Do you like staying aware of your surroundings at all times? Do you want to be the first one to know about any danger that may be lurking? If so, then the Alert feat in 5e is perfect for you!
In Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, there are many feats to choose from so making the right decision can be difficult. However, Alert is one of the best choices you can make, especially if you value your safety or the safety of your companions.
Alert gives you several benefits that can be useful throughout the duration of a campaign. This is because it’s a feat that kicks in when you roll for initiative, when the game transitions from roleplaying to combat.
And that transition happens in almost every play session (depending on your DM and campaign). Therefore, this is a feat that is useful almost every time you play.
By the end of this article, you will understand:
- What is the Alert feat in 5e?
- What does the Alert feat grant you?
- What classes is the Alert feat good for?
- What classes is the Alert feat NOT good for?
- Is the Alert feat worth it?
What is the Alert feat in 5e?
The Alert feat in DnD 5e is like giving your character the awareness of Jason Bourne. Your character acts before others, your character can’t be caught off guard (when awake), and no one can get a cheap shot in.
Mechanically, the Alert feat in 5e grants the following benefits:
- Add a +5 bonus to initiative rolls
- Protection against the surprised condition (when you’re conscious)
- Other creatures can’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of them being hidden
What does the Alert feat in 5e grant you?
Add a +5 bonus to initiative rolls
With this feat you are so aware of your surroundings that you get a little head start every time combat starts.
Think of yourself like the guy who walks into a shop and instinctively gauges the threat level of everyone inside and makes sure he knows where all the exits are. No one is going to catch you off guard.
Protection against the surprised condition (when you’re conscious)
Any DM in his right mind will spring several ambushes on an adventuring party throughout a campaign. Why not be prepared for them with this feat? It grants you a sixth sense for danger, like the barbarian’s Feral Instinct.
However, that doesn’t mean your character can yell to the other party members to let them know.
Other creatures don’t get advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being unseen by you
With this feat you’re too aware of everything around you to let anyone get an easy hit. This feat will be clutch when you’re under attack by enemies with Sneak Attack or the ability to turn invisible. (Invisible creatures automatically get advantage against you.)
The Surprise Condition vs The Surprise Round
Surprise works differently in 5e than in previous editions of the game which had surprise rounds.
If you’re surprised, you can’t move or take an action on your first turn of the combat, and you can’t take a reaction until that turn ends. A member of a group can be surprised even if the other members aren’t.Player’s Handbook, p. 189
Let’s say a group of orcs gets the drop on the party. In past editions, the orcs would have a surprise round in which only the orcs are able to move and act.
In the 5th edition of the game, Wizards of the Coast replaced surprise rounds with a modified first round of combat. During the modified first round, perceptive characters can move and act when the enemy launches its surprise attack. It’s like a surprise round but without being completely helpless.
The DM compares the Stealth checks of the orcs with the Passive Perception score of each of the party members. Any party member gains the surprise condition if he or she doesn’t have a high enough Passive Perception to notice the orcs.
If you’re surprised and don’t have the Alert feat, you won’t be able to act during the first round and the enemies might get advantage against you. But if you have the feat, your Passive Perception doesn’t matter as you will never be surprised in an ambush like this no matter how stealthy the enemy is.
What classes is the Alert feat in 5e good for?
First, the Alert feat is perfect for Assassin rogues because their Assassinate ability relies on being able to attack enemies that have not acted yet. So, the earlier Assassin rogues can take their turn in combat, the better. A higher initiative roll combined with never being surprised results in Assassin rogues, on average, being able to inflict a crap ton of damage during the first round of combat.
This feat in 5e is a benefit to any player character with low Dexterity because you’ll be able to act earlier in combat. Any front line combatant will want to act first because you want to engage enemies to prevent them from reaching the squishy characters.
And certain spellcasters will want to act first as well. If you want to cast spells like wall of fire or entangle, it’s in your party’s best interests that you cast them before enemies have a chance to move.
