Feats allow you to create a custom character in D&D. Feats can be skills you acquire at different levels of the game that not only allow for new play options but also allow you to personalize your character.

Are you a bard who is flamboyant and has a great sense of humor? An actor feat that gives you extra charisma and uses mimicry skills can be very useful. 

Are you looking for a barbarian that fights with his fists? You can also try the grappler feat, which will allow you to fight in close quarters.

Some feats may be more achievable and easier than others. Some might be something you use all the time while others may only be used occasionally. 

If you have the right build, some feats can even be considered super powerful. The ‘Great Weapon Master’ feat is one of these feats. It can be quite interesting if used correctly.

Many players are enamored with the feat. It is controversial. Some players think it’s too powerful, while others believe it’s broken.

Some even ban it from their games. This article will let you decide if it is up there with feats such as ‘Lucky’ or ‘Sharpshooter.

What is a great weapon master?

The Player’s Handbook states that the greatest weapon master feat confers the following benefits on a character:

  • You can take a -5 penalty to your attack roll before you attempt a melee attack using a heavy weapon you are skilled with. You can add +10 damage to your attack if it hits.
  • You can make one melee weapons attack on your turn if you score a critical hit using a melee weapon, or reduce a creature’s hit points to 0 with one.

Let’s take a look at each benefit. First, accuracy can be sacrificed for damage when you attack with a heavy weapon that you are skilled with. Here are some numbers for a 4th-level fighter equipped with a great axe.

The attack modifier at the 4th level is +5 (+3 and +2 respectively for strength and proficiency), and a great knife does 1d12 slashing injury. 

Your fighter can use the feat to get an attack modifier zero and roll a straight 20. If they do manage to hit the target, we calculate their damage as 1d12 + 3 + 10, which equals total damage.

The damage from critical hits made with this feat doesn’t change, since you are only increasing the d12 roll by two, not the modifiers.

So if the attack was a Crit, the damage calculation would look like this: 1d12 x 3 + 10

This second benefit allows you to strike more often if your critical hit is successful or if a creature you kill with melee weapons. 

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Our fighter could use a bonus action if he critted the creature with their great axe.

This allows your weapon masters to slash and slash through smaller mobs, and even strike down big bad.

An extra 10 damage is nothing to be ashamed of, especially considering heavy weapons do a lot of damage.

What Weapons Go With the Feat?

Six weapons have a heavy property.

However, 3rd party or homebrew content can also have this property.

However, proficiency in these weapons is not required.

Most fighters and barbarians are proficient with all types of weapons by default so you don’t need to worry. 

Your character will rely on their weapons and natural AC to protect them, not a huge shield.

What are the best times to use a great weapon master?

A great weapon master has its disadvantages, which can be dangerous for your party. Because the second benefit is passive, we’ll be focusing on the first. 

You can kill a creature with your weapon and then make another attack with a bonus act. This is a great way to keep your bonus actions in check while fighting smaller mobs.

It is important to think about when you should use the active effect. Because it can reduce your chances of hitting, especially at low levels. It is important to be clear about what you can and cannot do when fighting monsters.

This can be roleplayed as your character testing the opponent’s defenses. However, you can also analyze the fighting to determine the creature’s AC. 

Your Monk hits your opponent with a 15, while your ranger hits them with a 17, and your bard whiffs a 14, then you can assume that the creature has an AC of 16 or 17. 

While you’ll be learning more as the battle progresses, it’s enough to have a rough idea of the creature’s AC.

You need to consider your to-hit bonus. If you take away 5, it is minus 5. Your bonus would be +6 if you have 4 strengths and 2 abilities.

If you are a great weapon master, your bonus would drop to a mere +1. Although +1 is better than zero, you will need to roll at least a 15 to hit the creature. It’s possible, but not easy.

Once you have determined the creature’s AC, and the effect of the feat on your roll if it is taken, you can then guess as to whether the roll will work. 

