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I have the feeling Lucky feat in 5e is overpowered.

I have a modification that I want to propose my players with says you have to decide to use your luck point BEFORE rolling the dice. That's the only modification so the feat will be:

You have 3 luck points. Whenever you make an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can spend one luck point to roll an additional d20. You can choose to spend one of your luck points only before you roll the die and before the outcome is determined. You choose which of the d20 is used for the attack roll, ability check or saving throw.

You can also spend one luck point before an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and then choose whether the attacker uses the attacker roll or yours. You choose the dice before the attack roll is made and, therefore, before knowing the attacker roll result.

The rest of the feat description (i.e. cancelling rules) remains unchanged.

I feel that makes the feat less powerful by turning a "I don't really like this result" to "I really want to make sure I get this right". That way the player needs to carefully decide what matters and what doesn't before rolling, afterwards is just too late.

Is this modification, however, underpowered to the point that it makes the feat useless (meaning the feat will not be picked up by players since its not worth it)?

Note: I'll accept frame challenges if you think the original lucky feat is not overpowered, although I think that may end up going to opinion based quickly.


Reasons I feel it is overpowered There are numerous discussions already on the internet about the Lucky feat. My take on it is that it allows way too many rerolls for any roll, after knowing the die roll (which means you at least have a feeling of whether you'll fail or not).

In my view this means that the players are able to, on demand, reroll at will any critical situation they find themselves on and those usually do not happen more than 3 times per day and when they happen, it is simply not that difficult to spot them. I don't usually put my players on such tight corners that they have more than 3 situations a day where the outcome of a single roll is of vital importance and the fact that you can decide after looking at the dice means that out of those critical situations, some of them would be naturally saved, allowing you to simply "save" the luck point. Then the next adventuring day, boom, you have your points again to start over with your safety net of, "if everything goes wrong I can count on my luck".

Making the players decide FIRST means that luck points are precious and valuable and you really have to think first, is this worth making absolutely sure I have the best chances to succeed or is it better to save it for later? Is this a really critical situation?

With deciding after they can instead go like: oh, it seems like I'm going to fail this thing... ok, I don't want to fail so I'm going to spend a luck point. It's a fallback, not a carefully thought tradeoff.

Even though the players do perform dozens of rolls per adventuring day, most of them do not matter so much. Attack roll, you fail, fine,next. Attack roll, you succeed, great. But then there's this occasional thing that really matters, "saving throw" against a fireball, that lockpick to enter the throne room, that deception check to escape from a contrieved situation, that last attack you've just failed with 5 HP left which you feel, if succeded may have just killed the monster... those are the ones that do change the course of the adventure. Yes, players roll a lot, but critical, potentially changing situations are far and between events that do not happen that often (at least not on my adventures).

I don't want to quote all the internet here but Lucky is consitently considered either broken or one of the most useful feats on the game, usually being quoted as THE most useful feat for all the above reasons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch added clarifications in the question itself. Stated also that I don't mind frame challenges. \$\endgroup\$ – Jorge Córdoba Sep 16 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you intending to alter when attack rolls are made against the character with the Lucky feat as well? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Sep 16 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may wish to clarify your statement. You can only use the feat on saving throws, attack rolls, or ability checks that you make; not any roll as you've emphasized. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Sep 16 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical the logic will apply to all the feat, I'll clarify but I'm not sure I can quote the whole feat on the question without hiting copyright issues. The feat is part of the PHB after all.... \$\endgroup\$ – Jorge Córdoba Sep 16 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ How long is your adventure day? 6 encounters with two short rests, or the 15 minute adventure day? if the former, I don't get how 3 rolls being affected out of dozens is "overpowered" but I am perhaps not understanding how you are using that term In my view this means that the players are able to, on demand, reroll at will any critical situation they find themselves on and those usually do not happen more than 3 times per day and when they happen, it is simply not that difficult to spot them The PC foregoes an ASI feat for this choice, which is subject to the vagaries of a d20 roll \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 16 at 13:49
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This is unnecessary

I've played at a table where several PCs (across different campaigns and DMs) have had the Lucky feat and I've never experience an imbalance issue or a feeling that it's overpowered.

Already limited

The feat is already limited in that it can only be used 3 times/long rest. That's a pretty big limitation when the volume of rolls across a day's encounters can be high (both PC rolls and rolls against the PC). In my case, we generally only have 1-3 combat encounters/day and we still had to manage when we wanted to use it.

I just haven't seen or felt that the being able to force a reroll was problematic. And that reroll isn't a guarantee, either.

Less fun

I would say that as someone has had the Lucky feat with a character that treating more akin to the Inspiration mechanic would turn this into something less exciting. It's fun to say "Oh, that didn't work out, but I'm Lucky! Let's try it again!" It's less fun to hedge your bet with an advantage/disadvantage prior to the roll.

