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So, the ACG came and brought us the long waited Dex-to-Damage and Cha-to-Will options... Unfortunately, they are quite underwhelming, to say the least.
Dex to damage requires 3 feats, doesn't work with light weapons (or rapiers) and for some reason is restricted to a single weapon (which means that TWF with a rapier and daggers requires anything between 6 to 9 feats).
Prerequisite: BAB +1; Dex 13; Weapon Finesse
Benefit:You can add your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to all attack and damage rolls made with weapons affected by Weapon Finesse. This damage is not increased by any condition or effect that would allow you to add 1.5 times your Strength bonus to damage (such as wielding your weapon 2-handed) but it is still reduced for off-hand attacks. You cannot use this ability while donning a shield of any kind.
Special: Characters with the Panache class feature can use this ability while donning a buckler.
There! It requires 2 feats and doesn't let characters use shields, stopping their AC from going too high. This, added to the feat cost and lower damage, gives a significant advantage to Str-based builds.
"Lemmy, you insane bird brain! That applies to ALL weapons! Isn't that overpowered!"
I really don't see how. Letting the feat apply to all (finesse) weapons simply prevents situations like this:
Guy-Playing-a-Swashbuckler: So, what do I find in the assassin's body?
GM: You find 2000gp, a mithral chain shirt and a +3 adamantine dagger.
Guy-Playing-a-Swashbuckler: Cool! I can sell that dagger to upgrade my +1 punching dagger!
GM: Why... Why don't you just take his dagger?
Guy-Playing-a-Swashbuckler: Because my feats only apply to punching daggers. Not normal daggers.
Limiting it to a single type of weapons is a pointless restriction. The feat applying to multiple weapons doesn't increase the character's power, just his build versatility.
...And my brain is at least 20% bigger than that of a bird, thank you very much.
"But Dex-to-Damage is TOO POWERFUL! No matter what!"
Look... It costs 2 feats (the scarcest resource in the game) and you still won't deal as much damage as the guy with a greatsword who invested zero feats.
BUT if you still think it's too good, just add the following line to the feat's benefit: "...If you have a negative Str modifier, that penalty still applies to your melee damage rolls."
Or, use one of the following alternate feats:
Insightful Strike:You use your combat insight and precision instead of raw power to damage your opponents.
Prerequisite: BAB +1 or Rogue level 1; Weapon Finesse; Dex 15
Benefit:You can add your Intelligence modifier instead of your Strength modifier to all attack and damage rolls made with weapons affected by Weapon Finesse. This damage is not increased by any condition or effect that would allow you to add 1.5 times your Strength bonus to damage (such as wielding your weapon 2-handed), nor is it reduced for off-hand attacks.
Or this one:
Through insight and discipline, you learned to harm your opponents by attacking them with precise strikes and superior martial techniques rather than brute strength.
Prerequisites: BAB +1 or Monk level 1; Improved Unarmed Strike or ability to cast divine spells; Weapon Finesse; Wis 15.
Benefit: When attacking with unarmed strikes, natural attacks or monk weapons, you can apply your Wisdom modifier to damage rolls instead of your Strength modifier. This bonus is not increased by any condition or ability that would allow you to add 1.5x your Strength modifier to damage rolls (such as wielding a weapon 2-handed or using the Dragon Style feat), nor is it reduced for off-hand attacks.
Special: If you're capable of casting divine spells, you can also use this ability when attacking with your deity's favored weapon.
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"Whatever... What's your problem with Cha-to-Will? There are like, 3 or 4 different ways to do it in the ACG!"
Exactly! 3 or 4 different ways. All of them needlessly complicated and/or situational (or way too powerful, in the case of Divine Protection). They use different types of bonus and/or apply to only against specific effects for some reason.
My suggestion? Remove all of those feats and class features!
No more Divine Protection! No more Steadfast Personality! No more Charmed Life! Here is an universal feat that is simple, effective and balanced!
Prerequisite: Cha 13
Benefit: You add your Charisma modifier instead of your Wisdom modifier to Will save.
"But... This will make Wisdom a dump stat!"
Yeah, but unlike pretty much every other character in the game, you can't dump Cha. And you're one feat behind. And now you don't have 3~4 different ways to stack Cha on your will save. And your GM doesn't have to remember if it's a mind-affecting effect or not, you simply add the bonus anyway.
"Hah! You are forgetting about Paladins! They'll still be able to add double their Cha modifier to will saves!"
I didn't forget about them. It's just not a big deal... Paladins have great will save and gain immunity to many effects that require will saves (fear, charm and compulsion). What they don't have are feats. Paladins (And Anti-Paladins) are very feat-starved, so it doesn't really bother me if they want to spend one of their very precious feats just to get a bonus they don't even need.
But if that really bothers you... Just add the following line to the feat:
Special: You can already add your Charisma modifier to Will saves, you instead replace your Wis bonus with half your Cha modifier (rounded down)
"And what about Swashbucklers? Their saves suck! Without Charmed Life, they are doomed!"
You're right. Fortunately, this problem has a very easy solution: Give them this feat as a bonus feat at 6th level... And maybe a +1 luck bonus to Will saves every time they would get an additional use of Charmed Life.
Now Swashbucklers have acceptable saves and can actually use their class features without fear of dying because they spent their immediate action and are therefore incapable of using Charmed Life.
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So, this is my take on Dex-to-Damage and Cha-to-Will feats/class features.
IMHO, they are simpler and better balanced than the options introduced in the ACG, which, unfortunately, pretty much guarantee we'll never see anything like them in the future.
So I'll just leave an additional suggestion for devs and homebrewers:
In the future, try to keep things simple. There is no point in creating 4 different options that do the same thing in slightly different ways and/or making options needlessly complicated and/or restrictive. You cannot and should not balance an option by making it more annoying to use.
Anyway, hope you guys and gals like these ideas, and thanks for reading.