Level Up (A5E) Synergy Builds Costs/Benefits

Pedantic

Adventurer
So I really like synergy feats. They provide a solid way to make a "prestige class" style mixed build character, allow you to feel like your character's career path is building toward something at lower more approachable levels, and allow for some fun customization within the class structure to make multiclassing rewarding and appealing.

What I don't love is that I feel like they exacerbate the already painful ASI/feat trade-off. Using the standard array or point buy, a character is essentially committing to a +3 in their primary accuracy stat until 16th level, and won't see 20 until 19th (barring magic items or strongholds which either break the cap or overwrite the whole progression anyway).

This leads me to two questions:

  1. Are synergy feats generally worth it?
  2. If I want to encourage feats, should I give out ASIs separately, and if so, when?
I'm afraid to say I think the answer to the first is no, because the benefits from most synergy feats don't actually help the accuracy issue. You're still risking a lot of spells not working and a lot of attacks missing, and generally wasted/ineffective actions in combat, which is likely to lead to a quietly worse table experience. I've never liked the tension in 5e between "get cool abilities" and "be effective" that ASIs present, and synergy feats make it notably worse by offering even cooler abilities that are more painful to give up. Fundamentally "miss more" isn't a fun or interesting balance point against the abilities feats offer.

I'm not too concerned with players just having more abilities, and I feel like multiclassing/build requirements to pull off synergy feats is already a big enough ask, so if I was going to give out ASIs alongside feats, what should the schedule be? I don't know that it necessarily makes sense to give them out alongside feats, though that certainly is an option. Assuming my players prioritize accuracy (something 5e really encourages), and start with a 16 in their primary stat, when should that become an 18 and 20?
 

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xiphumor

Adventurer
I mean… that’s so simple it’s kinda brilliant? Just give out ASI’s at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level and require feats in their place. Alternatively, if you think that’s too much, the next idea would be 5th, 10th, 15th, and 19th. If that’s too much, 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th. If that’s too much, 6th, 12th, 18th.
 

Pedantic

Adventurer
I mean… that’s so simple it’s kinda brilliant? Just give out ASI’s at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level and require feats in their place. Alternatively, if you think that’s too much, the next idea would be 5th, 10th, 15th, and 19th. If that’s too much, 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th. If that’s too much, 6th, 12th, 18th.
Yeah, this is exactly what I'm looking for advice on.

Can I safely assume the accuracy progression should be 18 at 4th level and 20th at 8th?

After that, ASIs are rounding out defense or shoring up skills and generally are a lot less exciting and essential to character progression, so I don't think they necessarily matter as much. Maybe that's an argument that they should just come alongside feats, and that 4/8/12/16/19 is fine.

Or, given that feats do definitely provide some boost in player capabilities, should ASIs be more spaced out? Maybe 5/10/15/20, though that will mean waiting for 2 more levels to hit 20 in your primary stat.
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
you could also give out feats at level 1 (or 20, if you don't want players having a feat at level 1) and then at every level wherein their proficiency bonus improves (which, [not] coincidentally, end up being the same levels all players got feats in 3e), if you want the same max number of feats but don't want players getting an ASI and feat at the same level. then if you want one less, cut out the level 1/20 feat.
Can I safely assume the accuracy progression should be 18 at 4th level and 20th at 8th?
since a5e is meant to be compatible with o5e, i would...assume so? although keep in mind CR is pretty different in a5e (in that it works lol)
After that, ASIs are rounding out defense or shoring up skills and generally are a lot less exciting and essential to character progression, so I don't think they necessarily matter as much.
adepts and heralds would beg to differ, since they're still fairly MAD. also, con is always a thing.
Or, given that feats do definitely provide some boost in player capabilities, should ASIs be more spaced out? Maybe 5/10/15/20, though that will mean waiting for 2 more levels to hit 20 in your primary stat.
that's certainly an option, though just keep in mind you lose an ASI that way.
 

Pedantic

Adventurer
I fundamentally think accuracy is the biggest concern here. Lower accuracy scores means longer combats means more misses and means sadder players, and worse, will mean that some of those players don't really know why they feel ineffective because a 55% hit chance isn't an obvious problem.

Given you're starting at +3 and the real push of the system is to hit +5 ASAP, maybe it's really just the 1st two ASIs that matter here. If that's the goal, you could just outright put "gain +2 Primary Stat" (with the usual max of 20 still in place) as a bonus ability into each class's progression table at those levels. That has the upside of allowing me to stick with the standard text of feat or ASI, while still encouraging players to look at feats, because they absolutely will hit that 20.

I'm coming up on 4th level in the campaign I'm running, so I'll try that.
 

Jacob Vardy

Explorer
I just switched a second table over from o5e to a5e. This time with pre-existing characters. We re-built those characters from scratch. Three of five of them had lower attribute bonuses. Which the players were kinda leery about.

However, once we started rolling die, and the expertise die came into play, the players were consistently adding higher bonuses to the a5e characters. For example, we have a level three bard with two expertise die in performance, and a third for his specialisation in singing. That's 1d20 + 3 Charisma bonus + 2 proficiency bonus + 1d8 expertise die. Obviously better than the o5e 1d20+4+2.

Same goes for the beserker when she breaks out her Cunning (rage) combat maneuvers.

Or the marshal with their help actions.

And don't even get me started with the wizard's lore proficiencies.

With due respect to what Morrus said above about the design choices, in my experience at two tables i do not think that attribute bonuses are as important in a5e as they were in o5e. Which means forgoing ASIs for a feat tree is a lot more feasible.
 

rules.mechanic

Craft homebrewer
A single ASI plus a feat whenever you would normally get the double ASI/feat seems to work fine - we've been doing it in A5E, and in O5E before that. Oddly, may end up being "forward"-compatible with 1D&D...
 

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