More management for the DM and the player

In this scenario, before you roll any die against the PC with the feat, you're going to have to stop and ask them if they'd like to use Lucky.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Otherwise, there may be a time when they wanted to use it, and you didn't give them the opportunity. And now you're back to the original method of the player saying "Well, you didn't ask, but I wanted to use it, but you rolled. So can you reroll?"

What about the Halfing racial ability?

This works very similarly to Lucky. Are you going to change how that works as well? While it's a special case of rerolling 1s, that's impactful for when the halfling is attacking. Just like Lucky is impactful if they roll that 1.

Sort of works like an upgraded multi-use Inspiration

The way you want the mechanic to work is very similar to that of Inspiration:

If you have inspiration, you can expend it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll.

The main difference is that you can also use it against an enemy, which is not how the Inspiration mechanic generally works. We do have a question covering this enemy-focused function, but I can also supplement that by saying we allow the use of Inspiration at my table to force disadvantage on an enemy attack/save/ability check and have had no problems doing so.

This is not to say I'm advocating for turning the Lucky Feat into a modified Inspiration, but that it is an option - just not the one I'd prefer because of the above.

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The Lucky feat is a daily ability, so how powerful it is depends on how many encounters your group does per day.

If you're letting your group do just one encounter per day and rest (the famous "five minute adventuring day"), then all your characters with daily powers will be stronger -- wizards, clerics, and anyone with the Lucky feat, too.

If your group usually does five encounters per day, then the Lucky feat is going to be pretty minor -- it won't come up at all in two of those encounters, and in the other three it'll only affect one roll.

I've played a character with the Lucky feat, and I've had such a character in a game I ran, and in both cases I found it underwhelming. The character would burn a Luck point to reroll, and the reroll would fail too. The character often had to burn all their luck on a single roll, to turn a failure into a success. We had a fairly large number of encounters per day, so we didn't feel this was broken at all.

If you're letting your group do one encounter per day, then I agree that you should nerf this feat, and the change you have here seems reasonable. If you're doing many encounters per day then I think the feat is pretty bad and nerfing it will just make it even worse.

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This is an excellent idea. We have applied this in one of our campaigns and it works very well. When a player wanted to have a higher probability of succeding a check/roll/save he would call it beforehand and then he would be allowed to roll two dice. No late rolls. It would also introduce much more pathos to the action, as when a character would invoke his Lucky feat you knew something really important and with consequences was at hand.

Sure, the feat pretty much changes from "Lucky" to "Cautious/Wary", but I would not say it renders it underpowered. Simply gives it a different flavor and dynamic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How did you handle DM rolls against the PC? And can you explain why you think this provides more pathos? How does stating they'd like to use it all of a sudden make the roll more meaningful? They could think it's meaningful, but it really isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 16 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since DM rolls were always secret, it was not much of an issue. For example, when being low on health and in desperate need of a break and being attacked, the player would invoke the feat if targeted. It was the player's responsibility. Regarding your second point: sure, it doesn't make it more meaningful, but the general feeling around the table was one of added excitement. \$\endgroup\$ – Easymode44 Sep 16 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, so how did that feature of the Lucky feat work at your table? Or did you remove it? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 16 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha. Out of pure curiosity, did you try the original feat? Or did you just jump to the 'fix'? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 16 at 14:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that you're giving up an ASI or other feat to take Lucky; it's supposed to be pretty good. But yeah, it's definitely a strong feat. However, if I was going to nerf it, I might reduce it to 2/day or something. Or did you consider increasing it to 4 or 5 per day when switching it to a declare-ahead-of-time advantage-like mechanic? \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Sep 17 at 3:42
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There are a number of feats that provide advantage, which lets you roll twice and choose the better roll, just like Lucky. Advantage also stacks with abilities like the rogue's sneak attack, while luck points do not. Importantly, there is no limit to the number of times you get advantage - every single time you use the ability, you get to roll two dice, and pick the best one.

Lucky gives you essentially the same ability - roll twice and pick the best - but without stacking with other abilities, and with only 3 uses per day. In its favor, it can be used on any roll, without the somewhat stricter usage of the feats that give advantage. That seems pretty balanced.

If you want Luck to have less of an impact, plan to have more than one or two encounters per day. There should be far more than three "important" rolls in any given adventuring day! Some of those can be social encounters, too, remember.

And if you really hate luck points, instead of nerfing them, give some of your NPCs Lucky! They can use those points to cancel out existing luck points, just like imposing disadvantage cancels out advantage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a note, Lucky stacks with Advantage, allowing a third roll if you already have Advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Time Sep 17 at 0:43

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