The Tavern Brawler feat is one of my favorite feats from a flavor perspective in D&D. While it’s not overly practical in most campaigns from a mechanics standpoint, there’s something about the image of the burly (or wiry) bar fighter whose experiences in getting the best of the burliest of bar fighters naturally led into a life of adventuring.
But how does the new Tavern Brawler feat from D&D One measure up?
DnD One’s Tavern Brawler feat is a 1st-level feat that increases unarmed strike to 1d4 + Strength modifier, allows re-rolling a 1 on damage die for unarmed strikes, use furniture as a proficient club, and use a shove attack to distance an opponent from yourself.
Let’s dive in!
Tavern Brawler Feat DnD One Review
The best way to break down a feat is to check out the exact wording.
From Unearthed Arcana:
Accustomed to brawling, you gain the following benefits:
Enhanced Unarmed Strike. When you hit with your Unarmed Strike and deal damage, you can deal bludgeoning Damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier instead of the normal damage of an unarmed strike.
Damage Rerolls. Whenever you roll a damage die for your Unarmed Strike, you can reroll the die if it rolls a 1, and you must use the new roll.
Shove. When you hit a creature with an Unarmed Strike as part of the attack Action on your turn, you can deal damage to the target and also push it 5 feet away. You can us this benefit only once per turn.
Furniture as Weapons. You can wield furniture as a Weapon, using the rules of the Greatclub for small or Medium furniture and the rules of the Club for Tiny furniture.
Unearthed Arcana, Character Origins
Now let’s break down these benefits individually to really get a good look at what this feat has to offer.
Benefit #1: Your unarmed strike changes from 1 + STR modifier damage to a 1d4 + STR modifier for damage. This does not stack with the Monk’s unarmed strike abilities.
This is a nice little benefit. It can’t be too strong because that would make the Tavern Brawler stronger than a trained monk, but it gives some extra damage to the character who has a background involving some fist-de-cuffs. This will add 1-3 points of additional damage on average, thanks to the re-roll unarmed damage benefit that allows the re-rolling of 1’s.
Mathematically, there’s a 75% chance of higher damage on an unarmed strike, which if you hit that unlucky 1 in 4 where it’s the same, gives you another 75% chance to improve it. There’s only a 1 in 16 chance that a player with unarmed strike ends up doing the same damage on an unarmed attack as if they didn’t have the feat.
Benefit #2: On any damage roll for an unarmed strike you can choose to reroll a 1 but you must use the new roll.
This helps make sure that benefit #1 doesn’t go to waste if you have Wil Wheaton/Shane Dayton dice luck. And if you roll a 1 twice in a row on a d4 well bad luck happens, describe it as “a glancing blow” to save face at the table (and win points for creative story telling to explain bad dice rolls) and move on.
Benefit #3: If you hit a creature with an unarmed strike in addition to dealing damage you can also shove them 5 feet away.
This benefit can only be used once per turn, but it is a way to create some breathing room for your character. There are very narrow situations where this can make a lot of sense but generally while a nice little boost this isn’t going to do a lot.
Can be a lot of fun in an actual tavern brawl if there’s a fireplace nearby, or a half-ogre with his/her back turned.
Benefit #4: You can wield furniture as a weapon, using the damage and bonus numbers for a club for tiny furniture or a great club for medium or large furniture.
This gives very direct guidance for how to deal damage, attack bonus, etc when using improvised weapons. This makes things easier at the table, but it does reduce the old “proficiency in improvised weapons” down to furniture which feels like something was definitely lost.
But if you ever wanted to swing a couch at another player or NPC we now have the stats needed to now how to math out that fight.
How Does Tavern Brawler Feat Measure Up?
While this feat brings a lot of benefits to the table, as a whole this is still very much a flavor-based feat over a mechanical one. You’re not taking this feat because it’s a crucial part of a character build you have set to go. It’s a feat you take because you like the idea of a down and dirty brawler or you have a DM who loves forcing jail breaks when all of you are unarmed and you want a little extra oomph the next time that b.s. comes up in a campaign.
It’s a fun little feat that adds some decent flavor and might produce opportunity at interesting times to pull some shenanigans, overall it’s one that’s there because you like it and not because you will ever actually need it.
In many ways, it’s perfect as a 1st-Level feat.
Tavern Brawler Feat: DnD One Vs 5E
There are some gains and losses when it comes to comparing these two versions of the feat. The ability to re-roll a 1 on the d4 for unarmed damage is a huge buff to the feat that DnD One added. This wasn’t in the original 5E feat but it’s an addition that makes sense and makes the feat better.
On the negative side, Tavern Brawler was a 5E Half Feat and one of the few that gave a possible +1 to Constitution (the other option being +1 Strength) and it is no longer a half feat for D&D One meaning no +1 to ability scores.
DnD One changed the grapple bonus action that Tavern Brawler used to offer and changed that into the ability to shove an opponent 5 feet when landing an unarmed strike. In most instances this will be a bit of a downgrade, but neither one of these situations came up too often in-game.
Finally, DnD One changed proficiency with improvised weapons to wielding furniture with club stats. This gives a solid range of damage dice to use which makes the DM and player’s jobs easier, but it feels like a lot was lost here since it takes away from the ability to be creative and use other objects as weapons in an out of control free for all your adventuring party starts (or finishes) in a tavern.
Related Article: 5E Tavern Brawler Feat Guide
This is a weird sort of draw. The benefits added are big ones, and make sense, that said what was lost took away versatility and in many cases were my favorite parts of the feat.
It feels like overall the feat is streamlined and mechanically might even be buffed to be more useful, but some of the creativity that made it popular is gone so whether you like the DnD One version or 5E version better all depends on what aspects of this feat you liked the most.
Who Should Take the Tavern Brawler Feat in DnD One?
This is a feat that is clearly meant for barbarians and fighters as a sort of flavor text feat. You could make the argument for Rogue, especially if going with the Half-Orc brute build that is more commonly found in Pathfinder than in 5th Edition D&D, but one thing remains clear: this is a feat a player takes far more for character build, story, or flavor as opposed to actually being mechanically useful.
This is especially true now that the improvised weapon parts of 5th Edition’s Tavern Brawler has been changed to furniture only which in some ways makes more sense, and clubs can give the player a solid framework for how damage should work which was missing before, but it also reduces the creativity of this feat.
Because being able to have proficiency in improvised weapons and get creative with that was one of the best benefits of the Tavern Brawler feat and that really isn’t around anymore.
DnD One Tavern Brawler Feat Final Grade
The Tavern Brawler feat has always been one that’s more about flavor text than actual practical use, but it was always fun. While the changes retain the feeling, a lot on what makes this work or not will depend how players really leaned into the feat. This is one of those rare feats where you really get what you put into it and how you lean into it.
It fits the mold of what’s expected out of a first level feat and so that’s worth keeping in mind when trying to decide if this is right for your next character build or not.
Other Articles of Interest
- DnD One Lucky Feat Guide
- DnD One Healer Feat Guide
- DnD One Lightly Armored Feat Guide
- DnD One Ability Score Improvement Feat Guide
- 5E Expertise
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.