Skill Weakness (5e Variant Rule)

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Skill Weakness[edit]

When creating your character, you may take a -4 penalty to any one skill you do not have proficiency in. This penalty stacks with the skill's relevant ability modifier (e.g. if Perception is your Weakness and you have +2 wis, your Perception bonus is -2).

This skill is your biggest weakness, and is an opportunity for role-play. As such, this weakness should reflect some aspect of your character or background. For example, a scholar who has spent their entire life studying may have Survival as their weakness; a character who is especially clumsy may have Acrobatics as their weakness.

If you gain additional proficiencies at later levels, you may choose your Weakness to gain proficiency in, if the feature allows you to gain proficiency in that skill. In this case, you lose the -4 penalty to that skill, representing you working on overcoming your weakness.

Beneficial Variant[edit]

The Skill Weakness rule is meant as an opportunity for role-play, and so doesn't normally confer any benefit. However, your DM may allow you to choose a benefit from the following list:

  • Gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.
  • Gain Expertise (as described in the PHB bard and rogue class descriptions) in one skill of your choice.
    • Choose one skill you have proficiency in. When making a skill check using that skill, you double your proficiency bonus.
    • If you gain the Expertise feature again, you cannot choose a skill that already benefits from Expertise.
  • You gain proficiency in one additional language or tool of your choice.
  • You gain proficiency in one weapon of your choice.

Your choice should also reflect your character or background. For example, the scholar whose Weakness is Survival may gain an additional language, representing the time they spent indoors studying; the clumsy character whose Weakness is Acrobatics may gain proficiency in Medicine, representing how they have to constantly heal their own injuries.


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