What is a Bard’s ‘Jack of All Trades’ in D&D 5e?

Jack of all Trades (JOAT) can be a skill that bards acquire at the second stage that improves the ability of some bards to check rolls. In particular, the capability says: Starting in the 2nd grade, you’ll be able to increase your proficiency bonus by half.

That is rounded down to any ability test you take that doesn’t contain your bonus for proficiency. It’s not a bad skill. But it’s not as potent as people think. Due to the bonus being rounded down, most bards only get a +1 bonus on ability check rolls for abilities they aren’t skilled in because of the bonus being rolled down. 

When they reach level 10, the proficiency bonus is increased by 4 points. JOAT will grant a +2 bonus on those skills checks. Once upon a time, at level 17, the proficiency bonus increases to 6 points, the JOAT bonus is increased to +3. Bards can earn a range of proficiency levels, however. 

They will not be able to receive any extra points on roll-aptitude tests for skills for which they already possess proficiency.

This also limits the use of JOAT. Similar to that, JOAT does not provide bonus points for other kinds of rolls, like attacks as well as saving throws. If you stopped reading the page now, you’d be thinking, “Meh. It’s true, JOAT isn’t really as amazing as I imagined it would be.

” There is one method that makes this skill very impressive: Initiative rolls can be described as a kind of ability test. Since you can’t improve your initiative rolls, a bard will always be able to claim the JOAT bonus on the initiative.

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As there aren’t many methods to boost your initiative, this is an excellent option for bards in particular because (a) bards are more likely to possess a high level of dexterity, which gives them a significant initiative benefit and (b) bards often gain greatly by starting early in the initiative sequence to create powerful control spells before opponents can take action or get into the picture.

It’s a good thing to be thankful that your initiative earns you an added benefit. Be aware of the instances when you can barely master an inexperienced ability. It’s unlikely to happen frequently, but you may be very content when it happens.

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