Is this homebrew feat for a combat medic balanced?

Sneaky Kobold 05/15/2018. 5 answers, 1.102 views
dnd-5e feats homebrew balance

This is my first try at home-brewing feats and I wanted to get some advice from the community.

The idea is to make a feat that is flavored for a combat medic. Something that can improve potential damage and give the PC an alternative healing options, as well.

Combat Medic
Prerequisite: Proficiency with Medicine (Wisdom) checks.
Your study of medicine and biology on the battlefield allows you to better heal your allies, and know exactly where to hurt your enemies, gaining the following benefits:

Increase your Strength or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.

As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore hit points equal to 1d4 + your proficiency bonus to the target. This feature can restore a creature to no more that half of its hit point maximum.

Due to your study of the body, gain a +1 to damage rolls with weapon attacks against humanoids and beasts.

Is this a balanced feat? If not, how can I make it so?

5 Answers


goodguy5 05/15/2018.

This feat is not balanced in its current state.

You're basically making a better version of the Healer feat, in every way. And also giving ability increase. There's literally no reason to take Healer with this feat available, which should be a tip-off that something isn't right.

No limit on the 1d4+proficiency (starts at 3-6 healing, ends at 7-10 healing) removes the need for healing potions (2d4+2 healing). Reminder: Healing kits are 5gp for ten uses; Healing Potions are 50gp for one use.

Most enemies are humanoids or beasts, so it's a huge boon to combat damage. (in that it applies to almost every situation)

And then, a bump to Strength or Wisdom.


Let's look at existing feats.

Blade Mastery
Unearthed Arcana 6 June 2016

You master the shortsword, longsword, scimitar, rapier, and greatsword. You gain the following benefits when using any of them:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls you make with the weapon.
  • On your turn, you can use your reaction to assume a parrying stance, provided you have the weapon in hand. Doing so grants a +1 bonus to your AC until the start of your next turn or until you're not holding the weapon.
  • When you make an opportunity attack with the weapon, you have advantage on the attack roll.

--

Healer
You are an able physician, allowing you to mend wounds quickly and get your allies back in the fight. You gain the following benefits:

  • When you use a healer’s kit to stabilize a dying creature, that creature also regains 1 hit point.
  • As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.

(emphasis mine)

Blade Mastery hasn't been "okayed" yet as an official source, but we'll use it for the sake of comparison on how to value things.

+1 damage and +1 to hit are vaguely equivalent, with to-hit maybe being slightly more valuable, but we'll go with it. This is worth slightly less than half a feat. (+2 strength would give +1 damage AND to-hit, as well as saving throws, etc)

The extra, cheap, nonmagical healing option listed for healer is worth about half a feat (probably more). The only source is other feats. Magic initiate, for example, would allow you ONE use of cure wounds, compared to once per character.

And a single ASI is worth half of a feat, by virtue of the standard being two ASIs.


What should you do?

I'm not sure why you don't just take Healer and call it a day.

Barring that, I would pick two of the three options and put a limit on the healing, other than half hit points.

Perhaps:

Vivisectionist

flavor text

  • You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls you make against Humanoids and Beasts. (or damage, whichever)
  • As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.

Xirema 05/15/2018.

Regarding the Healing Effect

I think it's somewhat telling that 5e doesn't introduce any "healing cantrips", as it were. Even their first pass at the "Artificer" class, which can heal each round without expending a resource, is still capped by the limitation that a given creature can't benefit from the effect more than once a rest.

So the question boils down, mostly, to how difficult healer's kits are to get, both in 5e in general, and in your campaign. And per RAW, they're pretty easy to get: they only cost 5gp, and are each worth 10 uses of this effect. Compare to a Potion of Healing, which is 50gp, has one use, and heals for a comparable amount of health (at low levels, a potion will be more effective; at higher levels, your feat will be more effective).

So I think that it will be overpowered in the general case: a single kit will basically render Hit Dice obsolete, and even in combat, you'll be getting players up off the ground for only a few silver pieces per use, literally 1% of the cost of a healing potion (or 2% the cost, if all healing potions are acquired by a PC using their proficiency with an Alchemist's Tools making potions for only 25g worth of resources).

So what can be done to balance it?

I'd probably just limit it to only work once-per-short-rest-per-creature. That way, your party can heal 4.5-8.5 (lv1-lv20) hitpoints per short rest, which is very reasonably balanced.

Alternatively, you could make Healer's Kits more difficult to get (limited supply or high price), or require a different reagent altogether that is itself difficult to acquire (probably better). If each charge required a reagent that costed 20gp/charge (maybe cost 200g for 10 charges, to make it harder to buy before level 4-ish), it would make it slightly better than someone with Alchemist's Tools proficiency making Healing Potions at 25g/potion, which is pretty reasonable for being a feat, and wouldn't require you to nerf the healing effect itself.

