Unearthed Arcana strikes back with even more feats this week, this time focusing on races rather than skills. Unlike the Feats for Skills, these don’t follow a single formula and allow for more variety. How do these stack up to the last batch? Keep reading to find out!
Dragonborn, Tieflings, & Half-Orcs
Dragonborn, Tieflings, and Half-Orcs have access to some of the coolest sounding feats, so I wanted to take a look at these three races first:
Dragon Fear (Dragonborn)
When angered, you radiate menace. You gain the following benefits:
Dragon Fear is a solid feat for sure. The ability to choose Strength or Charisma doesn’t limit what type of character may take it, and the ability makes total sense. Much like their dragon breath, a dragonborn being able to channel that same power into a tremendous roar is thematically awesome, and pretty balanced as far as I can see. Starting off strong with a thumbs up.
Dragon Hide (Dragonborn)
You inherited the might and majesty of your dragon ancestors. You gain the following benefits:
Much like Dragon Fear, Dragon Hide is another solid feat, though this is one I would think makes more sense at character creation. It has the same +1 to Strength or Charisma, but the rest of it is pretty much tailored to monks (though, it’s not bad for Barbarians, Wizards or especially Sorcerers either). For starters, you get a +1 bonus to your AC while not wearing armor. This would work alongside the Monk’s or Barbarian’s Unarmored Defense. Second, you grow claws, which make your unarmed strikes deal 1d4+STR slashing damage, as opposed to bludgeoning. The fact it doesn’t state anything about proficiency may be an oversight, or a reason why you may see a Monk take this more than the other classes, as it would simply allow them to choose between slashing and bludgeoning damage on their unarmed strikes. In any event, another scaly thumb up.
Dragon Wings (Dragonborn)
You sprout draconic wings. With your wings, you have a flying speed of 20 feet if you aren’t wearing heavy armor and aren’t exceeding your carrying capacity.
Personally, I don’t like PC’s having a built in fly speed (and one reason you’ll never see Aarakocra or the winged Tiefling variants in my games). That said, it’s all up to the DM, and if any race makes sense to randomly grow wings (or, you know, have them your whole life), it’s the Dragonborn. Thumbs up because of the cool factor.
Barbed Hide (Tiefling)
One of your ancestors was a barbed devil or other spiky fiend. Barbs protrude from your head. You gain the following benefits:
While I don’t understand gaining Charisma from having barbs all over your body, I appreciate once again the versatility in giving the choice. I really like the grappling aspect of this; it gives more of a reason to grapple, and can help any character to get out of one. 1d6 seems a little high to me, but keeping in mind this wouldn’t come about until at least level 4, I have no qualms with it. The Intimidation part is a nice bonus; I wouldn’t want to mess with someone who can cause spikes to protrude out of their body! It’s getting a thumbs up.
Flames of Phlegethos (Tiefling)
You learn to call on hellfire to serve your commands. You gain the following benefits:
At first glance I thought this feat was a little overpowered, but after thinking on it I really like it. In addition to being thematically awesome, like most feats in this set, the choice between Intelligence and Charisma keeps the versatility where it belongs. The rerolling only allows it on a 1, which is akin to Great Weapon Fighting fighting style, and the melee defense in the form of 1d4 fire damage is just right for me. So far, this is my favorite feat of the bunch, and it gets two flaming thumbs up.
Infernal Constitution (Tiefling)
Fiendish blood runs strong in you. You gain the following benefits:
Ok, this is the first feat that is falling a bit flat for me. It’s all passive, which is fine, but you’re basically putting dwarf skin on a tiefling, but adding in cold damage resistance because I guess cold is the opposite of fire. The +1 to Con, poison damage resistance, and advantage on poison are the stuff of our stout, hair friends, and while I don’t see this feat as inherently bad, I think it is just very underwhelming. It gets a neutral for me.
As a bonus action, you can move up to your speed toward an enemy of your choice that you can see or hear. You must end this move closer to the enemy than you started.
Orcish Aggresion, very plainly, gives Half-Orcs the ability to use the Aggression ability that orcs have. That’s all this is. And I really don’t like it, to be entirely honest. I get that it helps with the idea of a charging barbarian and the like, but it just feel way too weak, especially when you consider that a rogue’s Cunning Action or plenty of spells do the same thing or better. It has it’s place, but it’s near last place. Neutral.
Your fury burns tirelessly. You gain the following benefits:
Oh boy oh buddy here we go, now we’re cooking with fire. Strength or Con going up by 1? Check. Add an extra damage die to any roll you want, once per short rest? Check. Make a weapon attack as a reaction after you refuse to go down with Relentless Endurance? Check. This feat screams, no roars, orcish heritage. A passive ability score improvement, a short rest damage boost, and a long rest extra attack. It might be a bit too powerful, but I can feel the half-orc blood pumping through the veins of Gritroq, (the go-to name for all Orc/Half-Orcs I play) with this. To be fair, I would have rather seen the Relentless Endurance bit added to Orcish Aggression and make for two solid feats, but since they didn’t, I’ll give Orcish Fury two green thumbs up.
