Some classes get their abilities through innate magic, or chance occurrences, but for others their road to becoming local, regional, and even legendary status in the world of Dungeons & Dragons is full of months and years and even decades of training. The idea of a honed Athlete fits with multiple classes, the hero who wasn’t destined but worked their way into the history books through physical training and will. Does the Athlete fit this narrative, or does it fall short?
The DnD One Athlete feat is a feat that gives a +1 to STR, DEX, or CON ability score, increases climb speed to equal normal movement speed, gives ability on all Jump checks, and only penalizes 5 feet for getting up from the prone position instead of half of movement.
That’s a lot of moving pieces, but does it actually add up into something worth taking? Let’s dive in!
Athlete Feat DnD One Review
The best way to break down a feat is to check out the exact wording.
From Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes 2022:
Prerequisite: Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution 13+, Level 4+
You have undergone extensive physical training to gain the following benefits:
Ability Score Increase: Increase your Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution score by 1 up to a maximum of 20.
Climb Speed. You gain a Climb Speed equal to your speed.
Hop Up. When you are Prone, you can right yourself with only 5 feet of movement.
Jumping. You have Advantage on any Ability Check you make for the Jump Action.
Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes 2022
Let’s break each of these benefits down in more detail.
Benefit #1: Get a +1 to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution, player’s choice.
This is similar to the +1 of STR/DEX in the original, and I think any time there is a +1 to Constitution that is a definite positive. Constitution is useful no matter what class, and moving that from an odd number to an even one even adds hit points thanks to the change in modifier.
I’m a big advocate that a one ability score improvement can’t make a feat when you have the ability to grab two via the Ability Score Improvement Feat, however the versatility of this one is good and adding Constitution as an option was a good call.
Benefit #2: You gain a climb speed equal to your speed.
Better than half, though blunted by certain races (like Tabaxi). This is an incredibly situational thing, and I can’t think of a situation where it has come into play personally for me in almost 10 years of playing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be important with other DMs. It’s better than nothing but in my experience it comes up so little that it’s hard to get excited about it.
Benefit #3: Instead of using half your movement speed to leap up from the Prone position, you only use 5 feet.
This is definitely a plus, but there aren’t too many times you go from prone to standing and then immediately move away from an enemy that is in your space since that would provoke an opportunity attack. There are other situations where this could make sense, and a monk who somehow slips on ice or because of a magical effect and then gets up again next turn would prefer to have most their movement – especially if they have the Speedster Feat, but again super situational.
And maybe even non-factor in most cases.
Benefit #4: You have advantage on any Ability Check for the Jump Action.
First of all, much better than the previous version, but this is probably the one that excites me the most because if you are leaping over a cliff or a floor trap, well this actually matters. There are many situations where wanting the perfect jump is important and if you have a DM who is happy to make a Jump action equivalent to an Athletics Check or Acrobatics Check when reasonable, this becomes even stronger.
Is it strong enough to get extremely excited about? Well…
How Does The Athlete Feat Measure Up?
I think there’s little denying that the DnD One Athlete feat is miles ahead of where the 5E version was…but it’s just not that good a feat. This is in comparison to other Level 4 DnD One feats, or just feats in general.
The jump is drastically improved and between that and the greater climb speed a rogue might be able to use this at various points in a city, but this isn’t a Mega Man platformer – I can’t think of a campaign, even a dungeon crawler, where having advantage on jump and being able to get up from being prone faster or climbing faster is going to come up much.
In fact, we’ve had campaigns where they didn’t come up at all. While the Athlete feat is one that brings a lot of different benefits to the table, in practicality it just isn’t going to make sense in most cases as a +1/+1 or +2 Ability Score Improvement or a different feat will almost certainly give better benefits that come into play far more often.
It’s a feat that might sound good up front, but the more you dig in the more you wonder if it really brings all that much to the table at all.
Athlete Feat: DnD One Vs 5E
I made no secret of how much I absolutely despised the Athlete Feat in 5th Edition and how utterly worthless it was. Taking it was done to basically sabotage your own build because there just wasn’t another good reason for doing so. In fact it was one of a very few original 5E feats that I gave an F grade.
Related Article: 5E Athlete Feat Guide
The DnD One Athlete feat is undeniably much better. The benefit affecting the jump rule in 5E nobody knew about (or followed) was ditched for advantage on all jump checks, which is far better. The adding of a +1 CON to pick instead of a +1 DEX or +1 STR is also a nice boost. They also keep all the good points from the 5E version, so without question the DnD One version of Athlete is best.
Who Should Take the Athlete Feat in DnD One?
Honestly, it’s still a no-go for me. While some arguments might be made for barbarian or monk, even in both those cases there are almost always better options that are going to serve your character build better. The DnD One Athlete feat is going in the right direction compared to where it started, but the bar was so low that’s not necessarily saying a whole lot.
I would skip this for one of the many better feats out there. There are many options, and they often give better buffs or make more sense. Part of the problem is the obvious class for a feat like this is Monk…which is notorious for being the one class that needs 3 Ability Scores to work well: Dexterity, Wisdom, AND Constitution meaning they might, might get one feat… and why wouldn’t they take the Mobile feat if playing 5E (aka Speedster in DnD One)?
Because of this, there just isn’t a good reason to take the Athlete feat, even with how improved it is.
DnD One Athlete Feat Final Grade
Going to go with a D here. I was strongly tempted to go with D-, but I suppose when you really want to get on your feet fast or climb fast, this might be worth a have. It’s not a great feat and although it’s much better than it was, there is a very limited utility for most of the benefits that come with this feat.
Even when they’re usable, it doesn’t necessarily make sense. You get up from prone…then run away giving the enemy an opportunity attack? No, you attack, which means using 5 feet to get up instead of half doesn’t matter because you’re not moving the rest of the turn. So the final grade for the DnD One athlete feat is a D.
Other Articles of Interest
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.