OneDnD Feat Chains are Incompatible with Easy CharGen + 1st Lev Feats

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
The new UA playtesting the upcoming D&D revisions for 2024 introduce 1st level feats, which are intended per the designers to:

1) Make it easy on beginners to pick a feat without being overwhelmed by the number of choices.

As stated by Crawford, “Feat selection should not be overwhelming, and one way to do that is to break feats up into smaller groups, like with levels. If something tells you to go pick a first level feat, then that tells you right away I can ignore all the feats on this book that are 4th level, or 20th level, or any other level of feats. Instead you can focus on just the 1st level feats.”

However,

2) Feat Chains increase the incentive to be overwhelmed by the number of choices. Where one more powerful feat requires that you already have a prior lesser fear, you will have an incentive to know all the higher level feat prerequisite lower level feats out of fear you will lock out options you might way at higher levels with your choice. You essentially need to plan out much of your adventuring career from character creation if higher level feats have prerequisites impacted by your 1st level feat.

Finally,

3) A solution to this dilemma of allowing you to swap out your 1st level feat at higher levels is incompatible with the notion that your 1st level feat is part of your culture, which is represented by your background. Here Crawford emphasizes repeatedly that the 1st level feat choice is something you've been doing for years, and is tied to who you were before you took up adventuring. This feat, more than any other feat in your adventuring career, is tied closely to your culture. It would make no sense that you suddenly "forgot" your culture at a higher level so you could pick up a new ability which is literally something you just learned. Nor would you want to create a mechanics incentive to ignore your culture.

I'm therefore concluding from this that feat chains won't work, or won't work well, with the policy incentives of character generation being easy and not overwhelming for beginners and 1st level feats being part of your culture.

The best solution I can think of is to eliminate feat chains. Let the only prerequisite be level.

What do you think about these concepts? Do you think feat chains can work well with the goals of non-overwhelming character generation for beginners and 1st level feats being part of your characters culture?
 

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Horwath

Hero
1) Make it easy on beginners to pick a feat without being overwhelmed by the number of choices.

As stated by Crawford, “Feat selection should not be overwhelming, and one way to do that is to break feats up into smaller groups, like with levels. If something tells you to go pick a first level feat, then that tells you right away I can ignore all the feats on this book that are 4th level, or 20th level, or any other level of feats. Instead you can focus on just the 1st level feats.”
Crawford could get off his high horse and stop underestimating intelligence of new players.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Intelligence isn't the same thing as being overwhelmed by number of choices when you're first introduced to something. I don't even think they're related.
Some people you can take to a restaurant with a huge menu, or lots of combinations like a meat and three, and they'll hone right in on what they want and order. And others... well, the rest of the table gets to put the free drink refills to the test. Has never seemed related to intelligence to me.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
2) Feat Chains increase the incentive to be overwhelmed by the number of choices. Where one more powerful feat requires that you already have a prior lesser fear, you will have an incentive to know all the higher level feat prerequisite lower level feats out of fear you will lock out options you might way at higher levels with your choice. You essentially need to plan out much of your adventuring career from character creation if higher level feats have prerequisites impacted by your 1st level feat.
Could they fix it somewhat if the first level feats had a box below summarizing what was down the chain if you picked that one? And also by making sure none of the chains had too many entries on them? (Shoot, missed that because of my 1st level choice, but got the pre-req at 3rd....).
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Do we know yet whether the 1st level Background feats are going to be the base of feat chains though?

It might be that it's just some of the 4th level ones have 8th level secondary feats... at which point the game and the designers are assuming players have learned the game enough that it isn't overwhelming to read them both and make a decision.

Some of the Dragonlance ones were 1st level, right? Don't remember. But maybe the 2024 PHB won't be following in those footsteps?
 
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One way feat chains and first level feats could work would be the situation where feat chains always exclude 1st level feats. If chains start latter, you don't have to consider the latter options - at first level. 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♂️

A second way (that is very very hard to pull off in a growing non-digital-only format) is to have the chain entirely spelled out on each feat. Think how it works in [7 Wonders]* : when you get a card that also functions as the cost for a future card, you have that information on the card.
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This does mean that chains can't be 'added to/modified' latter without serious hassle...
This is similar to how 13th Age lists the feat chain associated with a power right there with the power.
 

