Expertise and related feats should be completely reimagined.

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I've been playing with expertise and related feats for a while now, and at this point I'm fairly sure that the problems Expertise has aren't going to go away unless these feats are essentially removed.

Expertise was problematic when it first came out in that it's a required feat.  Then came the errata (changing the bonuses to feat bonuses)... and that made the problem worse.

Whats wrong with expertise:
  1. They're absolutely required filler feats.  This is a problem because it's boring and a trap for players to fall in.

  2. They're not general enough. This is the worst aspect of expertise. The expertise bonuses should apply to all attacks at all times - instead, they're tied to specific classes of weapons and implements.  As a DM, I detest this because it makes items that are found that much less usable.  Either you grant "coincidentally" perfect weapons+implements to your party, which is really a jarring moment when an artifact weapon of the campaign "just so happens" to be usable by the party fighter, or ensure that all enchantments can be transfered to a compatible item or have the item sold and accept that the flavor just gets lost.  It's often better for a player to stick with his usual weaponry even when the found item is 10 levels higher than the party.
    As a player, I hate that every character gets pidgeonholed and is defined by his expertise feat; odd combinations of weaponry - never particularly attractive due to the cost anyhow - now becomes downright hopeless.  Neat tricks like natural weapons end up running hopelessly behind.

  3. They overshadow alternative feats, most of which might actually be interesting and flavorful to take.  A list: draconic spellcaster, feyborn charm, gnome phantasmist, Lolth's Meat (totally pointless), Dragonborn Vengeance, Half-Orc Vengeance, Swift Blade Style (for Dual Strike), Mror Stalwart (totally pointless), Bloodied Spear (almost pointless), Improvised Missile, Watchful Guardian.  The first 3 of these were broken pre-errata in epic and paragon due to their scaling attack bonuses.  All of them are redundant in almost all cases now.  Dropping the scaling bonus entirely or replacing it by a +1 for the problematic feats would be much preferable to simply making a swath of feats pointless.

We've tried it for a year; and it's not an improvement to the game.
Get rid of expertise; grant all PC's a stacking +1 bonus at levels 5/15/25; and fix the three scaling feats that should never have been.  You can do it - and everyone can be happier without this unnecessary, unfun bit of cruft.
+1 to that.
(Personally, I wish they'd rigged it up from the beginning so players just got +1/level to attacks and defense, and magic items added their enhancement bonus to damage only.  That way you wouldn't be required to use a magic weapon/implement to attack, and it would fix the issue with all the non-weapon/implement attacks.  But I'll probably have to wait for 5e for that to happen.  It would be so much better though!  If your level 30 character wanted to bull rush or grab, it would just work.  And if he wanted to outwit his opponent somehow, you'd just roll an Int vs. Will check to see if it worked.  Ah well.)
Agreed.  Would it be so hard just to give all characters a +1 bonus to all attack rolls at 5th, 15th and 25th levels and axe the feats.
Agreed.  Would it be so hard just to give all characters a +1 bonus to all attack rolls at 5th, 15th and 25th levels and axe the feats.

Amen. That's what all four of my playgroups already do, and I gather many WotC employees do the same. Seems like the fix everybody I know likes.
Get rid of expertise; grant all PC's a stacking +1 bonus at levels 5/15/25; and fix the three scaling feats that should never have been.

Why?  There isn't any proof this is needed.  And certainly not at the levels you've listed.  Better would be something like +1 at 11/21/28 if your goal is just to fix the hit vs defenses issue (5/15/25 isn't the break points), which there isn't any proof we need to fix.

I agree expertise feats are too strong compared to other feats, so taking them is typically a no brainer.  But just because hit vs defense declines as characters level doesn't mean that the hit bonuses are actually required to keep the game balanced, as other factors are scaling too.  Epic level is already easy enough without hit bonuses.  These feats only make the game easier than intented, especially at Heroic and Paragon levels where they aren't needed at all.

Personally, I think they need to just kill the Expertise feats completely.  Alternately make them Epic only, and a +1 feat or untyped bonus to hit (universal).  They don't need to be more than that, and they aren't needed before the Epic Tier.

Though this issue has been discussed again and again with good points on both sides since these feats were released, it would go a long way to settling this issue if we got an in deph comment from WoTC. They have to know about this ongoing discussion yet they remain silent.

Completely anecdotal, but... Greg Bilsland's house rules:
2. Characters get Weapon Expertise and Implement Expertise feats for free.
3. Players get their choice of defense bonus feats for free. At paragon level, either Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Great Fortitude, or Paragon Defenses. At epic level, either Epic Will, Epic Reflexes, Epic Fortitude, or Robust Defenses.

Just saying.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Just saying.

