D&D 5e: Crush It With The Keenness Of The Stone Giant Feat
D&D 5e: Crush It With The Keenness Of The Stone Giant Feat
Rating the Benefits of Keenness of the Stone Giant
Benefit #1 –
Increase your Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom by 1, to a maximum of 20
This feat provides half an ASI, similar to the rest of the “Giant-type” feats. This is good for evening up odd ability scores and also means the remainder of what is on offer here is considered equivalent in power to half a feat.
Benefit #2 –
Gain Darkvision to a range of 60ft. Characters who already have Darkvision increase the range of the ability by 60ft.
In a party with otherwise full Darkvision, this ability is essential. Even solo, seeing in the dark is a massive boon when it comes to stealth and exploration.
Benefit #3 –
As a bonus action, the character with this feat makes a magical ranged attack with a 60ft range. An enemy hit by this attack takes 1d10 Force damage, and has to make a Strength save or be knocked prone.
Combining a ranged attack with a potentially debilitating condition, all for the low price of a bonus action is a powerful ability that can be bolted onto almost any character and be useful.
Mechanics and Requirements
Understanding How Keenness of the Stone Giant Functions
Before we move into the mechanics of the Keenness of the Stone Giant feat, we need to touch on the prerequisite, Stone Strike:
Stone Strike – After hitting a target with a melee or thrown weapon attack, that target takes an extra 1d6 force damage and has to take a Strength save or be pushed directly away from you 10ft.
Stone Strike is a reasonable ability. It deals a medium amount of damage in a great type, and forces movement, which isn’t going to end encounters by itself, but has its uses. All on a Strength save, which many enemies are bad at.
While Stone Strike isn’t going to be the core of a build, the ability to add extra damage multiple times per day, and force enemies out of position, is something that’s going to come up reasonably often, and you’re never going to feel bad about having this ability to hand.
Seeing in the Dark…Vision
The Keenness of the Stone Giant feat offers 60ft of Darkvision as part of its benefits. This is surprisingly unique as a feat bonus. Darkvision is generally only offered as part of racial benefits, class bonuses, and the Darkvision spell.
The ability to see in the dark is a solid buff, especially when the entire party has access to it. Needing no reliance on light sources like lanterns or spells doesn’t put you at their mercy if a fickle GM might make them, for example, randomly go out via a gust of wind, and it’s also a solid boost to stealth, as there’s no flickering light to give you away.
And unlike almost any other source of Darkvision in 5e, this stacks with other sources, pushing the standard Darkvision range to 120ft, double the standard. This means you’ll be able to see creatures lurking in the darkness 60ft before they see you, which is incredibly huge when you’re creeping through the dungeon.
Best of all, this is only a secondary benefit to the feat. On to Stone Throw.
We Will Rock You
As a bonus action, a character with this feat can heft and hurl a magical rock at their enemies.
The ability targets an enemy within 60ft, dealing 1d10 force damage, and forcing a Strength save or knocking the target prone.
The ability can be used an equivalent amount of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus, and all uses come back on a long rest.
Activating as a bonus action makes this very strong. A lot of characters don’t use their bonus action every turn, and many classes and subclasses don’t actually provide any bonus action utility at all. That means, for many builds, this ability doesn’t impact action economy at all, making its use nothing but a positive.
The damage typing, Force, is the best in the game. Less than half a percent of the 5e monster bestiary has any resistance to it, meaning many characters will never encounter a creature that this damage isn’t effective against. The damage doesn’t scale at all, which is unfortunate, but the effect remains strong throughout all levels of the game.
So let’s talk about that effect. Prone sounds simple, but there’s a ton of nuance here. An enemy that’s been knocked prone has disadvantage on all of their attacks. That’s already strong.
Melee attacks by anyone against a prone enemy also have advantage, which means everyone in your party who can swing a sword. Ranged attacks have disadvantage, however, so bows and spells will find it much harder to hit.
Removing prone is easy to do. It only costs half your movement. Again, though, there’s nuance. Setting a creature’s spell to 0 prevents them from standing up, meaning that they literally cannot remove the prone condition. And there are multiple ways to do this, which we’ll touch on later.
One of the strongest parts of this ability is how it targets Strength saves. Some enemies have decent Strength saves, but many more won’t, and it’s these that the ability is particularly good at.
Spellcasters and other ranged attackers in particular hate having to take Strength saves. Let’s be real, do you think the Wizard across the room has done a single press-up since he got his magic license? He can cast Unseen Servant. He’s not doing anything for himself. That means he’s almost certain to fail the save and end up on his back. At that point, surrounded by melee fighters, he’s pretty much doomed.
