Feat Design 4

In a G+ thread discussing one of my UA breakdowns in Tribality, Jim Carstensen said:

I’d welcome your input on “half feats” that grant +1 to an ability score. On one hand, it’s half of an ASI so you are getting value. But on the other side, it seems like it’s just trying to fill in for weaker feats. I’d rather if we wanted to go for weaker feat to just give them out more often.

The other part is that the +1 ability score assumes you want to advance that ability at this time, so it makes a feat like Perceptive more welcome to a cleric or druid then to a rogue. This is just a natural outgrowth of ability scores for feats not aligning with the ability scores that power various classes that use those skills.

My answer was just getting started when I realized that it was a lot to pack into a comment, and also that it would make a great topic for a full post. So here we are: a post about +1 ability score adjustments in feats, and more broadly about all the things that go on in feat design. As I’ve mentioned before, 5e feat design is a more complicated and delicate task than in any prior edition. I should probably do a “history of feats” thing in Tribality one of these days. Also, Jim is a sharp guy and I assume I am not going to be dropping truth bombs on him here – at best I may phrase something in a way to generate more light than heat.

Now, as we all know, every time you could pick up a feat, you could instead pick up two ability score points, as long as you’re not pushing that ability score over 20. This provides the first big dose of tension in the design (tension is not a bad thing in this usage). First off, feats should never be less impressive than two points to ability scores that you don’t really care about, because at that point, no one will take them. That’s the floor of feat throughput, nebulous though it may be. On the other hand, your attack stat is incredibly important, and everyone needs Con, so a designer is on dangerous ground if they’re aiming for “better than two points in your attack stat, when that wouldn’t hit the ceiling.” Your whole calculus of feat choice relaxes once your attack stat is sitting on 20 and your Con is at least out of the basement. (If playing with low Con or a low-to-middling attack stat is your deal, no judgment from me, but the game isn’t balanced on the assumption that your choice should benefit you.)

The Tough feat is an interesting specific case of this. Two hit points per character level is more hit points than +2 Con nets you. Twice as many, so that’s nice and easy. What Tough doesn’t do for you is improve your Con saves or (admittedly quite rare) ability checks. (To be honest, the suggestions for when you might roll a Con check are situations where the actual rules have you roll a Con save, with the possible exception of ale-quaffing. The left hand forgot what the fuck the right hand was doing on that one.) If you have particular class features that rely on Con, that skews the decision point a bit further, and even the classes that are in direst need of more hit points also need Con saves for their inevitable Concentration checks, because they’re spellcasters. Tough, then, isn’t quite a trap feat unless you’re a barbarian, and you do get something useful no matter what your stats are… but once you do have 20 Con, it’s no longer a tradeoff. (But do you really need more hit points once you have 20 Con?)

5e’s feat design abandons essentially everything that is true about feats in earlier editions and parallel-development systems (here thinking of 13th Age). 5e’s feats are big chunks of content, and you get fewer of them overall. All but a tiny number of them contain multiple moving parts. There are no feat chains or elaborate prerequisites. There are no feats aimed at just one or two classes. (I mean, not explicitly – only as an emergent property.) Feats and multi-classing are the two main ways to break out of your class and subclass archetype and gameplay loop, so despite the designers’ best efforts, those are the places to look if you really want to redline your character’s power.

Defensive Duelist, Inspiring Leader, Lucky, Ritual Caster, Savage Attacker, and Tough are the only feats in the Player’s Handbook that aren’t composites of 2-4 distinct elements, so building feats out of multiple discrete features is standard. (I’m splitting a hair pretty thin in calling Magic Initiate and Skilled “multiple discrete features,” admittedly.) Granting +1 to an ability score in that mix is reasonably legit, from the strict stance of what kinds of things can be features of feats. As Jim points out, though, this makes some feats far more appealing for classes that care about that feature than it is for others; on the other hand, in principle, everyone cares about every ability score at least a little bit, so it’s casting a wide net.

