Meaningful Choices in PF2e Playtest


General Discussion


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I recently made a comment (that was subsequently deleted) that the fighter was full of non-choices as you level up in terms of class feats. I wanted to analyse each of the classes to see how widespread it is and to quantify what I perceive as the problem. So I looked at every class (except the Alchemist which is quite a mess at the moment with the last extensive overhaul. I need to read it carefully to understand it better) and below is what I consider to be the results.

Barbarian
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8ish, 10, 16, 18, 20
Non Choices at these Levels: 12, 14
Summary: 8.5 meaningful choices

Bard
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 4, 8, 14, 20
Non Choices at these Levels: 2, 6, 10
Summary: 5 meaningful choices (plus spell's)

Cleric
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 4, 8, 14, 20
Summary: 5 meaningful choices (plus spell's)

Druid
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 2, 4ish, 10ish, 20
Non Choices at these Levels: 6, 8, 14, 18
Summary: 4 meaningful choices (plus spell's)

Fighter
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 4ish, 6ish, 8ish, 10, 12ish, 14, 18, 20
Non Choices at these Levels: 2, 16
Summary: 7 meaningful choices (depends on build)

Monk
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 4, 6ish, 8, 10, 12, 14ish, 18, 20
Summary: 8 meaningful choices

Paladin
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18ish
Non Choices at these Levels: 16, 20
Summary: 8.5 meaningful choices

Ranger
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8ish, 10ish, 12, 14ish
Non Choices at these Levels: 16, 18, 20
Summary: 6.5 meaningful choices

Rogue
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 2ish, 4, 6, 8ish, 12ish, 16, 18
Non Choices at these Levels: 10, 20
Summary: 6.5 meaningful choices.

Sorcerer
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 4, 8, 10, 14, 20
Non Choices at these Levels: 6
Summary: 6 meaningful choices (plus spells)

Wizard
Meaningful Choices at these Levels: 1, 4, 8, 14, 20
Summary: 5 meaningful choices (plus spells)

Logic Behind the Numbers
What I consider a non choice is where the options available are dependent on an earlier choice so that you are almost guaranteed to choose a particular feat. This is especially common for the druid. If you choose an animal companion as your order, you're pretty likely to choose all of the animal companion feats. So you've made 1 meaningful choice at 1st level which has predetermined your subsequent choices at later levels.

Where it gets a bit murky is when there are feats that build upon your earlier feats, but there are alternatives as well. Depending on how good the choices are depends on whether I considered a non choice or not. The "ish" (which I consider worth half a meaningful choice) is when only some builds locked you into a certain feat while other builds didn't for that level.

The above is 100% subjective. If you got me to do it again you'd probably get slightly different answers. But this is my best effort to quantify what is meant by the lack of choices.

Conclusions
Of the non-spellcasters the monk is best IMO. Only a couple of levels potentially lock you into a feat. Paladin and Barbarian follow closely behind with Ranger and Rogue. Fighter is the absolute worst class for having non-choices in terms of class feats IMO.

Of the spellcasters the sorcerer is the best demonstration on how classes can be improved to increase meaningful choices. Giving the sorcerer more class feats, even if they only have 1 feat to choose from, is great. Because it makes them more multiclass friendly. Cleric is the gold standard among spellcasters with the others following close behind.

How can Non-Choices Be Improved
My complaint of non-choices can be remedied, if not in the Core Rulebook then in subsequent releases. Every level where the feats have a prerequisite for a certain build or an earlier choice, introduce a new feat with the same prerequisites that provides a meaningfully different benefit that a player now has to choose from. That would 100% fix my "non-choices at certain levels" complaint and help start to move towards the more variability that we had in PF1e. It may not ever equal PF1e's flexibility, but it can certainly move towards it.

What that means though is that Paizo can improve the game and directly address this criticism simply by introducing more feats. Which is something I've dismissed prior to now.


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I pretty much agree with everything here. I'm not 100% sure what would be the best way of addressing that (Jason already said that giving everyone one billion feat slots isn't great and I tend to agree), some of the ones you suggested are pretty cool. But yes, having a ton of feats that you are pretty much forced to get all of them if you want to follow that path isn't very cool. My girlfriend has an Animal Order Druid in one of my games and she is staggered with how many feats she needs to get just to keep up with the things of her Order.


