How do you feel feats should work?


Homebrew and House Rules

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Set wrote:
Casters don't have natural progression of spells because of the discrete nature of Vancian spellcasting

Would it not be better to rework magic in to a system akin to spheres of power, where casters train up in types of magic, rather than make other classes use a system that feels awkward?

RedDingo wrote:
Feats get new abilities as you complete prerequisites

I like this idea in theory, and plan to experiment with it. One worry is that feats that fill this role become a bit complex, convoluted and just overall a pain to deal with. A similar option is to have feats interact with each other. For example, an idea for a rewrite of combat expertise:

Combat Expertise:
Prereqs: Stuff, Greater [any combat maneuver]
Benefit: Whenever you land an attack using a weapon with a quality related to any combat maneuver you have "Greater [Combat Maneuver]" of, you may make an attempt of that combat maneuver as a swift action. Combat maneuvers and related features: Trip (trip), Grapple (grapple), Bull Rush (impact enchantment).

The options this feat unlocks increases as you take more combat maneuver feats. But as I've found myself saying a lot recently, perhaps this adds more complexity than it creates in depth.


Vancian feats defeat the whole purpose of feats: to distinguish fighters from each other. Without permanent build decisions characters are mechanically not individual characters who undergo growth and development but clones. Having the game mechanics encourage players to think of their characters as interchangeable cogs is bad.


Atarlost wrote:
Vancian feats defeat the whole purpose of feats: to distinguish fighters from each other. Without permanent build decisions characters are mechanically not individual characters who undergo growth and development but clones. Having the game mechanics encourage players to think of their characters as interchangeable cogs is bad.

"Ooh your Fighter uses a broadsword while mind uses a katana! Our characters are so different!" -Nowan Evar

What tricks you can pull out in combat is the least important part of a character by far.

Are you at least consistent enough to say all Wizards are the same character?


Set wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
It just losses realism for me that way. Its nnot how i've ever read a warrior in fantasy as done it. Additionally as someone with fenceing training its not really how its done in real life. You train with the same weapon or form or whatever over and over and over till you turn it into a reflex. Not something you do every day to quickly pick and up learn how to fight a completely different way.

I kind of agree, and yet, also, feel the same way about magic. I like non-Vancian systems, like GURPS, where a caster generally has to follow a progression of learning specific types of magic, starting with some wimpy fire spells before throwing the bigger fire spells, etc. Even MMOs like EverQuest have that sort of flavor, with different spells coming in tiers, and there sometimes being a base 'evocation' or 'abjuration' or whatever skill that needs to be progressed to successfully cast the bigger and badder evocation and abjuration spells (so that you'll be much better at it if you've cast a lot of lower-level evocation or abjuration spells on the way up).

In Vancian magic, you can go four levels without casting a single fire spell, getting by on magic missile, color spray, sleep, burning hands, glitterdust, acid arrow, etc. and then, bang, fifth level comes along and you suddenly can cast fireball, with no 'training' in fire magic at all. It's just a spell, alone in the universe, and only loosely to the rest of the magic system.

So I totally see why you'd dislike 'Vancian feats' for Fighters, since I don't really care for Vancian magic for casters. But it is what it is, and it would, IMO, at least help a little bit to balance the class roles if different classes could swap out abilities and be completely different day-to-day like the Cleric or Wizard swaps out spells.

There's no reason to limit that just to feats. Allowing a rogue to swap out a rogue talent or a barbarian to swap out a rage power on a daily basis, in a Vancian manner, might also be an interesting...

I actually kind of agree with what your saying about Vancian magic. From what I've heard about Spheres of power I would actually probably like it. To me wizards have always felt meh like if i make a wizard I pretty well have one way to play them and it feels like the same character. specializations and arch-types help but doesn't change what your doing that much. The idea of being a firemage and being rewarded for following the path closely actually sounds cool I need to check out spheres of power.

See your idea would work for a new class with the concept of compartmentalization of learned techniques so you can basically change which compartmentalized part of your brain is holding a certain tactic, you have to do it that way otherwise where does the sudden knowledge of the new feats come from?
but then how do I play a character that learns his stuff the traditional way. One that learns how traditionally most soldiers and martial artists have done it for centuries. Your telling me there is not a way to make That work?

