Is this feat below balanced?

Ability Score Improvement Feat

This feat may be chosen instead of the human variant feat at character creation or instead of the class feature "Ability Score Improvement". When you gain this feat, you may choose twice from the following options:

  • Increase one ability score of your choice by 1 (if you pick this option twice you may choose the same ability score, so it would be increased by 2)
  • Gain proficiency in a new skill
  • Gain proficiency in a new tool set
  • You learn a new language

I'm thinking about doing that because all the players are new to RPGs/DnD, and I don't want to overwhelm the players with all the feats, with terminology they aren't familiar with. However I feel like the human variant is way superior to the standard human

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you compared this to the existing feats? Feats are themed/specialized and this seems to be open-ended. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Jun 7, 2017 at 18:44
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ IMO this is answerable if the answer is able to objectively compare the strengths and weaknesses of the homebrew feat. It only becomes primarily opinion-based in a bad way if answers don't do this, and that's what down-voting is for. We have plenty of 'check my homebrew' questions on here that are fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Jun 7, 2017 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Balancing Your Feat

I don't think it's terribly well balanced; in most cases, it's actually weaker than a feat:

  • If you take the first option twice, it's the same as a basic ASI.

  • If you take either the second or third option, it is strictly weaker than Skilled (PHB p170), which allows choice of three skill or tool proficiencies.

  • Take the first and last option, and it's weaker than Linguist (PHB p167), which provides +1 Intelligence, three languages, and the ability to create coded messages.

Feats are supposed to be powerful, and your design is watered down in comparison. Feats also tend to be packaged abilities with a theme, selecting one makes a character different from others with the same class. Were I playing in your game, I wouldn't take anything but the ASI, which I could do anyway.

There are also stacking concerns - normally, the same feat cannot be taken more than once. If this is the only feat available in your game, then it's clearly stackable. It allows a player (over time) to stack a large number of skill proficiencies, potentially having proficiency in everything, which will trivialize skill checks and reduce each character's uniqueness.

The Power of (Variant) Humanity

Variant human is pretty powerful, but so is a normal human. I think you're overlooking the raw strength of solid attributes. Having a bonus to six stats shores up potential weaknesses and/or saves points the player can spend on the character's desired strengths.

New Player Advice

If you're trying to ease new players into the system, you could disallow "Variant Human" completely. That would push off selection of feats until L4 at the earliest (if you allow them at all, they're entirely optional), and allow some time for people to get used to the basics.


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