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UA Unearthed Arcana: Get Better At Skills With These Feats

The latest Unearthed Arcana from Jeremy Crawford and again featuring guest writer Robert J. Schwalb introduces a number of feats which make you better at skills. Each increases the skill's primary ability score, doubles your proficiency bonus, and gives you a little bonus ability. "This week we introduce new feats to playtest. Each of these feats makes you better at one of the game’s eighteen skills. We invite you to read them, give them a try in play, and let us know what you think in the survey we release in the next installment of Unearthed Arcana."

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

flametitan

Explorer
Personally, I'd rather make one feat that allows for two skills to gain expertise, and actions that call upon these checks may be made as bonus actions.

Then, we could consolidate the more flavourful components into a couple fewer feats with broader application.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I like the idea of gaining proficiency in skills, not so sure I'm a fan of doubling proficiency and the added abilities. As others have said, I'd rather have a "skilled" feat that gains you proficiency in multiple skills.

There are also issues with specific feats. Acrobatic and Brawny seem kind of pointless. Perceptive means that nothing will ever be hidden from the cleric with the Sentinel Shield.

A lot of the feats are either giving you the ability to cast spells or the equivalent. Diplomat gives you charm, there are situations where I'd have a hard time justifying "Stealthy" as anything less than temporary invisibility.

My fear is that these feats seem to move more away from creative use of existing abilities and skills and more towards a gamist approach of winning the game by having the right combination of skills and feats.
 

zaratan

First Post
There are also issues with specific feats. Acrobatic and Brawny seem kind of pointless. Perceptive means that nothing will ever be hidden from the cleric with the Sentinel Shield.

well, Brawny is the real grappler feat, probably is one of options with bigger market.
Observant was that problem before Perceptive, so not a big deal since they are most reduntant (not anyone that will burn two feats to get a passive perception of 32, 37 with advantage).
 

The Human Target

First Post
This is something I'm noticing about some of the complaints - some people are overlooking the fact that many of the extra abilities are defined as becoming bonus or attack actions, when without the feat they would be regular actions. So those that are missing this are thinking that these particular extra abilities are only going to be able to be available to those who take the feat (and denied to those who have the skill but not the feat), when in reality what would be changing is that what would be done as a regular action in those cases would instead become available as a bonus or attack action. It's obvious that the wording in the descriptions isn't the best and needs to be tightened up to stress the extra abilities aren't limited to those who take the feat, but it is the action economy that is being changed...

Six out of eighteen is "many?"
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Observant was that problem before Perceptive, so not a big deal since they are most reduntant (not anyone that will burn two feats to get a passive perception of 32, 37 with advantage).

:D Obviously you don't know my players!
 

Quickleaf

Legend
All around these feats are bad design for three reasons, possibly four reasons.

1. Part of the special appeal of Bards and Rogues is their Expertise (double proficiency bonus). Making "expertise" something other classes can take diminishes some of the uniqueness of Bards and Rogues.

2. A lot of the feats give the ability to cast spells or the equivalent. There's already a feat for that and it's called Magic Initiate. Plus, as pointed out, some of the spell are a reach (alarm for Survival...really?).

3. Many of the feats are poorly designed, either trampling on existing class features (Stealth feat & Rogue's Cunning Action for example) or "granting" a PC the ability to do something that many DMs may already rule can be done with just proficiency, no need for the feat.

(4.) Also, more of a side point, is that adding a whole bunch of feats that have 2/3 components basically the same seems like needless bloat contrary to 5e's core ethos. For example, you could conceivably merge all of these feats (once successfully redesigned) thus...

Specialist
Choose a skill and gain proficiency in that skill. Gain +1 to the ability score associated with that skill. Additionally, gain a unique benefit corresponding to the skill you choose, referring to the table below.
 

zaratan

First Post
:D Obviously you don't know my players!
Lol, I understand that type of player, but I think that even an ancient shadow dragon don't have enought stealth to justify 37 of passive perception.
Nothing that one level as rogue cound't archieve.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
Oh nice I like it. But let's remember we're trying to go for a support class as well, so let's try to think of some means of boosting the endeavours of others.