One of the weak points in granting +1 to an ability score as part of a feat is that there’s no clear handling for what happens if, say, you have a Con of 20 and pick up Durable. There’s nothing saying otherwise, so what technically happens is that you’re out of luck and that point of Con vanishes into the aether. That’s obviously pretty frustrating for the player, and it results in a situation where the player has to plan their progression. That’s an undesirable outcome on a number of levels: it restricts organic character growth (which in turn shifts focus away from the narrative) and it requires system mastery. Now, any conscientious DM would allow respending to correct for this, or just allow that spare point to be shifted to any other ability score, but it’s not written and thus it’s of no use to the Adventurer’s League crowd. With as few feat slots as characters receive in 20 levels, you never want to see buyer’s remorse win the day. An alternate solution – one that several PH feats adopt – is to offer two options for where that +1 goes (eg., Observant, Moderately Armored).

Let’s look at specific cases. Maybe all of the Player’s Handbook cases, or at least until I run out of steam.

Alert: This feat comes in three parts. The first element applies exactly once per fight, and this is not the post to discuss all of the issues with Initiative, so let’s leave it at “this is fine.” Its second feature comes up a lot less often, but when it pays off you feel great. It’s literally giving you a turn you wouldn’t have had, so that’s huge. The third feature is fine in a 5e context, but goddamn crazypants if you look back to 4e – if there are lurker-type enemies in a battle, this takes away a lot of implementations of their lurker nature. This feat is a pretty broad performer, and probably undervalued because it is mostly defensive without directly affecting the math.

Athlete: This feat is a pretty good example of Jim’s points, though it does allow you to choose either Strength or Dex, broadening its appeal. Its second, third, and fourth features are niche cases that probably don’t come up even every other session, though when anything is making you prone, it may be spamming it, so you might get multiple payoffs in one session. This collection of features would not have enough going on without the +1 ability score point to make it look competitive. Most exploration sequences – where the third and fourth features really shine – are not as time- or space-sensitive as combat, muting their real utility. Now, they could have put something else in place of that element, but Athlete boosting either strength or agility is on-theme in any case. It’s impossible to make a stronger case defending this implementation as opposed to an unspecified “could have done something else,” of course. In contrast to the skill-linked feats of the recent UA article, there’s nothing stopping you from being an Athlete without Athletics, odd though that is syntactically. This feat isn’t bad – one of the barbarians in my game took it, and has shown no sign of regrets – but he specifically cared about turning into a parkour badass, and this gets him there. (Parkour applications not covered by this feat, I am likely to still give him a beneficial nudge on, because there was no other obvious way to buy Great At Parkour.)

Actor: Where Athlete was thin on common combat applications, Actor is entirely devoid, but if you’re playing a high-shenanigans or cloak-and-dagger game (recommended!), it’s high-performing. The design lesson here is that they’re okay writing feats that accomplish little in a dungeon-crawling campaign, but are great in other campaign modes. Also, this is a great feat for bringing characters that aren’t bards, Trickery clerics, rogues, or warlocks into the shenanigans mode. It doesn’t do a full lift of a class or subclass feature the way some other feats do, and it would help if it intrinsically granted disguise kit proficiency, but still – if you’re getting shut out of the social-manipulation game, this is great.

Charger: This is nothing but combat application, for a situation that probably comes up often in combat (and more if you work at it). It does two fairly simple things, opening a new option in the action economy and giving it a nice extra payoff if you meet an easy condition. Since it intersects with the action economy, though, it enters the delicate web of action, bonus action, and reaction that each class uses slightly differently. For example, the first part of this feat is worthless for a rogue. An action to Dash and a bonus action to make one attack is no better than a Cunning (bonus) Action to Dash and an action to attack. (If you’re a multiclass fighter 5+/rogue X, you want the Cunning Action version, because Extra Attack.) Ultimately, this feat grows less satisfying as you advance if you do get Extra Attacks, because you’re sacrificing more and more to use it. Situations where you need to spend your action to Dash to get to the nearest enemy are probably not common, though they do happen. Giving it a scaling function, if you have one or more Extra Attacks, would be worth exploring.

