I’ve prefaced many an article with how well-balanced I think the 5e rules are, and the more I play, the more I realised how spot on WOTC got things… well apart from Counterspell, healing rules, Paladins (in particular their divine smite ability), and a few other bits and pieces.
One – inexplicable – thing that blows my mind though is how the Lucky feat survived playtesting. Every single one of the four Dungeon Masters in my group has banned it from the table (the only change to the official rules we all agree on!); and if you do allow it you’ll find that once one player has it, every other player will cotton on how powerful it is and select it too, meaning a highly irritating slew of (unnecessary and overly influential) extra dice rolls during every session.
Before I complain any further, let’s take a look at it (p.167, Player’s Handbook):
You have inexplicable luck that seems to kick in at just the right moment.
You have 3 luck points. Whenever you make an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can spend one luck point to roll an additional d20. You can choose to spend one of your luck points after you roll the die, but before the outcome is determined. You choose which of the d20s is used for the attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.
You can also spend one luck point when an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and then choose whether the attack uses the attacker’s roll or yours.
If more than one creature spends a luck point to influence the outcome of a roll, the points cancel each other out; no additional dice are rolled. You regain your expended luck points when you finish a long rest.
For newbies at first glance perhaps it doesn’t seem too overpowered… after all there are plenty of great feats, and your other option of course is to add 2 to a key ability score that will get you plenty of extra pluses as you go.
However consider this. Inspiration (p. 125, PH), which gives a PC advantage on a key roll during an adventure, is supposed to represent that magical stroke of luck heroes get during crucial moments. That fortune of the brave that helps ensure when they jump from a burning building with the true-born infant king in their arms they don’t splat onto the floor, but expertly roll with the fall, cradling the babe in their arms. Inspiration is a hard earned reward (p.240, DMG), given sparingly to PCs, usually for true-to-character roleplaying (especially roleplaying that puts one at a disadvantage), major goal achievement or epic heroism. As it’s only really designed to settle that adventure-hinging moment, not consistently influence play, only one inspiration “point” can be “stored” at a time. All-in-all it works perfectly as a game mechanic – it’s a powerful reward, for extraordinary deeds, to be used at a key juncture in your party’s story.
And then in walks Lucky feat… and ruins everything.
To select Lucky feat is to essentially be granted unearned inspiration three times a day, and goes against everything the game designers planned for inspiration itself. In fact it’s several times more powerful than three times inspiration because, unlike with inspiration, which you need to declare you’re using before you roll, with Lucky you can wait until the die is cast to decide if you’re going to force a re-roll. That makes it worth more like 5 or 6 inspiration “points” a day, as you get to use it only when you’re sure you need it.
To select Lucky feat is to essentially be granted unearned inspiration three times a day, and goes against everything the game designers planned for inspiration itself.
The result is that any PC with the Lucky feat dictates their own success all too often, in not just a key juncture, but in three big moments a day, when usually they would have failed, perverting the flow of the game in their favour, and often isolating them from ever having anything bad happen to their character. No one likes failing a crucial saving throw, attack roll or ability check, but failure, and the chance of failure, is also a lot of what makes D&D fun – and how you deal with it as a party is similarly often what makes the game memorable and unpredictable. I probably don’t need to tell you either that the larger your chance to failure, the more fun success is when it happens… something else that gets lost when you try to stack the odds.
The exact extend of how overpowered / broken the feat is does depend a fair bit on how many encounters you tend to have at your table a day. My group tend to favour a more realistic flavour of D&D, meaning just one or two encounters during your average day of adventuring at which point Lucky borders on ridiculous in its ability to define key moments. However even if you play hack and slash dungeons with multiple encounters a day I would vote taking Lucky off the table… aside from being overpowered it doesn’t add any flavour at all – it’s a bland catch all that makes you more powerful in any field at any time – and is essentially a cop out for players unable to deal with adversity.
Lucky Feat variants
If you want to keep Lucky but fix it somehow, here are some suggestions on how to deal with it.
Option 1. Have the player roll a d4 minus 1 after a long rest to determine how many luck points they have for the day ahead (ie. they roll a 4 they have 3 luck points, a 3 = 2 luck points, a 2 = 1, and roll a 1 and they have zero luck points). This gives them an average of 1.5 luck points a day, instead of 3… and this way you get to test if they really are that lucky!
Option 2. Alternatively, if you are a bit more generous than I am, then you could have them roll a d3 simply, giving them 1-3 luck points a day and an average of 2.
Option 3. The PC still gets 3 luck points a day, but instead of forcing a reroll they have the option, after the dice is rolled (but before outcome is determined) to use a luck point to add 1d4 to their original roll. This means that three times a day the PC can turn a narrow failure into a narrow success – with a bit of luck! This better represents what it means to be lucky in my opinion, and is probably how the rules should have been written. It’s still a massively powerful feat, but it can’t turn extreme failure into victory any more.
Right, I actually really love feats in general, and they are an awesome way to power up your character whilst giving them more flavour at the same time… so I’ll be back with some more thoughts on best feats for different classes soon! Stay tuned.
Wow. . .You’re a bad DM.
Happy to hear another point of view Elenath. But at the moment you are just trolling and running back under your bridge.
Someone thinking you’re a bad DM is equal to trolling?
Yeah, I don’t think so!
It’s not a comment that is in anyway helpful to anyone, so yeah I’d call that trolling.
As you can see plenty of seemingly smarter and definitely politer individuals have made good cases below for their opinions, without recourse to senseless insults.
So you’ve never had multi class a cleric of trickery/rogue before? If you cant handle advantage 3 times a session imagine advantage on every attack for 10 rounds every short rest. This would be a better article (in my opinion) if rather than suggesting you ban luck you give advice on how to deal with it. Like instead of one big mob do lots of smaller ones so the luck points don’t overwhelm the one big bad. There are always solutions to any shenanigans players get up to. also on the point of inspiration had a character with inspiration for 7 levels without ever using it because i forgot it was there. It real should be a redo on an epic (possibly game ending) fail instead of just choosing advantage before a role.
Not sure this is something you can ‘deal with’ particularly well, as it’s up the players when they use their luck points and unless you force them to make a lot of death saves they will simply not use them on the low stakes combats you throw at them.
Also I’d have to question why on earth you’d change the whole way you want to play the game instead of just getting rid of a feat that the majority of DMs think is flawed…
I agree inspiration is underwhelming… although it’s interesting that you’re open to changing that mechanic, but not Lucky for some reason.
Zackary G Whitley
Wow, what a helpful comment with so much substance.
Very bad. Feats are optional. Every feat you complain about can be disallowed at start!
Elenath – someone who actually understands balance in the game gives good advice and you insult them?
Naw, 5e is just a bad system.
I can’t help but think you are far too stingy with inspiration which is why you have this problem. I see inspiration as something to be granted regularly (Along with disadvantage) so Lucky isn’t much of an issue.
Hi Yvi, thanks for your comment. If the players do something to earn inspiration I’m all for granting it, but inspiration is not something you can stockpile. You have it or you don’t, and then – if you are smart – you wait for a really important moment to use it. That means most of the time that you have inspiration you are not using it. And then when you do use it, you are unlikely to get it back straight away – some opportunity has to arrive for you to earn it. So there’s another period where you can’t use it, because you don’t have it. Therefore inspiration is not, at least according to the rules as written, something that gets used regularly at all.
It sounds a bit like you are granting inspiration as if it is advantage, but they are two separate things. The DM does not grant inspiration in a moment (as with advantage or disadvantage). He or she grants inspiration as a reward for great play, and that PC then has an inspiration point to be used up when they most need it.
By the spirit of the rules it would be hard to imagine a scenario where PCs used inspiration more than once a session.
I found Inspiration both a bit challenging in awarding and underwhelming in effect.
Using an extra D20 (as Lucky does) essentially is advantage (even when you use it to make an opponents roll worse, it’s an advantage to the defender!). Yes, you can use it after the roll (a small gain). So you are getting 3 rolls with advantages between long rests.
The reality is there are plenty of other class powers that can yield fairly regular use of advantage, so looked at it that way, Lucky is good (use it after the roll) but not spectacular. Instead, Inspiration is very lacking.
I ended up using Conviction-based alignments and a Destiny Point system that allows a wide variety of uses for DPs (up to and including some minor scene edits with the GM’s permission). I award DPs for great moments at the table and at level up, allow 3 (at lower levels) and when they modify a D20, it’s a D6 they roll – which oddly on average yields about the same as advantage. So still not overpowering.
We often do 1-2 encounters a night and lucky would get used 1-3 times a night and a DP 1 time per player per night (sometimes not at all so one would be there for the worst case moments). Given you get DPs for good choices and good RP and following your Convictions , some nights people get 1, some none. So there’s rarely more than 3 rolls with advantage in a night. That helps make up for the worst die luck at the worst moment so it prevents some really unfortunate outcomes and powers some heroic ones.
Inspiration, by comparison, and moreso if interpreted as strictly as you seem to wish, is underpowered.
Then again, I’m happy if my players want to try something brave or exciting. If they need a little help to pull it off, the game narrative usually wins.
I use enough ‘steel and sorcery’ type of rules to make healing slower, harder, and nastier injuries that persist exist. That means the group can usually use a wee bit of a boost in dire situations anyway.
I won’t say “wow, you’re a bad dm” but it sure seems like you don’t want your players to have play how they like.
If someone forgoes the bonus to ability scores for a feat like “lucky” they might be having a bad time with the inconsistency of bad rolls.
I’ve had a 4th level paladin character die to a giant spider attack because he rolled 1-2 three times during the encounter and everyone failed perception to detect 5 giant spiders in the trees. The DM rolled over 17 for almost each spider to hit through my plate. My character and his backstory went down the drain because of unlucky rolls on my part. I have never felt closer to quitting than that day. Thinking “maybe there’s a better way to spend 8 hours if all this goes to waste for a couple bad rolls.”
Before you say “well that’s d&d”, that’s where I think this feat comes into play. If you’re unsatisfied with the idea that a couple bad rolls ending your story, you can make the sacrifice to your ability score. In this way, its a different play style.
If you think players are going to abuse the rule, I think you’re being too competitive with your players. If a PC is successful in your world, that doesn’t mean you’re losing as a DM, it means you’re winning.
No one likes bad dice rolls, but what you’re effectively saying from your example is you’d trade +2 to an ability score for immortality… so would I! And so would every player. I’m pretty sure any player who’s been playing D&D for a while selects this feat every time, because it’s so powerful.
I’m not against the idea behind the feat, but it’s way too powerful, especially if you play a low encounter day. (Who seriously plays 6 fights a day!?).
Anything that is too powerful either makes gameplay unbalanced in the favour of one particular player, which is not fair on the other players, or obliges everyone to take it, which is poor game design. And in Lucky’s case also forces lots of tedious re-rolls, if everyone at the table has the feat.
As a player I would definitely go with this feat and if no one complains you can enjoy settling the key moments of the day and protecting yourself from harm, but as a DM I would definitely modify it, probably selecting option 3 from my suggestions above.
Anyway appreciate your comment… your story makes a good point, but I like the element of luck in D&D and being able to control it to any degree actually spoils the fun for me. My own 14th level character died recently which was quite painful, but also a great chance to make another character.
Seems to me like you want to be in control as a DM rather than tell a story. A good DM acts as a guide for his or her players, not a dictator.
I’m not going to accuse you of being a bad DM. But you definitely seem to crave control. Your options show you’re at least trying, but let’s be honest. They’re all about taking power from your players and transferring it to you/the DM. 1d4? Not substantial in the least. I fail to see that as a good compromise. 1d4 is basically cutting Lucky down to a quarter of it’s usefulness, if the person in question is obscenely lucky. Compromise is supposed to be both parties meeting halfway. So how about this? A compromise I think would be good for both player and DM could be to simply treat Lucky as a Bardic Inspiration die, and add the score from, say, a D8 or D10 to a roll. A d4 is great, if you miss the number needed by 1-4. But let’s say someone misses their last death saving thrown by 5, 6, or 7. You might enjoy making new characters. Not everyone does. Some players get attached to their characters, particularly in long campaigns. You don’t seem to take that into consideration and maybe you should. In fact, it seems like you want to go out of your way to penalize people who become emotionally invested in any given character, which is kind of a red flag to me. What works for you doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else, and a one-size-fits-all approach makes for a bad gaming experience in my opinion. Your job as DM is to tell a story and make sure everyone has fun. If your reasoning behind something is “I don’t like it” or “It makes things inconvenient for me”, then you need to re-examine the issue and your outlook on DMing.
Finally, allow me to point this out. You claim Lucky is overpowered. But consider this. Someone who takes Lucky is forgoing 2-4 attribute points in order to get it, or a modifier of +1 to +2. Are you seriously going to claim that the ability to turn three bad rolls into possibly three good rolls is broken compared to what is being traded? Look at it like this. They’re trading a small constant (which is definitely in their favor) for a large variable, which might not even pan out! It might be overpowered in the Twilight Zone, but in reality, it certainly doesn’t seem to be.
Hi Adam, thanks for the comment. I think you’ve made a couple of unfair assumptions about my motivations however that led you off into some tangents. Lucky annoys me from a player perspective as well. As both a DM and a player I strive for balance. For me it’s really important that characters have more or less the same amount of power, as that helps everyone at the table enjoy the game and feel they contribute equally. (Some don’t care if their player is weaker than others, but many do!). Lucky gives a player the power to be too decisive in key moments, and close to immunises them from death, in my experience.
It seems what we fundamentally disagree on therefore is how powerful the feat is, but I think I’ve made a pretty good case why it’s much more powerful than a +1. If you still don’t agree, that’s fair enough!
Ps. I think increasing the size of the dice would be a compromise as you say, so anyone who is inbetween my view and yours, could use your suggestion to hopefully improve their game! Thanks again for the comment.
Real late to the party here, but just wanted to give you a compliment on the discussion in these comments!
I love the Lucky feat, but the kind and reasoned way you’ve handled the various back-and-forths here shows me how excellent it would be to play across from you. The worst thing at a table is when disagreements become disagreeable, thanks for rising above that.
It’s easy to take each disagreement as a personal affront, and every counterpoint as a “shut the f*ck up you idiot”, but yeah, I don’t think people mean it that way, and certainly I’m trying more and more not to take it that way (even if I have in the past!). Even if people are unmistakably aggressive with their comments, it’s better to take a deep breath, than get drawn in to an argument that almost always reflects badly on both parties. As I say, I haven’t always handled such situations so well, and there’s always room to improve the way we interact with strangers online.
