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."

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Oofta

Legend
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.

This I could support. It's the extra riders they're adding on to the feats that I have a problem with. We've been discussing the "all humans fear me" feat, but I have the same problem with stealthy.

If you're hidden you can go 10 feet with no cover and remain hidden? Really? So you're at a "+" shaped intersection, hiding from the guards around corner in the well lit corridor. They're guarding the hall, there is no obstruction, no way you could possibly move across the intersection without being spotted.

Yet somehow your level 1 human rogue can cross the hallway in plain sight, five feet in front of the guards because he took the stealthy feat. Something like that should require magic.
 

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Lanliss

Explorer
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.

Yes, but my argument is from a common sense point of view. Why are the Rogue and Bard the only ones capable of this mythical third tier of training called "Expert". Wizard spends a lot of time studying, why can't he be an Expert Historian? Fighter and Barbarian can be pretty tough guys, why can't they be Pro Wrestlers? I mentioned before (I think in this thread, maybe in another) That I am pretty lenient on the whole "realism" thing, but Stabby and Charismo The Mighty being the only ones capable of a higher level of training? It just makes no sense.

Personally, the only problem I see with the design of expertise is that it is limited to a a class ability. I have been thinking of either giving more characters expertise, or simply having an "Expert" Feat that anyone can take. Thankfully, they already did most of the work for me on that, now I just need to tweak these feats for my game to use.
 

Satyrn

First Post
Unless Darth Bader is a melee character of course. Then he's SOL. All he can do is cower in the corner because someone he's never even heard of said bad things to him.

As far as why a DM would set up this type of encounter? Seriously? You've never seen a movie, read a book, heard about the trope of the heroes not being able to face down a foe? At least not until later in the story when they've gained strength and experience and finally confront their nemesis.

How many times did Luke and company run from Vader or get their asses handed to them?

If the team can find some clever way of getting the upper hand, if they surprise me with tactics I didn't anticipate, if they do more than just build a broken combo that guarantees auto success then I'm OK with it.

But just saying "I have X, Y and Z so I can always, every time intimidate whatever BBEG you throw at me?" How is that fun? How does the DM challenge someone who can intimidate every NPC they ever encounter?

Saying that something like this always works breaks the game IMHO.

For me, the worst part of Menacing for me is that it seems to wildly outshine the battlemaster's Menacing Strike maneuver, which provides the same effect, plus a bit of damage - and is severely limited in uses per rest in comparison.

And I mean, if you get Menacing Strike from the Martial Initiate feat, you get it use it once! per rest.
 

Oofta

Legend
For me, the worst part of Menacing for me is that it seems to wildly outshine the battlemaster's Menacing Strike maneuver, which provides the same effect, plus a bit of damage - and is severely limited in uses per rest in comparison.

And I mean, if you get Menacing Strike from the Martial Initiate feat, you get it use it once! per rest.

I agree. It's the same with Diplomat - no limits to how many creatures you can charm, no concentration, no limit on how long it lasts, no way of breaking the charm and on and on.

Oh well. I will provide my feedback with the survey. The is the first UA article I have this many issues with.
 

Geeknamese

Explorer
I would say it's simply easier to ban the feat that sets up something I don't like than to start modifying every bad guy.



Why? I mean, it's your call put if I just arbitrarily give disadvantage on something like this (especially in a game store/living campaign) the player will cry bloody murder. Perhaps rightfully so.

Let's set up a scenario. I have my PCs sneaking around in a dungeon. It's supposed to be tough and not one of those scenarios where they could reasonably win at this point. I want to set up this place at the headquarters of DOOM Inc. There's a pet Balor blocking the exit and I'm waiting for the group to do something creative and fun.

Instead the player of the party's high charisma rogue yawns and says "I step out and intimidate him. Yada yada boo". Looking at his character sheet he says "The lowest I can get is a 25. Do I need to roll?"

And that's against a creature with a relatively high insight check. Unless I change the rules for the Balor on the fly to nerf the character it is guaranteed to work.

Obviously I can work around it. The point is I shouldn't have to do so, it seems to go against the whole concept of bounded accuracy and the intent of 5E.

I would never run my encounter like this. This is a case where the DM needs to be a DM. As a Dungeon Master/Game Master my role is exactly that, master of the story and master of the game. When you sit at my table, you are playing in my game. I just happen to be using 5e to facilitate the story and the world. I don't work for the 5e system, it works to help me provide the best shared narrative experience I can give to my players. An emasculated DM is one that is beholden to the print, who needs codified rules for everything to make a decision or judgment calls. What's the point of a DM, if all you are is a rules inventory specialist or rules librarian?

