D&D 5e Piercer Feat Guide: A Comprehensive Guide To Stabbing Things

A fighter wields his rapier and attempts to pierce his opponent.

D&D 5e Piercer Feat Guide: A Comprehensive Guide To Stabbing Things

SOURCE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Rating the Benefits of Piercer

Benefit #1 – 

Increase Strength or Dexterity by 1, to a max of 20

Half an ASI is great for evening out odd stats. Both of the stats on offer dictate combat roles and mean the rest of the benefits here are considered equivalent to half a feat.  

Benefit #2 – 

When hitting with an attack that deals piercing damage, once per turn you may reroll a damage dice 

A reroll like this is a consistent increase in damage, turn-by-turn, which costs no resources and requires nothing to activate. 

Benefit #3 – 

After making a critical hit that deals piercing damage, roll one additional damage dice

Even more damage on critical hits, ensuring that the crits you land deal significantly more hurt. 

A human ranger stealthily hides in a forest taking aim at his target with his longbow.

Mechanics and Requirements

Understanding How It Functions

Rerolling Damage Dice

The effect from the Piercer feat that’s going to see the most use is the ability to reroll one damage dice per turn, from any attack that deals any amount of Piercing damage. (More on this later in the guide.)

Most Piercing weapons have medium damage dice, in the d6 and d8 range, with a few exceptions. 

Which Dice Should You Reroll?

The simplest rule when looking for dice to reroll is to pick up any 1s that are rolled and work from there. 

The average damage on a d8 is 4.5, which means that, technically, rerolling any dice that shows lower than this (<4) is statistically a damage boost. 

We’d be more cautious, instead rerolling only 1s and 2s, mostly to avoid the feels bad moments that come when you reroll a 3 into a 1. Statistically, rerolling your 1s and 2s translates to around 2 damage per turn, which is a solid boost in DPS. 

Increased damage on Critical Hits

A character who has the Piercer feat and lands a critical hit adds a bonus damage dice to the damage pool for that attack.  

Again, most piercing weapons have damage dice in the d8 range. Heavy Crossbows and the Pike both use d10, so if you’re looking to maximize crit damage, either of these weapons is a good option, especially when supported with relevant feats. 

However, unless building specifically towards critical hits, they won’t be frequent enough to be specifically relevant. So choose the weapon that best fits your combat style and character idea.  

What Weapons Qualify For The Piercer Feat

Simple Melee Weapons

  • Dagger – 1d4, Light, Finesse, Thrown
  • Javelin – 1d6, Thrown
  • Spear – 1d6, Versatile 1d8, Thrown

Martial Melee Weapons

  • Lance – 1d12, Reach, Special
  • Morningstar – 1d8
  • Pike – 1d10, Heavy, Reach, Two-handed
  • Rapier – 1d8, Finesse
  • Shortsword – 1d6, Finesse, Light
  • Trident – 1d6, Versatile 1d8, Thrown
  • War Pick – 1d8

Ranged Weapons

  • Dart – 1d4, Finesse, Thrown
  • Light Crossbow – 1d8, Loading, Two-handed
  • Hand Crossbow – 1d6, Light, Loading
  • Heavy Crossbow – Heavy, Loading, Two-handed
  • Short Bow – 1d6, Two-handed
  • Longbow – Heavy, Two-handed

Key Stats

The Piercer feat offers a +1 in either Strength or Dexterity. 

A character can comfortably increase either as their build dictates, as nothing in the feat requires these stats. Most weapons that deal piercing damage and the classes that lean towards them are better built with higher Dex than Strength.  

Ideal Characters for Piercer

Top Classes

Rogue – Basically every weapon a Rogue might consider using qualifies for the Piercer feat. Dexterity is a stat the class needs to boost, crit damage on a Rogue is always great, and the reroll also works with the Rogue’s Sneak Attack dice. 

Ranger – Bows, shortswords, and rapiers just sound like someone wrote down the list of weapons a Ranger typically uses. Piercer is clearly a good fit for the class, adding consistent damage to a DPS role, plus spike damage on crits. 

Many Ranger subclasses get a boost to weapon damage built into their abilities. The Monster Slayer and Drakewarden would be our choice, respectively gaining insight into the beasts that you’re hunting with your enhanced weapons or a draconic companion to pin enemies in place while you riddle them with arrows. 

Fighter – The Fighter makes an absolute ton of attacks, and tends to land a lot of crits into the bargain, maximizing the effectiveness of both parts of the feat. 

Technically, the Battlemaster’s Combat Maneuvers deal extra weapon damage, so also qualify for this feat’s reroll. 

Moon Druid – Many Wild Form shapes deal piercing damage with their natural attacks. Most things with a bite are piercing, and the class tends toward a few attacks that hit very hard. 

If you’re leaning into several of these forms, the Piercer feat functions as a stronger Savage Attacker, allowing a reroll on one damage dice per round, plus boosted crit damage on top.

Race or Subrace Choices

Half-Orc – Half Orcs already gain a bonus damage dice on critical hits. Combining that with this feat encourages a crit-fishing build, so pack a weapon with the largest damage dice possible. Half-Orcs naturally make great warriors as is. Combat feats only make them better. 

Elf – All of the various Elves qualify for the Elven accuracy feat, as well as many coming with Elven weapon proficiency, which is nothing but piercing weapons. Wood Elves lean towards stealth and subterfuge, High Elves are lightly magical, and Half-Elves have a variable bonus that can be used to build toward what you need. 

