Racial feats are an interesting option that can make the choice of a player character’s race really matter, especially if you are looking to take advantage of how these feats out of Xanathar’s allow some really unique customization options. Fade Away is one of the racial feats available to gnomes, and it really plays into the race’s background very well.
The 5E Fade Away feat allows gnome characters to add a +1 Dexterity or Intelligence and use their reaction to turn invisible after taking damage, lasting up to the end of their next turn or taking an action that requires a saving throw or causes damage to an NPC.
This is an interesting little feat, and at the time it was a nice addition. Does it still hold up after the new feats introduced by Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, or is it an antiquated racial feat that needs to be put aside for a better option when leveling up?
Breaking Down the Fade Away Racial Feat
The first step to breaking down this feat is to see the exact wording. When it comes to turning invisible that can be a big deal but if it happens until the beginning of the next turn or the end, if there are limitations (or lack thereof), these questions all contribute to just how good or bad the design of this feat turns out to be.
So here’s the direct text to the Face Away feat for 5th Edition D&D.
Directly from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:
Your people are clever, with a knack for illusion magic. You have learned a magical trick for fading away when you suffer harm. You gain the following benefits:
- Increase your Dexterity or Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- Immediately after you take damage, you can use a reaction to magically become invisible until the end of your next turn or until you attack, deal damage, or force someone to make a saving throw. Once you use this ability, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, p. 74
That’s an interesting pairing of benefits, so let’s jump to breaking down these benefits one by one.
Benefit #1: Increase your Dexterity or Intelligence by 1, up to a maximum of 20.
Nice little ability score increase, making this a half feat. I like the way it focuses on the specific ability scores that the Gnome race starts with bonuses in. Since racial feats are the idea that a player character gets an additional boost for really connecting with their people, who they are, and where they come from,
Benefit #2: Using a reaction immediately after taking damage, you can magically become invisible until the end of your next turn, or until you attack, deal damage, or force someone to make a saving throw.
Invisibility can be very strong. It imposes disadvantage on any attacks (including reaction-based attacks of opportunity), gives bonuses to stealth, and can help you re-position on a battlefield or get out of a scrape without any of the NPCs knowing what’s going on. While this isn’t a casting of the spell and is limited to one round, it can be used in situations where it is going to be most useful.
This is an excellent benefit. Not worth as much as being able to cast invisibility as a spell even once, however considering that this reaction comes when you will need it most or when it’s likely to be most useful, and uses a reaction instead of spell cast, and this is a nifty little bonus to toss onto the feat, not to mention useful.
The fact it ends at the end of your next turn is also a big deal, since this gives you more options for taking advantage of it, since you’ll be hit on an enemy’s turn and not your own. Also keep in mind that the one advantage of this not being spell related – no concentration check if hit by an AOE while you’re invisible.
How Good Is the Fade Away Feat?
The Fade Away feat isn’t bad, but it isn’t spectacular in any way, either. I’m not quite sure why I would take this over Fey Touched or Shadow Touched, but it is an interesting feat that is an interesting fill-in, especially when you can use a +1 Dex or +1 Int. However, it’s weaker than many of the really good feats offered in the The Player’s Handbook, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, or just some builds with a smart +2 or +1/+1 ability score increases.
Like many of the racial feats, it is very cool from a flavor standpoint. This fits in with the personalities of the gnomes, that combination of a mischievous style spell, connection to the mysterious Fey Wild, it’s very apparent in how the feat works. The fact the ability score increase is attached to the initial ability score increases that come from gnomes is a bonus.
It’s an interesting feat and in a vacuum is actually pretty decent, but when compared to other options, it is likely to fall short to other options that are available to gnome characters.
- The +1 Dex/Int is an interesting split for ability score improvements
- The invisibility is not tied to a spell cast, meaning there’s no concentration check if hurt while invisible
- Invisibility as a reaction is a powerful benefit to come from a feat
- One use per rest for the main non-ability score benefit means there are a very limited number of times you can actually use it
- Generally I’m not a fan of most half feats, especially when compared to other high-powered feats available for 5th Ed
Who Should Take the 5E Fade Away Feat?
- Gnome characters who want to avoid close combat and need an out if things go sideways
- Gnome rogues or monks (acting as scouts)
An argument can be made that the Fade Away feat isn’t good enough for any player to feel obligated to take it, but if it does sound interesting gnome spellcasters needing an out (and an even number on INT or DEX) or rogues in particular can make very good use of this feat. For those rare parties where the monk is a scout in addition to a front liner, this feat can be very useful when paired with their mobility.
Final Thoughts for Fade Away Feat
Fade Away is an interesting feat. It definitely fits well with the mischievous gnome archetype and the Dex/Int is an interesting split but it is in line with the racial starting bonuses, and therefore also the most common builds will be able to use one of those +1 boosts. That said, while it does have some great flavor and some interesting applications, most character builds will find better solutions with other feats or taking the traditional ability score improvement on that level up.
Fade Away Feat FAQ
Is Fade Away cast like a spell in 5th Edition?
No. The invisibility side of the Fade Away racial feat does not mention invisibility as a spell, but a reaction-based trait that lasts for a very limited a amount of time. This means it has its own rules and is not tied to the same mechanics as player who casts the invisibility spell.
Why do you need to be a gnome to take the Fade Away feat?
Racial feats from Xanathar’s are all about specific feats that can go to races because of their deeper understanding of their nature whether it’s descending from the Fey, being born with a hardy constitution, or carrying the blood of legendary creatures. While technically a DM could use the alternative background rules to open these feats up, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Other DnD Articles You Might Enjoy
- Full 5E Racial Feat Guide
- Half Feats
- 5E Dwarven Fortitude Feat
- 5E Dragon Hide Feat
- 5E Dragon Fear Feat
- When Do You Get Feats in 5E DnD?
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.