I think Paizo have stated that the final version will include more feats, so that might help the situation a bit. I do see the concern; especially in terms of animal companion. But for an unfinished first book in the system I do feel there is a lot of viable choices and several different styles you can play. I think already there is more meaningful choices than in CRB, but it might just be because I'm more excited about this version.

How many of the (in your opinion) non choices could realistically be used for dedication feats instead to do varied builds?


Can you define what rubric you're using to determine if a choice is "meaningful" or not? Are we just eliminating those choices one might consider themselves locked into via previously made choices (e.g. a two-weapon fighter is going to take the two-weapon feats, not the open hand feats).

Like all the monks I've seen took a stance feat and a ki feat with their level 1 and 2 feats- so by what standard is one of those not meaningful?


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Nettah wrote:
I think Paizo have stated that the final version will include more feats, so that might help the situation a bit.

Up until now it's been my contention (and others have also held this opinion) that adding new feats wasn't going to fix anything because of how the game is structured. I was wrong (as I believe the above shows).

Nettah wrote:
I do see the concern; especially in terms of animal companion. But for an unfinished first book in the system I do feel there is a lot of viable choices and several different styles you can play.

To be honest I focused a bit too much on the fighter (it's one of my favourite classes so I was quite eager to see how it worked in the new edition). I do now think that as more content is produced more and more characters will become viable.

Nettah wrote:
I think already there is more meaningful choices than in CRB, but it might just be because I'm more excited about this version.

I'll certainly be exploring that a bit more.

Nettah wrote:
How many of the (in your opinion) non choices could realistically be used for dedication feats instead to do varied builds?

Just to be clear: the "non choices" aren't "non choices" because there's nothing of value at those levels. They're "non choices" because an earlier decision you've made has already dictated the choice you'll make at that level. The druid animal companion is the most prominent example of that.

As I mentioned in my first post I consider the sorcerer to be a great example of how a class can be improved. Level 6 is a "non choice" level (because I believe it only has 1 feat at that level). But it's great because by giving the sorcerer extra feats, even if those levels only have 1 feat, because it allows multiclassing to be much more viable.

Similarly a caster druid who didn't invest in an animal companion could turn all of those "non choices" at levels 6, 8, 14 and 18 into "choices" by multiclassing into a "Primalist" Sorcerer. I believe the sorcerer mutliclass option (I'm away from my copy of the rules) has enough "choices" at each level that there's meaningfully valid choices at each of the non-choice levels. Why would a druid multiclass into a primal sorcerer? Because it gives them more spell slots to cast their druid spells with. Boost CHA and WIS as your 2 primary stats and you can have a very powerful caster who has more spell slots then an ordinary druid has.

dmerceless wrote:
My girlfriend has an Animal Order Druid in one of my games and she is staggered with how many feats she needs to get just to keep up with the things of her Order.

I actually understand and appreciate why Paizo have done that. Having an entire extra character at the table is actually quite a boost in power (or at least it has been historically). Even in D&D 4th ed (which had the most restrictive animal companion rules I've ever seen) it was a modest increase in power, easily on par with other options available to the ranger.

The way to turn some of those "non-choices" into "choices" would be to create a new order that druids can belong to that doesn't necessarily get stuff it "has" to have at those levels. I'd also love to Paizo explore how to keep a "not fully invested in" animal companion relevant at all levels. But I expect that will be pretty hard to achieve.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Can you define what rubric you're using to determine if a choice is "meaningful" or not?
I did that under "Logic Behind the Numbers" in my first post, but it may not have been clear because there isn't a 100% objective way in which I'm judging it.
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Are we just eliminating those choices one might consider themselves locked into via previously made choices (e.g. a two-weapon fighter is going to take the two-weapon feats, not the open hand feats).

That is completely accurate summary of how it's being judged.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Like all the monks I've seen took a stance feat and a ki feat with their level 1 and 2 feats- so by what standard is one of those not meaningful?

Do all monks choose the same stance and the same ki feat? Do they always accompany the same stance with the same ki feat? If the answer is no to both of those then I consider the choices made at both levels to be "real" choices.

