For characters looking to upgrade their armor from medium types, the Heavily Armored feat grants you a +1 increase on strength score and opens up the use of all heavy armor types.
Prerequisite: Proficiency with medium armor
You have trained to master the use of heavy armor, gaining the following benefits:
- Increase your Strength score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
- You gain proficiency with heavy armor.
Source: Player’s Handbook p167
So, What Does the Heavily Armored Feat Do, Really?
Heavily Armored Feat will give the character one point of strength and proficiency with any heavy armor.
This allows you to wear Ring Mail, Chain Mail, and Splint and Plate Mail in addition to any other Heavy armor in the game.
For characters who find themselves the victims of monstrous claws, spears, swords, and arrows too often, the Heavily Armored feat allows them to strap copious amounts of metal to their bodies in a bid to stay alive.
Unless you start out your career as a Fighter, Paladin, or some Cleric Domains, then heavy armor proficiency is difficult to come by once your character has begun their life of adventuring and delving into dangerous dungeons.
Heavily Armored gives you that second bite of the apple and allows you to get that much-needed AC increase.
The strength score is also a nice addition to the feat that can make the difference between modifiers.
Is It Worth Taking Over Other Feats?
The shortest answer, as is the case with almost all of the feats, is that it depends. If you have a character that relies on stealth, the answer is probably not.
Unless you have been able to lay your hands on some Mithril armor, then you will have disadvantage on all of your stealth checks, which as a rogue or some rangers is to be avoided!
However, there are certainly some use cases that exist that make it very worthwhile.
Your real deciding factor on taking this feat is going to be driven by your existing class, and only a handful of those are going to truly benefit from this without the addition of things like Mithril armors.
Excluding the Armorer subclass, Artificers do not gain proficiency with Heavy Armor, including the battlesmith, strangely.
With the additional class features and bonuses that Artificers gain, they can and often unwillingly find themselves fighting in the frontline.
Perhaps the party lacks a traditional martial class and you are the closest there is to being the “tank” of the party.
Where some artificers may lack dexterity, this gives us great opportunities to reach what we can achieve with the top end of medium armors and a shield with simple chainmail armor.
Adding the shield gets us to a solid 18, then we throw some of those wonderful infusions into your items, and all of a sudden you can stand up to the most punishing of blows!
Finding split mail (and again infusing it) lets us hit an AC of 2, making us very difficult to lay low! If we ever come across plate mail, we can sit comfortably with an AC of 22!
If you have chosen a Cleric subclass that doesn’t grant heavy armor but find yourself fighting toe to toe more often than you are flinging guiding bolts across the battlefield, you may well be using more of your healing spells on yourself than you would have liked.
In an effort to avoid this, taking the Heavily Armored feat can be a big aid.
Unlike the Artificer, however, we have to rely on spells to make the most of this increased armor class.
With the +2 we gain from spells such as Shield of Faith, we can easily stand at 20-22 AC with Heavy armor and shields.
Druids, With a Caveat!
Druids are near and dear to my heart, and the refusal of metal armors endears them further to me. So why would a druid take the Heavily Armored feat?
Well, before taking this feat a conversation with the DM needs to be had.
Those dragon scales you took from your latest adventure, the shell of an Umber Hulk, or any other number of other natural carapaces or shells could, with the right mind set, skill set, and bank roll, be turned into armor.
The sight of a druid clad in the deep earth tones of a shell while arrows and spears glance harmlessly off is certainly one that would stick with me.
So, perhaps after speaking with your Dungeon Master, you can spend some hard-earned gold and turn your Druid into a heavily armored forest guardian.
The caveat, of course, is that you need to speak to your DM first.
Make sure what you are asking for is within the realms of what they deem as possible and reasonable!
While the archetypal ranger stays at range with his bow-slaying foes from the cover of the forest, there is a real way to build rangers that favor swords and spell casting.
Much the same way the Cleric or Druid does, the ranger, with their high degree of martial skill and weapon choice, could find themselves frontlining more often than not.
Perhaps your ranger is the Man-Tracking sort that can follow tracks over many miles and come face to face with a whole band of enemies, his only defense is the metal he puts between him and the quarry.
Wearing Heavy armor means he doesn’t end up a bandits fire-side story after his first quest!
With the campaign in full swing there are far fewer options available to your character to gain proficiency with heavy armor.
If you plan on building the ranger from our last example, perhaps start with a Paladin, sworn to bring in apostates from the church or those who oppose it.
For the Cleric, perhaps you started out life as a soldier, a Fighter in the local baron’s army after seeing a priest turn an unwinnable battle into a glorious victory.
Starting with Heavy armor proficiency, if that is what you have in mind for your character, is an easier way than gaining this feat.
While it is useful for a lot of characters, building your character with great roleplay reasons for their abilities and proficiencies is often better.
It leads to those fantastic role-play moments where characters can tell one another how they came to be and why they are different from the norm, and it helps to create memorable moments.
One downside to this feat is actually brought by heavy armor itself.
Splint, Chain, and Plate armors all decrease your movement speed by 10 feet unless you have a strength score over 15 (or happen to be a Dwarf).
So before we take this feat, we need to ensure we reach that benchmark. As previously mentioned, we also gain disadvantage on our stealth checks if we didn’t have that already.
Taking the Heavily Armored Feat is a solid move for characters where the party dynamic has shifted or the kinds of enemies and challenges you face mean everyone needs to be survivable.
You can, however, easily build a heavily armored character from creation with some interesting forethought and help make those combat encounters just a little easier!
Doing this allows you to focus your feat-seeking eyes in other ways, or just take that ASI (Ability Score Increase) to make that hero of yours slightly more heroic.
While it isn’t the greatest of the feats, it can, when taken for the right reasons, make your characters a bit tougher and help the rest of the party out too!