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If you’re starting out playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, you might’ve seen the word "feat" tossed about.
You might wonder what feats are, when you get them, and whether they’re worth it or not.
In this article, I’m gonna cover everything you need to know about feats in D&D 5e.
Let’s start off with explaining what a D&D feat is.
What Are Feats in 5e?
Feats in D&D 5e are an optional rule that you can use to customize your character with extra, unique abilities. They grant unique powers and abilities aside from your race and class traits and features.
Basically, feats in 5e are another way to customize your character’s capabilities.
Every feat grants your character some unique ability like increasing your movement speed, granting proficiency in another saving throw, or buffing your damage. But, some also grant minor Ability Score increases sometimes called "half-feats".
You can elect to take a feat at certain levels which I’ll get into a bit later.
Page 165 of the Player’s Handbook defines feats as:
It’s important to note that feats in D&D 5e are optional. They aren’t technically a part of the base rules. So, you need check with your Dungeon Master or establish at the start of the game if you’re allowing feats.
Now, as with a lot of things in D&D 5e, there are some semantic differences between feats, traits, and features.
Traits refer to the racial abilities your character has. Features come from your chosen character class. And, feats are additional customization options outside of the other two sources.
It’s also important to note that some feats come with requirements before you can take them.
Most feats are free to take as you please when get the option. But, certain ones like Heavily Armored (need proficiency in medium armor) or Ritual Caster (need an Intelligence or Wisdom score of 13+) have prerequisites before you can take them. Make sure you read your desired feat thoroughly.
What Are Half-Feats?
Half-feats in 5e are feats that grant you a bonus to an Ability Score and a unique ability.
They’re called half-feats because not only does it give you a unique ability, it also gives your half of your Ability Score Improvement.
Normally, an Ability Score Improvement gives you a +1 in two Ability Scores or +2 in one. Half-feats give you a +1 in an Ability Score in addition to a unique ability. So, they’re like a half-Ability Score Improvement with a bonus ability.
Usually, half-feats also give you less or weaker abilities compared to regular ones. So, it’s a bit of a tradeoff between bumping an Ability Score while also getting an extra ability.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything introduced racial feats to D&D 5e. They’re basically regular feats but restricted to specific races.
That’s about it.
Racial feats follow most of the same rules as regular D&D feats. But, they come with prerequisites requiring a certain race to take them.
For example, the Bountiful Luck feat requires you to play a halfling.
Now, can you ignore these requirements?
Absolutely. In fact, I’d encourage you to do so. I often ignore racial requirements in my games.
These prerequisites usually come from the lore for the Forgotten Realms. But, if you’re not playing in that setting, you can manipulate requirements however you like.
When Do You Get Feats in D&D 5e?
So, how do you get feats in D&D?
There’s only one, explicit way to gain feats in D&D; Ability Score Improvements.
D&D 5e…doesn’t really give a whole lot of options on gaining feats. It’s basically hit a level milestone…and that’s it.
That being said, I recommend offering your players or suggesting to your DM some other way if you really want a feat.
Leveling Up & Ability Score Increases
The easiest way to gain a feat is to level up, get to 4th level in any class (and other milestone later), and use your Ability Score Improvement feature to take a feat.
Roughly every four levels starting once you reach 4th level in any one class, you get the Ability Score Improvement feature. This usually, as the name implies, increases one or two or your character’s Ability Scores. But, if you’re playing with feats, you can elect to forego improving your Ability Scores in exchange for taking a feat.
So, when do you get feats?
You have the option to choose a feat when you get the Ability Score Improvement feature:
- 4th Level
- 6th Level (Fighters only)
- 8th Level
- 10th Level (Rogues only)
- 12th Level
- 14th Level (Fighters only)
- 16th Level
- 19th Level
Now, I also suggest talking with your Dungeon Master if you want to train for a feat.
Page 231 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) gives an idea of granting special training as a reward for a quest. And, it includes gaining a feat as one of the options as the result of that training. I’d say you could forego the reward part if you want to just train for a feat. make sure you talk with your DM first, though.
