D&D 5th Edition Feats, don't fail me now! - feat design in 5e - Page 2


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  1. #11
    @BobTheNob - I agree pretty completely with your last post, and I do hope they expand on the Traits used with backgrounds at higher level as one way of tying non-combat elements into character development. My intent was, as others have said, to keep combat feats from competing with non-combat feats, which only hurts role players (forcing them to give up combat prowess) and roll-players (forcing them to give up RP depth) alike.

 

  • #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Obryn View Post
    Would I be too much of a heretic if I said I'd prefer not to deal with feats except as part of themes/specialties/whatevertheywanttocallthem?

    Feat bloat is, IMO, one of the biggest issues with both 3e and 4e. It's one of the biggest drags on character creation and leveling.

    -O
    No, your not a heretic, I feel the same way.

    One day (when we were still playing 4e) I went into the site to search for feats and it came back with a list more than 3000 long...something went wrong there. Players just lost interest in looking them up just due to the ridiculous glut. They didnt WANT to spend hours on end tralling through books and online, they just wanted a character that did something effectively.

    My players (and I do stress, mine. Other groups might be composed of min-max'ers) just wanted characters to reflect intent without micro analyzing. The wizard wanted things to go boom, the ranger wanted enemies to say ouch. They loved the mechanics they were handed from class, but yawned when it came time to picking feats.

    Pre-composed feat packages (such as are being suggested for 5e) are perfect for them.

    But here is the proviso...its not perfect for everyone. This is definately one of those "optional" rules.

    Lets just pray that WOTC can design feats that are smart enough that players can achieve whatever they want with say final list of 200 or so feats which are all nicely organised into packages, cause if they dont draw a line in the sand, bloat and creep will destroy the specialization system.

  • #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    @BobTheNob - I agree pretty completely with your last post, and I do hope they expand on the Traits used with backgrounds at higher level as one way of tying non-combat elements into character development. My intent was, as others have said, to keep combat feats from competing with non-combat feats, which only hurts role players (forcing them to give up combat prowess) and roll-players (forcing them to give up RP depth) alike.
    On the flipside I don't like the siloing of combat and non-combat stuff, since it enforces a minimum combat competence, one that cannot be avoided without requiring DM-fiat, and this truly hurts plaers interested on interaction and exploration-related feats as me, the only way I could like the siloing is if it wasn't total and you could choose to pick non-combat stuff instead of combat feats. But once we are at it it doesn't makes sense to restrict one kind for no reason.

    Enforcing a siloing just takes away half of your choices for no other reason than protect you from yourself, and that sucks, everybody should be able to decide how much combat-non combat he/she wants to be. Also I loathe the general idea of "combat is special, everything is always about combat, all other things are unimportant enough they don't deserve being properly supported".

  • #14
    I think feats in general need only one design guideline:

    "Feats allow your character to do things that otherwise break the rules."
    "The Soul of D&D? It's rolling a natural 20 when you're down to 3 hit points and the cleric's on the floor and you're staring that sunnavabitch bugbear right in his bloodshot eye and holding the line just long enough to let the wizard unleash a fireball at the guards who are on their way, because they're all that stands between you, the Foozle and Glory." - WizarDru

  • #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja
    Feats are combat-oriented. Since feats are part of "specialties" which determine how you play your class, they're almost without exception applicable to combat situations.
    I'm going to tease this out a bit because I think it's key to how you avoid a D&D that is too narrowly focused on combat.

    Specialties are "how you play your class." If so, why do I need to play my class in a way that emphasizes combat? Shouldn't that be a dial I can turn?

    Now, don't get me wrong -- every character class should have some minimum competency to hit things. Combat is a pillar of D&D, and it's something that characters will be doing some of, and each character should be able to pull their own weight in a fight.

    But that doesn't mean that we need an entire subsystem of feats exclusive to combat and nothing else, and that doesn't mean that we can't make trade-offs between combat and the other pillars, emphasizing one or the other. No character should be able to easily "opt out" of combat, but also no character should be easily able to "opt out" or roleplaying or exploration, either. Every character needs to pull their own weight in all three areas.

    A specialty, then, can represent your focus in one area. After all, who are the designers to tell me that I cannot play my Rogue as first an explorer and second (only if she's got no options left!) as some sort of combat ninja?

    Perhaps you take Defender stuff. Perhaps I take something like a "Keen Aesthetic Sense" specialty that gives me a bonus to spot traps and hidden doors (a la a 1e elf!). Perhaps someone else takes the "Fancypants" specialty that lets them excel at courtly intrigue and to detect an insult from 30 words away...or whatever.

    The trick here is on the DM's side of the screen, actually.

    Because when the DM is designing adventures, they need to design for all three approaches. Got some cultists in the Caves of Chaos? Each of the three pillars needs to be key to resolving it. Got an orc hoarde at your gates? Same deal. Gonna go rescue a princess? Not gonna be able to do it just by hacking things to bits.