In the example above, the lowly players are facing a mighty Balor, a friggin general of demon armies. People, for the most part, of carrion that he stomps on while on his way to the Porto-Potty. I could possibly give him Advantage on his +9 roll just for that fact. But I'd leave it in the hands of the player instead. So your level 5 or 7 or 10 Rogue with Expertise in Intimidation strolls up to the Balor and tries to Intimidate him with his Cha (Intimidate) of +9-12. You let your player just walk and say I Intimidate him and roll dice? Or let them say "Yada yada boo!" and let's resolve the action? That's like a video game. My players know they're not playing a game when they play with me, they're part of a story. For me, skills, expertise, etc represent your potential to be really deceptive, charming, intimidating, whatever. You still have to roleplay the situation and it's got to be plausible. Unless that Rogue has something of value to say to that Balor which would make it fear him, or have some insight into the Personality, Ideals, Bonds, or Flaw of that Balor or can setup some kind of situation, maybe through a combination of skills checks involving lying, deception, whatever, he's getting Disadvantage on that Intimidation skill check.

I don't let my players just Persuade NPCs. I make them roleplay out the dialogue to see what they are saying or how they are saying it. Same thing with Deception or Intimidation. Have they gotten any insight on the NPCs through the dialogue or with their Insight abilities to maybe hint at their Personality, Ideals, Bonds or Flaws? I never let my PCs just go, "I want to Perception this, can I roll? I want to use Deception on the NPC, what do I need to roll?" I have them play it out and I adjudicate based on that.


Sent from my iPhone using EN World mobile app
 

Lanliss

Explorer
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.

I don't think you understand what "Plug and Play" Means. If something is Plug and Play, it can be dropped into your game without causing any issues, plugged in and played without any tweaking. A Longsword is Plug-and-Play. Maybe a low level spell scroll too. Feats, since they inherently change the balance scale, are not "Plug and Play". That means that, if you are playing with feats, you have to account for them when you consider balance, in a way you wouldn't have to account for the fact that your Fighter has a longsword, or your wizard has a Jump Scroll.
 

Oofta

Legend
I would never run my encounter like this ...

Which is all well and good. However the feat clearly says the character makes an intimidation check opposed by an insight. If the character wins, the target is frightened. You're ignoring the text of the feat.

That's fine. In fact, I agree. That's my whole point.

When I look at these feats for several of them (1/2? 3/4?) I'd have to house rule that in many cases they don't work the way they are written it indicates to me that they aren't working as designed. That's OK in a home game because I can just let them know ahead of time. It doesn't work so so well in a public AL game.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
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

While I agree to disagree with you on these feats...I fully agree with this sentiment.

My final point was more directed toward how to present these feats to non-veteran players. No need for prohibitions. But there is a need to calling out that they do somewhat diminish class uniqueness for Bards/Rogues. While I can see that right away, being a veteran gamer, and have no problem tweaking my game accordingly... a lot of newer or more casual gamers won't see that right away.

This is something that I've seen happen later in the edition cycle of 2e, 3e, and 4e: New rules which weaken class identity, and aren't clearly articulated as doing such, instead being presented as just "more of the same rules."

For your group, that's no problem. You might like that actually.

For my group, it's no problem. I can just cut out what I/we don't like.

For other groups, it's a problem. Because they don't realize the effect these sorts of rules will have on their game by potentially subverting existing character niches.
 

Oofta

Legend
I don't think you understand what "Plug and Play" Means. If something is Plug and Play, it can be dropped into your game without causing any issues, plugged in and played without any tweaking. A Longsword is Plug-and-Play. Maybe a low level spell scroll too. Feats, since they inherently change the balance scale, are not "Plug and Play". That means that, if you are playing with feats, you have to account for them when you consider balance, in a way you wouldn't have to account for the fact that your Fighter has a longsword, or your wizard has a Jump Scroll.

You're applying a term used for computers to a game ... so sorry if I didn't understand what you were getting at.

So let me restate. IMHO if a new feature of the game means I can no longer run old modules without adjustment, the new feature is broken. It's power creep, and something I'd rather not see in the game.

It's one thing if I had never allowed feats when I wrote my encounters, but a new feat should not allow a PC to break virtually every single encounter with a humanoid unless I specifically nerf it or ignore the text of the feat.

Many of these feats are overpowered in a way that gives certain build an "I win" button in way too many cases if you use them as written. With the right build you can intimidate any humanoid on the planet unless they are specifically immune to fear. These feats lead to an adversarial arms race I don't want.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
You're applying a term used for computers to a game ... so sorry if I didn't understand what you were getting at.

So let me restate. IMHO if a new feature of the game means I can no longer run old modules without adjustment, the new feature is broken. It's power creep, and something I'd rather not see in the game.

It's one thing if I had never allowed feats when I wrote my encounters, but a new feat should not allow a PC to break virtually every single encounter with a humanoid unless I specifically nerf it or ignore the text of the feat.

Many of these feats are overpowered in a way that gives certain build an "I win" button in way too many cases if you use them as written. With the right build you can intimidate any humanoid on the planet unless they are specifically immune to fear. These feats lead to an adversarial arms race I don't want.

Sorry for having jumped in, you were debating with someone else. I just saw your response to them and wanted to point out the meaning so you could debate on equal terms. :)

As far as the "I win" button, I can agree with there being huge issues with that. That said, there is a good reason this is play-test material. I would not let my players use this, or really anything in any of the books, without letting them know that I might want to adjust balance later. That is a trust thing though, not something that could apply in AL with random people.
 

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