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D&D 5E Is going from MAD to SAD worth one feat slot?

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Assume the following feat is present in the game:

Choose any one ability score, other than Constitution. You gain the following benefits:
-You can use this ability score in place of Strength and Dexterity when making weapon attacks.
-You can use this ability score in place of your spellcasting ability when making spell attacks and when calculating Spell Save DC.

Ignoring any possible flavor issues for a second, does this feat seem obviously overpowered? My gut feeling was yes, but when I thought about it a little more I couldn't find any builds where it was obviously too strong. Assuming point buy, it's pretty general build logic to get 16s in your attack and spell casting stats for most "MAD" builds, and a 14 in Con. So becoming SAD is really only giving you a +2 in either your weapon attacks or your spellcasting, and letting you put a 16 in Con instead. And, you have to delay actually getting up to 20 in your new main stat for 4 levels because of the feat cost.

Any thoughts on particular character concepts where this feat would be a no-brainer take at early levels? (I'm not too worried about feats that are only good at level 12 or 16.) Again, try to ignore the flavor issues, I know a lot of people don't like the idea of stat switching to begin with.
 

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ReshiIRE

Adventurer
And, you have to delay actually getting up to 20 in your new main stat for 4 levels because of the feat cost.

Unless you're playing a Variant Human. Now this is just how you work from level 1.

I can't come up with a great build that would demonstrate why this would break a lot of things (though I think you are underestimating how much a +2 matters), but I could imagine anything that can now use Dexterity as their spell-casting modifier is going to be really strong in combat.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Probably the strongest version of this is for a wizard now going dex instead of int.

1) gains more AC for free
2) more initiative (always useful but it’s always really useful to have spellcasters go first)
3) gain a much stronger save (dex saves are much more common than int saves)

So that’s what I would assess power wise.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Unless you're playing a Variant Human. Now this is just how you work from level 1.

I can't come up with a great build that would demonstrate why this would break a lot of things (though I think you are underestimating how much a +2 matters), but I could imagine anything that can now use Dexterity as their spell-casting modifier is going to be really strong in combat.
True, but even at level 1, you're giving up either a starting 18 (assuming Custom Lineage and a half-feat) or one of the power feats that you could have taken at level 1 (like PAM or SS).

I'm not saying this isn't a strong feat, it definitely is. I'm just wondering if people think it crosses into "too strong" territory (which admittedly will vary based on personal tolerance.)
 

TheSword

Legend
Assume the following feat is present in the game:

Choose any one ability score, other than Constitution. You gain the following benefits:
-You can use this ability score in place of Strength and Dexterity when making weapon attacks.
-You can use this ability score in place of your spellcasting ability when making spell attacks and when calculating Spell Save DC.

Ignoring any possible flavor issues for a second, does this feat seem obviously overpowered? My gut feeling was yes, but when I thought about it a little more I couldn't find any builds where it was obviously too strong. Assuming point buy, it's pretty general build logic to get 16s in your attack and spell casting stats for most "MAD" builds, and a 14 in Con. So becoming SAD is really only giving you a +2 in either your weapon attacks or your spellcasting, and letting you put a 16 in Con instead. And, you have to delay actually getting up to 20 in your new main stat for 4 levels because of the feat cost.

Any thoughts on particular character concepts where this feat would be a no-brainer take at early levels? (I'm not too worried about feats that are only good at level 12 or 16.) Again, try to ignore the flavor issues, I know a lot of people don't like the idea of stat switching to begin with.
I think the reality is, it’s very good at early levels where every ability counts, and becomes progressively less powerful as you reach higher levels 8, 12 etc and stat bonuses matter less than scores.

The biggest issue for me is that it makes finesse weapons irrelevant and by extension muscles in on a rogues usp. It also makes spells like Shillelagh and several subclass abilities irrelevant too.

I’d be wary of it. If you really like have a magic weapon that lets you do the same thing but you can control it.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I think the reality is, it’s very good at early levels where every ability counts, and becomes progressively less powerful as you reach higher levels 8, 12 etc and stat bonuses matter less than scores.

The biggest issue for me is that it makes finesse weapons irrelevant and by extension muscles in on a rogues usp. It also makes spells like Shillelagh and several subclass abilities irrelevant too.

