Skill Feats and Low-Levels


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


Skill Feats are a nice idea that allows for non-adventuring mechanical options to be made that doesn't require players to trade away adventuring options to get them, but at low levels it feels like the only options available are painfully weak and minor to the point that selecting those feats is more a chore than anything else where you try to identify the least niche option and take it because there is nothing else.

I think it would be better if the options for trained skills just increased slightly and if skill feats were regulated to mid and high levels so that you don't just have bloat of useless feats. Instead skill feats would only be spent on abilities that are actually interesting and feel worthy of being feats rather than niche annoyances.


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With a few exceptions most skill feats are weak at high levels as well. I am a big fan of skill feats in theory but in practice they are underwhelming.

I think for the most part (or maybe the whole part) skill feat effects should just get folded into proficiency since for the ones that are worth getting they tend to go together.


Skill feats worth paying attention to (particularly at low level):

Powerful Jump
Quick Jump
uh
hmm
I think that's it.


Draco18s wrote:

Skill feats worth paying attention to (particularly at low level):

Powerful Jump
Quick Jump
uh
hmm
I think that's it.

Powerful Leap is good since the leap action is likewise useful. Quick Jump is kind of useless since Jumping is rarely better than leaping unless you are really good at athletics.

You need to hit DC 40 athletics to high jump better than a vertical powerful leap. And you need to hit a DC 25 athletics check to horizontal jump better than a powerful horizontal leap. Pretty hard to do at low levels especially when both have the crit fail chance of falling prone.

I think Intimidating Glare is pretty good low level skill feat.

Underwater Marauder and Terrain Stalker would be very useful in certain campaign settings.


Touche, but it just makes my point pretty solid:
90% of skill feats are garbage, and 90% of the rest are garbage at low levels.

Finding *A* skill great worth having is hard and the list of ones people should actually look at its very short. (I just picked a bad example for the list because I wasn't looking at the book).


Draco18s wrote:

Touche, but it just makes my point pretty solid:

90% of skill feats are garbage, and 90% of the rest are garbage at low levels.

Finding *A* skill great worth having is hard and the list of ones people should actually look at its very short. (I just picked a bad example for the list because I wasn't looking at the book).

Yes I agree. I only knew that because I had a player want to make a cool jumping monk and we decided that high jump/long jump were generally pretty weak. My players have stopped picking skill feats during character creation. It's not worth the time to look through them when for the most part they are downtime, useless, or too situational to remember in play.


Bardarok wrote:
Yes I agree. I only knew that because I had a player want to make a cool jumping monk and we decided that high jump/long jump were generally pretty weak. My players have stopped picking skill feats during character creation. It's not worth the time to look through them when for the most part they are downtime, useless, or too situational to remember in play.

Oh, one of my characters had skill feats listed as "I no longer care." And I link my sheets in my feedback.

So Paizo should have seen that. I also put notes on every magic item or feat I'd taken that I didn't use (which was all of them).


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Bardarok wrote:

With a few exceptions most skill feats are weak at high levels as well. I am a big fan of skill feats in theory but in practice they are underwhelming.

I think for the most part (or maybe the whole part) skill feat effects should just get folded into proficiency since for the ones that are worth getting they tend to go together.

Skill Feats are pretty weak at high levels as well yes, but they don't need to be. If they remove them from the concept of "Skill Feats are small niche buffs to skills that might come up once per campaign to balance out the rogue getting a tonne of them" to only "You can do x cool over the top legendary thing now" type situations, I think people might actually care about their existence for once.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Batman.

So, one of the concepts I've had trouble writing up in P1e is Batman. I can make a competent human, but he just doesn't seem to ever get to the same level as Batman. I end up having to take a class with supernatural abilities to get there. He ends up being some kind of stupid Paladin-reformed Assassin crossbreed. The Vigilante came close - and with Skill Unlocks closer - but still ended up not quite there.

Skill Feats mean for the first time I think Batman is best stated out as stock standard Rogue.
A bunch of Skill Feats at Legendary should make you Batman.

I want to love this.

I loved Skill Unlocks.

When I explained (pre-release) to my players about Legendary Skills letting non-magical classes keep up with magical they were very interested. As written it does not do that. I think this is one of the biggest misses of P2E.

I agree with Milo v3 (above) that they are downpowered, and don't need to be.

Seperately people have argued for every skill feat to be scaling - Catfall is great for a feat that starts at meh and progresses to legendary. This would really help. Every Skill Feat should get awesome, I think - either because it eventually gets amazing or because it can combine in clever ways.

I'm going to coin a term Usages because I don't have my book here. Usages are things you can do with skills. Recall Knowledge. Escape from a grapple. Climb a wall. Some of them are free when you reach a proficiency level (including untrained), and some of them require purchasing Skill Feats. Some Usages get better - either as proficiency level rises, or because they are modified with more Skill Feats. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Back on topic - I do sort of like the idea of skill feats being baked into Usages, in the way Crafting sort of does it. Higher proficiency levels unlocks new Usages and improvements to the Usages you have.
I'd also go the other way - there's some (trained) Usages I see could being turned into Skill Feats. That'd make the Skill Feats more useful, but at the cost of it not being possible (at all) until a certain point.
If this goes further, then I think there might need to be a rule about "letting your players roll for a Usage they don't have"

example1:
Roll at -10 (critical success = bare success)

example 2:
Spend a hero point to get a roll

This might get around the "but surely I should have some chance of identifying the painting as a forgery because I walked through a gallery that one time and I have Lore: carpentry" argument, but risks depowering Usages and Skill Feats even more. As a GM I HATE when my players end up staring at a brick wall in a module because no-one has the skill.