The easiest one I can think of is something akin to Bardic Inspiration (though keyed off of Intelligence to represent experience/make up for the lack of INT based classes?) that can provide additional combat boosts to make up for reduced/no spellcasting (like perhaps the ability for allies to use them as superiority dice and do battlemaster manoeuvres with them.)

EDIT: I don't think this is really necessary, but I had a silly idea for an ability. The mentor often dies in order for the party to learn some wisdom or escape an overwhelming foe. An ability to reflect that (perhaps a permanent bonus in exchange for not being able to raise the fallen mentor, or a temporary bonus in exchange for being able to raise them again) would be flavourful, but would probably encourage strange habits out of the players.

I had considered that for the capstone, but more of a die and then show up in dreams to give knowledge, but I am still thinking on that.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I think the overlap here is enough that it could fit inside the class as the noble/silver-tongue/captain/hector archetypes. I also wouldn't want a class that is so specific is tells you that you're older than the other PCs, ya know? I think that it could work very well as part of such a class, though.

I am probably overselling the "old" bit slightly. "I was in the thick of fighting during the winter of X, and I lost some toes due to frostbite. I can still use a sword, but my balance is a little off so I am not as fast with the sword as I used to be" fits and that wouldn't require the mentor to be much (if any) older than anyone else.
 

I like the idea of gaining proficiency in skills, not so sure I'm a fan of doubling proficiency and the added abilities. As others have said, I'd rather have a "skilled" feat that gains you proficiency in multiple skills

Ummm... There is.

It's called "Skilled" and it gives you proficiency in 3 different skills or 3 different tools or any combination thereof.

I actually had to double check on page 170 of the PHB to make sure I wasn't misremembering it, since a few people seem to have forgotten it exists.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
All around these feats are bad design for three reasons, possibly four reasons.

1. Part of the special appeal of Bards and Rogues is their Expertise (double proficiency bonus). Making "expertise" something other classes can take diminishes some of the uniqueness of Bards and Rogues.

I can agree with your other reasons, but find it ridiculous that Bard and Rogue are the only ones capable of this. An Arcane Trickster with the right background can be a better Arcana skill monkey than the Wizard. A Bard with expertise in Athletics can smash the Barbarian in a wrestling competition. That is just wrong. This gives a way for people who are not one of those two exclusive classes to be considered a true "Expert", which I think makes way more sense then only two classes being capable of this particular tier of training.
 
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Horwath

Hero
well, Brawny is the real grappler feat, probably is one of options with bigger market.
Observant was that problem before Perceptive, so not a big deal since they are most reduntant (not anyone that will burn two feats to get a passive perception of 32, 37 with advantage).

I could see making a wood elf druid with those 2 feats. Kind of goes with the "elves keen senses" thing and boost to wisdom is a key to druid.

8th level, 2 feats, 18 wisdom, that is passive of 25 without penalty in darkness. Note overpowered but very usefull tool.

As moon druid you could be nice animal sentry.
 

flametitan

Explorer
I had considered that for the capstone, but more of a die and then show up in dreams to give knowledge, but I am still thinking on that.

Right now I'm looking at what the first five levels should look like.

I haven't quite got the exact levels for every feature pinned down just yet, but what I have in mind is:

1. early superiority dice (with the added benefit that you can give them to allies so they can use your manoeuvres instead)/minor feature from subclass (I'm thinking things like Reckless attack or Second Wind)

2. Overchannel you mentioned (again, I'm aiming about the equivalent to an average round for level 11)

3. Healing buff (once per short rest, a hit die you spend may be added to everyone else you can access to heal. Might switch with the superiority dice thing at 1st level)

4. ASI (though the fact ASIs are class features makes me want to play around with their design, but for now it's probably best not to tamper with a formula)

5. Dice scale, dice are now recharged on a short rest, perhaps the ability for allies (and specifically not you, the mentor) to combine manoeuvres so that they can get the effects of two for the price of one die?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I can agree with your other reasons, but find it ridiculous that Bard and Rogue are the only ones capable of this. An Arcane Trickster with the right background can be a better Arcana skill monkey than the Wizard. A Bard with expertise in Athletics can smash the Barbarian in a wrestling competition. That is just wrong. This gives a way for people who are not one of those two exclusive classes to be considered a true "Expert", which I think makes way more sense then only two classes being capable of this particular tier of training.