Combos, Tactics, and Synergies

Complementary Feats

Sharpshooter – Basically every ranged weapon that qualifies for the Sharpshooter feat deals piercing damage. Ideally, you want both of these feats, but fitting the pair into your build can be complicated. For most characters, Sharpshooter should be the one to pick up first. 

Elven Accuracy – A bonus to all the relevant stats that can add up to +2 Dex when combined with this feat, plus rerolling a dice when attacking with Advantage, is a huge boost to DPS, and pushes a character’s chance to crit up to around 1 in 8 attacks. 

Polearm Master – Martial characters who want to qualify for this feat should look to the Pike, which is a polearm with reach. Polearm master is a monstrously powerful combat feat for anyone who uses this weapon type. 

Spells that Synergize

Smite Spells – More damage plus conditional effects is obviously good. So is the ability to reroll the dice on the spell damage.

Bless – Higher chance to hit, equals more hits, equals more damage, equals more chances for crits and rerolls. Maths!

Strategies for Maximizing Piercer Effectiveness

Piercer is a relatively simple feat to build towards. Pick a source of piercing damage with the biggest dice possible, and either look to maximize your number of attacks, your chance to crit, or both. 

The best weapons for the Piercer feat

The majority of piercing weapons have medium damage dice, but there are some stand-out options in the list of weapons that are clearly better. 

For simple melee weapons, the Spear is by far the best choice. It has the largest damage dice in its class, which can be scaled up to 1d8 if wielded in both hands and even used as a throwing weapon in a pinch. (Pack a backup weapon.) 

Martial melee weapon users have multiple good options:

  • The Rapier is the best single-handed piercing weapon, with the biggest damage dice and no awkward conditions on use. 
  • Short Swords are almost as good as the Rapier and are the best dual-wield option without feat or ability investment. 
  • The Pike is the only real two-handed great weapon that deals piercing damage, but it’s a good one. It has Reach to attack up to 10ft; or two squares, away, and a large d10 damage dice, plus excellent feat support in Polearm Master. 

In terms of ranged weapons, bows are generally better than crossbows. For characters with martial weapon proficiency, who aren’t small-sized, the Longbow is almost always best in class. 

Rerolling Once Per Turn

The wording of the Piercer feat is that you can reroll one damage dice per turn. This means characters with out-of-turn attacks can benefit from the bonus more than once per round. 

Opportunity Attacks. The Sentinel and Polearm Master feats. The Barbarian’s Path of the Berserker. The Battlemaster Fighter, Hunter Ranger, and many more classes can attack out of sequence and gain the benefits once again.  

Critical Hits and Piercer

The Piercer feat increases the damage from critical hits, adding another dice, which adds up to a significant chunk of damage from a single strike. 

Unlike other editions, for the vast majority of classes, crits are only ever available on a natural 20 to hit. There are two main exceptions to this rule. The Champion Fighter crits on 19-20, (increasing to 18-20 at high levels,) and the Hexblade Warlock crits on 19-20 against the target of their curse, a once per short rest resource. 

With this said, there are two main ways to increase your chance to crit: Increasing the number of attacks you make and attacking with advantage. 

Classes like the Fighter and Monk tend to make a lot of crits, as they can casually throw out 3-4 attacks in a round from as early as level 5. Two-weapon fighting, spells like Haste, and abilities like Commander’s Strike from the Battlemaster can also add more attacks to a character’s turn. 

On top of the higher hit chance, attacking with advantage pushes your chance to crit from 1 in 20, or 5%, up to 1 in 10, or 10%. 

There are hundreds of ways to qualify for advantage. For martial characters, attacking with advantage is best achieved through spells, conditions like Prone, subclass features, attacking from Surprise, or the Barbarian’s Reckless Attack.  

Does the Piercer feat work with Sneak Attack?

Yes, it does. Unlike several similar abilities which state you can only reroll weapon dice, the Piercer feat states that you can “reroll one of the attack’s damage dice.”

This means that Piercer qualifies for Sneak Attack, making the feat a fantastic one for Rogues, who generally only have one big attack and have to make it count. 

Oddly, the feat actually becomes slightly stronger as a character hits mid to high levels. Consider. At level 3, you’re probably rolling 3d6; 1d6 from your weapon, and 2d6 Sneak Attack. The chance of a low roll, looking specifically for 1s, is 50%, so Piercer might only see use every second turn. 

However, at level 9, with 5d6 Sneak Attack dice plus weapon dice, the chance of a dice turning up 1 is statistically 100%, meaning Piercer might see use almost every turn unless you’re one of those magical players who lucks out and high rolls everything.  

What else qualifies for the Piercer feat?

Because of the way the feat is worded, many things technically qualify for the Piercer feat. 

The spell Hunter’s Mark adds another dice of weapon damage, which can be rerolled. Bonus damage dice from other sources, such as the Booming Blade cantrip, Battlemaster Combat Maneuvers, and even a Paladin’s Smite, (as long as the attack dealt some piercing damage.) 

In the same way, full spells that deal piercing damage, for example, Thorn Whip and Ice Knife, also qualify for the Piercer feat. This is enough of a niche case that it’s not worth building around, but it is good to know for characters who can sling spells as well as swing swords. 

Final Thoughts on Piercer

Unlike its contemporaries, Slasher and Crusher, the Piercer feat in 5e is almost purely damage focused. It’s not the most powerful feat, but characters like Rangers, Fighters, and Rogues, who are looking to smooth out their DPS numbers, and make sure that the biggest hits hit even harder, are going to love this.

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