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Before, characters got feats only up to level 10. Has that changed?
Yes. Right now, the ability score bonus or feat option appears spread across the class tables. In the current draft of the classes, though, no characters receive ability bonuses/feats before 4th level, so there is a delay in when they can be obtained.Are feats obtainable only by trading in the ability point boosts, or will some classes be able to get extra feats as part of their class features?
No, no classes gain “bonus feats” or anything like that. Since we are treating feats as an optional rules module, we want them to be truly optional, and having a “bonus feat” as a class feature would make that impossible. It’s true that some classes get more ability score increases (and, thus, more opportunities to take feats) than others, but they all default to ability score increases.How involved do you think the requirements will be for feats? Do you want to keep it rather simple, or do you expect we'll see feat trees, with a chain of required feats?
Our design goals for the current iteration of feats, in addition to balancing them against ability score increases, include making it so that so that you need only one feat to be good at a certain thing. We want feats to help you better describe your character’s capabilities, but since there’s always going to be the temptation to take an ability score increase, we don’t want you to have to chase a whole chain of feats to be good at a certain concept. For example, instead of requiring you to take multiple feats in a chain to be “good at archery,” instead you take one feat that covers everything from proficiency to ignoring cover and a rapid shooting mechanic. That way, you take one feat, and that feat says, “I’m good at archery.”
Great Weapon Mastery is a good example of a feat that gives you a suite of abilities that makes you good at something. When designing this feat, we asked ourselves the questions, “What am I looking for in a feat that rewards me for using a heavy weapon? What do I want as a player when I choose to use a heavy weapon?” Heavy weapons, with their higher damage dice, provide a visceral feeling of strength and power by dishing out high damage on the die. So, you probably want to deal more damage, or kill things faster, or kill more things (these are, of course, gross simplifications, but sometimes distilling the reasons for a mechanic into such terms helps clarify essential intent). The “take a –5 penalty to double your damage” portion of the feat clearly points to high-damage-die weapons, and, if you hit with that attack and double the damage from a big, heavy weapon, you’re more likely to take down the creature you’re fighting, thus triggering the cleave effect. With a single feat, you make a statement about something your character is good at, and then have all the mechanics you need to back it up.
In fact, we’re even trying to name the feats so that they are more descriptive of you than of the task; that’s why you see “Great Weapon Master” and “Heavy Armor Master” where previously feats would be named things like Power Attack, Cleave, Weapon Proficiency, and so on. Feats then become descriptive tags on your character sheet so that, at a glance, you know what your character is good at.
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