What do you think of the option to trade an Ability boost for a feat?


Homebrew and House Rules

Sovereign Court

In D&D 5e, you can trade your ability boosts to buy feats. What do you think of a more limited version of that in PF2e?

What if the rule were as follows: Whenever you have a choice of a 4 free Ability boosts, you can instead choose to get just 3 Ability boosts and 1 free Ancestry, Class, or General feat. You must meet all the requirements for the feat chosen.

So, for example, at Level 1 get 4 free ability boosts at the end of character creation, so you could instead just take 3 of those boosts and a free feat that you qualify for. This shouldn't be too game breaking, it would actually reduce the character's power level a bit, but open up more options for them.

What do you think? Should it be limited to only Ancestry and General feats? Does it step on the toes of Humans getting a free feat if they choose Natural Ambition or General Training?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's an interesting idea, certainly. At most, you would wind up with 5 more feats than someone else, while having one more ability score sitting at its starting value.

For reference:

Str (Dumpable)
Dex (Not dumpable, unless heavy armored)
Con (Not dumpable)
Int (Dumpable)
Wis (Not dumpable)
Cha (Dumpable)

Character concepts that don't use Str, Int, or Cha are highly incentivized to make the trade, since they can get away with just increasing the save stats. So, Druids would very likely make the trade to get significantly improved access to their other class features like wild shape, animal companions, and metamagic. Even certain general and skill feats would be a welcome exchange for boosting a score they don't care about.

At this point I would wonder what exactly the point is in beefing up certain classes that can afford to dump those specific ability scores. Encouraging low cha, low int characters is not high on my agenda, to be honest.

I'd much sooner just grant everyone 5 (or ten) more class feats.


Samurai wrote:

In D&D 5e, you can trade your ability boosts to buy feats. What do you think of a more limited version of that in PF2e?

What if the rule were as follows: Whenever you have a choice of a 4 free Ability boosts, you can instead choose to get just 3 Ability boosts and 1 free Ancestry, Class, or General feat. You must meet all the requirements for the feat chosen.

So, for example, at Level 1 get 4 free ability boosts at the end of character creation, so you could instead just take 3 of those boosts and a free feat that you qualify for. This shouldn't be too game breaking, it would actually reduce the character's power level a bit, but open up more options for them.

What do you think? Should it be limited to only Ancestry and General feats? Does it step on the toes of Humans getting a free feat if they choose Natural Ambition or General Training?

Seems fair... But i don't think anyone would take 4 boosts instead if 3 biists abd ab extra feat.

Sovereign Court

oholoko wrote:


Seems fair... But i don't think anyone would take 4 boosts instead if 3 biists abd ab extra feat.

I don't really know why they decided to give 4 boosts every 5 levels. I think 2 would have been fine for most character types, or even 3. The Diminishing returns after a stat reaches 18 encourages characters to diversify more, but it may eventually allows a character that started with a score of 10 in a stat to have an 18 in it by 20th level. I'm just looking for a way to use those unneeded points for something else. Do you think the ability to get a feat should cost 2 points of the ability boost? Would a choice between 4 stat boosts vs 2 stat boosts + 1 skill be a harder choice?


Samurai wrote:
I don't really know why they decided to give 4 boosts every 5 levels.

Generally speaking most classes have one 'main' stat that they use to power their class, but also have a couple of secondary stats that are worth investing in.

Having 4 boosts lets you cover your basics and have enough left over to put points in something you want to upgrade rather than something you need to upgrade.

4 boosts lets me keep my Barbarian's strength and con relevant, hit my dex threshold and still have points left over to boost initiative or throw some points in Cha so my intimidate rolls don't feel like trash.

3 would be acceptable for that character, probably, but it'd feel real bad on, say, my Gish wizard who needs Strength and Int but also wants a good Dex score and doesn't want to necessarily tank their Initiative either. Leaving them with only two boosts would feel really bad.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

5e ability boosts give +2 to one ability score, and 5e feats give +1 to an ability score and a special power. The special powers gained from feats in 5e are also quite strong, so in that way I'd equate them to Pathfinder's class feats.

I suggest letting characters give up two ability boost for a class feat, or one ability boost for an ancestry, general, or skill feat instead.

