Specialties vs Feats

I think that packaged specialties should bring some small added benefit over picking individual feats. Otherwise, some specialties would be avoided if the combination isn't ideal.
There is a benefit: no need to spend a couple hours digging through a dozen books.
As I have noted in my surveys, unless Specialties are used for more than a Feat delivery system, I suspect they will be ignored by many groups. Backgrounds give you two other benefits besides Skills: a small ability and starting gear. While they are minor, they give a strong encouragement to actually use a Background as opposed to just picking 4 skills. Specialities could give a minor ability without breaking the game, using similar rules for customization that Backgrounds use.
Backgrounds give you two other benefits besides Skills: a small ability and starting gear.

...which can also be kit-bashed together.

I brought this up a couple of packets ago and still believe it should be implemented.
i had suggested that the Archer Specialty, Sharpshooter now, should grant something like the ability to recover arrows. 
If substitution goes to print, doing so is meaningless.
"I'm taking the Archer specialty for the free arrows, but replacing three of the feats with this one, that one and that one."
Easiest way to do it would be to allow specialties access to certain feats before you could select it otherwise. However, with only 4 total feats gained this gets really tricky.

Really what it comes down to is, if specialties give a real advantage then people are going to feel pressured to use them. But if they don't give an advantage, they feel like they're almost pointless. It's an ol' catch 22.
My two copper.
Really what it comes down to is, if specialties give a real advantage then people are going to feel pressured to use them. But if they don't give an advantage, they feel like they're almost pointless. It's an ol' catch 22.

If some crazy-optimized combo of four specific feats emerges, they'll be ignored regardless of any bonus.

There is a benefit: no need to spend a couple hours digging through a dozen books.



or 2 minutes if you have software Character Builder...
There is a benefit: no need to spend a couple hours digging through a dozen books.



or 2 minutes if you have software Character Builder...


By the end of 4e, even using the CB, it was taking a long time to pick feats, for both the optimizers and casual gamers in our group.

There is a benefit: no need to spend a couple hours digging through a dozen books.



or 2 minutes if you have software Character Builder...


By the end of 4e, even using the CB, it was taking a long time to pick feats, for both the optimizers and casual gamers in our group.



Maybe on the online one...the offline that's not the case at all, because the offline one had competent designer/developers behind it, while the online one seem to have been developed by a graphic design student as a project on college (it's prettier and more slick looking...but it's hell of alot less functional in every single way)
Specialities are also for DM like myself that don't want to deal with the min/maxing nightmare that 3rd edition was. My players will get to pick a speciality based on their character concept and that's it. Any broken combo is out of the question.
What happens if a broken combo is contained wholly within a specialty?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I'm definitely qith Qmark here. Giving specialities additional mechanical benefits other than the feats that comprise them sounds like a terrible idea. If you think that you'll just ignore them or that most people in your group will ignore them in favor of just picking out their own feats, good. That just means that specialties aren't for you, and that's okay. It's great, even. Specialties are there for people who are new to the game and/or don't want to spend too much time picking from the huge number of feats; if that doesn't apply to you, then it just doesn't apply to you. There is no problem here.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'm definitely qith Qmark here. Giving specialities additional mechanical benefits other than the feats that comprise them sounds like a terrible idea. If you think that you'll just ignore them or that most people in your group will ignore them in favor of just picking out their own feats, good. That just means that specialties aren't for you, and that's okay. It's great, even. Specialties are there for people who are new to the game and/or don't want to spend too much time picking from the huge number of feats; if that doesn't apply to you, then it just doesn't apply to you. There is no problem here.

I'd take it a step farther and say that Specialties are a terrible idea.  Streamlining or dumbing down the D&D experience is not going to lure new players to the game at all.  The thought that it would is short selling the potential player base.  Everyone who has come to D&D has done so despite or because of the level of difficulty it presents.  The current player base isn't special, and the new player base isn't dumb.  People who will play D&D will do so for an authentic D&D experience.  Lessening that authentic D&D experience is only going to prevent them from adopting the game.

This is the same issue I have with "Red Box" versions as well.  It sets the expectations of new players incorrectly, and they find they have to relearn the game hey loved just to play the "real" version of the game.

Specialties and Backgrounds lessen the game by making diminished options "okay".  That's no way to design a game.  Presenting everyone with a full and similar (keeping in mind modularity) set of options puts every player on the same level, allowing them to get along at the same table.
I'd take it a step farther and say that Specialties are a terrible idea. Streamlining or dumbing down the D&D experience is not going to lure new players to the game at all.