Crossbow Expert: This feat shows us another side of feat design: a catchall that you might want for just one of its features, so as to do something incidental to its theme. What I’m saying is, most people to take this feat don’t wield crossbows, but are any other kind of ranged attacker – ranged spell attacks, bows, whatever. Getting your bow to work just as well at melee range as it does at greater ranges may be worth a feat, once you have Sharpshooter sewn up. To put that another way, they’re willing to give you a lot of neat bennies if you’re using the suboptimal ranged weapon, but if you want to use the best ranged weapon, you’re spending a whole feat slot for just one feature of it. It’s an efficiency tradeoff, and shows again a commitment to making feats be interesting choices for as many character types as possible.

Defensive Duelist: This is one of those single-feature feats, so it must be something good. Specifically, it’s a new option that can turn an established hit into a miss. It’s here to help Dex fighters (well, any Dex-based weapon wielder) be tanky, since it requires a finesse weapon and a Dex bonus. A defensive reaction that is always available is a huge deal, and this seems like as good a time as any to mention my post on reaction timing.

As a side note, this is where I was in writing this post when the Feats for Races UA document dropped.

Dual Wielder: I’d be tempted to skip over this one, because it doesn’t have a lot of new design lessons to offer, but it drives me a little nuts so I bring it up. The +1 AC is fine, even if it does give still more primacy to Dex. The second feature – now at last you can have a non-light weapon as part of a two-weapon combo – just pisses me off, because why the hell doesn’t baseline two-weapon fighting support rapier and main-gauche? Feats should be stepping up from that point. Anyway, it’s an average +1 point of damage in your main hand, so there’s some irony that the Dual Wielder feat doesn’t actually help the second weapon at all. You could have been using a bigger primary weapon all along, and this doesn’t scale up your offhand damage in any way. Finally, you get a workaround for the sort of tedious weapon-drawing rules, so that the first round of two-weapon fighting isn’t one-weapon fighting. Basically, other than the +1 AC, this feat should be the default state. We’ve got at least one more feat ahead that I’ll say the same about. The Feats for Skills document earned a lot of comments that many of its third-feature options should be default states as well.

Dungeon Delver: This one came up in the comments of the Tribality article, and quite rightly – it’s all about skills in exploration play, but draws almost no notice from players. Why is that? Tribality reader Unexpected Dave’s comments are on point, so read those, but also I’ll give it my own take. Advantage on checks to discover secret doors sounds great… but adventures are written such that secret doors aren’t awesome bonus areas where you get to feel cooler (Wolfenstein 3D for level design 101, y’all). They’re connective tissue without which you miss key parts of the adventure or you find nothing of interest at all (Curse of Strahd’s Amber Temple, area X7… oh, and thanks for not listing the Wis (Per) DC on that one). Basically, we’re staring into the yawning void between rules-as-written and rules-as-put-into-adventures. All of the 5e adventure series have problems with this, none so famously as the Tyranny of Dragons series (but then they had good reasons). This has devastating impact on niche rules like feat utility.

Advantage on saving throws made to avoid or resist traps, and resistance to the damage dealt by traps, is the kind of thing that won’t come into its own until Complex Traps (debuted in the recent UA: Traps document) enter into common use in published content, or we have a book of 30-40 complex traps. Simple traps aren’t engaging enough or common enough to justify a whole feat, and there are so many issues around traps-rogue play. (Lord, how I wish we could fully translate the best parts of playing a traps rogue from LARPing to tabletop, without also translating the worst parts of being the traps-rogue’s fighter buddy.) Finally, the privilege of searching at a normal pace rather than a slow pace has basically no teeth at the table – if you can afford to move at a normal pace, you can afford to move at a slow pace. It’s only when you need to move at a dead run (beware, this link goes to TV Tropes) that you super care about speed, and this feature doesn’t help in that case. Without an active combat application, like getting better use out of special terrain features in a dungeon or otherwise being mo’ betta underground, Dungeon Delver won’t have enough appeal until Complex Traps are a normal stage of adventures (if that ever happens). This would have been a good place for an ability score point (Dex, Int, or Wis, I think), or proficiency/expertise in thieves’ tools, or… something.

