Feat points -or- Not all feats are equal so they should not cost the same


Homebrew


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Balancing feats is hard, since they are all supposed to be equal. What if we changed to a point-buy system for feats? My write-up of point-based feats is at my blog.

I've priced every feat from the CRB to Ultimate Magic. I'm still working on it, and would value input.

A disclaimer: I originally found this idea on Giant In The Playground and it is eventually sourced to SKR. I've not seen a complete pathfinder feat pricing, so this is my attempt.

TL;DR: Every time you gain a feat, you gain 8 points instead. Then you can spend points on feats as listed in this spreadsheet.


Was about to head off, but this caught my eye. It's a nice idea, not sure i'd have gone as high as 8 points, but still, interesting attempt at balancing.

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Assigning a point value to every feat is such a daunting task that ultimately yields little benefit because it's difficult to judge the power of a feat on such a fine level. Especially a fine level where a whole feat equates to 8 points. This was one of the flaws with the race creation rules in ARG. You aren't going to have a more balanced system this way.

A better approach would be to have tiers for feats. For example, a character can choose one feat or two "minor feats" By making the values more discrete, it's much easier to figure out whether a feat is too powerful or too weak. With your system, it's much more challenging to figure out the power difference between a 4-point feat or a 5-point feat.


This will be really difficult to judge, and will vary by campaign level. Low-level campaigns might enjoy small static boosters more than stat-based or level-based feats and style chains that take a while to mature. Feats have combinations that are of varying power, and the value changes by level. Some feats, like Power Attack, scale as you level. Others, like Human Spirit, swiftly become useless past a point. And yet others should be free. Monkey Lunge, I'm looking at you.

The expected value of Power Attack only increases over time. Taken at 1st level, it's nice to have but fine to not have, since your attack bonuses can only go so high. Taking it at 1st mostly opens up feat chains you can take at later levels. However, by 20th, when your attack values are ridiculous and AC isn't too tough to hit, Power Attack adds +9 damage to each swing of your two-hander.

Feats like Dodge and Toughness provide nice, but not terribly powerful bonuses. Toughness is most powerful (relatively speaking) at 1st level, when it provides 3x your level in bonus HP. Dodge is a prerequisite to a bunch of nice things, but +1 AC is hardly something to write home about, and becomes less useful when you have access to bigger AC boosters such as Extra Rage Power (Beast Totem).

Power Attack + Cornugon Smash + Hurtful is worth more than the sum of its parts, since it effectively grants an extra attack as a swift action every turn. Power Attack is amazing as it is, Cornugon Smash is nice, and Hurtful isn't bad, but without Cornugon Smash to consistently intimidate (and apply Shaken), Hurtful is only situationally useful.

I'd be wary of any such attempt to categorize and balance feats this way.


Knight Magenta wrote:

Balancing feats is hard, since they are all supposed to be equal. What if we changed to a point-buy system for feats? My write-up of point-based feats is at my blog.

I've priced every feat from the CRB to Ultimate Magic. I'm still working on it, and would value input.

A disclaimer: I originally found this idea on Giant In The Playground and it is eventually sourced to SKR. I've not seen a complete pathfinder feat pricing, so this is my attempt.

TL;DR: Every time you gain a feat, you gain 8 points instead. Then you can spend points on feats as listed in this spreadsheet.

Feats don't normally have objective value. The campaign, build and other factors will matter. Power attack for the guy who has dealing damage as his primary thing will get more out of it than the secondary damage dealer, as an example.


wraithstrike wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:

Balancing feats is hard, since they are all supposed to be equal. What if we changed to a point-buy system for feats? My write-up of point-based feats is at my blog.

I've priced every feat from the CRB to Ultimate Magic. I'm still working on it, and would value input.

A disclaimer: I originally found this idea on Giant In The Playground and it is eventually sourced to SKR. I've not seen a complete pathfinder feat pricing, so this is my attempt.

TL;DR: Every time you gain a feat, you gain 8 points instead. Then you can spend points on feats as listed in this spreadsheet.

Feats don't normally have objective value. The campaign, build and other factors will matter. Power attack for the guy who has dealing damage as his primary thing will get more out of it than the secondary damage dealer, as an example.

Sure, a feat's value depends on the build, but that's a far cry from saying you can't assign values to feats. You can say with great certainty that weapon focus is less good than power attack for any character that wants power attack.

