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Is this homebrew racial feat, Stonehide, balanced?

This feat uses the Dragonborn racial feat Dragonhide and the UA Stone Sorcerer Stone's Durability feature as a basis.

Stonehide

Prerequisite: Dwarf or Gnome

The mystical link between your soul and the magic of elemental earth grants you extraordinary resilience. You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • As an action, you can gain a base AC of 13 + your Constitution modifier if you aren't wearing armor, and your skin assumes a stony appearance. This effect lasts until you end it as a bonus action, you are incapacitated, or you don armor other than a shield.
  • Your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage as long as your Stonehide is active.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't get the action/bonus action mechanics. Most "alternative AC" just lets you use an optional calculation for AC. And "if you aren't wearing armor" would be redundant; you can use the armor calc, or the stonehide calc, at any point. Is there a reason behind that? \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Apr 24 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 2nd bullet is not a permanent change unlike dragon scales. It takes an action to "assume a stony appearance" and gain the AC boost. \$\endgroup\$ – Unaligned Ooze Apr 24 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ For fluff reasons I assume? It needs rewording; as it stands, the stony appearance isn't attached to the AC change. (nor is the unarmed strike) I don't see any balance impact at all from those extra clauses (other than you cannot, say, wear "leather armor of stealth" and use your ability) \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Apr 24 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ More than just fluff...also a slight nerf. A character runs the risk of losing the AC boost once becoming incapacitated. I made edits as you suggested. \$\endgroup\$ – Unaligned Ooze Apr 24 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would probably reword the bottom bullet to say that they may use d4 damage for unarmed strikes. Otherwise if you have a character like a monk who get's progression on their unarmed damage dice you would get a conflict where the monk could do d6 or some other higher damage but this feat states they only do d4, and technically the feat is more exact then the monk's class feature... \$\endgroup\$ – dsollen Apr 24 at 19:51
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More than likely, this is balanced

Your features almost directly mirror the features of the Dragon Hide feat.

  • The same ability increase except offering Wisdom instead of Charisma
  • AC of 13 + Constitution modifier rather than Dexterity modifier
  • 1d4 + Strength bludgeoning damage rather than slashing damage on unarmed strikes

As such, the feature is almost certainly balanced compared to official options.

However... there may be a slight unbalance in the fact that Constitution is used for the Armor Class. Typically, gaining such high effective Hit Points (EHP) requires investment in both Constitution (for the Hit Points) and Dexterity or Strength (for the Armor Class). Your feature allows similar range of EHP for just Constitution. This may not be too problematic since a character almost always has to invest in a different ability for the purposes of attacks or spells anyway, but it is a consideration that may reveal itself to be especially strong during playtesting.

At first, I considered whether it would be better to just use...

10 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier

...to require two ability scores to reach the same Armor Class, but that would be substantially stronger for characters who have access to ample Ability Score Increases to reach beyond the 13 + Constitution modifier limits (characters like Dexterity-based fighters, rangers, and rogues). It may be more balanced in this way, or may be overpowered. I would probably playtest both versions.

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