I do realise that my standard is completely subjective and other people may not agree with it (and I'm happy to discuss with them why they don't agree with it if they're so inclined).

Liberty's Edge

John Lynch 106 wrote:
...My complaint...can be remedied...simply by introducing more feats...

This is a playtest. Before going whole hog on another edition, Paizo wanted feedback on mechanics. The basic mechanic is that every level, a character picks some kind of feat. That mechanic seems sound, and I'm in favor of subdividing feats (skill, general, class, ancestry), though I would like 'general' to mean 'any'.

Depending on your game, magic items might be a choice (I never liked 'random' treasure). In that, there's lots to choose for weapons. Admittedly, there isn't much choice in armor, and this is the one 'lack of choice' that I think merits feedback.

The primary lack of choice I felt (attempting a armored character) was accellerated skill proficiency rank in Acrobatics with Assurance to counteract armor, so my character can do simple tasks. Here, I'd rather see keeping DexModCap and eliminating ACP, so that the game doesn't solely pick out armored characters for skill penalties due to essential role equipment.


John Lynch 106 said wrote:

Just to be clear: the "non choices" aren't "non choices" because there's nothing of value at those levels. They're "non choices" because an earlier decision you've made has already dictated the choice you'll make at that level. The druid animal companion is the most prominent example of that.

As I mentioned in my first post I consider the sorcerer to be a great example of how a class can be improved. Level 6 is a "non choice" level (because I believe it only has 1 feat at that level). But it's great because by giving the sorcerer extra feats, even if those levels only have 1 feat, because it allows multiclassing to be much more viable.

Similarly a caster druid who didn't invest in an animal companion could turn all of those "non choices" at levels 6, 8, 14 and 18 into "choices" by multiclassing into a "Primalist" Sorcerer. I believe the sorcerer mutliclass option (I'm away from my copy of the rules) has enough "choices" at each level that there's meaningfully valid choices at each of the non-choice levels. Why would a druid multiclass into a primal sorcerer? Because it gives them more spell slots to cast their druid spells with. Boost CHA and WIS as your 2 primary stats and you can have a very powerful caster who has more spell slots then an ordinary druid has.

My point was more whether there are scenarios where you would want to skip certain class feats that fit a certain "build" to go into multi classing instead.

If I am understanding your method correctly you are saying that for instance all class feats for the barbarian at level 12 is already chosen because of the totem aspect you chose earlier. But isn't there a valid option in simply skipping that level for a dedication feat instead for some of the builds, thus bringing back more customization? Since not taking any of feats doesn't actually make any of your existing feats or features worse, but it can of course enhance some.

I do agree that doesn't seem to be the case with animal companion feats, because not only would you likely want to progress your companion, but compared to the challenges you are facing at the higher levels the companion doesn't really scale up (thus becoming a liability or useless) if you don't take the feats.


Nettah wrote:
John Lynch 106 said wrote:

Just to be clear: the "non choices" aren't "non choices" because there's nothing of value at those levels. They're "non choices" because an earlier decision you've made has already dictated the choice you'll make at that level. The druid animal companion is the most prominent example of that.

As I mentioned in my first post I consider the sorcerer to be a great example of how a class can be improved. Level 6 is a "non choice" level (because I believe it only has 1 feat at that level). But it's great because by giving the sorcerer extra feats, even if those levels only have 1 feat, because it allows multiclassing to be much more viable.

Similarly a caster druid who didn't invest in an animal companion could turn all of those "non choices" at levels 6, 8, 14 and 18 into "choices" by multiclassing into a "Primalist" Sorcerer. I believe the sorcerer mutliclass option (I'm away from my copy of the rules) has enough "choices" at each level that there's meaningfully valid choices at each of the non-choice levels. Why would a druid multiclass into a primal sorcerer? Because it gives them more spell slots to cast their druid spells with. Boost CHA and WIS as your 2 primary stats and you can have a very powerful caster who has more spell slots then an ordinary druid has.

My point was more whether there are scenarios where you would want to skip certain class feats that fit a certain "build" to go into multi classing instead.

If I am understanding your method correctly you are saying that for instance all class feats for the barbarian at level 12 is already chosen because of the totem aspect you chose earlier. But isn't there a valid option in simply skipping that level for a dedication feat instead for some of the builds, thus bringing back more customization? Since not taking any of feats doesn't actually make any of your existing feats or features worse, but it can of course enhance some.