The additional problem is that, as mentioned by WatersLethe, Str, Int and Cha are dumpable stats for any class that doesn't depend on them. Any pure caster can get away with 10 or even 8 strength. Int is only useful if you're an Int caster or a skill-focused build, since it doesn't govern how many skills you get to increase, only how many skills you get initially. Cha is fairly pointless for anyone who isn't a Cha caster, since skill proficiency matters more than ability mods and you can become very good at social skills by just putting skill increases and feats in them.

So in order to avoid min-maxing and stat-dumping, you'd also have to make those three stats do more for characters who traditionally don't need them. For example, using Cha for will saves against mind control, while saving Wis for perception and will saves against illusions. I'm not sure how to make Str useful for anyone unlikely to be in melee, or int for anyone who just don't want to start with extra skills. If anyone has suggestions that would be welcome.

Sovereign Court

If your stat increases after creation, you still pick the new things you would gain from it. You get +1 language and +1 Trained Skill for boosting your Int at any level, not just 1st level.

The choice to either get an ancestry or general feat for 1 boost or a class feat for 2 boosts is a good idea, I'll have to think about that more.


Samurai wrote:

If your stat increases after creation, you still pick the new things you would gain from it. You get +1 language and +1 Trained Skill for boosting your Int at any level, not just 1st level.

The choice to either get an ancestry or general feat for 1 boost or a class feat for 2 boosts is a good idea, I'll have to think about that more.

That does seem like a real choice. But i would rather just increase the amount of feats that players get, something like 2-3 general feats and 4 class feats instead of tying to boosts. But that's just me.


Samurai wrote:

If your stat increases after creation, you still pick the new things you would gain from it. You get +1 language and +1 Trained Skill for boosting your Int at any level, not just 1st level.

Are you sure?

Sovereign Court

K1 wrote:
Samurai wrote:

If your stat increases after creation, you still pick the new things you would gain from it. You get +1 language and +1 Trained Skill for boosting your Int at any level, not just 1st level.

Are you sure?

Yes. It is stated on page 31:

pg 31 wrote:
If an Ability Boost increases your character's Constitution modifier, recalculate their maximum hit points using the new modifier (typically by adding 1 hit point per level). If an ability boost increases you character's Intelligence modifier, they become trained in an additional skill and language.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If you think players should get more feats why not just give them more feats? Feats are primarily about granting additional versatility and do not impact the core math of the game whereas ability boosts have a significant impact on the core math. What are you trying to accomplish here?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If you want this swap to have similar consequences to the D&D 5e version, at a minimum you would want to do the following:

1) The feat you gain must be an ancestry or general feat (as you already get plenty of class feats).

2) You give up two of your four ability boosts.

3) Neither of the remaining two ability boosts can be applied to your key ability score.

Sovereign Court

David knott 242 wrote:

If you want this swap to have similar consequences to the D&D 5e version, at a minimum you would want to do the following:

1) The feat you gain must be an ancestry or general feat (as you already get plenty of class feats).

2) You give up two of your four ability boosts.

3) Neither of the remaining two ability boosts can be applied to your key ability score.

Thanks for your thoughts.

1) I had originally limited it to just Ancestry and General, but then I thought about the need to give up so many class feats due to multiclassing. You might lose 6 to 8 of your class feats to the multiclass feats. When I suggested that for your first multiclass you could use General feats or Class feats to buy Multiclass feats, people didn't like that and said it was too much of a boost in power, so now you can only buy your first Multiclass Dedication as a General Feat and must use your class feats to buy more multiclass feats. If I take away the ability to buy Class feats by trading for Boosts, what do you think of then allowing characters to buy their first Multiclass as General or Class feats? That was my first choice anyway...

2) If I do the "Your first Multiclass can be General feats idea" thought above, I would change the Ancestry and General feats to being worth 2 Boosts.

3) Why have that restriction? That is not a requirement in 5E. I think the diminishing returns after 18 is already disincentive enough. As it says on pg 20, you can only use 1 Boost at a time on any Ability score, so it will take 10 levels to actually increase your stat bonus by +1.


The thing about 5e is that there's a cap on ability scores. By choosing to invest in a feat you're either delaying the point in which you reach that cap or you've already hit that cap and are choosing not to invest in secondary stats.

In PF2 by contrast it's a soft cap, you can keep investing all game long and if you still get half your ability boosts... and I disagree that halving your bonus value at 18 is really a disincentive. I think that's only particularly the case if you're worried about your campaign not reaching the next tier, otherwise main stat boosts are too significant to ignore.

