This is my next post in the series looking at the 10th Anniversary next edition of D&D, and my third and final post on playtest 2, following the new Expert Classes (Bard, Ranger, Rogue), and the rules tweaks from both playtests 1 and 2, including changes between the two playtests.
This post looks at the Feats.
Playtest 1 introduced some Feats, mostly first-level Feats, and Playtest 2 introduced quite a lot more, mostly 4th-level, but also including 20th-level Epic Boons (referenced in the new Expert Classes).
How do they compare with the Feats in the PHB? And are there any that are (so far) missing?
Previously, Feats were an optional rule, but all Feats were available at any level (for a Variant Human). Some feats had preconditions, but definitely not all.
Feats were generally known to be unbalanced, with some Feats in particular considered overpowered. Lucky, Great Weapon Master and Sharpshooter are the ones I see mentioned most often, but I have had most problems (as a DM) from Observant and Alert – and this post by Shane Dayton really covers why. He also adds Keen Mind and Spell Sniper, (and Lucky, of course) Shane also lists a set of combination pairs that are extremely powerful: Polearm Master + Sentinel, Keen Mind + Observant, Mobile + Charger, Magic Initiate + Spell Sniper and Lucky + Defensive Duelist.
In the new rules, they have introduced a lot more preconditions for Feats, limiting the combinations, and in particular they have introduced the concept of levelled Feats, where you have to be of a minimum level in order to take it.
They have also introduced Epic Boons which come in once you hit 20th level, and are explicitly intended to give a way to continue to progress and gain abilities after level 20.
First level Feats
In the first level feats, they include Alert, Healer, Lightly Armoured, Lucky, Magic Initiate, Savage Attacker, Skilled, Tavern Brawler and Tough from the PHB, plus a couple of neat new Feats: Crafter and Musician. Some of these were introduced in Playtest 1, and some in Playtest 2.
They have also moved the Fighter’s Fighting Styles into Feats which can be taken by any of the Warrior classes (Barbarian, Fighter and Monk). This is an interesting change. It makes sense to offer it to the other Warriors, but now means you can have a Fighter with no Fighting Style if they choose a different first-level Feat instead.
So, what’s changed in these Feats?
Alert (PT1): this has been significantly reduced. You add your Proficiency Bonus to the Initiative roll, so it scales with your experience – nice – and you can now swap your Initiative with that of a willing Ally – this opens up tactical options. But gone are the inability to be surprised and the lack of Advantage for Hidden creatures, which both make this significantly less powerful.
Healer (PT1): the benefit from the use of a Healer’s Kit is now called Battle Medic. It uses one of the target’s Hit Dice, with your Proficiency Bonus, and no longer has a limit of 1/rest; instead it’s limited by the creature’s available Hit Dice. This makes it more powerful as levels increase. You can also reroll any roll of 1 when you restore hit points with either this or a spell. Gone, however, is the mention of stabilising restoring the creature to 1hp – is this covered by the Battle Medic, or completely gone?
Lightly Armoured (PT2): this loses the Strength/Dexterity Bonus, but as well as Light Armour, it also adds training in Medium Armour and Shields.
Lucky (PT1): your number of Luck points is now equal to your Proficiency Bonus, so it scales with level. Rather than gaining an additional d20, you now gain Advantage on your roll or Disadvantage on the attack roll against you. This would seem to me to fix the big complaint with Lucky, that the extra die effectively could turn a Disadvantage into a 3-dice super-advantage. Nice.
Magic Initiate (PT1): this now uses the Spell lists, Arcane, Divine and Primal, as the selection rather than class, and you can only take it once for a given Spell list. You also get to choose which of Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma your spellcasting ability is for the Feat, and you can swap the spells for a different one of the same level every time you gain a level. As well as the free cast of your 1st level spell, you can now cast it using any spell slots you have. I like these tweaks.