Its harder with less related feats, like skill focus vs Crane style. But it should be obvious that most players would fine the style feat stronger.

That being said by not pricing feats, you concede that all feats have the same value: 1 feat slot. And most people would agree that this is not true.

Cyrad wrote:

Assigning a point value to every feat is such a daunting task that ultimately yields little benefit because it's difficult to judge the power of a feat on such a fine level. Especially a fine level where a whole feat equates to 8 points. This was one of the flaws with the race creation rules in ARG. You aren't going to have a more balanced system this way.

A better approach would be to have tiers for feats. For example, a character can choose one feat or two "minor feats" By making the values more discrete, it's much easier to figure out whether a feat is too powerful or too weak. With your system, it's much more challenging to figure out the power difference between a 4-point feat or a 5-point feat.

You suggestion just sets the price of a strong feat to 2 points :) I could see the argument for a smaller range, the original started with 10 after all. 2 points seems too small for me, because you have at least 3 tiers of feats: power attack, weapon focus, and blind fight. You'd rarely take the third level, but the second level is nice to have. There is a strong argument for 4 points per feat.

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Yes, I know.

You want to keep it as small as possible so it's easier to categorize them. 3 might be a better number than 4. With three, you can choose one feat to be your base line. This feat has a cost of 2. Then, every feat that is stronger than that feat gets assigned 3 points and every feat weaker than that feat gets assigned 1 point.

Also, just because a feat is situational doesn't mean it's underpowered or it should have a lower cost.


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Feats ought to be judged by how well they do what they are trying to accomplish. Your going to have trouble measuring the power of weapon focus against skill focus because they involve different parts of the system.

If you want to compare feats, an easier approach might involve comparing combat feats against other combat feats or skill feats against other skill feats. For whatever reason, magic feats are usually better than their competition, so most of those should be on the expensive side.


Cyrad wrote:

Yes, I know.

You want to keep it as small as possible so it's easier to categorize them. 3 might be a better number than 4. With three, you can choose one feat to be your base line. This feat has a cost of 2. Then, every feat that is stronger than that feat gets assigned 3 points and every feat weaker than that feat gets assigned 1 point.

Also, just because a feat is situational doesn't mean it's underpowered or it should have a lower cost.

My philosophy is that if a feat comes up in 1/4 of all fights, but is awesome when it does, it should cost less. This is because I want to encourage characters to take stuff like blind-fight and deflect arrows. They are good feats that are really strong at doing their thing but no one ever takes them.

When assigning point values I literally think: "How much extra stuff would I need to get to take this over a better feat."

Trogdar wrote:

Feats ought to be judged by how well they do what they are trying to accomplish. Your going to have trouble measuring the power of weapon focus against skill focus because they involve different parts of the system.

If you want to compare feats, an easier approach might involve comparing combat feats against other combat feats or skill feats against other skill feats. For whatever reason, magic feats are usually better than their competition, so most of those should be on the expensive side.

Isn't that really vague? Say you take nightmare fist. What is it trying to do and how well is it doing it?

Is it trying to make you better at fighting? Well weapon spec is more consistent.
The feat wants you to intimidate people but provides no way of doing that, is that bad?
Is is trying to encourage you to be a scary thing in the dark? How scary do you need to be for this to be successful? Is +2/+4 good? +2/+6? If you don't compare it to other feats its impossible to define what is good enough.


Well, as it applies in multiple arenas, I would pars each area separately to determine relative strength and then charge that value as there isn't really a benefit to them being combined in a point based system. If anything, it gates one attribute of the feat behind an additional charge.

Edit: read as the sum of the two parts.


Great idea here, some notes though

1). Consider prerequisite feats in the price. You seem to have done somewhat well in the first draft, but its worth mentioning for later use.

2). Don't stat out all feat costs in the game. Instead, negotiate them based on what your players actually want to take. Why give the cost for Metamagic feats if everyone is nonmagical? This lets you explain the cost for your players, and might help keep from unfair judgement. Make sure the cost is equal, but definitely check.

3). Might give some classes limited abilities to reduce costs for feats. Like fighters might get an ability/feat to select a small amount at 1/2 cost or with a 2 pt discount. Give some classes an edge on feats.

4). If you allow extra power/talent feats, you should either put different costs for different powers or make them all 8 point feats. The former is better IMO (especially for rogue talents, the low end of the scale), but the latter helps minimize feat troubles.

