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5E Homebrew modification of Sharpshooter: reasonably within line?

Al2O3

Explorer
Background: Today a one-shot turned into the start of a campaign. My character is a kensei monk with sling as the ranged kensei weapon. Since 30 ft is a rather short range I want to ignore the long range penalty, and dealing with partial cover just slows down play. However, the whole extra damage part of Sharpshooter did not interest me, especially compared to +1 Dex mod.

Changes to the feat: remove the -5 to hit/+10 to damage part. Instead give increase the dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.

Question: Is this new feat way over- or underpowered compared to plain ability score increase or other feats? Basically, have I forgotten something important when designing the change?
 

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Al2O3

Explorer
Thanks!
It was pretty quick during the session, but hearing that others have come to the same conclusion without problems removes any concerns I had :)
 

tommybahama

Explorer
We had a halfling battle master with sharpshooter doing 17 damage with a short bow per hit around level 8. I'd guess he hit 75% of the time. How much damage will your Kensai monk do in comparison?
 



In all honesty the most broken part of sharpshooter is not the extra damage bit, it's that:
1) You can combine the part about ignoring cover WITH the fighting style (it's what makes the damage bit too strong)
2) You can combine all the elements of the feat, i.e. a 4th level archer can fire at a castle guard hiding behind an arrow slit of a castle tower (which normally has +5 AC) from 300ft away with NO penalty, except for a -3 (assuming they have the archery fighting style) for the 10 extra damage. It's really only this fringe case that is absurd.

In the past I've ruled the following:
1) You pick ONE of the options each time you fire an arrow, i.e. ignoring cover OR ignoring the range penalty OR doing the extra damage. Not all three.
1.a) The other option here is ruling that Archery Fighting Style instead "Ignores half cover with ranged attacks". It's the reason why the fighting style is +2 to attach as it's intended to counter the +2 cover bonus for firing into melee regularly and frankly is what the fighting style SHOULD have been in the first place. It also means the feat no longer stacks to reduce the penalty.

2) I've also houseruled in the past for both Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master that the damage bonus is instead -Proficiency Bonus off the attack roll for +2x Proficency damage. I.e. it starts at -2/+4 and eventually scales to -6/+12. I've found this change makes the feat actually usable at lower levels and reduces the absurd spike damage enough that it keeps the feat from being unreasonable. We've playtested this change accross more than 6 characters across three DM's within our tables and haven't had too many complaints about the change yet.
 


GlassJaw

Adventurer
2) I've also houseruled in the past for both Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master that the damage bonus is instead -Proficiency Bonus off the attack roll for +2x Proficency damage. I.e. it starts at -2/+4 and eventually scales to -6/+12. I've found this change makes the feat actually usable at lower levels and reduces the absurd spike damage enough that it keeps the feat from being unreasonable. We've playtested this change accross more than 6 characters across three DM's within our tables and haven't had too many complaints about the change yet.
I wouldn't do this. The math makes this even better than the static -5/+10.
 


Another common change is make the +/- damage equal to your proficiency: -2/+2, -3/+3, etc.
What I just posted basically. We decided to make the damage equal to 2x proficiency though as it gives the player just a little more incentive to make the gamble. In truth both feats as written aren't actually as absurd as some make them seem. There have been many threads discussing the math. It's just that we personally felt the scaling seemed to make more sense and was less of a penalty at lower levels (especially because we start our games with a feat at 1st level).

The only true feat I actually think is problematic of the two is Sharpshooter, and that is specifically when COMBINED with the Archery Fighting style. Again, the fighting style really should've have just ignored the first level of cover rather than have been a flat bonus. It's so odd that it ended up being a normal bonus too, given that it's basically the only class feature that functions that way in the game more or less. I'm still surprised it made it past playtest.

I also still maintain that it is weird that one can combine all the effects of sharpshooter for absurd feats of archery. Technically the thing I described earlier does require the archer to see the guard in the tower, but even that is a topic of discussion that has been argued to death ad naseum.
 

