As a DM, I have had and been characters that disregarded being strong in combat in favor of being extremely competent outside of combat. In the previous versions of D&D, this was done with skills and usually involved the rogue class. We called these characters skill monkeys. While skills were a significant part, proficiency in tools and a broad language base were other parts that made skill monkeys invaluable to a party outside of combat.

I really like this build because it is completed at level 6, giving you plenty of time to use it. Also, there is one skill you will not get in this build. It is possible to use feats (primary skill feats) to get the last skill, but I left that out. The final skill you gain access to is either animal handling or performance. I left the final choice up to you since I have never seen either of these skills used as a DM and player. 

Here is how to make a skill monkey in D&D 5e

The Versatility Of Humans

The race for this build is the variant human. While many of you know that half-elves give you access to two skills, variant humans provide you with access to one skill and a feat. The feat is what we are after. The feat you take is skilled, which means at level 1 but just choosing this race, you gain proficiency in 4 skills of your choice. The skills you take are athletics, acrobatics, history, and religion.

Balanced Ability Scores

In this build, you are not going for a min/max playstyle. To get the most out of your rolls, we will go for an even distribution of points. Your skills may not be as high as other players who max their ability scores. Although on the other side is that your skills will have a bonus when other players will not. The variant human points go into wisdom and charisma.

Here is how the distribution should look

Strength 13

Dexterity 13

Constitution 8

Intelligence 14

Wisdom 14

Charisma 14

As much as I hate a negative constitution, you do not need it outside of combat gameplay. The rest give you a +1/+2 bonus to skill scores. Wisdom and charisma are required for the build, and intelligence has the most skills to benefit from it.

Bad Merchant Better Monkey

The background to take is a failed merchant from Acquisitions Incorporated. This background gives you the investigation and persuasion skills and proficiency with an artisan tool of your choice. The real reason to go with this is the supply chain feature, which lets you use contacts to find items or information—just another great tool for your belt.


Where It All Started

As mentioned above, for me, the name started with the rogue class in previous versions. This is no exception since starting with rogue gives you 4 skills to choose from. You are also proficient in thieves tools, which are a perfect addition to this build.

The skills to take with rogue are:

insight, perception, sleight of hand, and stealth.

Insight and perception are perfect for expertise, so use your choices on them.

The Divine Monkey

For the 2nd level, you multiclass into a cleric. The knowledge domain gives you access to two skills that also then gain expertise. The skills to take are arcana and nature. The reason to bring these two is that in my experience, they are both commonly used skills. If that wasn’t enough, you also gain identify as a bonus spell, which is a spell at least one person in any party should have.

Skillful Bard

Level 3 has you multiclassing into bard. This will also be the last class you switch for this build. When you multiclass into bard, you gain 1 skill of your choice. The skill to take is deception. Continue leveling in bard until level 3, getting access to the college of lore. This college gives you access to three more skills, which are stealth, medicine, and intimidation. The expertise you get with these builds can go anywhere you would like.

At 4 levels in bard, you gain access to the last skill through the prodigy feat. Prodigy gives you proficiency in one skill and expertise in a skill you are proficient in. As stated above, it is either animal handling or performance, with the choice being up to you. It is not all bad, though, since whatever you do not choose still gets a buff of half your proficiency due to the jack of all trades ability.

The Sum Up

This is the 6 level build in being a skill monkey. You gain proficiency with 17 skills and expertise in 7, making you a champ in everything out of combat.


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