Carrying The Boulder, or I Shall Call Him Sisyphus
One thing to bear in mind is that this ability states that the character “can take a rock and make a magical attack with it.” So certain GMs might argue, by a strict reading of the rules, that this ability requires access to an actual physical rock to use.
We think the intent is clear. This is stated to be a magical attack. Other, similar character and feat abilities don’t require anything as specific as having a random rock to hand, so the rock is clearly also magical and a part of the ability.
Reading the rules for the giants that inspired this feat also helps to clear things up, as the stat block for a Hill Giant, for example, simply says Rock as a ranged attack without stating they need to find one. It’s something that can be done at every turn, regardless of the environment.
Still, if your GM is a stickler for persnickety rules readings, you might want to have a bag of stones tied to your waist, just in case.
The Keenness of the Stone Giant feat offers half an ASI in either Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom. This means the feat is a viable choice for almost every class in the game, except maybe pure Wizard or Sorcerer builds.
The save DC of the Stone Throw ability is also tied to the statistic you choose to raise with this feat, so it’s recommended you use this feat to increase your main combat stat.
Ideal Characters for Keenness of the Stone Giant
Cleric – Most Clerics don’t have many uses for their bonus action, and naturally want to either build Wisdom for spellcasting, or Strength for brawling. The ability to knock enemies down at range, multiple times per day, while still either casting or fighting at full potential, is excellent.
It helps that everything else here is great for a Cleric. Perfect stats, plus Darkvision for characters that don’t already have it. The Darkvision also stacks, meaning Clerics with the Domain of Twilight end up with an absurd 360ft Darkvision range, by far the furthest in the game. (Not a typo, btw…)
Druid – Everything that we’ve already mentioned for Clerics also applies here. Melee characters appreciate the ranged option and spellcasters like a bonus action attack that applies a condition.
Hilariously, though, there’s nothing in the Stone Throw ability that specifies a Druid in Wild Shape cannot use it. Giant Toads spitting boulders in the face of a dragon, here we go. Considering most Wild Shapes have zero ranged options, and have low numbers of powerful attacks that really appreciate the advantage from prone, this is a surprisingly effective build.
Monk – Ranged options for the Monk class are limited, so a bonus action attack that knocks the enemy prone, before the Monk leaps atop them and starts kicking, is both great utility and solid power.
The Drunken Master subclass in particular synergizes perfectly with this ability, with bonuses related to going prone and freely engaging and disengaging with targets at will.
Ranger – Most Rangers appreciate having an extra bonus action attack to hand, but archers in particular love this, as they don’t have much to do with their bonus action besides casting the occasional spell, and Ranger spell slots don’t stretch far. Knocking someone down helps your melee companions, and also helps keep enemies at a distance so you’re that much safer.
Just remember to throw rocks after you’ve finished your attack action, as prone targets confer disadvantage on ranged attacks.
Race or Subrace Choices
Owlin – Loose a hail of rocks from anywhere in the sky. Stealth is a good skill, and the racial Darkvision stacks with the Darkvision provided by the feat. But we’re here for the constant, at-will flight, which is incredibly strong for casters and ranged attackers.
Bugbear – The Bugbear does two near-unique things. Firstly, it increases the reach of melee weapons by 5ft on your turn, giving polearm weapons a 15ft reach. That’s already impressive enough.
But it’s surprisingly the Surprise Attack feature that we’re here for. +2d6 damage on anything that uses an attack roll, if you go before someone in the first round of combat. As written, that damage triggers on Stone Throw, as well as all of your attacks, for a potentially terrifying 6d6 bonus damage from as early as level 5.
Dragonborn – All Dragonborn offer an elemental damage resistance, plus a whole host of impressive effects. Principal among them is the breath weapon, which can be used multiple times per day and doesn’t care if your opponent is prone, so gives melee characters another ranged option that works perfectly with their stone throw ability, plus helps handle hordes.
We’d lean toward Metallic as a sub-race for the extra AOE condition burst, but Chromatic’s elemental immunity, and Gem’s flight, are both also powerful abilities under the correct circumstances.
Combos, Tactics, and Synergies
Skill Expert – If you’re going the grappling route to keep enemies down, then Expertise in the skill is essential in making sure you beat your opponent’s Athletics check. Skill Expert is one way to gain this, if you don’t gain it in another way.
Spells that Synergize
Entangle – A Druid can cast Entangle in the same turn they throw a rock at someone. This creates an area of difficult terrain, potentially restrains everyone in the area, then knocks a chosen target prone, controlling the entire battlefield in one round.
Mind Sliver/Silvery Barbs – Both of these spells directly reduce an enemy’s chance of making a saving throw, so increase the chances of Stone Throw knocking an enemy prone.
