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5E Perform versus Musical Instruct Proficiency

jgsugden

Legend
There is a harp and singing competition in the village. Three PCs enter. All are the same level and have the same charisma.

Tim (PC 1) has proficiency with the harp and proficiency with performance. Tom (PC 2) has proficiency in harp, but not performance. Tam (PC) has proficiency in performance, but not harp. The DM asks all three players to describe their performances and all three independently give similar descriptions.

As a DM, how would you handle the situation? All three make the same roll because they're all proficient in something relevant and have the same bonuses? Or does Tim get an advantage for having both performance and harp proficiency? If so, what is that bonus?
 

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ninjayeti

Adventurer
Tim gets proficiency bonus whether or not he plays the harp as part his performance (you never add proficiency bonus more than once)
Tom gets proficiency bonus if he plays the harp, but not if he sings, dances, recites poetry, etc. (see PHB p. 179 for description of Perform skill)
Tam gets proficiency bonus for singing, dancing, poetry, etc, but not if he just plays the harp
 

Stormonu

Legend
Tim rolls with Advantage and get proficiency bonus. Tom rolls a normal roll and gets proficiency bonus (for the Harp). Tam rolls with Disadvantage and no proficiency bonus, or the DM rules she can't enter because she has no proficiency with Harp.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Maybe I'd do something like this:

  • one Charisma (Performance) check if you only sing
  • one Dexterity (Harp) check if you only play
  • both checks if you sing and play, then average the result

If someone doesn't have proficiency in Harp but decides to play it anyway, no Dex roll but automatic failure (counts as rolling a 1).
Performance proficiency doesn't normally indicate whether you can sing, dance or else... I'd be good and assume that if you haven't specified already otherwise for your PC, you can assume you know how to sing, otherwise no Cha roll but automatic 1 if you decide to sing anyway.
In case of a tie, the contestant who has both sung and played wins; if the tie is between the other two, toss a coin.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
There's an optional rule in Xanathar's Guide under Tools and Skills together.
Advantage. If the use of a tool and the use of a skill both apply to a check, and a character is proficient with the tool and the skill, consider allowing the character to make the check with advantage. This simple benefit can go a long way toward encouraging players to pick up tool proficiencies. In the tool descriptions that follow, this benefit is often expressed as additional insight (or something similar), which translates into an increased chance that the check will be a success.​
So Tim gets advantage, Tom just has proficiency. Tam can't play the harp but can give a different performance check. There are some things I might allow untrained with disadvantage but playing a harp is not one of them.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Honestly, I'd probably waive the skill check altogether for the character who is proficient in both the harp and the Perform skill, unless there was something weird going on. To that character, this is just a normal Tuesday night. They should auto-succeed unless there is a compelling reason why they shouldn't.

For the other two characters, I'd just make the respective skill checks normally.
 

Voadam

Hero
Honestly, I'd probably waive the skill check altogether for the character who is proficient in both the harp and the Perform skill, unless there was something weird going on. To that character, this is just a normal Tuesday night. They should auto-succeed unless there is a compelling reason why they shouldn't.

For the other two characters, I'd just make the respective skill checks normally.
Its a competition, the check is presumably for how well they do in that specific performance, not a binary success or failure at playing competently.
 

Voadam

Hero
You could have them make separate checks for the harp and the singing aspects to see how well they do at the different parts.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Its a competition, the check is presumably for how well they do in that specific performance, not a binary success or failure at playing competently.
Yeah, I got that. I'd probably just let the other two make checks as normal, and then say that the person who was proficient in both the Perform skill and the Harp did slightly better than both of the others. (Unless there was a compelling reason not to. Maybe one of the others is using a magical instrument? Maybe one of them rolled a nat-20? Maybe the double-proficient harpist has a hangover, or is playing someone else's instrument? I can think of a dozen reasons off the top of my head.)

I should clarify. A swing of +1d20 will most likely govern any skill check or proficiency bonus, and it seems weird to nullify the specialist's proficiencies with a bad roll. ("Specialist" being someone who is skilled in both Perform and the harp.) Even with Advantage, the odds of the specialist getting out-performed by a lucky roll seems unfairly high. Playing a harp isn't really a test of luck....it's almost purely a test of skill.

I know how to play a guitar, but I'm not a performer by any means. So I can say with utmost confidence that B.B. King will always (repeat: always) be able to out-play me, effortlessly, anytime, anywhere.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Yeah, I got that. I'd probably just let the other two make checks as normal, and then say that the person who was proficient in both the Perform skill and the Harp did slightly better than both of the others. (Unless there was a compelling reason not to. Maybe one of the others is using a magical instrument? Maybe one of them rolled a nat-20? Maybe the double-proficient harpist has a hangover, or is playing someone else's instrument? I can think of a dozen reasons off the top of my head.)

I should clarify. A swing of +1d20 will most likely govern any skill check or proficiency bonus, and it seems weird to nullify the specialist's proficiencies with a bad roll. ("Specialist" being someone who is skilled in both Perform and the harp.) Even with Advantage, the odds of the specialist getting out-performed by a lucky roll seems unfairly high. And playing a harp isn't really a test of luck....it's almost purely a test of skill.

Maybe allow a roll with a minimum of 10 for the specialist? Or 15 because they have advantage? I think the person who has just proficiency in the tool should have a chance to win, but I agree a single roll even with advantage can be quite the swing. But that's true of a lot of things D&D.

Like I said before, the person who has never picked up a harp before doesn't stand a chance winning a contest for playing the harp IMHO.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
There is a harp and singing competition in the village. Three PCs enter. All are the same level and have the same charisma.

Tim (PC 1) has proficiency with the harp and proficiency with performance. Tom (PC 2) has proficiency in harp, but not performance. Tam (PC) has proficiency in performance, but not harp. The DM asks all three players to describe their performances and all three independently give similar descriptions.

As a DM, how would you handle the situation? All three make the same roll because they're all proficient in something relevant and have the same bonuses? Or does Tim get an advantage for having both performance and harp proficiency? If so, what is that bonus?

I ask for a Charisma check and the players add the skill proficiency they think applies best given what they described. Tam and Tom have disadvantage because this is a harp AND singing competition.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Nothing, the contest gets interrupted by Team Rocket Goblins and everybody fights instead :p THERE! Solved that problem and nobody is none the wiser...
No matter what the question in D&D is, the answer is always MOAR GOBLINS! ;)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Tam gets proficiency bonus for singing, dancing, poetry, etc, but not if he just plays the harp
Why not?

"Your Charisma (Performance) check determines how well you can delight an audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or some other form of entertainment."

Performance is not singing specific. Any music will do. It is a little weird, that having the skill means you can pick up any and all instruments and play them, but... weapon proficiency means you can pick up any of a large class of weapons, both melee and ranged, so I am not sure it is out of line.

I'd probably go with giving proficiency bonus and advantage to the one with both perform and the harm proficiency, the other two just get proficiency bonus.
 

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