5E Racial Feats Guide: Xanathar’s Biggest Secrets

Racial feats are likely the biggest part of Xanthar’s Guide to Everything that developers were surprised flew under the radar. This was the first addition to feats offered in the Player’s Handbook, and despite this they generally flew under the radar with few players or DMs taking notice. This might have been due in part to the feats only being available to a certain number of races (hence the name).

Since Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything added full feats, these racial feats have fallen even further back, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them at your gaming table!

However, some of these are quite good and can also give a DM and players a way to reward players who have characters that traditionally fall behind at higher levels like the fighter or ranger versus a heavy caster class at high levels. Offering a racial feat as an added boon for connecting with their race’s history, or as an upgrade with a normal ability score improvement can do some powerful things.

And a couple of these feats might actually be worth the full taking of a feat depending on the character and build.

So what are the racial feats? What do they have to offer?

Even the strongest warriors can sometimes use a little boost from the ancestors’ blood…now tell the necromancer to stop staring at me, that’s not what I meant!

5E DnD Racial Feat Guides

These are the rarely talked about feats from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (p.73-75), which are certain skills or features that are race/species specific. These aren’t used by many DMs, so if you’re interested in one make sure to talk with your game master prior to picking it to see if these are in play or not.

Many DMs choose not to use them, but some may allow it since generally speaking the PHB, Volo’s, Xanathar’s, and Tasha’s are considered sort of core canon in 5E.

There’s also many who don’t use them simply because this part of Xanathar’s was so little talked about that they might simply not know that they exist, and there are also two others listed that you don’t find in Xanatahar’s. These are both from Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron.

5E D&D RaceRacial Feats Available
DragonbornAberrant Dragonmark, Dragon Fear, Dragon Hide
DwarfAberrant Dragonmark, Dwarven Fortitude, Squat Nimbleness
ElfAberrant Dragonmark (All), Drow High Magic (Drow), Elven Accuracy (All), Fey Teleportation (High), Wood Elf Magic (Wood). Note: Elves are the one race where the Racial feats are often split up by sub-race and the prerequisites to takes these Elven racial feats are applied accordingly.
GnomeAberrant Dragonmark, Fade Away, Squat Nimbleness
Half-ElfAberrant Dragonmark, Elven Accuracy, Prodigy
Half-OrcAberrant Dragonmark, Orcish Fury, Prodigy
HalflingAberrant Dragonmark, Bountiful Luck, Second Chance
HumanAberrant Dragonmark, Prodigy
TieflingAberrant Dragonmark, Flames of Phlegethos, Infernal Constitution
These are all the racial feats available to each of the core races from The Player’s Handbook.

What Are Racial Feats?

Racial feats are optional special feats that focus on the special traits each race has and represent how a deepening understanding or connection with your character’s race results in exploring those natural racial feats even further, resulting in an additional bonus that comes in the form of that racial feat.

Basically some type of transformational understanding took place and as a result of that the mechanics to see it through come in the form of racial feats. Most of these are available to only one race, but some are available to multiple races.

The details for who can take what are clearly laid out below going into each 5E racial feat, what it does, and who can take it. There’s also a very brief cheat table here:

When Do You Get Racial Feats?

Ah, the classic question of when do you get feats in 5E. That question applies to racial feats and the answer is simple: any time you level up with an ability score improvement (aka, when you could choose a regular feat instead), you can also take a Racial Feat. These act the same way as regular feats, with the exception that there are restrictions on what races can actually take them.

Complete List of Racial Feats in 5E D&D

There are currently 17 feats that could be considered racial feats. 15 official ones that were released with Xanathar’s and two others that come with the world of Eberron, and you should talk to your DM before assuming you could use either even in games where feats are generally green lighted for use.

Aberrant Dragonmark (from Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron)

  • Who can take this feat?: Any race. As long as your DM allows this particular mark from Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron then a player character of any race is allowed to take it.
  • Overall feat rating: Varied, but potentially strong

Aberrant Dragonmarks only have the prerequisite of now previous existing dragonmarks. These increase the Constitution score of a player by 1 to a maximum of 20 and allows them to learn a Cantrip & 1st-Level spell from the Sorcerer‘s Spell List. When the 1st-level spell is cast you can use a hit dice and roll it, which can result in healing to yourself, or damage to a random creature within 30 feet (which can include yourself).

There’s also an expected “random flaw” to develop from this dragonmark.

The changes from 3.5 and older editions to 5th are pretty extensive and we’ll be doing a fuller look at this particular boost

Recommended 5E Aberrant Dragonmark Video Breakdown:

Bountiful Luck

  • Who can take this feat?: Halfling
  • Feat in a Sentence: Overpowered feat for halflings that lets them lend their luck to any party mate who critically fails.

Bountiful luck is an incredibly powerful feat that allows any halfling to use their reaction to basically pass their luck to another player who rolled a 1. Why is this so powerful?

Because it’s not a one use thing – it refreshes at the end of their next turn.