Maybe you train under a seasoned warrior to get the Martial Adept feat. Or, you study under the ghost of a renowned scholar and gain the Magic Initiate feat.
The amount of time required to train for a feat would be up to your DM. But, I’d say use the downtime rules for level training on page 131 of the DMG.
It outlines different amounts of time and money required to level up during downtime. Personally, I’d scale the amount for feat training based on a character’s total level.
So, the list looks like this:
- 2nd-4th Level: 10 days and 20 gp
- 5th-10the Level: 20 days and 40 gp
- 11th-16th Level: 30 days and 60 gp
- 17th-20th Level: 40 days and 80 gp
So, a 2nd to 4th level character would spend 10 days and 20 gp to gain one feat of their choice. This way, characters can’t just hoover up all the feats and they have something to spend their gold on.
Now, this isn’t technically rules as written. Most of the rules in the DMG are optional. So, you need to check with your DM before deciding you’re gonna train for a feat.
If you’re playing a human player character and your DM allows it, you can choose the optional, Variant human to gain a feat at 1st level.
As the rules stand, only Variant humans get a feat at level one. Also, since they’re an optional rule, you should check with your DM before deciding on playing a Variant human.
Types of Feats
So, what kinds of feats are there?
Well, I like to think that feats fall into one of the three Pillars of Play in D&D 5e: Combat, Exploration, and Social.
Is it that cut and clear?
This is D&D. Rarely will you have a clear answer. But, generally speaking, the D&D feats fall into one of these categorizations.
These aren’t "official" designations or anything. They’re just a way to look at the types of feats in D&D.
There are also the Racial feats that came out with Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE). These…kind of fit in with the model of feats belonging to one of the Pillars of Play. So, they’re gonna get classified as a feat type all their own.
Now, some feats don’t fit in one box. Feats like Lucky or Elemental Adept help in a myriad of circumstances. Just know that this isn’t a hard-and-fast categorization.
Combat feats improve your character’s capabilities in battle.
These types of feats let you do new things in combat or improve your fighting prowess in some way. That could be new actions or bonus actions or increasing your damage output. Some of these feats give you access to additional weapon proficiencies like the Gunner feat from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (TCoE) which gives you proficiency with firearms.
Most feats in D&D belong to this category.
Example D&D Combat Feats
- Great Weapon Master
- Shield Master
- Slasher (TCoE)
Exploration feats make your character more adept at navigating the world. These feats also help with solving environmental obstacles like traps or puzzles.
This feat type is probably the most ambiguous of the bunch.
Basically, exploration feats in D&D help your character outside of combat and social encounters. This could mean navigating the wilderness, finding traps in a dungeon, or perfect memory recall within the past month.
Example D&D Exploration Feats
- Dungeon Delver
- Keen Mind
- Chef (TCoE)
Social feats improve your character’s capabilities when interacting with other creatures.
These feats basically help you navigate social encounters. You might gain the ability to mimic someone’s speech, learn new languages, or communicate telepathically with other creatures.
…That’s about it, really.
There aren’t that many social feats. But, some more general feats like Skilled can help since you could take proficiency in one of the Charisma skills.
Example D&D Social Feats
- Telepathic (TCoE)
Racial feats work about the same as regular feats. But, the rules as written restrict them to specific, playable races.
And, honestly? That’s all there is to them. They’re feats that only certain races can take.
Now, could you ignore the race restriction?
I do this all the time in my games for the Bladesinger Wizard subclass. So, if you want to lift the restrictions on racial feats, go for it.
Example D&D Racial Feats
- Bountiful Luck (halfling, XGtE)
- Infernal Constitution (tiefling, XGtE)
- Woof Elf Magic (elf (wood), XGtE)
D&D 5e Feats List
Now, since most feats in D&D 5e aren’t included in the SRD, I’m not really allowed to explain what each of them does. But, I can include a list of feats for your reference. If you want to have full access to the feats, I suggest ordering your own copies of the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
With that out of the way, here’s a list of all the feats in D&D 5e.