JThursby

Adventurer
Do you think feat chains can work well with the goals of non-overwhelming character generation for beginners and 1st level feats being part of your characters culture?
I would be extremely surprised if the number of options presented will be actually overwhelming. When there are games like 3.5, PF1e, and PF2e that were all big successes with their large amount of feats, it beggars belief that the new D&D edition would deliberately exceed that amount of choice in their feat selection.
Crawford could get off his high horse and stop underestimating intelligence of new players.
Crawford is a master of phrasing simple concepts in a way that sounds condescending and corporate. I don't disagree with what he said in principle, but thinking the audience he's talking to needs hand holding to understand the concept of level prerequisites is insulting.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Could they fix it somewhat if the first level feats had a box below summarizing what was down the chain if you picked that one? And also by making sure none of the chains had too many entries on them? (Shoot, missed that because of my 1st level choice, but got the pre-req at 3rd....).
I guess it would help if you told people what was coming down the line, but then choosing one of those down the line means you lose the option to choose something else at that level. Which you'd want to know about before you expend that limited resource of your first level feat.

As for the second option of making sure chains don't have too many entries on them, that could work but it also kinda defeats some of the purpose of a feat chain to begin with?
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Do we know yet whether the 1st level Background feats are going to the the base of feat chains though?

It might be that it's just some of the 4th level ones have 8th level secondary feats... at which point the game and the designers are assuming players have learned the game enough that it isn't overwhelming to read them both and make a decision.

Some of the Dragonlance ones were 1st level, right? Don't remember. But maybe the 2024 PHB won't be following in those footsteps?
One way feat chains and first level feats could work would be the situation where feat chains always exclude 1st level feats. If chains start latter, you don't have to consider the latter options - at first level.
We don't know for sure that the 1st level feats are part of feat chains. If they're not, that goes a long way to addressing this issue, maybe entirely solving it.
 

The new UA playtesting the upcoming D&D revisions for 2024 introduce 1st level feats, which are intended per the designers to:

1) Make it easy on beginners to pick a feat without being overwhelmed by the number of choices.

As stated by Crawford, “Feat selection should not be overwhelming, and one way to do that is to break feats up into smaller groups, like with levels. If something tells you to go pick a first level feat, then that tells you right away I can ignore all the feats on this book that are 4th level, or 20th level, or any other level of feats. Instead you can focus on just the 1st level feats.”

However,

2) Feat Chains increase the incentive to be overwhelmed by the number of choices. Where one more powerful feat requires that you already have a prior lesser fear, you will have an incentive to know all the higher level feat prerequisite lower level feats out of fear you will lock out options you might way at higher levels with your choice. You essentially need to plan out much of your adventuring career from character creation if higher level feats have prerequisites impacted by your 1st level feat.

Finally,

3) A solution to this dilemma of allowing you to swap out your 1st level feat at higher levels is incompatible with the notion that your 1st level feat is part of your culture, which is represented by your background. Here Crawford emphasizes repeatedly that the 1st level feat choice is something you've been doing for years, and is tied to who you were before you took up adventuring. This feat, more than any other feat in your adventuring career, is tied closely to your culture. It would make no sense that you suddenly "forgot" your culture at a higher level so you could pick up a new ability which is literally something you just learned. Nor would you want to create a mechanics incentive to ignore your culture.

I'm therefore concluding from this that feat chains won't work, or won't work well, with the policy incentives of character generation being easy and not overwhelming for beginners and 1st level feats being part of your culture.

The best solution I can think of is to eliminate feat chains. Let the only prerequisite be level.

What do you think about these concepts? Do you think feat chains can work well with the goals of non-overwhelming character generation for beginners and 1st level feats being part of your characters culture?
I think this is a valid concern that will be borne out or not by the ultimate design of the Feats.

I do think it's kind of fine to have distinctive, identity-based Feat-chains from level 1 (as per the Solamnic Knight stuff), because they're more about who you want to be than the abilities you're getting and so on (one hopes).

But yes, if we saw lots of power-based Feat stuff chaining off L1 Feats that would definitely break what Crawford was saying.
 

MarkB

Legend
I think having anything more powerful chaining from the first level feats somewhat defeats their purpose, and is unlikely to be the case.

As for being aware of what to pick at higher levels, I think the feat names should be an indicator of the chaining. So, for instance, don't have Spearman chaining into Lancelord into Pikemaster - have Polearm Mastery I, Polearm Mastery II and Polearm Mastery III.

As an alternative to feat chains, maybe go with a similar method to some of the racial features that grow over levels, and have individual feats which unlock higher benefits as the character levels up.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I don't feat chains will be more than 2 steps.

The 3rd feat would be level 12 for most classes. 4th feat border their 4 and 5th is Tier 4.