I’d be wary of it. If you really like have a magic weapon that lets you do the same thing but you can control it.
That's interesting, I tend to view it as stronger at later levels because the feat cost is keeping you from boosting your main stat during earlier levels; having only one stat that you need to boost is the best reason to be SAD in the first place!

I'm not sure I understand the argument about finesse weapons, can you elaborate? Rogues would still need to use finesse weapons for sneak attack, other classes might bypass finesse weapons by spending the feat, but I guess I don't see that as a particularly problematic case. Getting more people to use longswords and battleaxes over "yet another rapier user" feels like a win to me.

I'm not sure I agree with the "magic subclass features irrelevant" argument, a feat is almost certainly a higher cost than a spell choice or a low-level class feature, and if you get the feature, you don't need the feat. But I'd be interested in a counter-argument.
 

Assume the following feat is present in the game:

Choose any one ability score, other than Constitution. You gain the following benefits:
-You can use this ability score in place of Strength and Dexterity when making weapon attacks.
-You can use this ability score in place of your spellcasting ability when making spell attacks and when calculating Spell Save DC.

Ignoring any possible flavor issues for a second, does this feat seem obviously overpowered? My gut feeling was yes, but when I thought about it a little more I couldn't find any builds where it was obviously too strong. Assuming point buy, it's pretty general build logic to get 16s in your attack and spell casting stats for most "MAD" builds, and a 14 in Con. So becoming SAD is really only giving you a +2 in either your weapon attacks or your spellcasting, and letting you put a 16 in Con instead. And, you have to delay actually getting up to 20 in your new main stat for 4 levels because of the feat cost.

Any thoughts on particular character concepts where this feat would be a no-brainer take at early levels? (I'm not too worried about feats that are only good at level 12 or 16.) Again, try to ignore the flavor issues, I know a lot of people don't like the idea of stat switching to begin with.
I don't think it does what you want it to. Dexterity is the S-tier stat not just because it affects your to hit and damage rolls, but it also controls your AC, your initiative, one of your most important saving throws, and a wide array of skills. This means that its main practical function would appear to be to enable dex-based casters with good AC, good initiative, and good spell saving throws, and probably a lot of sneakiness.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I don't think it does what you want it to. Dexterity is the S-tier stat not just because it affects your to hit and damage rolls, but it also controls your AC, your initiative, one of your most important saving throws, and a wide array of skills. This means that its main practical function would appear to be to enable dex-based casters with good AC, good initiative, and good spell saving throws, and probably a lot of sneakiness.
Fair. I'm thinking restricting it to the 3 mental stats might make more sense.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
Assume the following feat is present in the game:

Choose any one ability score, other than Constitution. You gain the following benefits:
-You can use this ability score in place of Strength and Dexterity when making weapon attacks.
-You can use this ability score in place of your spellcasting ability when making spell attacks and when calculating Spell Save DC.
As written it is too strong, if you make a prerequisite that you need a 12 in every stat to take the feat, it would then be more reasonable but still powerful.

As written, this would make numerous builds OP. Moreover it would completely invalidate strength. Dexterity builds are already better than strength builds, now I can have a dex build that gets a +5 with a heavy weapon at 4th level. It also would nerf most races except for custom lineage and v. human. Those builds could get this feat at 1st level and never need the other stat. Then follow on with more feats and ASIs as per normal.

A few builds that would be OP:
High dexterity Dwarven bladesinger using booming blade or green flame blade twice with GWM for 50+DPR as a wizard while using no spells and having a +4 to spell casting and a bonus action still available every turn.

High Wisdom fighter with GWM and, a passive perception of 17 and a 16 con at 5th level while dumping str and dex.

High charisma Paladin who dumps strength


Assuming point buy, it's pretty general build logic to get 16s in your attack and spell casting stats for most "MAD" builds, and a 14 in Con.

I would disagree with this logic, and have not seen it often in actual play due to what it does to your skills. With most races two 16s and a 14 also means two 10s and an 8. Most non-martials I have seen built in games I play do not get a 16 in their attack stat (wizards excepted) and most martials, other than Paladins do not start with a 16 in their casting stat - usually it is a 15 and is boosted through a half-feat. No one other than Barbarians universally starts with a 14 Con in the games I play generally. Sometimes other martials start with a 14 con too, but I would say it is less than 50% of them even.