I do like feats that represent a character trait a way of doing things. i take a bunch of speed and movement based feats to make my character seem dodgy or a bunch of hard brutal feats to make him seem viscous I focus on armor and shield stuff for when I want him to feel classic sword and board. Spreading out is fine for some but sometimes the best tactic in combat is complete specialization you get so fast and adept at your technique that It works every time (practically the DBZ method)

The idea of vancian fighter sounds fine for its own arch-type or class but I personally want to have the option to play the martial who gets good at what he does and just continues to refine his fighting style.

kryt-ryder you could always house-rule the time down on retraining if it bothers you that much unless your a pfs kind of guy and would you require someone to train you the new techniques or would you just know them for out of game reasons?

Dark Archive

Vidmaster7 wrote:
The idea of vancian fighter sounds fine for its own arch-type or class but I personally want to have the option to play the martial who gets good at what he does and just continues to refine his fighting style.

True, it might be best introduced as an option, not something that replaces the standard fighter. Sort of an 'Unchained' option, or an archetype to play a Fighter who taps into the Akashic Record and can use any Combat Feat that way, perhaps only having a few 'flexible' feats that they can swap out daily, instead of all of them.

While it *could* be justified as a non-supernatural ability (particularly in a game-system that allows all Fighters to be automatically proficient with all martial weapons and armor types, even those that he's never seen before, or don't even exist on his continent, planet, time period or dimension), it would be even more palatable as a supernatural/occult ability involving ancestral lore channeled from the spirit world (calling upon spirits to 'teach' you their special techniques, or use them from your body, for a time), or tapping into the Akashic Record, or something even whackier.


yeah now that I think about it. I haven't read how the brawler and the fighter arch-type actually does it flavor wise. When I get the chance i'll check that out.


Well I've play tested removing ability score prerequisite from the game, and I gotta say it didn't harm feats in the least.


Sundakan wrote:
Atarlost wrote:
Vancian feats defeat the whole purpose of feats: to distinguish fighters from each other. Without permanent build decisions characters are mechanically not individual characters who undergo growth and development but clones. Having the game mechanics encourage players to think of their characters as interchangeable cogs is bad.
"Ooh your Fighter uses a broadsword while mind uses a katana! Our characters are so different!" -Nowan Evar

That's precisely what happens without feats. Except you don't even choose, it's based on what the best magic weapons you find are.

Your fighter is from the River Kingdoms. He trained in the combat styles of that region implying something about his backstory. My fighter is from Xian Tia. He trained in the combat styles of that region. He uses a weapon specifically and exclusively associated with the military aristocracy there. He has the generally uncommon training to use two weapons with more effect than one. (TWF outside shield bashing and pugilism is mostly confined to regional styles like Florentine fencing, the Daisho, and Phillipino stick fighting and the three (by which I mean shield bashing, two fisted pugilism, and fighting with two weapons of meaningful length) aren't really the same skill set.)

How you fight reflects where you learned to fight and if applicable who taught you. Specializing in dirty tricks says something about your character. Specializing in tripping and/or grappling with your off hand probably says more about your teacher, but that in turn says something about who your character. Specializing in a regional weapon with a distinctive style says something about your character's background as well.

Sundakan wrote:
What tricks you can pull out in combat is the least important part of a character by far.

How you fight reflects where you learned to fight and if applicable who taught you. Specializing in dirty tricks says something about your character. Specializing in tripping and/or grappling with your off hand probably says more about your teacher, but that in turn says something about who your character. Specializing in a regional weapon with a distinctive style says something about your character's background as well.

Sundakan wrote:
Are you at least consistent enough to say all Wizards are the same character?

That wouldn't be consistent in d20. Wizards do make permanent character decisions because they also have feats. One specializes in metamagic, another in summoning, and a third in crafting. These too should reflect the wizard's background. It's not as clear where different metamagics are taught or where different schools of magic are more popular in the published material, but if you want deep characters it should be in your version of the game world.

Most feats should be nominally trained. I say nominally because for the feats you plan to take you can have the training in backstory without being able to actually perform the feat in real situations until you have accumulated some experience. Feats that aren't nominally trained imply a wholly or partially self-taught character and generally something about the circumstances in which he or she taught him or herself. You don't, for instance, teach yourself the same things as a gutter rat as you do as a poacher. Both are rogues, but the feat plans for street kids are completely unsuitable for a poacher and the feat plan for a poacher (sadly due to the overlong archery feat chain and unreasonable restrictions on sneak attack there's pretty much only one in Pathfinder) is completely unsuitable for a street kid.