Of all the things to get upset about in the world, Dungeons & Dragons is most certainly not one of them!
Cheers for the comment reminding us of that.
First off, i’m late to the party as well here. Also I wanted to reiterate what endless said, it’s nice that you don’t seem overly offended by a comment in great disagreement with you.
Personally I have to admit that I really enjoy luck, I get very absorbed in the numbers game and am criminally a min-max guy. That said I take lucky on most of my characters. It is also what makes a variant human stand up to other races if your build needs the attributes. I still love it and use it, and have commented to the DMs I play with that I feel it is a tad bit too strong, it has been a long while now and some of the DMs I play with rule that it only has 2 uses, which I am still great with.
That said, as a user of the lucky feat I have to agree with you, it is very influential, and can separate the power levels of players in a game, the latter consequence I cringe at greatly.
As pertaining to many characters being able to impose their own advantage without luck, that mostly occurs on attacks, or in a few cases abilities and saves, but in those cases you usually have to set up for it, and it is often very specific to what you gain advantage on (a specific save or ability check), sometimes even costing you an action or requiring concentration when you could have a better buff to be concentrating on (ie. the ‘enhance ability’ spell or ‘dodge’ action with dexterity). Some enemies have the ability to cut out that advantage you give yourself, advantage and disadvantage don’t stack and if both are in place, no-matter how many different ways you give yourself advantage you aren’t going to be able to get past the one thing giving you disadvantage. Luck, on the other hand, gives you the choice to gain that advantage on a dime, after you already saw that bad roll, on attacks, abilities, or saves, or the enemies attack, and when already set up with advantage while the enemy imposes disadvantage: YOU GET ADVANTAGE .
that said there are some things that even differentiate the effectiveness of luck, a second roll gives the most benefit the closer you are to 50% chance of success (though, in lucks case, being able to use it on a dime means you get even more benefit on rolls you have a lot higher chance of success on, when you do fail), if the save you need to roll is already a bad save for you, you get less out of using it. With this in mind I have found that you get the most benefit using it on your best saves, AND when your worst saves are higher. This means the classes who get the most benefit out of it include the monk, who gets proficiency on all saves; paladin, who gets to add his charisma modifier to all saves (being close to the paladin works too, but don’t bet on this); sometimes the fighter, who as a samurai gets proficiency in wisdom saving throws, and get additional ASIs to which he can afford extra feats and potentially grab resilient for dexterity, giving him proficiency in the 3 main attributes used for making saving throws; and maybe the bard for ability saving throws, fits because he already gives inspiration to allies.
Perhaps part of the reason I love luck so much is because I play a lot of monk and paladin because of their high saves (and the paladin can multiclass into sorc easily, his best features kicking in at lvl 6 and 11, sorc gets him a lot more uses of smite than pure paladin, and a lot more utility)
[end of my main points, the rest is rambling kind of, it is mostly explaining how many encounters make sense later on]
Last thing I would take note of are daily encounter amounts. Personally my campaigns have been light encounters daily at early levels, heavier at higher levels. This even makes sense in a role-playing way because the level shows the character’s experience. Usually my later levels include a lot more in depth adventures:
-There is a war with a bunch of tribes of orcs coming together, prewar we are out there caught off guard, behind enemy lines before they fully have organization, many tribes are trying to show superiority in their conglomerate by taking our heads. Or maybe the war has started and we are sent as a sabotage unit behind enemy lines, or scouts and caught behind enemy lines.
-Perhaps a king sent us as emissaries/diplomats, a dominant guild in the other country wants war and tries to kill the diplomats (us) to start it, it all goes down at night and there are enemies at every corner, even when we barely escape and are undetected we have to make decisions at every corner.
In these situations it would make sense to have intense amounts of encounters, you could have your first encounter in your room at the inn, a second right outside where you jumped out the window. You find the city lord is behind this, you aren’t getting out of the city easy even if you did just escape the inn. And MAYBE, you decide you’re taking the fight to the syndicate and infiltrating a large building BAM, that will be loaded with encounters, maybe 8 to 10 in one night.
Ever read the Drizzt Do’Urden series? I think it is the ‘halfling’s gem’ book where he tracks an assassin holding his halfling friend hostage. (1)They get attacked in the city, (2)go into the sewer where it is constant battle with this guild, (3)the enemies herd him into an area where a large slime is in an attempt to corner him. (4)The battle ensues, he meets the assassin and they duke it out, assassin Artemis Entreri gets away (they still don’t have their friend). (5)They finally get to the basement of this heavily guarded building where they he gets caught in a trap and fights a hydra. (6)they fight more of the guilds allies (7)boss room where a mage sends them into a demon realm. (8)the fighting in the demon realm. (9)they get back to the prime material plane, fighting ensues, panthers get unleashed on the enemies in the guild. (10) final boss, the guild leader, some high up there guild members, and the guild leader’s exotic pets that he has collected.
there 10 encounters in a short while, and a good story-fulfilling reason for having them other than “just throw monsters at them to increase the encounter amount.” great books by the way, my all time favorite series (or multitude of series, what is there like 30 books now in his series?).
My end-level games are like this, after about level 14 there start to be many interesting and dangerous situations that have encounter after encounter. what does luck have anything to do with it? it comes to feel balanced to me when we have such long lists of encounters. But even at higher levels these don’t always come into play, in the Drizzt series this was a climax that came after many small encounters that didn’t happen all together.
Sorry for the rambling TL;DR: I like how neutral the poster was to a negative comment. I myself really enjoy lucky, and in spite of that (or maybe because of it) I agree with the original post. Lucky has many benefits that it gives to you at the drop of a hat. There are however some factors that increase the potency of the feat, such as using the luck point on a low roll with a save you are good at, or when all of your low saves are generally higher than the average low save. Long, high-encounter days which are the most fun at later levels do reduce the feat to being what I consider balanced, though still very influential, short, low-encounter days I think it does give too much power.
“I’m not going to accuse you of being a bad DM”
Immediately precedes this by likening the DM to a dictator and follows it up with a diatribe of strawmen. What a bad faith reply. This post is riddled with presumptions about what a DM should and should not be. According to you, the DM is merely a facilitator of a story. The sneering command to reexamine their outlook on DMing is the trash icing on this garbage argument sundae.
You really ought to turn that eagerness to analyze others inward and ask yourself why you’re so put out that a DM has raised issues with an optional part of the rules and how they want to approach it.
“In fact, it seems like you want to go out of your way to penalize people who become emotionally invested in any given character, ”
Your pearl-clutching is nothing more than hollow histrionics. Grow up.
Thanks for the support, but let’s keep the tone a bit more friendly, even if we disagree with one another.
Adam, your assertions are completely unfounded. The author wrote this to help make the game more fun and balanced rather than allowing an unbalanced option to dictate the go to choice. There is nothing in anything the author has written to suggest a controlling mindset.
“it seems like you want to go out of your way to penalize people who become emotionally invested in any given character,” There is absolutely nothing that gives this impression, and all evidence points to the contrary. You are exposing your extreme bias and lack of understanding of the game. You are the one giving off red flags as a potential problem player.
“If your reasoning behind something is “I don’t like it” or “It makes things inconvenient for me”, then you need to re-examine the issue and your outlook on DMing.” – Yeah, this advice doesn’t need to be given to the author. The author IS focused on everyone having fun. YOU are the one focused on having your own way, because you “don’t like it”.
Finally, a constant plus 1 is no where near as strong as being able to potentially change fate three times a day.
I just wanted to say that although I think Duncan is likely a fine DM, I disagree with many of the opinions expressed here about the Lucky feat.
1) I don’t think that most DMs consider it OP or damaging to the game in any way whatsoever. This may be based on a smallish sample of 50 or so but it certainly doesn’t seem to be a majority opinion that it is a problem.
2) There are many feats and abilities that are far more powerful and useful than a re-roll 3 times per adventuring day. Every character I’ve seen that has the feat, including one of my own, has had a bit of fun with it but it rarely makes any significant difference.
3) Out of hundreds of characters from a wide variety of players, I’ve only ever seen 5 characters with the Lucky feat .. at least until late tier 3/4 when it is worthwhile if you don’t have anything better to choose. So I can’t say, from my experience that even that many players even consider it particularly powerful or useful.
These are just my experiences over the last few years playing and running 5e. I’m not sure how others can have such a different impression of the feat .. maybe the style of their games is quite different .. but I don’t see any need to change it as written and there is nothing wrong with holding that opinion.
It seems to me that in your eyes Lucky means absolute Invincibility and that players should have a hard time most of the times. While challenge adds a lot to the fun of anything, it is also worth noting that this feat doesn’t mean that, after a bad roll, the player will mathematically have a good one, so it’s not Invincibility at all, it’s a mere second chance at the cost of probably less than three seconds (which is what a die roll takes if it’s a very long one, honestly, plus how can you enjoy DnD and DMing if an extra die roll gets you worked up like this? This really baffles me I swear).
Apart from your DMing style which might be harsher than some then, I guess the table got pretty lucky most of the time and you got a specific, overpowered idea of what the feat does, which is ironically just a matter of chance.
On the other hand, I’ll bring my case to attention: it might seem an absurd sentence, but I am a chronically unlucky guy when it comes to games. Almost anything that could go wrong goes wrong most of the times, no matter how much I prepare in advance or how many failsafes I devise. I tried to analyse statistically how unlucky I got and in DnD that meant that my dice rolls failed roughly 75-85% of the time over the course of 4 sessions, be them attack, save, investigate or whatever. I can’t stress enough that I’m not joking, this happens systematically, be it regular dice or RNG devices, so I just take it as a fact and try to accept it. But playing as a wizard and valuing preparation a lot, putting so much effort only to see regular 1s and 2s all the way to 6s sucks. A lot.
Then I found the Lucky feat and over the course of the following 4 sessions i analysed my rolls again and the fail percentage dropped to 60-65%, which means I moved from a minimum 15% success to a maximum 40%, which is still less than half of the time.
So yeah, maybe for some it might be the case of unnatural success or near immortality, for others it’s just a desperate effort to f***ing survive and see the time and thought spent on a plan see it work because the plan is good, rather than see it fail miserably because the dice roller has some kind of luck related illness.
There are different categories of people playing DnD and one of them is the one that wonders whether or not it’s actually worth it to spend 8 hours of strategising and investigating to see everything crumble to pieces on a streak of bad luck, and I think as a DM you should accept this as a fact rather than antagonizing it. It’s your party, play WITH them, not against them.
As a DM, you should probably see what the case is and try to gently nudge the situation in a more balanced way, while also keeping in mind that perfect balance is, well, the heat death of the universe.
Thanks for the story, it’s a good one.
Not going to repeat my arguments for 100th time. I will stress though that I was a player when I wrote this article. In fact, I am a player much more often than DM.
The feat is certainly not the end of the world. Probably the worst thing about it is how is interacts with disadvantage.
In that case I say a better fix for Lucky is something like:
Whenever you make an attack roll, ability check or saving throw, or an enemy makes an attack roll against you, you spend one point of Luck to do one of the following:
• If the roll has advantage or disadvantage, you may cancel advantage/disadvantage.
• On any other roll, you may roll an additional D20, and choose which roll to use.
This eliminates the weird “turn disadvantage into basically advantage” exploit, and also the effective super-advantage.
That’s really the only house-rule I’d like to see used to “fix” Lucky as those are IMO the main excessive cases.
Good take, thank you for that.
Luck is not overpowered. Here’s the real argument that some folks aren’t showing you. Click here for the online anydice.com interactive dice graphing program.. Now look at graph 1. Getting a better result increases under advantage but it doesn’t guarantee it. It’s also noteworthy here that their first roll was bad enough that they felt they already lost. So they actually still only have the 5% per difficulty rating-skill modifier chance of getting a better roll. They can literally roll and fail again. This isn’t the goal. You probably do need to make sure you aren’t letting the luck player reset his pool everytime he wants. Don’t cheese the system though. He’s lucky 3 times. A battle is more than 3 attacks.
Hi Donnie, you’re right in that getting a second roll is no guarantee of success. As for the link you posted I must admit I don’t understand it at all. Anyway I did the maths myself for a couple of check points so we can consider exactly how much difference Lucky feat can make:
Let’s say you need to roll an 11 (before adding any modifiers) to pass a saving throw, skills check, attack roll etc. then your odds increase from 50% on a single roll to 75% of getting an 11 on one of two rolls. So 25% increase chance using Lucky.
If you only needed to roll a 6+ before modifiers, then your chance of getting one with advantage = 93.725% (without it was 75%). So nearly 19% increase, which doesn’t sound like too much, although to look at it another way you just reduced your chance of failure from 25% to around 6%. From this second perspective you can see it’s pretty powerful.
For difficult check where you needed to roll a natural 16 or higher your chance with two rolls is 43.75% (was 25% with just one).
A battle is – usually – more than 3 rounds, although our group probably only plays about 10 to 20 combat rounds a day. Which maybe why all the DMs in our group agreed to ban it. (It wasn’t my suggestion even!).
How powerful this feat is is very much tied in to how many encounters you play a day.
Hi! I just thought I would offer some additional feedback. I do disagree with your perspective and I doubt any of my comments will change your mind given the replies so far but I thought I would offer them anyway.
1) There is no denying that Lucky is a good feat especially for a defensive minded player. However, lets compare to some of the popular power feats.
– great weapon master
– pole arm master
– crossbow master
All of these offer significant increases in damage or bonus action attacks (potentially on every round) or reaction attacks when an opponent enters your reach or when an opponent attacks an ally … they may also bypass hindrances like partial or three quarters cover or using ranged attacks when an opponent is adjacent. All of these can work multiple times in EVERY encounter during a playing day.
What does Lucky offer in comparison? Three times in a day you can re-roll a d20. That’s it. It doesn’t guarantee that you succeed. I’ve failed enough to hit rolls with advantage to know that rolling another d20 isn’t a guarantee of anything. What the feat offers is a chance at “Luck”. A chance to re-roll a critical die roll. This doesn’t change the course of play any more than an extra attack on every round of combat for example … in fact, it is far less. All it offers the player is a chance to escape from the consequences of a critical die roll 3 times in a day.
Which brings up the next point.
2) Balance in D&D 5e is designed around an assumed adventuring day which contains one long rest and some number of short rests which intersperse encounters.
DMG p 84
THE ADVENTURING DAY
Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer.
