View Full Version : The problem with feats
05-25-2011, 11:32 PM
Is the mixing of different types of feats that have all been lumped into one broad category. On the one hand you have feats that let you have interesting abilities that are triggered by certain conditions or give you non-traditional skills, these make your character interesting, or add character to your character. On the other hand, you have math feats, these add to a characters static defenses and attack numbers. You also have skills and languages lumped in as well. So what happens in a lot of groups is that some people take feats because they are interesting and add depth to a character, while others simply bulk up on math feats making their characters super human. In order to make the game challenging for the latter group the DM ramps up the difficulty of encounters (because the DM gets tired of the 1 dimensional characters tearing ass through his encounters), as a result the people who took character feats either quit playing, or drop the character feats in favor of math feats in order to simply survive the game. No one, ever, EVER takes a skill or an extra language as a feat, because you can always get a magic item to cover that problem.
Math feats should instead be part and parcel of the game. They shouldn't have to be something you take. They could be added as a character levels, either as inherent math fixes, racial bonus, or class bonuses. Or they should be dropped completely.
Feats should all be character feats, something that adds interest to a character and makes them unique, not super human.
Skills should be a totally different system separate from feats. I know that skills were simplified for 4e in an effort to make the game simpler. The current system of having them in as feats means that non-combat skills will always be marginalized. In this regard the skill system is an epic failure, PC's pick x number of skills then never think about adding a new one because staying alive in combat is far more important.
05-26-2011, 07:18 AM
To some extent I agree; the feat system is unnecessarily diverse. They've tried to pile too many options into it and since you don't get very many so its an agonizing decision to pick them. Its definitely not enough to just offer more feats, then the power gamers that entirely pick Math feats, as you called them, would get incredibly more powerful as the game went on.
Where my opinion differs is that I don't have a problem with a split group of power gamers and role players. I'm also in the fortunate position that even my power gamers have some desire to add to the story. Which means that while he's stacking up all sorts of combat bonuses, his focus on combat is played like the character Guts from the anime Berserk (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318871/). I realize that this isn't common. Anyway, to keep things interesting for the whole party I like to build in some portions of the combat where non-combat skills are useful. They might have a need to examine something to gather clues while trading blows, perhaps the floor is littered with traps that they need to spot and avoid throughout the fight, or rituals or other effects that are healing and strengthening the enemies that need shut down. This way the folks that spend their feats on character fluff and skills still have an important role in the combats, while the power gamer can dish up the big damage.
Consider stealing encounter ideas from the game Shadow of the Colossus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_of_the_Colossus). The players are pitted against some hulking monstrosity that they know little about. They can charge in and attack, but their assault is ineffective. In order to deal real damage they'll need to do some skill checks to figure out where its weak points are. Then they'll need to get in position, which could be climbing and acrobatics checks or attacks specifically to get it into hte right position. Only then can the heavy hitters really hurt it.
Its a lot more work on the DM to build encounters in that way, but what you end up with is power gamers that are reliant on the role players to tell them where to direct their strikes in order to defeat the encounter. Clearly that should engage and interest both sides of the table. It also should show the players that striking a balance between combat and non-combat feats could have some real benefits.
05-26-2011, 11:41 PM
The way to encourage use of the "non-Math Feats" is to give them value in encounters and the overall game outside of the combat.
Personally, I believe that players would take more "non math feats" if the ability to hit a defense was not so all important; let alone not so difficult;maybe then players may design characters that were different races, take different feats and other choices. Even if I played a 9th level PC with a +14 to hit I will need a 14 on the die to hit a 12 level Battle troll (AC 28). Maybe if I can target the other defenses, it would even out but that leaves most martial PC's left trying to optimize and less expanding the PC's feats.
Of course, I play in a 4e game where we are basically play testers so combat and skill challenges are pretty heavy.
05-27-2011, 12:37 AM
As a DM, I try to mix things up a lot to give everyone a chance to shine. I also limit the games I run to Heroic and Paragon tier, because I think the game just gets ridiculous at Epic level, not to mention combat drags on forever.
Most of the feats I have no problem with, but in the group that I play with (as a PC), four out of six of the players all have the following feat combos. The way these feats are written, they all stack because the Epic tier feats aren't classified as feat bonuses. Instead they are listed as just general, non-specific, bonuses to the various defenses. I was always under the impression that feats didn't stack with other feats of the same type. So you couldn't have a +2 to initiative from one feat and a +1 to initiative from another feat for a total of +3 to init, only the highest was applicable.
So as you can see everyone who takes these combo's have a +8 to these defenses. Given, it is an Epic tier game, but still, a +8 bonus is huge. For example, if a monster hit your average reflex 50% of the time, these feats would drop that to a 10% chance of being hit.
Lightning Reflexes (+2 feat bonus to Reflex, +3 at 11th level, +4 at 21st level)
Iron Will (+2 feat bonus to Will, +3 at 11th level, +4 at 21st level)
Great Fortitude (+2 feat bonus to Fort, +3 at 11th level, +4 at 21st level)
Epic Fortitude (+4 bonus to Fortitude)
Epic Will (+4 bonus to Will)
Epic Reflexes (+4 bonus to Reflex)
---------- Post added Friday 05-27-2011 at 12:22 AM ---------- Previous post was Thursday 05-26-2011 at 11:56 PM ----------
I agree, In my own game I have stopped throwing as many at level encounters against the PC's. They often face lower level threats that have really low defenses (12-16 range on all defenses). It makes combat go faster so that we can focus more on role-playing. Also so that they don't have to optimize, but so far only one has shown any interest in anything other than total optimization. Vicious weapons for everyone, bumps to defenses and weapon attacks only.
I've also added in random encounters with monsters that are much higher level than the PC's. These encounters are designed simply as fluff, to show them that the world is a dangerous place (and introduce them to the Dark Sun settings creatures), and that it is okay to flee, or find some other way around the creature. I ALWAYS give them the option to avoid combat, but they usually choose not to. They assume that the encounter is scaled like it says to do so in the DM guide, so they charge in blindly, assuming that things aren't really a threat. They seem to be locked into this "kill everything" mode of playing. They will even run down and kill any creature that attempts to flee from combat.
Currently, the running joke is that whomever gets the highest initiative roll starts with "I'll try to negotiate! +24 vs. Reflex (or whatever)"
---------- Post added at 12:37 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:22 AM ----------
I also started handing out extra xp for role-playing and keeping track of each characters xp separately instead of letting them level up as a group.
We also use of terrain to a great extent as we use a lot of miniatures and terrain. Pushing an enemy off of a piece of terrain causes it to fall prone. Into a cactus causes damage, and certain rock formation can be pushed over as a minor action and do extra damage.
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