On any 1 a halfling as a racial trait gets to re-roll and then must take the new roll. This feat basically allows them to pass that after seeing a teammate critically fail an ability save or attack. This does mean that on their turn the halfling player doesn’t have their usual luck, but since there’s only a 5% of rolling a one, being able to cancel out a rolled 1 almost every turn is ridiculously powerful as a feat.

This is doubly true when playing a support role or when the halfling is playing a class that does not use their reaction often.

Check out our full bountiful luck feat guide.

Dragon Fear

  • Who can take this feat?: Dragonborn
  • Feat in a Sentence: Why spit damage with dragon breath when you can roar to frighten all within 30 feet?

You gain a +1 to your choice of Strength, Constitution, or Charisma. The Dragon Fear feat allows you to switch out the offensive use of your Dragonborn’s breath weapon to force a Wisdom save to all creatures within 30 feet. If they fail they are struck with the frightened condition.

This can be a good way to make an enemy group threatening to overwhelm your party to back off as they won’t be able to move any closer to your character, and they will have disadvantage on attacks and ability checks, but it is also very situational.

This is a feat that will be much more effective at lower levels than at higher ones, but for low level campaigns it can be fun and add a bit of flavor to your Dragonborn character.

Check out our complete 5E Dragon Fear guide to learn more.

Dragon Hide

  • Who can take this feat?: Dragonborn
  • Feat in a Sentence: Extra AC from scale tough skin makes Dragonborn Monks and Barbarians a nightmare, with an unarmed attack that is slashing instead of bludgeoning.

Another feat specifically at Dragonborn, the Dragon Hide feat is great from a thematic standpoint, and it’s also quite useful. It’s obviously useful for moving the needle for classes that have an unarmored stat like monks and barbarians, it gives a lot of natural protection to Dragonborn spellcasters like sorcerers and wizards for whom every point of AC really matters.

Check out our complete 5E Dragon Hide guide to learn more.

Drow High Magic

  • Who can take this feat?: Drow
  • Feat in a Sentence: Gain three powerful low level utility spells because you’re more Drow than most Drow.

The Detect Magic spell can be cast as often as wanted, which can be very powerful, and the player also gets to learn levitate and dispel magic, which can be each cast once without expending a spell slot per long rest. Charisma is the casting modifier, so it’s a way to get Drow casters some very useful free low level utility spells.

Check out our complete 5E Drow High Magic guide to learn more!

Dwarven Fortitude

  • Who can take this feat?: Dwarves
  • Feat in a Sentence: You have such a strong Dwarven Constitution you can heal in-battle while taking the Dodge action.

Aside from a feat name appropriate +1 to Constitution, Dwarven Fortitude allows Dwarves to roll one of their hit dice whenever taking the Dodge action in combat and add that die roll plus their Con Modifier, adding that number of hit points in healing. This is very situational, but it can be incredibly useful.

Especially for the 5E Cleric Blender Builder build that our friend Erik used to insane effectiveness with Spirit Guardians, War Caster, Polearm Master, Sentinel, and Spiritual Weapon. He constantly took Dodge to keep up concentration and be next level hard to hit with his high AC, so getting to heal on top of that, pretty nifty.

But also useful for any Dwarven class who needs a bit of healing if taking the Dodge action.

Check out our complete 5E Dwarven Fortitude guide to learn more!

Elven Accuracy

  • Who can take this feat?: Elf, Half-Elf
  • Feat in a Sentence: Those extra few hundred years of training have really paid off when it comes to hitting a carefully aimed shot.

Elven Accuracy is one of the more popular Racial Feats and it’s not hard to see why. Aimed at archers and spellcasters, this gives a +1 to either Dexterity or one of three casting ability scores and when having advantage on an attack roll using one of these stats the player gets to reroll one of those dice rolled at advantage.

This could give a second chance to a wasted advantage, or even let you guarantee a hit while rolling for a Nat 20 crit. Situational unless you have a way of creating advantage in which those builds should be licking their chops at the idea of making advantage even stronger.

This is one of the few racial feats that stands toe-to-toe with some of the strongest feats in the game and has some really incredible potential applications.

Check out our full Elven Accuracy feat guide.

Fade Away

  • Who can take this feat?: Gnomes
  • Feat in a Sentence: Gnomes are super tricky, yo!

+1 to Dex or Int up to 20 and then when a gnome takes damage they can use a reaction to magically go invisible until they attack, force a saving throw, or until the end of their next turn, whichever comes first. This can be used once per short rest or once per long rest.

Fey Teleportation

  • Who can take this feat?: High Elf
  • Feat in a Sentence: Are you sure you’re an elf and not a Fey?

Discovering the shared kindred of Fey blood as the Eladrin, you increase INT or CHR by 1 up to a maximum of 20, you learn to read, write, and speak Sylvan, and you can cast Misty Step once without expending a spell slot per short or long rest.

This racial feat was clearly the basis for the Fey Touched feat in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, which is one of my personal favorites as a player and DM.

Flames of Phlegethos

  • Who can take this feat?: Tieflings
  • Feat in a Sentence: You’re a Tiefling with a special connection with fire.

