Dungeons and Dragons: ASI vs Feats
In Dungeons and Dragons, you have your character stats, that’ll be things like Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and more. When you start the game you get them locked in and compared to getting +1 armor or a +1 sword in the game, you have limited opportunities to increase your stats. But, when you increase your stats, you could also be taking a feat, so how do they work and which is better?
ASI (Ability Score Increase)
So when you hit a level that gives you an ASI, you can use it in one of two ways. The first is that you can add two points to any single stat, up to twenty max. So if you strength is a 12, which would give you a +1 to rolls with that ability score, adding two would take it to 14 and a +2 to rolls. Or you could split it in two, so add one to two different ability scores. If your INT (Intelligence) and WIS (Wisdom) are both at 13, which gives you a +1, adding one to each INT and WIS would take them both to 14 and give you a +2 on your ability rolls. So your ASI is going to be part of the way that you get better at casting spells, attacking, persuading, sneaking, etc. It’s a very straightforward and mathematical part of the game.
Now, the other option you can do is a Feat. This is basically a featured ability that you can gain access to, or something that makes you unique. It might be something such as giving your character access to heavy armor so that they could wear plate armor if they wanted. Or it can make it so that you can automatically reload your crossbow without it taking up time. It might make you better at DEX (Dexterity) and sneaking, or maybe you’re a fighter and you take Magic Initiate to gain access to a spell. There are tons of different feats that you can use to increase stats but add in other skills that you’re proficient with, or many other things.
So, which is better?
Neither, I don’t think that one is particularly better than the other. With an ASI, you are increasing your stats which is going to give you a notable bonus, if you move it from an odd number to an even or from an even to an even. And there’s something to be said for that consistency.
A Feat, on the other hand, some of them are less great than others. But that’s not a massive issue, because most of the time when taking a feat, it’s going to help flavor your character. A dwarf who is running around healing people and wearing heavy plate armor makes a lot of sense, because that seems like a dwarfy thing to do.
So it depends on what you need. A feat works well to help solidify and work towards a particular character design or idea that you have, and an ASI can as well, but a feat might be more flavorful. But an ASI is going to help with your dice rolls and maybe you’re role playing a particular aspect of your character and succeeding on more rolls would help bring that to the forefront, so an ASI gives you opportunities as well.
I will say that taking only feats throughout a game on your way to level twenty, is going to leave your lagging behind other players in combat and checks. So if you want to take a feat or two, that’s fine, but I probably wouldn’t take them only. I will also say that with feats, there are some much better than others. Alert or Lucky, much better than a feat that gives you a +1 to an ability score and proficiency in a skill. So there’s really time for either and if you need a feat, don’t feel bad about passing on an ASI for it.
Both are useful at times, and while you can easily build a character only taking an ASI and skipping over feats entirely, doing the opposite will have you lagging behind. When considering which to use, like anything in Dungeons and Dragons or an RPG, I say consider your character, their motivations, and what difference it will make in the story. The story is king for having a good time, so spend some time figuring that out and build your character so that it fits and grows within the game that you are playing.
Do you mainly go for the ASI? Or do you spend a lot of time getting feats?
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