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Background

On initial creation I usually use the optional point buy system. Which allows 27 points to be distributed across the 6 abilities, with higher scores costing more points than lower scores (PHB pg 13). Later in the customization section (PHB pg 165) it states that an ability bonus (occurring at levels 4, 8, 12, 16 19) can be replaced by a feat.

Question

Is there a way to replace some ability points with a feat upon character creation?

First is there a dnd-5e official way in some hidden an addendum somewhere or in past version that would translate? If not what would be a fair point cost for a home brew rule? I was thinking 5 points. Which could effectively cost 2 ability score.

Scenarios where this might be useful.

I am creating a bard with a custom background of "Diplomat". Based loosely on the noble and entertainer backgrounds. The background would allow several additional languages but official rules only allow 3 perks to a background. So the Linguist feat might help get the build I'm looking for.

Also a barbarian could use the Tavern Brawler feat and almost break even with a few extra skills with improvised weapons supporting a background in urchin or sailor. (The point cost of 5 would insure it's not completely free as Tavern Brawler gives +1 to con and str)

Starting with Heavy Armor Master as a Paladin or Cleric by sacrificing a couple points in dex or int for a better tank build on start.

Clarification

*By points I mean of the 27. And score would be the value 8-15 that is purchased. I think this is how the book uses the terms.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Since you say your real problem's not having enough languages, take a gander at this question on being a polyglot in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 31 '17 at 1:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, take a look at the XY problem; you'll likely get better results on the Stack if you state your actual problem ("I want a 5e character that knows six languages at creation") rather than crowbar in your assumed solution ("I need this feat, can I buy it in point-buy?") \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 31 '17 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 i really do want to know if I can choose a feat with point buy. I was just trying to provide a helpful example of where it might be useful. \$\endgroup\$ – danielson317 May 31 '17 at 2:07
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Yes, but only for a human, and only at the DM's allowance.

The only rules-based way to grab a feat at character creation is by using the "Variant Human Traits," found on PHB p.31. There you sacrifice four +1 to ability scores to gain a skill and a feat. It's not exactly sacrificing points from your point-buy, but the effect's the same.


Past versions have little bearing: they're different games, and while they're great to reference for source material, ideas, content-lineage, balance is the worst place to go looking at a different game.

From this edition we can see that your proposed homebrew solution would be rather unbalanced: it costs much less in your scheme than in the published version. (Which I presumptively consider balanced.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ hmm, the last paragraph seems off. Variant human trades effectively 2 ASIs for a feat and a skill. OP suggested trading 2.5 effective ASIs for just the feat. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer May 31 '17 at 7:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I don't think you can compare them that easily, a +1 to an ability is worth a variable number of points depending on the score you add it to. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik May 31 '17 at 8:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik my point is just that it doesn't "cost much less in [the OP's] scheme than in the published version". It's true the equivalencies aren't very strong, though. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer May 31 '17 at 8:16
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No Officially Published Material

There is no mention of purchasing feats for point in the point buy in any of the published or UA material.

Variant Human

The Variant Human race comes to mind as the closest published thing to what you are looking at doing. It allows you to give up four +1's to ability scores for 1 feat.

Fair Point Value

Here we venture into the realm of opinion but based on giving up +1s to four statistics in the human race, and ASI can be a +2 to one stat, the fair market value would be between 4 and 5 points.

Try and See

If you are the DM, the best advice I can give is to try it, and see how the balance works out. Tweak as the games rolls on.

If you are a player, you need to sell your DM on the idea.

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