D&D 5e is designed around some classes benefiting more from long rests while others benefit from short rests. A game with many short rests between long rests makes the short rest classes relatively more powerful since their resources are frequently regenerated (e.g. warlock or battlemaster fighter). On the other hand, a day with two encounters and one or no short rests strongly favours long rest classes (wizards, sorcs, barbarians) who can then afford to expend all their resources in one combat.
Your campaign with two encounters/long rest increases the relative effectiveness of long rest resources compared to the D&D base line design as outlined in the DMG. As it happens, the Lucky feat is a long rest resource. Personally, I think 3 re-rolls over two encounters isn’t OP … but by design it should be spread over 6 to 8 encounters. Lucky is a resource that a player should be hoarding for those critical rolls and not something that is spent on a whim. This is especially true since Lucky never guarantees anything except a second chance.
3) Finally, from a DM perspective, I find Lucky to be both a fun role play element and something the character enjoys. Being able to escape from a dangerous situation either on the first roll or on the second because they are Lucky are BOTH fun for the player (and for the DM in my opinion since their goal is usually to create entertainment for the players). ”
The character loses their grip on the rope ladder and begins to fall, another player tries to catch them and fails, the character tries to get a grip themselves but fails … Lucky allows a re-roll and they succeed. So rather then plummeting to their death the character has a close call that is exciting since the second roll is as likely to fail as the original one … given that the original one has already failed which is why Lucky is being used. If I was the DM which outcome would I prefer? The character plummeting to their death? Bye bye, sucks to be you? No. As a DM I prefer that the character succeeds in a heroic attempt to do something and if that can be aided by the Lucky feat and used to enhance the excitement then so be it (in my opinion). This is especially true since the player had to give up a substantially greater continuous level of power throughout the entire adventuring day in order to earn just three possible re-tries.
Anyway, my conclusion is that you feel the feat is OP in part due to your adventuring day being shorter than the D&D 5e design criteria. As a result, it isn’t surprising that it feels more powerful in your games. However, even for short games, I don’t think the power of Lucky comes anywhere close to the other feats mentioned or even a basic stat boost that increases to hit/damage/possibly initiative/saving throws/spell DC/skill rolls … the cumulative effect of the stat increase is FAR more powerful than the Lucky feat in general in my opinion. Lucky adds flavour and a second chance to actually be Lucky when all else fails. In my opinion, it doesn’t even come close to being OP and in a regular adventuring day it doesn’t get used all that much. Players don’t know when a day will end, when the last encounter will be done, whether they will be surprised while encamped … so a player with a Lucky feat who uses all their re-rolls will be truly stuck at the end of the day when a critical roll really does come up.
Some great points and you make a very convincing argument. I’m not going to talk forever about this feat, so forgive me if I make my reply brief.
The issue is that Lucky can decide key moments (those other feats are steady power ups but not so influential IMHO), and is significantly more powerful than Inspiration which, in my opinion, should be your last resort for the avoiding plummeting to your death scenario your describe. (Other than trying to avoid those scenarios in the first place by careful and clever strategic play!).
I find it really bland additionally.
All in all you’re right that other feats could be considered more powerful, especially in a longer day, but I still think it’s an ill judged mechanic given that Inspiration already exists and Lucky pisses all over it.
Ps. talking about longer adventuring do you actually play 6-8 encounters a day? Because I have never played in a game like that…
Hi! Two follow up comments.
1) Inspiration is not even remotely comparable to the Lucky feat and it isn’t supposed to be.
– inspiration is awarded by the DM for exceptional roleplaying (usually), for great ideas or for memorable contributions. In the games I have played it isn’t common. Perhaps zero, one or two players out of five to seven might earn inspiration in a typical session.
– inspiration is FREE. It costs the character nothing to earn. It typically will never have a significant influence since it can only affect one die roll.
– finally, inspiration (according to RAW) has to be used BEFORE the die roll is made. It is one use of a free advantage and that is it.
– inspiration is not powerful, it is a mild reward that a DM can give away for folks who are doing an exceptional job role playing or contributing to the general enjoyment of the group.
The Lucky feat costs an ASI slot. Over twenty levels a character only gets 4 to 7 of these. ASIs are scarce resources. Most classes will only see two of them before level 10. Unlike inspiration, a player has to expend a precious resource in order to have the opportunity to re-roll three dice during an adventuring day. Honestly it isn’t much and in all the games I have played it really hasn’t made that much difference.
The last session I played had two characters with the lucky feat. Luck points were used to try to prevent the BBEG from hitting the character … didn’t work. They were used to re-roll a saving throw … didn’t work. They weren’t used at the beginning of the first encounter of the session (when four out of five failed a saving throw) since the characters didn’t know the significance or that so many would fail the save. On the other hand, the PAM hexblade warlock has been getting two attacks a round AND an opportunity attack when an opponent enters his reach. PAM is objectively and practically WAY more powerful with far more regular application than Lucky but that is just my experience. Lucky occasionally allows a character to make a save that they would have failed or avoid a critical hit. It simply makes the character “Lucky” and honestly I find it completely within the balance of the game without breaking anything in my experience. It just makes things a bit more fun usually.
2) As for game play, the number of encounters in a gaming day varies. Recently, I’ve been playing a Tomb of Annihilation campaign and one day had 8 encounters with three short rests while we finished exploring a village. On the other hand, hex grid travel in ToA is more random with anything from 0 to 4 encounters in a typical day. Dungeons with multiple rooms or areas will typically have far more encounters (4 to 12) and there is rarely if ever the opportunity to take a long rest (and often short rests may not be possible).
If you are finding that your table does two encounters/long rest then my guess is that the party might have a lot of long rest based characters that expend a lot of resources in each encounter then the party decides to long rest after a couple. If that is the case, then the DM has to be facilitating that playstyle by either structuring the encounters to be single events or allowing long rests to be taken in dungeons or other areas that should be very risky.
Anyway, there seem to be two camps on Lucky … those that think it works fine and is reasonably balanced compared to other feats if not perhaps even a bit weaker than some of the combat feats … and there are folks who seem to think it is massively OP being allowed to affect 3 dice rolls/long rest. From both a theory and experience point of view, I haven’t found the Lucky feat to be a problem at all. It just gives the character a chance to be “Lucky” by maybe succeeding on a check three times a day where they would probably have failed with the original dice roll, or perhaps avoiding a critical hit. None of which are either bad or detrimental to the play of the game in my experience.
Having multiple players with Lucky also doesn’t make much difference since it can only be used to mitigate that specific characters rolls for attacks, saves, ability checks or for attack rolls against them.
Maybe your experience differs but I am not sure why that would be the case.
Ok thanks for sharing more thoughts. I would be just repeating myself if I say much more! Although noting that two of your players have chosen Lucky feat is a telling fact… on our table everyone was starting to choose it, which is partly why we banned it. Didn’t add any flavour, just lots of extra dice rolls.
The best fighting feats are very powerful, and I’ve started using some of them since writing this post, so in that light maybe you’re right that Lucky isn’t so powerful by comparison… of all of them I think Sentinel is probably the most powerful, maybe a little too much. Although smart monsters can get around it by simply attacking the Sentinel first. Pole Arm Master is pretty sick. I had a lot of fun with my Paladin using Great Weapon Master in my last session cutting down minions left and right and benefiting from the extra attack you get when you reduce a creature to zero hp almost every round.
Anyway bottom line re: Lucky, if it works for you keep it. If you came here because it’s frustrating you, have a chat with your group.
Hey, I was just searching the internet for “dnd lucky things” to try and find any/all races and classes that passively had Lucky as a feat or an equivalent, such as Halflings, Rogues, Fiend Pact Warlocks, etc…
I stumbled upon your post and, man, the discussion here was definitely worth reading. Thank you for generating all these discussions and keeping a level head! It’s been very informative!
Thanks Zaalzar, definitely in favour of making this blog a place for level-headed conversation, and credit to the majority of people who have commented here for doing exactly that…
There is a halfling trait called Lucky as well (Player’s Handbook p.28) that states:
When you roll a 1 on the d20 for an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.
Which is pretty handy!
I agree with Traska that the feat’s trade off makes it fair. Unlike with other high tier feats, you aren’t getting a feat that grants you substantive gains in every round of combat. With the law of averages and enough encounters, some of the other feats are better than lucky.
The real utility of Lucky is based around critical exploitation, which fits the nature of its name. If a player sees an enemy roll a 1 with advantage or a crit in an attack against him or her, the player can use lucky to roll another die and choose the 1 or potentially negate the enemy’s natural 20. Similar options exist when a player rolls with disadvantage or critically fails on a crucial attack.
That being said, the feat may be overpowered for lower level characters. If the pcs are facing enemies that can do little more than swing a melee weapon at them, lucky can be excessive. One could say the same for a number of the high tier feats. Personally, I’m supportive of DMs who choose to deny feats at level four. However, once the pcs start facing creatures with legendary resistances, lucky and other high tier feats can help level the playing field at opportune moments.
I usually play human PCs just to access a feat from level 1, as I find them a lot of fun. A lot of them combine well with other abilities. Not disagreeing with the general sentiment/logic of your idea, but I’d be a bit bummed if the DM said no feats until level 8!
I agree Lucky is one of the more powerful feats. But like all feats, there is a definite opportunity cost and it certainly doesn’t guarantee immortality or constant success. The main change I made with Lucky is based on my style of DMing, and the fact my games are fairly low combat – the 3 Luck points are refreshed every session rather than every long rest. Thus a player gets a set 3 rerolls every 3-4 hour session, and creates no tactical advantage to long rest just to reset one’s luck.
This idea has some merit. Also easier to keep track of how many Luck points players have used! Thanks for the comment.
It looks like we are in the minority, but I too have banned Lucky. As someone who plays online in a West Marches style campaign where time each session is limited, Lucky can just wind up a massive time sink. This is especially true when players get very indecisive about ‘wasting’ a Luck point or not…
The fact that several other feats are more powerful – which is being used as an example of why it is not overpowered- actually makes me even happier to ban it. It’s banned because it slows down gameplay… and there are better / more fun feats available anyway!
All opinions are equal, but some opinions are more equal than others 😉🤣
Does it specifically say “3 times a day”? From what I’m seeing it just says points are restored after a long rest. Maybe you should try clearly defining how long it takes for them to restore points instead of getting rid it all together. It’s the thing about luck, from an outside perpespective it can be annoying but the character wouldn’t really have a “lucky” trait if you’re basing it off of the rolls of their player. A character who is lucky should definitely be allowed these extra perks because they themselves are the lucky ones. Overpowered would be them automatically winning 3 rolls of their choice throughout the day. But this only allows them to have much better odds in their favor. Luck isn’t necessarily fair 🤷♂️ which I think this captures pretty well 😂
Im with you, I dont like the feat at all, not only because of the reasons you listed but also because of the fact that the player can affect an opponent’s roll as well, turning a crit into a possible failure, for me it takes away the fun of failing or going down or even risks that will move forward a more interesting narrative than the heroes succeeding on everything they choose to do, I found this post looking at other opinions and Im considering banning it from my next campaign, if they want to gain some similar benefit, play in character and earn some inspiration.
hey Alex, sorry just found your comment now and approved it. Very good point, the fact that PCs with this feat pretty much become immune to critical hits is just another reason to ban it!
They’re not immune to critical hits, because the ability to use Lucky for an enemy’s attack doesn’t follow the same rules as for your attack: you don’t get to see their roll.
ok good point, although in practice if the DM rolls out in the open, or announces ‘crit!’ loudly (as they are wont to do) then the game is up.
It is not owerpowered at all. It is usable only 3 times per day. Compare it to the zillions of rolls that anyone does in a single day.
Any high level Fighter with action surge + Ranger (Gloom stalker) with Crosbow Expert can make 7-9 attacks (depending on the Fighter level) in the FIRST ROUND of any encounter.
At 5 Level of fighter plus 3 of ranger (Gloom Stalker) using action surge and Crossbow expert: 7 attacks in the first round of any encounter,
at 11 level of fighter, plus etc etc: 9 attacks in the first round of any encounter.
Any player makes zillions of rolls any single day, so 3 points of luck it is no overpowered, in fact it is wasting a feat,
Not to mention that it is usually useless… If you need a 18, most of the time you are going to fail anyway. If you need a 3, you are going to pass it anyway.
Furthermore… Lucky is the ONLY DEFENSE against the Portent ability of a Diviner. Imagine a Diviner rolling a 3 and a 7 as his portents. “Come one guys, lets look for the bad guy, lets see if he can save with a 3 against my Charm Person / Polymorph / Magic Jar / (Insert your favorite Save or Die Spell here).
As soon as one of your players is a DIviner, you will soon discover that your evil guys ALL have the Lucky feat.
And if the diviner turns against the rest of the party… Well again Lucky is their only hope of sucess.
So dont be afraid. Oh, and dont use the argument of “LOOOOOTS or rolls more”. No. Only 3 per player, amongst a zillion. A drop of water in an ocean.
I have no problems when my players take it, Im not afraid of it. They are happy, so I am also happy.
If you want to point to severely broken things, I would start for Crossbow Expert feat, the combo Polearm Master + Sentinel, or, the worst of all, the Simulacrum Spell (specially when the Diviner has both Simulacrum and Wish). Unstoppable.
You say zillions of rolls, but it’s quite possible to make just 5, 10 or 20 rolls in an adventuring day as well… so it depends.
It you need a 18 and you have a +7, and you fail, then using lucky your chances go from zero percent (you already failed) to 50% on your reroll. That’s quite an increase.
Similarly if you’re trying to do something you expect to succeed on, in a crucial moment, then using lucky you almost guarantee success. If you need a 3 on the die, then you go from 10% chance of failure to 1%, I believe.
Perhaps the best fix of all would be to have to declare you are using a luck roll before casting the die. Simple, but a lot less manipulative.
I’ve never known anyone play a diviner, so keeping lucky on the table for that reason doesn’t make sense to me… although looking at portent now… that is a very powerful ability indeed! I haven’t playtested it, but it does look problematic.
All the other stuff you mention is powerful, but only really gets out of control when you stack them together… Dread Ambusher ability on its own is amazing but probably not game breaking… however when you pair it with Action Surge then it is.
Polearm + Sentinel very handy indeed, one of the best combos, but you only get one reaction a round, so once you use an opportunity attack granted by polearm master you wouldn’t get your extra sentinel attack for example. Also as soon as someone picks sentinel just make them the target of all attacks.
Anyhow, I think sadly it’s beyond the scope of this blog to legislate against combos by players who are almost trying to break the game! But things that are broken without any powergaming required are easier to deal with.