Dark Archive

christos gurd wrote:
Well I've play tested removing ability score prerequisite from the game, and I gotta say it didn't harm feats in the least.

Now that the game seems to be sidestepping the Combat Expertise / 13 Int prereq or the Dodge prereq for certain feat chains, it seems more and more palatable to get around this sort of thing. (Feats like Artful Dodge, or Dirty Fighting.)

It's another feature of Mutants & Masterminds that I like, eliminating attribute prereqs for feats, as well as de-chaining some feats.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:

I actually kind of agree with what your saying about Vancian magic. From what I've heard about Spheres of power I would actually probably like it. To me wizards have always felt meh like if i make a wizard I pretty well have one way to play them and it feels like the same character. specializations and arch-types help but doesn't change what your doing that much. The idea of being a firemage and being rewarded for following the path closely actually sounds cool I need to check out spheres of power.

See your idea would work for a new class with the concept of compartmentalization of learned techniques so you can basically change which compartmentalized part of your brain is holding a certain tactic, you have to do it that way otherwise where does the sudden knowledge of the new feats come from?
but then how do I play a character that learns his stuff the traditional way. One that learns how traditionally most soldiers and martial artists have done it for centuries. Your telling me there is not a way to make That work?

I do like feats that represent a character trait a way of doing things. i take a bunch of speed and movement based feats to make my character seem dodgy or a bunch of hard brutal feats to make him seem viscous I focus on armor and shield stuff for when I want him to feel classic sword and board. Spreading out is fine for some but sometimes the best tactic in combat is complete specialization you get so fast and adept at your technique that It works every time (practically the DBZ method)

The idea of vancian fighter sounds fine for its own arch-type or class but I personally want to have the option to play the martial who gets good at what he does and just continues to refine his fighting style.

kryt-ryder you could always house-rule the time down on retraining if it bothers you that much unless your a pfs kind of guy and would you require someone to train you the new techniques or would you just know them for out of game reasons?

Personally I would move in the direction of the Tome of Battle/Paths of War. Feats shouldn't be there for specific tricks and traits. They should be for very general things. Two weapon fighting, sure. Toughness, Sure. Dragon Style, no. And I would completely toss the fighter class. They are the biggest problem for feats. Feats have to be both the primary source of the interesting the fighter AND ok for literally every other class to take.

I would replace it with classes like those from the Paths of war. They get similar amounts of feats as everyone else, and instead they get maneuvers. And this doesn't preclude the concept of focusing on an area and getting better, because those maneuvers/stances are grouped into schools/fighting styles. Its not quite vancian, but its WAY more flexible then feats are. You can have it be akin to spells known, rather then memorized as new ones every day. I know x maneuvers, most of them are form my specialized school of maneuvers that share a common theme of combat. I have the stamina and strength to execute them a certain number of times per day or per encounter.


From another thread:

DominusMegadeus wrote:

I could take a feat for +2 to bluffing.

Or I could take a feat and get an 8th level Bard.

This. Feats are just too breaky IMO.

I much prefer that they be handled by either,

1) Rolling them into a Class Ability

and/or

2) Treating them more like Difficulty Checks based on the PC's relevant Ability Scores and Skill Ranks

This would fix a great many problems with Feats - Feat Trees/(taxes), Feats useful for this module or AP only, Feat power disparity, Feats that "sunset" after level 6 (or 8, or 10, etc.), Feat option fatigue, and so on.


leadership exists ad an attempt to allow the 1st edition cohorts that some classes got automatically to still be available in later editions. Its probably fine for some games and not others id say just let your players know if your ok with it or not for your games. hmm giving the fighter per day abilities seems like a logic gap. so you can't attack that one particular way again but your still good every other way? one of the reasons i didn't like 4th edition.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
leadership exists ad an attempt to allow the 1st edition cohorts that some classes got automatically to still be available in later editions. Its probably fine for some games and not others id say just let your players know if your ok with it or not for your games. hmm giving the fighter per day abilities seems like a logic gap. so you can't attack that one particular way again but your still good every other way? one of the reasons i didn't like 4th edition.

