Free Feats


Homebrew and House Rules


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I'm considering the following house rule and would appreciate your thoughts and feedback. Please note that the ones I'm really really not sure about have a question mark.

Characters who meet the requirements receive the following feats as bonus feats:

  • Power Attack
  • Agile Maneuver
  • Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Improved Shield Bash
  • Combat Expertise
  • Step Up
  • Piranha Strike
  • Deadly Aim
  • Heighten Spells
  • Weapon Finesse?
  • Eschew Spell Components?
  • Selective Channeling?
  • Combat Reflexes?
  • Quick Draw?
  • Vital Strike?
  • Lunge?
  • Leadership?

I'm also thinking about removing the requirements altogether for these feats.

Shadow Lodge

What are "the requirements"?

I think free feats would be a good idea for some of the weaker feats, like Spell Mastery or Endurance.


I mean the requirements for the feat, like for example: Int 13 for Combat Expertise.


Well first leadership is right out. Allow leadership only with great caution.

Second This disadvantages two groups of people. First casters. Heighten is nice, but generally not necessary for just about any build. THe second group at a big disadvantage because of this is anyone with a large number of bonus feats, the fighter being at the forefront.

This being said The fighter can just use his bonus feats for other stuff, and get more flavorful feats, but the whole point of being a fighter was to deal with feat intensive builds. With this house-rule, especially if you add all the question mark ones I don't see the fighter being used ever. That being said that alone should not discourage you as that is one class.

The casting classes will have much more to say against this house rule. look! they will say look what you have given to his character! And what do I receive? heighten spell, and eschew materials? Not fair. One could say that this is actually beneficial as it helps balance martial and caster to be more equal, but it may not feel that way to someone who has in no way benefited from the house rule

One way to help with this could be to say that a character has studied intensely in one area to the detriment of others. He/she gives up all the bonus feats in exchange for one of their choosing.

Tread carefully

Shadow Lodge

"Pre-requisites" is the game term.

There's a few there that don't have any pre-requisites, like Heighten Spell, Quick Draw, Weapon Finesse.

Step Up will change the rules fairly significantly if everyone has it.


I think it would be useful to us all if you were to explain exactly why you chose each of those feats. A critique in a vacuum means relatively little; context is important.


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I see a lot of feats as something any character should be able to just do. Power Attack and Deadly Aim are a couple of those. Weapon Finesse is one of those.

Stuff like Weapon Focus, that should have to be selected as a feat since you're choosing to focus, training yourself with a single weapon to the point of doing better with it over all others.

Eschew Materials is something that can easily be covered by a spell component pouch. If you're really worried about it, pick up the feat, but have the pouch anyway for when you need stuff to cast a Resurrection.

Step Up is a no from me.

While Two-Weapon Fighting shouldn't be given away for free, if you've picked it up, you should automatically gain Improved and Greater when you qualify.

Just my two cp.


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Quote:

Power Attack

Deadly Aim
Combat Expertise

I've been running Combat Expertise as "free" for some time now, and I've recently added power attack and deadly aim to the list. So far I've been liking it. This is definitely a yes.

Quote:

Agile Maneuver

Weapon Finesse?

I've been allowing weapon finesse for free since day 1 as a GM, and agile maneuvers was one of the first feats to join it on my list of "freebees". I would never go back; these are wholly unnecessary feat tax that just cripple what you can do with dexterity-based characters at low levels. Another enthusiastic yes.

Quote:

Two-Weapon Fighting

Vital Strike?

I'd consolidate the feat chains a bit rather than giving the base feats away for free. I'll give you a maybe on these.

Quote:
Step Up

This is more of a nerf to 5-foot steps than anything. If you want to do that then go ahead, but the feat is good enough that it doesn't merit being made into a freebee. I'd personally say no.

Quote:
Eschew Spell Components?

While it's a generally a bad feat, it's not really a feat tax for anything important. It also gives a small but flavorful edge to the Sorcerer without precluding it from other casters. I'd say no to this one.