The weakness of simulacram is that it can simply be dispelled right!? Actually DM David was just complaining about how that spell ruined his day one time…
As for wish, I tend to think once players can cast wish it’s time to start a new campaign starting from level 1 again… I’m not really interested in the ego trip of high level campaigning.
Anyway some interesting points! Thanks for the comment.
I’d also argue that Cristyna is missing the point that Lucky isn’t so much an issue because 3 extra rolls in adventuring day is bad (which it isn’t) but that those 3 rolls are either massively important or fundamentally changes how the players approach the game.
Lucky dictates that a player suddenly has the option to weigh up every dice result against the remaining pool of Lucky points. If the ability was used prior to the roll, then this wouldn’t be an issue – but it is not.
Also I’d say the argument that it’s nothing when compared to “zillions of rolls that anyone does in a single day” is a false comparison. None of those “zillions of rolls” tend to matter as individual rolls. In fact by the very nature of Cristyna stressing that Fighter/Gloomstalker can get 9 attacks in the first round of combat shows that each of those individual rolls isn’t important – you have so many dice being rolled that they individually aren’t that important.
Yet Lucky isn’t used on those things, so the argument is irrelevant. Lucky allows you to roll again on the most important rolls of each day, like Saving Throws or vital skill checks – and I would argue the ones that really matter. It means that you suddenly have this buffer against anything of consequence happening to your character ready to go, multiple times a day.
Ultimately, if Lucky is such a terrible feat, why get up in arms about some DMs banning it?
Because it is the only defense againt Diviners.
I said it before, lets say the Wizard of the party has access to, lets say “Hold Person”, or “Charm Person”.
Lets say that he rolls a 2 and a 7 as his portents for the day.
Then the party faces the big bad guy, lets say an evil wizard or cleric of fighter of 10 level. What can he do? Nothing, he will charmerd or hold immobile while the party chop it to pieces.
Most of my powerful NPCs have Lucky. It is necessary, unless you wish to nerf the Diviner. But I tend to play “by the book” as much as possible.
And again, since it can be used for both PCs and NPCs, there is a balance.
It is not broken.
And I have no problems with my players saving its uses for “important” rolls as ST. They are happier when they pass the rolls, so I am happy too.
The drama comes when one of them dies not for taking wrong decissions, simply due to bad luck. It might be fun breaking.
Also remember that the new roll is only a roll. It does nor guarantee sucess. Yes, it increase the chances of sucess. But the whole game is about increasing your chances of sucess. Every time you get a magic weapon, every time you level up and get a better proficiency bonus, every time you increase your stats, many and many magic items…
Some monsters have “Legendary Saves”, they may choose to pass the ST even if they fail the roll… And we are going to deny players even the chance or rolling a second time???
I think the game is ok as it is. If you dont like Lucky, dont allow it.
But then, good luck against Diviners.
If Diviners are so broken fix them – don’t force players to take Lucky in that case.
In addition, there’s nothing in the rules about Monsters or Non Player Characters using Feats or being expected to be mechanically built like Player Characters. So the defence that “…since it can be used for both PCs and NPCs, there is a balance.” isn’t true, because not only does that balance not exist, it simply doesn’t have to.
You argue that Legendary Resistance is better than Lucky because it’s guaranteed (which it is) but again you are trying to compare NPCs to PCs in ways they don’t need to be.
Legendary Resistance is there to enable a lone boss to fight against multiple PCs and not just die to a single ‘save or suck’ spell. By giving them 3 auto-successes they effectively become 4 NPCs worth of defences against those sorts of spells. Just as how Legendary Actions are there to balance the action economy of a boss vs. a party.
There’s no such things as an NPC with character levels by the books, but even if we did pretend your example of a 10th level was an actual thing – that’s exactly what the aforementioned Legendary Resistance and Actions are for!
Diviners being broken much more than Lucky was just an example.
I have no need to “fix” them (I suppose you mean “nerf” them).
I am perfectly capable to run a campaign with PCs Diviners without upsetting players who have been playing a Diviner for months.
Want to hear about broken things? I am also perfectly capable of running a campaign with 17-lvl Diviners having Simulacrum and Wish, and having INFINITE wishes (cast by the simulacrum) so they will never have any penalty or have a chance of losing the Wish Spell.
But I am not going to nerf my players only because I have not enough imagination to make encounters hard enough for them.
Remember that any feat/combo/strategy that the players can imagine…
it also can be done by the DM, and 100 times better, as he can select the stats, feats, magic items and level of the bad guys… So yes, anything that players can do, the DM can do it 100 times better.
FInally, you should re-read your DM’s Guide.
The DMG gives two approaches for making NPCs: either design them using the monster math (as all the NPCs in the Monster Manual are), or build them as PCs. Which is what any DM who deserves that name does.
If the Big Bad Guy at the end of the dungeon is an evil wizard of 10 level with some charmed Ogres as bodyguards… Of course he will have feats (one at 4th level and one at 8th leves). And if in your party there is a Diviner, and you as DM wants to make a fair and interesting combat… Then of course Lucky will be one of them.
If not, the diviner will charm/hold/polimorph into a fish the evil wizard in the first round. Game over. Cross out an evil wizard from the list.
From my experience of DMing and playing several 5th edition campaigns, I can say “Lucky” is certainly one of the best feats when players know when to use it. Broken even. It is universally beneficial in that it gives any character the power of probability manipulation. I always ban it after my last campaign. Every player took lucky as their first feat and always used it at critical moments. Like preventing from falling off a cliff and dying, preventing a dominate person, succeeding a sneak attack on a boss, and succeeding against a fireball that otherwise would have knocked a player unconscious. We ran into 2 to 3 large encounters and 2 to 3 dangerous traps each session. Lucky often saving the day and allowing the party to sprint through dungeons without even a single unconscious member. Lucky upsets the careful balance of chance in dangerous situations and ruins exciting moments when something serious is about to happen due to a bad roll then the player says “Lucky!”
Just found a very interesting article by Think DM, who surveyed players about feats… Lucky was one of three that players voted for as ‘broken’….
It really depends on how players choose feats for their characters. If they’re optimizers, trying to squeeze every advantage out of the rules, then you may have a point – but that’s a very dull way to roleplay – for me, it’s about as interesting as becoming an accountant! If however, it’s been chosen because it fits the character’s story then it works ok.
The main campaign I take part in has 6 characters at this time, but has had over 20 through the many years it’s been running. In all that time only one character has had lucky feat – because it fitted in with his backstory. When compared to things like Diviners powers, a Monk’s multi-attacks, or a Bard’s Jack-of-all-Trades, the Lucky Feat has had a negligible impact on outcomes.
If you do find it’s causing a problem, any decent GM should know how to adjust the circumstances to balance out such an effect without having to ban things or write new rules.
I’m not really sure why everyone is getting upset. I have to assume most of the people that are angry have never dm’d a game before because they are lacking the understand of creating a dramatic environment. My entire focus for playing/dming games is to create memorable stories and drama for my players and myself, if a feat or part of the game doesn’t fit for a dramatic play-style it is OK to throw it out, the first part of the players hand book goes over this. Even if you don’t agree with him on it being overpowered, people should be able to make the game their own and maybe seeing an article like this makes them realize they don’t need to follow the rules to have fun.
Agreed, and of course it’s perfectly acceptable to keep it too if you’re having fun with it! Thanks Montie.
You need to be able to compensate for this as the dm. Do you nerf paladins because they out-burst damage everyone. Would you house rule a sorlock so people can’t multiclass? RAW, lucky actually let’s you turn disadvantage into what I like to call super advantage. Roll 3 dice, choose one. I still don’t house rule it, or even RAI. Plus, players tend to screw themselves over so often, lucky usually only makes their day ok.
Everything is only as broken or op as the dm let’s it be. If the only way you can deal with something is to house rule it, than house rule it. But calling things broken or op is a cop out.
In answer to “do I nerf paladins because they out-burst damage”, hell yes…
Honestly I think the “as a DM you should compensate” is one of the worst arguments that I see occurring in these types of conversations…. 99% of the 5e rules are balanced and work well. If one rule / ability does not, it makes much more sense to change that rule, than have to invent special challenges, often just for one player on a table with an OP’ed ability.
I respect your opinion, but I thoroughly disagree. My reason for disagreeing is that the Lucky feat does not guarantee success, which is the sentiment I was picking up from this article. If it did, I would definitely find it more than a little cheesy/overpowered. Players who spend a luck point and roll again have just as much of an opportunity to roll low as the first time. On the other hand, a player who takes an ASI can objectively increase their hit points, their spell saves, or their chances of hitting. There are other feats that offer similar OBJECTIVE benefits. With Lucky, even when a player uses it, they still have a chance to fail miserably. I’ve seen Lucky in play, and many times the “lucky” roll turned out to be 5 or less.
With that said, I do agree that it would be pretty annoying for the DM if all the players took lucky for one of their feats. However, all those players would be missing out on potentially better feats which (like I’ve already mentioned) objectively make the players’ characters better at what they do. Furthermore, feats/ASI’s are rare enough that I think some players will be hesitant in choosing it. If your table tends to have players rolling high rolls (i.e. rolls that result in a success) with a low roll occurring once in a blue moon, this feat might seem OP. But statistically speaking, it’s not.
Fair enough, possibly its more annoying than overpowered, given that there are some great other feats out there.
Statistically advantage is equivalent to a +5 modifier. Lucky is definitely powerful but it is not an automatic success by any means. There are channel divinity’s that add +10 to attack rolls after you see them. There are fears that ignore cover and disadvantage with extreme range of ranged weapons. There are fears that let you make a whole new attack with your bonus action. Unless you are long resting after every encounter giving a plus 5 to a roll (like casting shield does to AC) would y seem crazy, I think people just don’t have a great grasp on the statistics of advantage. There are many times lucky could be used and the player will still miss/fail.
9th level Conquest Paladin who is also a Fallen Aasimar.
He does his glowy eye, skeleton wing thing and folks within 10 feet have to save against CHA, which is a dump stat for so many. Now, those creatures are paralyzed with fear and movement of 0.
That is an I-win button.
If you don’t like that one, then the 9th level Paladin uses the Fear spell and same chars are not moving for 1 minute, if they blow their Wisdom save.
OF COURSE players need the Lucky feat available.
As long as there are broken chars in the game, Lucky must exist.
This is a complete fallacy. Just because other things in the game are broken, doesn’t mean that broken things should exist to prevent them.
Lucky making your encounters too easy? Try this ONE WEIRD TRICK to fix it: make them harder.
See my reply to Darq!
I’m a DM as well, currently running my party through Curse of Strahd.
The party rogue has had Lucky since lvl 4 and it has been insanely good. Even with lots of encounters every day (Barovia is cramped with them) and conserving the use between each long rest, it has saved his butt (or the butts of the entire party) so many times.
Oh, there’s a social check we really have to succeed here? Leave it to the rogue.
Oh, some BBEG is about to crit on the rogue? How convenient that the floor was slippery.
Oh, i need to defuse this bomb before it goes off, or we all die? Not to worry.
What makes Lucky broken isn’t the day to day combat encounters. Instead it is the ability to deflate almost any tense situation with the notion of luck saving the day.
The party is currently level 9, and whilst the rest of the party enjoys having a broken undetectable killing machine with them, even the rogue himself is getting slightly annoyed. He said to me that felt like carrying around not one, but three, “get out of jail cards” every day – he’s annoyed that he doesn’t get to explore the full extent of his character’s skills and limitations. It’s like hitting a panic-button every time something goes the slightest bit awry.
If his character dies, i shall not allow again.
Aaand i’m considering nerfing it – probably using the 1d4-1/long rest option.
Thanks for sharing Remus. Yeah that was our experience more or less. No one complained when it got banned, as everyone kind of realised it was too influential and made the game less fun.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
After all the discussion on here I decided to take lucky on a rogue/warlock for whom it was in character and thematically appropriate to see how it played. I am playing through the Tomb of Annihilation HC and I took it about level 6 since the multi class delayed my first ASI. The party is now on level 4 of the tomb and my character is up to level 11. My experience (and that of the DM in the game) is that Lucky is a novelty .. it made my character a bit more likely to succeed at things he is bad at and much less likely to fail at things he is already good at.
Examples: the character has +1 to con saves and +1 to wis saves .. Lucky has worked maybe 1/4 times to let the character pass a save against a DC of 15 or so. the rest of the time he failed anyway. On the other hand, faced with a DC 20 trap and expertise in thieves tools my modifier is +11 so most of the time I succeed anyway and with guidance and possible help action .. Lucky is just insurance.
The net result is so far from the other DMs experience reported here that it is hard to tell we are discussing the same feat.
So what could be different?
I tend to hang on to the luck points to use when really needed. I’ve never used one on an attack roll so far for example.
We also tend to have 3-6 encounters in a day so 3 re-rolls doesn’t go far. We only get one long rest/day so the rest of the day can also be filled with events where Lucky might be useful.
There are at least two other possible explanations .. 1) the times when Lucky makes a difference are usually quite important and thus very memorable .. if you fail a save and lucky doesn’t help it is still just a failed save so you may get a bias in believing Lucky is really powerful because you only really remember the positive outcomes. 2) Lucky can easily be perceived as OP if the player really is Lucky 🙂 .. lucky just gives you another shot at the roll .. if the roll required a 15 .. you STILL have a 70% chance of failing the re-roll. If you make those rolls then the player is actually Lucky 🙂 .. in my experience, I make that re-roll about 30% of the time so Lucky allows the character to succeed 30% of the time when he would otherwise have failed.
The interesting thing is that in NO way has the feat over shadowed the character, the characters class abilities, or anyone else in the party .. in actual play, with our play style, it isn’t a “get out of jail card” .. it is more like drawing a chance card when you fail at something that is beneficial 30% of the time and does nothing the rest of the time.
Anyway, I just wanted to chime in since my experience with the Lucky feat in play is so opposite from what you report.
PS I usually play Adventurers League and surprisingly few players seem to choose Lucky except perhaps when they have run out of better choices. Many of these players like to optimize characters and I find it informative how few seem to think that lucky is a good choice.
Hey Traska, I read this with interest, but will reply only very briefly.
You seem to be using Lucky to retake rolls you are unlikely to succeed with, which is why it might seem like a damp squib.
It becomes most powerful however (I’ve recently realised) when you use it to retake rolls you are very likely to succeed on, but somehow failed the first time. Gives you a near immunity to failure in those cases.