Its not a logic gap. You just need to frame it in the context of fatigue. And you don't make it you can do each move x times a day. But that you know X moves and you can do them Y times a day. How many races do you think usain bolt can run in a day? Every watch a distance runner, who is running the entire race (basic competence at their physical activity of choice) but only has a handful of moments when they can get an extra burst and they have to time that for the moments when it is most advantageous to use them? If they mistime it or don't get into the lead, they don't stop running afterwards, heck they don't even stop running fast (relative to most people ofc) they just aren't outpacing the other exceptional athletes.

They can still do basic stuff, but the truly exceptional feats of strength speed and skill (the maneuvers) can only be done a certain number of times. Because human (or elf, orc, Halfling etc) bodies only have so many complete bursts of energy at a time. If you abstract that into fatigue points between rests sufficient to completely recharge (which in the game is 8 hours), then it makes complete logical sense to have certain special actions that use up a points pool until you have rested.

As for leadership. Sure, some people don't like that kind of narrative power in the hands of players. But they left it in the hands of magic. If you are uncomfortable with your players having an army of cohorts, how are you comfortable with the gate spell, or planar ally, or miracle, or wish or any number of spells that have narrative power?

Liberty's Edge

Very interesting thread!

I actually included an entire chapter in the New Paths Compendium called Scaling Combat Feats which very much addresses what some of you are suggesting.

Might be worth checking out :)


Kolokotroni wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
leadership exists ad an attempt to allow the 1st edition cohorts that some classes got automatically to still be available in later editions. Its probably fine for some games and not others id say just let your players know if your ok with it or not for your games. hmm giving the fighter per day abilities seems like a logic gap. so you can't attack that one particular way again but your still good every other way? one of the reasons i didn't like 4th edition.

Its not a logic gap. You just need to frame it in the context of fatigue. And you don't make it you can do each move x times a day. But that you know X moves and you can do them Y times a day. How many races do you think usain bolt can run in a day? Every watch a distance runner, who is running the entire race (basic competence at their physical activity of choice) but only has a handful of moments when they can get an extra burst and they have to time that for the moments when it is most advantageous to use them? If they mistime it or don't get into the lead, they don't stop running afterwards, heck they don't even stop running fast (relative to most people ofc) they just aren't outpacing the other exceptional athletes.

They can still do basic stuff, but the truly exceptional feats of strength speed and skill (the maneuvers) can only be done a certain number of times. Because human (or elf, orc, Halfling etc) bodies only have so many complete bursts of energy at a time. If you abstract that into fatigue points between rests sufficient to completely recharge (which in the game is 8 hours), then it makes complete logical sense to have certain special actions that use up a points pool until you have rested.

As for leadership. Sure, some people don't like that kind of narrative power in the hands of players. But they left it in the hands of magic. If you are uncomfortable with your players having an army of cohorts, how are you comfortable with the gate spell, or planar ally, or miracle, or wish or any...

So more like the stamina system really? that sounds fine looking at it that way. I just didn't see say something like Heavy strike 1perday you can do a heavy strike doing x2 damage. or something like that. That doesn't seem to fit for me. I do like the stamina system as an option although I have played characters that would and would not use it.

Yeah I only allow leadership in games with few people takes up to much time in a packed game.


Vidmaster7 & Kolokotroni wrote:
"Stamina" representing why fighters can only do some tricks a limited number of times per day

I like this description, and could easily see creating a "Stamina Pool" similar to the Monk's Ki Pool that refreshes daily, and is tapped for various combat feats. It would work rather well, if feel a little "castery" for a martial.

However, I also have another idea: What about moving away from daily use abilities? As is, Pathfinder (and similar rpgs) are mainly about resource management. The strength of the party is determined by their health, spells, consumables, limited features (eg. stunning fist & rage) and the non-expended innate strengths of damage & skills, with the former augmenting the latter. The challenge for parties is how efficiently they can use their resources in solving various problems. The more efficient (and lucky) the party is, the more they can accomplish with the same start. Save the hard CC for the heavy hitting enemy (who may be a boss in a later encounter), don't waste "create pit" on that mook, etc. I expect this is why control is so lauded because it doesn't cost a lot and its success is then driven by the non-expended abilities. Cast one spell, lock down everyone, a few guys just roll attacks and the fight is done.

