In Dungeons & Dragons, players have a plethora of ways to make their characters distinct. Whether it be through one's choice of race or subclass, players can mix and match flashy and powerful abilities, creating characters that allow a player to express themselves. One of the most frequently overlooked ways of adding to a character's utility and abilities is through the use of feats, special extra abilities that a player can choose to give their character instead of ability score improvements at designated level-ups.
While the vast majority of feats can be taken by any character, there are some that can only be accessed by characters of a particular race, potentially providing additional incentive to play these races. As these feats vary in quality, today we're going to examine which of these race-exclusive feats are the most worth using!
Updated by Paul DiSalvo on October 23, 2021: Feats are quite multifarious and distinct, each bringing something completely unique to the table. While one may improve a character’s damage output, another may help a character survive devastating attacks. Race-exclusive feats can provide great advantages to a character while staying in line with the mechanics and elements traditionally associated with a given race. In some cases, it can potentially even incentivize a certain race to be played.
15 Dragon Hide
Exclusive to all types of Dragonborn, Dragon Hide is a feat that provides members of this race with additional dragon-like traits that can be used both offensively and defensively. Through hardened scales, this feat allows a character to calculate their armor class by adding their dexterity modifier to thirteen, allowing characters of traditionally low AC to bolster their defenses. In addition to also raising the character’s choice of strength, dexterity, or constitution by one, this feat also provides the character with a natural weapon in the form of claws, which can deal 1d4 slashing damage.
14 Squat Nimbleness
One of the unfortunate side effects of playing a small-sized race such as a Dwarf, Halfling, or Gnome is that characters of these races tend to have below-average movement speeds, hindering their maneuverability in combat. Luckily, the Squat Nimbleness feat (which is exclusive to small-sized races) can easily help fix this problem. Improving a character’s movement by 5 feet, and increasing one’s strength or dexterity by one, this feat also offers several additional minor benefits. Not only does Squat Nimbleness also provide a character with additional proficiency in either acrobatics or athletics, but that character also gains advantage on all checks made to escape grapples.
Before we begin, it should be noted that some of the feats included on this list originate from Unearthed Arcana, meaning that while they were created by Wizards of the Coast, they're technically not official and can't be used in a D&D Adventurers League. Regardless, there are plenty of DMs that encourage the use of Unearthed Arcana when it comes to character creation.
13 Critter Friend: Gnome
Critter Friend is a Gnome exclusive feat that is based entirely around interacting with animals. While the feat provides proficiency in Animal Handling (expertise if a character is already proficient), the appeal of this feat is that it consistently allows a character to communicate with animals. A Gnome with this feat is able to innately cast Speak with Animals at will as well as cast Animal Friendship, effectively allowing any animal the Gnome may find to function as an NPC.
12 Second Chance
While Halflings are already well-known for their ability to re-roll their natural ones, Second Chance is an underrated feat exclusive to the race that allows a player to potentially reroll the dice of other creatures.
If a creature were to hit a halfling with this feat with an attack, the halfling at hand can use their reaction to force the attacker to reroll their attack, potentially causing them to miss! While this ability can only be used once per short or long rest, it can help avoid potentially fatal blows or critical hits from foes.
11 Dwarven Fortitude
While Dwarves' abilities don't tend to be as flashy as those of other races in D&D, their exclusive Dwarven Fortitude feat makes them among the hardiest and survivable races in the game. In addition to improving a character’s constitution, this feat allows a dwarf to spend hit die when they take the dodge action, regaining HP equal to the result plus their constitution modifier. This provides a character of any class with access to a consistent means of healing themselves without needing to rely on magic!
10 Elven Accuracy: Elf And Half-Elf
Appearing in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, Elven Accuracy is a feat that improves an already beneficial mechanic in D&D: Advantage. When rolling at advantage, a player is able to roll twice, using the better of the two rolls.
