While feats are considered an optional rule in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, they’re so commonly used that it would be really, really strange to be in a campaign without them. While sometimes a DM might make a ruling on a broken combination (or just straight out band one trouble making feat in particular) for the most part feats are widely used and considered a standard part of the game.
For players who are just beginning the how feats work doesn’t seem to be that confusing, but the when does. So when do you get feats in 5th Edition D&D?
All classes in 5th Ed D&D can take a feat instead of ability improvements at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19. The rogue class can pick up an additional feat at level 10, the fighter at levels 6 &14, and all players can start with one feat if the DM uses the starting feat optional rule.
Feats basically serve as an optional replacement to an ability score during certain level ups and are only taken when the character could otherwise improve an ability score when they level up.
When Do You Get Feats in 5E?
There are some levels where every single class gets the option of an ability score or a feat. There are a couple classes that have additional ability score improvements, which means they have the option to take a feat.
As of the most recent update, those two classes are the rogue, which gets one additional chance to take a feat, and the fighter, which gets two additional chances at taking a feat.
Just because you can take a feat doesn’t always mean you should.
While feats can be powerful, crucial to a build, or even overpowered, knowing WHEN the best time to take them is versus when it’s a better idea to max out your most important stats is important. This is something new players learn through experience, and talking to experienced DMs and players about which way to go and why is a good way to learn a lot about how to build characters in the game
Every class has five opportunities to take a feat during a level up, except for rogues which get six, and fighters which get seven. If the DM allows the optional starting feat rules every player can also pick a feat at level 1.
Important: Some DMs use the feat optional rule from The Player’s Handbook (which only allows humans this option) but not the one from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything which allows any race to pick a feat at level one during character creation.
Levels When DnD Players Can Get Feats 5E
|Level 4||Level 6||Level 8||Level 10||Level 12||Level 14||Level 16||Level 19|
Can Players Get Feats at Level One in 5E?
This also answers the question of “Can players start with feats in 5E?” The answer is yes, as long as the DM allows for it. From the PHB humans always had that option but no one else. Tasha’s changed things up and allows any race to take that optional feat start.
So via commonly used optional rules this is possible but talk to your DM. Some don’t allow feats at level one, others only use the PHB option for humans, while others homebrew.
Talk to your DM to figure out how feats work in your D&D game.
When Do Multi-Classers Get Feats?
One of the mechanics in 5E that is there to attempt to balance overpowering for multi-classing, to the consternation of players and DMs alike, is the fact feats are tied to character levels, NOT player levels.
This is one of the most unpopular mechanics in 5th edition D&D, although in fairness there are plenty of players who fully acknowledge that multi-classing is already ridiculously overpowered and not nerfing ability score improvements/feats with it would create massive power balance issues.
This means if your are multi-classing into one or more classes, you need to keep track of what level each of those classes gets a feat at because the feats are tied to class level ups, not overall character.
This means it is possible to pick up an extra feat when you have the fighter or rogue, depending on the split, or you could lose one or two feat opportunities completely depending on how the levels split.
Examples of How 5E Feats Work Multiclassing
This can be a bit confusing if you’re not use to 5E, so let’s give some actual examples of when player characters who have multi-classed can actually pick up feats and when they can’t.
18 Paladin with +2 Fighter
A player intends to play mostly a Paladin, but they see the advantage of taking the classic 2 levels of fighter multiclass. This means they get four feats instead of five. Why?
A Fighter’s first extra feat comes at level 6, while a Paladin’s last feat would come at level 19. This means that this character would get ability level ups (and therefore the chance to take a feat) at levels 4, 8, 12, and 16.
This means if the paladin went up to level 4 as a paladin, then multi-classed into fighter for levels 5 and 6, before taking the rest of their levels in paladin they would have a chance to take feats at levels: 4, 10 (when they reach level 8 paladin), 14 (when they reach level 12 in paladin), and 18 (when they reach level 16 paladin).
That is one of the major potential drawbacks of multi-classing: you want to make sure that any ability score improvements or potential feats lost are worth the bonuses picked up from multi-classing.