So what about moving the system away from resource management and more towards tactics / application? Take stunning fist for example. Expend a use, if you hit you may stun your foe. You can do this however many times per day and it can augment any attack (thus the no more than once per round restriction). However, what if it was changed to a standard action attack? Or a full round action single attack? Now whether to use it doesn't depend on if the foe seems worthy enough to eat up a daily resource, but whether it's more worthwhile to lose out on damage in the attempt to stun the target. And if spamming is still a worry, tack on increasing bonuses to the enemy's will save if they're targeted repeatedly. Similar effect can be handled for some skill checks or other daily use abilities. Rage for example could change from daily rounds to consecutive rounds. That is, a barbarian may rage for a number of consecutive rounds equal to her barbarian level + con modifier, and can only enter a rage if not fatigued. Leaving a rage fatigues the barbarian for a duration equal to 4x the time spent raging. This changes rage's use from "is this foe worth raging for" to "is this a safe time to rage" where you must wonder if you can end the fight before your rage ends, or else suffer combat penalties for the rest of the encounter.


Yeah I actually would not mind moving away from resource management. Which means a new spell system. This might be beyond the scope of this thread.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Yeah I actually would not mind moving away from resource management. Which means a new spell system. This might be beyond the scope of this thread.

There's nothing wrong with having different characters on different resource tracks.

Long of martials been heralded as the classes that 'can keep going all day.' There's nothing wrong with leaving that be as-is, but giving them awesome stuff they can do all day.


If they had like some sort of a self-heal like a second wind mechanic that refreshed per battle They would go a long way to being mister goes all day.

however with a good AC and a lot of hit points you should be able to out pace a lot of others.

I think what i would really like to see is some High level feats meant to work with 10+ martial that give them truly impressive if not pushing the boundaries of non-magical abilities. I know someone on another thread mentioned an ability that does that cool wind cut thing you see in some animes. Things like that would be cool.

I personally do like it when the classes play and feel quite different from each other its part of the motivation to play other classes. you want to know the feel of class X and Class Y


One thing that REALLY helps the non-magicals be awesome is making skills awesome, restricting casters from taking too many skills [Wizard I'm staring at you, and glancing at the Bard], make sure all martials get lots of skills [Fighter I'm staring at you, and lightly glancing at the Paladin] and going from there.

For example, the classical 'running up the crumbling blocks of a building/bridge/whatever' is something I outright give to those with 9 or more ranks in Acrobatics. 5-8 can roll a check for it but their chances aren't high.


Yeah I agree. I think the feats (feats as in a great action lol) of skill you can do should go up exponentially. example: DC jump check 10 ft sure but dc 30 should be more like 60 feet.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Yeah I actually would not mind moving away from resource management. Which means a new spell system. This might be beyond the scope of this thread.
There's nothing wrong with having different characters on different resource tracks.

Yes there is. Having characters use resources differently makes them balance differently across different levels of activity. The basic unit of balance for fighters is the encounter. The basic unit of balance for wizards is the day.

Since the basic unit of balance for monsters is the encounter Vidmaster7 is right to want to do away with resource management. It's more natural to design with the encounter as the basic unit of balance because no matter how much fighting a day should contain some encounter sequences will naturally have more while not having reasonable resting points. Per encounter balance without per diem resources allow every day to be exactly as encounter filled as the narrative requires rather than forcing the narrative to bow to the 5 encounter per day averaging CR=APL (or whatever you adjust it to because your players bring characters that suck less spectacularly than Harsk) schedule the per diem balance requires.


I haven't had a problem with it Atarlost.

My Mages have Spells per Day, my Martials have either All Day or Encounter abilities.

The key is that the martials are every bit as strong as the mages, but less flexible. Mage has dozens of tools martial has a handful.


Altarlost still makes a decent point as far as having to have a certain number of encounters I have bypassed this by making one Terrible hard encounter but that is also a super dangerous encounter.

I do think however flexibility might be the Key give fighters 4 skills per and then improve on skills might be all you need to make the martial classes seem more flexible.

The flexibility is really the main part where i'm like yeah ok martial classes could use more of that.

One thing that i would like to note is that I feel healing is really where the resource management is strongest. One reason why you don't see a non-spell-casting healer.


I have non-spellcasting healers in spades. Someone with the heal skill can heal a person up to 1/2 their total hit dice [would include +1/2 their con mod per hit die in PF], but no more than the amount of damage taken in the last battle [with a time limit on the treatment, and something like 10 minutes per treatment at low level.]


Well I guess I should say in combat healing

Edit: although fair point I do't use the heal skill as often as I should.

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