5). Consider giving feats you can take a bunch that do the same thing (weapon focus, armor focus, etc) reduced costs after the first. One weapon focus in your primary weapon is much better than the 2nd one for a backup weapon/offhand weapon. Gives a little slack on suboptimal styles of play, and it makes sense thematically.

6. Power Attack is a well balanced feat and a decent baseline. But there are stronger feats (like leadership or dazing spell) so you might want to add some room for especially powerful feats to cost a little more.

Overall though this seems like an intriguing idea, and I'd love to hear it playtested.


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Simply downgrading some feats into traits seems like a good idea. These could be called general traits and one can have as many as they can take(prerequisites must still be met).

Grand Lodge

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This is an unworkable problem, from a practicality standpoint. There are too many uncontrolled variables.

-Skeld


and how would work if your point buy system if you make feats into different charts? they are already in diferent charts. so, combat feats had a range from x to y value, metamagic in second, social at third and utility feats (skill focus, skill dependant feats and any other from this categories) at last?
so, if my fighter wanted to be more social than a combatant?

i love your idea at all, maybe the best solution to the feat issues unbalance than i have seen to date


Knight Magenta wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:

Balancing feats is hard, since they are all supposed to be equal. What if we changed to a point-buy system for feats? My write-up of point-based feats is at my blog.

I've priced every feat from the CRB to Ultimate Magic. I'm still working on it, and would value input.

A disclaimer: I originally found this idea on Giant In The Playground and it is eventually sourced to SKR. I've not seen a complete pathfinder feat pricing, so this is my attempt.

TL;DR: Every time you gain a feat, you gain 8 points instead. Then you can spend points on feats as listed in this spreadsheet.

Feats don't normally have objective value. The campaign, build and other factors will matter. Power attack for the guy who has dealing damage as his primary thing will get more out of it than the secondary damage dealer, as an example.
Sure, a feat's value depends on the build, but that's a far cry from saying you can't assign values to feats.

You can assign values to anything. I was not saying it was impossible. I was saying they won't be accurate across the board.

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Knight Magenta wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

Yes, I know.

You want to keep it as small as possible so it's easier to categorize them. 3 might be a better number than 4. With three, you can choose one feat to be your base line. This feat has a cost of 2. Then, every feat that is stronger than that feat gets assigned 3 points and every feat weaker than that feat gets assigned 1 point.

Also, just because a feat is situational doesn't mean it's underpowered or it should have a lower cost.

My philosophy is that if a feat comes up in 1/4 of all fights, but is awesome when it does, it should cost less. This is because I want to encourage characters to take stuff like blind-fight and deflect arrows. They are good feats that are really strong at doing their thing but no one ever takes them.

When assigning point values I literally think: "How much extra stuff would I need to get to take this over a better feat."

By your logic, a feat that lets you cast the wish spell once per month should be a 1-point feat because it will only come up once per adventure. That philosophy is flawed because each feat is an optional choice that varies in usefulness depending on the campaign. If you give a feat a very low cost because it's circumstantial, that feat becomes overpowered/underpriced in a campaign where the circumstance is common. As a result, you have to price based on the power ceiling, not how often it's useful. Just as Trogdar pointed out, a feat should be judged by what it's trying to accomplish.


Using weapon focus and skill focus as examples there are times when skill focus will be much more useful, especially once someone gets to level 10.

However I have had characters with no use for skill focus, and that extra +1 from weapon focus makes feats like power attack less of a gamble.


Paradozen wrote:

Great idea here, some notes though

1). Consider prerequisite feats in the price. You seem to have done somewhat well in the first draft, but its worth mentioning for later use.

2). Don't stat out all feat costs in the game. Instead, negotiate them based on what your players actually want to take. Why give the cost for Metamagic feats if everyone is nonmagical? This lets you explain the cost for your players, and might help keep from unfair judgement. Make sure the cost is equal, but definitely check.

3). Might give some classes limited abilities to reduce costs for feats. Like fighters might get an ability/feat to select a small amount at 1/2 cost or with a 2 pt discount. Give some classes an edge on feats.

4). If you allow extra power/talent feats, you should either put different costs for different powers or make them all 8 point feats. The former is better IMO (especially for rogue talents, the low end of the scale), but the latter helps minimize feat troubles.

5). Consider giving feats you can take a bunch that do the same thing (weapon focus, armor focus, etc) reduced costs after the first. One weapon focus in your primary weapon is much better than the 2nd one for a backup weapon/offhand weapon. Gives a little slack on suboptimal styles of play, and it makes sense thematically.

