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5E D&D Beyond Revisits Popular Feats

The folks over at D&D Beyond have revisited the stats in the most popular feats used by class on the DDB platform.

It looks like the percentage of characters using feats has increased slightly.

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Here are the most popular feats in 2018 and now.

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And here are the top feats for each class in 2018 and now.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

EzekielRaiden

Adventurer
Only real surprise is that Lucky isn't as high as I'd expected. War Caster wasn't on my mind for a top pick, but makes perfect sense. So many classes and subclasses cast spells and many want to do so without losing them.

Much more surprising is that so many characters have feats. There's a strong voice in the community that says feats are absolute anathema, and it's interesting to see that that's not reflected in the stats. Sort of like how there are so. goddamn. many. DMs who love to crap on Dragonborn and yet despite them not being a very good pick mechanically they're pretty commonly played (as of the last official article on the subject)
 

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People evaluate things so differently than I do.

I think Tough is a no-brainer feat... over level 12 or so. I don't really see the allure before then, especially when it competes with +2 Con. I'd probably put Resilient (Wisdom) higher than Resilient (Constitution), too.

Are people really that terrified about losing a concentration spell to damage? I mean, I do think that aspect of concentration is far too punitive -- spells like Hold Person or Ray of Enfeeblement are a complete joke now because there's often 3 checks of some kind made before the spell actually does anything and that is very feelsbad for the player -- but I guess I just don't see spending a feat on it early.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Surprised Magic Initiate isn’t more popular.

I see it mostly on Variant Humans taken as their free Level 1 feat... And not much on others.

Ritual Caster (Wizard) seems to be more popular, from what I can tell.

Spell Sniper seems to be even more popular, especially Spell Sniper (Warlock) for Sorcerers and sometimes Bards/Paladins to get Eldritch Blast plus doubled attack spell range and ignored cover.

That last one is reflected in the above DnDBeyond stats.... In DnDBeyond, the feat is coded as "Spell Sniper (Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock)". In the stats chart, they've just shortened it to "Spell Sniper (Bard)", but "Spell Sniper (Warlock)" would almost certainly be more accurate for its most common use. (Bards don't even have an eligible attack cantrip on their spell list that can be taken with Spell Sniper anyway...)


I continue to be baffled by why so many Monks take Mobile.

It may not seem like it's worthwhile on paper, but trust me, it works very well in practice. (Especially in Tier 1 and lower Tier 2 play, where most D&D takes places.)

Free Disengage is a powerful tool for Strikers like Monks and Rogues, provided there's one or more Tanks to hold the front line. If there's one or more Tanks in the party, especially if they're augmented by additional "stickiness" from stuff like the Conquest Paladin's immobilization or the Sentinel feat, then Monks and Rogues can flit in and out of combat to get their hits in without lingering on the front lines, and monsters have more difficulty pursuing them past the front line of tanks on their turn.

And extra movement is always nice, especially on an already ridiculously fast class like a Monk.

Dodging costs Bonus Action and Ki. Disengaging usually costs Bonus Action and Ki. But Mobile allows you to Disengage for free. And still having the Bonus Action Dodge as another option is nice. Nothing says you always have to Disengage, or you always have to Dodge. There are situations in which you'll want to stick around and Dodge, but typically more situations in which you'll want to Disengage from the front lines.

Stun is an especially great ability, but it also costs Ki. And you won't want to be burning Ki on it in every encounter. You especially don't want to be burning 3-4 Ki points in one round to Stun the Big Bad as well as his several minions milling around. And Stun isn't guaranteed. The attack may not hit, and the Stun may not stick.

Whereas Mobile works even if your only attempt an attack. Hitting/Missing/Save DC doesn't affect Mobile's Disengage. So you can run in, stun the toughest bad guy with an attack or two, toss a couple attacks or even stun attempts at the other mooks around him that are threatening you with OAs, then duck back out. Even if every single one of your attacks that round miss, or the Stuns don't stick, you're still able to freely Disengage.

Also, Stun doesn't come online until Level 5, and even once it does, your Ki is very limited at Level 5ish. Keep in mind that most play is at lower levels, where Stun either isn't available, or is used sparingly due to minimal Ki and significant competition for that minimal Ki.

+2 to Dex or Wis for a Monk is a huge deal.

On that we agree.

Mobile is most noticeably great on Variant Human Monks at lower levels. But it's still useful on higher level Monks. However, you're right that you usually wouldn't prioritize it over bumping DEX or WIS, especially if either one or both are still at 14/16ish.
 
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ad_hoc

Hero
Free Disengage is a powerful tool for Strikers like Monks and Rogues

It's not free. They must use 1 attack per creature.

, provided there's one or more Tanks to hold the front line.

D&D is a skirmishing game. There are an average of 4 characters per party.

That's not a line.

Sure, if the DM just has monsters only attack the heavily armoured characters then, yes, okay. But in that case it's an easy game right so it doesn't matter?