I have anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Every time I try to teach a new player D&D, the part that always puts on the breaks is picking feats. Before that, everything is conceptual (What do you think sounds cool? Being a dragon-person or being half-angel? Casting spells or swinging a sword?), so that's easy to get into. When it gets to feats, though, they're just there for mechanical customization, and because the list of them is necessarily huge, picking feats is the biggest character creation hurdle for new players. Allowing newer players to take the easy way out with that until they become more familiar with the system without making them feel like they're missing our or that they need somebody to pick for them is one of the best ideas that has come out of DDN, no questions about it. You don't teach somebody how to swim by just pushing them into the deep end and seeing how they do. Training wheels are not a bad thing.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'd take it a step farther and say that Specialties are a terrible idea. Streamlining or dumbing down the D&D experience is not going to lure new players to the game at all.

I have anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Every time I try to teach a new player D&D, the part that always puts on the breaks is picking feats. Before that, everything is conceptual (What do you think sounds cool? Being a dragon-person or being half-angel? Casting spells or swinging a sword?), so that's easy to get into. When it gets to feats, though, they're just there for mechanical customization, and because the list of them is necessarily huge, picking feats is the biggest character creation hurdle for new players. Allowing newer players to take the easy way out with that until they become more familiar with the system without making them feel like they're missing our or that they need somebody to pick for them is one of the best ideas that has come out of DDN, no questions about it. You don't teach somebody how to swim by just pushing them into the deep end and seeing how they do.

Define "puts on the brakes".  Feats aren't any more difficult than Advantages, Edges, Merits, or any of a host of RPG options.  Feats can be described as conceptual as well.  Do you want to be good at TWF, Sword and Shield, or casting spells?  If you're guiding character creation to that extent (as opposed to letting the new player learn the system on their own), why not continue in that vein?
I think that packaged specialties should bring some small added benefit over picking individual feats. Otherwise, some specialties would be avoided if the combination isn't ideal.



No. The only purpose of specialties is to package feats into easy to pick up packages and save time in chargen.
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Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
I'd take it a step farther and say that Specialties are a terrible idea.  Streamlining or dumbing down the D&D experience is not going to lure new players to the game at all.  The thought that it would is short selling the potential player base.  Everyone who has come to D&D has done so despite or because of the level of difficulty it presents.  The current player base isn't special, and the new player base isn't dumb.



More charitable reasons why people might want to use specialties instead of picking their own feats:
a)  They're inexperienced (not even remotely the same thing as "dumb")
b)  They simply don't enjoy dealing with the mechanical complexity that feats provide and prefer to choose a straightforward preset kit if it will put them at about the same power level.

People who will play D&D will do so for an authentic D&D experience.  Lessening that authentic D&D experience is only going to prevent them from adopting the game.



There are all sorts of reasons that people want to play D and D.  Saying that everyone who chooses to play wants an "authentic experience" (even ignoring the fact that that phrase doesn't have a good definition) seems rather sweeping, to me.
Define "puts on the brakes".

Where it stops being fun.

Feats aren't any more difficult than Advantages, Edges, Merits, or any of a host of RPG options.

And those same kinds of options from other RPGs have the same problem.

Feats can be described as conceptual as well.

To a certain extend, sure. If a player's concept calls for something that can only be accomplished with feats, then that's an easy place to go, but that's actually not overly common, especially not for newer players who tend to play more basic characters anyway.

If you're guiding character creation to that extent (as opposed to letting the new player learn the system on their own), why not continue in that vein?

Because there's a huge difference between asking somebody "Would you like to play a normal Human, a Tolkein-esque Dwarf, a shape-shifting Changeling, or an artificial lifeform Warforged?" or "Do you want to play a Wizard and research arcane magic, a Cleric and be impowered by the divine, a Rogue trickster and sneak, or a Fighter weaponmaster and warrior?" and asking them "Would you like +4 initiative, +1 to attack rolls with a weapon type of your choice, 2 more healing surged per day, or a die size higher damage with sneak attack?". It's just not nearly as inspiring. It's boring, and it's only made even worse by the massive list of options.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
What happens if a broken combo is contained wholly within a specialty?




I hope WoTC's quality control is not that bad!  