6. Power Attack is a well balanced feat and a decent baseline. But there are stronger feats (like leadership or dazing spell) so you might want to add some room for especially powerful feats to cost a little more.

Overall though this seems like an intriguing idea, and I'd love to hear it playtested.

1) in theory, if everything is priced based on how much they are worth, then the prereqs are not taxes :) I sort of want to just eliminate all prerequisites that require other feats, but that's a different story.

2) I was going to do it this way, but I like the option of discovering new builds by combining some weaker feats together. Also, its more fair if I am not pricing feats for players. I am the most rules savvy player in our group and I don't want to be in the position of pricing feats for my own characters...

Also, it would be cool if someone else finds all this work useful.

3) Basically mini-bonus feats :) That's cool.

4) Pricing out all feats is lots of work. No way am I pricing class features too. That way lies madness.

5) That's a really good idea. I think I'll add a note about that.

6) If the feat is too strong I'd rather just ban it. could you imagine passing on 3 feats to get leadership? That sounds like a miserable experience.

Our group might switch to using this system for either our current campaign or the next one. I'll post about how it goes.

wraithstrike wrote:
You can assign values to anything. I was not saying it was impossible. I was saying they won't be accurate across the board.

Doesn't need to be prefect. Just better than it is now. I sort of enjoy reading through all of paizo's feats.

Cyrad wrote:
By your logic, a feat that lets you cast the wish spell once per month should be a 1-point feat because it will only come up once per adventure. That philosophy is flawed because each feat is an optional choice that varies in usefulness depending on the campaign. If you give a feat a very low cost because it's circumstantial, that feat becomes overpowered/underpriced in a campaign where the circumstance is common. As a result, you have to price based on the power ceiling, not how often it's useful. Just as Trogdar pointed out, a feat should be judged by what it's trying to accomplish.

Would you seriously take a feat that let you cast wish only once? Even at CL 20? That seems like a bad trade. You can't even wish for a awesome magic item like you could in 3.5. I'd price that feat as a feat that gives a +1 inherent bonus to an ability score. Maybe 3 or 4 points :) I guess you could use it as a CL20 cone of cold or something to win a combat...


Wish once a month is a bad choice to make. It's just not that good. Can you imagine having that and trying to figure out when to use it? Ugh, no thanks.

Maybe 3.0 wish. I think you could buy gear back then. I really need mcguffin X, good thing it's under 50k! Sort of thing.


Eh, I wouldn't use this. Too much to take into account when building, much more space to min-max. I honestly like that all feats aren't equal. Though some are just plain bad and shouldn't cost an entire feat.


It's a good idea in theory, but there are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many feats for it to be practical. And that number will only increase with time.

It's a nice thought, but just not worth the hassle...

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Knight Magenta wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
By your logic, a feat that lets you cast the wish spell once per month should be a 1-point feat because it will only come up once per adventure. That philosophy is flawed because each feat is an optional choice that varies in usefulness depending on the campaign. If you give a feat a very low cost because it's circumstantial, that feat becomes overpowered/underpriced in a campaign where the circumstance is common. As a result, you have to price based on the power ceiling, not how often it's useful. Just as Trogdar pointed out, a feat should be judged by what it's trying to accomplish.
Would you seriously take a feat that let you cast wish only once? Even at CL 20? That seems like a bad trade. You can't even wish for a awesome magic item like you could in 3.5. I'd price that feat as a feat that gives a +1 inherent bonus to an ability score. Maybe 3 or 4 points :) I guess you could use it as a CL20 cone of cold or something to win a combat...

You're dodging my point. Your philosophy on power balance is heavily flawed.


Cyrad wrote:


Also, just because a feat is situational doesn't mean it's underpowered or it should have a lower cost.

Ah, yes, it does, actually.

The more often a feat (or ability) can be used, with a beneficial effect, generally the weaker the effect needs to be or the more powerful the ability becomes.

A feat that is only going to be beneficial 1/10th of the time is, strictly, underpowered compared to a feat that you can benefit from 9/10ths of the time. So to compensate, you either allow mulitple of the first type of feat to be gained, or you make it powerful enough that that 1/10th of the time really matters.

In a 3 tier system, a feat that lets you regenerate limbs would still be in a lower tier than a feat that doubles the amount of hit points you recover when you sleep. While the regenerating limbs is potentially powerful, how often are you seriously likely to lose a limb? Now compare that with how often you sleep and recover hit points...