Durable: This feat needs its +1 Con because its mechanics hang on your Con modifier, and because out-of-combat healing isn’t all that sexy. (Or maybe I’m just doing it wrong.)

Elemental Adept: Two features, both of which should come up fairly often. Getting to treat a 1 as a 2 is pretty underwhelming, but getting to ignore resistance is great when that’s the thing you need. As resistance-ignoring becomes a greater part of new spellcasting subclasses, this becomes less impressive; as energy types get closer to having a spell at every spell level, this gets marginally better. Resistance to acid and thunder are, as far as I recall, vanishingly rare, but there aren’t that many spells to dish out either damage type. In short, this feat could use some help.

Grappler: Much like Crossbow Expert, part of the point here is to elevate a particular weapon or fighting style into viability. Advantage on attack rolls, sure, to be expected. New grappling move – good, that sets the serious grapplers apart from the casuals. It upgrades your target’s Grappled state to both you and your target being Restrained. The rule should probably let you step Restrained back down to Grappled as a bonus action or something, so that you don’t have to fully release the target to go back to stabbing them. In the third feature, some help when grappling creatures one size larger than you. This feat is exactly what I would expect based on the context of other feat designs. The one quasi-surprise is that it doesn’t include a minor feature to appeal to those with no other interest in grappling, the way the second feature of Crossbow Expert does. (Not a flaw, just an interesting absence.)

Great Weapon Master: One of the standout most popular feats, to my knowledge. It contains 3.x Power Attack (with a fixed value rather than a variable one, thank God) and Cleave. This is right at the bleeding edge of acceptable feat power; I’d say that it is better than 2 points of Strength even when you’re not yet capped, as long as you’re not climbing up from a 14 or lower for some reason.

Healer: Here’s the other “why isn’t this the standard function?” feat. Rich Howard explored exactly that way back in 2014, so I’ll just link it. The Medicine skill and the healer’s kit are bizarrely underperforming (without the Healer feat anyway), and I find a lot to like in Rich’s post. Outside of that point, it gives a character a new combat/post-combat role.

Heavily Armored: This feat is one of a narrow class, along with Moderately Armored (sort of a dumb feat name, but whatevah), Lightly Armored, and Weapon Master, that grant an ability score point and a weapon or armor proficiency. These amount to a design necessity. That is, the designers want to support characters wearing armor outside of their class norms (er, sometimes – sorry, monks and rogues, you lose most of your features if you do this), but don’t want to fold them into class or subclass, and don’t want to force multiclassing to get there. Not that MCing gets you heavy armor proficiency anyway, but that’s not the point right now. If the feat granted a bunch of other things – such as being folded into Heavy Armor Master – many characters that bought the feat would already have proficiency, and thus feel they had wasted something. Calving it off into its own feat and tacking on an ability score point is a logical way to go there. I do wish that Heavily Armored also granted shield proficiency, for the benefit of any class that winds up with medium armor proficiency, but not shields.

Heavy Armor Master: Good, better, best at wearing armor? Sure, that’s a common theme. This is one of the only places to find flat reduction – 3.x-like DR – in 5e. It’s nice, but hardly seems overpowered in the hands of the one player in my game that has it.

Inspiring Leader: It’s a single, quite robust benefit that you can grant to all or most of the party once per short rest. It doesn’t need any more help.

