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“I hate feats, because they implicitly exclude PCs from doing things that they’d otherwise be able to do without feats.” It’s been a complaint since 2000, and I can understand it. For example, the Call Truce feat sets up a specific mechanic for parleying with enemies. If you take the feat and abide by its circumstantial restrictions, you can make a Diplomacy check to temporarily cease combat. For a core example, Power Attack sets up a specific mechanic for taking a wild but powerful swing.
This is the internet so I’m sure someone will disagree with me, but I think that most of us can agree that attempting parley and taking wild swings are both things that any character ought to be able to do. (We’ll have different opinions about which situations exclude the possibility of parley, and which if any mechanics ought to be used for it, but we can agree that parley ought to be possible in at least some situations with or without a feat.)
That said, I don’t remember this ever being an issue. I’ve never played in a campaign where a Call Truce type feat excluded the possibility of anyone attempting parley. (Or at least, I wasn’t aware if there was.) And I’ve never heard a player without Power Attack say “I want to swing wild and powerful. Can I get modifiers to reflect that?” (Admittedly, players may have assumed that the existence of PA would shut them down, and so not bothered to ask.)
If this sort of thing has been an issue for you, how did you deal with it?
As a DM, it occurs to me that these sort of feats can be used as guidelines for universally-accessible house rules. For example, if a PC without PA takes a wild swing, I might rule that she gains all the penalties but only half the bonuses described in the PA text. If a PC without Call Truce tries to parley, I could rule that it works as described in CT except that it takes two turns instead of one to attempt. Or that trying to parley without CT increases the DC by 5. Or that CT simply allows parley attempts in situations which I would otherwise tell a player “Parley is clearly futile here, you have no chance of success.”
Of course, if I’ve been handling a certain action with my own house rule, and then discover that ‘there’s a feat for that,’ the feat may create a prickly dilemma. If my house rule uses a different mechanic than the feat, do I change my house rule to mirror the feat, or vice versa? If my house rule is better than the feat, do I buff the feat or nerf my house rule? But it is hypothetically doable.
Perhaps all there’s-a-feat-for-that feats ought to be accompanied by an official universally-accessible rule? Much like Combat Expertise is accompanied by the fighting-defensively rule, and the total defense rule.
So, ideas? Experiences? Snarky comments?