It is situational of course… a rogue’s biggest weakness is Wisdom saving throws, and Lucky doesn’t do much to fix that. Although you could take the Resilience feat which combined with Lucky will make you pretty untouchable.
(Just remembered that a Rogue picks up Slippery Mind at level 15 but that’s a long time and many failed Wisdom saves en route…)
I can imagine on a table full of min-maxing AL players, Lucky might not be first choice as they are probably picking specific stuff to combine with other abilities. I guess what you’re saying, and that’s something I could agree with, is that amongst more experienced players, of the min/maxing bent, Lucky will not feel OP’ed as those players will be creating some near gamebreaking combos that will eclipse Lucky…
I think the biggest problem with Luck is that every character build benefits from taking it, and it’s irritating if every player does the same feat because feats are meant to be an element of customization and distinctiveness. I’m onboard with banning it if your players consistently take it rather than feats that better fit the flavor of their character, but I don’t think it’s actually as mechanically overpowered as it seems.
The gain from luck rolls or advantage is an average of roughly +5. The average gain from bardic inspiration ranges from 3.5 to 6.5 based on bard level. A bard is thus like a communal Luck feat for the party, and if you already rolled and just missed the target by one, bardic inspiration is an automatic success. For ability checks the average gain from the highly spamable guidance cantrip is 2.5. In many situations this means giving yourself or anyone else a sort of half luck you can use over and over again. I feel like the rareness of feats should make them comparable to the usefulness of class features, especially since the increase to ability score being given up would be a plus 1 to every check you make with one ability ever, along with other boons.
All of these actually increase the maximum roll you can possibly get without a 20, unlike Luck. This is pretty relevant versus a very high check or one very high for your character, where it not only increases the chances of succeeding more than Luck, but, were you at that rare table that doesn’t make 20 an automatic success, actually makes otherwise impossible successes possible.
Now unlike all these other things I’ve mentioned Luck does give you a chance after you have already failed by a large margin, and this feature is rare in the game. But I feel like once you look at the math rather than just what feels dramatic in the game, Luck is still extremely powerful, but also seems much more comparable with other game mechanics. It is more overpowered in feel than actual crunch, particularly if you have long adventuring days with lots of things that require rolls.
Hi Benjamin, you make a convincing statement. Not going to talk more about Lucky (as I think I’ve said enough already), but this is a good discussion point I may have to post about in future:
“For ability checks the average gain from the highly spamable guidance cantrip is 2.5.”
I think guidance and maybe some other cantrips need to be limited use. Or maybe in this case simply a casting time of 1 minute would stop it getting too spammy, whilst still making it very handy. The gods can’t be on speed dial every 6 seconds…
Perhaps the solution is simply to raise the DC to succeed with the Luck roll. You all seem to be experiencing Luck as though the second roll isn’t equally likely to suck. It is not a “get out of jail” card, it is a “try to bust out of jail again” card. But it’s much more overpowered in the realm of recovering from failing easy or moderate difficulty rolls than in the realm of dealing with difficult ones. Adding, say, 5 DC on the second roll they get from Luck would reduce it from a “vastly reducing failures” feat to a perhaps more appropriate “getting an extra shot to get by by the skin of your teeth” feat.
Alternatively perhaps limit it to rolls for things you don’t have proficiency in (which tend to also more often be things you don’t have a high ability modifier for), since they are likely to require a pretty high roll. Or just drop the proficiency bonus on a Luck roll. This approach seems to also emphasize that it represents being lucky rather than skilled. Basically Luck when you have to get at least a natural 14 is a radically less powerful ability than Luck when you have to get a natural 7.
I’ve been DMing for almost 10 years now, and I can say that the Lucky feat CAN be overpowered if the DM doesn’t account for it. My most recent campaign I’m running is more relaxed than I usually go for (I guess I’m notorious for running brutal games) but I’ve kept a system I’ve been using since the launch of 5e – Reaction Time. In each game I run, depending on what the situation is, some players will face a threat that they simply don’t have much time to react to. In these situations I use their Passive Perception against a d20+5 to determine if they would have enough reaction time to correct whatever mistake they made. (Of course there are always factors that change how this works, but it’s the general frame) Pretty much all of my players take the Lucky feat, but sometimes they don’t have enough reaction time to use it… that’s because I don’t count Lucky as something that deletes the failed roll, I count it as something happening that CORRECTS the failed roll. For example, a PC could be running from a large wolf through the forest, and they manage to get just far enough to spin around and try to ambush it. On their attack roll to jump from behind a tree to surprise the wolf, they nat1. “I use Lucky!” The Player declares. Their passive perception is only 13, but thankfully for them I rolled even lower with my d20+5. I tell them they slip in some mud and are just realizing they’re about to fall, so they only have enough time to roll Lucky ONCE. They roll again. This time the roll is high enough. I detail that the slip in the mud still happens, but as they fall onto the ground the wolf slips in the mud as well and falls into their blade. If my d20+5 was HIGHER than his Passive Perception, then Lucky wouldn’t have had time to take effect and he probably would be wolf food. I’ve found that my players become far less reckless when this mechanic is implemented, since they know if they’re taken off guard that not even their precious Lucky feat will save them. This also works well with any other abilities that allow for dice rerolls, and it just makes the overall game more challenging for the players. (And of course before each campaign I explain to the players this mechanic will be implemented. They enjoy the Dark Souls level of difficulty I suppose)
How do you deal with the Divine Soul’s 1st level feature? Though not as extensive a list of impact as the Lucky Feat, it is available on a short rest, which means it could be used 4 or 5 times, depending on the DM’s encounter frequency. There are plenty of class features that come close to emulating Lucky. You take away Lucky, you better get ready to wipe out some sub-classes.
Firstly, Divine Soul’s ‘Favoured by the Gods’ mechanic is much more limited. It doesn’t apply to ability checks for example, nor can you use it to conveniently have an opponent reroll a critical hit. Also an extra 2d4 is nice, but I’d rather have a reroll. On my table once per short rest would mean 2-3 times a day. So it’s weaker in every respect to Lucky, for me.
Secondly, class features are expected to be much more powerful than feats, so even if it was stronger it I’m not sure it would be a problem.
Having a feat that is available to all and is powerful enough that 75% of players take it makes the game dull – an option that everyone takes is not really an option anymore. Having powerful (and flavourful) class abilities that only those classes can access is exciting and balanced by the other powerful class abilities.
I haven’t read all the comments, because there are so many, but I feel this needs said. As a DM and player, I find Lucky to be a good feat, not great. I’ll start with a classic saying, YMMV. I think his recommendations are great for type of player called “the power gamer,” but not for a general D&D sense. There are players at my table that use it to influence rolls regularly. And I give them their successes. But if their success takes away from a critical round of combat, a bad guys opportunity to speak or any major story concept, I still give them the success, but “add on” secretly to counter. For instance, failed a save, rerolled to success every time and feel immortal? Legendary action the spell again. A good DM I think challenges his players, but doesn’t limit them. But there are players and groups that a limitation ADDS to their enjoyment. I’ve never let a player die at my table for a series of bad rolls, that’s why we use a DM screen. I will if they have consistently bad planning (threatening dungeon, rogue tries to talk party order strategy, fighter ignores again and just walks in, guillotine trap severs arm holding torch and they are now one handed until higher level healing) or toxic behavior in a heartbeat though. This game is about fun and some players define fun different. A DM adapts. I like this adaptation he has. Not for everyone, but it’s good one nonetheless.
Y’all need to play Savage Worlds, a game system where every character gets 3 Bennies (Luck Points) and you take feats to get more. It’s not game breaking. It’s a good feature.
I would like to start by saying that I’m fairly new to d&d(it’s been almost a year) and that my group doesn’t use inspiration, so I don’t have to take that into account when my group plays.
I understand what you’re saying about the lucky feat. I myself haven’t taken the feat and I have a couple reasons for that that I will mention in this comment. When I first read the feat, I thought it was useful but not enough to grab my attention. I have a few reasons for that.
First, it looks like a good feat but you can only use it three times between long rest. My group does long rests but for the most part it’s not often enough that I would be able to use the Luck Points super often(we rest maybe once in a 6 hour session). This means that I would have to take into account that I could use it in that moment, but I might also want to save them as there may be times when I need it more, so I might not even use all three between long rests. My group has done stealth infiltrations followed by a fight right after(without a rest in between). In that kind of situation, I might use all my luck points when I roll for the stealth and whatnot, and have none left for the fight.
Second, you can only use it on yourself. Now, this isn’t too much of a drawback, I suppose, but my fourth point should explain why I was disillusioned with this. This means that I myself might be doing well, but my group members may not be, and I won’t be able to help them with my rolls. For me part of playing d&d is doing it with my team and making sure they’e doing well.
Third, it’s a guaranteed second roll three times, not a guaranteed good roll. I can remember countless times when myself and my group members have been given the chance to re-roll and both rolls were terrible. I’ve had team members roll a 7 and a 3, or a 2 and a 2. In those cases, they could pick 7 over 3 and their mod might be able to help, but it might still not be high enough to make a positive difference.
Finally, I was rather unimpressed with this because, as a Divination Wizard, I already get something rather similar to this. Whenever I take a long rest, I get to roll two d20s(I don’t remember which level, but at a higher one I will get to roll three) and I can then use those rolls to replace any d20 roll I roll myself, one of my group rolls, or that the DM rolls(for NPC attacks). I have to do it before they roll, however. It’s not the same, I know, but they’re similar enough that I didn’t even seriously consider taking the feat. I know that with the feat you can roll after the die has been rolled, and in my case I have to do it beforehand, but I also have more room to strategise my rolls. If I roll a 4 and a 12 then I can decide to give a team member the 12 or an enemy the 4, which gives me an edge since the feat would require me to roll when I DECIDE to use it, so the number would be unknown. You could then end up with the situation I mentioned in my third point.
This is just my take on the feat, and I know I’m fairly new and whatnot. I hope some of this is useful, though.
Hey Rowan, every experience is valid, and playing for a year isn’t a short time. If I say too much I’ll be repeating myself, but I will say that a) you can use Lucky on someone that attacks you, so you can use it on other people in that sense. And that b) Portent is one of the game’s most powerful abilities in my opinion, so if you’ve already got that then yes it won’t seem so powerful. Finally c) as you get to higher levels a reroll is more likely to equal success, so the higher the level the more powerful Lucky becomes as it begins to immunise you against failure (or at least failure in checks where you can add your proficiency bonus).
As a player I have been in a D&D 5e group that plays once a week since 5e was released and I’ve DM’d a group off and on on the side. I’ve only ever seen Lucky used on two characters. These aren’t incompetent players, in fact a large portion of the people I play with have been playing since the late 70’s/early 80’s Gygax days and are quite well versed with mathematics. In fact one of them is a min/maxing (ugh) math/science professor.
Most D&D players/DMs would agree that min/maxers are the worst type of player to deal with. Unfortunately for this argument no min/maxer is going to lower their chance to hit on every single role (among other things, depending on the stat), just to re-roll three dice over the span of an entire day. If min/maxers aren’t taking Lucky before they get their primary stat to 20, then it’s not overpowered. Further, if Lucky was THAT good, min/maxers would also roll a human variant and start with Lucky at level one. News flash: they don’t.
Is Lucky good? Sure. Is it overpowered? Of course not. Inspiration is just an incredibly underwhelming mechanic and comparing the two is a mistake to begin with.
Unfortunately this is the first article I’ve ever read on this page and due to the ridiculous amount of DM vs Player bias (and false information) it contains, I won’t be coming back.
Personally I’d treat lucky in the following way if I were running a session.
1: You can only use one lucky point per action.
2: It doesn’t neccessarily save you. I’d treat it as thematic but still punishing. You go for a jump check, you fail and fall down the pit, or you succeed on a lucky point, Luckily as you fall you manage to grab hold of a branch, it cuts into your hand, dealing 1d4-1 slashing damage, but you manage to hold on and pull yourself to safety.
3: Heavily enforce the “before the outcome” part. Make it so they have to use their lucky pont before you announce the outcome. They roll a 15 to hit the AC16 enemy? They have to say “I use a lucky point” before knowing if it hits or misses. I know this is just how it’s meant to be played, but a lot of people I’ve seen let it slide.
“And then walks in lucky feat”
And then walks in bards, whose whole point is giving out inspiration as a bonus action, furthermore inspiration can, just like the lucky feat, be ‘used’ after rolling the main dice, just before the DM decides the result (the exact same as the lucky feat)
Furthermore the lucky feat is less powerful than inspiration as lucky is rerolling a D20, whereas inspiration is a flat out addition of up to a d12
Say you rolled a 10, with lucky you only have a 50% chance of getting a better result, whereas inspiration is guaranteed to improve it, though i suppose lucky can turn a 1 into a 20
Lucky isn’t the same as 3 inspiration dice, it’s the same as 3 self-invoked advantage rolls (but not quite, since with a disadvantage roll it takes the middle of the 3 dice rolled)
Hey Sirius, just to be clear, let’s not confuse Bardic Inspiration with Inspiration, as they are two separate mechanics. It’s pretty hard to compare Bardic Inspiration with Lucky, because the first is one of the key features of a class and probably should be more powerful than any given feat. A feat is a generic add on, available to all classes, that should be roughly balanced against a score modifier of +2.
“Lucky isn’t the same as 3 inspiration dice, it’s the same as 3 self-invoked advantage rolls (but not quite, since with a disadvantage roll it takes the middle of the 3 dice rolled)”
You can also use Lucky to force an attacker to reroll their attack roll, including rerolling a critical hit against you. That’s a massive boon!
Also, with disadvantage and Lucky you don’t take the middle roll, you take whichever is highest from the lowest number of the first two rolls, and the number of the lucky die roll. So if the lucky die roll is highest you can keep it. At least that would be the sensible interpretation of the rules IMHO… Jeremy Crawford says here you actually pick the highest of three dice, turning disadvantage into super advantage!!!
Also, as I mention on the post, being able to choose to use Lucky after seeing the result of the original die makes it “incredibly well timed advantage”, rather than just mere advantage.
