Tavern Brawler 5e
Published on March 20, 2023
Crush your drink and grab a chair, it’s time for a bar fight!
Justine Cruz - Wizards of the Coast - Pugnacious Pugilist
What Is Tavern Brawler 5e?
If your character is bound to get rowdy when they indulge themselves or wants to specialize in a fighting style where they focus on grappling their opponents, Tavern Brawler can help your dreams become a reality. Not only does this feat allow you to boost your STR or CON (thereby making you more buff), it allows you to add your proficiency bonus when you use improvised weapons, boosts your unarmed strikes, and lets you grapple as a bonus action. Put up your dukes, cause it’s time to ring the bell!
How Does Tavern Brawler Work?
This half-feat allows you to boost your STR or CON, and provides 3 other benefits:
- You can add your proficiency bonus to attacks made with improvised weapons.
- You now deal 1d4 + STR with unarmed strikes.
- You can attempt to grapple creatures as a bonus action after you hit them with an unarmed strike or improvised weapon.
So, let’s break these benefits down.
The first ability makes attack with improvised weapons much more likely to hit. The damage these weapons output is usually up to the DM, but if your character is strong enough, you should be able to reason that the huge log you’re swinging around could constitute as a maul.
The second ability gives a bonus to unarmed strikes, but isn’t particularly significant. Normally, these attacks only output 1+STR damage and now they output 1d4+STR damage. This only averages out to be 1.5 damage more than your original unarmed strike.
The third benefit is certainly the most powerful. Being able to grapple as a bonus action is awesome for action economy and can be impactful for Rune Knight fighters or some barbarian builds. It could also be hugely beneficial for builds that want to use the Grappler feat to restrain their foes. Unfortunately, you have to hit with an improvised weapon or unarmed strike to trigger this ability, which can drastically impact your normal damage output.
Is Tavern Brawler Good?
We gave Tavern Brawler a C Tier rating In our 5e Feats Tier List, making it a below-average feat in D&D 5e.
Unfortunately, Tavern Brawler doesn’t even come close to being optimized when comparing it to Shield Master, Sharpshooter, or Great Weapon Master. Even with this feat, grapple-based character builds that use improvised weapons will always be outpaced by regular melee classes.
Tavern Brawler 5e Interactions
Critting With Unarmed Strikes
Thanks to this feat, you can now crit on your unarmed strikes, outputting a whopping 2d4 + STR damage.
Monks/Unarmed Fighting and Grappler
Though they likely would never take this feat, monks or fighters that take Unarmed Fighting don’t need to worry about the 1d4 overriding their higher unarmed strike damage dice. These abilities can take precedent over the benefit granted by Tavern Brawler if you choose (which you should).
Grappling Between Strikes
Based on Jeremy Crawford’s ruling on Shield Master, it would seem that you cannot grapple between attacks if you have more than one. That said, you could attack and hit, bonus action grapple, then Action Surge with a fighter.