Keen Mind: Depending on the campaign, this is either a fluffy feat taken for character reasons (because a second ability point is better than the second, third, and fourth features combined, with room to spare) or it’s a great way to grief your DM (because fuck you for asking me to recite to you the entire conversation or thing you saw that took place ten sessions ago). Personally, my games go in for plenty of intense lore, and I would have no choice but to quietly dispose of any player that tried to push that fourth feature to its stated extent. For most games, I expect this feat is badly underperforming and could use more meat.

Linguist: The second feature is kind of interesting, in that you don’t need a feat to do any of that – all it takes is time, money, and downtime actions. The Int bonus and the cipher creation are interesting, though that cipher creation rule is another case of “I need a feat to do that? Are those 5e’s rules for cipher puzzles? Seriously?” Not a great feat by any measure, and I wish there were stats on how many times any character had taken it in the whole of 5e.

Lucky: Jesus, here’s a feat that does just one thing and doesn’t need to be any better. It’s fine and reasonable if you read its rules like a normal person, but super broken (and kind of contrary to its own narrative) if you accept Crawford’s stated interpretation. In short: if you have disadvantage on a roll, it makes Lucky better than if you had neither advantage nor disadvantage. Anyway, easily one of the strongest feats out there for averting failure. (Also, this feat is a good sign that maaaaybe Bountiful Luck and Second Chance are too much.)

Mage Slayer: This feat is sort of a still-more-specialized fighting situation benefit – like Grappler but more so, if that makes sense. Depending on the DM’s encounter design (so much depends on encounter design that includes a red wheel barrow), this feat probably treads close to being a win button, especially against caster bosses. Its features are all very good, but the important lesson here is that it’s good for anyone who cares about melee weapons. The best, maybe, for a rogue or a paladin, but still incredible for any other melee class. That breadth of appeal is a big plus.

Magic Initiate: This is one of our multiclass-dabbler feats. It is the answer to a lot of thematic goals, but not too many mechanical goals. Other than greenflame blade, maybe. That spell is just so dangerous to 5e’s meta. Anyway, this feat is awfully broad in its possible benefits. Of all the feats in the PH, I wish this one opened a feat chain, just in case you want to keep spending feats to get a 2nd-level spell slot or higher. I mean, with only 5-7 feats, even spending 100% of your feats on this wouldn’t upset the apple cart that much.

Martial Adept: Where Magic Initiate is a pseudo-multiclass of a class, Martial Adept takes the surprising step of pseudo-multiclassing a subclass. You may already know that I am a fan of this feat, but if not… click the link. Anyway, it’s great for opening new weapon options for classes that can’t be Battle Masters, or for being a better Battle Master. From its sheer breadth of options, and the fact that it refreshes with a short rest, there’s no need for it to do anything more than it does.

Medium Armor Master: This feat is about throwing medium armor a bone, because overall, medium armor is an awkward middle ground that is the best of no worlds. Increasing the appeal of scale mail and half plate is good, and increasing the cap on AC bonus from Dex is good… though that fits oddly with the fact that either you’ve had 16 Dex for awhile now and only now get the full benefit, or you bought this feat first and plan to bump up to 16 Dex at your next ASI. In either case, you’re dealing with some mechanical frustration for 2-4 levels. (I mean, unless gloves of dexterity are on the table, but jumping up to 19 means this whole exercise was a waste from first principles.)

Mobile: To turn any melee class into a skirmisher, go for Mobile. The first and last of its three parts come up in every fight, and the second comes up tolerably often (but it makes this feat work a lot better for rogues, monks, and Eagle Totem barbarians). The only problem with it overall is that you don’t always want to get away – it’s often as good or better to hold your current position. Like I said, though, this feat is all about establishing yourself in a combat role.

Mounted Combatant: “Like Grappler, but more so.” Here again, you specialize in a niche fighting situation and hope that the DM gives you a lot of chances to use it. Sure, picking a feat like this is a neon sign saying “My character does it on a horse at a full gallop,” and good DMs pick up on that and make it happen… I hope you have a good DM.

