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Unearthed Arcana 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."

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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Chaosmancer

Legend
If the party knows they can intimidate the Balor, no questions asked, why would they be worried about something they auto succeed?

I just envision every fight with a melee brute going something like "Charming Charlie intimidates the brute [no roll because they auto succeed] and we pepper it with ranged attacks until it's dead. Next encounter." unless you customize every brute. There are spells that do something similar, but the spells are limited by other factors that these feats are not.

Many of the high level 4E games had monsters that basically were immune to all of the PC's cool toys because the toys broke the game. Why have toys/feats if the DM/mod writer just nerfs them? It starts to feel very adversarial.

In any case, we're just going round and round here. I like being able to run monsters straight from the book and not having to start an arms race just to challenge my players. Some of these feats are simply unbalancing as written.

Let's just say we agree to disagree. I wanted to like these feats, but I think they break some core principles of 5E and push it into more "gamist" and adversarial approach.


I can respect your fears, but what would you have happen if the Bard character didn't have this feat, had a 20 charisma, and let's say level 9 so proficiency is +4, and intimdation expertise.

Bard rolls intimidation at +13 and rolls a 28 total against the Balor who can't roll higher than that. You aren't required to give it the Frightened condition because they did not take this menacing feat, but what would you do?

If you say it is scared of the Bard, how is that different from Frightened? Would you ignore their roll and just have the Balor act normally?


If what is at issue here is that this ability specifies that they suffer from the Frightened Condition, then what is your solution when the Bard achieves the same numerical result on the same roll that is better.

Do you just never allow them to intimidate something bigger than themselves. I'll admit, I've broken with PC abilities like that before. Jumping out and yelling "boo" isn't going to scare something forged from the darkest depths of the Abyss that has caused the end of nations, but mechanically what can you do other than make them immune to fear (which frankly they should be, they are the biggest demons in the book)
 

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Oofta

Legend
I can respect your fears, but what would you have happen if the Bard character didn't have this feat, had a 20 charisma, and let's say level 9 so proficiency is +4, and intimdation expertise.

Bard rolls intimidation at +13 and rolls a 28 total against the Balor who can't roll higher than that. You aren't required to give it the Frightened condition because they did not take this menacing feat, but what would you do?

If you say it is scared of the Bard, how is that different from Frightened? Would you ignore their roll and just have the Balor act normally?


If what is at issue here is that this ability specifies that they suffer from the Frightened Condition, then what is your solution when the Bard achieves the same numerical result on the same roll that is better.

Do you just never allow them to intimidate something bigger than themselves. I'll admit, I've broken with PC abilities like that before. Jumping out and yelling "boo" isn't going to scare something forged from the darkest depths of the Abyss that has caused the end of nations, but mechanically what can you do other than make them immune to fear (which frankly they should be, they are the biggest demons in the book)

I would say that they do not believe the Balor can be intimidated by mere mortals. Especially mortals that he has absolutely no reason to fear.

Now ... add in some creative use of illusion, some RP, maybe a thaumaturgy spell along with some deception checks? Maybe they can convince the Balor that Darth Bader (or whoever is in charge of the place) is pissed at his subordinate that is daring to his lord why he's personally escorting prisoners. It's called having a fun creative solution to the problem.

It's not that they can't bypass the Balor. It's just that they can't automatically bypass the Balor without my cheating/modifying the creature) with a simple die roll. Or lack of a die roll because there's no way I can counter the power.*

But auto-win? That's boring. Especially because in many situations it would be the most optimal use of an action. Every round. Boring.

*And yes, I do consider these feats to effectively be 4E powers without that label. They are magically intimidating their target without using magic.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
So cheat to win?
If this is cheating: then if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'.

To elaborate: Feats are not "plug and play." And if you are just plopping them in without consideration or effort, then you are going to have a bad time of things.

Do you really think a mid level character should be able to frighten say [flipping thru the MM] a Balor?

It doesn't work on Balors. Balors aren't humanoid.

In fact, there aren't any cr19 humanoids. The highest one I know of is cr12, which means if you are trying to get an NPC into that CR range you are already dealing with "cheated" stats.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I like what they are trying to do generally but not specifically. Expanding the skill system allows skills to bridge the gap to spells. Which I like, having some of these feats grant spells, seems to directly contradict that though.

On granting Double proficiency, I like it a lot. It always bothered me that to become an expert in athletics you needed to take Rogue or Bard levels. To me it was outright silly. Now the Rogues and Bards remain the general skill experts, but other classes can become specific skill experts. This is how it always should have been.

You could add more protection to the Skill Monkeys by making all of these feats one feat. Something like: Increase an ability score by 1 point, gain expertise in a skill of you're choice, when using that skill would take an action, now it can be done as a bonus action, this feat may not be taken multiple times.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
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.

There's nothing wrong with your cleric with some superiority dice...unless there's a fighter in the party with the battle master subclass.

There's nothing wrong with your druid with expertise in stealth & athletics...unless there's a rogue in the party with Expertise in one or both of those skills.

It becomes a question of "concept death by inches." How far into a fighter, or a rogue, or whatever, can you cut before it starts to undermine that class' identity at the table – that is, before players of said fighter or rogue start to notice, hey, I don't feel like my character has that unique cool anymore.

I think we should be careful about giving other classes features from martially oriented classes in particular, since martial classes don't have a pool of spells to draw from as part of their definition.

On the other hand, something like the Magical Adept feat works just fine because so many classes have access to spells – in general, they're not a uniquely identifying feature (with some exceptions).

