Shane is an avid TTRPG player and DM for 7+ years, on top of being a writer. I love all things D&D and am always up to try a new system!
Feats Are Gate-Kept in One DnD
One of the major changes with the shift from 5th Edition to One DnD in Dungeons & Dragons is the fact that feats are no longer just available from the get-go with the human variant or every time there's an ability score improvement. Instead, they are going to be tied to levels.
This means that every character starts with a level-1 feat—but not every feat is available from level 1. Some will be, but others won't be available until later.
Because of that new system for feats, that means level-based feats are now going to be a thing in Dungeons & Dragons, and that makes it important to know what your options are for level-1 D&D feats.
Meeting The New Level-1 Feats
Keep in mind that despite the idea that DnD One would be at least relatively backwards compatible with 5E, it's developing in a very different way. These are not mix and match feats; the DnD One versions are mostly expected to be completely different from what 5th Ed provided.
DnD One Level-1 Feats
- Magic Initiate
- Savage Attacker
- Tavern Brawler
Let's dive in further!
Some Familiar Feats, But With Different Roles
There are currently nine level-1 feats in One DnD. While two of those are brand new, having no correlating feat from 5th Edition, the other seven are going to be familiar to experienced 5E players.
That said, with the notable exception of the Tough feat, which is exactly the same as it was in 5E, the DnD One versions of these feats are often quite different. Some have been made stronger, some made much worse, and then there's the Lucky Feat, which is still in a state that will result in it being banned at almost every table.
Six of the seven feats found in 5E and DnD One have had major changes.
Alert was nerfed heavily to fit as a level-1 feat. You lose the +5 initiative and inability to be surprised for a proficiency bonus to initiative and the ability to switch spots with an ally in the beginning of a battle.
Healer is one of the best first-level feats and is an example of things done right. Some things were nerfed, some were boosted, but this is a feat that makes healing viable for any class, and it's a very good pick for a starting feat.
Somehow they made the most broken feat in the game potentially more broken. Instead of having three dice to change rolls, it's now tied to proficiency, meaning you might have up to six by the end of the campaign.
So plan on this one continuing to get banned across tables.
This is one of the better feats in 5E for spell casters, and it's even better in the new version: You can take it more than once, choose your ability for casting learned cantrips/spells, and change the learned spells each time you level up.
Savage Attacker was drastically improved, and this is a great boon for melee fighters. Instead of being able to reroll damage dice once, you can now reroll damage dice twice and take the best total.
This feat is more or less the same, but you're giving up grappling for being able to shove. Also, the improvised weapons have been shifted to only work with furniture, which could be a nerf, a buff, or no change, depending on the table and DM.
You get an extra 2 HP per level—exactly the same as in 5E, but now you can justify taking this instead of a +2 to Constitution because now it can be a first-level feat so you don't have to make that sacrifice.
Tough didn't have to change because its design was perfect for a first-level feat before there even were first-level feats.
Two Brand New Feats
Those with sharp eyes looking at all the Unearthed Arcana releases teasing out what the DnD One system will look like may have seen two new feats that didn't appear in any form in 5th Edition.
One was the Crafter feat, the other was the Musician Feat, and they were... underwhelming.
- Crafter borrowed from video game RPG mechanics to have a discount when buying non-magical items.
- Musician has some interesting potential with giving inspiration, but inspiration also fades at every long rest.
Basically, these are feats that will need a lot more worldbuilding around them to give a proper sense of how well they will actually work in the system. That involves actually playtesting with inspiration and having a much more fleshed-out economy than 5th Ed did.
Which 1st-Level Feats Are Best?
All first-level feats are going to have their place, especially based on party build, campaign, and a variety of other factors. That said, there are some feats that are clearly superior to others in most circumstances when looking at our current offering of first-level feats.
- Best: Right now, Lucky is clearly the strongest first-level feat and still very, very broken.
- Good: Magic Initiate, Healer, and Savage Attacker are all A-Level feats and can do some really good work.
- Decent: Tough has finally found its home in the new system, with the others drifting in behind.
- Worst: The worst as the game is currently played are likely actually Tavern Brawler (as fun as it is), Musician, and Crafter.
If a DM has to work to make a feat viable, it's not a well-designed game feat.
Great DnD One Feat Links
- DnD One Feat Guide: Level 1 Feats – Assorted Meeples
In-Depth blog post that takes a deep dive into Level 1 feats for DnD One and does something I haven't seen anyone else do: compares and contrasts them with how they've changed from 5E, points out specific changes, and talks about winners vs losers.
- One D&D UA First Level Feat Analysis and Discussion : 3d6
Redditt discussion on the new First Level feats for DnD One.
- Subclasses Part 1 | Unearthed Arcana | Dungeons & Dragons
Introducing a series of Unearthed Arcana focused on Subclasses, starting with playtest options for Barbarians, Monks, Paladins, and Warlocks.
Will 1st-Level Feats Stick Around?
While it's not something a lot of 5th Edition players or YouTubers like to admit at this point, with the Unearthed Arcana releases it's becoming more and more obvious that D&D One is 6th Edition, not a backwards-compatible 5.5.
1st-level feats are an intriguing idea, considering the shift towards Backgrounds providing starting stats and taking away the inherent huge advantage that the variant human had in 5th Edition because of a starting feat.
The 1st-level feats are almost certainly going to stick around and be a bedrock of the new system. Whether you love, hate, or just aren't sure about the idea, you now have the knowledge you need to build your character and get ready for your next DnD One campaign!
© 2022 Shane Dayton