So becoming SAD is really only giving you a +2 in either your weapon attacks or your spellcasting, and letting you put a 16 in Con instead. And, you have to delay actually getting up to 20 in your new main stat for 4 levels because of the feat cost.
That is HUGE. +2 higher on attacks or spellcasting is the equivalent of 2 ASIs and is the equivalent of 7 extra points in point buy.

You do not have to delay because V. Humans and Customs get a feat at 1st level and no one in their right mind would take any other class. This is like giving those two races a point buy of 34.


Any thoughts on particular character concepts where this feat would be a no-brainer take at early levels? (I'm not too worried about feats that are only good at level 12 or 16.) Again, try to ignore the flavor issues, I know a lot of people don't like the idea of stat switching to begin with.

Virtually all of them. I can't think of a single build that would not be better with this feat.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
As written, this would make numerous builds OP. Moreover it would completely invalidate strength. Dexterity builds are already better than strength builds, now I can have a dex build that gets a +5 with a heavy weapon at 4th level. It also would nerf most races except for custom lineage and v. human. Those builds could get this feat at 1st level and never need the other stat. Then follow on with more feats and ASIs as per normal.
Yea, I think restricting it to the 3 mental stats would be more fair. I'll be honest, I was thinking more about enabling Int fighters and Cha paladins without needing hexblade/battle smith dips. Making a Dex based caster didn't occur to me.

A few builds that would be OP:
High dexterity Dwarven bladesinger using booming blade or green flame blade twice with GWM for 50+DPR as a wizard while using no spells and having a +4 to spell casting and a bonus action still available every turn.
It would only be one BB/GFB, not two (two attacks, but only one is a cantrip), unless there is some other shenanigan beyond bladesinging I'm not familiar with. And BB/GFB have anti-synergy with GWM, like any other damage increase without an increase in accuracy. But yea, full Dex bladesinger (only need Int for the AC boost while bladesinging) would be pretty beastly. Restrict it to Int for attacks, though, and I don't think it's too bad.

High Wisdom fighter with GWM and, a passive perception of 17 and a 16 con at 5th level while dumping str and dex.

High charisma Paladin who dumps strength
Those are the kind of builds I want to encourage!

I would disagree with this logic, and have not seen it often in actual play due to what it does to your skills. With most races two 16s and a 14 also means two 10s and an 8. Most non-martials I have seen built in games I play do not get a 16 in their attack stat (wizards excepted) and most martials, other than Paladins do not start with a 16 in their casting stat - usually it is a 15 and is boosted through a half-feat. No one other than Barbarians universally starts with a 14 Con in the games I play generally. Sometimes other martials start with a 14 con too, but I would say it is less than 50% of them even.
DIfferent groups, then. 14 Con is pretty much the standard, and 16/16 or 16/14 in main/secondary is also easily the most common distribution.


That is HUGE. +2 higher on attacks or spellcasting is the equivalent of 2 ASIs and is the equivalent of 7 extra points in point buy.
Considering we're talking about a game where "rolling for stats" is the default, that doesn't strike me as a big deal. I mean, gauntlets of ogre strength could be like 15 extra points in point buy (extrapolating a bit to get to 19), but I don't think they're overpowered.

You do not have to delay because V. Humans and Customs get a feat at 1st level and no one in their right mind would take any other class. This is like giving those two races a point buy of 34.
I mean, I can definitely see it for gishes, I'm not sure if other classes would bother. Why does a non-bladesinger wizard need to boost their weapon attack? Why would a barbarian bother to not use Strength? Why would a fighter?
 

Outside of Dex as a spellcasting ability, I don't think it'd break anything, at least compared to the existing shenanigans available with feats and multiclassing in play. I'm also not sure Con for spellcasting would be too much.

The only builds for which this is a must-have are gishes, and frankly I'd rather they take a feat than a multiclass dip to get the benefit. Feats are more of a cost, anyways.
 

houser2112

Explorer
I mean, I can definitely see it for gishes, I'm not sure if other classes would bother. Why does a non-bladesinger wizard need to boost their weapon attack? Why would a barbarian bother to not use Strength? Why would a fighter?
You have a point with non-bladesinger wizards, but a barbarian's unarmored defense feature would make obviating strength without sacrificing damage output a great option.
 