It’s now time to roll the damage dice. Heavy weapons are quite powerful and the +10 bonus is very powerful. It can take a huge chunk from a boss’s HP pool.

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When should you take the feat?

There are feats available at the 4th-8th, 12th, and 16th levels, as well as the 20th. You can choose from a variety of feats, and some feats require you to learn prerequisites. 

A great weapon master can be very interesting if your character is optimized around combat. However, if you are playing a social game that doesn’t require much combat, this might not be an ideal feat.

You can also increase your ability scores rather than taking a feat. This might be worth it for your strength score early in the game. 

You can reduce the -5 you receive from the feat if you can increase your strength score and by extension your base attack bonuses.

It might be a good idea to wait until your level is higher. However, if you wait too long, your enemies will gain more AC.

Who is the Best Supported for The Feat?

This feat is only possible for fighters and barbarians. They have a lot more attacks and a high base attack bonus. 

They will be the ones who reduce enemies to zero HP and gain the passive effect great weapon master.

Additionally, they will be able to have some space to work with their BAB so the -5 won’t be as bad.

Polearm master can be a great way to combine with characters who use a polearm or give. According to the Player’s Handbook, a polearm master can have these effects:

  • You can make a melee attack using the other end of your weapon if you take the Attack action. This attack uses the same ability modifiers as the primary attack. This attack deals bludgeoning and damage, and the weapon’s damage die is a d4.
  • Other creatures may attack you while you’re wielding a spear, halberd, or halberd. They can enter your reach with the weapon.

Although it might seem that the polearm master clashes with Great Warfare Master, due to both using bonus actions, both feats work well together. 

Your fighter can use a give to make their attack with both polearms ends.

The normal attack is 1d10 + 10 BAB + 10, while the bonus attack with end of weapon deals 1d4 + 10 BAB + 10. Both attacks are subject to the -5 penalty. The bonus attack with the end-of-the-waffe causes damage of 1d4 + BAB + 10.

FAQ: Great Weapon Master

Is it too powerful?

Yes and no. It all depends on how and when it is used. You can only make it more powerful if you can reduce the -5 penalty on attack rolls. 

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You might be able to convince the fighter to use spells, abilities, or feats that give you bonuses to attack rolls.

The Great Weapon Master feat’s limiting factor is the tradeoff between accuracy/and damage. If this tradeoff is eliminated, then there is no reason to not use it. 

This adds ten damage to almost every hit and can quickly become overpowering.

You should remember, however, that while the feat may be extremely powerful in the beginning, as AC increases, it might not be worth the effort to mitigate the -5 attack. Your warrior will need all the BAB points they can to hit an enemy with high AC. 

Higher-level enemies have a larger health pool so the feat user may be able to one-shot lower-level enemies but they won’t take much from the health pool of higher-leveled enemies.

How do DMs fix it?

There are two methods that DMs can make this feat less powerful. First, they can alter the stats surrounding the feat. To give you some variety, they’ll alter the +10 guaranteed injury to 2d6 and 1d12 to make the feat impossible with advantage.

This author and other DMs prefer to create encounters that are based on the players’ strengths and weaknesses. 

You can reduce the effectiveness of an attack by using monsters that have resistance to making them harder to hit or having fighters with ranged weaponry to make it harder to close to the enemy.

You might be able to get help from other fighters who are skilled at using great weapons masters against your party. 

Many DMs fail to realize that human opponents, particularly those with combat experience may use the same feats or abilities as the players. 

You shouldn’t be afraid of having other fighters and barbarians challenge the party with this feat.

Which Monsters Are the Best to Mitigate Great Weapon Masters?

If a DM is looking to throw all they have at a great weapon master fighter, or barbarian then monsters with a high weapon-damage resistance and a very high AAC are the best. 

Higher-level undead, for example, has high AC and resistance to multiple types of damage.

Monsters with large health pools can also be used. You can also have swarms of smaller monsters. Swarms are very resistant to damage and can be taken out in a few swings. This makes them less useful.