[RPG] Is this homebrew feat, Wandslinger, balanced


I'm playing a wandslinger-themed artificer (with an eye toward the Artillerist subclass) in an urban Eberron campaign. Given the predominantly close-quarters combat environments, it would be useful not to have disadvantage on spell attacks whilst within 5 feet of hostile creatures. Granted, I could avoid this problem by taking a save-based cantrip such as frostbite, but I'd rather not. Attack-based spells feel like a better fit for the "wand as gun" theme, not to mention that they benefit from critical hits. And the class's limited number of cantrips make it tough to take more than one offensive choice, given the other excellent options available (e.g., guidance).

Two feats published to date provide a means to avoid disadvantage at melee range: Crossbow Expert and Gunner. Both include the following among their benefits:

Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.

That would work — but the other benefits granted by these feats are largely irrelevant to me. I don't plan on using a crossbow, so Crossbow Expert's crossbow-related benefits likely won't come into play. Gunner provides a +1 to DEX, which I don't really need, and other benefits relating to traditional firearms, which do not exist in our Eberron. (Even if they did, the feat's grant of proficiency in firearms would likely be duplicative of the proficiency optionally granted by the artificer class.)

My table-mates are open to a homebrew option as long as it's balanced. Using other feats for comparison (e.g., Gunner, Artificer Initiate, Spell Sniper, and Fey Touched), here is what have in mind to propose:


Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell

You have learned to use certain spells more effectively in close quarters, granting you the following benefits:

  • Increase your Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
  • You learn one cantrip that requires an attack roll. Choose the cantrip from the artificer spell list. Your spellcasting ability for this cantrip is Intelligence.

Is this homebrew feat roughly on par with official feats? To be clear, my intention is to approximate the benefits of Gunner, except with a granted cantrip instead of granted proficiency in firearms. I think I've done that. But is there some balance problem I'm missing?

Best Answer

On par mechanically, but lacking thematically.

tl;dr Stat bonus probably makes up for the underwhelming attack versatility and cantrip addition.

The comparable feats that come to mind are artificer initiate, crossbow expert, magic initiate, and war caster. The proposed feat manages to be distinct from them, not step on their toes, and is approximately as useful from a mechanics standpoint.

Attack versatility

The comparable feats all grant attack versatility in the form of additional cantrips, or being able to use a ranged attack in an additional way.

  • additional cantrips
  • additional attacks (ignore loading, bonus action attack)
  • attack versatility (up close, attacks of opportunity)

The proposed feat actually comes across as slightly under powered with respect to an mechanical increase in attack. Only granting a single cantrip with restrictions, and a minor added versatility of attacking within 5' without penalty is less good than the other martial or magical feats.

Ability Score Increase (ASI)

None of the comparable feats give a stat bonus. This feat is tailored for wizards and artificers, so the add to their primary stat mitigates half the trade off of feat vs ASI. Given the niche use of ranged cantrips in the front line, the stat bonus is not an over reach.

Thematically nothing about this says wand but the title.

The initiate feats are about getting spells from a different class. The martial feats directly involve the implements of combat. There is nothing in the mechanics of this proposed feat that are tied or even about a wand.

Consider adding something like the warlocks pact weapon where the character can summon their wand to their hand as a free action, or must be using the wand as their spell focus in order to gain the up close benefit.