16 Fighter with +4 Cleric
A fighter/cleric combo that is split 16/4 will get seven feats and/or ability score improvements because a level 16 fighter gets six feats while a level 4 cleric gets one. A split like this gets the full amount potential ability score props because of how the split is covered, but since those improvements or feats come with the class level up, they might come at weird times compared to the other players in a
This character can choose a feat instead of an ability score improvement when:
- They hit Cleric level 4
- They hit Fighter levels 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, and 16
15 Rogue with +2 Fighter with +3 Warlock
This is an extremely interesting choice (and I’d love to hear the backstory for a PC that came about this combination naturally via story) which does take +3 warlock and +2 fighter which are considered by many to be the top “dips” overall available in 5E that can create a series of overpowered multi-classed combos.
This creative grabbing with both dips makes for an interesting rogue who can do some crazy things (especially with an Arcane Trickster build), but it also means this character is going to be missing out on multiple chances for feats or ability score improvements.
This character would get four opportunities to take a feat or an ability score improvement, as opposed to the six that a level 20 rogue would get. Since warlocks and fighters both get their first ability score improvement at level four, there are no feats/ability score improvements coming from any of those level ups.
This character will get ability score improvements/feats at levels 4, 8, 10, and 12 since those are levels where rogues get the opportunity to take a feat.
Extra Feats for Rogues and Fighters
Generally ability score improvements are the same for each class. However, there are two classes that get more ability score improvements and/or opportunities for feats than the others. Those are the rogue and the fighter.
- All classes can take feats at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19 in 5E D&D.
- Rogues also get an additional ability score improvement and/or feat at level 10
- Fighters also get additional ability score improvements and/or feats at levels 6 and 14
Variant Builds – The Level 1 Feat
In the Player’s Handbook the Variant Human build is one where instead of getting a +1 stat boost on everything, they get to start with a feat. In the original rules this is the only way to start with a feat from level one. In Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything this is expanded as the “Variant Race” option for building a character.
If the DM allows it, a player can talk with a DM and exchange their normal starting stat block for their character’s race for a smaller stat boost and a feat.
These are two situations where a player can get a feat at level one without homebrew rules.
How Many Feats Are There in 5th Edition D&D?
There are currently 57 feats in 5E D&D between The Player’s Handbook and Tasha’s Guide to Everything. These are the most commonly accepted sourcebooks for feats, however there are also 2 available from Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron and 15 racial feats from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, meaning there are 74 total feats if all of them are in use.
That means there are 57 feats available in most 5E D&D games (assuming your DM hasn’t banned the Lucky feat), or 72 for DMs who allow the racial feats (if they even know about them). They 2 from Eberron are much more often restricted to campaigns that take place in that world so those may or may not be available.
In total, there are 72 total feats before the 5.5 announcement that is expected a couple years from now.
5E DnD Racial Feat Guides
These are the rarely talked about feats from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which are certain skills or features that are race/species specific. These aren’t used by many DMs, so if you’re interested in one make sure to talk with your game master prior to picking it to see if these are in play or not.
Many DMs choose not to use them, but some may allow it since generally speaking the PHB, Volo’s, Xanathar’s, and Tasha’s are considered sort of core canon in 5E. There’s also many who don’t use them simply because this part of Xanathar’s was so little talked about that they might simply not know that they exist.
These can offer some really interesting additional bonuses for some PC builds so if they’re fair game, they’re worth a look. A few are completely meh but many of them are actually quite good and can be a useful addition to your campaign.
While feats are an optional rule in 5th Edition they are widely used and widely enjoyed by players and DMs alike. At this point for many of us it would feel weird not to have feats as a part of any on-going campaign.
There are some incredibly powerful feats, some that seem necessary for certain classes to function (Sharpshooter, Ranger. Ranger, Sharpshooter), and others that definitely miss the mark.
But there’s no denying that feats add quite a bit to the 5th Ed version of Dungeons & Dragons that otherwise wouldn’t be there. At least now whether player or DM you understand the when, where, how, and everything else having to do with feats.
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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.