I think the biggest thing people are skimming over when it comes to Mobile is that it is an entire feat. That's a huge deal. It's a big cost for such minor benefits.

If it was a half feat I could see an argument for it...

If I'm taking a feat I want something that will either shore up a weakness of my character or let me do something new. I don't want to invalidate abilities I already have to have slightly better ones.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
Also, Stun doesn't come online until Level 5, and even once it does, your Ki is very limited at Level 5ish. Keep in mind that most play is at lower levels, where Stun either isn't available, or is used sparingly due to minimal Ki and significant competition for that minimal Ki.

I don't think that's true. The game is designed to level very quickly to 5 where it then slows down drastically.

Levels 1-4 are the apprentice tier. The game starts proper at level 5.

Choosing a feat based on what your character is going to do for a couple sessions is very short sighted.

Also, only 4% of characters in this data set are Variant Humans. Most of the Monks taking Mobile are doing so at level 4 or 8.

At least I see why people think it's good now. I think it sounds much better than it really is in an actual dynamic game.
 
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RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
I don't think that's true. The game is designed to level very quickly to 5 where it then slows down drastically.

Levels 1-4 are the apprentice tier. The game starts proper at level 5.

Choosing a feat based on what your character is going to do for a couple sessions is very short sighted.

D&D Beyond's statistics that they publish regularly show that the majority of characters are Levels 1-4 (~63%), and almost all characters are Level 10 or under (~90%).


Only ~5% of play is Tier 3 (11-16) and another ~5% play is Tier 4 (17-20). There's discussion in other threads about the reasons for this, from campaign/storyline burnout, to groups falling apart due to real life scheduling conflicts, to the dearth of high level modules, etc.

Granted, that's based solely on players who utilize D&D Beyond, since that's a digital database with easily accessible stats to pull from. But one can extrapolate that a similar breakdown would be true in D&D play in general.

So building a fun and effective character for low to moderate level play would seem to be a pretty safe bet. (Especially compared to something like one of the various complex, feat-heavy, multiclass builds that don't come online until Level 9/12/15/20/etc.) And a Variant Human Mobile Monk is a very fun and effective character in Tier 1 and Tier 2 play, making you even more effective at your usual Monk stuff while also allowing you to reserve even more of your limited Ki for stuff like Stuns and cool subclass abilities.

Besides, dynamic feats like Mobile that let you set up cool, cinematic combat actions like running across the battlefield into the midst of a mob, tossing out a whirlwind of punches and kicks, then scooting away unscathed back to the other side of the battlefield are way more fun in actual play than something more mechanical like Tough that gets you some extra numbers on your character sheet.

At least I see why people think it's good now. I think it sounds much better than it really is in an actual dynamic game.

Dunno what to tell you... I've seen it put to good use by a number of other players, and even used it effectively myself on a Monk character.

You're right that sometimes things work out differently in actual play than they would appear on paper or in white room theorizing, but that's true from multiple angles... Sometimes what you might see to just be middlingly effective on paper works out to be quite handy in actual play.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I am going another direction.

XP slows down exponentially with levels, and gritty rests, means that it takes a long calendar and play time to gain levels. The McGuffins grant a substantial boost to 1 PC, and grant everyone in the party a level, when acquired (this effect, which works on NPCs too, is part of the reason there is a race to get the McGuffins).

The model I have is 1 long rest for level 2 (so 2 weeks), x2 for each level afterwards; so level X takes 2^(X)-2 weeks of adventuring give or take.

Level 6 is just over a year. Level 11 is 30 years of adventuring or intense training. Level 16 is 1000 years of adventuring or intense training.

Which then provides limits on world building (the elves are higher level by a tad). Rare external ways to "cheat" become how you can break this limit (becoming a lich, for example), and the PC party in phase 1 is offered a trail of 13 things that each give a +1 level to a party-ish-sized group and a ridiculous boost to one person (max 1 per person).

If they pull off most of them (phase 2) they'll become the most powerful mortals in the world. Which leads to phase 3; what the 13 omens unlock.
Nice. I'm not going quite so extreme; short rests are overnight, long rests are 3 nights in a safe/civilized environment. Leveling up takes a season (just about 70 days in my campaign world).

The real capper on high level characters is simply finding features to level up with.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My first take away is that if about 50% of characters in the 8-11 range have a feat then most games by far must allow feats.

My 2nd takeaway is that certain feats are more likely to be banned than others - which may actually impact the numbers we are seeing on there.
 



RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
My 2nd takeaway is that certain feats are more likely to be banned than others - which may actually impact the numbers we are seeing on there.

Yep. Also affected by some of the feats not being in the core rules, so you have to own a digital copy of the book in order to utilize them on D&D Beyond. (Or at least be in a D&D Beyond campaign with someone who's sharing the book with the group.)

So the numbers on a feat like Elven Accuracy are likely being held down a bit by both of those factors.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It's not free. They must use 1 attack per creature.

Minor quibble.

D&D is a skirmishing game. There are an average of 4 characters per party.

That's not a line.