Easy fix on players using this against enemy crits….don’t tell them the enemy critted….by the time they figure it out it is too late to do anything. I never tell my players whether I rolled a 1 or 20 on the dice and instead let them figure it out when the enemy deals massive damage and gets a cool description of their attack or when the enemy ends up losing its weapon or looking like a complete fool
Well, a couple of things:
1 – You’re the one who’s making Lucky stronger than it should be by not having enough encounters between long rests. That’s not just an issue with Lucky, tho. You’re heavily nerfing Warlocks, for example, because there’s no way you’re giving them enough short rests(3 – 5 between every long rest) to get them on equal footing with other spellcasters, so:
2 – Don’t give me that bulls**t about striving for balance between all party members. You’re not doing that. You’re striving to *control* all party members, be it as a DM(which is bad) or as a player(which is even worse). You said in a comment that some people feel bad when their PCs are weaker than the rest. So these people should do some research and make stronger characters. You should never ever punish people who want to be efficient because Little Johnny is going to cry when his Orc(From Volo’s) Wizard is unable to land a single spell because it has a score of 8 in intelligence. If Little Johnny doesn’t want to feel like he’s a burden to the group, he shouldn’t be. This is like breaking someone’s leg because there are people who are in wheelchairs, but even worse, because, in this scenario, the person chose to be in the metaphorical wheelchair. That brings me to:
3 – Not everyone likes to play the same way. Going back to the wheelchair example, there’s nothing wrong with being on a wheelchair, even if it is by choice. But there’s also nothing wrong with being a professional runner, or a race pilot. People like to play different ways, and just because *you* like to play as a joe schmoe who add 1d4(1d4! That’s ridiculously low!) when he’s really, really lucky, it doesn’t mean everyone has to enjoy it. This isn’t dark souls. It’s D&D. Until you realize that what you consider “realistic” or “meaningful” is actually meaningless for anyone who isn’t you, you’re gonna keep thinking some abilities are overpowered. Yeah, they are, but that’s the point of the game.
4- Pretty bold statement saying that the thing the game designers did goes against the spirit of the thing the game designers did. Might wanna reconsider it?
I don’t think the overall tone of your comment is really called for, but anyway, my responses.
1) The 6 encounters a day doesn’t fit into the way the majority of people want to play 5e… at least in my experience of playing and also watching various streams. Also what makes more sense? Changing the whole way you play the game, or removing one or two abilities?
2) Wasn’t me who took Lucky off the table, was another DM in my group. I just agreed with him. As did the third DM in our group. As do the majority of DMs…
3) Not sure how you can advocate so strongly for playing in different ways, while at the same time calling me a bullsh*tter and vehemently criticising my approach to playing D&D…. !?!?
4) It is a little bold… but how do you imagine inspiration was conceived? Was it in a previous edition (I only played 1st, 2nd and 5th)? I love it as a mechanic, and Lucky completely undermines it, which for me is another reason to get rid of Lucky, and remember to give out inspiration as and when PCs deserve it.
From my experience of DMing and playing several 5th edition campaigns, I can say “Lucky” is certainly one of the best feats when players know when to use it. Broken even. It is universally beneficial in that it gives any character the power of probability manipulation. I always ban it after my last campaign. Every player took lucky as their first feat and always used it at critical moments. Like preventing from falling off a cliff and dying, preventing a dominate person, succeeding a sneak attack on a boss, and succeeding against a fireball that otherwise would have knocked a player unconscious. We ran into 2 to 3 large encounters and 2 to 3 dangerous traps each session. Lucky often saving the day and allowing the party to sprint through dungeons without even a single unconscious member. Lucky upsets the careful balance of chance in dangerous situations and ruins exciting moments when something serious is about to happen due to a bad roll then the player says “Lucky!”
I don’t get why it is a problem…if a player used Evasion to avoid all damage from a fireball no one bats an eye. If a monk uses their ability to just shrug off charms and frightened no problem. There are lots of examples of feats and class abilities allowing players to avoid disastrous outcomes…which is what abilities and feats are supposed to do. Complaining that 3 times a game day a player can manage to avoid dying sounds like you are angry that you didn’t get to kill a player…which isn’t the point of the game. When my players use lucky I take it as a chance to flavor in something fantastical or comical as explanation as to why they avoided whatever they avoided, or succeeded in whatever they were trying to do.
My experience with lucky feat so far:
I played three D&D5 campaings, groups from 5 to 8 players (although rarely all players present in each game section). So far i was the only one to get this feat, with my half-orc barbarian, frenzied berserker, criminal background.
My plan was to go along with my rogue friend assassinations and scout moments, the character was proficient in stealth but had a low dex, so lucky would balance my not optimized stealth, and i wouldn’t make us fail often. I would also use a point to roll for a low saving throw or to avoid a natural “1” in a critical moment.
We usually have few and harder encounters, instead of multiple. Not many stealth missions, but some skill challenges.
So far the group think the feat is very good, but nobody else mentioned getting it. The only problem we had, and made us “nerf” it, was how it interact with disavantage, turning it into “superadvantage”. We house ruled against it.
Sometimes i overused it with skill checks before the combat, or used it and still failed the attack/save/skill check. But sometimes it saved me from a harmfull spell or a critical hit, and once it helped me kill a dragon with a javelin when it was trying to escape.
In the end i think its a strong feat. Almost, but not yet, “game breaking”, and very fun to use.
Honestly the way I manage this is by using the feat as written and some expansion on it. The rule states that the outcome of the d20 roll cannot be known for the player to use the lucky feat, it states they must declare using the lucky point BEFORE the outcome is known. I interpret outcome known as when the success of the d20 roll is made known. I have interpreted this to apply to the attack rolls made by enemies as well.
I also generally never tell a player whether an enemy has rolled a nat 20 on an attack and allow them to figure it out based on the damage if that has happened.
Yeah, of course I took the Lucky feat for my barbarian. And I took the feat that gives you a reroll on melee damage once a round as well.
The thing with Lucky is… you still have to BE lucky. I can think of times I have rolled a saving throw, failed, used and luck point, and then failed the second roll as well. It happens.
Well now, that’s a lot of posts to read through! As a player for 25+ years, and as of a few months ago a first-time DM (all with the same group of people), I feel like this is being over-analyzed by both sides…
1) It’s just a game.
B) PC’s SHOULD narrowly escape death (most times at least), whether by skill, strategy, or even luck. They are heroes after all.
III) If it works at your table and everyone is happy, then all is well. As previously stated – the intent of D&D at it’s heart is to have fun. The “rules” are merely guidelines to get you started, to be modified (created, edited, or removed) as your group sees fit.
::) I personally prefer playing the ‘improbable savior’ type of character over the ‘combat perfection’ type… [Examples – The Blind Mage; The Autistic Mystic; The Bard (who only knew utility spells, becoming a basically useless liability when combat arose); the Idiot Savant (with no stat above an 8, but had a 50% chance to succeed at any new task he attempted); etc]… so in my experience Lucky just gives my misfits a chance to actually BE heroic.
Ł) Lucky does have the potential to become a potent crutch for already powerful heroes to lean on, but can also be a dynamic ingredient for a more roleplaying based character.
Į) My “fix” for those that see Lucky as broken (for those who haven’t already done so by removing the feat) would be the ‘RP’ in ‘RPG’…
-Your rogue wants to use a luck point when saving against poison gas? Make them describe it. “I happened to be exhaling when the trap went off”. Allow the re-roll; on a success you (the DM) pick up from there, “Your luck runs true. As the trap fills the area with an amber-hued mist you are able to suppress the instinct to breathe in, making your way out of the affected chamber and back into the hallway from whence you came.”-
That’s it from me on the topic, take it or leave it. Just remember, it’s ONLY A GAME 😀
D&D will be, and should be, played a little differently at every table. That’s why it has persisted through the decades!
I’ve had player’s choose the Lucky feat for their characters many times in the numerous 5e campaigns I’ve run, and I’ve never found it to be overpowered. I’ve given it to a few of my NPCs as well.
If you give it to your NPCs then of course it doesn’t seem overpowered… you are basically cancelling it out. Try giving it to just your NPCs and not your PCs and see how long it is before they clamour to have it removed. I tend to think of it as more annoying and flavourless than overpowered these days, but still…
If you allow feats at your table you should allow all feats. Doing otherwise is just bad and lazy DMing.
The lazy and cowardly thing is to play a rule as written even if it doesn’t work at your table. The braver thing that also requires some thought and explanation (ie. work) is to try to fix it. In every edition of D&D, the game designers have made it abundantly clear that DMs should feel empowered to change the rules to fit their game, and yet we still hear the argument that doing anything other than slavishly following the rules is bad DMing… a point which not even the authors of D&D agree with. It’s something I find incomprehensible.
Man, why are people so hostile here? And, so boldly uninformed to boot? Maybe Jonathan has never actually had the balls to leave his house and run a session with other people.
Thank you for this post. Great thoughts, and I agree.
One more option that came to mind, and I’d like your opinion on this:
– 3 luck points/ day
– only useable on skills/rolls you’re proficient in
I think, to me, what’s worst about this feat is that it can make you great at everything. My awful-Charisma druid can do most of the talking, knowing he’s always got that luck to fall back on. Allowing luck to only be used on things you’re proficient in keeps more “on brand”. Meaning my same druid should still let the handsome sorcerer do the talking, *but* always seems to have an uncanny ability to pick up tracks or find just the right ingredients for his herbalism hobby.
On your points, I wanted to further discuss; I love the idea of adding a daily roll for how many points you get––I love that luck is a part of Lucky. A daily roll though, in my experience, is often forgotten (I run often for players new to the hobby), and I feel bad telling them “tough” when they only think of it in the moment they need it. Any thoughts on that?
1 or 2 encounters per day? And you are worried about balance? Lucky is the least of your worries. You should ban all casters, I have no idea if you have any martial classes in your games but I doubt it!
Now i’m not saying this applies to you, but from my experience, Lucky is equivalent to more work for a DM, and that’s what they hate. That’s all it is. So he succeeded when he should failed, no different from if they succeeded in the first place. So the enemy missed when when they should have hit, again no different that if it missed in the first place. I have a player right now who has both Lucky and a Clockwork Amulet, at the end of the day, the encounters are still as challenging as if he didn’t have those.
At higher levels of play, Lucky is not as relevant as most people think. And it’s a resource that has to be managed like a lot of things. My player is so careful with his lucky feat (due to an untimely almost TPK) that he rarely uses it at all unless the situation was really dire, and even then the enemy has the upper hand to have forced him to use Lucky.
There is also the matter of rest management. In my games, they only get a full rest every 3 or 4 sessions, as they are currently exploring an underground chasm that takes months to traverse. This further minimizes the supposed imbalance of Lucky.
I really think there is nothing wrong or overpowered with Lucky. But I do salute you on your initiative on trying to think of alternatives.
This guy’s legit. Constructive counterpoint. Thank you my dude.
I’ m a newbie and still can see at firce glance how good this is, and after thinking more about it I also thought it could be as well banned
people think that make a bad DM, but I think is making a good example by removing something that he thinks is not as good experience for the players
but I don’t actually like the idea of nerfing it insted of just removing it comlpetly
this feat is powerful because how versatil an convenient it is, it don’t matter what your character is. it is only few advantage roll per day, but so convenient it is only when you actually need it, in compararion to archive something similiar you would need some spells, or strategies you need to prepare BEFORE you could get advantage, something that you may not even need at the end if your first dice is enough. so you for example you could use one action to use a speel like True stricke, it cost you all your action or Wrathful Smite that also require concentration, your atack action, hiting and a your oponent failing a save throw, so the enemy get disadvantage. and yet after all that, it is only on very specifict stuff like combat, it cost you even spell know and slot.
in comparation with other feats, they give you some specific thing, that may help you in a similar way, like +proficiency on few specifict things, advantage on one specifict situation or spell that may help you but not free of action and slot cost
and the worst about Lucky for me is anyonw could take it and it don’t bring any kind of flavor to a character, it is just a roll with out much context or explanation
I would not dislike it as much if it was only on specific things, because that’s something I may find giviing context, like been lucky doing a task, or your character beliving that crossing your fingers will help him with luck. maybe only for role play and not combat, or a charm that protect you agains the critical hit extra damage, but not the whole atack
Wizard: School of Divination give you a similar abilliti, that give you 2 dice trhow for something very similar, is way more expencive that just a feat, but now you got 5 re-rolls per day , at least this one give you some context about it
You’re worried about balance? Give some of the foes of the PCs the lucky feat. The luck point expenditures cancel out.
Then you’re just introducing a lot of tedious, anti-dramatic re-rolls into your game.
Hrmm . . . for some reason, it *feels* like being able to add or subtract a d4 would be more generous than having them reroll a d20.
After all, if I roll a 13 on a save (no bonuses), and I know I need a 15, I’m more likely to get a +2 on a d4 roll than I am a 15 on a d20 roll.
Or . . . maybe not. I dunno. It just *feels* more likely.
I know the d4 idea might sound mechanically better, because D&D tends to reflavor existing mechanics for other things and this is just 1st-level Bardic Inspiration, but on yourself.
Alternatively, how would you feel about a Lucky feat that lets you impose dis/advantage on a roll three times a day.
Would that be better in your eyes?
(I know there are people and sites that crunch these probability roll numbers. I just haven’t checked.)
I love this discussion, though, because LUCKY was the first feat I ever chose, simply because I’m a notoriously bad die roller. (Seriously, my Barbarian with a +4 STR and a +1 Battleaxe only hits about twice per encounter with my current group. This is not an exaggeration.)
I guess you’re right in that – when the PC knows what they have to roll, they would be able to use their luck points very efficiently.
But overall this is still a LOT less powerful than RAW.
If you miss by 5 that’s it, no luck point will help you.
If you miss by 4, only 25% chance.
If you miss by 3, only 50% chance.
So in fact most people are only going to use a luck point when they miss by 2 (if they even have that information!). That should be only some 10% of the time.
So it’s now a limited feat for when a bit of luck can make the difference between success and failure. Which I like.
I don’t really like the flavour of a PC’s luck making someone else bad at something, but I would be ok maybe with the idea of imposing disadvantage on an attack roll against the PC in question (the ogre slips at just the inopportune moment). Overall though I prefer player agency. The ogre pushes the PC towards the cliff edge, but – luckily the PC manages to grab an old tree root.
I get that bad rolls are frustrating, but that’s part of D&D. Many players feel they are unlucky, but it’s hard for anyone mathematically minded to believe that. Try keeping a track of your rolls over a number of sessions and let me know if you really turn out to be unlucky!
And while I don’t really believe in lucky dice, it is possible (I guess!) that some dice are not evenly weighted, so you could try changing dice IF, after some 200 rolls you see a problem. (I’m not really sure what a good control would be… maybe more like 500 or 1000 rolls!).