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Skaeren wrote:
Cyrad wrote:


Also, just because a feat is situational doesn't mean it's underpowered or it should have a lower cost.

Ah, yes, it does, actually.

The more often a feat (or ability) can be used, with a beneficial effect, generally the weaker the effect needs to be or the more powerful the ability becomes.

A feat that is only going to be beneficial 1/10th of the time is, strictly, underpowered compared to a feat that you can benefit from 9/10ths of the time. So to compensate, you either allow mulitple of the first type of feat to be gained, or you make it powerful enough that that 1/10th of the time really matters.

In a 3 tier system, a feat that lets you regenerate limbs would still be in a lower tier than a feat that doubles the amount of hit points you recover when you sleep. While the regenerating limbs is potentially powerful, how often are you seriously likely to lose a limb? Now compare that with how often you sleep and recover hit points...

Balancing power and assigning numeric value thereof is more complicated than that. Especially in a game like Pathfinder where circumstances vary wildly depending on the campaign.

How often an ability comes into play is not the only factor in assessing power level. The power ceiling of the ability also plays a huge factor -- how powerful that ability is on its own merits. If the power ceiling combined with the circumstantial nature equates to the power ceiling of a reliable feat, then the two feats are likely equal in power level and therefore should have the same point cost.

This isn't what the OP suggests in his "balance philosophy." His philosophy suggests the circumstantial feat should have a lower price even if the power ceiling compensates for the circumstantial nature when the feat in question is balanced against a comparable reliable feat.

This is a flawed philosophy.


Knight Magenta wrote:
Balancing feats is hard, since they are all supposed to be equal.

No one has ever in the history of the game stated that feats, classes, or any other sort of similar mechanics, would be equal or even razor edge close to it. And same feats will have a scale of value to different classes.


Cyrad wrote:
Skaeren wrote:
Cyrad wrote:


Also, just because a feat is situational doesn't mean it's underpowered or it should have a lower cost.

Ah, yes, it does, actually.

The more often a feat (or ability) can be used, with a beneficial effect, generally the weaker the effect needs to be or the more powerful the ability becomes.

A feat that is only going to be beneficial 1/10th of the time is, strictly, underpowered compared to a feat that you can benefit from 9/10ths of the time. So to compensate, you either allow mulitple of the first type of feat to be gained, or you make it powerful enough that that 1/10th of the time really matters.

In a 3 tier system, a feat that lets you regenerate limbs would still be in a lower tier than a feat that doubles the amount of hit points you recover when you sleep. While the regenerating limbs is potentially powerful, how often are you seriously likely to lose a limb? Now compare that with how often you sleep and recover hit points...

Balancing power and assigning numeric value thereof is more complicated than that. Especially in a game like Pathfinder where circumstances vary wildly depending on the campaign.

How often an ability comes into play is not the only factor in assessing power level. The power ceiling of the ability also plays a huge factor -- how powerful that ability is on its own merits. If the power ceiling combined with the circumstantial nature equates to the power ceiling of a reliable feat, then the two feats are likely equal in power level and therefore should have the same point cost.

This isn't what the OP suggests in his "balance philosophy." His philosophy suggests the circumstantial feat should have a lower price even if the power ceiling compensates for the circumstantial nature when the feat in question is balanced against a comparable reliable feat.

This is a flawed philosophy.

Oh, I think we had a misunderstanding. I totally agree that if you have a feat that comes up 1/5th as often but is 5 times stronger when it does, it should cost 8 points. Though I feel that this is rarely the case, since situational feats are often not that much stronger. This is usually because the player has some control over the situational-ness of the feat. I just meant that if a feat is situational, but in that situation it is only a little stronger than a more universal feat, then it should cost less.

My comparison for this sort of feat is dazzling display. It has 2 situational points: You need to be fighting non-fear immune enemies, and you need some way to break the action economy of the feat. Just as an AOE debuff, I think it is too situational to be worth 8 points, even when it works.

I do try to consider feats in the "best build" sense. For example, I would rate Fey Founding highly because the 2 or 3 classes that can use it use it really well. However feats that need 3 or 4 other feats are, by themselves, less valuable.

In terms of feat value changing by campaign, this is sort of unavoidable. I am just assuming that either the DM changes things up, or you will eventually get to a different adventure. If you are playing in a 100% undead campaign, for example, then the DM will need to tweak things to prevent some options from being overpowering anyway.

