Add some extra oomph to your skills with these feats!
That’s right! Why waste your feat on something like wielding two weapons even better when you could instead spend it on the ability to cast Alarm once per day without expending a spell slot. Waitaminute…
Although, in their defense, the feat that gives you that ALSO grants you proficiency in Survival if you don’t have it or double your proficiency bonus if you do, in addition to increasing your Wisdom score by 1 (up to 20, as per usual). And that right there is basically what all of these feats do. It’s a little bit like bringing back the old Skill Focus feat from 3.x/Pathfinder, only it adds a scaling bonus (in that your proficiency increases as you level up), so you’ll only get better as you level up. This can potentially tip the scales of the Bounded Accuracy system–and it’s true that Bards get to do this with a number of skills of their choice–but I still feel like these would almost be better if they offered you advantage instead. I don’t know though. The feats also add an extra ability associated with each of the skills (usually requiring a check).
Bob here has failed a few skill checks in his day…
That’s the other big thing these feats add–extra abilities (or spells, in some cases) that are tied to how these skills work–though I’m not sure these are for the best either. It makes it feel a little more restrictive, in that, “well do I have to have the feat in order to try and bluff my way past someone or grant myself advantage on an attack roll” sort of way, but that one might just be me worrying too much about something that’s clearly meant for like, league play or something.
Let’s dive in and take a look so you can judge for yourself.
Acrobat (Dexterity) — In addition to improving acrobatics (like it says on the tin) you also gain the ability to make a DC 15 check as a bonus action too ignore difficult terrain until the end of your current turn.
Animal Handler (Wisdom) — You’re adept at handling animals, and as a bonus action you can command one friendly animal to do a thing, or give it a task to do for a minute (go see if anyone’s down the well!). Not bad in that it only costs you a bonus action.
Not exactly what we meant by handling…
Arcanist (Intelligence) — Learn Prestidigitation and Detect Magic. You can cast Detect Magic once per long rest without needing a slot. Good for if you don’t have anyone else in the party with access to that spell (or ritual casters).
Brawny (Strength) — You count as if one size larger for carrying capacity purposes. Honestly, I don’t think this one is worth the cost of a feat. If you’re really having to worry about encumbrance rules, then, sure maybe this is great, but compare this ability to something like Arcanist, which gives you spells, or Silver-Tongued which lets you make attacks with advantage against a target until the end of your next turn. Like there’s no contest–I don’t know what exactly this one needs, but it needs something.
Diplomat (Charisma) — If you spend a minute talking at someone, they may be charmed if you can beat them at an opposed Persuasion vs Insight check. This one is pretty sweet, actually. It has a stealthy sort of bypassing of saves. Many more creatures have proficiency in Wisdom saves than in the Insight skill, and you’ll be doubling your proficiency bonus. This even lets you bypass things like a Paladin’s aura, or effects like Magic Resistance.
Diplomacy in action…
Empathic (Wisdom) — Take an action (and make an opposed Insight vs Deception check) to try and gain advantage on attack rolls AND ability checks against the target until the end of your next turn, which sounds great until you realize that it’s taking up your action. It’s still good, especially since you get a bonus on ability score checks against the target–so if you have more than one of these and want to really make sure one lands, you can set up a combo. Dunno how practical that is though.
Historian (Intelligence) — Aid Another on steroids, basically. Whenever you take the Help action to aid someone else’s skill check you can give them your proficiency bonus. I don’t know if this works in addition to, or instead of the advantage you’d otherwise gain from the Help Action. Presumably in addition to, otherwise it might be making the Help Action worse… especially since it would mean you could potentially fail to help someone (if you didn’t make that DC 15 History check)l.
Investigator (Intelligence) — You can search as a bonus action. Which, okay, let’s be real. I don’t know how much of a difference this is ever really going to make. How many times has it mattered that you search as an action or a bonus action–even if you can think of an example, I’ll bet you can’t think of more than three that could conceivably ever come up in a single session. Not quite, but almost, as situational as Brawny.
Medic (Wisdom) — Make a DC 15 Medicine check and you can give someone max hit points back on a single Hit Die spent during a short rest. Really good at early levels, with diminishing returns as you level up, you’ll want to grab this one early. But even when you’re 20th level, max hp back on a hit die is still max hp back on a hit die.
Menacing (Charisma) — This one is fantastic for Valor Bards and Melee Sorcerers/Warlocks. Whenever you take the attack action on your turn, you can swap out one attack with an opposed Intimidation vs Insight check. If you succeed, your target is frightened until the end of your next turn. Being Frightened is pretty brutal, a great defensive option in a fight.
Naturalist (Intelligence) — Learn Druidcraft and Detect Poison and Disease. You can cast Detect Poison and Disease once without a spell slot. For those days when the Druid or the Ranger are out sick.
Perceptive (Wisdom) — This is one of the few skills where it would almost be worth it just to double your proficiency bonus. But on top of that, lightly obscured areas mean nothing to you as long as you can see and hear.
Performer (Charisma) — I love the mental image that this feat conjures up. Its ability is that you can make a Performance vs Insight check and if you succeed, you distract it to the point that it has disadvantage on Perception and Investigation checks because you’re so distracting. So of course I’m picturing an investigator at a crime scene trying to piece together clues and the bard just starts juggling until the investigator gives up and goes home.
You’re not even playing that lute… what did you take Perform in, steely gaze?
Quick-Fingered (Dexterity) — You can make most Sleight of Hand checks as a bonus action. Which is alright, but I would’ve figured many of those were already bonus actions. This is one of those “I feel like it’s a stealth increase of rules strictness” that kind of goes against the 5th Edition ethos. To me, at any rate.
Silver-Tongued (Charisma) — This one is just great. Give up one of your attacks for a Deception vs. Insight check and if you win, you can move without provoking attacks of opportunity from your target–which is already pretty nice. But then on top of that you also have advantage on attack rolls until the end of your next turn. So stack those attacks people–especially if you’re a Melee Sorcerer or Valor Bard who dipped into Fighter to get Action Surge.
Stealthy (Dexterity) — Stay hidden for up to 10 feet as long as you’re moving from cover to cover. Kind of nice for the stealthy types–it’s definitely one you’d want to make sure your GM is willing to work with (after all it’s useless if most of your encounters happen where there’s no cover), but it’s a good complement for Rogues who want to save their cunning action for something special.
Survivalist (Wisdom) — You can cast Alarm. Which would be okay except you don’t even get a cantrip. Compared to all the other ones that grant a cantrip and a spell, this one feels very lacking.
Theologian (Intelligence) — See what I mean? Pick up Thaumaturgy and Detect Evil and Good. Cantrip, spell. The system works–all hail the system!
At any rate, there’s a whole swath of new feats here. Although I kind of feel like these are a little narrow for what you’re getting. I mean compare them to an existing feat like Tavern Brawler which changes the way you fight in a bar brawl or Resilient which gives you proficiency in a save. Although I guess these are about on par with something like Observant, which in addition to the Int or Wis increase lets you read lips and gives you a bonus to your passive Perception and Investigation scores. I guess the jury’s still out for me.
What do you think about these feats? Yay or nay? How would you fix them? What kind of feats would you like to see?