I wouldn't do this. The math makes this even better than the static -5/+10.
Not until 17th level, which not one of our games has ever reached despite years of play, and at which point I as a DM am far more concerned with wizards creating demiplanes or destroying the very material plane with magic, rather than the fighter hitting for maybe 10 more damage a round. I also typically adjust the archery fighting style as I've said previously, so they can't just take sharpshooter and get (effectively) -0/+4 cheese at 1-4th level.
 

GlassJaw

Adventurer
Not until 17th level
Nope, right out of the gate. The smaller penalty to hit increases average damage at lower levels more than -5/+10. Basically the changes make it something you want to use on ever single attack.

There have been numerous posts about this change on reddit.

Edit: I agree that this changes smooths out the damage spikes a bit but it makes it better mathematically, if you're into that sort of thing.
 

In all honesty the most broken part of sharpshooter is not the extra damage bit, it's that:
1) You can combine the part about ignoring cover WITH the fighting style (it's what makes the damage bit too strong)
2) You can combine all the elements of the feat, i.e. a 4th level archer can fire at a castle guard hiding behind an arrow slit of a castle tower (which normally has +5 AC) from 300ft away with NO penalty, except for a -3 (assuming they have the archery fighting style) for the 10 extra damage. It's really only this fringe case that is absurd.

In the past I've ruled the following:
1) You pick ONE of the options each time you fire an arrow, i.e. ignoring cover OR ignoring the range penalty OR doing the extra damage. Not all three.
1.a) The other option here is ruling that Archery Fighting Style instead "Ignores half cover with ranged attacks". It's the reason why the fighting style is +2 to attach as it's intended to counter the +2 cover bonus for firing into melee regularly and frankly is what the fighting style SHOULD have been in the first place. It also means the feat no longer stacks to reduce the penalty.

2) I've also houseruled in the past for both Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master that the damage bonus is instead -Proficiency Bonus off the attack roll for +2x Proficency damage. I.e. it starts at -2/+4 and eventually scales to -6/+12. I've found this change makes the feat actually usable at lower levels and reduces the absurd spike damage enough that it keeps the feat from being unreasonable. We've playtested this change accross more than 6 characters across three DM's within our tables and haven't had too many complaints about the change yet.
I tend to not use house rules very often, although I like discussing them from a theory standpoint. However, I do like all of this. I'm in the camp of thinking that archery is already too easy/powerful/tempting in 5e, so this tones it down a bit.

But I think I'd also just prefer to trade the +/- for the +1 to Dex, like the OP says.

I'll add to your extreme case of the guard in the tower that if it's a rogue, and he pops out of hiding, he also gets sneak attack damage. Ludicrous.
 

Nope, right out of the gate. The smaller penalty to hit increases average damage at lower levels more than -5/+10. Basically the changes make it something you want to use on ever single attack.

There have been numerous posts about this change on reddit.

Edit: I agree that this changes smooths out the damage spikes a bit but it makes it better mathematically, if you're into that sort of thing.
Fair enough. My main concern with the feat (aside from fixing archery fighting style stacking too well) is reducing the absurd spikes in damage that makes 2 handed / archery the absolute kings of damage. My big problem with a lot of the math threads on these feats is that they don't always account for the reality of players minmaxing the system: metagaming in order to figure out the optimal number (18 or 16, respectively), and then only using the ability when they are almost certain they will hit. I don't fault the player for such behavior, but I also have seen a number of players get number envy when the fighter or barbarian deals consistant damage damn near equal to the rest of the party combined.

Overall I can see the merits of doing it both ways though, or just switching it out for +1 dex for sharpshooter.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
Fair enough. My main concern with the feat (aside from fixing archery fighting style stacking too well) is reducing the absurd spikes in damage that makes 2 handed / archery the absolute kings of damage. My big problem with a lot of the math threads on these feats is that they don't always account for the reality of players minmaxing the system: metagaming in order to figure out the optimal number (18 or 16, respectively), and then only using the ability when they are almost certain they will hit. I don't fault the player for such behavior, but I also have seen a number of players get number envy when the fighter or barbarian deals consistant damage damn near equal to the rest of the party combined.

Overall I can see the merits of doing it both ways though, or just switching it out for +1 dex for sharpshooter.
I don't follow how it is "metagaming" to only use the ability when you think you can still hit. That is very much in line with how the character should "realistically" operate with their abilities. It is true that there is a metagaming aspect to the process of zeroing in on and determining an enemies AC, but that is arguably just a way of representing the abstract process of discovering how tough the enemy is.