I'd take it a step farther and say that Specialties are a terrible idea.  Streamlining or dumbing down the D&D experience is not going to lure new players to the game at all.  The thought that it would is short selling the potential player base.  Everyone who has come to D&D has done so despite or because of the level of difficulty it presents.  The current player base isn't special, and the new player base isn't dumb.



More charitable reasons why people might want to use specialties instead of picking their own feats:
a)  They're inexperienced (not even remotely the same thing as "dumb")
b)  They simply don't enjoy dealing with the mechanical complexity that feats provide and prefer to choose a straightforward preset kit if it will put them at about the same power level.

People who will play D&D will do so for an authentic D&D experience.  Lessening that authentic D&D experience is only going to prevent them from adopting the game.



There are all sorts of reasons that people want to play D and D.  Saying that everyone who chooses to play wants an "authentic experience" (even ignoring the fact that that phrase doesn't have a good definition) seems rather sweeping, to me.

One doesn't gain experience by not experiencing.  A lack of experience is a reason not to use Specialties.  Those with a lack of desire for mechanical complexity should be trying a form of roleplaying that doesn't have mechanical complexity.  An RPG needs to play to its strengths.  Mechanical complexity is IMO a strength of D&D.

The phrase "authentic experience" is vague on purpose.  It needs to hold the entirety of potential playstyles that D&D encourages.  It is disingenuous perhaps to the point of projecting to say that someone wants to play D&D for something that D&D doesn't encourage.  There are various other avenues open to a person if they desire something that is not D&D.  Those options are easily found as well.  It would be selling those players short to assume they have incorrectly chosen their avenue of entertainment.
One doesn't gain experience by not experiencing.

So when we're teaching kids to swim we should just start off by throwing them in the deep end naked and seeing how they do? No, I don't buy that. There are a lot of kids who could grow up to be great swimmers; we don't need to scare them off by making their first experience with it the terror of drowning.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Define "puts on the brakes".

Where it stops being fun.

Feats aren't any more difficult than Advantages, Edges, Merits, or any of a host of RPG options.

And those same kinds of options from other RPGs have the same problem.

Feats can be described as conceptual as well.

To a certain extend, sure. If a player's concept calls for something that can only be accomplished with feats, then that's an easy place to go, but that's actually not overly common, especially not for newer players who tend to play more basic characters anyway.

If you're guiding character creation to that extent (as opposed to letting the new player learn the system on their own), why not continue in that vein?

Because there's a huge difference between asking somebody "Would you like to play a normal Human, a Tolkein-esque Dwarf, a shape-shifting Changeling, or an artificial lifeform Warforged?" or "Do you want to play a Wizard and research arcane magic, a Cleric and be impowered by the divine, a Rogue trickster and sneak, or a Fighter weaponmaster and warrior?" and asking them "Would you like +4 initiative, +1 to attack rolls with a weapon type of your choice, 2 more healing surged per day, or a die size higher damage with sneak attack?". It's just not nearly as inspiring. It's boring, and it's only made even worse by the massive list of options.

I'm not sure decrying an option type from a host of RPGs is an accurate assessment of the option type.  If there is no way in that option type is acceptable to you, perhaps that speaks more to you as a person than to the option type in particular.

Feats can always expand upon things within the character concept, even if that concept can be accomplished without them through other parts of the mechanics.

Perhaps you are making the options mechanical as opposed to thematic.  There is no reason to delineate the mechanical options behind the Feat.  Just describe what the Feat enhances.  At least, there isn't when you are actively preventing your players from seeing the mechanics by holding their hand to this extent.
One doesn't gain experience by not experiencing.

So when we're teaching kids to swim we should just start off by throwing them in the deep end naked and seeing how they do? No, I don't buy that. There are a lot of kids who could grow up to be great swimmers; we don't need to scare them off by making their first experience with it the terror of drowning.

D&D players aren't little children.  There is no reason to treat them as such.
One doesn't gain experience by not experiencing.



Playing the game is experiencing.  People learning to ski don't need to start on double diamonds, people learning to program computers don't need to start by writing operating systems, and people learning to play guitar don't need to start by playing Metallica.  Your assertion that in order to learn something people need to start with it in its most complex or difficult incarnation is demonstrably false for most skills, so what makes you think it applies here?

Those with a lack of desire for mechanical complexity should be trying a form of roleplaying that doesn't have mechanical complexity.  An RPG needs to play to its strengths.  Mechanical complexity is IMO a strength of D&D.



