5E Feats, don't fail me now! - feat design in 5e - Page 3
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  1. #21
    Another point: the separation does not prevent the character you want to build.

    If the DM runs a combat heavy game and suggests no backgrounds: tack on a background anyway to develop your character.

    If the DM runs a roleplay heavy game and focuses must on skills and traits and never resorts to combat: the min-maxer can add on combat feats to his/her heart's content without overbalancing the game at the table.

    You could even create one character with both sides, and play in multiple games depending on the group - and it will be an effective character no matter the playstyle!

    I would consider that a huge boon.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    @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.
    Actually siloing hurts more than no siloing. Under siloing if I have this concept that revolves about exploration and social interactions and I'm forced to take Combat abilites I don't care about at all, I'll be unhappy, just because my character cannot shine at the times I'm more interested in because I'm forced to take combat stuff in order "not to suck" at a moment I really don't care about (and I shouldn't be forced to, feats are extras not math fixes). Of course not all my characters focus on a single pillar all the time, they eventually take feats focussing on more than one thing, but that gets decided organically as my character grows, not every time the game says "you must upgrade your combat prowess now!" or "you must get some exploration stuf at this point and only this point".

    Actually the only people who would be happy with siloing are people who care about balance all the time or who happen to be involved on an arms at race to overdo each other. (for them it is a good thing, it isn't nice to be a scrub on a party full of munchkins). However it isn't the case for all people.

    The best way to handle this I guess would be with a module. Not all groups are made equal and not all players care about the same things.

  3. #23
    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'd agree, but I'd also hope the rules emphasize that by picking individual feats you're creating your own specialty which you should be able to name and justify the choices for. It's kind of a nit-picky distinction, but it does force you to think about the story for your character.

    Also, the more I think about what I wrote above, the more I'm unsure of it. So I hope no one thinks I'm being combative.

    Perhaps instead of combat feats and non-combat feats that help you avoid fights, non-combat feats just mean they are good for not-combatting if you don't want to focus your character that way?
    In the case of the snake oil saleman example for instance, perhaps instead of sweet talking the cultist into abjuring his god, his feat has to do with him sniveling in the corner and whimpering so that he's neglected when attempts to avoid it fails. Or something else perhaps a little less cowardly. (just spitballing here).
    Last edited by bogmad; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 05:44 AM. Reason: don't want to insult anyone's hypothetical character

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    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.
    I definitely see what you're saying here: why limit it when each of the three pillars are ripe for ideas and can contribute to each other? Feats are a cool design mechanic, why restrict it to combat?

    I think ease of use is not to be underestimated. Saying "create a character without background or traits is much easier than "don't choose non-combat related feats."

    I'm also thinking having an option for each pillar built into the character sheet can only improve the game.

    Since 3.0 I hated having to choose between Skill Mastery and Spell Focus. I wanted an awesome Knowledge check, but also be effective in combat. I don't think it's a bad thing to be able to do both. I don't mind choosing between Spell Focus and Metamagic: they're combat choices. I also don't mind needing to choose the skill I put ranks in. But they should develop simultaneously.

  5. #25
    As always, KM and KL make good arguments. Let me respond in a roundabout way.

    The absolute worst class ability in 3e, IMO, is Tracking. Why? Because it takes a straightforward and very common use of the skill system and makes it something class-specific. My elven wizard grew up in these forests and is following a band of orcs? Too bad, should have taken a level of ranger.

    Most non-combat aspects of d&d are fairly free form. That's WHY, as KM points out, a fighter with the right background or a sorcerer with good Cha can contribute to social encounters: because the social encounter rules boil down to a few skills and ability checks. But if there was a Master Negotiator specialty that gave you advantage on all social checks and let you use them against enemies in combat... Uh oh, either a bard with that specialty can win most encounters without unsheathing a blade or else the raw skills have to be Nerfed so that the specialty is worthwhile.

    In other words, if you can choose what pillar to spend your feats on, the feats must be mediocre, or else anyone who invested in the "wrong" pillar feels screwed. Not just because their teammates outshine them, but because monsters and traps and dungeons and social encounters must be designed around some target level of proficiency in each pillar.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobTheNob View Post
    Ditto. I want 5e to bring D&D back from the "combat is the dominant pillar" point it got to. Saying feats are combat specifics just goes in the wrong direction for me.
    I totally agree on wanting D&D taking a step back from being a miniature combat boardgame.

    But I have to say (even tho I like the 3ed approach to feats), that if feats were all combat-based, then I can easily opt not to use feats at all, and voil my campaign is immediately a little less combat-centric.

    If feats are all-purpose, then in order to have a Druid with Herbalism or a Wizard with a Familiar, I have to take the whole feats/specialties package into the game, or alternatively I have to go through the list of feats and pick which ones are in (it might be easier to just say "only non-combat feats" if these are enough).

    The flip of the coin of course is that if there are both combat and non-combat feats, you can then leave it up to each player which pillar to focus more, so I think eventually the designers will go this route (as we have in fact seen so far).