I’m sorry to say but all in all as a dm the simple solution is to fight fire with fire lucky cancels lucky mechanically and story wise its easy to counter or refuse a players usage of this optional ability same with inspiration (also optional) its co-operative storytelling there are other option in which you can without messing with home brew.
lucky in its self is in no way broken when there are so many in game way to counter it with one of it being the feat it self and the fact that it only determines attacks against you and and event you are influencing
example bestow curse making you mess with your luck, gives dm control or your lucky feat
divine intervention god can interfere with the world acts like a luck point was used against you when on land blesses or cured by a god you are not in favor with
npc can also have feats lucky is not only available to the player
hell even a divination wizard changes the roll if the final outcome and you dont have to roll
to say it is broken when it is so easy to change the outcome thro all other means when the entire game is built off of advantage and disadvantage shows that you need to observe and think more creatively about how all game resources are being used
Those sound like horrible and contrived solutions that will just frustrate players more than taking Lucky off the table. Giving NPCs Lucky to counter Lucky is just dumb, and a waste of everyone’s time. How pointless do you want dice rolls to be? And how many do you want to make?
The game is better without Lucky. Take if off the table before your campaign and have the PC take another feat that will lend flavour and fun abilities to your table.
lucky is no better then a spell it is a resource for the player or dm to use. Its like saying magic shouldn’t be allowed because it can make out comes easier or bypass whatever is intended or cross classing into rouge or fighter to get action surge or expertise. if it doesn’t fall into how you want to play don’t take it you make it bigger then it is and extra roll on one of your actions or an attack against you. when you just to improve chance rather then reliability.
from previous posts it sounds like you just don’t like player controlled advantage from a system that is base off of advantage and disadvantage and that’s just boiling it down to basics
Speaking specifically PCs and NPCs don’t use magic in general, they use spells – and usually a great variety of them. Spells each have particular and varying effects, and they are interesting. Something happens that affects the game.
Meanwhile using the Lucky feat nothing happens. You just try to force a different outcome from a situation that has already played out. An outcome that was already decided by chance.
Which brings me to another point: the first outcome of any die roll in itself tells you if the PC was lucky… there’s something intrinsically wrong about forcing a character to be lucky in a game of chance! The original dice rolls determine that!
I understand why players want to take the feat… and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not even that powerful, given the other options you could take, but it is boring and devoid of flavour.
Your game will improve if you take it off the table… esp. if you’ve resorted to giving your NPCs the feat, as then you’re just in a battle of rerolling dice rolls that already tell a perfectly good story.
but that’s just it, it is up to the player on how to spin it. how it works lucky is a mechanic to be woven like stumbling turning a monsters crit into something that would do nothing saving your life ,narrative vs mechanic any ability can be turned into a crappy or captivating narrative and taking away something that’s boring to you but might be fun to someone else how is that fair to others it just falls under don’t like don’t use if others agree with you they wont use it, its there ,to restrict others because you dont like it on an optional rule kinda comes off as you dont like other players creativity
just dont run feat option if you dont like the extra abilities
I’m late to the party, but I can’t help but feel something important is being overlooked (although hinted at in a few posts). The game (at least the combat portion) is balanced around 5 – 6 encounters per Long Rest as previously mentioned.
However, the original poster talks about how this is not a reasonable expectation for their playstyle, but such a conclusion is based on leaving a Long Rest at 8 hours (and short rest at 1 hour).
If you change the length of rests (there’s discussion of this in the DMG), you can maintain that 5 – 6 Encounters per Long Rest to suit whatever your play style ‘demands’.
IMHO, this would be a far simpler solution than trying to come up with fixes to various parts of the game (I came to this post following the discussion of the Paladin being OP). Not that I’m opposed to ‘fixes’, its just that if you fix Lucky for example, you’ve opened a ‘can of worms’ that inevitably leads to more fixes (some examples of how this can go: why target that one Feat, but not other ‘OP Feats’; once OP Feats are ‘fixed’, what about improving the ‘underpowered’ Feats? this can lead to fixing too strong/too weak class abilities, and this could lead to a lot of work…)
So why not ‘fix’ the source of the problem? If you made Long Rests 24, 48 or even 72 hours long, you can cut back on the seeming ‘power’ of things like Paladin Smite, Lucky and even some of the other powerful Class Abilities I have not seen discussed here (that are based on Long Rests).
If you do this, you should also extend Short Rests. they should be somewhere between 1/6 to 1/8 the length of a Long Rest, but this isn’t a science. You just have to try different amounts and see what works best for your playstyle/playgroup.
I really feel adjusting Short/Long Rests helps out players/DMs looking for ‘better balance’ in their games, so if you feel you are in this camp, I believe its worth looking into.
Lastly, I just would like to point out one minor quibble. Earlier in the discussion it was mentioned that Lucky changes the odds of success of a roll, but it actually doesn’t since two separate dice rolls are separate statistical ‘events’. So for example, if you had a 50% chance of success and failed the roll, using Lucky to re-roll it still provides you with a 50% chance to succeed. You can’t look at those two ‘events’ and conjoin them and declare that it was a 75% chance of succeeding all along. That would only be true if you were rolling 2d20 where either one scoring 11+ results in a success, and that is NOT how Lucky works.
I like the logic of what you’re saying about rests, but I think you’d have to be pretty brave to tell players they only get their spell slots back every 2 or 3 days!
Would def. be interesting.
Regarding probability, by that logic I would argue then it improves your chance by 50%. Once you have failed your roll, if you don’t have lucky, you have a 0% chance of success. Then by introducing Lucky you now have a 50% chance (if you need an 11+).
I guess it depends on your players, but I don’t think ‘brave’ has anything to do with it.
I only mention this idea since it strikes me that you and your playgroup are very much interested in seeing balanced classes & player options, and to my mind, this is the easiest way to achieve that goal. So if your players are reasonable human beings, and you can have a thoughtful discussion with them, then you can explain why adjusting the rest structure will help create better balance (again, this is assuming better class balance is desired, or you like the idea of ‘gritty realism’ as it is called in the DMG).
I mean really all you are trying to do here is reach the recommended Encounters per Rests as suggested in the DMG. That’s not screwing the players over or being a jerk of a DM. If due to the nature of your campaign, you are unable to squeeze 6 – 8 encounters per day (I agree this can be quite a challenge), then why not adjust rests accordingly? All that you are doing is following the recommendations in the DMG, but instead of encounters and rests being structured ‘per day’, they are spread over a couple of days (at whatever rate suits your campaign) best.
Now, if you declare to players that resting takes much longer, but then you start throwing 6 – 8 encounters per day at the players, then yes, I’d agree that’s a jerk DM move (and players would rightly be up in arms over it).
But all I am suggesting is to match rests to encounters (roughly, again I don’t think its a science, and you can play around with the numbers until you and your players reach something more or less agreeable to all).
Actually, you have a lot of leeway on how you could go about this. For example, the DMG states only 1 Long Rest per day, and recommends about 2 short rests per day. But you could leave the time each takes the same (i.e. 8 hr Long & 1 hr short), but limit the number allowed more severely. For example, only 1 short rest per day and only 1 long rest per 3 days (or perhaps per 2 days, or whatever time it takes to reach that 1 Long Rest per 6 – 8 Encounters objective). One reason to do it this way is because it has less impact on messing up with time-sensitive campaigns (players feel they are less constrained in their decisions because they aren’t forced to sit around doing nothing while taking really long Long Rests).
Howvever, I personally like extending the actual time of rests, because it feels less ‘artificial’. Telling players they are limited in how many rests they are allowed to take is quite arbitrary and is difficult to support in the game fiction, so I prefer not to go that route myself, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid option.
For my group, I’m currently doing 2 days = Long rest (that is basically 48 hours of light activity that can include completing downtime activities, but I would say no to travelling, since I like journeys to be dangerous and exciting, so not conducive to resting). I make short rests about 3 hours, but I don’t sweat the precise time.
This certainly has some impact on how players manage their resources, but I think its a positive impact. Players have to think more carefully about what they do. Paladins certainly cannot smite all day long without worry about running out of spell slots. But I’m not unfair. I try to keep close to the 6 – 8 encounters. But if, due to circumstances in the fiction, the players feel they don’t have time to spend 48 hours resting (because momentous events are afoot, or whatever), I may cut them some slack and allow them to gain the benefit of a Long Rest in less time. Again, this is not about rigid following of rules but of making the game play more interesting and ultimately more fun because players having tough choices about managing their resources and balancing their decisions between travel or action vs. taking time to rest creates more interesting game play experiences in my humble opinion.
Talking about late to the party. Being a power gamer player I’m in agreement its a bit broken. But largely because unless I’ve miss read it. If I have disadvantage and use lucky I can choose any of the 3 rolls. Effectively going from disadvantage to super advantage. What if the enemy has advantage doesnt this mean they can have super disadvantage instead?
Hey I’m super late, but I read the full thread and was going to post exactly this. I’ve been DM’ing 5e for 2 and a half years now and though by no means I claim to be an expert I am confident in my understanding on the rules enough to have started implementing light changes to suit my narrative pace. Rest duration is the latest of said changes. There are quite a few resources (luck points, diviner’s portents, high level spell slots) that being long-rest based should be strategically and carefully used in the course of a few combats (6 to 8 being the proposed number, but also 4-5 bigger or more difficult ones) and the fact that more RP/exploration/intrigue oriented games tend to have less than that makes some of those abilities seem more powerful than they should mainly because they’re more available than they should. The 5th level sorcerer should really sweat a bit before casting his fireball, since he can’t get another one for another 4 fights. I totally am in agreement that some campaigns can’t accomodate that number of encounters in a day without losing verisimilitude. I opted for long rests being achieved when the PC’s complete a 32/36hr period of light activities, usually whithin a relatively safe space. (city/village/stronghold or even a reasonable campsite). This usually includes a night’s rest, a day of taking it easy and a second night’s rest, after which the rest is completed. Short rests are quite more flexible, they can take anywhere between 2/4hrs according to the circumstance and i’ve taken the option for an Arduous Rally to be taken, a period of 5-10 minutes of the party gathering their resolve, which gives them the full benefits of a short rest but gives them an exhaustion level (that does not go away until they finish a long rest). So we have the possibility of a momentuous RP moment right before an important fight but it is not taken lightly and is used sparsely and always has some narrative gravitas. Also short rests are limited to a maximum of 3 between long rests, with one of those neccesarilly being a night’s sleep (usually the first night of a long rest).
I have found this to fit extremely well into my pace, as well as making extra narrative space for inter-party relations or pursuing of downtime activities, among other things. It has also given my players a lot more situations when they have to make hard choices and the feedback I’ve been getting from them is that they feel they have more opportunities than ever to exercise their player agency, which I think is absolutely crucial. It also serves the benefit of watering down some of the long-rest based features that are the most offending to game balance (or rather getting closer to the actual power level intended) like the aforementioned luck points, diviner’s portents and the like.
Some side-note examples: I have a moon-druid and a land-druid at one of my campaigns. Since using these rules the landy has seemed much more in balance with the moony because of the Natural Recovery feature being a tad more relevant in this environment. The warlock in that party has also had the opportunity to shine in some crucial moments, especially in the last fights before a long rest where the other casters are (understandably) more exhausted. Planning for these sorts of adventuring periods has also made me think more cinematically in my encounter building, but that’s not neccesarily a merit of the house-rule, since it hasn’t enabled something that wasn’t possible, just sort of helped me push in that direction. If encourage you to try these rules out, play with them, tweak them to suit YOUR experience (is it 24hr long rest? is it 16hr? is it 72hr?) and I daresay you will find that Divine Smite and Luck are a LOT less balance-breaking. Cheers for the Blog and the chill discussion (mostly) everyone does here.
Thanks for the insightful comment Mariano, which lends additional weight to the previous comment by Paul.
There’s something very simple and logical about a long rest being equal to a night’s sleep, which instinctively puts me off adopting a different system, but I’ve certainly enjoyed reading your experiences and it’s definitely food for thought.
A whole day of quiet downtime could be something I’d consider for a long rest. Sleeping is not enough, you have to make time for prayer, meditation, study etc., to regain your spell slots etc..
Typically in the adventures we play at my table however, we go from no encounters / sporadic encounters (build up, politics, investigation) to a large number of encounters quite on successive days (dungeons, lairs, raids, time-sensitive missions), so I can see problems as well, when having a day’s downtime just wouldn’t be possible for days…
One of our party (of 4) has luck
And he’s basically never ever fails to hit.
We sometimes have 3 rolls each a session and no fights. There’s that much story!
It doesn’t help he has +10 in some stats at level 7. So basically he can roll a 2, it’s 12, and still use a luck?
It would be ok of it was before seeing the outcome. Or once per level.
I don’t think he’s missed an attack in 5 sessions.
It makes us others seem a bit worthless.
I would ban it, but our DM hasn’t.
Wait, a plus 10 to an ABILITY SCORE?
The cap is a +5 unless you’re using the ‘Alternatives to epic boons’ rule.
And even then only 20th level characters are allowed to benefit from that (they’d already have at least 5 ASIs w/o multiclassing).
How is your DM ok with this?
They might mean +10 to attack, which is actually fairly easy by level 7; an archery Ranger for example can max out DEX by level 7 for +5, add proficiency of +3 and take the archer fighting style for another +2, and that’s before other possible bonuses from other sources (magic items etc.). Bards and Rogues meanwhile can have multiple skills on +11 by level with a +5 ability and expertise.
So I’m also super late, but this really is a great post and discussion about Lucky.
Personally I don’t think it’s really as over-powered as some people think; it’s only three *chances* to correct a bad roll per long-rest. Some of those chances will fail again, depending whether you roll for something you rarely fail (e.g- high bonus skill) or something you don’t have a good bonus in but really want to succeed (e.g- a saving throw you’re not proficient in). You’re sacrificing an ability score increase for probably two successful attacks/saves/checks or an avoided hit or two per long-rest/day.
The main benefit of the feat is its versatility; you can use it with almost any roll. But this also means that there’s no character build that cannot benefit from the Lucky feat, so the question really is whether there’s something else they could take (ability score or another feat) that would benefit them *more*, as most of the time there is. Instead of banning it you might consider just putting into context how limited it really is, and pointing out other feats that might fit a character better (and be more powerful overall).
The main problem with Lucky is that if a player can’t give good justification for why they took it then it’s just boring; it doesn’t add flavour if your fighter is just suddenly luckier than before. But if you’ve got a character that’s built around gambling and taking chances, then it could be the most flavourful thing in the world for some god of chance to take notice of them and bestow its blessing.
