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I'd been planning to take the Crusher feat for a Small melee-focused Battle Smith artificer who had already taken the Gift of the Gem Dragon feat. However, I then noticed the size limitation on the Crusher feat's key benefit (TCoE, p. 79):

Once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack that deals bludgeoning damage, you can move it 5 feet to an unoccupied space, provided the target is no more than one size larger than you.

Since my character is Small in size, this means he won't be able to maneuver Large creatures in the way that a Medium-sized character would.

Does this reduce the Crusher feat's benefits enough that it doesn't make sense to take it? For example, even though this is a melee character, would the bonus-action shove from Telekinetic (TCoE, p. 81) be a better choice?

As a bonus action, you can try to telekinetically shove one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. When you do so, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + the ability modifier of the score increased by this feat) or be moved 5 feet toward you or away from you. A creature can willingly fail this save.

(I know that Shield Master (PHB, p. 170) isn't a good option because it uses Strength for its shove rather than Intelligence.)

Is there ever a time when Crusher makes sense for a Small character?


@Xavon_Wrentaile made an excellent point in the comments that can augment the answers submitted so far: my character can use the Enlarge/Reduce spell. Artificers get access to this at 5th level, so any time from then on that my Small artificer is battling predominantly Large enemies, he can cast this to access all the benefits of Crusher -- in addition to the spell's other perks.

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Even if you can only use Crusher on Medium or smaller creatures, that still covers a lot of ground. Certainly it's a less useful feat for a Small creature, but it's not that much worse; there are plenty of Medium and Small creatures all the way up the CR chart, and even if the big nasty boss monsters start getting pretty big along the way, they almost always have Medium or Small minions around. The fact that the movement has no save is the real point of the feat.

Telekinetic is almost always a fantastic feat even for melee characters, if you don't already have an obvious turn-by-turn use for your bonus action. Being able to move your allies around with a bonus action is worthwhile even if you don't have a high enough save DC to make the offensive uses particularly viable.

But that's a big if up there. For a fighter, this would be a difficult choice, but as a Battle Smith artificer, your bonus action is almost always going to be consumed to command your Steel Defender (when you aren't using it for spellcasting purposes). I don't see Telekinetic as particularly viable for this build just because it's going to conflict so badly with your primary subclass feature.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I had completely overlooked that the bonus action was used for the Defender. That certainly does put a damper on Telekinetic! \$\endgroup\$
    – gto
    Oct 6, 2022 at 23:18
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About a third of the published monsters are Large

The total feature set of the Crusher feat reads (TCoE, p. 79):

  • Increase your Strength or Constitution by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack that deals bludgeoning damage, you can move it 5 feet to an unoccupied space, provided the target is no more than one size larger than you.
  • When you score a critical hit that deals bludgeoning damage to a creature, attack rolls against that creature are made with advantage until the start of your next turn.

That ability score increase makes up half the value of a full ASI, which is why this kind of feat is commonly called a "half-feat". The other part will make up only half of the value of this feat, so even if it is weaker, is is only weakening half of it. However, the value of these additional points has to compete with the many other half-feats, who offer the same ASI and something decent on top.

The Crusher feat grants two benefits aside from the the ability score increase.

Let's talk about the last benefit first: it is nice when it works, but is only going to come up occasionally, as there are not many ways to increase your crit range. This is not worth that much. Typically you crit on 5% of attacks, and advantage can give you about 20% better to hit chance on average, which will translate to about 20% more damage expected on your next attack. Damage varies, but will range approximately from 10 to 20 damage over the first 10 levels where most play happens, so this adds about 0.1-0.2 points of expected damage per attack. That is pretty negligible. DaleM points out that also other party members benefit - for a typical party of five, this could go up to a point of damage if all focus fire. Still not great, but at least not entirely irrelevant.

So the other benefit that allows you move your opponent is going to be the everyday bread-and-butter of this feat. How much will this be affected when you are Small?

From all the monsters in the Monster Manual, the share of Large monsters varies a bit, but overall is about 32% over Challenge Ratings up to 10. The share of Huge creatures that you cannot affect with a Medium character is 7%. None in that CR range are Gargantuan. So this is 25% worse than what you normally would get as a Medium-sized creature.

If you consider that the extra points make up only about half the value, with a tiny bit from the other ability, this means being Small makes the feat about 12% worse. You need to judge if that makes the feat too weak in your eyes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is that count your own or is there a source? I have seen resistance analysis before but never size, or really much beyond resistance \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 6, 2022 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your calculation assumes that monsters appearing in fights will be uniformly sampled from the Monster Manual by any given DM at any given CR level. (Or that monsters being rare vs. common average out so it works anyway.) Is that anywhere near true in practice, in any games where anyone's kept stats at the table? (Probably some actual-play shows, especially critical role, have enemy lists...) The MM specifically has quite a lot of entries for tiny CR0 beasts you won't fight, and a big selection of dragons (faerie and young/adult/ancient in many colours, although the young ones are "large") \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2022 at 6:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Certainly, what you actually encounter in a given campaign is campaign dependent. If your campaign is all about war against the goblins, and all you ever encounter are goblins, goblin bosses, wolves, and goblin shamans, goblin warlocks and more powerful goblins with class levels added, you may never encounter a large creature at all. I am using the monsters in the monster manual as a proxy for estimating what might happen in general, without better information about the campaign. If you had that information, you could do a better assessment for it. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2022 at 6:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I think that is an actually very interesting question in and of itself -- what do real campaign distributions of moster types look like? You could determine this at least for many of the published adventures that take you from level 1 to low teens, and that represent an actual campaign. I would guesss that goblins, wolves, skeletons and bandits are a lot more commonly encountered than flumphs and slaad tadpoles, but I never could bring myself to do that kind of legwork to resolve this. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2022 at 7:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ You are underselling the advantage on critical part of the feat - it’s not just your attacks, it’s all attacks until the end of your next turn. Sure, it doesn’t happen often but when it does, this creature should be the target of the entire party. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Oct 7, 2022 at 10:55

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