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    1. Feats are combat-oriented.
    Not sure I agree with this one. While I see your point, I'm used to feats being one of the few ways outside your race and class that you can really customize your character. Backgrounds could fulfill that function, but as of right now, they seem a bit... lean in that regard. I don't think 3 skills and a minor roleplaying feature are quite enough, but thats a problem I have with backgrounds, not feats/specialties.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    2. Feats fit into a specialty.
    I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I like how specialties give people a simpler option for making characters, but on the other hand, they seem to take away much of the purpose that feats were created for - to provide more options and customizability for characters in a game that is otherwise severely lacking in it.

    Before 3e, you picked your race, picked/rolled your ability scores, picked your class and... that was about it. There were optional weapon and non-weapon proficiencies, casters could pick spells, and rogues could assign points to their theiving skills, but that was it. That was literally all there was to your character. 3e came around and gave us a robust skill system and feats, and it really opened up alot of possibilities. It wasn't perfect, but I don't want to see that level of choice go away.

    Having all feats be part of a pre-made package just diminishes the number of options I have for customizing my character. It just rubs me the wrong way, though I understand why they did it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    3. Feats are not class-specific.
    I agree, for the most part. I too dislike things like feats that give more channel divinities or other such things. That said, I'd like for there to be things like metamagic feats, which obviously would be useless to non-spellcasters.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    4. Any feat that affects HP or money should scale with level.
    I agree with what you're saying here, but I have an even simpler solution. There shouldn't be feats that add to HP or that save you money. It's boring and uninspiring, IMO. As for herbalist, I keep asking myself, why isn't this one of the options for the artisan background? I don't think it should be a feat at all. I'd much prefer for crafting to be left out of feats entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    5. It should take a dedicated action to gain advantage on an attack roll.
    I have no objection here, though I wouldn't be against the occasional exception to this rule, as long as it is carefully balanced.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    6. New powers must be useful options for the appropriate build.
    7. Passive bonuses must be interesting and character-altering.
    8. Feats that improve existing powers need to be carefully examined across all applicable classes.
    I agree with those.

  8. #28
    I certainly don't want to *have to* gain some new combat ability at fixed levels, it's nice to develop a character in other directions, but I understand the desire to avoid trap choices. Allowing any character to specialise too heavily in one area is usually bad for the game and the DM's sanity.

    Perhaps some of the feats we've seen so far could include a non-combat usage. Or even the whole speciality. For instance, the Archer might be able to fashion arrows as a Fletcher and craft a bow given time and access to materials. They might also gain a bonus to disable traps that fire arrows or darts. The Acolyte should maybe be trained in Religion? Perhaps they can also perform basic clerical services (a formal blessing from the right god would be useful for a bargain). Perhaps they can also sanctify holy water as well as a weapon, provided they have powdered silver.

    The trouble I'm seeing at the moment is that backgrounds don't give you all that much access to interesting skills or abilities for use in non-combat pillars. Some classes do, some don't. Feats definitely don't. So how else are you supposed to get them?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
    Already Nr. 1 breaks it for me. I want a RPG, not a dungeon crawler.

    I think the OP is right...and so are you.

    Feats SHOULD be combat only...what we need is a new term for non-combat "feats"...lets call them talents.

    If you got both Talents and Feats, you could build a decent combat character as well as have decent non-combat features. The problems usually arise when you have to choose between RP-oriented feats and combat-oriented feat. You always feel the 'other' pillar is short-changed.

    So I say, Bring on the Talents!

  10. #30
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    @jrowland - I completely agree. I think we're running into a semantics problem here. The claim has been made that feats should be combat-oriented. The reply: "But wait! What if I want non-combat feats?" (Jack-of-All-Trades aside; see question below.) That's a valid concern, but it's skirting around the issue. The issue at hand is that we're going to define some new terms before moving on. Let's take this concept of "feats" and apply them only to combat. There, done, we now have a dedicated design space for combat abilities. What we can then do is take a look at non-combat abilities and dedicate a design space for them as well. Saying that Backgrounds are not sufficient to handle non-combat abilities does not logically lead to the conclusion that non-combat abilities should instead be covered by feats. It's one conclusion, but I think the more elegant solution is to develop Backgrounds. Let's leave feats as the combat design space. I think it's a good thing that it has been siloed. What we're left with is the question of what to do with the remaining pillars of social interaction and exploration. Can Backgrounds and Skills handle both of these? Or can we come up with a different solution that tackles each of those pillars separately as well as Specialties/Feats tackle combat abilities? One thing I mentioned in my last survey was that I think Backgrounds should continue to give you benefits as you level up. I'm a thief; why can't I keep becoming a better thief as time goes by? Likewise for knights, bounty hunters, sages, book binders, whatever. If so, perhaps "Background" could become "Occupation," I don't know. Whatever the case, the fact that Specialties/Feats only deals with combat is a good thing. If the current system for handling social/exploration skills is not robust enough, then let's ask WotC to make that system more robust rather than ask them to intrude on an existing design space that already does a good job at what it intends to do.

    On another note, I have a very legitimate and sincere question. For all those folks who want to get non-combat prowess with their feats, I'll assume that Jack-of-All-Trades is not sufficient, or this would be a non-issue. Why is it not sufficient?

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