You have a point with non-bladesinger wizards, but a barbarian's unarmored defense feature would make obviating strength without sacrificing damage output a great option.

The feat wouldn't be terribly helpful to a barbarian as it only lets them make attacks with another stat. Their rage damage and reckless attack features still very specifically require "melee attacks using Strength" to function. It's why you don't see everyone rolling up dex-based barbarians already (or at least I don't).
 

I don’t get why you excluded Con. Con is just hp. Dex is way more important. I’d have excluded dex instead.

I’ve considered a version of this feat but for skill uses and saves. Something like, pick 3 skills and/or 1 save and you may use the chosen stat instead of the default.

but in 5e you can argue any stat for a given skill proficiency so it was never worth it to hammer out a balanced homebrew feat.
 

This would absolutely become the top-tier feat for any character that doesn't innately play perfectly to the stats it traditionally values. In particular, caster classes get an enormous boon from this, being able to layer in extra martial prowess if they desire it while also being able to set their casting to whichever stat they think is most interesting.

Consider it like this: a Bard is going to want good Cha, Dex, and Con, especially a Valor Bard. Valor Bard doesn't get its combat benefits until level 3 anyway, so the player is already playing with the expectation of waiting to actually get to do their stuff (unless the party starts at higher level, which the rules do advocate.....people are just really reluctant to DO it.) With this feat, a Bard can, in theory, completely ignore Charisma and instead focus purely on Dex/Con. This means that, at 4th level, the Bard almost certainly has additional HP from a higher Con mod, a better Dex save, a better to-hit modifier, and better AC. A single feat that provides scaling benefits to Con and Dex saves, HP, to-hit, AND AC? Yeah, that's a pretty dang powerful feat. And it only comes at the cost of being a little worse at Charisma skills, which the Bard is already amazing with anyway, so the slight drop is hardly a problem.
 

Quartz

Hero
Any thoughts on particular character concepts where this feat would be a no-brainer take at early levels? (

This is far too powerful, even if restricted to the mental stats. Rather than substituting a stat, how about substituting Proficiency Bonus? I've done this with my revised Fighter class. This actually works out better in the long run, granting +6 instead of +5 but is more moderate at low levels, allowing you to go from a -1 to a +2 or +3 rather than a +4 or even +5.
 

Bolares

Hero
Choose any one ability score, other than Constitution. You gain the following benefits:
-You can use this ability score in place of Strength and Dexterity when making weapon attacks.
-You can use this ability score in place of your spellcasting ability when making spell attacks and when calculating Spell Save DC.
This is VERY good for an Eldritch Knight. The one weakness of the class is that you have to sacrifice your spell effectivness to be a great fighter. Now there are no drawbacks, and you kind of can easilly lock an enemy forever with hold person and your 10th level feature, with a very high save DC
 

Bolares

Hero
The biggest issue for me is that it makes finesse weapons irrelevant and by extension muscles in on a rogues usp. It also makes spells like Shillelagh and several subclass abilities irrelevant too.
this is a great point. It will make some character choices very good, but make others moot. I don't think its good design for a feat to "make or break" charactes classes and subclasses like that.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
It would only be one BB/GFB, not two (two attacks, but only one is a cantrip), unless there is some other shenanigan beyond bladesinging I'm not familiar with. And BB/GFB have anti-synergy with GWM, like any other damage increase without an increase in accuracy. But yea, full Dex bladesinger (only need Int for the AC boost while bladesinging) would be pretty beastly. Restrict it to Int for attacks, though, and I don't think it's too bad.
At 6th level:
attack: 2d6(7)+3dex+10 gwm = 20
cantrip: 2d6(7)+3+10+1d8fire(4.5) and 2d8(9) fire+3dex (second target)= 24.5 1st target, 12 2nd target

56.5DPR at 6th level without using spell slots, while also getting a third attack for 20DPR more as a bonus action every time you crit or drop an enemy.

That is compared to the current 6th level bladesinger that maxes dexterity and has a 16 int and does 33.5 (21.5/12) with no bonus action attack.