Savage Attacker (PT1): Unchanged
Skilled (PT1): Unchanged
Tavern Brawler (PT1): this loses the Strength or Constitution bonus and the ability to try to grapple on a hit. Instead, you can try to Shove the hit target 5’ away. Your unarmed strike still uses a d4+Strength modifier and you can reroll a 1 on your unarmed strike’s d4. Rather than having Proficiency with improvised weapons, you can now use furniture (specifically) as a weapon, treating it as a Club or Greatclub depending on the size. It doesn’t mention having Proficiency.
Tough (PT1): Unchanged
They also introduce two new first-level Feats. They are both non-combat Feats, gaining useful Item proficiency, which extends the options for players who want to shine in other aspects of the world. All to the good.
Crafter (PT2): this gains you Proficiency with three Artisan’s Tools, speeds up crafting by 20% when using a tool you have proficiency in, and gains you a discount on any non-magical item purchase. I like the first two, but the unconditional discount feels unbalanced – better to require it to be related to your tool proficiency.
Musician (PT2): this gains you Proficiency with three Musical Instruments, and allows you to perform on an instrument with which you have Proficiency at the end of any Rest and give Inspiration to a number of allies equal to your Proficiency Bonus. I like this Feat.
Fourth level Feats
These include most of the remaining Feats from the PHB, plus adding Ability Score Improvement as an explicit Feat to streamline the rules. These were all introduced in Playtest 2.
One general thing I notice is that almost all of them now have some additional prerequisite alongside the minimum 4th level. They all also give some sort of +1 to an Ability Score.
Ability Score Improvement: This it just bringing the previous standard 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th-level ability score improvement into the Feats to standardise things. Still 2 points to spend, either on the same Ability Score or two different Ability Scores.
Actor: this now requires a minimum of 13 Charisma, and gives +1 to Charisma. Otherwise it is pretty much the same, although it’s easier to avoid detection – it’s a flat DC15 Charisma (Performance) check and lasts for an hour, rather than a creature being able to see through your Deception with their Insight. This makes the Mimicry hugely more powerful against opponents with good Insight.
Athlete: this now requires a minimum of 13 Strength, Dexterity or Constitution, and gives +1 to one of those three Ability Scores. The Jumping now gives Advantage on the new Jump Action (see my previous post) rather than reducing the run-up from 10’ to 5’.
Charger: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives +1 to either Strength or Dexterity. Rather than giving you a bonus action attack on a Dash, this increases your Dash movement by 10’ for that round, and the Charge Attack is instead applied to a normal attack (so can’t be used in combination with Dash), and adds a 1d8 instead of a flat +5 to the damage. This is probably a clean-up to what it was intended to be. The shove is as before, except it is limited to an opponent no more than one size larger (sensible).
Crossbow Expert: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives +1 to Dexterity. Otherwise it is unchanged.
Defensive Duelist: this now gives +1 to Dexterity. Otherwise it is unchanged, including the requirement for a minimum of 13 Dexterity.
Dual Wielder: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Strength. It loses the bonus to AC, but keeps the ability to dual-wield non-light weapons, and to draw or stow two weapons instead of one (although for the latter, the weapons must not be 2-handed now).
Durable: this now requires a minimum of 13 Constitution, and gives +1 to Constitution. It now gives Advantage on Death Saving Throws (powerful!) and allows Hit Dice healing as a bonus action, rather than putting a minimum on the amount of healing you can receive from a Hit Dice healing.
Elemental Adept: still requires the ability to cast a spell, and now gives +1 to Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma. Otherwise unchanged.
Grappler: you can now take this with Dexterity 13+ as well as Strength 13+, and it gives +1 to either Strength or Dexterity. As well as the Advantage on Attack Rolls against a creature you have grappled, you can now move at full speed when moving a creature you have grappled (as long as the creature is no bigger than you), and instead of pinning, you can now try to turn an unarmed strike into a grapple as well (this has moved from Tavern Brawler).