What you're pointing out might be considered a flaw with the design of Expertise as it appears in the PHB. For example, they might have provided a list of thematic skills for the Rogue and the Bard respectively which are permissible to gain Expertise in. That would protect your Wizard's "arcane lore guy" niche and your Barbarian's "wrestling guy" niche, while still preserving Bards & Rogues as "the best at skills."

That gets into a larger ball of wax about class design that I'm not sure we want to derail this with.

Basically, I'd distill my point #1 to this: Transferring class features into feats (including, for example, Martial Adept allowing any PC to pick up some Battle Master maneuvers) is a proposition that risks weakening the strong themes of the D&D classes. It more readily leads to the kinds of scenarios you're wanting to avoid – characters stealing the niche of other characters.
 


Horwath

Hero
What you're pointing out might be considered a flaw with the design of Expertise as it appears in the PHB. For example, they might have provided a list of thematic skills for the Rogue and the Bard respectively which are permissible to gain Expertise in. That would protect your Wizard's "arcane lore guy" niche and your Barbarian's "wrestling guy" niche, while still preserving Bards & Rogues as "the best at skills."

That gets into a larger ball of wax about class design that I'm not sure we want to derail this with.

Basically, I'd distill my point #1 to this: Transferring class features into feats (including, for example, Martial Adept allowing any PC to pick up some Battle Master maneuvers) is a proposition that risks weakening the strong themes of the D&D classes. It more readily leads to the kinds of scenarios you're wanting to avoid – characters stealing the niche of other characters.

Personaly, I think that transferring class features into general feats is a GOOD idea. And less broken than certain multiclassing.

What is wrong with a cleric and some superiority dices or druid with expertise in stealth and athletics?

Also those feats are available to the classes that have that "niche", so they are always be infront of others if they also take that feat by the same amount.

barbarian and rogue with stealthy feat, rogue still has 2 or 4 more expertise "slots" at his disposal and he is not threaten by one barbarian skill.
 

Wasting an attack to intimidate only one humanoid?
The Frightened condition is a bit more effective than most intimidate checks would probably allow. Making an intimidate check would normally take an action, so requiring only a single attack is also an improvement to some characters.

You may not regard it as optimal, or very powerful, but I can see some players liking something like that for their characters.
 

guachi

Explorer
Specialist
Choose a skill and gain proficiency in that skill. Gain +1 to the ability score associated with that skill. Additionally, gain a unique benefit corresponding to the skill you choose, referring to the table below.

Rolling all the feats into one feat and calling it "Specialist" like the above does two things, both of them good. One, it reduces the amount of text, though I'd amend the above description to include Expertise.

Two, it makes it impossible to take the feat more than once. If someone who isn't a Bard or Rogue wants to be really good at something he can. But he can only be really good at that one thing.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Wasting an attack to intimidate only one humanoid?

You mean wasting one attack to lockdown a powerful foe? If I'm attacking an orc, and can forgo one attack to impose the Frightened condition on the Orc Chieftain in the fight, which severely degrades its ability to harm me or my party, then heck, yes, I will take that option. Especially if I'm themed as a defender-type character. And also because most humanoids have low WIS(Insight) which means I get a lot of extra mileage out of double prof.
 

D

dco

Guest
The Frightened condition is a bit more effective than most intimidate checks would probably allow. Making an intimidate check would normally take an action, so requiring only a single attack is also an improvement to some characters.

You may not regard it as optimal, or very powerful, but I can see some players liking something like that for their characters.
In my games people can talk, roar, etc while they attack and a good exhibition of combat prowess is a good catalyst for Intimidation.
I don't like how the feat goes the way of the 4e imposing more rules for things that could be a simple skill use and roleplaying using the DM's judgement and the basic rules.
 

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