You Can Always Count On Reliable Talent 5e


We cover the Rogue feature Reliable Talent, how it works, and spells and other features that function similarly.

reliable talent

Clearing his throat, the Rogue rubs his hands together eagerly before gently inspecting the lock. Luckily, he has Reliable Talent, so even if the player doesn’t roll well, the Rogue will undoubtedly do a great job picking the lock and getting the door open without triggering any untoward traps.

When Does Reliable Talent Become Available?

Reliable Talent comes online for Rogues at level 11. It’s pretty common for players to multiclass with dips in other classes, especially spellcasters, but this is a crucial part of playing the role of skill monkey in your party. If you’re thinking about multiclassing, try to allow yourself at least 11 levels in Rogue so you can have access to this.

How Does It Work?

The Basic Rules say: By 11th level, you have refined your chosen skills until they approach perfection. Whenever you make an ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10.

Keep in mind that there are some ability checks that aren’t always defined as such. For example, initiative is a skill check (Dexterity) which means that you would think Reliable Talent would apply to it. However, the text explicitly notes that you must be proficient in the skill, and you cannot be proficient in initiative.

If you’re mixing in spells or are an Arcane Trickster, spells like counterspell and dispel magic also use ability checks when you attempt to affect a spell of a higher level than the one you cast, but again, you can’t be proficient in them.

For combination Bard/Rogues, there might be some confusion about how Reliable Talent interacts with the Bard feature Jack of All Trades. Jack of All Trades lets you apply half of your proficiency bonus to any ability check that you aren’t proficient in. That means Jack of All Trades applies to spell ability checks and initiative. However, Reliable Talent doesn’t mention anything about half proficiencies, so most DMs will rule that having half proficiency in something doesn’t make it eligible for Reliable Talent.

Are There Any Limitations?

Reliable Talent works in plenty of unexpected scenarios, but it is confined to solely affecting ability checks. Saving throws, attack rolls, ability checks in skills you aren’t proficient in, and death saving throws are unaffected.

Similar Items, Features, Or Spells

Although Reliable Talent is specific to Rogues, there are spells and magical items that can give other characters similar abilities.

Borrowed Knowledge

This spell allows you to become proficient in a skill you aren’t normally for an hour. This doesn’t help you if you still manage to roll a natural 1 on the d20, but at higher levels, your proficiency bonus should be high enough to make a big difference. If you cast this on a Rogue with Reliable Talent, their feature will apply as long as they’re proficient.

Jack of All Trades

As we addressed in the sections above, Jack of All Trades is a Bardic feature that allows you to add half of your proficiency bonus to any ability check where you don’t have proficiency or expertise. This includes spell ability checks, initiative, and basic ability checks.


This Bard and Warlock spell lets you replace any Charisma check with a 15, regardless of what you roll. Obviously, most players will still roll to see if they get a number higher than 15 (which they can use instead), but this provides a nice safeguard like Reliable Talent. This is an 8th-level spell, though, so the earliest you could access it would be level 15.

Silver Tongue

Bards who choose the subclass College of Eloquence have access to a 3rd-level feature that allows them to replace any Charisma (Persuasion) or Charisma (Deception) roll with a 10 if the number on the d20 is 9 or lower.

Pass Without Trace

This 2nd-level spell doesn’t let you replace a bad roll, but you can add a flat +10 to whatever you get on a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Given the bounded math of D&D, adding any kind of flat bonus to a check is going to do wonders for any character, whether you’re rolling well or not.

Gloves of Thievery

Similar to the spell listed above, these gloves give you a permanent +5 bonus to Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) checks. These are great for Rogues because they don’t require attunement, and that bonus also applies to checks made with your thieves’ tools to pick locks or disarm traps.

Skill Empowerment

This spell doesn’t let you replace a poor roll, but you can choose a skill that someone is already proficient in and give them expertise in that skill for an hour if you can maintain concentration. Because borrowed knowledge isn’t a concentration spell, you could theoretically give someone proficiency in a skill and then follow it up with expertise if you needed to, although that might be something of a waste of spell slots.

Skill empowerment can’t apply to a skill that already benefits from expertise, though.

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