Tucked away inside Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is a collection of feats for the various races that had been released up to that point.
Each of these feats offered a way to bring some extra flavor to the species of character you wanted to play as. The Fade Away feat is no different.
So, what does the Fade Away feat offer to the cunning gnomes out there that use it? Let’s see how this tricksy feat can be used for all kinds of shenanigans in the hands of the right gnome.
What Is the Fade Away Feat in D&D 5e?
The Fade Away feat is a racial feat offered to gnomes. With this feat, a gnome receives a slight boost to one of two ability scores and a reaction ability that allows them to briefly turn invisible.
With this feat, a gnome can disappear from the fray and re-enter the fight on their next turn under their own terms.
Here’s what the feat looks like in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:
Your people are clever, with a knack for illusion magic. You have learned a magical trick for fading away when you suffer harm. You gain the following benefits:
- Increase your Dexterity or Intelligence by 1 to a maximum of 20.
- Immediately after you take damage, you can use a reaction to magically become invisible until the end of your next turn or until you attack, deal damage, or force someone to make a saving throw. Once you use this ability, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest.
Many of the racial feats listed in the book are called “half feats” by the community.
The term refers to the fact that the feat offers a bonus to an ability score alongside one or more benefits, essentially making it half of an ASI and half of a feat.
This feat offers a bonus to Dexterity and Intelligence. All gnomes receive a boost to their Intelligence from their racial ability score improvements.
But, rock gnomes receive a boost to their Constitution, unlike all other gnomes who have their Dexterity boosted.
That fact means this feat can give rock gnomes a slight edge in their Dexterity or help other gnomes specialize.
Still, the big part of this feat is the second bullet point. With this feature, a gnome can use their reaction to avoid being hit further by going invisible.
Assuming you aren’t fighting a creature with truesight or tremorsense, this reaction prevents any further onslaught the monster might be throwing your way.
Since many creatures have Multiattack, this is a good disruption tool.
Plus, invisibility is hard to come by outside of spells. Many players are familiar with the invisibility and greater invisibility spells and use them to great effect.
However, martial classes like Fighters and Rogues don’t always get access to these tools in the same way. This feat allows gnomish members of those classes to really lean into this new toy.
What Are the Benefits of the Fade Away Feat?
At first glance, this feat might not seem all that special. The bonus to Dexterity or Intelligence is nice, but adding one to an ability score doesn’t guarantee you receive a boost to the score’s modifier.
You can prevent that from happening if you plan ahead, but this doesn’t help the players that make choices for their characters as the story emerges.
Plus, the invisibility reaction from this feature is limited in its uses. At once per short or long rest, this feature has to have a big impact on the character to be worth spending a feat on.
With invisibility being a 2nd level spell, many players might skip over this feat in favor of other feats that augment their specialization.
A spellcaster might want a way to boost their concentration check with War Caster or Lucky, while martial classes will want feats that boost their damage, such as Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter.
If you’re looking for a feat that will clearly boost your damage numbers or spell effectiveness, then Fade Away isn’t going to top the list.
However, for players who want a character with a few tricks up their sleeve, then Fade Away suddenly looks much better.
Fade Away offers two benefits with its reaction ability: disruption and tactical reengagement.
The first thing that happens when you turn invisible is to prevent your foes without truesight from seeing you. Since your foe can’t see you anymore, any further attacks against you come in at disadvantage.
For foes that have multiple attacks, which is most monsters in D&D, you can cut down on the damage your foe is putting out as their attacks miss.
A foe could redirect their attacks elsewhere, but that assumes another target is in range. For a melee-focused foe, you might be the only target they have before you use Fade Away.
If that is the case, expect a lot more whiffs coming from your foes as your invisible form dips between their wide blows.
Once your foe’s turn ends, you have a choice: do you re-engage with them on your turn or do you retreat?
Because the invisibility lasts until the end of your next turn or until you take a hostile action, you stay invisible if you move before taking any hostile actions.
This could let you reposition into a better spot to fight your foe again or move out of the way to let an ally take the heat.
You also don’t have to go into this feature with the expectation that you’ll always use the invisibility to get away or fight again in a later round. The choice is yours every time that you use it.
So, while the restriction to once per short or long rest can seem stifling, you have to remember that combats don’t usually last long in D&D 5e.
One round to reposition or re-engage with a foe could be the game-changer for you and your partymates.
Who Benefits Most From the Fade Away Feat?
So, with all the benefits and mechanics laid out, the question is: who is best able to use the Fade Away feat?
In addition to this only being a feat for gnomes, there are only a few classes from the list that benefit the most from this feat.
Here’s a list of classes that get the most out of Fade Away:
- Artificer: In addition to boosting their main stat of Intelligence, some Artificers fight on the front lines where the ability to enter and exit the fray on their terms can make a big difference.
- Fighter: Most gnomish Fighters are Dexterity-based, meaning that this feat boosts their main ability score and provides invisibility to a class that doesn’t normally get it.
- Ranger: Most Rangers prefer Dexterity, meaning that this feat pairs well with forest gnomes to create a tricksy character at home in the wilderness.
- Rogue: Thanks to their Cunning Action feature, a gnomish rogue could gain invisibility off-turn with Fade Away and then use Cunning Action to Hide and guarantee their Sneak Attack damage on a hit.
- Wizard: Due to their squishy nature and reliance on Intelligence, a gnomish Wizard could use this feat to boost their spell attacks and saves while also gaining a way to defend and retreat without using a spell.
It’s always worth remembering that D&D 5e isn’t as restrictive as older editions were when it came to character options and effectiveness. The Fade Away feat can work on almost any class if the player wants to use it.
This list just gives some examples of who benefits most based on standard builds for the different classes.
The Fade Away feat doesn’t look like much at first glance. However, the ability to get invisibility outside of a spell while still boosting an ability score can mean a lot for classes that don’t have invisibility normally.
Even for classes that do, the Fade Away feat can still offer tactical advantages a character wouldn’t have normally.
What better way to play a cunning or trickster gnome than by literally vanishing in front of your foe’s eyes, denying the rest of their turn?