That he is adding power to his PCs without any justification to back it up other than "the attack and defense numbers don't add up?"  :p

Obviously I'm just teasing, or at least I hope I am.  The problem is almost all anecdotal evidence I've seen and personally experienced is these feats aren't required, and characters are already defeating equal challege encounters as they go up in level more easily.  I'd love to think there is some actual number crunching other than the forum's misleading "the math isn't right for attack vs defense" mentality going on for WotC's decisions to add these feats in the first place, but I just don't have faith in that.

Same thing may apply to monster attacks vs NADs.
Completely anecdotal, but... Greg Bilsland's house rules...

As much as I wish that was a good argument, it's just not.  Many of the WotC design & development team members do weird stuff.  I know a couple of games of Andy Collins's (in 3.5) where he gave out free feats, free bloodlines, inherent stat bonuses instead of the periapts and belts and whatever, etc.

The funny thing is, they all do it because it makes the game more fun.  Feat taxes are boring, because they decrease the amount to which you can customize a character.  The balance is, by this line of reasoning, irrelevant.  As long as classes and races are balanced against each other, then matching the PC and monster attacks and defenses is a bit irrelevant because the DM can always use monsters of higher or lower level.  DMs have to do the same thing if the party is particularly optimized (or unoptimized) anyway.  If anything, PCs should be at a slight mathematical disadvantage because of the powerful abilities they get--many high-level monsters have strong powers, but not usually as strong as epic destinies and epic feats.

And because that's the kind of reasoning WotC staff has expressed in the past, I think that's the approach we should take now.  Showing them elaborate mathematical analyses don't prove anything they care about.  What they should listen to--and historically, may or may not--is that we'd be having more fun if they took this suggestion.

And if that's not a good reason, how about a marketing one: You can get us to buy at most one more book due to this nonsense, WotC, if it includes a feat like "Total Expertise: You get a +1 feat bonus to hit with all attacks.  This bonus increases to +2 at level 15 and +3 at level 25".  But when a character is forced to invest such a large proportion of their feats to must-haves, it means we'll buy fewer books because we just can't use them.  Example: I have a fighter paragon-multiclassed into invoker.  I took the four mandatory multiclass feats, versatile expertise, and Symbol of the Sonlinnor, because those are all pretty much mandatory.  There are at least five more feats that are top-tier for a paragon defender: Paragon Defenses, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Great Fortitude, and Toughness.  But every one of those I take means one fewer interesting paragon tier feat.  In other words: I could (and probably should, if I were optimizing) be level 20 by the time I got to take my first feat that did something other than just give me a numerical bonus.  If I took Weapon Focus (which many fighter players consider mandatory), that would go up to level 24.  Granted, a paragon multiclass is an extreme example, but 1) it's a real example, and 2) there are a lot of other builds out there that are just as feat-starved.  To again put a marketing spin on it: If I level twice a month (which would be on the fast side, for a weekly game), I wouldn't have to buy another book with stuff for my PC in it for a year  That's assuming the material in the books I have aren't close to optimal in my opinion, when I have only 4 feat selections left anyway, and also that my campaign even makes it to level 24.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
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I honestly cannot believe how badly conceived those feats are.  There's a basic issue with the math, so instead of writing errata, they create a handful of stupidly OP feats that completely obsolete a lot of more creative or flavorful ones and operate as a tax for virtually all characters.  Even if they refused to errata it, masterwork weapons would have been a far superior band-aid fix.  That sounds like something WoW's god-awful dev team would do, but it's quite out-of-character for WotC (much like the 4e Realms treatment - another board, I know).

Anywho, I'm going to go out on a limb and suppose this is going to get fixed in the essentials products.  I've gotten to the point now where I omit those feats outright along with masterwork armor and use the inherent bonus with a more conservative approach to magical equipment, although even that isn't ideal because problems it creates with heavy armor AC and the somewhat arbitrary and complex nature of the additional level bonuses.     

 
Anywho, I'm going to go out on a limb and suppose this is going to get fixed in the essentials products.  



It looks like this is the case. One feat spoiled here , Bludgeon Expertise, looks like it will provide the expertise bonuses in addition to another effect that is worth a feat by itself (increasing push distance), for a specific group of weapons. It's easy to imagine a cycle of these for all weapons and implements, so that each weapon/implement type gets different abilities. You'd still need to take the feet, but it would be a much more interesting decision.

The spoiled text doesn't mention scaling at higher levels, but all of the feats and powers spoiled there seem to be somehow shortened, so I expect the version in the book to increase properly at levels 15 and 25.
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The balance is, by this line of reasoning, irrelevant.  As long as classes and races are balanced against each other, then matching the PC and monster attacks and defenses is a bit irrelevant because the DM can always use monsters of higher or lower level.  DMs have to do the same thing if the party is particularly optimized (or unoptimized) anyway.  If anything, PCs should be at a slight mathematical disadvantage because of the powerful abilities they get--many high-level monsters have strong powers, but not usually as strong as epic destinies and epic feats.