Player’s Handbook Feat List
- Crossbow Expert
- Defensive Duelist
- Dual Wielder
- Dungeon Delver
- Elemental Adept
- Great Weapon Master
- Heavily Armored
- Heavy Armor Master
- Inspiring Leader
- Keen Mind
- Lightly Armored
- Mage Slayer
- Magic Initiate
- Martial Adept
- Medium Armor Master
- Moderately Armored
- Mounted Combatant
- Polearm Master
- Ritual Caster
- Savage Attacker
- Shield Master
- Spell Sniper
- Tavern Brawler
- War Caster
- Weapon Master
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything Feat List
- Bountiful Luck
- Dragon Fear
- Dragon Hide
- Drow High Magic
- Dwarven Fortitude
- Elven Accuracy
- Fade Away
- Fey Teleportation
- Flames of Phlegethos
- Infernal Constitution
- Orcish Fury
- Second Chance
- Squat Nimbleness
- Wood Elf Magic
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Feat List
- Artificer Initiate
- Eldritch Adept
- Fey Touched
- Fighting Initiate
- Metamagic Adept
- Shadow Touched
- Skill Expert
What is the Best Feat in D&D?
With all this talk about feats in D&D 5e, you might wonder which is the best.
It’s Lucky. Lucky is the best feat in D&D 5e.
BUT, there are some other really good feats.
So, here’s the general consensus on the best feats in D&D.
As I said, Lucky is the best feat in the game. It’s so good that quite a few players and DMs debate on whether the Lucky feat is overpowered or not.
Personally, I think it’s an amazing feat. But, I don’t think it’s overpowered.
Basically, the Lucky feat gives your character three Luck Points. You can spend one point whenever, either before or after but before your DM determines the outcome, you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check to roll a second d20. Then, you choose which ever roll you want.
You see why some people think it’s broken?
Now, it’s important to not that Lucky doesn’t give you advantage on a roll. Yes, you get to roll two d20 but the feat never says you gain advantage.
…That said, it does let you turn disadvantage into what some players call Super Advantage.
Since the wording of Lucky says, "You choose which of the d20s is used…” that means you choose a d20 no matter how many you roll. So, on a roll with disadvantage and Lucky on, you roll three d20s…and pick the one you want. The Sage Advice Compendium on Lucky backs this interpretation up.
Lucky is a wild feat. And, I’d say it’s definitely the best feat in D&D 5e.
Great Weapon Master
Great Weapon Master is a great combat feat. It gives you the ability to use your bonus action to attack on a crit and increase your damage for an attack.
It gives you two improvements in combat. First, it lets you use your bonus action to make another attack whenever you score a critical hit or reduce a creature to zero hit points with one. And second, you can decrease your Attack Modifier by -5 to add +10 to your damage…y’know, assuming you hit.
Now, the trick with Great Weapon Master (GWM) is you can only use the second ability if you’re wielding a weapon with the Heavy property. And, can only use the first part of the feat with a melee weapon.
Any melee weapon works for the first part. But, only melee attacks made with weapons that have the Heavy property let you use the second part. These weapons include:
There’s a fun formula (yes, it’s fun) that helps you determine when to take the -5 to hit for +10 damage on the Giant in the Playground forum. The formula is:
The post goes into more detail and answers a few questions about using the formula. I’ve used this post in the past for Sharpshooter because it works in the exact same way.
Polearm Master is an interesting feat as it only affects glaives, halberds, pikes, and quarterstaffs. It lets you use your bonus action to make a special attack and expands your opportunity attack options.
So, the first part of Polearm Master is cool and thematic but it’s not really anything amazing. When you make an attack with a glaive, halberd, or quarterstaff (and only with one of those weapons), you can use your bonus action to attack with the opposite end of that weapon for 1d4 bludgeoning damage. It’s nice, it gives you something to do with your bonus action, but it’s not great.