Every group is going to have different levels of tolerance with this. For example, you and your group sounds like you like the 3e style feats-galore approach allowing you to make exactly the character you want, adopting features from across multiple classes. That's fine, but IF that's the direction Wizards wants to go with such feats, it would be wise to acknowledge that not every group wants that, and to somehow silo those class-feature-borrowing feats separate from other feats.
 

Oofta

Legend
If this is cheating: then if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'.

To elaborate: Feats are not "plug and play." And if you are just plopping them in without consideration or effort, then you are going to have a bad time of things.



It doesn't work on Balors. Balors aren't humanoid.

In fact, there aren't any cr19 humanoids. The highest one I know of is cr12, which means if you are trying to get an NPC into that CR range you are already dealing with "cheated" stats.

I had missed the "humanoid" so replace Balor with "Bale of Orr, demon blessed champion of the 9 hells". Who just happens to use the same stats as a Balor. Because I don't think demons shouldn't be the only challenge at higher levels.

You may never run an NPC that's not straight out of the book, I do. I regularly base them on existing creatures so that I don't have to hassle with figuring out CR.

It does limit it somewhat but my campaign, and it's bad guys, are generally humanoid based. An actual Balor (not Bale of Orr) would be incredibly rare.

But how is this feat not "plug and play". If I have the right combo I can intimidate any other human on the planet. No humanoid fighter that is not magically immune to fear can ever approach me as long as I can take an action first. That's silliness of the highest order.

King of the barbarians? Pah. Human champion of the Lord of Darkness? My bitch. Lord Palpatine? His heart is palpitating.

No one should be that intimidating.
 

guachi

Hero
See, I think your point two is a weakness.

If a scholar character wanted to go around spending all their feats getting expertise in Arcana, Religion, Nature and History, I don't see why we should stop them


Expertise is nice for Rogues and Bards, but it isn't defining to them for my table.In fact, I'd argue JAck of All Trades is a better show for Bard's being skill monkeys than Expertise. And Rogues are just as much damage dealers and off-tanks in my games as they are skill monkeys. Both classes have plenty of iconic things to do outside of Expertise that I can't see other people getting Expertise hurting them in the slightest.

If a player really wanted his character to be an expert in Arcana, Religion, Nature and History he would probably, under the current rules, gravitate towards a Knowledge Cleric, anyway. (or perhaps a Rogue or a Bard) and he'd get expertise in two of those skills. Then he'd get expertise in a third through the feat.

However, if he really wanted to be good at those things at some point he'd boost his Intelligence to get +1 to three of those skills. Perhaps be a Wizard and dip one level of Cleric so Int is your primary stat?

In other words, I think the instances of someone taking this feat more than once is low. But by limiting it to only being able to choose it once it does reserve being Expert in two or more skills is reserved for specific classes. However, you can't limit the feat if the feat for each skill is a separate feat.

EDIT: I'm not overly wedded to limiting it to only one choice. I think it's a good thing but not a necessary thing. I do think they should combine the feats, though, into one omnibus feat to reduce bloat. I want more content, not the illusion of more content.
 

D

dco

Guest
By the book, any intimidation in combat requires "wasting" an Action. This lets anyone with Extra Attack only "waste" part of their Action, instead of the whole thing.

Also, spending an Action to frighten an enemy isn't a waste of that action, unless you can take hem to 0hp in 1Action, and even then, not always.
The book says people can communicate while doing other actions including an attack.
It also talks about intimidate as an improvised actions, I don't see why a player can not intimidate with his attack and a growl, or seduce, give orders, negotiate, sing while attacking.
 

Horwath

Legend
There's nothing wrong with your cleric with some superiority dice...unless there's a fighter in the party with the battle master subclass.

Burning a feat to get one superiority dice will hardly kill a niche of a battlemaster that starts with 4.

Also he can also get that feat and again be 4 dices ahead.

There's nothing wrong with your druid with expertise in stealth & athletics...unless there's a rogue in the party with Expertise in one or both of those skills.

Same as above, 1 expertise at cost of a feat vs 4 from rogue...

It becomes a question of "concept death by inches." How far into a fighter, or a rogue, or whatever, can you cut before it starts to undermine that class' identity at the table – that is, before players of said fighter or rogue start to notice, hey, I don't feel like my character has that unique cool anymore.

Your character is unique and cool because it's YOUR character. Also if someone at the table copies your character, that is his/hers error and it is undermining group performance as it is reducing diversity and ability to handle different challenges.
I think we should be careful about giving other classes features from martially oriented classes in particular, since martial classes don't have a pool of spells to draw from as part of their definition.

On the other hand, something like the Magical Adept feat works just fine because so many classes have access to spells – in general, they're not a uniquely identifying feature (with some exceptions).

On this I agree. Magic adept should be buffed a little(2 spells) and there should be 2nd and 3rd feat in a chain that would give access to 2nd, 3rd,4th and 5th level spells.
Every group is going to have different levels of tolerance with this. For example, you and your group sounds like you like the 3e style feats-galore approach allowing you to make exactly the character you want, adopting features from across multiple classes. That's fine, but IF that's the direction Wizards wants to go with such feats, it would be wise to acknowledge that not every group wants that, and to somehow silo those class-feature-borrowing feats separate from other feats.

Then your group does not use those feats and your group is happy. Do not impose prohibition on other of something you do not like :p
 

mellored

Legend
"Player B - in order not to screw you over, I'm going to make sure that player A can always succeed at doing a task you've invested in. I hope that makes you feel empowered."

Full investment (stats, skill, expertise) can auto-succed.
Mostly invested (stat, skill), can succeed most of the time.
Lightly invested (skill, or stat), can succeed some of the time.
No invested (no skill or stat), can rarely succeed.

That's a 17 point spread on a d20. Which seems exactly where it should be.
 

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