And because that's the kind of reasoning WotC staff has expressed in the past, I think that's the approach we should take now.  Showing them elaborate mathematical analyses don't prove anything they care about.  What they should listen to--and historically, may or may not--is that we'd be having more fun if they took this suggestion.

And if that's not a good reason, how about a marketing one: You can get us to buy at most one more book due to this nonsense, WotC, if it includes a feat like "Total Expertise: You get a +1 feat bonus to hit with all attacks.  This bonus increases to +2 at level 15 and +3 at level 25".  But when a character is forced to invest such a large proportion of their feats to must-haves, it means we'll buy fewer books because we just can't use them.  Example: I have a fighter paragon-multiclassed into invoker.  I took the four mandatory multiclass feats, versatile expertise, and Symbol of the Sonlinnor, because those are all pretty much mandatory.  There are at least five more feats that are top-tier for a paragon defender: Paragon Defenses, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Great Fortitude, and Toughness.  But every one of those I take means one fewer interesting paragon tier feat.  In other words: I could (and probably should, if I were optimizing) be level 20 by the time I got to take my first feat that did something other than just give me a numerical bonus.  If I took Weapon Focus (which many fighter players consider mandatory), that would go up to level 24.  Granted, a paragon multiclass is an extreme example, but 1) it's a real example, and 2) there are a lot of other builds out there that are just as feat-starved.  To again put a marketing spin on it: If I level twice a month (which would be on the fast side, for a weekly game), I wouldn't have to buy another book with stuff for my PC in it for a year  That's assuming the material in the books I have aren't close to optimal in my opinion, when I have only 4 feat selections left anyway, and also that my campaign even makes it to level 24.



This is such an excellent post I had to copy it and highlight my favorite part.

Currently, the least fun part of Expertise is knowing your especially exotic attacks won't benefit from expertise EVEN if you are a Master at Arms or Weapons Master, because these powers don't involve the use of a weapon or implement.  They involve your characters knee in the monster's loins, or your character goring horns whipping him around your head or your enemy flailing on the otherside of your shield impacting on his face.

D&D Basic before we ever had AD&D 1st edition was more fun, because there was no Weapon Expertise/Specialization/Focus/etc.  You just knew how to use weapons and when you found a cool one you put it to good use.  Personally, I have found just the OPPOSITE of this in the D&D Essentials feats and weapon selection.  D&D Essentials should have never been put in a red box until these D&D Basic essentials were fully absorbed into the product.  Expertise is the biggest offender, and D&D Essentials has only made this issue worse, by adding a whole line of feats that are combat mechanic destroying and that even without the added +hit bonuses.

Case in Point, feats that basically disregard combat mechanics like opportunity attacks and heavy cover are not fun!

The best and first thing for WizardsotCoast to do is provide the following feat.

Gifted:  (No prereqs.  Heroic Tier.)
You gain a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls.  The bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21th level.

NERF Staff Expertise.  ALLOW opportunity attacks against the character when he is casting, but allow character to reduce a slide or push affect targetting the character by 1.  Also, the character with this feat may roll a save against falling prone.  None shall pass!

Get your staff here!  Good for stopping Balrogs or a perfect companion on the most rugged terrain.  Your choice entirely.  For the ultimate encounter test yourself against both at the same time!  Money back guaranteed.  Fully refundable when returned by original purchaser.  Small Print: Product NOT guarranteed: results may vary.


NERF Sling Expertise.  In exchange give slings daze on crit.  If target is already dazed then stun.

NERF Crossbow Expertise.  Should ignore just regular cover NOT superior cover.

To top things off, it would be a benefit if Character Builder offered the option of removing obsolete feats and powers from your choices when making a character.

While we are getting rid of game mechanic ruining feats... how about items.  Please NERF the Badge of the Beserker so that it does not negate opportunity attacks.  Instead, give the character a +1 to hit when charging would work nicely and still be very useful to your average beserker.

I know this post was a lot to take in, but I really think every bit of it is worth Wizard's effort and embodies all of the beefs that me and my friends have with the expertise feats.  I made sure not just to share the problems I see, but also provided very reasonable solutions such as names and mechanics that fit the character of the feats I have issue with.

Fellow community members, if you know of other feats or items that blatantly disregard combat mechanics rather than modifying them please help me add to the above list.

I don't see a problem with having to use weapon expertise as a feat. I think you're all forgetting that each level you can retrain one feat, encounter, daily and so on. 

If your fighter is expert at using axes and oh, woe is him, an artifact weapon pops up that is a sword, then just wait until his next level to retrain his expertise into swords.

Before the barrage of "WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU'RE LEVEL 30?!" by that time your adventuring party should have a very, very detailed knowledge of the world they are in and where cities are located as well as what people will be able to transfer enchantments, change the weapon, reforge it, [insert remark about making weapons compatible here], etc.

I feel it forces players to make choices instead of just giving them free stats on a silver platter. 
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