Strategies for Maximizing Keenness of the Stone Giant Effectiveness
This feat is by far the most effective on characters that have low or no use for their bonus action. The Barbarian would be the quintessential example. Most Barbarians can only throw out the occasional attack with their bonus action, and that’s if they’ve already picked up a feat or use two weapons to do so.
Firstly, this is a genuinely effective ranged attack, especially considering it’s a bonus action. 1d10 is a large damage dice, and the fact that it deals its damage in a basically unresistible type means the ability will remain useful even when monster hp scales into the hundred mark.
Secondly, the fact that this is ranged means you can intervene in combats that you’re not directly involved in. If you know that you can handle your opponent without issue, throw a rock at the monster your Rogue is looking to fight, and give them advantage instead.
Finally, prone is a fantastic effect to apply for yourself, before you take the attack action. Hurling a stone as the opening gambit of an encounter and knocking an opponent prone freely opens up the potential to step up and take your attack action at that same target, with full advantage on every attack roll.
Prone as a condition can be strong, but there are some fine distinctions to the ability that needs to be considered before you start tipping every enemy on their back like an angry tortoise.
Firstly, as we said earlier, prone doesn’t require any sort of save to remove. It only requires giving up half your movement. This means any creature that is prone can choose to remove the condition at the start of its turn unless other conditions prevent that.
So, when choosing this feat, look to your party members for abilities that can keep an enemy held in place. Restrained is one option to hold opponents in place. As is grappling, as that explicitly sets an enemy’s speed to 0. More on grappling in its specific section, below.
Also, consider timing. An enemy hit by this ability that is knocked prone directly before their turn can simply stand up again straight after. Use this on enemies that acted directly before you, with as many allies between your action and the prone opponent as possible, to take full advantage of the … well, advantage it offers.
Lastly, the SRD states that a flying enemy that is knocked prone will fall. Greataxe wielding Fighter constantly plagued by pixies? Or worse, dragons? Throw a rock at ‘em, see how they like fighting on the ground.
Grappling and You
It’s hard to talk about the prone condition without also discussing grappling.
The most important information is this: A creature that is grappled has a speed of 0.
Remember earlier when we said standing from prone costs half your movement? The clause that says this specifically states a creature with a speed of 0 cannot stand up.
This is an intentionally written interaction. A prone creature that is grappled cannot stand up until they lose the grappled condition.
So how do we grapple our enemies, and more importantly, how do we make sure they don’t escape, once we have them in a headlock?
- To grapple a target takes a special attack action. It replaces an attack roll. If you’ve reached a level where you can take multiple attacks in one action, you can replace any number of those attacks with grapple attempts.
- A grapple is an Athletics checks, opposed by your opponent’s Athletics or Acrobatics check.
- You need a free hand to grapple. You can also release your own grapples without an action.
- A creature that is grappled has its speed set to 0. If you drag a creature you are grappling, you move at half speed.
- You can grapple creatures up to one size larger than you.
The above is important, because there are multiple ways to stack skill bonuses atop each other in ways that many enemies don’t have access to, so your grapple check is likely to be significantly higher than an enemy’s counter-roll.
For example, an Ogre, at CR 2, has +4 to Strength, which is already lower than the +5 any character with 16 Strength and proficiency in Athletics has at level 1.
A Hill Giant, CR 5, has an Athletics check of +5.
By level 5, a character specializing in grappling might have +10 to their check, (+4 from Strength, +3 from Proficiency, +3 from Expertise.) They might also make most rolls with advantage using a feature like the Barbarian’s Rage, the Rune Knight’s Giant Might, or any of the spells that provide similar effects.
All of this adds up to a character who can pick a single enemy and completely remove their ability to move, which, when stacked with the prone effect of Stone Throw, can utterly lockout enemies that rely on melee or mobility to be effective.
It’s also worth noting that, as it’s a bonus action, a character can potentially use Stone Throw to knock an enemy prone, then makeup to two grapple attempts, or one grapple and an attack roll, from as early as level 5.
Final Thoughts on Keenness of the Stone Giant
We’re not going to lie, on the first reading of the feats in the Glory of the Giants book, this one didn’t stand out. The abilities on offer seemed underwhelming, and it didn’t appear to do enough to differentiate itself, especially compared to the more obviously powerful feats literally right there on the same page.
But I’ll happily admit when I’m wrong. Keenness of the Stone Giant has grown on us. This is a good feat, with a powerful effect. But the main draw isn’t the fact that this deals force damage, the prone condition, or even the subsidiary Darkvision and stats.
No, the best thing about this feat is that the activated ability only uses a bonus action. That lets this feat fit into the action economy of so many more characters than you might think and means this is almost always useful, despite your build.
After all, the fact that full spellcasters can make good use of a feat aimed at melee brawlers says a hell of a lot about the power of Stone Throw as an ability.