The real draw of the Polearm Master feat is the second benefit.
If you’re wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, or quarterstaff, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack when they enter your reach. Now, activating an opportunity attack at a different time than usual is great on its own. But, three of the four weapons listed in this feat have the Reach property which extends your melee range out to 10 feet.
This might not sound like much. But, if you’re playing on a grid, your character covers a 5×5 square area. It increases your martial fighter’s capabilities by giving them a wider range to attack.
And, giving you the ability to make an opportunity attack whenever a creature enters their range means you’re attacking more often.
Not to mention pairing Polearm Master with Sentinel. That’s a ridiculously great combo.
The Sharpshooter feat improves your ranged combat capabilities. It removes the drawbacks to attacking at long range, helps when attacking targets behind cover, and lets you increase your damage for an attack.
Sharpshooter is arguably better than Great Weapon Master because of its first two benefits. But, the two share a common feature. Like GWM, one of Sharpshooter’s benefits is letting you choose to take -5 to an attack roll to increase your damage by +10.
What sets Sharpshooter aside and makes it a bit better than GWM (in my opinion) is the other two benefits; attacking at long range and cover.
The first part removes the disadvantage you get when attacking at long range. So, if you’re using a longbow, Sharpshooter lets you attack targets out to 600 feet without disadvantage.
The second part means targets don’t benefit from half or three-quarters cover when you attack them at range.
Personally, I think Sharpshooter is better than Great Weapon Master because of the other benefits it grants.
The War Caster feat helps spellcasters by improving their capabilities in combat. It helps characters maintain concentration, removes a restriction regarding somatic components, and improves their opportunity attack options.
There’s a lot going on here. So, let’s break War Caster down.
First off, this D&D feat gives you advantage on Constitution saving throws to maintain concentration. This is great on its own because dropping concentration when you really need a certain spell up sucks.
Second, many spells require a free hand for Somatic components. Or, in simpler terms, these spells require some sort of hand gesture to cast. If you have your hands full, you can’t cast these spells.
War Caster lets you cast spells with Somatic components even if you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands. So, it removes that restriction by letting you cast those spells.
Finally, this feat lets you use your opportunity attack to cast a spell with a casting time of one action instead of making an attack. Since chances are spellcasting characters aren’t great with weapons, this is a great choice.
It’s important to note that your character needs to ability to cast at least one spell to take the War Caster feat. Which makes sense because why would you take it if you didn’t have spells in the first place?
This feat is great because of all these benefits. And, honestly, if you’re playing a spellcaster, you should really consider taking this feat during one of your ASIs.
Bountiful Luck (XGtE)
The Bountiful Luck feat comes from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It’s a Racial feat for halflings that helps your allies by letting them reroll attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks once per turn.
Thematically, this feat extends the halfling’s racial trait, Lucky, to their friends.
Honestly, the best (and arguably most broken) part of this feat is it works every six seconds. It has no restriction on the number of times you can use it. The only things holding you back are 1) it requires your reaction, 2) you can’t use your Lucky racial trait before the end of your next turn, 3) it has a range limit, and 4) rules as written, it’s restricted to halflings.
No short or long rest requirements. No limit according to proficiency bonus. Nothing.
Bountiful Luck is a phenomenal feat for halflings looking to support the party.
Elven Accuracy (XGtE)
The Elven Accuracy feat comes from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It’s a Racial feat for elves and half-elves that improves their attack rolls.
So, first off, this is a half-feat. The first part of Elven Accuracy gives you a +1 in an Ability Score.
The meat of this D&D feat is the second benefit.
Basically, if you have advantage on an attack roll that uses Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, you can reroll one of the dice one time.
Doesn’t sound like much, right?
Remember how Lucky gives you Super Advantage on rolls with disadvantage. Elven Accuracy does more or less the same thing. You already have advantage on the attack. But now, you can reroll the lower die to see if you can nudge that number a little higher.