Intelligence only would not be much better. It would require another feat or a race to get medium armor, but you could still be rocking 57DPR by 8th level with an extra bonus action attack every time you crit or dropped an enemy. And it gets worse at higher levels because the intelligence stacks on the weapon damage, stacks again on the cantrip damage and can be used on spell saves.

Bladesinger is already a very powerful subclass and this would take them from MAD to SAD.


Those are the kind of builds I want to encourage!
Why even have strength as an ability if you can get everything you can get with strength from another stat? The ONLY thing at all strength would be good for is carrying capacity and grappling/shoving.

DIfferent groups, then. 14 Con is pretty much the standard, and 16/16 or 16/14 in main/secondary is also easily the most common distribution.
A lot of people here say that, so you are not unique. This is the real reason you are running around with a bunch of 8 intelligence and charisma fighters. If you invest in a character only to be good in combat - if you make him a ham-fisted bag of hps, he should not be good out of combat. I don't think you should fix this by letting them dump strength. I think you fix this by encouraging players to invest in other stats instead of Constitution.

If you make Constitution 10 instead of 14 you have 5 points to spend on other abilities and a much more playable character.

Your experience is not unique, but I think Constitution is overrated by many on this board. At 9th level a constitution 2 points higher means you will survive a whopping one more hit from a CR1 Orc than you would otherwise survive.


I mean, I can definitely see it for gishes, I'm not sure if other classes would bother. Why does a non-bladesinger wizard need to boost their weapon attack? Why would a barbarian bother to not use Strength? Why would a fighter?

There is simply no reason for a fighter to invest in strength. Why would a fighter bother to use strength when they could dump it and instead attack with a stat that is FAR better both for saves and for skills?

A fighter with custom lineage could start with a 17 wisdom enabling +3 to hit/damage at 1st level with a greatsword. He would also have a +3 wisdom save, a passive perception of 15, and a +3 in the 4 other wisdom-based skills (without proficiency) while still doing the most damage and having as many hps as any other fighter build at this level. Bump wisdom to 18 at 4th level with a half-feat like Fey touched, skill expert or resilient and it makes him even better at wisdom saves, better at 5+ different skills and boosts hit/damage again. Further aside from this he could go EK and use wisdom instead of intelligence for casting purposes!

With a Barbarian it would depend on if you allow rage damage and reckless attack on a wisdom-based attack. If you do he is going to dump strength too for a different ability (most likely wisdom). If you don't, no one who understands numbers will play a Barbarian when there are better classes available (virtually all of them).
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
At 6th level:
attack: 2d6(7)+3dex+10 gwm = 20
cantrip: 2d6(7)+3+10+1d8fire(4.5) and 2d8(9) fire+3dex (second target)= 24.5 1st target, 12 2nd target

56.5DPR at 6th level without using spell slots, while also getting a third attack for 20DPR more as a bonus action every time you crit or drop an enemy.
Penalty on the play! If you're not factoring in hit rate, you can't do any sort of any real DPR comparisons with GWM or SS.

Now, obviously opening non-Str stats for GWM is nice, but it's not novel; hexblade and battle smith already allow this. The point of the query I asked is a feat enough of a cost to allow it.

Why even have strength as an ability if you can get everything you can get with strength from another stat? The ONLY thing at all strength would be good for is carrying capacity and grappling/shoving.
But it costs a feat. A feat is a big deal! You're going to be behind a +1 to hit and damage until level 8 at the earliest, or you're going to spend your level 1 Human/CO feat instead of grabbing a big feat like GWM or Lucky or PAM. All to make a different stat slightly higher. Not to mention you still need decent Str or Dex for your armor.

A lot of people here say that, so you are not unique. This is the real reason you are running around with a bunch of 8 intelligence and charisma fighters. If you invest in a character only to be good in combat - if you make him a ham-fisted bag of hps, he should not be good out of combat. I don't think you should fix this by letting them dump strength. I think you fix this by encouraging players to invest in other stats instead of Constitution.
I'm not really worried about this for my group. I'm just curious what people think the theoretical cost should be to make a character SAD. Most people seem to think a level 1 hexblade is too cheap a cost, so I'm trying to figure out the general consensus as to the right price.
 

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