So I’d argue the best solution to feats in general is to have the players justify why a feat fits their character, not just their play-style. If a character only just started using a pole-arm for the first time and then tries to take pole-arm master then that makes no sense, invite them to justify how they’ll get that extra training (seek out a master trainer or such). Same with Lucky; you don’t just become Lucky, so why does it make sense for the character?
This is easy to solve. Feats are Optional. Do not allow them if you have issues with them.
Baby. Bath water. Who cares? Toss it all.
Agreed: it’s broken. Which is why I take it as a player. So is Bless, for that matter, and I’ll get to that because now you are curious. If I don’t like a roll, I can change it. It’s possible to roll worse than I had, but equally possible to roll better. It’s not advantage or disadvantage, because the player chooses which roll to use, based on the text of the feat. With Lucky, I get 3 chances per long rest to change the outcome of the story in my favor. I know a 3 on a Perception check to notice the ambush is bad, so I burn a luck point to change my roll. Chances are, I’ll do much better. Perhaps I am stealing from my companions? I can arrange it so it’s unlikely I’ll be caught. Again, I can manipulate the outcome of the story in a way nobody except another Lucky character can.
Now, Bless: plusses are at a premium. Anything that gives me between +1 to +4 is pretty powerful, more so the higher the bonus is.
Lucky is particularly annoying when player vs. player contests take place.
Bless is very powerful… at least requires concentration though.
That is NOT how inspiration works. You can add 1d6 to any one attack roll, saving throw, or ability check once. You can’t get it again until the DM gives it to you. It is NOT free advantage.
“If you have inspiration, you can expend it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll.”
-PHB, page 125
need i say more?
woops i meant to reply to ‘Your Mom’ above
Seems like comment appeared directly below, so that will do!
Yes, Your Mom seems confused. Maybe they’re playing with hero points in their campaign and didn’t check the rules.
Just saw many negative or even insulting comments. Just wanted to say that the Lucky feat can indeed be imbalanced, especially if you’re having a more realistic setting for a campaign with harsher rules on healing and rests, with 1-2 combats max per day OR a low level campaign AND you don’t feel like simply banning the feat, because it just feels cheap.
Really like some of your suggestions for balancing the feat.
Thanks for the comment Kasmo!
lucky is barely impacted at all and balances out nicely in a disadvantage roll. you can reroll and choose to take new dice roll or not but you STILL take the lowest roll, all it does is take out 1 potential dice.
frankly it seems like a poor DM complaining from a lack of creative encounters to counter a mechanic that can only be used 3 times anyway. 3 attacks/stat checks or 3 blocks in a single day? that’s childs play to toss on a party.
only time I find luck broken is with elves. a 4 hour rest to recover all points seems a bit short. 8 hours to be lucky I find is fine. saying that I only really notice rogues take luck these days. other classes are so OP in other ways its a fair way for them to bridge gap and keep sneak attack going off.
guess it depends on party makeup and how well the players are synergizing other talents though.
I didn’t think about that, but presumably unless the whole party is made up of elves it doesn’t make much difference!? The party stop for 8-10 hours anyway when they need a long rest…
counter option if I may… feats should be forced to be explained to the DM. as a wood elf rogue I can in theory take 2h fighting or more fitting crossbow feat. my DM ask the players why he has feat/how they got it. as a wood elf with bow abilities would I really be trained on a xbow when the elves hunt and kill with long bows more? a rogue wielding a 2h why? etc.
luck on a paladin if its divine makes sense but most gods never tough mortals lives. if you play into a justification angle it makes it more fun role play wise.
go further, lucky token/amulet that enhances power? cool fine.. until they loose it.
a DM job is to make a story, make the luck play to your favour.
Hi Rolando, I agree with you in that narratively justifying your feats is a great idea and one that builds a more immersive world and better gaming experience! Thanks for the comment!
100% agree. And this is as a player (and 1-time DM). What worth does the risk of failure have if you can, percentage-wise, change it so easily? I agree with your arguments, Duncan, and your suggestions on limiting it. I would add a fourth option to your list:
The Lucky feat enables you to re-roll any D20 roll, up to 3 times per day (regained after 8 hours sleep or at dawn of the next day (whichever is longest). However, each Lucky re=roll can only be spent on 1 roll of a given type:
– the player may re-roll one ability check or attack roll per day whilst in conversation
– the player may re-roll one ability check or attack roll per day whilst in combat
– the player may re-roll one ability or attack roll whilst outside of combat and conversation
I feel that this would balance the opportunities that a player has to alter their fate.
Thanks for the comment. Interesting idea to delineate Lucky situationally… I like it a lot. I would simplify your idea further and say, you can reroll
– 1 Attack roll
– 1 Saving throw
– 1 Skills check
I didn’t read all the replies above so maybe this was already mentioned. you could put a qualifier on WHO can have the Lucky feat. By 4th level when you get to choose a feat, the DM knows which characters are ‘pushing the envelope’ and which ones are just playing it safe and would use the feat just to ‘win’. I have been player/DM since the beginning(I was about 8-9) and try my best to play my characters different in each game. EX: I can play the steadfast healing cleric or the rogue who always takes that one extra chance to get the really good stuff. The cleric could be denied the feat whereas the rogue would help to make the story a fun one with his chance taking. I am currently playing a half-orc Tymoran Paladin and am constantly looking for opportunities to ‘Errol Flynn”. Recently did a flying attack from a 20’ high balcony down onto a caster performing a ritual while everyone else went down the stairs. Didn’t connect but 270 pounds of half orc tends to disrupt a ritual(which could have led to bad things happening also). Also, grabbed a tied off rope, jump into the abyss to swing back into a cave with baddies in it to bowl them over to give the team a chance to make the descent without getting swiss cheesed.
If the DM thinks the player is only taking the feat to ‘break’ the game then maybe they should just deny it, but if it is going to be used to bring some highlights and laughter to the game then maybe it would be allowed.
On the last example, my DM required 4 ability checks to allow it to happen and I rolled very well so he allowed the maneuver to work. 1) Did i grab the rope at a location that would preclude me from slamming into a wall 2) did I manage to actually keep ahold of the rope since I explicitly said I would only be using one hand 3) did I slam into the baddies to drive them away from the opening 4) did I manage to land on my feet and not hurt myself and because I was ‘lucky’ and passed all 4 he even allowed me to swing my sword and hurt one of the baddies(another roll that was successful).
All of the above was done without the Luck feat, but for game flavor, this is the kind of situation that I, personally, would like to see it used in, but I also understand that if it is granted then it should be up to the player when it is used. But a good DM can overcome any Rule As Written with fair homebrew rulemaking.
But i also like the last comment before mine as to what the points can be used for.
To me, the sad thing is that modern players are always trying to break the game by combining this feat with that race and that class to mathematically maximize damage and such instead of just rolling up a character and PLAYING.
Anyway, just my two cents. Good article by the way.
Thanks for the suggestion… that’s definitely a new idea in this conversation. You could rebrand the feat ‘daring’ in this case!
I’ve had a tangential idea for a while that I’ve been meaning to share re: Lucky and that is, I’d allow it for one type of roll only – player’s choice.
So you can take Lucky just for Saving Throws (‘Lucky’ feat), just for Ability Checks (‘Daring’ feat…!? Although maybe not if you use it for Arcana checks…) or just for Attack Rolls (‘Unerring’ feat)
I think this limits the power/spamminess, while keeping it a viable option to complement certain builds…
I really like that idea and am going to incorporate it into my next campaign as a DM. Just at first blush I can see this as a ‘Holy’ feat for clerics to reroll healing/banishing type of checks and like you said an arcana type and daring or quick fingers or any number of possibilities.
It is a great idea. Thanks for mentioning it.
Lucky is one of those abilities that was probably not balanced around powergamers, and was more conceived as a fun way of turning a bad roll around. “Oops I tripped and fell on my face but look, my dagger flew out of my hand and happened to hit the orc right in the eyeball!” It’s not necessarily bad to offer powerful low-level abilities to players, but when players are powergaming and determined that nothing bad will happen to them ever, year, it can definitely be abused by players who decide in every campaign ever that Lucky will be one of their traits.
One of the reasons I prefer Shadowrun rolling is how it’s down to how many “hits” you get that determine successes, where you have to roll a certain number of D6 dice based on your skills, and the number of 5s and 6s showing are “hits”, with success or failure based on rolling a number of hits above a certain difficulty threshold. Rolling a critical failure of all 1s or a critical success of all 6s is far less likely to occur in any given roll when lots of D6s are tossed, meaning odds for such events are nowhere near as fickle and prone to happening in a system with single D20 rolls.
Compared to multiple dice rolled at a time, single D20 rolls result in critical successes and failures at a much larger statistical rate. Competent adventurers end up having wild swings between success and failure, with much less reliable “middle ground” rolls. As a result, D&D does have a large luck element, moreso than Shadowrun I’d argue where unpredictable and severe results can occur. Lucky actually seems like a good idea for stemming some of that, although even then it’s clearly far more powerful than it probably has any right to be.
If you’re wanting to tone down Lucky without outright stripping it from players, I’d recommend a compromise like one of the following:
b) Lucky has 3 per day charges, but you have to expend the charge prior to the initial roll. You can only re-roll the die if you spent a luck point before rolling the first die, and you can take whichever result you want out of both rolls. If you use a Lucky charge and roll a D20 on your initial roll, it uses up the luck point even if you didn’t “need” it. This turns Lucky into something players have to be proactive about using to guarantee ahead of time that a critical roll will succeed if need be, rather than making it a reactionary reroll.
b) Keep Lucky functioning as is, but make it once-per-day. 3 charges is a huge quantity.
Your Option 1 and Option 2 suggestion don’t really remove the potential to abuse Lucky as if you get 2 or 3 luck points it remains very powerful, and Option 1 has the chance to make the trait entirely worthless, which is less fun for the player. Option 3 doesn’t do much for rolls of 1 on a D20 (adding a 1D4 to this will be useless generally).
Just a follow up … after playing for almost 3 more years since my first post to this thread, I still have encountered no evidence whatsoever that the Lucky feat is in any way overpowered or broken. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinions but Lucky just hasn’t been a factor in any of the games I have run or played.
1) I have a character with Lucky and it rarely if ever makes any significant difference (tier 4 rogue).
2) I have a level 5 warlock in a game I am running with the Lucky feat and 75% of the time it makes no difference. If they use up the 3 uses in the first encounter of the day then they might typically succeed 1 or 2 more times than they would have otherwise. (e.g. target number of 15 means that 75% of the time Lucky fails anyway – a target number of 10 means Lucky could work about 50% of the time and out of 3 rolls you expect 1.5 to succeed).
3) Every other game I have played or run where a character had the Lucky feat, it just wasn’t a factor.
What is everyone else doing differently to have such a different experience with this feat that they would consider it OP? If a character only makes 3 die rolls in a day then being able to re-roll them all is powerful. On the other hand, most adventuring days I either run or participate in can have 30-100 die rolls/character depending on skill checks/to hit rolls/saving throws etc.
/rant off LOL
On using Lucky on opposing die rolls : “You can also spend one luck point when an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and then choose whether the attack uses the attacker’s roll or yours.” This does not specify whether you see the result of the attack roll before choosing to use Lucky or not. The other options clearly do specify – so whether the same mechanics applies to an opposing attack roll against you or not is very firmly a DM call. Most DMs I know allow the player to see any die roll before deciding to use the feat since otherwise it wouldn’t be called Lucky. 🙂
Finally, PAM, Cross bow Expert, Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master are far more game changing and game defining feats (and arguably much more powerful than the Lucky feat). Do most of the people who have concerns about the Lucky feat, just not use these other feats at all? In comparison to having an additional attack EVERY combat round, using Lucky to possibly turn a hit into a miss three times/day is insignificant. An additional attack is equivalent to having Lucky on every combat round and using it to reroll an attack that misses – except that the extra attack also has the possibility of ALL three attacks hitting (assuming extra attack).
Recently found your site. Thoughtful stuff.
I will add this – in Deadlands, using fate chips requires a roleplayed explanation of how fate intervened. We played that you (PC or GM) also had to give up something. E.g. your backup gun took the hit for you, so it is ruined. A clever player once grabbed a convenient dresser drawer to use as a “shield”, which was funny. This rule made us all add description details to the rooms, a much more visual experience and more fun because of the creativity. Took some of the description burden off the GM, too, and made it more of a cooperative game.
I second comments by Montie Wilder, Cenit V, Haravikk, Rolando, Keith Case, and of course Duncan.
I personally don’t think you are trying to control everything, but rather trying to impose a little common sense on a system that isn’t supposed to make sense and I am guilty of the same thing.
So, I will give you the best compliment I can.
I would play with you as DM anytime.
I’ve been running 5 separate campaigns over the past three years and I’ve never had a player take the lucky feat, despite having several self-admitted min/maxers among my players.
Far more problematic for me is how crossbow wielders can stack Crossbow Expert on top of Sharpshooter for some very OP builds. I don’t like feats that shunt anyone who imagines their character a certain way towards a specific feature like this. In this case, a player who wants their character to be a great martial ranged attacker is shunted to crossbows rather than bows, as bows only get one feat.
I disallowed taking both these feats iny games. One or the other.
Hi Victoria… Sharpshooter will get the H&D treatment in due course! The last of the truly annoying 5e glitches that I have yet to post about.
I have been watching this thread on the Lucky feat for quite a while. I conclude that most people do not use it optimally.
The more WotC tries to balance the game, the more star systems slip through… wait, wrong analogy.
I like the time you spent on writing this, and the fact that you still reply to comments to this day.
One thing I have decided to do with lucky is the “No nat 1s or 20s” rule. Personally I’ve found a lot of players will just use it when an enemy crits or when they nat 1, which generally just ends up being lazy and anticlimatic. It is far more interesting for a 2 to be turned into a nat 20, than a nat 20 be turned into a 2.
This allows lucky to only turn “boring” outcomes into equally boring or more interesting ones, rather than interesting outcomes (player nat 1s and enemy nat 20s) into boring ones. This does nerf it slightly from a balance perspective, but the real intent is making it more likely to lead to fun outcomes, rather than turning fun outcomes into dull ones. I play DnD to have fun, and I want lucky to lead to fun situations, not take away from existing fun situations.
I think that’s a minor change that definitely has a significant positive outcome. Thanks for sharing the idea!
Regarding the lucky feat :
1 – I’d like to point out that feats are optional as per PHB.
I know it’s powerful and none of my players picked it up, but if one does, some of my monster might have it afterwards. After all, lady luck is helping whoever she wants.