Great Weapon Master: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Strength. While still able to make a bonus attack if you score a Critical Hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can now deal your Proficiency Bonus of extra damage on a hit with a heavy weapon. Gone is the “take a -5 penalty on the hit roll, in return for +10 on damage if you hit”, which addresses one of the key complaints about this – DM Dave definitely noticed this reduced its power.
Heavily Armoured: this allows you +1 to Constitution instead of Strength, but is otherwise unchanged, apart from slight terminology tweaks.
Heavy Armour Master: this allows you +1 to Constitution instead of Strength, and now reduces damage by your Proficiency Bonus instead of a flat 3. It also seems to work against magical weapons now.
Inspiring Leader: you can now take this with Wisdom 13+ as well as Charisma 13+, and it gives +1 to either Wisdom or Charisma. Rather than the temporary hit points being based on your level, it is now 2d4 + Proficiency Bonus, so is more effective at lower levels and less at higher. It now must be associated with a rest, rather than an arbitrary 10-minute time period.
Keen Mind: this now requires a minimum of 13 Intelligence, and still gives +1 to Intelligence. Otherwise it has been completely rewritten. Gone are knowing which way is north, what time it is, and perfect recall. Instead you get a level of Proficiency in Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature or Religion (gaining Expertise if you already have Proficiency) and allows you to take the Study Action (one of those five skills) as a bonus action. That definitely addresses the game-breaking concerns of the previous version.
Mage Slayer: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Strength or Dexterity. It loses the ability to use your reaction to attack someone within 5’ casting a spell and the advantage on saving throws against spells cast within 5’ of you. Instead you can choose to succeed on an Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma Saving Throw (interestingly, there is no “from a spell” condition here).
Medium Armour Master: this still requires Medium Armour Training and now gives +1 to Strength or Dexterity. Otherwise it is unchanged.
Mounted Combatant: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Strength, Dexterity or Wisdom. As well as the previous Advantage on Attack Rolls against a creature within 5’ of your mount, the mount taking half or no damage when a Dexterity Saving Throw allows half damage, and being able to make an attack that would hit your mount hit you instead, it also adds Advantage on Animal Handling checks to handle or train horses and other creatures employed as mounts.
Observant: this now requires Intelligence or Wisdom of 13+; it still gives +1 to Intelligence or Wisdom. Otherwise, like Keen Mind, it has been completely rewritten. Gone are the lipreading and +5 bonus to Passive Perception and Passive Investigation. Instead you get a level of Proficiency in Insight, Investigation or Perception (gaining Expertise if you already have Proficiency) and allows you to take the Search Action (one of those three skills) as a bonus action. Again, that definitely addresses the game-breaking concerns of the previous version.
Polearm Master: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Strength. It also expands the list of weapons to any with both Heavy and Reach properties, but is otherwise unchanged.
Resilient: this now makes it clear you must affect an Ability Score you do not already have Saving Throw Proficiency in.
Ritual Caster: this adds Charisma of 13+ to the previous prerequisite options of Intelligence or Wisdom, and now gives +1 to Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma (whichever is the Spellcasting ability of your spells). Gone is the Ritual Book and with it the ability to add spells beyond your initial two. Instead, once per Long Rest, you can cast one of your Ritual Spells with its normal casting time.
Sentinel: his now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Strength or Dexterity. Otherwise it is unchanged, apart from terminology tweaks.
Sharpshooter: this now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon, and gives a +1 to Dexterity. You can still attack at long range without Disadvantage and ignore Half and Three-quarters Cover, but gone is the game-breaking “take a -5 penalty on the hit roll, in return for +10 on damage if you hit”. Instead you can now make a ranged weapon attack within 5’ without Disadvantage.
Shield Master: this now requires Shield Training, and gives +1 to Strength. Rather than gaining a bonus action to shove, it allows you to follow up a hit with a melee weapon with a Shield bash to try to knock the target prone or shove it 5’ away. You can still use your shield to take half or no damage when a Dexterity Saving Throw allows half damage, but you can no longer add your shield’s AC bonus to Dexterity Saving Throws.