Increase intelligence or Charisma by +1 for up to 20. As a Tiefling when you roll fire damage for a spell you are allowed to re-roll any 1, but you must take the new die even if it is a 1 once again. Also, the super cool effect, after dealing damage you can cause flames to wreath around you until the end of your next turn.

This gives off bright light up to 30 feet, and dim light for another 30 feet. Any creature within 5 feet of you that actually lands a hit with a melee attack must take 1d4 fire damage when they hit. Fire spill damage is a beautiful thing.

Infernal Constitution

  • Who can take this feat?: Tieflings
  • Feat in a Sentence: Have two more damage resistances with advantage against being poisoned, you fiend spawn!

Increase Constitution by 1 up to a maximum of 20 while you gain resistance to both cold and poison damage. In addition, you now have advantage of saving throws against being poisoned.

This is an incredibly powerful Racial Feat that can be a great way to further buff up your Tiefling while moving that Constitution score to an even number.

Orcish Fury

  • Who can take this feat?: Half-Orc
  • Feat in a Sentence: A brief furious barrage of martial pain to the poor soul opposing you.

Increase STR or CON by 1 up to a max of 20, and when attacking with a simple or martial weapon a half-orc player can add an additional damage dice to the hit, indicating an extremely painful hit. Also, after using the Relentless Endurance racial trait, you can use an immediate reaction to hit back with one weapon attack.

Prodigy

  • Who can take this feat?: Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Human
  • Feat in a Sentence: You’re just really, really good at learning.

You’re all about hitting the books and picking up those skills. Gain one skill, proficiency, and language proficiency of your choice. You also get to borrow from the Bard/Rogue class by choosing one skill you are proficient in and adding expertise. This means that proficiency is doubled, but this can only apply to proficient skills that aren’t already boosted by expertise.

Second Chance

  • Who can take this feat?: Halfling
  • Feat in a Sentence: You’re stupid lucky even by Halfling standards.

Increase Dexterity, Constitution, or Charisma by 1 up to the maximum of 20. When a creature hits them with an attack roll, the Halfling can use their reaction to force the creature to re-roll that attack. This ability can be used again but only after a short or long rest. Interesting note: You can also use it again after rolling initiative, so if you get ambushed, you can use this during the surprise round, roll initiative, and then use it again.

Squat Nimbleness

  • Who can take this feat?: Dwarves, Gnomes, Halflings or any small race
  • Feat in a Sentence: You’re a fast slippery little (insert cuss word of your choice), aren’t you?

The Squat Nimbleness racial feat improves Dexterity or Strength by 1, increases walking speed by 5, allows you to gain proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics, and advantage on any DEX or STR check to break a grapple. So in other words, you’re a strong, fast, slippery little person who really knows how to move.

Devastating combination to add to a dwarf, gnome, or halfling monk.

Wood Elf Magic

  • Who can take this feat?: Wood Elf
  • Feat in a Sentence: Some Elves are just magic, yo.

Yeah this is one of those racial feats that is potentially straight up overpowered so if you’re a Wood Elf you should take a serious look at it. The player not only gets to pick one Druid cantrip of his/her choice but also learns the Longstrider and Pass without a Trace spells which can be cast once each without using a spell slot per long rest (but can still be cast with existing spell slots that exist after one).

Those are a strong combination of spells, and added to multiple classes can make a player scary. Now if you excuse me, I have a Wood Elf Warlock to go build…

Minding the Details…

While most experienced players will be very familiar with the abbreviations, for newcomers PHB is The Player’s Handbook, TGE is Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and EBR/WGE is Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberon.

*Aberrant Dragonmarks were designed specifically for the Eberon world, so talk to a DM if you want to use them as most will keep them regulated to that narrow world an not accept them as mainstream for most 5E campaigns in other settings.

What About Races That Came Out After Xanathar’s?

This might be the single biggest reason why Racial Feats sort of fell by the wayside, because there were no addendums for newer races. And in fairness, with side adventures and core books adding over 75+ races not even including monster races or homebrew ideas. In addition, a few major feats in Tasha’s were built off of Racial Feats (See “Fey Touched” vs “Fey Teleportation” as a prime example) so it arguably nerfs some of the best racial feats with a slightly better updated version in Tasha’s.

This is a place where making some custom racial feats wouldn’t be the worst idea, especially if you have some people who are good at making thematic feats that are in-line power wise with what is actually offered in the book.

As DM, I also wouldn’t be afraid to spread some of the racial feats to new races where it makes sense. Perhaps the dragon ones (or watered down versions) for Kobolds, or Eladrins able to take the same Racial Feats available to Elves. Fey creatures taking Fey Racial Traits, etc.

As always this is to the discretion of the DM.

5E Racial Feats, In Conclusion

Racial feats are an interesting addendum to 5th Edition D&D, and honestly it’s a shame that they didn’t catch on a bit more because they brought plenty of good stuff to the table. In fact, it’s clear some of my favorite feats from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything were directly inspired by some of the racial feats that first appeared here in Xanathar’s.

The popularity of non-core book races, and even those from later releases like Volo’s, is another reason why racial feats didn’t catch on nearly as much as designers probably expected them to.

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