Last Updated on November 1, 2022
Peeking around the corner, the Rogue pressed his body against the wall to maintain his cover. There! He spotted the bad guys walking down the hallway, talking in low tones. The DM ruled that he was too far away to hear the voices, but this Rogue can read lips. After gaining enough information about the upcoming attack, he slinks away into the shadows to warn his comrades.
How Observant Feat Works
Observant has a few different parts that need to be broken down individually. The first aspect is that you gain +1 to either your Wisdom or Intelligence score (your choice of which). This helps mitigate the cost of taking a feat, which we explain in more depth in the section below.
You also gain the ability to read lips. Whether or not you’re playing an HoH or deaf character, lip reading can be a valuable skill. However, your character must know the language people are speaking to read their lips. As the intro shows, there are plenty of situations where knowing what people are talking about could be the difference between life and death.
The last part of the feat notes that you gain a +5 bonus to your passive Wisdom (Perception) and Intelligence (Investigation) scores. Passive scores exist to give the DM a good idea of how naturally you apply your skills when you aren’t actively making a check. A passive score is your skill modifier plus ten.
To clarify, your passive Perception measures how generally aware of your surroundings you are. Making a Perception check implies actively focusing on looking around, whereas a passive score happens instead of a check.
Is Observant Feat Good?
Normally, you can gain a total of +2 to your Ability Scores when you take an ASI, but Observant makes up some of that cost with its +1 to Wisdom or Intelligence. It may not be a good choice at lower levels, but it can be an excellent feat to consider at higher levels.
By giving the character +1 to one of their Ability Scores, Observant increases one of the relevant skills (Investigation or Perception) on an active basis as well as giving you a flat +5 bonus to both skills on a passive basis. While passive skills may not come into play as often as active skills, both are important in the majority of games.
Observant, like other feats that give a +1 bonus to an Ability Score, tends to be best for characters with an odd-number Ability Score. If you have a Wisdom score of 17 or an Intelligence score of 15, taking Observant would allow you to boost your score to an even number.
Remember, even numbers are the ones that change your Ability Score modifier. Going from a 16 to 17 doesn’t change the modifier; it’s still +3, but from a 17 to an 18 the modifier changes from +3 to +4.
Which Classes Should Take It?
If you want to capitalize on improving your Perception and Investigation skills, you should already have a pretty decent score in Wisdom and/or Intelligence. Ideally, with proficiency or expertise in one or both of those skills. Any class focusing on Intelligence or Wisdom as a primary stat is a good candidate for this feat.
- Rangers: excellent scouts, often very sneaky, and they rely on Wisdom for their spellcasting
- Monks: can be built around stealth, particularly for Way of the Shadow monks, and rely on Wisdom for the Ki abilities.
- Druids: the ability to change into easily overlooked animals improves their scouting, and they rely on Wisdom for their spellcasting.
GameCows Tip: Abilities granted through feats always apply, even if you’ve Wildshaped into another creature.
- Wizards/Artificers: more than likely has proficiency in Investigation and rely on Intelligence for their spellcasting
- Rogues: with four possible options for expertise by level 6, a rogue with Observant could be practically unstoppable. Rogues are the default option for spying on enemies or situations and reporting back to the party, so the ability to read lips could be a huge advantage.
GameCows Tip: Although a Cleric’s primary stat is Wisdom, they often wear medium or heavy armor. That, plus the fact that they are your group’s main healers and support, makes them a bad option for scouting.