Observant: On one level, this is just a more different Keen Mind. On another, its third feature is actually good, and there could be some really interesting scenes with its lip-reading feature. But to my knowledge, this is the only reference to “passive Investigation” in the rules, and it does not appear in any adventure. I would love to be wrong! Please include page numbers in citing my wrongness.

Polearm Master: This is in the vein of Great Weapon Master, and it is broken as shit. Basically, you get to make a haft strike with some polearms, and that haft strike works like dual wielding… oh wait no that’s not true. It’s better than two-weapon fighting, because while it still costs a bonus action and it’s capped at d4, you’re wielding the weapon in two hands, so Great Weapon Fighting and Great Weapon Mastery apply, and there’s no suggestion that you need Two-Weapon Style to add your Strength modifier to that “off-hand” damage. The second feature is also amazing, and its synergy with Sentinel gives you a huge amount of battlefield control. I’m comfortable calling this feat too good.

Resilient: Gain proficiency in a saving throw, and add 1 point to that ability score. From what I hear, late-game play makes non-proficient saves a real kick in the teeth, so this might be a good way to spend one of your later feat slots. Anyway, this is a pedestrian feat (God, I am so clever at this hour of the night!) but it gets a job done in its non-flashy way. It’s on-point to match up ability score increase with improving your saves in that ability.

Ritual Caster: This is a multiclass-dabbling feat, opening up the broad utility of rituals. Spellcasters that don’t get ritual casting might find this worthwhile even in their own class. Most rituals are, for obvious reasons, low on combat impact, but this can get a lot done in exploration, planning, or downtime sequences.

Savage Attacker: This stands alone as a single feature because it will come up basically every turn, and should increase your damage output handily over time. It’s purely mechanical – there’s no further theme attached to being a Savage Attacker. Maybe if there were a Civilized Defender feat?

Sentinel: This is my favorite feat in the game, bar none. I can’t be objective about its power level, really – it is just too damn satisfying. Anyway, it opens up “retributive defender” as a combat role, enhancing stickiness and deterring attacks against your allies. It’s a surprisingly light touch on the action economy, especially compared to Shield Master, as two of its features just enhance what you were doing anyway, and its third feature is so similar to an opportunity attack that you’ll probably think of it that way. On the other hand, Sentinel is tightly limited by its total reliance on your reactions, and anything else that improves your opportunity attacks synergizes with this probably too well.

Sharpshooter: Another feat in the general category of Great Weapon Master, it takes an already solid fighting style and makes it devastating. The “Power Attack for bows” bit would make it worthwhile even if it did nothing else, but it also lets you ignore the two things that could give an archer a bad time – cover and distance. One of the most potent feats in the game, bar none.

Shield Master: Though largely defensive, this feat sits in the same category as Great Weapon Master, Polearm Master, &c. It offers a ton of things you’re going to want to do early and often.

Skilled: It’s, you know, Resilient, but for skills? Interesting in the context of recent UA articles, and utterly devoid of flashiness. It gets the job done.

Skulker: This wants to be a combat-role-defining feat, but you’ve got to already be pretty good at that combat role for this to do anything good. It makes hiding easier, improves ranged sneak attacking, and lets you ignore dim lighting drawbacks. If I recall correctly, this was all part of a Specialty back in D&D Next, along with a bunch more stuff, so it was more obviously useful there.

Spell Sniper: Feats for spellcasters are thin on the ground in the PH, and Spell Sniper is for only a certain set of spellcasters – but I’m kind of surprised I don’t hear a lot about bards, paladins, or sorcerers grabbing this to gain access to eldritch blast. Maybe that’s a thing and I just don’t hear about it, or maybe it’s not worth it without access to Agonizing Blast? (As good as EB is, if it’s not “worth it” without AB, maaaybe AB is too good? You think?) This is kind of trying to boost the single-target-magic-DPS combat role, but in 5e, that’s not a strongly defined role. If casting is your thing, you have single-target options and AoE options.