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
No one has ever in the history of the game stated that feats, classes, or any other sort of similar mechanics, would be equal or even razor edge close to it. And same feats will have a scale of value to different classes.

I'm not saying that every character must find every feat equally desirable. But for each feat there should be some build that wants that feat.

And I do think classes should be equal. No one wants to play Robin while everyone else is playing Superman.

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Ah okay. So I misinterpreted you when you said, "My philosophy is that if a feat comes up in 1/4 of all fights, but is awesome when it does, it should cost less?"

Knight Magenta wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


No one has ever in the history of the game stated that feats, classes, or any other sort of similar mechanics, would be equal or even razor edge close to it. And same feats will have a scale of value to different classes.
I'm not saying that every character must find every feat equally desirable. But for each feat there should be some build that wants that feat.

I believe that's only part of what she meant. I believe she also means that feats, classes, etc are "incomparables" (borrowing a term from Extra Credits). While we certainly want feats to have competitive value, you can't really compare them or assess them numerically with precision. Which is one of the reasons why using a point system for feats accomplishes very little.

Knight Magenta wrote:
And I do think classes should be equal. No one wants to play Robin while everyone else is playing Superman.

Again, classes are incomparables. In addition, while every class should feel meaningful, they don't have to be "equal." As long as a class is fun and not egregiously below or above the power curve, it's okay if they don't have the same power level as the next class. Really, power equality isn't as important as most people idolize on these forums. They put an undue amount of focus on it because it's one of the few aspects of game design they've been exposed to.

Tangent: Most of my friends (and myself) would totally rather play Teen Titans Robin than Superman. Heck, I'd rather play Robin from the Adam West show than Superman from the Man of Steel movie.


You think it's impossible to compare class abilities? How do classes get made, pixie dust?


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Trogdar wrote:
You think it's impossible to compare class abilities? How do classes get made, pixie dust?

They get made by game design. Balance is a part of it, but not the be all and end all. And not balance in the way you're thinking of. Classes, feats, etc. are not going to be "balanced" on some power metric. It's simply not possible. Balance is more of a matter of player experience... Do I get to matter on the play table? Do I get to contribute to the group. Not whether or not I can take each of the other classes in a one to one deathmatch, or a one to one DPR race, or a one to one whatever contest. The game has NEVER been balanced in that manner.

I think your goal is simply impractical. If you want a point buy system throughout the game, you really should be playing GURPS. The Feat system as it is , is already insanely complex. There is no enhancement to the game itself by adding another even crazier level of complexity to it. What you're essentially looking for is a power up by being able to nuance feat values and create another resource fund to min-max. This game has more than enough min-maxing elements built into it already.


Cyrad wrote:

Ah okay. So I misinterpreted you when you said, "My philosophy is that if a feat comes up in 1/4 of all fights, but is awesome when it does, it should cost less?"

Ah, I suppose that is what I said, though if its any consolation that is not quite what I meant :) If I was to state it in a rigorous but ultimately unclear manner, I would say that: (feat price) = (how often it comes up) * (how useful it is when it does). With the base line being "every encounter" and "About as strong as power attack on a two-hander."

Cyrad wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


No one has ever in the history of the game stated that feats, classes, or any other sort of similar mechanics, would be equal or even razor edge close to it. And same feats will have a scale of value to different classes.
I'm not saying that every character must find every feat equally desirable. But for each feat there should be some build that wants that feat.

I believe that's only part of what she meant. I believe she also means that feats, classes, etc are "incomparables" (borrowing a term from Extra Credits). While we certainly want feats to have competitive value, you can't really compare them or assess them numerically with precision. Which is one of the reasons why using a point system for feats accomplishes very little.

Knight Magenta wrote:
And I do think classes should be equal. No one wants to play Robin while everyone else is playing Superman.

Again, classes are incomparables. In addition, while every class should feel meaningful, they don't have to be "equal." As long as a class is fun and not egregiously below or above the power curve, it's okay if they don't have the same power level as the next class. Really, power equality isn't as important as most people idolize on these forums. They put an undue amount of focus on it because it's one of the few aspects of game design they've been exposed to.

Tangent: Most of my friends (and myself) would totally rather play Teen Titans Robin than Superman. Heck, I'd rather play Robin from the Adam West show than Superman from the Man of Steel movie.