Ultimately I think the very reason you suggest this change highlights the problem: Four boosts is more than most characters require. Like you said yourself, they're 'unneeded boosts'.

They exist to enable weird builds that are extremely MAD or allow players to prop up stats that they otherwise wouldn't invest in because it only provides a tertiary benefit.

Effectively, this sort of change provides an incentive against playing weird, messy characters or against investing in tertiary stats to enable alternate options and an incentive in favor of playing straight fighters and straight wizards (etc.) who only really care about their primary stat and then maybe boosting their saves and initiative a bit.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So my suspicion is that granting 4 boosts instead of 1 or 2 is mostly in place to keep the math relatively tight. My assumption is that the developers basically assume most players will be investing in their primary plus at least Constitution and Wisdom with many also investing in Dexterity to keep defenses from going pear shaped at high levels like they do in other editions. You can opt not to and make tertiary investments in Charisma or Intelligence, but for the most part the more math critical Ability Scores will generally be chosen.

Sovereign Court

Ok, I've made some new changes and updated the number to version 1.2. In this version, your first Multiclass (both Dedication and further feats in that multiclass) can be bought with either General feats or Class feats. If you take a second Multiclass, it can only be bought using Class feats (except the Multitalented feat can get you the Dedication).

Because I made the above change, Whenever you get 4 Ability Boosts, you can trade 2 of them for 1 feat. It must be either an Ancestry feat or a General Feat.

Finally, I was surprised to learn that Monks had no way to get Legendary in Unarmed Combat and Simple Weapons. Several of their class abilities mention bonuses at Legendary, but I didn't see a way to get it, so I added it to the 19th level "Perfected Form" If I just missed where they get it, let me know please!.

Samurai's PF2 changes version 1.2

Sovereign Court

Campbell wrote:
So my suspicion is that granting 4 boosts instead of 1 or 2 is mostly in place to keep the math relatively tight. My assumption is that the developers basically assume most players will be investing in their primary plus at least Constitution and Wisdom with many also investing in Dexterity to keep defenses from going pear shaped at high levels like they do in other editions. You can opt not to and make tertiary investments in Charisma or Intelligence, but for the most part the more math critical Ability Scores will generally be chosen.

That's one of the better explanations I've seen for it. Makes sense to me.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Samurai wrote:
3) Why have that restriction? That is not a requirement in 5E. I think the diminishing returns after 18 is already disincentive enough. As it says on pg 20, you can only use 1 Boost at a time on any Ability score, so it will take 10 levels to actually increase your stat bonus by +1.

In D&D 5E, your default option is either +2 to a single ability score of +1 to each of two ability scores, with a cap of 20. Taking a feat completely eliminates that option unless you select a feat that grants +1 to a specific ability score.

An exact conversion of this to PF2 would be to have the feat completely replace the four ability boosts received at 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th level, but that seems a little harsh -- but there still needs to be a meaningful cost to it, as each ability boost after the first one is worth less to most players than the previous one would be. That is why I suggested that you should not be allowed to increase your key ability score at any level where you take the feat option.

The criticism I was actually expecting on this one was that it might be too easy to build a character who is not dependent on keeping his key ability score high, but I haven't really had the chance to think through those implications.

Sovereign Court

David knott 242 wrote:
Samurai wrote:
3) Why have that restriction? That is not a requirement in 5E. I think the diminishing returns after 18 is already disincentive enough. As it says on pg 20, you can only use 1 Boost at a time on any Ability score, so it will take 10 levels to actually increase your stat bonus by +1.

In D&D 5E, your default option is either +2 to a single ability score of +1 to each of two ability scores, with a cap of 20. Taking a feat completely eliminates that option unless you select a feat that grants +1 to a specific ability score.

An exact conversion of this to PF2 would be to have the feat completely replace the four ability boosts received at 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th level, but that seems a little harsh -- but there still needs to be a meaningful cost to it, as each ability boost after the first one is worth less to most players than the previous one would be. That is why I suggested that you should not be allowed to increase your key ability score at any level where you take the feat option.

The criticism I was actually expecting on this one was that it might be too easy to build a character who is not dependent on keeping his key ability score high, but I haven't really had the chance to think through those implications.