Tavern Brawler: Niche-combat-situation feat, great for defining a character. As with Mounted Combatant, you’re asking the DM to make that niche matter.

Tough: A synonym for another feat on this list… sure. Fortunately, everything I need to say here is done to death way back at the beginning of the article.

War Caster: Another feat for spellcasters, particularly for control or buff spellcasters, or casters who want to use a shield or wield two weapons, or creatures with good single-target spells (especially cantrips). This feat has a lot of barely-connected content going on – it’s all strong, but “War Caster” is not a particularly convincing throughline theme. Groups I’m in tend to treat this feat as a first priority for most flavors of spellcasters.



To a considerable degree, this turned into a simple critique of the existing feats, so I hope that’s interesting in its own right. There are a few major groups that these feats fall into:

  • Fighting style specialization (there are still some styles left out in the cold here, I feel). Regrettably these are universally the best feats of the lot, except where they’re intended for spellcasters (Elemental Adept, Spell Sniper – Spell Sniper isn’t bad, of course, just situational.)
  • Niche combat specializations (Charger, Grappler, Mounted Combatant, Tavern Brawler – Grappler looks odd on this list, but there are a lot of things you can’t or shouldn’t grapple, especially at higher levels.)
  • Shore up a weakness (Crossbow Expert, War Caster, et al.)
  • Proto-skill feats (Athlete, Actor, Dungeon Delver, Keen Mind, Observant, &c. – these are a major location for +1 ability score features)
  • Simple mechanical needs (weapon, armor, skill, and saving throw proficiencies, Tough, Savage Attacker, &c. – also a major location for +1 ability score features)
  • Multiclass dabbling (one category I’d like to see supported more robustly)
  • Add a combat role (Healer, Mobile, Sentinel, Skulker; for obvious reasons these come very close to both proto-skill feats and multiclass dabbling)

I think that about covers it. There’s plenty of room to quibble over those groups and where feats fit within them, of course. The main points I want to make here are that feats need to justify their existence in competition with other feats – obvious best choices are a problem, especially if there are enough obvious best choices to fill all of your feat slots. One obvious best choice for each character type is not a huge problem, but it’s probably not unfair to call it a feat tax at that point. If you’re a fighter… with the Great Weapon fighting style… the game has nothing to offer you at 4th level that can remotely compete with either Great Weapon Master or Polearm Master.

I hope I’ve answered Jim’s question fairly exhaustively, while also providing some foundation for the conversations around recent UA releases. Thanks for reading!

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4 thoughts on “Feat Design

  • Stephen

    IME, the +1 ability score feats are attractive directly in proportion to whether you have an odd ability score that’s worth improving. I took athlete in your game (and actor in another game) precisely because they wound up being exactly as useful as just taking the +2 ability score, but with a cool side benefit.

    The trick is, after the first one your score is now even, and the +1 ability bonus plus weaker feat is suddenly way less attractive than the +2 score or full powered feat.

  • Douglas Cole

    As I was rewriting feats for the Dragon Heresy RPG (because there’s only one feat, Grappler, in the SRD), I made an excel sheet to look at how each combat ability balanced with respect to a baseline attack. With this master-class in feat analysis in hand, I can and will go back and see what I’ve missed. Thanks for this!

  • vaegrim

    Sadly, grappler doesn’t do what you think it does. What we’d have LIKED was extending the range of size-different creatures you were allowed to grapple or shove, instead the final bullet point of the feat referred to an earlier edition of the rules which wasn’t preserved in the final printing. The errata removes it completely.

    • Brandes Stoddard Post author

      Yeah, fair. I didn’t review the Grappling rules, or the errata, to cross-reference against this text, so thanks for catching that. =/