boost can help turn dangerous failures into bare minimum successes and if that saves from damage taken, or even your character’s life, then worth it.
You might want to add perception to a barbarian, insight to a rogue, or stealth to a heavy armor cleric.
The goal here isn’t to become super strong in an area, but to take a clear weak spot that a DM can (and will) frequently take advantage of and close it so it doesn’t continue to hammer you.
Become God-Like in Specialized Skills
Rogues and bards tend to get some really nice bonuses or traits that make them insane with their specialties. This also means that there are sometimes potentially useful skills that could supplement this setup that the player wasn’t allowed to take with their limited picks. Rogues eventually get a raised benefit where every roll is a ten or above which makes them natural skill monkeys.
At a high enough level for Bards they have four proficient skills with which to declare themselves experts, which doubles the proficiency bonus. While persuasion always makes sense for this, skilled lets them become proficient in things like investigation, perception, stealth, or other skills they might not normally choose…and then those bonuses can be doubled. That’s poweful.
Most classes can get most but not all the skills they want around a build. Using skilled to grab those extra couple mental skills for wizards or nature skills for Nature Clerics can make a huge difference not just for roleplaying but the rounded strength of those PCs.
Fill Some Party Gaps
If you’re playing most four player parties there will be some skill gaps. If your party is on a 3-person adventure then there will certainly be gaps in the skills your party brings to the table. Especially if it’s something like barbarian, fighter, druid. I mean great fighting classes but any skill check…woo boy. It’s going to be a long campaign if any self-awareness, non-intimidation persuasion, or diplomacy is needed.
For those parties it can make a lot of sense to take skilled and fill out the clear problems the party has, and this can work out extremely well if all three players agree to take skilled to split up the skills they need. One can take perception and investigation. One takes persuade and deception. One takes insight and arcana. All of them take stealth.
In a normal campaign it doesn’t take long to figure out where the holes are and the fact that Skilled allows you to plug three of those gaps at once is a really big deal.
5E Classes That Should Take the Skilled Feat
This is one of those rare ones where every single class could conceivably find a reason to take the skilled feat. But the answer “all of them” generally doesn’t help – but if it’s accurate, it’s accurate. Almost every class will fall under the “should consider taking the skilled feat” column but there are two classes that should ALWAYS take the skilled feat, IMO.
Bards & Rogues.
They’re the two classes that get a lot of class benefits that directly affect skills. They are two classes that are basically give the ability to become incredible jack of all trades, master of…some? all?
When so many class features are based around boosting all skills in these two classes, players should embrace that. Plus there’s nothing like informing a DM that your bard has a +17 on the persuasion check. Or that the rogue, with a little help from the ranger’s pass without a trace spell, has a stealth of +25 to add to a roll of 18.
These classes are built for not needing the skill feat to be incredibly useful, which is all the more reason to take it to make them both super powerful.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Skilled Feat: Bard, Rogue
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Skilled Feat
Truthfully, all of them. Even classes that aren’t designed for heavy skill use like barbarian could still find certain skills that would be beneficial. They might go that way or they might not, but virtually every class in the game has moments where they want certain skills. The versatility of this feat and how it adapts no matter what the campaign being played is another reason it is so highly regarded among 5E players.
Usually when I see a player take multiple feats but not skilled, they rolled bad stats and have a specialty class so just barely ran out of level ups to get this feat…even though they wanted it and still considered it.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Skilled Feat: Artificer, Barbarian, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Skilled Feat
There’s really no class that I would say should never take the skilled feat. Even classes that aren’t in need of the same number of skills as other ones, there are always really useful skills for every campaign. There are really useful class skills. Unless you’re a bard or rogue you’re never going to likely have all the skills you want in a campaign.
So why not take that proficiency bonus?
Even the barbarian might want to have a little more perception or nature or stealth knowledge.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Skilled Feat: None – perhaps least useful for the barbarian but even then, it’s still potentially a powerful feat as long as the barb PC can maximize both CON and STR by level 20.
Final Feat Grade for Skilled 5E
Skilled Feat Grade: A
Is the 5E Skilled Feat Worth It?
This is the most versatile feat in the game and one that plays many roles. It makes an already terrifying rogue god-like in their ability to handle anything, can make a good ranger scary good, turn a bard into a skill monkey for a rogue-less party, or even help the wizard pass an athletics check or the barbarian make that unlikely acrobatic move to close the gap.
While there are certain classes that will traditionally benefit much more than others, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a very versatile and powerful feat that will always at least come under consideration. And for a player who really needs to pick up perception, investigation, stealth, or persuasion without the base stat proficiency – this feat can become a straight out life saver.
Skilled Feat FAQ
Is the Skilled Feat good?
Experienced players and DMs generally agree that the skilled feat is one of the strongest and most versatile in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Few feats are so useful regardless of class, level, or campaign as Skilled.
Can you take the Skilled feat more than once?
The skilled feat can only be taken once. All feats in 5th Ed Dungeons & Dragons are designed to only be taken once. They can’t be taken more than once and stacked on each other.
Do you use the skilled feat for flavor reasons?
Sometimes skilled can be a great way to add flavor and roleplaying. Been spending all your time around the Druid? Grab Nature, Animal Handling, and Perception. Spending a lot of time with the rogue? Grab Stealth and Deception. Skilled does not have to be taken only for mechanical purposes.
Why would anyone use the skilled feat for tools instead of skills?
In certain situations Thieves’ Tools, Poisoner’s Kit, and Herbalism Kits can all be extremely useful. If a player only needs one or two more skills, they might choose to spend the third expertise on one of these kits or another one just for flavor.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.