There are many tropes in Dungeons & Dragons as well as high fantasy, and one of them is that the Dwarves tend to be a very hearty people, so it falls right in line that the racial feat for this group would involve the word “Fortitude.” Dwarven Fortitude is one of the racial feats that can be taken by Dwarves and while it certainly sounds impressive, do the benefits actually back up that first impression?
Dwarven Fortitude is a 5E half feat just for Dwarves that gives a +1 Constitution improvement and allows Dwarves to use hit dice in combat to heal while taking the dodge action instead of having to wait until a short rest.
Dwarven fortitude is another racial half feat that fits well from a flavor standpoint, but does it work mechanically? Read on to find out!
Breaking Down the Dwarven Fortitude Racial Feat
The first step to fully analyzing the 5E Dwarven Fortitude feat is to look at the actual wording from the book. Here is the full text from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for the Dwarven Fortitude feat.
Directly from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:
You have the blood of dwarf heroes flowing through your veins. You gain the following benefits:
- Increase your Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- Whenever you take the Dodge action in combat, you can spend one Hit Die to heal yourself. Roll the die, add your Constitution modifier, and regain a number of hit points equal to the total (minimum of 1).
Pretty straight forward as a 5E half feat for Dwarves, but let’s break down each benefit in-depth to see how the feat works as a whole.
Benefit #1: Increase your Constitution score by 1, up to a maximum of 20.
A +1 as I’ve said often is more of a mitigation to minimize the damage of skipping an Ability Score Improvement than a major benefit in and of itself, but a +1 to Constitution is always a good one. The added hit points from going from an odd Constitution number to an even is a nice added bonus.
Benefit #2: Whenever you take the dodge action, you can spend one hit die to heal yourself. The hit points gained are equal to your hit die plus your constitution modifier.
This is an incredibly interesting benefit because at first glance it looks potentially very powerful, but from a practical standpoint there’s one major problem: how often do you see a player actually use the Dodge action on their turn?
I’m sure there’s always exceptions and players with interesting play styles, but there have been very few times where I’ve seen Dodge come up even during combat heavy sessions.
I’ve only seen one player ever consistently take the Dodge action in 7+ years of playing 5E D&D, and that’s because his entire character was built around a Cleric who was a walking blender of death – as long as he could hold concentration (War Caster + Polearm Master + Sentinel + Spirit Guardians + Spiritual Weapon + Heavy Plate is a hell of a combination) so taking the Dodge action and using his movement and bonus action on spiritual weapon just made sense.
This made him nearly impossible to hit without an AOE which made him devastating in melee combat.
But most of us never take the Dodge action, which is the basis for the Dwarven Fortitude feat. If you never use the dodge action, then you never get to use benefit number two, which means you basically took half of an ability score improvement. This just isn’t a situation that comes up often enough to really make sense.
How Good Is Dwarven Fortitude?
While I appreciate the fact this is a very unique mechanic and one that makes sense from a flavor perspective, it’s just not that strong of a feat. Unless you’re building a character who will be using the dodge action a lot, it’s just not going to be used all that often. In addition to that are the two obvious drawbacks to Dwarven Fortitude.
There are two inherent negatives that go with this feat. One is that the hit dice is going to be most effective with a higher hit die…which belong to classes with higher hit points and thus are less likely to actually need to take the dodge action or heal. These big martial classes tend to have more hit points and AC so just tend to not need the dodge action.
The second is that the dodge action often doesn’t make sense, especially in mid or high level games. What’s a hit die going to do compared to tossing a fireball, unleashing 4-8 attacks with action surge, or otherwise pressing the attack?
Also, there’s a reason that parties have healers.
- A +1 to Constitution is a relatively rare stat boost to find attached to any feat, and is always a good stat to move from an odd number to an even one for all those hit points
- Fits with the flavor text of a traditional dwarf
- Only needs to save your butt once to be a big boost to your character in the campaign
- You could easily never use the Dodge action in a campaign, meaning you took half an ability score improvement instead of a full one
- The bigger hit dice classes are less likely to need or use the feat
- The classes more likely to use Dodge in battle won’t get as large a benefit from Hit Dice + CON modifier, generally speaking
- There are simply much better, much more used feats out there to choose from
Who Should Take the Dwarven Fortitude Feat?
- Dwarf characters who somehow get themselves knocked out every single session?
Unless you had the consistent ability to fall to 0 hit points like Callahan’s monk from our multi-year campaign, and you’re a dwarf, this feat isn’t going to do much. Maybe in a traditional hack and slash dungeon crawl, but even then there are going to be better options available. I would say this is one of those feats that looks cool but generally speaking unless you’re built just to tank everything and can somehow force the issue while your party picks off enemies, it doesn’t make sense.
You’ll almost certainly be better off picking another feat.
Final Thoughts for 5E Dwarven Fortitude Racial Feat
The Dwarven Fortitude feat is interesting and I like the uniqueness of the mechanic, but from a purely practical standpoint with how most games go it just isn’t going to come into use often enough to be considered that good a feat. I love the fact it’s on point with the flavor of the hearty mountain dwarves who can deal with the many challenges out, in, around, and under mountains, but unfortunately unlike the Dwarves themselves, this feat just doesn’t cut it (ha – avoided the obvious pun, suck it, Phil!).
Dwarven Fortitude Feat FAQ
Doesn’t Dwarven Fortitude give resistance to poison?
No, that’s the racial trait of Dwarven Resistance, which all Dwarf characters get in 5E as part of their racial background.
Is Dwarven Fortitude any good?
While intriguing, when it comes to practical use Dwarven Fortitude isn’t a good feat. You’re better off taking another feat, half feat, or just the full blown ability score improvement.
Is Dwarven Fortitude plus durable as good as I think?
While that does potentially provide huge hit dice healing, at an investment of two feats and forcing your build to use the dodge action to get anything out of it, it’s a rough sell and just not as practical as many other fun Dwarven builds.
Other DnD Articles You Might Enjoy
- Drow Magic 5E
- 5E Bountiful Luck Feat
- 5E Elven Accuracy Feat
- Dragon Hide 5E Feat Guide
- Complete List Racial Feats 5E
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.