I've seen a few "Is my homebrew" balanced questions on this stack, so I hope this is on topic.

Is the UA Feats for Races "Human Determination" feat balanced with the core D&D 5E feats?

Prerequisite: Human

You are filled with a determination that can draw the unreachable within your reach. You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase one ability score of your choice by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • When you make an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can do so with advantage. Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

The most obviously comparable feat seems to be the "Lucky" feat, which I've often heard referred to as overpowered. So if the answer is "Human Determination" is balanced only because of the "Lucky" feat, would "Human Determination" still be balanced if there was no "Lucky" feat?

I know that UA is intended to be generally balanced, but since less extensive play testing has been performed and the "Human Determination" feat never made it into an official publication as far as I know (unlike some other feats from Feats for Races), I wonder if this was determined to not be balanced after all or if it was never printed for some other reason.


Situationally Useful Half-Feat, Probably Weaker than Lucky

Lucky is often seen as an "overpowered" or "catch-all" feat, seeing as to how universally useful it is. Let's take a look at Lucky:

You have 3 luck points. Whenever you make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you may spend 1 luck point to roll an additional d20. You can use this ability after the original roll, but before the outcome is revealed. You choose which of the d20s is used for the attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.

You can also spend one luck point when an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and choose whether the attacker's roll uses their d20 roll or yours.

If multiple creatures use a luck point on the same roll, they cancel out, resulting in no additional dice.

You regain expended luck points when you finish a long rest.

Note that you spend Luck Points only after you make the roll. Most of the time, this means that you will be re-rolling a failed attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, and you can so so multiple times. This also means that you probably won't be wasting Luck Points on an otherwise successful roll. Thus, Lucky isn't just advantage on 3 rolls, it's insurance that can pay out up to 3 times per long rest.

On the converse, when you use Human Determination, you choose whether to take advantage before the roll is made, and you only get one use per short rest. This means that the advantage is "wasted" if your roll would have succeeded anyways. This is far less useful than Lucky.

That being said, Human Determination is only a half feat (meaning that you get +1 to a stat) so it's not useless. That said, I can't imagine many human characters that I would build where I would bother taking it.

Half-Feats vary greatly in power. The power of a half-feat is that they can even out an odd attribute point for an additional +1. Some, like Elven Accuracy, are very useful in niche builds and can be good on a wide variety of characters, while others, like Linguist, are far less mechanically useful.

Human half-feats are probably even weaker than most because they don't gain a +2 to a stat, meaning that they would need to take 2 half-feats as a Variant Human to get a +4 in their primary stat by L4. Hence, why you would need a strong incentive to take a half-feat as a variant human (i.e. - the half-feat is strong anyways ala Resilient or Heavy Armor Master). That said, if I rolled stats and was playing an 19 primary casting stat Variant Human caster, I might consider Human Determination.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the comparison vis-a-vis Lucky; I wonder if you'd care to add a comparison to the other half-feats? (I.e. do you find Human Pluckishness to be over- or under-powered relative to Linguist/Actor/Observant/&c., or in the same range as them?) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 23 '19 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Half-Feat balancing is weird with Human Determination in particular, because humans only get a +1 to stats, meaning, they can't use standard point buy or a standard array to hit 18 in a stat at level 4 without taking another half-feat at Level 1. Other races, in contrast, can take a half-feat in their primary stat for an 18 at L4 and still gain their racial abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – James Oct 23 '19 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer. It seems a lot of the utility is lost because you may waste it on a roll that was going to succeed anyways, which I had considered. I had not considered that the half feat portion is also wasted on humans for not having a starting +2 to any stat, so thanks for that! Although I suppose at high levels once you've maxed out your primary stat it may be useful to round out an odd secondary stat. Do you have an opinion on the consideration of 1 use/short rest vs. 3 use/long rest difference? \$\endgroup\$ – ThePorkchopExpress Oct 23 '19 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @James: If you're playing with feats in your game, a lot of human PCs are likely to be Variant Humans, who get a feat at level 1. Picking up a half feat at both levels 1 and 4 is very strong. \$\endgroup\$ – Blckknght Oct 23 '19 at 21:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Human Determination is also much weaker than Lucky because it confers advantage, not an additional d20. This means you can't ever use Human Determination to cancel disadvantage to get super advantage (the primary use case for Lucky), and it in-fact is useless much of the time-- any time you would already have advantage (for example, on ability checks because you are in a party, or attack rolls because you used tactics, or saving throws because you had cover). It also can't make attackers miss you. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 24 '19 at 7:26

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