While the advantages of being the size of a Goliath might be obvious, there are benefits to being on the other side of the stature table. Dwarves, Halflings, Gnomes, and other smaller races might not cause fear in an open field charge, but they definitely have some advantages when it comes to getting out of the way, which is quite useful when a Zogre starts swinging its club with the endless energy of the undead!
Designed for dwarves and any small size face, the Squat Nimbleness racial feat grants a +1 to either Strength or Dexterity (player’s choice), increase your walking speed by 5 feet, gain proficiency in Acrobatics or Athletics (your choice) and you have advantage on all saves using athletics or acrobatics to avoid a grapple.
That’s a lot of benefits coming from one feat, but does quantity mean quality in this case or does the initial description make it sound better than it actually is?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Breaking Down the Squat Nimbleness Racial Feat
Let’s start with looking at squat nimbleness by seeing what the actual feat text is from the book itself.
Directly from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:
Prerequisite: Dwarf or a Small Race
You are uncommonly nimble for your race. You gain the following benefits:
- Increase your Strength or Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- Increase your walking speed by 5 feet.
- You gain proficiency in the Acrobatics or Athletics Skill (your choice)
- You have advantage on any Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check you make to escape from being grappled.
Let’s break down these benefits one by one to see what the feat really brings to the table.
Benefit #1: Increase your Strength or Dexterity score by 1, up to the maximum of 20.
A classic +1 STR or DEX choice that gives some half-feat value whether you’re going with a Strength based build (usually the Dwarves) or a Dexterity based build (very common with Gnomes). Nothing overly special but a solid either/or choice.
Benefit #2: Increase your walking speed by 5 feet.
For small creatures (and Dwarves) this is actually huge. Anyone who has ever played a D&D character who didn’t have the full 30 foot movement speed, especially if it was a melee character, knows just how much of an issue that can actually be, especially once the battle maps come out. Getting that 5 feet back doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually a pretty big deal.
Benefit #3: You gain proficiency in Acrobatics or Athletics (your choice).
These tend to be pretty useful skills so gaining proficiency in at least one is always a good idea. If you already had proficiency in the other skill before taking this feat, then having proficiency in both is especially strong, making Squat Nimbleness a solid choice on this and the +1 ability score alone.
Benefit #4: You have advantage on any Strength Athletics or Dexterity Acrobatics check made to escape from being grappled.
This generally doesn’t come up too often, but when you’re facing something that wants to grapple you, you generally REALLY don’t want to be grappled (Look up Ropers and imagine a low-level party dealing with that). Getting advantage on those checks is very situational, but a solid boost especially when added to the other benefits this feat provides.
How Good Is Squat Nimbleness?
Squat Nimbleness is an excellent feat. It’s not just good as a racial feat, but it’s good period. You get a +1 ability score, +5 movement speed to take away that built-in disadvantage from being one of the small folk, a skill proficiency (Acrobatics or Athletics), AND advantage on saving throws against being grappled.
That’s a lot of benefit jammed into one feat. No one of those things would be more than a C-grade benefit on its own, but putting all four together makes this an excellent feat that adds a lot of value to a large number of builds.
This is more of a melee fighter or half caster-melee build feat as opposed to a pure casting class, but even then, there are Gnome and Dwarf clerics that are going to be plenty happy to add the 5E Squat Nimbleness feat to their build.
- The +1 ability score improvement minimizes damage from passing up a full ability score improvement for a feat
- +5 movement speed is surprisingly powerful and makes a huge difference for small race monk builds (making them viable)
- Gaining a proficiency in a skill is always a plus: and Athletics and Acrobatics are both good ones to choose from
- Advantage against being grappled is niche but very good when you need it
- This feat works with about any small character build (versatile feat)
- Not going to super charge any build
- Much better for melee builds than magic caster builds
Who Should Take The Squat Nimbleness Feat?
- Short melee builds
Squat Nimbleness is a rock solid feat and one that should be considered by anyone playing a Dwarf, Gnome, or other small sized creature. There isn’t a single benefit that supercharges this feat but it’s the combination of decent feats in large numbers that just keep adding up to make this feat better and better.
Anyone playing a smaller character should at least consider taking Squat Nimbleness as a feat and I’d say it’s even more important for melee builders like short fighters, barbarians, and maybe even a mandatory take if you’re trying to pull off a monk.
Final Thoughts for 5E Squat Nimbleness Racial Feat
The Squat Nimbleness racial feat is outstanding. It gives multiple benefits, feeds into the racial traits very well, and helps to boost up your character in multiple ways. Each of these adds more benefits to your character, rounds them out, and boosts them. This combination of benefits is rather rare with most feats, but offers another look to potential homebrew fans on how a good feat can be made without going power creep.
If you have a character and are looking at a good way to spend your ability improvement score increase, you could do a lot worse than taking this feat instead!
Squat Nimbleness Feat FAQ
Why are Dwarves specifically mentioned in the Squat Nimbleness feat?
Although known for being shorter, and mechanically having a 25 foot moving speed like shorter races, Dwarves are technically medium sized because they are very broad, i.e. built like a short brick wall. Because of that, Dwarves are grouped in to other small races to make sure there’s no confusion.
This also makes it the only racial feat in book that is open to possible use by other future races released with future adventures and new 5E book releases.
Can any player take the Squat Nimbleness feat?
This feat is out of Xanathar’s, which is considered one of the Core Books. As long as the DM allows racial feats then Squat Nimbleness is on the table for all Dwarves and small races.
Is the Squat Nimbleness feat any good?
Squat nimbleness is an excellent racial feat, one of the better ones, in fact, and it holds up as a great overall feat as it delivers a +1 ability score, a skill proficiency, advantage on grapple saves, and extra movement. That’s a fantastic combination for a single feat.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.