Humans, Elves, & Half-Elves
Half-Elves share a feat with Humans and another feat with Elves, which is why I’m lumping all three together here:
Human Determination (Human)
You are filled with a determination that can draw the unreachable within your reach. You gain the following benefits:
There is one cliché I hate in any sort of game that features different races, but it inexplicably finds its way into over 99% of them: Humans are the bread and butter race, with no features yet no flaws; or they’re just slightly good at everything. The part of the cliché I actually do like, however, is that humans are full of grit, determination, and the ability to learn extremely fast and accomplish great things. While I can’t stop D&D from exhibiting the first half of the cliché, I can at least make good on the second with this feat. In all fairness, I find the ability to give yourself advantage not super powerful, but the fact it resets on short rest and can be used whenever you’d like is pretty great. It’s basically a sorcerer’s Tides of Chaos ability, without the misfortune of having the DM throw it back at you for a zany effect. Oh, and the extra point to an ability score is good, too, I guess. Thumbs up.
Prodigy (Human, Half-Elf)
You have a knack for learning new things. You gain the following benefits:
Going off the above, the ability score wherever is good, and the second part really exhibits the human (and half-elf) potential in being able to learn and accomplish great things in a short period of time. Thumbs up.
Elven Accuracy (Elf, Half-Elf)
You have uncanny aim. You gain the following benefits:
I really don’t like this feat. I get the +1 to dexterity, I do. And I understand the sentiment of what they’re trying to accomplish, but what this really translates to is Wizards of the Coast finally giving something DOUBLE ADVANTAGE *cue to sirens*. There’s no real mechanical difference between this and double advantage; you’re always going to reroll the lower of the two rolls you have on advantage, so you should just roll 3d20 and speed it up. I find this way too powerful, and limiting it to only those of elvish descent irks me a bit. If it were once per long rest, sure. But everytime you have advantage? Yeah, no thanks. Double thumbs down.
Drow High Magic (Elf -Drow)
You learn more of the spells typical for your people. You learn Detect Magic and can cast it at will, without expending a spell slot. You also learn Levitate and Dispel Magic, each of which you can cast once without expending a spell slot. You regain the ability to cast the spell in this way when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
For the subterranean elves, we’re giving them some good spells. Detect magic, a 1st-level spell, is basically a cantrip for them with this. No actual problem here. And then Levitate, a 2nd-level spell, and Dispel Magic, a 3rd-level spell, once per day. Depending on the type of campaign you play, this may not be so bad, and once per long rest really limits the amount of abuse these can do. Just remember to make “permanent” magic effects a bit more transparent around a character with this. Thumb up.
Fey Teleportation (Elf – High)
Increase your Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Intelligence plus 1 and Misty Step once per short rest is what we’re giving our High Elven folk, and I’m kind of eh on it. Misty step is a second level spell, and a great getaway. If it were long rest, this would be extremely weak compared to the Drow High Magic feat, but I’m still not convinced this is balanced. Neutral since the jury is still out.
Wood Elf Magic (Elf – Wood)
You learn the magic of the primeval woods. You learn one druid cantrip of your choice. You also learn Longstrider and Pass Without Trace, each of which you can cast once without expending a spell slot. You regain the ability to cast the spell in this way when you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
I like this for the thematic purposes, and the fact it’s underpowered next to the Drow feat, which I think is a bit high powered. Any druid cantrip is nice; if you’re melee Produce Flame is a great offensive option as is Thornwhip, and the rest of the cantrips aren’t bad either. Pass Without Trace and Longstrider make more sense to each be one per long rest, since they’re a level 2 and 1 spell respectively, unlike the Drow which is 3 and 2, and then proceeds to threat a level 1 spell like a cantrip. Simple enough, thumbs up.
Everybody’s Friend (Half-Elf)
You develop your magnetic personality to ease your way through the world. You gain the following benefits:
Ah yes, Half-Elves; loved by none, liked by all. This feat is nothing special other than to further the idea that since they have no real place to call home, due to each half of their lineage treating them like the other, that they make great communicators and diplomats. It must be lonely, especially when they find out I’m giving this fairly boring feat a neutral for lack of creativity.
Dwarves, Gnomes, & Halflings
Ah, the short, the stout, and the vertically challenged. All three happened to share one common feat, which makes lumping them together here easier than saying they were the last three I looked at!
Squat Nimbleness (Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling)
You are uncommonly nimble for your race. You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Strength or Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
• Increase your walking speed by 5 feet.
• You gain proficiency in the Acrobatics or Athletics skill. If you’re already proficient in the skill, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any check you make with it.
As a lover of dwarves I can relate to the pain of a slower walking speed. That said, a feat that hinders one of the only real drawbacks of a race doesn’t seem like the solution. The rest of the feat is boring with an ability score increase and possible double proficiency in Athletics or Acrobatics. It won’t break anything, but it also doesn’t seem like much more than a bandage for people who want to be fast and stout. It gets a neutral.
Dwarf Resilience (Dwarf)
You have the blood of dwarf heroes flowing through your veins. You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
• Whenever you take the Dodge action in combat, you can spend one Hit Die to heal yourself. Roll the die, add your Constitution modifier, and regain a number of hit points equal to the total (minimum of 1).