Eleven Accuracy allows an Elf of Half-Elf making an attack roll with their Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma to reroll the worse of their two rolls!
9 Svirfneblin Magic: Gnome (Deep)
Available only to Deep Gnomes, Svirfneblin Magic is a feat that allows a character to cast several useful spells that they couldn't otherwise. While the spell allows a gnome to cast the first level spells blindness/deafness, blur, or disguise self once per long rest, it uniquely provides access to nondetection, a third level spell that can be cast at will with this feat. Nondetection hides its caster from divination magic, allowing a character to successfully sneak their way past even magical security measures.
8 Orcish Fury: Half-Orc
Orcish Fury is an excellent feat for those playing a Half-Orc character of a physically oriented class. Once per long rest, this feat allows a Half-Orc to roll an additional damage dice when attacking with a simple or martial weapon, helping squeeze in extra damage in a key moment.
As if this weren't enough, this feat provides extra value to a Half-Orc's Relentless Endurance ability, allowing them to immediately attack after it is triggered.
7 Dragon Fear: Dragonborn
While one of the defining characteristics of a Dragonborn is the race's access to a breath weapon, the Dragon Fear feat provides the race with a useful alternative. By expending the use of one's breath weapon, one can instead let out a loud roar, forcing any number of creatures that can see and hear them to make a wisdom saving throw. Creatures that fail this save then become frightened for one minute. As the frightened condition is quite detrimental, this ability can often be more useful than a traditional breath weapon.
6 Fade Away: Gnome
Fade Away is an incredible feat exclusive to Gnomes that functions as a veritable panic button. Usable once per short rest, Fade Away can be activated as a reaction immediately after a given Gnome sustains damage.
Upon being activated, this feat turns the Gnome invisible until the end of their next turn or until they attack or cast a spell; whichever comes first. This allows a Gnome to reliably get out of sticky situations and get to safety.
5 Wood Elf Magic
As the name would imply, Wood Elf Magic is a feat exclusive to Wood Elves, offering great magical abilities to a character regardless of their class. In addition to providing access to any druid cantrip of a character’s choice, this feat also provides access to the spells Longstrider and Pass Without Trace, each of which can be cast once per long rest. This means that within a single feat, a character is able to greatly improve their flexibility through heightened mobility and stealth capabilities on top of an additional cantrip.
4 Bountiful Luck: Halfling
One of the most prominent characteristics of Halflings is the Lucky trait that allows them to reroll any 1 that they may roll. Straightforward and to the point, Bountiful Luck is a feat that allows a halfling to share their luck with their party, allowing any of their allies within thirty feet who roll a 1 to reroll!
3 Prodigy: Half-Elf, Half-Orc, And Human
Easily the most flexible and widely applicable feat on this list, Prodigy is an incredible feat that Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, and Humans can benefit from.
This feat allows a character to become more well-rounded and multifarious, gaining a skill proficiency of their choice, a tool proficiency of their choice, and a language of their choice. As if this wasn't enough, this feat also allows a character to gain expertise in one of their skill proficiencies, doubling their proficiency bonus in that skill.
2 Dragon Wings: Dragonborn
Appearing in the Unearthed Arcana, Dragon Wings is easily the simplest yet one of the most effective feats on this list. Available to Dragonborn, a character that takes this feat grows dragon wings, gaining a flying speed of twenty as long as that character isn't wearing heavy armor nor are they encumbered. Though it's not the fastest flying speed around, innate flight provides stellar versatility when it comes to a character's mobility.
1 Drow High Magic: Elf (Drow)
Like the Svirfneblin Magic feat, Drow High Magic provides Drow with selected spells that they can cast without using spell slots, regardless of the character's class. However, the spells provided by Drow High Magic tend to be more regularly applicable than those of Svirfneblin Magic. Allowing the Drow to innately cast Detect Magic, they also gain the incredibly useful Levitate and Dispel Magic, a character can gain three impressive tools they may not have otherwise by simply taking a single feat.
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