OA's work well enough in tier 1 and tier 2 to discourage movement away from melee characters.

Sure, if the DM just has monsters only attack the heavily armoured characters then, yes, okay. But in that case it's an easy game right so it doesn't matter?

Many times enemies attack what they can reach this turn. When your Fighter runs forward into battle and your ranged allies fall back even further that typically leaves the fighter and those that rushed forward like him the only ones that can be attacked this turn.

I think the biggest thing people are skimming over when it comes to Mobile is that it is an entire feat. That's a huge deal. It's a big cost for such minor benefits.

It's really not a huge cost and plays great in the skirmishing game.

If I'm taking a feat I want something that will either shore up a weakness of my character or let me do something new. I don't want to invalidate abilities I already have to have slightly better ones.

Mobile does shore up a monk weakness. Monks are a bit fragile compared with other melee classes and must sacrifice quite a bit of offensive capability for defense to survive in melee. Mobile mitigates that.
 

Celebrim

Legend
The more I've run tables over these last 5+ years, the more I've found that the addition of all the class and subclass features plus additional character options like feats have greatly reduced the number of times magical item effects have been used or cared about by my players.

That's interesting because when running 3e I noticed a big drop in the enjoyment of acquiring loot compared to 1e. Magic items were still welcome, but non-magical valuables were largely just 'meh' rather than central to the experience of the game the way they were in 1e.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My 3rd takeaway is that most of the feats not geared toward a specific class are taken much more often than ones geared toward a particular stat or particular weapon group. This makes sense when you think about it.

Only a handful of classes might ever take PAM or GWM. Since GWM applies to more weapon types it's taken more often than PAM. Toughness applies to all characters so you see it take overall quite a bit. Just a few examples.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think this is completely true.

The group is far more important than any individual character. I think this is why I'm often at odds with 'optimizers'.

Damage is a big one. It should be calculated as a group not per character. Going from 10 to 12 damage is a huge deal for an optimizer. But it isn't actually that much if you see that it is actually going from a group damage of 48 to 50.

I would make the same point and instead say optimize differently. You make that point and say don't optimize at all. ;)
 

Nagol

Unimportant
That's interesting because when running 3e I noticed a big drop in the enjoyment of acquiring loot compared to 1e. Magic items were still welcome, but non-magical valuables were largely just 'meh' rather than central to the experience of the game the way they were in 1e.
I noticed even found magic items became somewhat meh under 3.X. I remember when the group managed to recover a Mirror of Mental Prowess and immediately set about trying to find someone who wanted it because they wanted the cash to fill out their preferred magic items.
 


RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
I'd probably put Resilient (Wisdom) higher than Resilient (Constitution), too.

Resilient CON is kind of a no-brainer to take at some point for just about any caster with an odd CON score (with the main exceptions being Sorcerers or multiclass casters that start out with 1 level in Fighter, since they get CON proficiency already). More HP and much better Concentration, together in one feat. It's a very efficient and useful use of a feat, and it's so relatively common as a result.

But I agree that while it's not taken as often, Resilient WIS is certainly a solid choice for many characters who have an odd WIS and doesn't already get WIS proficiency from their class, since WIS saves tend to cover most of the more common and nastier charm/confuse/paralyze/dominate/etc. type of severely disabling spell effects and monster abilities.

While DEX saves are the most common types of saves, they typically only result in straight HP damage when failed, which isn't nearly as catastrophic as failing a WIS save and being totally disabled, or as frustrating as losing or "wasting" an important spell from failing Concentration.
 

The more I've run tables over these last 5+ years, the more I've found that the addition of all the class and subclass features plus additional character options like feats have greatly reduced the number of times magical item effects have been used or cared about by my players.

When you can do entire suites of special abilities just from your character itself, the stuff you get from magical items just no longer holds an interesting or ultimately useful place in the game. On the one hand that's good because you are now no longer beholden to the whims of the DM and can make your character the way you want to... but on the other, it does reduce the amount of "reward" a character can get for adventuring other than just strict XP. If the stuff you get from XP through the level-up process is just as good/useful as any item you might acquire... the narrative aspect of adventuring kind of gets lost. They adventure to get better at adventuring, not for any tangible rewards. But if you didn't use feats and instead put all the special features you could get from feats into various magical items... you could possibly get the best of both worlds.

Not insurmountable by any stretch, but it does affect the focus of the game and the way characters approach the world.
One way to respond to this is with the idea of wondrous boons from 4E. These are basically magic items that are not items, but may represent training by an elite weaponmaster passing on a technique, or a blessing from a god, or superpowerful being.
 

Eltab

Hero
Monks are "battlecruisers" not battleships; they lack the AC and HP to stand where Team Monster can pound on them over and over, every turn. The best-known way to increase a Monk's AC is via ASIs, which is s-l-o-w. The alternative is to make it so Team Monster cannot get as many attacks in the first place; running around under the protection of a Disengage accomplishes that nicely. The only Monk who can be a Monk at range is the Sun Soul; everybody else must go up in melee.
 

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