Complete Guide to the Linguist Feat in D&D 5e

This is a guide about the long-forgotten Linguist feat – an extremely uncommon feat in DnD 5e that yields some surprising benefits, especially in a campaign that has various languages involved. Let’s get into it. 

What Is the Linguist Feat in D&D 5e? 

The Linguist feat grants you a +1 to your intelligence stat, up to a maximum of 20. It allows you to learn three languages of your choice, and in addition to this, it grants you the ability to create written ciphers.

Others can’t decipher your cipher unless you teach them to, or if they succeed on an intelligence check, or if they use magic to figure it out. 

Linguist

You have studied languages and codes, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You learn three languages of your choice.
  • You can ably create written ciphers. Others can’t decipher a code you create unless you teach them, they succeed on an Intelligence check (DC equal to your Intelligence score + your proficiency bonus), or they use magic to decipher it.

Source: Player’s Handbook

Is the Linguist Feat Good? 

Essentially, this feat boosts your intelligence by 1 and allows you to learn more languages and create secret messages (ciphers).

This may not seem like much because overall, it isn’t really.

However, if you’re playing in a campaign with a lot of political aspects or one that happens to be spy themed or has a lot of espionage and all that interesting secret stuff, then this might be something you want to take.

 A +1 INT is good, but you’re giving up a +2 or +1/+1 to get it. For an odd number this could be worth it if the rest is seen as a bonus worth more than a +1 to another ability score improvement to you, but that’s situational.

The three languages sound great and can be a lot of fun. But again, languages rarely play a role in most D&D campaigns. It drastically depends on whether or not languages do play a role.

If they do, there are magical items, such as the Helm of Comprehend Languages, that can completely overpower this feat and render it useless. It’s an extremely situational feat. In play however, this feat is rather useless. 

Which Classes Should Take This Feat in 5e?

An intelligence-based class would benefit from this feat.

Wizards would have a benefit from the stat increase, although there are spells that allow you to essentially comprehend languages, so that part might not have any benefit for you.

However, you could manage to make something out of the ciphers. You could make it so your spell book is entirely composed of ciphers so that only you can understand them or read them.

Might add a little extra line of defense if you do happen to lose your spell book. Again, this is a very niche feat. 

A bard with the observant feat could also prove a benefit with this feat, especially if he’s trying to master or learn various languages. Again, this is very situational. 

Artificer would be another option. If you manage to max out your casting stats prior to taking this feat, it could prove useful if you wish to involve some sort of cipher or puzzles along with your various creations of some sort.  

Which Classes Should NOT Take This Feat?

There aren’t essentially specific classes that shouldn’t take this feat. Most classes or players in general will overlook this feat anyways.

I had to do a bit of research myself to double check if this feat even existed.

Now knowing that, don’t necessarily overlook this feat; it does serve a purpose if used in a very niche campaign.

However, if you’re looking for a feat that provides more than just a +1 to intelligence and has some sort of combat benefits, this feat is certainly not for you.  

So, This Feat Is Worthless?

There is no place where the linguist feat states that a player must have heard the language in order to learn it.

Some DMs may make a home rule that you need to at least have been exposed to the language in order to pick it up, but there’s nothing in the book that puts that restriction on your player character.

This just proves that the feat serves less of a purpose and is even lower on the tier list. 

Then there’s this lovely magic item – The Helm of Comprehend Languages, which lets you understand all languages without having to use an attunement slot.

It’s a great item in the world of DnD and is relatively common in most campaigns after level 10. It renders this feat completely useless if you manage to acquire it. 

The Linguist feat is one of the weaker feats in DnD by far. Yes, it does indeed fill a very specific role in certain DnD campaigns, but it provides nearly 0 combat benefit whatsoever.

It does look good on paper with its fairly lengthy benefits, but don’t be fooled by it. You can read this guide all you want, but at the end of the day it is your choice if you want to take this feat or not. It’s up to you.