Ok, here we go. I love this feat. Just picture it- you’re an iconic Dwarf Cleric (Life domain, of course). You’re healing your party members left and right, but of course you’re taking damage by being the selfless machine of health that you are. So what is a dwarf to do? You dodge. While dwarves aren’t fast (Squat Nimbleness) they can most definitely dodge and take a punch. It gives dwarves a Second Wind of their own, but it draws on their Hit Die and requires them to take the dodge action. I love it. All the bearded goodness. So much so, the two thumbs I’m giving it have beards of their own.
You have a deep hatred for a particular kind of creature. Choose your foes, a type of creature to bear the burden of your wrath: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can choose two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs). You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
• During the first round of any combat against your chosen foes, your attack rolls against any of them have advantage.
• When any of your chosen foes makes an opportunity attack against you, it makes the attack roll with disadvantage.
• Whenever you make an Intelligence (Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion) check to recall information about your chosen foes, you add double your proficiency bonus to the check, even if you’re not normally proficient.
This feels like what a Ranger’s Favored Enemy should have been, except tailored to dwarves since they hate so many things. It works for a Dwarf Ranger too thanks to the double proficiency, and while it should just be a Ranger thing in general, I’m going to give it a thumbs up since dwarves just hate a lot. No hating here though.
Fade Away (Gnome)
You can draw on your magical heritage to escape danger. You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Intelligence score by 1, up to a maximum of 20.
• When you take damage, you can use a reaction to magically become invisible until the end of your next turn or until you attack, deal damage, or force someone to make a saving throw. Once you use this ability, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest.
My only gripe is that is specifies that it lasts until you attack, deal damage, or force a saving throw. That means healing and beneficial spells don’t cause you to lose it like the Invisibility spell would. If it mimicked the spell a bit more, I’d give it a thumbs up, but due to the oversight I think it’s a bit too powerful, so it gets a neutral.
Critter Friend (Gnome – Forest)
Your friendship with animals mystically deepens. You gain the following benefits:
• You gain proficiency in the Animal Handling skill. If you’re already proficient in it, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any check you make with it.
• You learn the speak with animals spell and can cast it at will, without expending a spell slot. You also learn the animal friendship spell, and you can cast it once with this feat, without expending a spell slot. You regain the ability to cast it in this way when you finish a long rest. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Not much bad here; double proficiency is nice, and always being able to speak with animals, while more a druid thing, fits in with some gnome abilities of prior editions (I’m thinking 3.X with gnomes talking to burrowing creatures). And Animal Friendship once per long rest is a nice touch, too. Perfect for the animal loving gnome. Thumbs up.
Wonder Maker (Gnome – Rock)
You master the tinker techniques of your people. You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Dexterity or Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
• When you make a check using your proficiency with tinker’s tools, you add double your proficiency bonus to the check.
• When you make a device with your Tinker trait, you have the following additional options for what you make:
Alarm. This device senses when a creature moves to within 15 feet of it without speaking aloud a password chosen when you create it. One round after a creature moves into range, the alarm makes a shrill ringing that lasts for 1 minute and can be heard from up to 300 feet away.
Calculator. This device makes doing sums easy.
Lifter. This device can be used as a block and tackle, allowing its user to hoist five times the weight the user can normally lift.
Timekeeper. This pocket watch keeps accurate time.
Weather Sensor. When used as an action, this device predicts weather conditions in a 1-mile radius over the next 4 hours, showing one symbol (clouds, sun/moon, rain, or snow) for each hour.
I like seeing the Tinker trait of Rock Gnomes being expanded on, and the double proficiency sure helps. None of these new trinkets really stand out to me, aside from the alarm, which is like a poor man’s Alarm spell but almost as effective. Maybe it’s a bit much, but seeing how Alarm is a first level spell and a ritual, this feat gets a thumbs up.
Bountiful Luck (Halfling)
Whenever an ally you can see within 30 feet of you rolls a 1 on the d20 for an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can use your reaction to let the ally reroll the die. The ally must use the new roll.
I want to like this feat, I really do. But, I myself use natural 1’s as a critical fail, as do many other groups- but giving a character the chance to negate one once per turn at the trade of their reaction seems a bit strong. I get this goes hand in hand with their own luck ability, but maybe limiting it to once per short rest would be better suited. Thumbs down for the sheer power.
Second Chance (Halfling)
Fortune favors you. You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Dexterity, Constitution, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
• When a creature you can see hits you with an attack roll, you can use your reaction to force that creature to reroll. Once you use this ability, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest
This is the inverse of Bountiful Luck, in that it has to do with others hitting the halfling, and that they got it right by making it once per short rest. For the last feat, thumbs up.
And that wraps up the feats! 23 in total, with the good vastly outweighing the neutral and the bad. Some of these, in my opinion, make more sense to be taken at character creation (such as many of the Dragonborn or Tiefling feats), but with proper reasoning in game can be added whenever. These feel like a great way to embrace the race of your character and I hope to see them released in a future sourcebook!