I do agree that doesn't seem to be the case with animal companion feats, because...

I made a similar point in the thread that the OP originally came from, though mine was less about multiclassing and more about that there is often merit in taking a feat that doesn't necessarily entirely synergize with previous choices, sometimes going off-beat can give you better diversity instead of just making you better at the one thing you were already doing. Which I think is a great thing, whatever previous choice you made (Like say a feat that gives you a specific combat option) won't be what you want to do or should do 100% of the time, having additional abilities for different situations is good.

Like the Fighter has a handful of 2-action abilities as well as multiple Press actions. Even though you can't use multiple 2-actions in a round or use 2 Press actions at the same time, it's a perfectly fine idea to have multiple types of such actions because they are useful in different situations.


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Nettah wrote:

If I am understanding your method correctly you are saying that for instance all class feats for the barbarian at level 12 is already chosen because of the totem aspect you chose earlier. But isn't there a valid option in simply skipping that level for a dedication feat instead for some of the builds, thus bringing back more customization? Since not taking any of feats doesn't actually make any of your existing feats or features worse, but it can of course enhance some.

I do agree that doesn't seem to be the case with animal companion feats, because...

I'm in agreement with you. Some of the "non choices" for builds aren't actually power ups but simply an extra feat that may or may not be useful. Other builds are extremely reliant on getting certain feats to remain viable.

Previloc wrote:
This is a playtest. Before going whole hog on another edition, Paizo wanted feedback on mechanics.

And the feedback has been (not just from me) "producing 1,000 more feats will not address the problems we have with the lack of customisation. The problem is the basic structure of the game" This is also the feedback I've heard from people who have playtested. In exploring that complaint I've satisfied myself that producing more feats may actually address it despite the previous assertions it wouldn't.


While more feats can be a good thing, more feats can cause other problems though. The game becomes more complicated which is often not new player friendly.

I also worry about power creep with more and more feats, but I guess we have to first worry about a good core book! I may be getting ahead of things. Make the core book the best it can be with feats that are not traps (perhaps the opposite of meaningful choices).


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Kerobelis wrote:

While more feats can be a good thing, more feats can cause other problems though. The game becomes more complicated which is often not new player friendly.

I also worry about power creep with more and more feats, but I guess we have to first worry about a good core book! I may be getting ahead of things. Make the core book the best it can be with feats that are not traps (perhaps the opposite of meaningful choices).

I agree with this. More feats is a potentially problematic. Id much rather have a few good choices than a bunch of bad ones. Most players will want to read all of the available options when making a choice if there are maybe 6 options at any one point that makes reading them all a reasonable task if there are 20 or more than it is less reasonable.


Re: Feats and publishing

I don't think you're going to get what you want to be honest. D&D 5e employs the model you're talking about (published infrequently and publish so you get the most bang for your buck). That hasn't historically been Paizo's model and I think they've said they aren't moving towards that model.

I think you will see substantially less classes though. Inquisitors I don't expect will come back and you'll instead multiclass paladin or cleric with either a rogue or bard to get the effect you want. Bloodrager and Skald are also unlikely to get republished.

And if they do progress the idea of "Fighting Style Archetypes" they might be able to limit the number of choices to select at each level as well.

Finally what I made this thread about was the idea that at certain levels you don't have 6 choices, you only have 1 choice due to prerequisites or requirements to keep up with being effective. So I don't think introducing 20 feats that each have specific prerequisites will cause issues with cognitive overload. Also you can always limit what books you allow in your campaign (I've certainly done that before).


I'm not saying we should go as far as 5e, I am saying that at each point where you make a choice there shouldn't be too many options. So I'm a fan of having a lot of meaningful options something like 20-30 including race class skills etc. but each choice has 5-10 options. So something more similar to the PF2 playtest than either PF1 or 5e. And yes if I use PF2 I'll probably stick to core only.

Dark Archive

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Good analysis; maybe the strict answer is have more "paths" built into classes (you choose X class path and just "get feats" from that path). With most of the other options just giving you a variant way to use your action, the pre-defined path just gives you the feats along the line; then the "feats" will be more generic options that can go along with any of the classes lines.

