Keen Mind paints a certain picture, and true to its name this is a feat you find with a player looking for a higher intelligence score like Wizard or Artificer, and it has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the most contentious feats in the Player’s Handbook, so how does the newest iteration hold up by comparison?
The One DnD Keen Mind feat allows players to increase their Intelligence by +1 up to 20, pick up proficiency in an Intelligence-based skilled or take a proficient Intelligence-based skill and gain Expertise, in addition to being able to take the Study Action as a bonus action.
So this is a huge change from the 5th Ed version. Does Keen Mind have what it takes to pull its weight in a One DnD game?
Let’s dive in and see what this feat has to offer.
Keen Mind Feat DnD One Review
The best way to break down a feat is to check out the exact wording. So here’s the One DnD Keen Mind Feat as it forms up for 6E so we can look at the exact wording and break down what it has to offer player builds.
From Unearthed Arcana:
Prerequisite: Intelligence 13+
You have trained to rapidly recall or discover vital details, granting you the following benefits:
Ability Score Increase. Increase your Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Lore Knowledge. Choose one of the following Skills: Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, or Religion. If you lack Proficiency in the chosen Skill, you gain Proficiency in it, and if you have Proficiency in it, you gain Expertise in it.
Quick Study. You can take the Study Action as a Bonus Action.
Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes 2022
Now let’s break down each of these benefits one by one to see what this feat brings to the table.
Benefit #1: Increase Your Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Making Keen Mind a half feat makes a lot of sense and there traditionally haven’t been as many Intelligence-based half feats, so keeping this one an active INT-based half feat isn’t a bad idea at all. For Wizards and Artificers, that +1 can make a big difference when on an odd number, so keeping this benefit is a solid choice.
Benefit #2: Lore knowledge lets you choose an Intelligence-based skill and gain Proficiency in it, or to take an Intelligence-based skill you already have Proficiency in and gain Expertise in it.
This is powerful, and the strongest use is gaining expertise. While an extra skill is a good thing, and lets face it, many of the best skills are Intelligence-based in the modern D&D system, the ability to double expertise on a skill is extremely powerful and can lead to a near god-tier status in late game when it comes to checks done with a skill you have Expertise in.
This means at worst this feat will be in the B-Tier because an extra skill proficiency is strong and expertise is always very strong, if not constantly bordering on OP.
Benefit #3: You can take the Study action as a bonus action.
Okay. Must be a new mechanics thing because I don’t recall anyone ever taking a “Study Action,” especially in the middle of combat. So in my head this is just a complete non-factor but maybe at other tables it will make a difference.
How Does Keen Mind Feat Measure Up?
Keen Mind is the story of two feats:
- The steady feat that One DnD introduces to make it a viable pick up as a B-level feat or higher for many builds
- The complete remake from what it was in 5th Ed that will split the player base
Looking at Keen Mind simply as it is and where it sits in the new system, this is a solid feat that can be spectacular with niche applications. A +1 INT combined with either Proficiency or Expertise is strong. For the right Expertise build that can make a character incredibly dangerous in niche situations, and even Bards, Rogues, Rangers, and other Expert Classes might give a side eye to this feat because gaining another Expertise is strong enough that it might be worth taking.
This is a rock solid feat that, in the vacuum of One DnD, is going to see plenty of takers and offers enough to earn its place as a feat that will get a lot of attention and approval.
Then we move on to the larger story on the evolution of the Keen Mind feat.
Keen Mind Feat: DnD One Vs 5E
It’s safe to say that the Keen Mind feat has undergone a complete overhaul from One DnD/6E from its original 5E form. Some of the feat changes from one system to another are obvious, but this is one that wouldn’t be able to tell was the “same” with a side by side comparison.
Don’t believe me? Have a look!
While always knowing the number of hours to sunrise or sunset and knowing which direction is north are very situational, and therefore just not important in many campaigns, in the right campaign they can be a good deal and they still seem to make more sense to me than the Study Action as a Bonus Action.
I’ll also point out that in an escape/survival game mode or undead as a legit threat, those are very good boons that a DM with good storytelling ability will allow to shine.
Related Article: 5E Keen Mind Feat Guide
But it’s the last one where the old Keen Mind caused the controversy. Being able to accurately recall anything can make this an incredibly powerful feat, or it can be useless. It all depends on the type/style of DM you have and that’s why it was such a controversial feat. In one of my campaigns, this was an A feat because that recall was invaluable.
In a hack and slash, it could be useless.
I think the One DnD version creates a baseline. At worst, the One DnD/6E is a solid B baseline of a feat with some niche potential to be higher. But the ceiling for being one of the strongest feats in a campaign is long gone. The 5E version is boom or bust. The ceiling is much, much higher. The basement is much, much lower.
Which makes direct comparison nearly impossible – but with this knowledge you can compare them to the type of campaigns your table runs and decide which version (if either) is right for you and which isn’t.
Who Should Take the Keen Mind Feat in DnD One?
This is a good feat for Wizards and Artificers, in fact this feels tailored towards the Artificer, but it’s also worth a look as one of the Expert classes if you want to be able to pick up an extra expertise that can really boost what your character is able to do and get that INT up to an even number for the next level of bonuses.
A solid feat that while a huge nerf for some and a big buff for others, brings a stability and consistency to the feat that was not there before. This is great for any skill monkey build, and will see plenty of use from players at your table.
DnD One Keen Mind Feat Final Grade
This is a really hard one to pin down because I was a DM who used directions, dimensions, information like that enough times that the “odds and ends” that the old Keen Mind feat provided were nice little buffs and the big one of perfect recall was huge in my campaigns since I like to run ones with open world, moving factions, political intrigue, mysteries, etc.
But whether it’s a buff or debuff or somewhere in the middle doesn’t matter when it comes to grading, as this is the One DnD feat version in the One DnD system and for that the Keen Mind is a solid B to B+ feat that has niche potential to be a must-take with some builds.
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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. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.