Quote:
Selective Channeling?

In-combat channeling (positive or negative) is a pretty niche and feat-intensive approach for a Cleric, but that's less because it's weak and more because the class is already so powerful! I'd be hesitant to give them anything for free. So no.

Quote:

Combat Reflexes?

Lunge?

These are decent feats. If you feel martials need more help than you're already giving them here, drop a few bonus combat feats their way. These ones in particular don't need to be free. Another no.

Quote:
Quick Draw?

I'd say no. It's a mediocre feat for most characters, but those who need it can really put it to good use. So, no?

Quote:
Leadership?

I'm more of mind just to ban it outright. If you want your players to control more than one character each, or have a support group of followers, just do that. There's no particular reason for this feat to exist, IMO.

Here are a few "freebees" that I run at my table that you might consider:

Improved Counterspell: counterspelling is just a really clunky and ineffective system. It doesn't need a feat tax.
Dodge/Mobility: combined them into a single feat
Improved Bull Rush/Drag/Overrun/Sunder: combined
Improved Trip/Disarm/Dirty Trick/Feint/Reposition/Steal: combined
Craft Staff/Rod: combined
Craft Wondrous Items / Forge Ring: redistributed; all neck slot items moved from wondrous items group to Rings group (now "Rings and Amulets").
Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Improved Critical: selected by weapon group rather than specific weapons.
Point Blank Shot: no longer required as a prerequisite for any other feat.


Everything Dasrak said:
Dasrak wrote:
Quote:

Power Attack

Deadly Aim
Combat Expertise

I've been running Combat Expertise as "free" for some time now, and I've recently added power attack and deadly aim to the list. So far I've been liking it. This is definitely a yes.

Quote:

Agile Maneuver

Weapon Finesse?

I've been allowing weapon finesse for free since day 1 as a GM, and agile maneuvers was one of the first feats to join it on my list of "freebees". I would never go back; these are wholly unnecessary feat tax that just cripple what you can do with dexterity-based characters at low levels. Another enthusiastic yes.

Quote:

Two-Weapon Fighting

Vital Strike?

I'd consolidate the feat chains a bit rather than giving the base feats away for free. I'll give you a maybe on these.

Quote:
Step Up

This is more of a nerf to 5-foot steps than anything. If you want to do that then go ahead, but the feat is good enough that it doesn't merit being made into a freebee. I'd personally say no.

Quote:
Eschew Spell Components?

While it's a generally a bad feat, it's not really a feat tax for anything important. It also gives a small but flavorful edge to the Sorcerer without precluding it from other casters. I'd say no to this one.

Quote:
Selective Channeling?

In-combat channeling (positive or negative) is a pretty niche and feat-intensive approach for a Cleric, but that's less because it's weak and more because the class is already so powerful! I'd be hesitant to give them anything for free. So no.

Quote:

Combat Reflexes?

Lunge?

These are decent feats. If you feel martials need more help than you're already giving them here, drop a few bonus combat feats their way. These ones in particular don't need to be free. Another no.

Quote:
Quick Draw?

I'd say no. It's a mediocre feat for most characters, but those who need it can really put it to good use. So, no?

...

YES YES YES YESYESYESYESYESYES EVERYTHING HE SAID YES!!!!!!

Two minor disagreements. Quick Draw is cripplingly necessary to thrown weapon builds, who have an incredibly difficult time being effective. Maybe you can limit this to being only with thrown weapons?

Point-Blank Shot: I've never had a problem with this. It's like Weapon Focus for ranged weapons and also gives you a +1 to damage. Not awesome, but solid. I get that archery is very feat intensive, but it is also a very strong fighting style.


White Templar wrote:
Quick Draw is cripplingly necessary to thrown weapon builds, who have an incredibly difficult time being effective.

My experience with throwers is that they do pretty well for themselves with both power attack and deadly aim as freebees. I do agree with you that it's a feat tax, but it's not an onerous one. It does something cool (if subtle) and lets you break the rules, and you don't absolutely need it until you get a second attack.