Like as a Paladin, if you choose the Shield, you get the shield options as listed for free. You don't have access to the sword options; unless you take Second Ally (which might unlock those options as feats).

Might go along way in making characters feel more customizable.


Thalin wrote:

Good analysis; maybe the strict answer is have more "paths" built into classes (you choose X class path and just "get feats" from that path). With most of the other options just giving you a variant way to use your action, the pre-defined path just gives you the feats along the line; then the "feats" will be more generic options that can go along with any of the classes lines.

Like as a Paladin, if you choose the Shield, you get the shield options as listed for free. You don't have access to the sword options; unless you take Second Ally (which might unlock those options as feats).

Might go along way in making characters feel more customizable.

That actually sounds pretty fair. Put an 'archetype' inside every class. Most of them do have one or two already anyways let the archetypes scale and remove most of the feats with restrictions. I think one of the biggest complaints i am seeing is that feat trees suck and eliminate choice.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Quote:
My girlfriend has an Animal Order Druid in one of my games and she is staggered with how many feats she needs to get just to keep up with the things of her Order.
I actually understand and appreciate why Paizo have done that. Having an entire extra character at the table is actually quite a boost in power (or at least it has been historically).

Even if having an effective 'extra character' at the table is such a powerful thing that we have to impose regular feat taxes, we could still aim for a situation where you have a meaningful choice of different feats that improve your companion.


Matthew Downie wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Quote:
My girlfriend has an Animal Order Druid in one of my games and she is staggered with how many feats she needs to get just to keep up with the things of her Order.
I actually understand and appreciate why Paizo have done that. Having an entire extra character at the table is actually quite a boost in power (or at least it has been historically).
Even if having an effective 'extra character' at the table is such a powerful thing that we have to impose regular feat taxes, we could still aim for a situation where you have a meaningful choice of different feats that improve your companion.

Definitely. I 100% agree with that.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Quote:
My girlfriend has an Animal Order Druid in one of my games and she is staggered with how many feats she needs to get just to keep up with the things of her Order.
I actually understand and appreciate why Paizo have done that. Having an entire extra character at the table is actually quite a boost in power (or at least it has been historically).
Even if having an effective 'extra character' at the table is such a powerful thing that we have to impose regular feat taxes, we could still aim for a situation where you have a meaningful choice of different feats that improve your companion.

You kind of do. The 8th level feat lets you pick between two options. The benefit of that being you aren't as locked into those options as you would be if they separated it into two mutually exclusive feats and the level 14 feat is the same for six different options. Now I'd definitely like the 8th level one to be 3 or 4 to be fair but we shouldn't discount that there is actual choice within those feats.

Dark Archive

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I have often read that there are non-choices or feat taxes in the playtest, but looking at PF1, I see the same thing, except that it seems far worse, taking longer to get a build up to effectiveness. Has anyone done a comparison of feat-taxes between the two systems? I would like to know before voicing a strong opinion because as of now, I see that the feat taxes in the playtest is not as necessary to builds as in PF1.


Narxiso wrote:
I have often read that there are non-choices or feat taxes in the playtest, but looking at PF1, I see the same thing, except that it seems far worse, taking longer to get a build up to effectiveness. Has anyone done a comparison of feat-taxes between the two systems? I would like to know before voicing a strong opinion because as of now, I see that the feat taxes in the playtest is not as necessary to builds as in PF1.

I haven't done a super direct comparison but I played PF1 for 2-3 years and it is LOADED with feat taxes. From hat I have seen the Playtest is NOTHING by comparison when it comes to feat taxes.


Narxiso wrote:
I have often read that there are non-choices or feat taxes in the playtest, but looking at PF1, I see the same thing, except that it seems far worse, taking longer to get a build up to effectiveness. Has anyone done a comparison of feat-taxes between the two systems? I would like to know before voicing a strong opinion because as of now, I see that the feat taxes in the playtest is not as necessary to builds as in PF1.

Looking at the fighter as he has the greatest ability in PF1e to meet feat taxes with feats leftover we have the following.

