Published on June 27, 2022, Last modified on March 13th, 2023
If you’re building a Sherlock Holmes-esque character where nothing slips by your keen eye, Observant may be the feat for you.
Viko Menezes - Wizards of the Coast - Keen-Eared Sentry
What Is Observant 5e?
Not all feats are made equal, and not all D&D characters are suited to combat encounters only. Those who wish to have a more learned character, or perhaps a brilliant detective, may want to spend their feats elsewhere.
Based on your DM’s table, the Observant feat is one of those feats, and with it comes a polarizing opinion on how powerful it is.
How Does Observant Work?
With this feat, you gain three new benefits:
- You can increase your INT or WIS by one to a max of 20
- You gain +5 to your passive Wisdom (Perception) and passive Intelligence (Investigation).
- If you can see a creature’s mouth while it speaks a language you know, you can read its lips and interpret what they say.
Is Observant Good?
In our 5e Feats Tier List, Observant was given a B Tier rating, making it a niche feat that can improve some builds in D&D 5e.
Observant provides a fair amount of utility for a half-feat. Being able to read lips is extremely beneficial while sneaking or playing in political campaigns.
The +5 to passive Perception and Investigation is always useful, though the obscure rules around passive skills may prevent this feat from providing as much as a benefit as it should. Adding +1 WIS at the end of all of these utility buffs makes this feat a great pickup for any builds concerned with WIS.
Observant 5e Interactions
It’s important to note that the main benefit of this feat (the bonuses to passive Perception/Investigation) will only be as good as your DM makes them out to be. Not all DMs will use passive scores and that’s not surprising based on how muddy the rules are around them. Before investing in this feat, you should talk to your DM to make sure it will be worth your while.
If you’re a DM and don’t know the rules for passive checks, you should read p.175 of the Player’s Handbook. It’s a good read and can make your games a little smoother.
Observant 5e FAQs
How does Passive Perception work?
Unlike making a Perception check by rolling a d20 and adding your bonuses, Passive Perception is a flat number that your character always has. Depending on your DM, they may use this value over a check or may allow you to use either one. In most cases, this is equivalent to using this number instead of rolling. If you choose to make a check, you forego the Passive value, giving you a chance to roll higher or lower.
Is Passive Investigation a thing?
Yes, just like Passive Perception exists, so too does Passive Investigation.
While this feat might not be the most popular one out there, it can be very powerful in some scenarios. If your DM prefers passive scores, you can quickly become a savant for traps and ambushes.
What are your thoughts on the Observant 5e feat? Do you think it’s too hard to deal with? Let us know down below!