    So you're not exactly trading off the ability to use a shield for the ability to be a shopkeeper. You're actually trading off dealing with the cultists by hitting them in the face until they stop moving, and dealing with the cultists by convincing the leader that his faith in Chaos is a lie, and dealing with the cultists by murdering them in their sleep when no one is looking. Being a shopkeeper is a good background, but being a wheeling-dealing huckster whose never met a flim he couldn't flam or a snake he couldn't oil, and who goes into the Caves of Chaos for the business opportunities and the loyal, underpaid workforce there...well, THAT's a Specialty. That's something feats can support.

    And all three options need to be on the table, and, more than that I think, in some way necessary to achieve the goals the adventure lays out (or that you bring to it). You shouldn't be able to approach a normal D&D adventure as something you can roll attack rolls to complete.

    I mean, DMs are free to do whatever -- they can ban all Exploration and Social specialties, sure. Roll those "Feats" into pure abstract RP sessions with DM adjudication, fine. But D&D has never been all about attack rolls to me, and if I get another edition that pretends "Make Stuff Up" is some sort of astounding rules insight instead of kind of a cop-out, I'm gonna be a sad panda.
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  • #16
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    Well, I for one hope they eventually make it so that feats can be taken on an individual basis rather than only part of specialties. For all its problems, it's a layer of further character customization that I like, and I'd be sad to see it go.

    I'm fine with them keeping specialties for those who don't want to go to the extra effort to mechanically customize their character with feats. But for those who do, please let them. Just try to avoid creating hundreds and hundreds of feats this time. Apply the lessons you learned from 3.x and 4E so you can get them right with the first run, and you'll avoid having to print lots of "fix" feats.

    For example, one thing you could do is instead of printing toughness as it currently exists, make it into one feat that automatically scales with level (though you could diminish its initial effects). This could also make the Survivor specialty a little less boring by giving it more, more unique survivability feats, like a boost to saves or an ability to ignore some damage/conditions.

  • #17
    @Magil - I agree that specialties are and should be optional. The rule is for designing feats, not choosing them as a player. The goal is that every feat be designed to enhance a particular play style.

    @KM - I think that siloing actually helps the DM here. If a balanced game should include all 3 pillars, then each class should have powers that speak to all three. (I'll note that currently anyone who plays a fighter or sorcerer is already "opting out" of exploration or social mechanics.) It's much easier for a combat-focused DM to ban backgrounds than to cherry-pick the feats to see which count as combat feats.

    I do hate the idea of focusing in one pillar, though. What's the goal of that - the bard gets to shine for an hour of courtly intrigue while the fighter player takes a bathroom break? The wizard consoles himself when he runs out of spells by saying, "At least I looked cool teleporting us in here!" I like your original point better - each character should take part in all three pillars. And I that end, every character should have combat powers (feats) as well as social and exploration powers (skills and traits). I'm all for adding more of the latter to the game, but IMO refusing to silo powers just means different players are dissatisfied with their characters at different times.

  • #18
    The trick here is on the DM's side of the screen, actually.
    Because when the DM is designing adventures, they need to design for all three approaches.
    True, but how much of each approach should a DM use? That's flexible, and choosing different modules to use makes that easier to tweak. Saying the system should force DMs into more roleplaying than past editions have emphasized kind of runs smack into the "play the game you want" mandate. Yes, players should have a say in that, but arguably the biggest choice a D&D player has ever and will always make in what kind of game he wants to play is who is the dungeon master running it.


    So you're not exactly trading off the ability to use a shield for the ability to be a shopkeeper. You're actually trading off dealing with the cultists by hitting them in the face until they stop moving, and dealing with the cultists by convincing the leader that his faith in Chaos is a lie, and dealing with the cultists by murdering them in their sleep when no one is looking.
    But you are trading that ability if you're not playing a solo adventure and your fellow party members always tend to lash out and start a big tavern brawl. That ability to convince the cult leader his faith is a lie is usually not an option once the fighting starts. Yes, a very good DM can roleplay and mitigate that kind of development, but if another goal is to make DMing easier it shouldn't be required to have to train every DM extensively so that he can support every "pillar".

    Being a shopkeeper is a good background, but being a wheeling-dealing huckster whose never met a flim he couldn't flam or a snake he couldn't oil, and who goes into the Caves of Chaos for the business opportunities and the loyal, underpaid workforce there...well, THAT's a Specialty. That's something feats can support.
    To me that sounds like something better served by a better background than "shopkeeper," perhaps a self-made "snake oil salesman" created with rules and guidelines provided by the game. I'm not saying there shouldn't be "feat like" choices for role playing, but why do they have to butt heads with the combat feats?

    The flip side of course would be "how come my guy can't talk to anyone just because I learned how to smack that guy in the face real hard." Not that I think we'll ever see that argument made, partly because mechanics don't interact with role playing quite the way they do with combat. So why confuse the two?

  • #19
    A very succinct description of what should happen.

    Having a "minimum competency" in each pillar implies the siloing of the three pillars. If you lump combat, exploration, and social abilities in the same structure, as feats, then you end up with players focusing on different pillars and not having fun or much to do or ways to interact if an encounter is not tailored to them.