I don't think you can call classes incomparable. In most adventures the meat of game time is spent facing opponents together. Could you imagine playing robin while Superman, Green Lantern and Thor were fighting Galactus. Sure, your character could have more... character :p But if the party spends 2 hours of game time saving the earth from a space robot, it would suck if the most you could do was make wise-cracks...

Whatever you think about power levels, the characters all need to be from the same genre.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Trogdar wrote:
You think it's impossible to compare class abilities? How do classes get made, pixie dust?

They get made by game design. Balance is a part of it, but not the be all and end all. And not balance in the way you're thinking of. Classes, feats, etc. are not going to be "balanced" on some power metric. It's simply not possible. Balance is more of a matter of player experience... Do I get to matter on the play table? Do I get to contribute to the group. Not whether or not I can take each of the other classes in a one to one deathmatch, or a one to one DPR race, or a one to one whatever contest. The game has NEVER been balanced in that manner.

I think your goal is simply impractical. If you want a point buy system throughout the game, you really should be playing GURPS. The Feat system as it is , is already insanely complex. There is no enhancement to the game itself by adding another even crazier level of complexity to it. What you're essentially looking for is a power up by being able to nuance feat values and create another resource fund to min-max. This game has more than enough min-maxing elements built into it already.

So, mathematics won't give you balance of any sort and all I care about is min maxing and power gaming. You have no concept of what your talking about. Everything in that paragraph is biased and has nothing whatever to do with game systems and everything to do with your personal hang ups. Do you think your helping, really? The opening poster wants to make some home brew alterations to the game and you 'help' by insulting them... What the hell.

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Trogdar wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Trogdar wrote:
You think it's impossible to compare class abilities? How do classes get made, pixie dust?

They get made by game design. Balance is a part of it, but not the be all and end all. And not balance in the way you're thinking of. Classes, feats, etc. are not going to be "balanced" on some power metric. It's simply not possible. Balance is more of a matter of player experience... Do I get to matter on the play table? Do I get to contribute to the group. Not whether or not I can take each of the other classes in a one to one deathmatch, or a one to one DPR race, or a one to one whatever contest. The game has NEVER been balanced in that manner.

I think your goal is simply impractical. If you want a point buy system throughout the game, you really should be playing GURPS. The Feat system as it is , is already insanely complex. There is no enhancement to the game itself by adding another even crazier level of complexity to it. What you're essentially looking for is a power up by being able to nuance feat values and create another resource fund to min-max. This game has more than enough min-maxing elements built into it already.

So, mathematics won't give you balance of any sort and all I care about is min maxing and power gaming. You have no concept of what your talking about. Everything in that paragraph is biased and has nothing whatever to do with game systems and everything to do with your personal hang ups. Do you think your helping, really? The opening poster wants to make some home brew alterations to the game and you 'help' by insulting them... What the hell.

Drahliana Moonrunner did a pretty great job explaining what I meant.

Don't be putting words into anyone's mouths. Mathematics is a useful tool, but it only goes so far. Game design is as much an art as a science, and we're dealing with a game where most abilities are balanced non-numerically.

Also, she's not insulting anyone. She's pointing out that the OP's system doesn't accomplish what he's trying to achieve. Honestly, you sound more hostile than anyone else here by handwaving all of her arguments by saying "everything you said was bias and based on personal hang ups and therefore you're wrong."


Im not the one lining my conversation with pejoratives. If you want to help people, you dont start by attacking their motives.


Also, where does this art science crap come from? We have literally thousands of game systems out there that function exclusively through mathematics. You can math out the underpinning nature of the freaking universe but ttrpg's are just a bridge too far? That's ridiculous.

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Trogdar wrote:
Im not the one lining my conversation with pejoratives. If you want to help people, you dont start by attacking their motives.

We're talking game design here. If the design fails to accomplish the design goal or the design goal itself is flawed, then the design will likewise be flawed. There's nothing wrong with pointing this out.


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All I'm seeing is someone trying to improve the game and a bunch of whiners saying that since absolute mathematical perfection is impossible we should all wallow in poorly designed garbage.

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Trogdar wrote:
Also, where does this art science crap come from? We have literally thousands of game systems out there that function exclusively through mathematics. You can math out the underpinning nature of the freaking universe but ttrpg's are just a bridge too far? That's ridiculous.

Pretty much every professional game designer with significant experience under their belt will tell you that game design is a mixture of art and science. Heck, game design is an iterative process largely because you can't plan out everything mathematically.