White Templar wrote:
Point-Blank Shot: I've never had a problem with this. It's like Weapon Focus for ranged weapons and also gives you a +1 to damage. Not awesome, but solid. I get that archery is very feat intensive, but it is also a very strong fighting style.

This is actually a very recent addition to my houserules. I haven't had a real "killer" archer test my generosity yet. As you note, this isn't actually a bad feat in terms of how much combat power it adds. So I'm not convinced this makes archery a stronger fighting style, it just opens up more options to pick different feats. Maybe that is too much, but it might open up some interesting options at low levels.

Hmmm... I know I stole that one off of someone else's houserules, but I can't find the link now.


Great feedback so far. It's giving some good arguments to think about the options I'm putting on the table.

kestral287 wrote:
I think it would be useful to us all if you were to explain exactly why you chose each of those feats. A critique in a vacuum means relatively little; context is important.

That's a fair question. I'm in two games that offer some free feats, and I've noticed how they open up more options for most classes, with the obvious exception of full casters, for which spells offer more versatility. They also, in some cases, made a lot of sense regardless of whether they offer versatility.

As mentioned by other posters, feats that trade BAB for damage or AC seem like they could just be combat options, not specialization. Furthermore, Combat Expertise has been regularly identified as an obstacle to combat maneuver feats playing a greater role in games. I'm not sure it will suddenly change so very much, but it makes it certainly more likely.

Other feats I'm thinking of giving for free are clear gains. One example is Step Up which, as Avatar-1 alluded to, will change combat mechanics a lot, by making it very hard to 5-foot step and cast or shoot; a tactic I consider a simple rule exploit.

Finally, I'm also trying not to rewrite feats. I play only in PbP, where players belong to numerous tables with different DMs. Too many house rules can be too hard to follow. So it seems to me that adding bonus feats from the start is easier to handle in PbP, than changing feats, which requires players to keep looking up the changes when they get new feats. This is why I'm more inclined to consider giving two-weapon fighting or vital strike as free feats, instead of consolidating feat trees, which makes a lot of sense at a table.

As I said, good feedback so far. It's very helpful!


I'm with Dasrak here. Great houserules. I don't think this bums out casters as much as you'd expect. For instance cantrips is a free system instead of costing a feat. Wizards and sorcerers get bonus feats but still learn all those spells. Casting defensively is a free system. They should be happy for heighten spell.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adam B. 135 wrote:
I'm with Dasrak here. Great houserules. I don't think this bums out casters as much as you'd expect.

What it does is reduce Fighters to an NPC class. Feat mastery is what defines a fighter more than anything else.


LazarX wrote:
Adam B. 135 wrote:
I'm with Dasrak here. Great houserules. I don't think this bums out casters as much as you'd expect.
What it does is reduce Fighters to an NPC class. Feat mastery is what defines a fighter more than anything else.

Fighter had the same problems before and after this change. If anything it improves fighter more because it allows the fighter to support multiple combat maneuvers, their preferred fighting style, and still have room for archery.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adam B. 135 wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Adam B. 135 wrote:
I'm with Dasrak here. Great houserules. I don't think this bums out casters as much as you'd expect.
What it does is reduce Fighters to an NPC class. Feat mastery is what defines a fighter more than anything else.
Fighter had the same problems before and after this change. If anything it improves fighter more because it allows the fighter to support multiple combat maneuvers, their preferred fighting style, and still have room for archery.

Not really.. because if you get a whole bucketload of free fighter feats, you might as well take any other of the martial classes, and get funky powers and abilities on top.


LazarX wrote:
Adam B. 135 wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Adam B. 135 wrote:
I'm with Dasrak here. Great houserules. I don't think this bums out casters as much as you'd expect.
What it does is reduce Fighters to an NPC class. Feat mastery is what defines a fighter more than anything else.
Fighter had the same problems before and after this change. If anything it improves fighter more because it allows the fighter to support multiple combat maneuvers, their preferred fighting style, and still have room for archery.
Not really.. because if you get a whole bucketload of free fighter feats, you might as well take any other of the martial classes, and get funky powers and abilities on top.