Regarding the Damage Effect

I don't think I'd bundle that effect into this one. I think it overcomplicates the feat, and makes it do too much.

If you were going to make a feat centered around a medic's understanding of the human body in service of improving their damage, I'd probably make it so that it focuses on critical hits, rather than just damage in general, since I think that fits the flavor of the feat better. Like, I'd have the feat expand the crit range (though I'd probably only do it while benefiting from advantage, since raw increased crit chance is really powerful), or increase crit damage.


Pacattack 05/15/2018.

The best way to answer this question in my opinion is to compare and contrast the homebrew feat with Healer.

  • Healer does not require proficiency
  • Healer does NOT get a strength or wisdom bonus
  • Healer gives out more hit points no matter what the level is
  • Healer can be used 1x per rest (short or long)
  • Healer does NOT give a bonus to damage rolls period

First off the whole bit about 'restore a creature to no more than half of its hit point maximum' really should be changed to 1x per rest... even if you need money to spam healer's kits you really should still really add one time per rest clause. Other than that this looks decent for what it is.

Slightly off topic: The strength or wisdom bonus feels ... odd but not for the reason that you likely think that it does, a combat medic could just as easily be dexterous as strong but at the same time 'strength dexterity or wisdom' would make the feat too powerful, so I would just go wisdom here, especially as the +1 to damage is already included in the feat (albeit situational) just food for thought


Ave Roma 05/15/2018.

I would remove the damage bonus and make it so that you can only use the ability once per rest, so that people don't just buy healer's kits to restore between 50 and 90 HP per kit out of battle (depending on proficiency bonus, though it's worth noting that with this number of rolls, the bonus would really be the only variable). That would basically make it a better version of the Healer feat, which was essentially useless given how hard it is to get feats in 5e and how ineffectual the heal is compared to more conventional methods of healing, such as spells, potions, or even just sitting down and twiddling your thumbs for an hour.


HellSaint 05/15/2018.

It seems balanced, but some details could make it more consistent with existing ones.

It is a very versatile and broad homebrew, which could make it too strong. I'll address some details in the sequence, but personally I would remove the +1 Wis/Str bonus or allow the healing effect only once per rest (Note: the one that needs to rest is the one being healed, not you). There is a wall of text ahead comparing to some other feats in order to explain my reasoning.

First, let us compare the proposed effects with ASI. Then with other (existing official) feats.

ASI

For a class that depends on Str or Wis, if they are at an odd stat score, it is strictly better than ASI (ok, except for carrying capacity or some extremely edge cases), since it increases the same +1 to the modifier, gives +1 damage and allows healing.

If they are in an even score stat, the +1 Str/Wis does nothing for now. Then, let's see the trade-off for each score:

Str

If you would get +2 Str, you get +1 Str instead, not getting the +1 Modifier. The main difference here is the +1 to attack roll that the PC won't get from your feat. Is the ability to free heal worth it? Probably. Specially since the Healer feat exists (will be addressed later).

Wis

If you would get +2 Wis, you get +1 Wis instead, not getting the +1 Modifier. The main difference here is for Spellcasting, which won't increase the Spell Save DC. You also don't get the +1 bonus for Perception, which might be huge depending on the party and encounters. But again, is the free heal worth it? Probably.

Compared to ASI, I would say your feat is better almost every time.

Other feats that give Half ASI

Most feats that give Half-ASI (i.e. +1 on ability score) and actually have some combat significance were added in XGE as Racial Feats. Most of them either are passive abilities that trigger when you do something (cast fire spells for the tiefling one, for example) or can be used once per rest.

Check Orcish Fury, which gives you +1 Str or Con.

When you hit with an attack made with a simple or martial weapon, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice an additional time and add it as extra damage of the weapon’s damage type. Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Healer

As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.

So, it's a 1d6 instead of 1d4 and the constant bonus (+4 + max number of HD) is always higher than your +Proficiency. Note my emphasis, though. Only being able to use it once for a creature until the next rest is a lot more restrictive than capping it at half HP.

On top of that, you also give +1 on Wis or Str and +1 on Damage Rolls. Compared to healer, your feat is considerably better.

TL;DR:

As I mentioned in the start, I would either

  • Remove the +1 Str/Wis, making it more consistent with the Healer feat - trading the extra burst healing (1d6 + 4 + HD) for a smaller but more frequent heal (1d4 + Prof) and +1 Damage.
  • Allow it to be used only once per rest (of the healed creature), again making it more consistent with the Healer feat and other Half-ASI feats.

Note:

The reason I call it "balanced, but would change some details" instead of straight-forward "not balanced" is because the Healer feat is not a strong feat, so it being better than that doesn't say much. Same for being better than the Half-ASI feats from PHB - they are not exactly the best feats to start with. If you compare it to Sharpshooter, Sentinel or similar, it is not that strong.


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