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Talents Explainer: martial talents are a step forward for 5E

Talents Explainer: martial talents are a step forward for 5E

Talents are the Tales of the Valiant (ToV) equivalent of feats. Frankly, many feats in D&D are a little lackluster. And there’s only one feat in the whole SRD, which tells you what its authors thought about feats. We knew we could do better.

ToV grabbed this issue by every horn. In 5E terms, talents are like feats PLUS. You will want to take talents for your character, because they powerful and interesting.

If you’re reading this close to this blog post’s publishing date, then ToV is still pretty new and you might be wondering what the big deal about talents is. If you’re reading this far into the future, then how was Fallout season 2?

OK, let’s get on the same page about talents.

What the heck are talents anyway?

Talents are player-chosen abilities, gained periodically, which grant new features, augment current powers, or otherwise enhance a character’s capabilities. In general, talents fill the mechanical space occupied in other game systems by powers, feats, or edges.

Talents represent the ways an adventurer improves over the course of their adventures. When your class grants an Improvement, you can choose a talent from your class-allowed lists, assuming you meet any necessary prerequisites.

Talents are divided into three categories: magic, martial, and technical.

  • Magic talents affect a character’s spellcasting but also include features that strengthen the mind and defend against harmful magic effects.
  • Martial talents affect a character’s combat abilities, including enhancements to overall fitness and the ability to wield weaponry.
  • Technical talents affect a character’s non-combat abilities, granting utility-based improvements to social encounters, exploration, and object interactions.

You gain one talent when you choose a background during character creation, and your class choice typically determines which talent lists you have access to. If your lineage is human, you get another talent of your choice, because humans are that way.

Got that? Cool. Moving on.

Some Cool Martial Talents

There are lots of talents so far, and ToV isn’t even completely released yet. I’m sure our hypothetical readers from the far future can confirm that lots more talents are coming! In the meantime, here’s some advice for picking martial talents right now.

You Really Wanna Do Some Damage?

Let’s say you’re a fighter, ranger, paladin, or maybe just a greatsword wielding ogre wizard (I’m not judging here). You could attack with your weapon and do some damage. But wouldn’t you rather optimize the chance to deal out massive damaging strikes? Of course you would. Lean into the natural 20 critical world by picking up Critical Training!


You’ve learned to aim for vital points on your targets. You gain these benefits:

  • You score a critical hit on a d20 roll of 19 or 20 when attacking with a weapon.
  • When calculating the extra damage of a critical hit with a weapon, add the ability modifier used in the attack to the damage one additional time.

First of all, is there anyone who doesn’t like to make critical hits? No, no there is not. This talent allows you a bigger range of crits. While it doesn’t specifically say you can’t stack it with other features that expand your crit range, you know very well that is totally min/maxing, so stop it.

What’s also great about this talent is the other benefit. Usually when you crit, you double the damage roll but not the ability modifier. Now you can, which saves a ton of headaches in terms of math (at least for me).

Tired of Failing Physical Saves or Getting Shoved Around?

It’s all well and good when your foes fail their saves, and there is something satisfying about sending the smarmy swashbuckler tumbling into a pool of lava with a hearty shove. However, that’s less fun on the receiving end.

When you’re designing your character, maybe you’d like to weather any storm and be the person shrugging off attempts to push you around? Look no further than the Physical Fortitude talent!


You’ve fortified yourself against physically debilitating effects. You gain the following benefits:

  • Once per turn, when you fail a STR or CON save, you can expend one of your hit dice to reroll the save. You must take the new result.
  • When you start your turn blinded, deafened, restrained, or poisoned, you gain 1 Luck.
  • You have advantage on checks and saves to avoid being knocked prone, pulled, or pushed.

At first glance, this one doesn’t seem very flashy. However, for a martial character getting a reroll on STR and CON saves is very useful, especially when you think about all of those poisoning effects out there. Adding a bit of Luck when you start with a condition just sweetens the pot.

Got a Two-Handed Weapon and You Want to Max It Out?

Maul Smash! You heft your greataxe or halberd and eye your foes. Sure there’s a lot of them. But you’re holding their doom in two hands.

Does your character take personal enjoyment out of turning their enemies into pulp? Take a look at the Heavy Weapons Master talent!  


Prerequisite: Character 4th Level or Higher

You have great skill with two-handed weapons. While wielding a melee weapon with the Heavy property in two hands, you gain these benefits:

  • When you score a critical hit, you can make one additional melee weapon attack as part of that Attack action.

In addition, your attacks become overpowering. As a bonus action on each of your turns, you can give yourself one of the following benefits:

  • The next melee attack you make with a Heavy weapon ignores resistance to your weapon’s damage.
  • Your next melee attack with a Heavy weapon has a −5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, it deals extra damage equal to half your STR score.

This is, frankly, an amazing talent to have if your character enjoys walloping foes with giant mauls, greatswords, greataxes, or huge anime weapons larger than themselves. Getting a free extra attack if you crit is just going to ramp up that damage. Then, you get two really useful bonus actions. Lots of dangerous critters have resistance to one of the main damage types (bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing). With this talent you’ll laugh at their puny resistances. Or you can give your hit a bit more oomph by adding half your STR score to damage.

Now, imagine combining this with the Critical Training talent. Your attack crits on a 19 or 20. You add your ability modifier to damage one additional time. Then, you can make an additional melee attack with the same weapon. Boom!

Feel Like Shooting Back? Well, Check This Out!

Let’s face it. No one likes getting hit by the pesky archer a million miles away across the battlefield. Arrows in the knee are 85 percent responsible for many adventurers’ early retirement. Instead of getting plunked by bolt after bolt as you run across the field toward snipers, take the Return Fire talent and shoot back! 


You are skilled at suppressing long-range foes in combat. When a creature you can see hits or misses you with a ranged attack, as a reaction you can make a single weapon attack against that creature with a ranged or thrown weapon if the target is within your weapon’s range (short or long).

To all the rangers, and hand-crossbow wielding rogues, you are welcome.

But That’s Not All!

Next week, we’ll delve into making your caster-type character a badass with magical talents. Or maybe it can be right now if you’re in the future!

Until then, be valiant!

Get adventures right away to start your Tales of the Valiant game! Caverns of the Spore Lord is a perfect start a new adventure!

about Brian Suskind

A multiple ENnie award winning designer, Brian has worked on nearly all of the products for Kobold Press. He’s also co-lead game designer for Draco Studios and has created TTRPG products for Legendary Games, Beadle & Grimm, Zombie Sky Press, and Storm Bunny Studios, among others. In his spare time, he’s a screenwriter and noted mimic aficionado.

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