Free fighter feats? I don't see weapon specialization. And you are still describing problems the fighter had before this idea. Rangers and Slayers say hi.


Dasrak wrote:
White Templar wrote:
Quick Draw is cripplingly necessary to thrown weapon builds, who have an incredibly difficult time being effective.
My experience with throwers is that they do pretty well for themselves with both power attack and deadly aim as freebees. I do agree with you that it's a feat tax, but it's not an onerous one. It does something cool (if subtle) and lets you break the rules, and you don't absolutely need it until you get a second attack.

For switch hitters I agree. Quick Draw is a kinda niche feat that lets you full attack until the other guy has to run to you - very nice. But I know from making/running two dedicated throwers that you have all the feat tax of an archer plus a two weapon fighter with the disadvantages of both. Taking that one last feat always feels like the creators of 3.0 saying (unprintable) you!

Maybe with the other freebies (especially combined Two-Weapon Fighting and free Deadly Aim) the calculus may change, but it still kind of hurts. :)

Dasrak wrote:
White Templar wrote:
Point-Blank Shot: I've never had a problem with this. It's like Weapon Focus for ranged weapons and also gives you a +1 to damage. Not awesome, but solid. I get that archery is very feat intensive, but it is also a very strong fighting style.
This is actually a very recent addition to my houserules. I haven't had a real "killer" archer test my generosity yet. As you note, this isn't actually a bad feat in terms of how much combat power it adds. So I'm not convinced this makes archery a stronger fighting style, it just opens up more options to pick different feats. Maybe that is too much, but it might open up some interesting options at low levels.

My only concern would be that the option opened up at lower levels would be Rapid Shot. It would give a significant early game bump to archers about 2 levels early. In the overall scheme of things I don't think it would be bad (it would probably make their early game damage close to a two handed fighter), but the amount of damage archery can dish out already makes me nervous to give them more freebies in addition to Deadly Aim.

I would be more inclined to give them something else to do instead of more damage capability - like the ability to do combat maneuvers at range perhaps.


From the feedback received so far, the free feats would look like this...

Characters who meet the pre-requisites receive the following feats as bonus feats:

  • Power Attack
  • Piranha Strike
  • Deadly Aim
  • Combat Expertise
  • Weapon Finesse
  • Agile Maneuver
  • Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Improved Shield Bash
  • Step Up
  • Heighten Spells
  • Combat Reflexes?
  • Vital Strike?
  • Lunge?

What about the pre-requisites (except for Vital Strike)? Are they needed? What negative impact would removing them have on the game?


1. I am all for Weapon Finesse being free.

2. I'd recommend keeping power attack and deadly aim as feats and buff expertise to have the same progression and have no Int 13 requirement.
But allow free -1 to hit +1 to damage or AC for anyone with BAB +1 using a weapon they are proficient with. (up to -5/+5 per 4 BAB)

3. Agile maneuver great to give out.

4. For Two weapon fighting and vital strike I think giving out the feat is okay not game breaking at all.
What I do however is make it a scaling feat, one feat gives the standard version and improved and greater versions when the prerequisites are met but that's just me.

5. Improved shield bash, sure but with free twf there will be lots of shield bashes, probably not a problem.

6. Everyone with step up really changes the game might as well just get rid of 5ft steps entirely, I disagree with this one.

7. Heighten Spells sure I see no problem.

8. Combat reflexes I think this is okay but if you do this and step up there will be lots and lots of attacks of opportunity which mess up turn order, I wouldn't.

9. Lunge, i'm ambivalent.


Dreaming Warforged wrote:

From the feedback received so far, the free feats would look like this...

