Back when we were still designing fifth edition D&D, it was much harder to write these columns. If I wanted to talk about feats, I’d have to look over our current design direction, find the topics that were either interesting or in flux, and then craft an article that provided insight without giving too much away. Today, I can just open up my Player’s Handbook and describe what I see. Much easier.

If you’ve followed along with the playtest, you already know the basic ideas behind feats. They’re an optional part of the game—a layer of customization that you can take in place of ability score increases. They serve as floating class features that anyone can take to make a more unique, distinctive character.

Compared to prior editions, feats are much more robust in the new game. In the past, each feat gave you a single benefit or bonus. Feats could push your character in a unique direction, but usually only after you chained several of them together.

In fifth edition, each feat is like a focused multiclass option. It comes with everything you need to realize a new dimension to your character. Most feats either give you a number of small upgrades bundled together, a significant new class feature that you’ll use a lot, or a lesser benefit bundled with a +1 bonus to a single ability score.

The design concept behind this approach is simple. If someone at the table is playing a character with a feat, you should be able to notice that by the end of a session. Feats do obvious and interesting things to characters that make them stand out.

For example, in my current campaign I’m playing Kel Kendeen, a chaotic neutral wizard dedicated to chaos and anarchy. I took the Lucky feat, which gives me the ability to roll an additional d20 when making an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, and choose which result to use. It’s extremely useful for getting out of tight spots, such as when I’m saddled with disadvantage or really need to make a roll. In portraying Kel, the Lucky feat fits him like a glove. As an adept of chaos, he constantly puts himself into dangerous positions—such as wearing a crown of ultimate evil or demanding an audience with the tyrannical overlord of a city—only to have things bounce his way. Fortune favors a fool, at least in Kel’s case.

In terms of character concept, feats fall into two camps, representing either specialized training or a mechanical benefit tied to some specific aspect of your character. The former types of feats are things your character learns. The latter are innate traits that become signature abilities. Think of the difference between Robin Hood’s skill with a bow—something learned through training and practice—and Odysseus’s cunning wit—an innate part of his character that he used to legendary effect).

To tide you over until the release of the Player’s Handbook, here’s a list of all the feats in the book.

  • Alert
  • Athlete
  • Actor
  • Charger
  • Crossbow Expert
  • Defensive Duelist
  • Dual Wielder
  • Dungeon Delver
  • Durable
  • Elemental Adept
  • Grappler
  • Great Weapon Master
  • Healer
  • Heavily Armored
  • Heavy Armor Master
  • Inspiring Leader
  • Keen Mind
  • Lightly Armored
  • Linguist
  • Lucky
  • Mage Slayer
  • Magic Initiate
  • Martial Adept
  • Medium Armor Master
  • Mobile
  • Moderately Armored
  • Mounted Combatant
  • Observant
  • Polearm Master
  • Resilient
  • Ritual Caster
  • Savage Attacker
  • Sentinel
  • Sharpshooter
  • Shield Master
  • Skilled
  • Skulker
  • Spell Sniper
  • Tavern Brawler
  • Tough
  • War Caster
  • Weapon Master