Atarlost wrote:
All I'm seeing is someone trying to improve the game and a bunch of whiners saying that since absolute mathematical perfection is impossible we should all wallow in poorly designed garbage.

It's not cool to beat up strawmen arguments. No one is suggesting something so ridiculous.

Knight Magenta wrote:
I don't think you can call classes incomparable.

By "incomparable" I'm using a game design term that refers to content with non-numerical power. Balancing them is apples to oranges. It's difficult to give each one a numerical value. Most of Pathfinder's classes and abilities are designed this way.


I can tell you with 100% certainty that science isn't remotely involved. If it were, we would have a lot more rigorous testing methodology.

There's definitely art involved, but art is not objective the way mathematics is. I'm not suggesting that any structure needs to be perfect, we are all human after all. That doesn't mean we need bad saves to scale so slowly as to be irrelevant(an example). Math is super important, and the more you employ it the better the system will be because the vast majority of the game relies on it.


I had myself been toying with the idea of a more coarse-grained system based upon the observations that Extra Traits gives 2 traits, while normal character advancement gives 1 feat every 2 levels (except offset so that they come at odd instead of even levels). Average feats would have a cost of 1 feat; traits (effectively cutting the Extra Traits feat in half) and feats of minor benefit (Dodge, etc.) Would have a cost of 1/2; good scaling feats would have a cost of 1+1/2; outstanding feats (like Leadership) would have a cost of 2.

And now this thread reminds me that I want to see an Unholy Hybrid of Pathfinder with Mutants and Masterminds . . . .

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Trogdar wrote:

I can tell you with 100% certainty that science isn't remotely involved. If it were, we would have a lot more rigorous testing methodology.

There's definitely art involved, but art is not objective the way mathematics is. I'm not suggesting that any structure needs to be perfect, we are all human after all. That doesn't mean we need bad saves to scale so slowly as to be irrelevant(an example). Math is super important, and the more you employ it the better the system will be because the vast majority of the game relies on it.

You're twisting my words. I never said math wasn't important. It's a tool. Just not a universal tool. You can't limit yourself to only one tool. A game designer needs lots of tools to make something that's fun and interesting.


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I applaud your idea, and look forward to experimenting. While I agree with some of the things that your detractors are saying (like that it's nigh-impossible to really balance the system due to infinite variables involved), I think doing something is far, far better than doing nothing. Keep questioning, keep experimenting, and game on :)


You've linked this in another thread, which indicates it's still something you're working on.

That being the case I'd like to point out a flaw in your methodology. Let's look at Improved Grapple as an example. You've rated it as a 3, but it's real cost is not 3 because it has a prerequisite you probably don't actually want. No one takes improved unarmed strike unless they have monk scaling or want a style feat. Actually using it is very rare even when you do have it unless you also have scaling unarmed dice.

If improved grapple is actually worth 3 it should be discounted by its prerequisite. If it's actually worth 4 prerequisite based discounting should be noted on the spreadsheet.


Atarlost wrote:
All I'm seeing is someone trying to improve the game and a bunch of whiners saying that since absolute mathematical perfection is impossible we should all wallow in poorly designed garbage.

Yes, kudos to the opening post for coming up with a better idea than the current system.

In my experience point based systems are superior to class and level based systems in every way. My hope is that when Pathfinder 2.0 is finally launched that they dispense with classes and levels entirely and use one unified points system similar to GURPS (but hopefully less complicated).


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Boomerang Nebula wrote:


In my experience point based systems are superior to class and level based systems in every way. My hope is that when Pathfinder 2.0 is finally launched that they dispense with classes and levels entirely and use one unified points system similar to GURPS (but hopefully less complicated).

I am kind of a fan of a cross between the two, like Anima: Beyond Fantasy; classes and levels dictate the points you have to spend and how much can go where all at once. it isn't perfect, but does allow you to make almost anything you can imagine (which can be too much for some people at a first glance because "too many options").


Actually, I was working on making Traits and feats more compatible. In one of my GITP threads, I posited that all characters would have Trait points equal to their character level plus one. PCs would get an additional 2 Trait points at start plus extra Trait Points from bonus feats. Weak feats (e.g. Dodge, Weapon Focus) would be downgraded to Traits and cost one Trait point while standard feats would cost 2 points each. Characters could either save their Trait points to buy new feats or purchase a trait at one level, then upgrade it to a feat the next level.

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