Very few things scale from Tier 2 to Tier 3. I dont doubt Crawford, Perkins, and the rests ability but no game from my experience has done scaling feats/traits/quirks/etc from Heroic to Paragon or Paragon to Epic well outside of necessary number increases.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I would be extremely surprised if the number of options presented will be actually overwhelming. When there are games like 3.5, PF1e, and PF2e that were all big successes with their large amount of feats, it beggars belief that the new D&D edition would deliberately exceed that amount of choice in their feat selection.

A criticism of 3.5 and 4e, which was addressed in a variety of ways since then by WOTC, was that WOTC believes those games became unwieldy for new players. 5e has brought in exponential numbers of new players, and one primary means WOTC believes they have used to do that is to make sure potential new players are not overwhelmed.

To accomplish this, WOTC did all of the following (and probably a few other things):

1) Reduce number of books published per year to avoid wall of books.
2) Publish abbreviated rules sets like Basic and starter set rules.
3) Reduce Adventurers League sessions to 2 hours instead of 4 hour
4) Reduce the incentive for system mastery by trying to make it hard to make a "bad" character accidentally + eliminating things like feat chains.
5) Provide easy rules suggestions: pregen backgrounds, fixed equipment lists, ability score arrays, fixed monster damage, suggested feats, etc..
6) Show people how to play through a variety of actual play videos.

WOTC appear to be still focused on this philosophy and convinced that a major component of the popularity of 5e is that it does not overwhelm potential new players.

3.5, PF1e, and PF2e are all fine games. But they don't focus on this goal as much as 5e did, and they're often sold to "new" players as "advanced" RPGs with "more options to better customize" your character, with the target audience often being existing RPG players with experience playing RPGs. Not that a new player can't learn one of those system, but the marketing focus and fan pitch is often on existing RPG players switching systems.

Others might argue it's media like Critical Role and Stranger Things which is the overwhelming portion of the popularity of 5e and this concern for overwhelming potential new players is exaggerated. Still others would respond that the exponential growth of 5e began before either came out and so it must be this concept was important to the growth, and on and on debating that topic.

But the important part is it seems WOTC believes this is an important concept. The sales of all three of those systems are mere fractions of the 5e sales, which I suspect WOTC still believes is at least in meaningful part due to this concept of not overwhelming potential new players.

I can't speak to whether WOTC are correct in their belief that overwhelming new players is an important component in their additional sales of 5e. I just think they do still believe that.
 
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I've wanted feat trees ever since I played Diablo II.

View attachment 258701
Things like these are excellent and fun on, at least, two important conditions :
1 - the choices matter, but refer to the same general dimension of the game (the building has to be fun)
2 - there is a high probability of you being able to accomplish your plan (or a satisfying part of it)

(1) can be hard to achieve in traditional D&D-sphere as feats are used for combat, for more skills, for being good at cartography, etc. You can easily be torn between 'power' and 'story' - not fun...
(2) is near impossible unless you get a massive amount of feats quickly (possibly even faster than 3e-4e). 5e is not this kind of game.

I'm pretty confident this is not the direction 'One D&D' is going to end up in - you'll probably have to go with 3pp that create these systems to get it.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A criticism of 3.5 and 4e, which was addressed in a variety of ways since then by WOTC, was that WOTC believes those games became unwieldy for new players. 5e has brought in exponential numbers of new players, and one primary means WOTC believes they have used to do that is to make sure potential new players are not overwhelmed.
Sure, but there were well over a thousand feats in 3e. There's a lot of middle ground for many more feats than we have, and far less than 14 or 15 hundred of them. 5e has what, 80-100?
 


But the important part is it seems WOTC believes this is an important concept. The sales of all three of those systems are mere fractions of the 5e sales, which I suspect WOTC still believes is at least in meaningful part due to this concept of not overwhelming potential new players.

I can't speak to whether WOTC are correct in their belief that overwhelming new players is an important component in their additional sales of 5e. I just think they do still believe that.
What we* see of the influx and rise in popularity of D&D leans heavily in the direction of 'easy rules'**. Since the message WotC is sending out is : 'We like where we are and don't intend on rocking the boat'. It bears to reason that that is the direction they will adopt.

Personally, I agree with this approach. In the same way that it's probably best if your first board game is "Takenoko" over "Devine Imperium".

*By this I mean what's easy to see on streaming/video platforms, the kind of play they espouse, and the numbers they're getting.
**By 'easy' I mean that the basic resolution is simple and 'harder' rules (such as spells) can be referenced on a case-by-case basis when needed with minimal disruption.
 

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