Heavily Armored is a feat that isn’t sexy and seems pretty basic. For many classes it simply is unnecessary, which is another reason why it gets a bit of a bad rap. So is this feat one of the weaker choices? Is it situational only? When should a player look at heavily armored (not to be mistaken with heavy armor master) and when should they ignore it completely?
This is the definition of a very situational feat.
The heavily armored feat is a utility feat that allows classes that can use medium armor to upgrade into proficiency into heavy armor with a +1 Strength. This is a fairly weak and very situational feat that is primarily used by clerics whose domains give medium armor proficiency instead of heavy armor proficiency.
So when is heavily armored a feat that should be taken? There aren’t many times, but here is all you need to know about this definition of a niche feat.
Breaking Down the Heavily Armored Feat
Let’s start with the feat as written in the Player’s Handbook, followed by a breakdown of the benefits as well as some sections on when it actually could come into realistic use in gameplay.
Heavily Armored Feat directly from the Player’s Handbook:
Prerequisite: Proficiency with medium armor
You have trained to mastehe use of heavy armor, gaining the following benefits:
- Increase your Strength score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- You gain proficiency with heavy armor.
Player’s Handbook, p.167
Seems simple enough.
Benefit #1: Increase your Strength score by 1, up to a maximum of 20.
This is a classic “partial ability increase” where a +1 ability score is offered to off-set giving up your normal ability score for an (often niche or otherwise underwhelming) feat.
Okay, but since it’s replacing a +2 or a +1/1, not anything we give a lot of weight to.
Benefit #2: You gain proficiency with heavy armor.
Important if you need a higher AC because you’re tired of being rocked…and you don’t have to worry about stealth. This is a basic utility that is useful for characters who desperately need to upgrade the AC and don’t have other options.
Why this benefit fails: Because aside from clerics who take a school that offers medium armor proficiency instead of heavy armor, there are very few times when a player doesn’t have better options.
5E Classes That Should Take the Heavily Armored Feat
The only class that should consistently consider taking the heavily armored feat (outside of specialty builds) are medium armor clerics. Clerics are expected to be able to tank and parties (rightfully) panic when the healing class goes down, so taking heavy armor can help meet both of those criteria.
That is pretty much the set of sub-classes that this feat is made for.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Heavily Armored Feat:
- Medium Armor Clerics (really the only class that consistently needs to look at this feat)
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Heavily Armored Feat
This is potentially a feat that could help artificers get a bit more bulky (if for some reason they keep having enemies close in more often than they’d care for). There are also situations where this could be an option for medium armor builds that want to upgrade into some sweet mithril armor the DM is offering.
This would be most common for melee-based warlock builds and maybe the very rare melee-based ranger build.
But these are rare situations and even then sometimes there are better alternatives to get to this point. It’s at least worth a basic look if nothing else is pressing, but even in these cases maxing out your main ability scores, Constitution score, or other feats are going to be of more use to these builds.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Heavily Armored Feat:
- Any medium armor proficient character who has a DM offering them magical Mithril Armor
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Heavily Armored Feat
This feat has one the largest lists of classes that should never take the heavily armored feat. What’s unusual the wide myriad of reasons so many classes have no use for it.
Barbarians and Monks will be much stronger with their unarmored class traits.
Fighters, Paladins, and most Clerics will already be able to wear heavy armor, making this feat useless.
Druids can wild shape, and by the way they are written, shun metal armaments.
Rangers and rogues need to stealth, which heavy armor gives a penalty to.
Wizards and sorcerers don’t have armor proficiency, meaning they’d have to waste one or two feats just to get to the point they could take this one. Complete waste of level ups.
This makes 5E’s heavily armored feat one of the most niche or narrow aimed in the entire system.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Heavily Armored Feat:
*If the build is using Corrupt Overlord’s favorite trouble-making curveball of using a Mountain Dwarf, thus giving you a racial ability to lose medium armor, then it’s conceivable you could set up a build here that would work out with just the one feat.
Why Does the Heavily Armored Feat Exist?
Something had to exist for an armor upgrade, I guess. That said, it just seems like there should have been an optional rule somewhere for medium armor classes to upgrade.
After all, since so much of 5th Edition D&D is all about being flexible, DM’s able to homebrew rules, so adding a short section that is optional might have been a better way to go with it.
But since it is stated in the PHB that a player can’t multi-class to another sub-class, this is a clear opening to help medium armor clerics upgrade. Having a whole feat that serves mostly that one purpose is a bit baffling (though not as much as the utter uselessness of the entire Athlete Feat).
When Would I Use the Heavily Armored Feat?
If you were going to twist my arm and make me declare a build that had to waste an ability score improvement on this feat then I would mutter two words: Mountain Dwarf.
They have a racial bonus of being medium armor proficient.
This means they can take this feat immediately. While not optimized (unless you’re using the Tasha’s rule changes, though that’s 50/50 at best based on the GMs I’ve talked to) according to stats that still means you can create wizards, sorcerers, bards, or others who start off with a high constitution, medium armor proficiency, and can one feat their way there.
It’s the only time I see an interesting creative build with this feat, and it requires a class that can run off one stat.
Plus it’s not often you see a heavy metal bard (I’ll let myself out now).
Final Feat Grade for 5E Heavily Armored
Heavily Armored Feat Grade: D-
Is the 5E Heavily Armored Feat Worth It?
Generally no. As with almost all feats, you can customize an entire build around it however this is a really weak feat. Arguably, it’s necessary and there really isn’t another mechanic for allowing this upgrade, but I would have added a section to the Player’s Handbook simply suggesting alternative options to make this work.
While this is a necessary feat in the very narrow circumstances where it’s needed and there aren’t other options, the fact that a player is never happy having to use a feat to take this tells you all you need to know about how poor a feat this is.
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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.