Skulker: this still requires Dexterity 13+, and now gives +1 to Dexterity. It gives 10’ Blindsight instead of avoiding Disadvantage to Perception checks from dim light, and changes the hiding to give Advantage on Stealth checks made to hide. You still don’t reveal your location if you miss while hidden.
Speedster: this is a renaming of the former Mobile Feat. It now requires Dexterity or Constitution of 13+ and gives +1 to Dexterity or Constitution. It still gives you a 10’ speed increase, though this is now lost when wearing Heavy Armour, and allows you to Dash across Difficult Terrain unhindered, but you no longer get any protection from opportunity attacks.
Spell Sniper: this still requires spellcasting, and now gives +1 to Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma. You still double your spell attack range and ignore Half and Three-quarters Cover, but instead of gaining a cantrip, you can now make a ranged spell attack within 5’ without Disadvantage.
War Caster: this still requires spellcasting, and now gives +1 to Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma. Otherwise it is unchanged.
Weapon Training: this is a rename of the former Weapon Mastery. Rather than four specific weapons, you gain Martial Weapon Proficiency.
Playtest 2 introduces the concept of Epic Boons at 20th level.
BONUS FEATS AT 20TH LEVEL
A DM can use bonus Feats as a form of advancement after characters reach 20th level, a way to provide greater power to characters who have no more levels to gain. With this approach, each character gains one Feat of their choice for every 30,000 XP the character earns above 355,000 XP. Epic Boon Feats are especially appropriate for these bonus Feats, but a player can choose any Feat for which their 20th-level character qualifies.
The Epic Boons listed all start “Epic Boon of…” and are:
Combat Prowess: once per combat (initiative roll) you can turn a melee miss into a hit. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Warriors (Barbarian, Fighter, Monk)
Dimensional Travel: once per combat (initiative roll) or rest, you can cast Misty Step without expending a spell slot. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Mages (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Energy Resistance: gain resistance to a particular damage type, which can be changed on a rest. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Mages (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Fortitude: hit point maximum increases by 40, and you add your Constitution modifier every time you regain hit points (which can be more than once per round). Available to anyone.
Irresistable Offence: your damage always ignores Resistance. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Warriors (Barbarian, Fighter, Monk)
Luck: once per combat (initiative roll) or rest, when you make a d20 Test you can add a d10 roll to it. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue).
Night Spirit: while in dim light or darkness, you can become Invisible as an Action until you take another Action or Reaction. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Mages (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Peerless Aim: once per combat (initiative roll) you can turn a ranged miss into a hit. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Warriors (Barbarian, Fighter, Monk)
Recovery: once per Long Rest, you can use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to half your hit point maximum. You also succeed on Death Saving Throws of anything other than 1. Available to anyone.
Skill Proficiency: you gain Proficiency in all Skills. Available to anyone.
Speed: your Speed increases by 30’. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Warriors (Barbarian, Fighter, Monk)
Undetectability: you can’t be seen or heard by any means, magical or nonmagical, while Hidden. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue)
Unfettered: as a bonus action you can Disengage, which also ends any Grappled or Restrained conditions on you. Available to Experts (Bard, Ranger, Rogue) and Warriors (Barbarian, Fighter, Monk)
Interesting to note there are no Epic Boons specific to the Priest group (Cleric, Druid, Paladin).
The following Feats have been removed:
- Dungeon Delver
- Martial Adept
- Moderately Armoured
It looks like they have taken a really long hard look at Feats and at all the feedback out there about overpowered Feats, and made a good stab at rebalancing them. On the whole I like the changes, and think they do bring things back in line, and they particularly address some of the key criticisms.
They have now extended the feedback on playtest 2 to the 23rd November 2022, so you still have time to give them your thoughts