Characters who meet the pre-requisites receive the following feats as bonus feats:

  • Power Attack
  • Piranha Strike
  • Deadly Aim
  • Combat Expertise
  • Weapon Finesse
  • Agile Maneuver
  • Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Improved Shield Bash
  • Step Up
  • Heighten Spells
  • Combat Reflexes?
  • Vital Strike?
  • Lunge?

What about the pre-requisites (except for Vital Strike)? Are they needed? What negative impact would removing them have on the game?

Sorry, I forgot to say that I don't think Step Up should be free. Combat reflexes is a maybe, since it has no prerequisites. Is it your intention that all characters automatically start with combat reflexes, no matter their class?

Those are the last two I have a problem with. I think the rest of the list is fine. And I'd definitely keep requiring prerequisites.


Adam B. 135 wrote:
Dreaming Warforged wrote:

From the feedback received so far, the free feats would look like this...

Characters who meet the pre-requisites receive the following feats as bonus feats:

  • Power Attack
  • Piranha Strike
  • Deadly Aim
  • Combat Expertise
  • Weapon Finesse
  • Agile Maneuver
  • Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Improved Shield Bash
  • Step Up
  • Heighten Spells
  • Combat Reflexes?
  • Vital Strike?
  • Lunge?

What about the pre-requisites (except for Vital Strike)? Are they needed? What negative impact would removing them have on the game?

Sorry, I forgot to say that I don't think Step Up should be free. Combat reflexes is a maybe, since it has no prerequisites. Is it your intention that all characters automatically start with combat reflexes, no matter their class?

Those are the last two I have a problem with. I think the rest of the list is fine. And I'd definitely keep requiring prerequisites.

What makes you prefer to remove Step Up from the list?

Liberty's Edge

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I agree with pretty much everything Dasrak said.

To expand, I feel that a feat tax is fundamentally when (A) every single character needs to take it to be effective, (B) every single character of a given style needs to take it to be effective within that style, beyond the basic feat to enter the style or the amount needed for balance's sake, or (C) represent something that it seems like everyone should be able to do anyway. I call things that fall under (C) anti-feats, because by creating them you remove seemingly reasonable actions from your normal pool of options and force them into feats.

To avoid feat taxing for reason (A), I would give Power Attack, Deadly Aim, Weapon Finesse, Combat Expertise, and Agile Maneuvers for free (sans pre-requisites, to reduce bookkeeping). To avoid feat taxing for reason (B) I would merge the following feat lines to one feat (the base one) granting improved benefit at appropriate BAB: Two-Weapon Fighting, Vital Strike. I could see an argument for making Lunge free under idea (C), but that's a stretch.

I would not make Improved Shield Bash, Step Up, or Combat Reflexes free. For Improved Shield Bash it's because it's the cost you pay for being able to TWF and still have good shield AC. For the others, it's because they provide tangible benefits that aren't no-brainers. You can get away without them, they aren't required for any particular style of fighting, and they aren't things that just anyone should be able to do. Also, I think AoOs are dumb, but that's a conversation for another day.

I would add Point-Blank Shot to the list of free feats under the anti-feat justification. Ranged weapons being more deadly at point-blank range is a thematic constant, even for those completely untrained in the weapon.

I will avoid discussing any metamagic feats since I feel the mechanic itself is badly designed in the first place. Likewise with counterspelling. Combat maneuvers require a good bit of work as well, though Dasrak's suggestion moves in the right direction. Ditto on item creation.

TL;DR - I should be able to smack-with-stick for reasonable damage at all levels with no feat investment, assuming I have appropriate ability scores for it. A switch in style should take no more than 1 feat unless it adds notable benefits beyond the standard style(s). Feats should be there for expanding beyond smack-with-stick. Casters have their effectiveness in their primary role improve to remain relevant without feat investment, so martials should too.


Dasrak and stabbitydoom explain my position on step up better than I can. It basically eliminates 5 foot steps as an effective action. Its also a big nerf to polearm fighters.


Ok, I get that. I guess I'm thinking about it because I don't like the polearm/spell/range weapon 5-foot step backward option. It doesn't feel very real... Perhaps I'm missing something?

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