What if I stated that the Maximum ability score for a player is 20? That means they could get only 2 Boosts past 18 in their primary stat and then they would have to chose other stats to raise or take a Feat. That seems fair to me. Magic could still raise it further but that is the limit of Human and Demi-human capability naturally


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Samurai wrote:

Ok, I've made some new changes and updated the number to version 1.2. In this version, your first Multiclass (both Dedication and further feats in that multiclass) can be bought with either General feats or Class feats. If you take a second Multiclass, it can only be bought using Class feats (except the Multitalented feat can get you the Dedication).

Because I made the above change, Whenever you get 4 Ability Boosts, you can trade 2 of them for 1 feat. It must be either an Ancestry feat or a General Feat.

Finally, I was surprised to learn that Monks had no way to get Legendary in Unarmed Combat and Simple Weapons. Several of their class abilities mention bonuses at Legendary, but I didn't see a way to get it, so I added it to the 19th level "Perfected Form" If I just missed where they get it, let me know please!.

Samurai's PF2 changes version 1.2

Monks don't get Legendary in their attacks only in defense. The references to legendary are future-proofing. (Ie if they add an option to trade your defense proficiency gains for offensive, or something.) You see the same future proofing on other classes too.

Sovereign Court

NielsenE wrote:
Samurai wrote:

Ok, I've made some new changes and updated the number to version 1.2. In this version, your first Multiclass (both Dedication and further feats in that multiclass) can be bought with either General feats or Class feats. If you take a second Multiclass, it can only be bought using Class feats (except the Multitalented feat can get you the Dedication).

Because I made the above change, Whenever you get 4 Ability Boosts, you can trade 2 of them for 1 feat. It must be either an Ancestry feat or a General Feat.

Finally, I was surprised to learn that Monks had no way to get Legendary in Unarmed Combat and Simple Weapons. Several of their class abilities mention bonuses at Legendary, but I didn't see a way to get it, so I added it to the 19th level "Perfected Form" If I just missed where they get it, let me know please!.

Samurai's PF2 changes version 1.2

Monks don't get Legendary in their attacks only in defense. The references to legendary are future-proofing. (Ie if they add an option to trade your defense proficiency gains for offensive, or something.) You see the same future proofing on other classes too.

Well, for now, until such options are available, I added it to Perfected Form. If anyone should have Legendary Unarmed attacks it should be the Monk. Right now only the Fighter gets it. What other things are future-proofing things that don't exist yet?


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Barbarian has some that I remember.

No one currently gets both Legendary offense and defense, so its a little unbalancing to give it to monks.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The Wizard has the exact some wording on Weapon Specialization largely because it is the same wording everyone gets. Same for all the martial classes that get Greater Weapon Specialization.

I'm fairly certain they have no plans to give Wizards Legendary proficiency in Weapons.

Sovereign Court

Campbell wrote:

The Wizard has the exact some wording on Weapon Specialization largely because it is the same wording everyone gets. Same for all the martial classes that get Greater Weapon Specialization.

I'm fairly certain they have no plans to give Wizards Legendary proficiency in Weapons.

They don't need it, weapons are not the Wizard's area of expertise. Unarmed combat is the focus of Monks. Since they don't get and don't need a bunch of weapon and armor training, I think I'll let them get Legendary in both the armor and attacks they can use. Though I could say that the Graceful Legend ability at 17th allows you a choice: You either get Legendary in Unarmored Defense or Unarmed attacks. Whichever you choose, the rest of the ability stays the same. That way no class would get both Legendary attacks and defense. Would that be better?

Edit: I went ahead and changed it. Now Graceful Legend gives you a choice of either Unarmored Defense or Unarmed Attacks to boost to Legendary. The rest of the ability is unchanged.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Legendary in weapons is a nontrivial damage boost. Do you really think monks need the bump? I'm not convinced they do.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

i feel like you shouldn't be able to trade away excess ability scores, you have extra so you can play as round of a character as you want, you don't need to dump a stat anymore because eventually you just have excess stats.

being able to trade that away for mechanical benefit seems to go counter to the entire reason you have that extra ability boost.

I would agree, that if your players are feeling short on feats, just give them an extra feat at those levels with no cost in ability boosts.

Sovereign Court

Squiggit wrote:
Legendary in weapons is a nontrivial damage boost. Do you really think monks need the bump? I'm not convinced they do.