I think one thing that there needs to be more of is generic skill feats for when a skill is a character's niche. By generic I mean skill feats that can be bought for any skill, not skill feats that effect every skill. By constraint there cannot be many skill feats in the base book - so the feats there need to basically sell the concept, and provide some feats with very widespread usage, and generic feats do that well, at the risk of being a bit boring - they're the example that has to be awesome because of how they combine.

example1:

I would love a generic skill feat that basically comes from Fate.
"Unusual Usage". This could instead be a bunch of named feats.
You gain a usage from skill X for skill Y.
Has to be run past the GM to make sense.
There'd need to be a penalty too, or your 20th level rogue could end up running everything off Dex. At a minimum I'd think you need to be an extra level proficiency level (so at trained you can pick up a normally untrained usage, at expert you can pick up a trained, etc.)

example2:

A generic skill feat that gave you a bonus action if you spend at least actions on Usages from the same skill in your turn. At master is 2. At legendary is 1. Buy it for athletics and do Parkour.

I love the fact that Skill Feats can be basically used to "create" a new skill. For example an entire detective concept could be built around a tree of Skill Feats built on pretty much any skill. You could even build them around a Lore if needed. This is huge for the expansion of Pathfinder into the future. You could do a Lore:Mathematics tree that ends up as futuristic science. You can (and really, do) do an entire tree around Craft: Alchemy.

I think it would make sense for Paizo to have a section about running more realistic games, and talk about (A) reducing magic and (B) reducing proficiency levels - especially Legendary. If I'm trying to run some gritty realistic game of thrones knock off I might not want you to play Batman.

I also think it might be worth Paizo considering Orange and Red Skill Feats. Possibly the Azlanti had a Skill Feat that modifies magical crafting in some awesome way - but finding someone who knows it, let alone is prepared to teach it, might be an adventure in itself. Maybe stick one in the Core Book to show it exists.

These feats need to be awesome, but they need to SOUND awesome. Like the Stunts in Spirit of the Century. I'm pretty confident half the community would jump over themselves to help on this if needed.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Bardarok wrote:
Draco18s wrote:

Touche, but it just makes my point pretty solid:

90% of skill feats are garbage, and 90% of the rest are garbage at low levels.

Finding *A* skill great worth having is hard and the list of ones people should actually look at its very short. (I just picked a bad example for the list because I wasn't looking at the book).

Yes I agree. I only knew that because I had a player want to make a cool jumping monk and we decided that high jump/long jump were generally pretty weak. My players have stopped picking skill feats during character creation. It's not worth the time to look through them when for the most part they are downtime, useless, or too situational to remember in play.

My players Love Downtime. Stick in Downtime only feats that do not compromise their basic combat build and they'll agonise over them.

The trouble with situational is that while it should mean they can be powerful because they'll never come up, it also means the characters can do things to make it come up.

anecdote:
My group played a goblin group. All goblin. Stealthed their way through most of an adventure in DD (before illness and apathy killed the game). Stealth feats are designed to be limited by the fact that a lot of the time other characters are not using it and so it is situational. Not so here.

This makes them hard to balance. You sort of have to balance them on the assumption people are taking them when they'll be more useful. "Courtly Graces" is a terrible feat... unless you are playing a Court game, for instance.

Liberty's Edge

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I'll chime in here and note my complete agreement that Skill Feats need to be significantly more powerful in general. I'm a particular fan of Catfall's model where the lowest level ones start out okay and upgrade from there as Proficiency does. Ones that require higher Proficiency would need to be commensurately more powerful as well, of course, but it's a solid model.

I'll also note that this was one of my major remaining complaints post Update 1.6 (indeed, it was #1 on the list), and that the thread I made enumerating those problems got a response from Mark Seifter immediately saying that all problems I named that weren't already on their list of issues would be put there.

So this problem is very much on Paizo's radar, and that will hopefully result in a significant Skill Feat power up.


I just want to say, Spheres of Might legendary talents are a good example of what I think legendary skill feats should feel like. You don't just get a swim speed, but you become such a good swimmer that you get a burrow speed by swimming through the ground itself. (Technically swim speeds are also legendary talents, but you could reasonably bump it down to master)

Or you aren't just such a good thief that you could steal someone's pants without them noticing. (That's actually a normal talent, albeit one that imposes a -10 penalty) You can become such a good thief that you can steal on-going spells. "Oh, you just cast Dragon Form on yourself? Don't mind me. I'm just going to steal that." *wizard returns to normal, while rogue becomes a dragon instead*

We're so used to magic being, well, magical, that we forget that Magic Missile isn't all that impressive. Anyone can learn to do that, although they need 16 Int in 2e if they don't start as a wizard. No, the really impressive thing is Wall of Force. Instead of making a small bullet of force that dissipates almost immediately, you make a massive wall of the stuff that lasts for a few minutes and can block attacks.

Swimming through the dirt fits at high levels, because it's just as impressive of a feat of martial prowess to us as Wall of Force would be to people who see casting magic missile as about as difficult as learning to pick a lock.

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