    By leaving feats as combat only, and backgrounds as exploration/social, then characters are guaranteed combat ability and guarantees roleplaying hooks.

    The dial the DM turns is: prepackaged specialties or choose your own feats - but either way it remains the combat pillar.

    The other dial for the DM is whether to have it or not. If you want a combat only game, then create characters wIthout backgrounds, and perhaps TWO "specialties," and nearly every encounter is a fight. Or the DM wants a roleplay intensive social game, and disallows feats but allows backgrounds.

    By siloing, you open up the possibility of deciding what' available on a per-encounter or per-session basis. "You are all attending the court ball - feats are hand off."

    I agree that to encourage "roleplay" that roleplay options should not compete or occupy the same design space. Specify feats as combat only and develop a separate pillar for the roleplay options.

  • #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja
    I think that siloing actually helps the DM here. If a balanced game should include all 3 pillars, then each class should have powers that speak to all three. (I'll note that currently anyone who plays a fighter or sorcerer is already "opting out" of exploration or social mechanics.) It's much easier for a combat-focused DM to ban backgrounds than to cherry-pick the feats to see which count as combat feats.
    He wouldn't have to cherry-pick feats, he could just say "Don't bother taking a Specialty that doesn't help you in combat." I'm into your idea that feats shouldn't exist if they're not in a Specialty.

    And I don't really think at anyone is opting out of exploration or social mechanics right now. Those mechanics are imbedded in the ability scores. A Fighter has a Charisma score like anyone else, and while they might not have a CHA as high as their STR or CON, they also might have a decent one that doesn't hurt them much. Sorcerers are already pretty good at social stuff, favoring CHA.

    They're not quite as robust as the combat mechanics now, but it's early in the playtest, and combat seems to be Step 1.

    I'm not yet persuaded that Specialties should be confined only to combat.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja
    I do hate the idea of focusing in one pillar, though. What's the goal of that - the bard gets to shine for an hour of courtly intrigue while the fighter player takes a bathroom break? The wizard consoles himself when he runs out of spells by saying, "At least I looked cool teleporting us in here!" I like your original point better - each character should take part in all three pillars. And I that end, every character should have combat powers (feats) as well as social and exploration powers (skills and traits). I'm all for adding more of the latter to the game, but IMO refusing to silo powers just means different players are dissatisfied with their characters at different times.
    As far as I can tell, that's kind of what ability scores are for right now. As long as the game assumes a certain ability score modifier spread (-1 to +4 or +5 currently), they can balance the DC's within that range (DC's 9-15 ~ 50% chance). And even the Fighter with 8 Charisma has some chance of talking the guard's ear off (though they should probably aim for the low end of those DC's) and even the bard with the 8 Strength can swing a dagger (but, again, they should probably aim for the squishy folks in the back ranks) and even the Cleric with 8 Dex can sneak into the castle (though it's probably best if they wait for the guards to fall asleep, and maybe take off that armor).

    Every character has this baseline capacity to contribute in each of the three pillars. They don't need much more than this.

    Feats, skills, and backgrounds are all meant to be modular. Thus, they are things you can add into the game to augment something. Skills, for instance, gives you a higher granularity on what, exactly, your character is trained in. A background gives you an origin story and some minor bennie. A feat helps define how you do what you do by modifying your options.

    None of those are necessarily limited to one pillar. You could have a skills system that gave you different ratings for weapon proficiencies (I'm +3 in Axes, but I'm not trained in swords!). You could have a background that helps you in combat ("As a weaponsmith, I have my own custom sword that gives me a +1 to attack rolls!"). You could have a feat that aided you in conversation with NPC's ("My Persuasive feat lets me gain advantage on Charisma checks when I'm making an offer to a friendly NPC!").

    Limiting them to one pillar seems kind of unnecessary to me. There's nothing about the design space of a feat that suggests that it must be for combat, or about the design space of a skill that suggests it must be for exploration or about the design space of a background that suggests it must be for interaction. It's not inherent in the mechanics of the thing. So I'm not sure what you gain by that limitation.

    You can still ban social stuff, be they feats, skills, or backgrounds, simply by choosing to ban social stuff. Advertise your game as a dungeon crawl and note that anyone who takes a background as a baker will summarily have that weak stuff completely ignored. You can also do the other way: say anyone who has a background that grants them a combat bonus isn't going to get to use that a whole lot in this game of royal intrigue.

    You don't need to ban an entire category of design just because you're opting not to emphasize one of the pillars.

    I also think it's key to note that having some minimum competency doesn't mean having equal competency. Bards should excel in interaction, regardless of if you're using feats or skills or backgrounds, and maybe they'll comparatively suck at fighting (again). Maybe your rogue that's a tremendous explorer doesn't talk that good to others. That should be OK. Flattened math helps that, since you can have a -1 in something and still contribute. Not everyone needs to have +2 in Everything. It's OK to have a character with +1 Combat, +3 Exploration, +2 Interaction. Or, in NEXT's case so far, -1 Combat, +4 Exploration, +2 Interaction.
    Last edited by Kamikaze Midget; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 04:48 AM.
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