Weapon Focus
Greater Weapon Focus

These aren't necessarily feat taxes, so much as "every fighter will pick these" (so non choices). In PF1e these represent 2 out of 21 (10%) combat feats a fighter can take. In PF2e we have weapon focus(expert proficiency) granted for free at 1st level, greater weapon focus (master proficiency) given as a class feature at 3rd level. The later versions could be seen as analogous to weapon training. Expert proficiency is weapon focus though as other feats grant expert proficiency. So because they're built in they take up 0 out of 11 combat feats, or 2 out of 13 (15%).

Combat Training
Improved Trip
Greater Trip

These are a popular choice and in PF2e they require zero feat investment. They do require skill investment. So if you were planning to keep Athletics high then there is no issue. Otherwise if you were not wanting to keep athletics high it requires investing 4 out of 13+INT skill increases.

Precise Shot
Point Blank Shot
Rapid Shot
Many Shot

This takes 4 out of 21 combat feats a fighter has (19% of feats). In PF2e you only need double shot and triple shot which is 2 out of 13 feats (15%) because there is no point blank shot feat tax and precise shot is baked into the rules.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Narxiso wrote:
I have often read that there are non-choices or feat taxes in the playtest, but looking at PF1, I see the same thing, except that it seems far worse, taking longer to get a build up to effectiveness. Has anyone done a comparison of feat-taxes between the two systems? I would like to know before voicing a strong opinion because as of now, I see that the feat taxes in the playtest is not as necessary to builds as in PF1.

Looking at the fighter as he has the greatest ability in PF1e to meet feat taxes with feats leftover we have the following.

Weapon Focus
Greater Weapon Focus

These aren't necessarily feat taxes, so much as "every fighter will pick these" (so non choices). In PF1e these represent 2 out of 21 (10%) combat feats a fighter can take. In PF2e we have weapon focus(expert proficiency) granted for free at 1st level, greater weapon focus (master proficiency) given as a class feature at 3rd level. The later versions could be seen as analogous to weapon training. Expert proficiency is weapon focus though as other feats grant expert proficiency. So because they're built in they take up 0 out of 11 combat feats, or 2 out of 13 (15%).

Combat Training
Improved Trip
Greater Trip

These are a popular choice and in PF2e they require zero feat investment. They do require skill investment. So if you were planning to keep Athletics high then there is no issue. Otherwise if you were not wanting to keep athletics high it requires investing 4 out of 13+INT skill increases.

Precise Shot
Point Blank Shot
Rapid Shot
Many Shot

This takes 4 out of 21 combat feats a fighter has (19% of feats). In PF2e you only need double shot and triple shot which is 2 out of 13 feats (15%) because there is no point blank shot feat tax and precise shot is baked into the rules.

Might be worth mentioning PF1 Weapon Specialization and Greater, I believe these to be as much non-choices as Weapon Focus and Greater, though I'm not sure if they have a PF2 analog per se.


They don't have an analog that I could see which is why I left them out.


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This whole thread is a great argument for things that people have called for in other threads.

When one feat dictates what other feats you'll take, there's no "tree" effect. Right now, with so few feats, it feels like you're choosing a sub-path within your class and most of your future feats are "locked in."

A great example is, as the OP says, the Fighter's feat "tree." At level 1, you can choose Combat Grab (for 1h and an open hand), Double Slice (for 2-weapon), Point Blank Shot (for ranged), Reactive Shield (for sword and board), or Furious Focus/Power Attack (for big weapons). Sudden Charge is available if you want mobility as your focus. As you level up, you'll choose feats at each level that match.

What's missing is the issue. If I choose to be a sword and board style Fighter, are there multiple ways to build that concept out? Not really. At 1st level, Reactive Shield is prohibitively good over Sudden Charge. At 2nd level, you've got to take Aggressive Shield, making it so that your shield block can either prevent more damage or give you a no-roll debuff against larger enemies (which is huge). 4th level is a choice, huzzah! But then we're back to mandated feats. Shield Warden at 6th level, Quick Shield Block at 8th, Mirror Shield at 10th, Shield Paragon at 12th, Reflexive Shield at 14th, Improved Reflexive Shield at 16th. Only at 6th level, there's a second shield option in Shielded Stride, but with AoO not being on every enemy, and mobility not really being the shield-fighter's shtick, this seems weak.