Also, unlike Lucky, there’s no restriction on Elven Accuracy. You can use it on as many attacks as you like (but remember; you need advantage on the attack and you can only do it once per attack roll).
Another ridiculously strong feat.
Are Feats Worth It?
Generally speaking, yes, feats are worth it. But, that depends on what you want for your character.
The benefit of taking a feat in D&D over the Ability Score Improvement is the extra abilities you get.
Usually, feats make your character more capable in some way. Either you get something different for your action or some passive benefit like proficiency in a skill or saving throw. These are typically pretty good choices.
That said, getting a +2 in your main Ability Score is huge.
I often see people recommend maxing out your main stat (as in, getting it up to 20). So, Fighters should have a 20 in Strength or Dexterity, Wizards in Intelligence, Bards in Charisma, etc. And, depending on how you play, you’ll get to that point either by reaching 4th or 8th level through your first and second ASI.
But, that means not taking a feat until 12the level for most classes.
Also, it all depends on your character. For ranged or Heavy weapon characters, you might want Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master earlier. Yeah, a +2 in Strength or Dexterity is great, but the benefits of those two feats are amazing.
On the other hand, taking the Ability Score Improvements is generally better for spellcasters.
You want to buff your Spellcasting Ability Modifier as much as possible. The higher your modifier, the higher your Spellcasting Difficulty Class (DC). The higher your DC, the harder it is for enemies to save against your spells.
So yes, feats in D&D are worth it. But, it all depends on how you play your character.
D&D Feats FAQs
Do You Get a Feat at Level 1 in 5e?
Rules as written, no. You don’t get a feat at level one in 5e. Only the optional Variant Human has the option to gain a feat at 1st level.
…That said, and this is for the DMs, there’s nothing saying you can’t give your players a feat at level one.
In fact, I’ve been seeing people say they do this for all their games. It gives your players more customization options during character creation. And, it makes player characters seem more capable at the early levels.
How Many D&D Feats Are There?
D&D 5e has 78 feats so far.
Counting the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and the Draconic Options Unearthed Arcana, there are 78 feats available in 5e.
Are Feats Optional in 5e?
Yes, feats are optional in 5e.
Page 165 of the PHB states:
"At certain levels, your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature. Using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking that feature to take a feat of your choice instead."
I bolded the important part of that passage. The start of the feats section in the Player’s Handbook states outright that feats are an option rule.
So, as a DM, you decide whether you’re using feats in your game or not. And, as a player, you should check with your DM before taking a feat to make sure it’s allowed.
Final Thoughts on D&D Feats
That about covers feats in D&D 5e.
Feats are basically extra abilities you can choose to further customize your D&D character. They’re an optional rule, so check that your DM allows them in the game before taking one. They usually support one of the three Pillars of Play but there’s often overlap between them. Some feats have prerequisites, so make sure you meet all requirements. And, I’d say they’re generally worth taking.
But, the most important thing is play the character you want to play.
A lot of min-maxers and powergamers will tell you that you need feats to make good D&D characters. That’s not true at all. As long as you’re playing the character you want and having fun, you’re playing the right way.
What’s your favorite feat? Have your players used feats in unexpected ways? Leave a comment below and we’ll swap stories.
2 thoughts on “D&D 5e Feats Explained”
I’ve always been partial to Heavy Armor Master. As far as I know, it’s the only damage mitigation (soak) in the game. At higher levels, monsters hit more often, and having the damage mitigation on piercing, bludgeoning, and slashing non-magical attacks reduces damage anywhere from 20-30%. You fight a dragon, who uses a claw, bite, and tail attack and reduce each hit by 3 points of damage, that’s a huge benefit. Oh and +1 to strength isn’t bad either!
One more benefit is when making concentration checks while maintain a spell. I’ve found it helpful with my Paladins and combat Clerics.
Oh, yeah. Heavy Armor Master is a great pick for tanky characters.