specialties optional?

Just want some quick feedback on feats
it says that specialties are optional, so what if you don't take that option...can you select any feat presented in the specialties at first level provided you fit the pre-requisites? and then another (from a different specialty) at 3rd level? say I was a fighter who picked the alcolyte's first level "initiate of faith" and then at third picked, say the necromancer's "aura of souls". Could this work or do the feats require the first level feat to pick the third?
I'm thining as long as you have the pre-requisites, all the feats presented under specialties are fair game...ie. they're all feats that can be taken at first level or they would have included the first level feat into the pre-requisites.
thoughts?
also.
can I take the third level feats at first level as long as I meet the prerqequisties?
priest at first level taking the necromancers undead servant without going down the "specialty' path of necromancer?

The packet doesn't have any rules for this. Since its early in the design, I bet they haven't fully decided. If you are worried about balance then I would stick to the packet as closely as possible. 



"Optional" means you can ignore the entire PDF for backgrounds or specialties and your characters will still function okay, just be a little bit weaker.



You can make your own specialty by making up feats or making your own mix & match of feats. I would say that you should not take a level 3 feat at level 1 because they might be slightly stronger... but in my opinion the power difference is so small you won't notice.


So if you really want to customize and really don't like the choices presented to you, go ahead and change things around. Obviously the DM has final say...

There's no reason to assume a-la-carte feat selection is not possible.
I think it's safe to presume that at the moment it's not possible... given that its not said.
Optional means play with it if you want, or don't use it at all (Not "turn it into whatever you want"). 

They already know that DMs can do whatever or change whatever they want. As far as the playtest goes though, I think they want to know how well their system is working, not one that is al-a-carte.  

My mind is a deal-breaker.

Optional, yes.
Encouraged to take whatever whenever, not so much. Since that is part of what needs to be tested.

They have stated that Specializations will be optional in the final product but this stuff still needs to be tested before we get to that point.
Its encouraged by R&D. Mike Mearls said during his AMA on Reddit that players could ignore themes/specialties and pick feats they wish instead. Same for backgrounds and skills. 

Its just that the current Playtest Packet doesn't offer formal guidelines for this yet.

Mike Mearls: You can see this in how we've handled themes and feats. A theme is like a kit, in that it
represents something in the world of D&D. You train as a healer, or study to become a magicuser.
Themes are built from feats, the mechanical expression of the theme's story.
A player can take a theme because he's more interesting in his character's story and role in
the world. The mechanics are part of that choice, but the key thing is the story element and
the roleplay opportunities it offers.
Another player might care more about optimization in the 3e/4e mold. She might skip directly
to the feats in search of an interesting combo or unique build.
Another group might not care about all that stuff and just remove themes from the game.
If we do it right, people might find that the like X and Y from 3e, and A and B from 2e, and
within Next they can shift a few options around and get the best of both worlds.

Its encouraged by R&D. Mike Mearls said during his AMA on Reddit that players could ignore themes/specialties and pick feats they wish instead. Same for backgrounds and skills. 

Its just that the current Playtest Packet doesn't offer formal guidelines for this yet.

Mike Mearls: You can see this in how we've handled themes and feats. A theme is like a kit, in that it
represents something in the world of D&D. You train as a healer, or study to become a magicuser.
Themes are built from feats, the mechanical expression of the theme's story.
A player can take a theme because he's more interesting in his character's story and role in
the world. The mechanics are part of that choice, but the key thing is the story element and
the roleplay opportunities it offers.
Another player might care more about optimization in the 3e/4e mold. She might skip directly
to the feats in search of an interesting combo or unique build.
Another group might not care about all that stuff and just remove themes from the game.
If we do it right, people might find that the like X and Y from 3e, and A and B from 2e, and
within Next they can shift a few options around and get the best of both worlds.


The underscored text doesn't actually say you can pick feats a la carte, it just says (or at least, it's vague enough that it can be read as just saying) that optimizers will choose specialties based on the feats rather than on the flavour (or as he's putting it "story") side of things.

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
The underscored text doesn't actually say you can pick feats a la carte, it just says (or at least, it's vague enough that it can be read as just saying) that optimizers will choose specialties based on the feats rather than on the flavour (or as he's putting it "story") side of things.


community.wizards.com/dndnext/blog/2012/...
I can see backgrounds used in several different ways:

DM 1: We’re not using backgrounds at all. Just ignore this stuff.


DM 2: Use the background suggested by your class.


DM 3: Choose a background for your character. It can be the one suggested for your class or a different one.


DM 4: Choose a background for your character. You can trade out one skill for a different one.


DM 5: Come up with your own background by choosing up to four skills.


The same approach to backgrounds also applies to themes.

Mandatory specialties is a dealbreaker, period.
The underscored text doesn't actually say you can pick feats a la carte, it just says (or at least, it's vague enough that it can be read as just saying) that optimizers will choose specialties based on the feats rather than on the flavour (or as he's putting it "story") side of things.


community.wizards.com/dndnext/blog/2012/...
I can see backgrounds used in several different ways:

DM 1: We’re not using backgrounds at all. Just ignore this stuff.


DM 2: Use the background suggested by your class.


DM 3: Choose a background for your character. It can be the one suggested for your class or a different one.


DM 4: Choose a background for your character. You can trade out one skill for a different one.


DM 5: Come up with your own background by choosing up to four skills.


The same approach to backgrounds also applies to themes.

Mandatory specialties is a dealbreaker, period.


Good thing you're playing D&D, then. Rule #1 has always been "don't like the rules? change 'em!"

In all seriousness though, I totally agree with you. It's pretty clear that the intention from the get-go was that the players and the DM could sit down and decide if they want to use backrounds and/or specialties at all, what (if any) restrictions to use on who can choose which ones, if players can make custom backgrounds specialties, and if so what (if any) restrictions to use on how to make them. And if that for some reason changes, I'll either houserule it to work that way in my games, or play a different game if that's somehow impossible (unlikely).

The options presented are just that. Options. Use them if they suit you, change them if they don't. But keep in mind this is a playtest, so you really should be sticking as close as possible to the RAW just to make sure they actually work.
But keep in mind this is a playtest, so you really should be sticking as close as possible to the RAW just to make sure they actually work.

There's been quite some mention about how Necromancer is defacto class-locked, Healer is crazy-go-nuts, and Survivor is boring as hell, yes.

Presenting Specialties as a time-saver, then needing to a la carte anyway when "anyone can pick any specialty" can mean "oops, these feats do nothing for you!" isn't working out very well.

But keep in mind this is a playtest, so you really should be sticking as close as possible to the RAW just to make sure they actually work.

There's been quite some mention about how Necromancer is defacto class-locked, Healer is crazy-go-nuts, and Survivor is boring as hell, yes.

Presenting Specialties as a time-saver, then needing to a la carte anyway when "anyone can pick any specialty" can mean "oops, these feats do nothing for you!" isn't working out very well.



All excellent observations. If those issues aren't fixed in the next packet, I would point out in the next survey that they really need to be.
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