Well, I now made it a choice. They can either get Legendary Unarmored defense OR Unarmed attacks. They have to pick whether to focus on offense or defense. The other one remains at Master

Sovereign Court

Bandw2 wrote:

i feel like you shouldn't be able to trade away excess ability scores, you have extra so you can play as round of a character as you want, you don't need to dump a stat anymore because eventually you just have excess stats.

being able to trade that away for mechanical benefit seems to go counter to the entire reason you have that extra ability boost.

I would agree, that if your players are feeling short on feats, just give them an extra feat at those levels with no cost in ability boosts.

Since I now added a cap on natural ability scores at 20, they can't just keep raising their main stat forever. They'll have to choose to raise some other stats, or take a feat. I have given out some free Feats too, where I thought they would help, but I prefer giving players choices. There are a lot of Ancestry feats that used to be included for free in 1e, and I miss the chance to have more full-featured ancestries/races.


Okay looked over all the changes you made... Well... It's not at all my cup of tea. You are just buffing all classes wily nilly IMO... And most of them got no reason for it. I hope you enjoy those changes at your tables, but i would never play with those.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Samurai wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

i feel like you shouldn't be able to trade away excess ability scores, you have extra so you can play as round of a character as you want, you don't need to dump a stat anymore because eventually you just have excess stats.

being able to trade that away for mechanical benefit seems to go counter to the entire reason you have that extra ability boost.

I would agree, that if your players are feeling short on feats, just give them an extra feat at those levels with no cost in ability boosts.

Since I now added a cap on natural ability scores at 20, they can't just keep raising their main stat forever. They'll have to choose to raise some other stats, or take a feat. I have given out some free Feats too, where I thought they would help, but I prefer giving players choices. There are a lot of Ancestry feats that used to be included for free in 1e, and I miss the chance to have more full-featured ancestries/races.

i don't feel all choices are worth having, especially a choice between a filled out character and mechanical benefit. having a fighter with extra charisma just isn't something that can compete with another feat, and so you've changed something meant to remove the dumping of previous editions and turned it into something that can be vultured for resources.

and i don't think a hard of 20 will change anything unless you're going to lvl20.


Samurai wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

i feel like you shouldn't be able to trade away excess ability scores, you have extra so you can play as round of a character as you want, you don't need to dump a stat anymore because eventually you just have excess stats.

being able to trade that away for mechanical benefit seems to go counter to the entire reason you have that extra ability boost.

I would agree, that if your players are feeling short on feats, just give them an extra feat at those levels with no cost in ability boosts.

Since I now added a cap on natural ability scores at 20, they can't just keep raising their main stat forever. They'll have to choose to raise some other stats, or take a feat. I have given out some free Feats too, where I thought they would help, but I prefer giving players choices. There are a lot of Ancestry feats that used to be included for free in 1e, and I miss the chance to have more full-featured ancestries/races.

Is it really necessary?

A character is going to hit 20 in his main stat by lvl 10.
He wants to pursue his str modifier?
He will be 22 by lvl 20.

How long will it last?
The last encounter?
Or the campaign will end before he hit the required level?

Sovereign Court

K1 wrote:
Samurai wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

i feel like you shouldn't be able to trade away excess ability scores, you have extra so you can play as round of a character as you want, you don't need to dump a stat anymore because eventually you just have excess stats.

being able to trade that away for mechanical benefit seems to go counter to the entire reason you have that extra ability boost.

I would agree, that if your players are feeling short on feats, just give them an extra feat at those levels with no cost in ability boosts.

Since I now added a cap on natural ability scores at 20, they can't just keep raising their main stat forever. They'll have to choose to raise some other stats, or take a feat. I have given out some free Feats too, where I thought they would help, but I prefer giving players choices. There are a lot of Ancestry feats that used to be included for free in 1e, and I miss the chance to have more full-featured ancestries/races.

Is it really necessary?

A character is going to hit 20 in his main stat by lvl 10.
He wants to pursue his str modifier?
He will be 22 by lvl 20.

How long will it last?
The last encounter?
Or the campaign will end before he hit the required level?

All of that is true, but having a cap encourages them to boost other stats too, or trade for a feat. I think it also might help to discourage the drive to get an 18 in your key stat at level 1. If you know a 20 is your max, then maybe you feel more free to leave it at a 16 at level 1 and boost it to 18 at level 5.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / What do you think of the option to trade an Ability boost for a feat? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Homebrew and House Rules