What would need to happen, and most likely will happen with future releases of splat books, is that if I choose 'sword and board' as a fighting style, there ought to be multiple possible builds and a slew of quality and usable shield-related feats at every level. It may be even more worthwhile to make many of these feats into options you select at 1st level and are granted them as you level through Fighter, then have open class feat slots to augment your build. As in, Quick Shield Block is something that a fighting style choice requires, so just give it to the character, but let the player choose between other viable feats at 8th level.


One thing Paizo has done much better with in the playtest is not having unnecessary prerequisites. I just looked over the shield and archery Fighter feats, and a higher level feat for a given style usually only requires the lower level feat when they're actually mechanically related. That's really important because it allows me to say "Nah, I don't like the level 12 feat, I'll pick something else" without cutting me out of the rest of the style's higher level feats.


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I think there are four design flaws with feats that can cause a player to feel they don't have a meaningful choice.

1. I have to take a feat I don't want as a prerequisite for one I do want (feat tax).
2. I have to continually spend feats to keep an ability relevant.
3. A certain feat is so much more powerful than the other options that it eclipses them and I have to either take it or fall far under performance expectations for my class.
4. No feats available to fill a slot are at all interesting and so I try to pick the least bad one.

The playtest is pretty good at avoiding type 1, and I haven't noticed too many of type 3. (To clarify, there are feats that are better than others, but few that are so much better that they cause an inordinate amount of performance difference compared to all other options. Some examples of overbearing feats in PF1 are Leadership, Craft Wondrous Items, pre-nerf Divine Protection, and Spell Perfection.) I've seen many people complain of the type 4 issue when picking general and skill feats.

I think some classes do have serious problems with type 2 flaws. Animal companions have been mentioned in this thread. Anything that is so powerful that the devs feel it should require continued expenditure of feats to keep relevant should either be removed or made into a core class or class path ability that scales automatically. It feels bad psychologically to have "choice slots" picked for you, so it's better for such abilities to not interact with "choice slots."

Archery fighters also have a type 2 flaw with Doubleshot, Triple Shot, and Multishot Paragon. The bonuses keep getting better but that's largely to keep their much smaller ranged weapon dice relevant compared to other weapons. Other types of fighter can spend their feats on new capabilities instead of just keeping existing ones relevant. I'm not sure if this is just due to power like animal companions or a "felt thematically right and made the damage numbers work," but it ends of feeling the same way at the end of the day.


Pandora's wrote:
One thing Paizo has done much better with in the playtest is not having unnecessary prerequisites.

I don't know about that: taking a combat style often requires a dedication feat and those require taking 2 more feats before taking another. In a lot of instances, it seems the amount of "unnecessary prerequisites" is larger and not smaller.


graystone wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
One thing Paizo has done much better with in the playtest is not having unnecessary prerequisites.
I don't know about that: taking a combat style often requires a dedication feat and those require taking 2 more feats before taking another.

They've said their intent is to make thematically appropriate versions of combat styles for each class. While I'm not convinced that is tenable, I don't think calling multiclassing an unnecessary prerequisite is fair in light of that methodology.

graystone wrote:
In a lot of instances, it seems the amount of "unnecessary prerequisites" is larger and not smaller.

What other instances are there?

Dark Archive

graystone wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
One thing Paizo has done much better with in the playtest is not having unnecessary prerequisites.
I don't know about that: taking a combat style often requires a dedication feat and those require taking 2 more feats before taking another. In a lot of instances, it seems the amount of "unnecessary prerequisites" is larger and not smaller.

I like the addition of dedication feats. It makes me feel like choosing a class at first level have more meaning. I never thought that it made much sense that a wizard without any martial training whatsoever could just pick up a sword and hit with power attack. Now, it seems like the character put in the effort to learn the weapon and how to wield it before power attacking.


To analyse the issue more you can define a "path", "sub class", "idea" or "build" as their own class and then see the extra options you have.
So for animal companion Druid, take a look at druid and make up the animal companion druid as its own class and see what options it provides.
Once you have done that (quite a bit of work) it is much easier for people to see the strengths and weakness of the various ideas as well as lays a good framework to design and make new class (path, sub class, idea, build) for the future and possible prevent power creep in future products or by strong will'ed designers.

MDC

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