In addition, rogues and rangers would benefit because they rely on strategic positioning on the battlefield to be most effective. And because rogues only get one attack per round (unless you use two-weapon fighting), it’s in their best interests to preserve that maneuverability.
The last thing you want is for a rogue to be engaged by multiple enemies and not able to maneuver around to score Sneak Attack damage (not as critical if you’re playing an Inquisitive rogue).
What classes is the Alert feat in 5e not good for?
It’s in your best interest to go last in combat when you’re playing a healer in this game. Why? Because as a healer you want to see what happens on the battlefield before acting. If you go first, you’ll have to wait until the start of the next turn before you can aid your fellow adventurers.
So it’s not terrible for the healer to act first. It’s just not ideal.
Additionally, this feat in 5e is not a solid choice for barbarians. Barbarians receive the Feral Instinct feature at 7th level. Feral Instinct grants them advantage on the initiative roll and protects them from the surprise condition (if they’re conscious).
Weave the Alert Feat in With Your Character’s Narrative
When it comes to making this mesh with your character’s backstory, the obvious choice that comes to mind is that of a trained warrior or martial artist. It’s a monk who is always aware of her surroundings. It’s a rogue who walks into every situation prepared to defend himself from an ambush.
But you don’t have to restrict Alert feat to highly trained characters in this game. Alert also suits traumatized or paranoid characters. Characters who are always on edge would be in high alert mode out of fear.
Maybe your character lost her parents in a violent ambush when she was little. And now that she’s an adventurer that trauma actually becomes a strength for her. Her experiences have made her more cautious and as a result, she’s always on the lookout for danger. So, when ambushes or other dangerous situations arise, she’s usually the first to act because of her heightened sense of awareness.
Or maybe your character is just plain paranoid. And that paranoia served him well when he was a thief in the city. He looked out for guards and they never caught him. Now, as an adventurer, that same paranoia protects him from ambushes by monsters.
No matter what your character’s backstory, this feat is a great way to add some depth to your character. It’s also a great way to get an edge in combat. So, if you’re looking for a feat that gives you a defensive advantage, Alert is worth considering.
The Alert Feat 5e FAQ
Is the Alert feat in 5e useful?
Absolutely. It provides strong defensive benefits and allows you to move earlier in combat so you can get into position to inflict serious damage or cast the spells other players in your party depend on for an early advantage.
Is the Alert feat in 5e worth it?
In most cases the Alert feat is worth it because it’s better to act sooner in combat rather than later. A +5 to initiative turns embarrassing rolls into average rolls, average rolls into good rolls, and good rolls into terrific rolls.
Besides healers and barbarians, every other class benefits from the feat.
If you like being in control of the battlefield and want to get into position to dish out a lot of damage or protect the other characters in your party, then take it. If you prefer a more reactive playstyle, it might be better to let everyone else act before you, and in that case look at other feats.
Should you take the Alert feat in 5e over an ability score improvement?
For most campaigns and most characters, the feat is the better choice. If your character needs an ability score increase, then take it.
Personally, I enjoy the added options/advantages my characters gain from feats more than a little bump in my ability scores.
Does the Alert feat in 5e protect against Sneak Attack?
Only if the creature depends on being hidden. If you’re already engaged by one enemy and an enemy rogue joins the melee, he will gain advantage on attacks against you. This is because when two (or more) creatures are attacking a single creature, the two creatures get advantage on their attacks. And a rogue only needs advantage on the attack for Sneak Attack to work.
This is one of those feats that benefits almost everyone so it’s hard to say anything negative about it.
The Alert feat in 5e is an excellent choice for characters that will act as scouts or protectors for the group. It’s also a good choice if you want to cast spells that benefit from acting before everyone else.
The only time I wouldn’t recommend taking Alert is if you’re playing a healer or a barbarian. It’s typically better for healers to take their turn last. And barbarians get a feature at 7th level that is similar to Alert.
What are your thoughts on the Alert feat in Dungeons and Dragons? Do you think it’s overpowered or underpowered? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!