Now actually knowing the AC of an enemy from player knowledge is certainly metagaming, so if that's what we're talking about I totally agree. And, yes, people who have studied the optimal mathmatical point at which to use it are the same type of people in many instances who would study monster stats, or just have the experience to know them. I guess I would recommend DMs tweak ACs if you have those people at the table. Really these are people who are going to be metagaming in this vein even if they don't have these abilities.

It probably is something that was more balanced in playtesting when monster stats were unfamiliar, unpublished, and in flux and there was no guides available to the math of using -5/+10.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Fair enough. My main concern with the feat (aside from fixing archery fighting style stacking too well) is reducing the absurd spikes in damage that makes 2 handed / archery the absolute kings of damage. My big problem with a lot of the math threads on these feats is that they don't always account for the reality of players minmaxing the system: metagaming in order to figure out the optimal number (18 or 16, respectively), and then only using the ability when they are almost certain they will hit. I don't fault the player for such behavior, but I also have seen a number of players get number envy when the fighter or barbarian deals consistant damage damn near equal to the rest of the party combined.

Overall I can see the merits of doing it both ways though, or just switching it out for +1 dex for sharpshooter.
To be fair, a smart powergamer isn't going to use it "when they're certain they'll hit", they'll use it when the estimated hit rate times damage is greater for the -5/+10 case then the normal case, AND when the enemy looks to have enough hit points left that the +10 damage won't be an overflow.

Fortunately, it's an easy spreadsheet to store on your phone if anything happens to change during the session.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
We had a halfling battle master with sharpshooter doing 17 damage with a short bow per hit around level 8. I'd guess he hit 75% of the time. How much damage will your Kensai monk do in comparison?
At level 8: +8 to hit, 7 to 15 (average 11) damage per hit when using kensei's shot and not having the normal sharpshooter feat.

If I instead take the normal sharpshooter feat or would be +7 to hit, 6 to 14 damage (average 10) when not using the extra damage.
+2 to hit and average 20 damage per hit with the extra damage.

All numbers assume that I use the bonus action to add 1d4 damage to each hit.
 

Coroc

Hero
SS is not overpowered. Compare truthfully with a +2 dex ASI !

+2 DEX ASI means +1 AC ! +1 DEX save ! +1 to hit with DEX ! +1 to damage with DEX = all ranged and all finesse! +1 to several DEX based skills!
And all of that is active all the time and in a multitude of situations.

SS cover ignore only applies if there is someone hiding behind partial cover, and it is not absurd a sniper takes someone out through an arrow slit sized opening, things like these are absolutely existing IRL.
But as said it is contextual, you need the "enemy takes cover"- situation

SS range ignore same. SS confirmed kills IRL are 1-2 miles away! But in game as before you need the appropriate situation .


SS -5/+10 does what it does. Again highly situational unless you do not roll the to hit? It works quite reliable against mobs up to AC 12. With advantage it works reliable up to AC15 or so. Beyond that it is better to leave it out, unless you got some +2 and up weapon or are of high level.

E.G: Hunter ranger, archerstyle, +1 bow, level 6 , DEX 16: Ok you got that +9 to hit, but with the -5 it is only +4. so take a mob with AC18. You need to roll a 14+ on a d20 (35% chance to hit) to hit. With the usual power build (hunters mark, colossus slayer), you want to make sure the mob gets hit in the first of your two attacks, so you can get your colossus slayer extra 1d8 (which requires the mob to be injured to be applied once per round) to kick in from round 1, so that is of course also a reason, why you also want your second attack in the first round to hit.
So if you botch it, not only you lose one or both attacks, but also 1d8 from colossus.

Same ranger but DEX 18. Same opponent. He got +10 to hit. Versus the AC 18 mob he only needs to roll an 8 or higher! Which is a 65% chance, so almost double the chance versus a heavy armored mob. Not only does he get his 1st round burst working in double the cases, especially if the DM (like he should) does not instantly communicate the mobs AC, but also his survivability is far better, because of the higher DEX stat,
 


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