What you're really saying here is "feat selection is a level/type of mechanical complexity that I enjoy".

It needs to hold the entirety of potential playstyles that D&D encourages.



Such as, for instance, by modularly allowing the option to pick all of your feats in a package or select them individually.  Is your argument really that allowing something as an option address FEWER potential playstyles, or is there some kind of miscommunication going on here?

It is disingenuous perhaps to the point of projecting to say that someone wants to play D&D for something that D&D doesn't encourage.



Ain't no one propping up that straw man you're knocking down but you.

D&D players aren't little children.  There is no reason to treat them as such.



So, would you teach an ADULT to swim by throwing them in the deep end and seeing whether they drown? 
I'm not sure decrying an option type from a host of RPGs is an accurate assessment of the option type. If there is no way in that option type is acceptable to you, perhaps that speaks more to you as a person than to the option type in particular.

I think that feats are perfectly acceptable, fantastic even, and I wouldn't dream of decrying them. I just also happen to recognize that, as mechanical constructs, they're much harder to get into than options like race and class. They're more involved, more complicated, more advanced. I like playing Pokemon competitively, but I'm not going to explain IVs and EVs to my friend just getting into playing Pokemon casually, because I want her to actually enjoy her experience and come around to the more complicated aspects of the game in her own due time.

D&D players aren't little children. There is no reason to treat them as such.

Have you looked around these forums?
No, but seriously, the children part of the analogy is the wrong part to be clinging to, because it's really not relevant. Put an adult in the analogy and it'll still hold true. I'm not going to teach an adult to swim by pushing them in the deep end. Heck, that'd be an even worse idea than the child. At least a child is light enough that I could easily rescue them when they inevidably start drowning... Actually, maybe that does for metaphorically, with weight being flexibility of thought or some such nonsense... Nah, too much effort, never mind.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
One doesn't gain experience by not experiencing.



Playing the game is experiencing.  People learning to ski don't need to start on double diamonds, people learning to program computers don't need to start by writing operating systems, and people learning to play guitar don't need to start by playing Metallica.  Your assertion that in order to learn something people need to start with it in its most complex or difficult incarnation is demonstrably false for most skills, so what makes you think it applies here?

Those with a lack of desire for mechanical complexity should be trying a form of roleplaying that doesn't have mechanical complexity.  An RPG needs to play to its strengths.  Mechanical complexity is IMO a strength of D&D.



What you're really saying here is "feat selection is a level/type of mechanical complexity that I enjoy".

It needs to hold the entirety of potential playstyles that D&D encourages.



Such as, for instance, by modularly allowing the option to pick all of your feats in a package or select them individually.  Is your argument really that allowing something as an option address FEWER potential playstyles, or is there some kind of miscommunication going on here?

It is disingenuous perhaps to the point of projecting to say that someone wants to play D&D for something that D&D doesn't encourage.



Ain't no one propping up that straw man you're knocking down but you.

D&D players aren't little children.  There is no reason to treat them as such.



So, would you teach an ADULT to swim by throwing them in the deep end and seeing whether they drown? 

Unfiltered D&D isn't a double diamond RPG experience.  It isn't nearly as fiddly as say Shadowrun 2nd Edition.  It may not be a bunny slope, but it is still a fine slope for beginners.

Feat selection is a level of complexity that has been acceptable in D&D since 3rd Edition.  What I enjoy is irrelevant.  DDN is never going to be my perfect game, and I acknowledge that.

Specialties are a method that encourages fewer options.  It limits what D&D can be.  It diminishes the sum of potential playstyles.

The vast majority of current D&D players and DMs I know started with unguided character creation.  Nobody helped them with anything.  They made their first character on their own brought it to one of their first game,s and then had their DM tell them where they got the math wrong.  Clearly it didn't scar them for life, as they have been playing the game since 2nd Edition or earlier.

I'm not sure decrying an option type from a host of RPGs is an accurate assessment of the option type. If there is no way in that option type is acceptable to you, perhaps that speaks more to you as a person than to the option type in particular.

I think that feats are perfectly acceptable, fantastic even, and I wouldn't dream of decrying them. I just also happen to recognize that, as mechanical constructs, they're much harder to get into than options like race and class. They're more involved, more complicated, more advanced. I like playing Pokemon competitively, but I'm not going to explain IVs and EVs to my friend just getting into playing Pokemon casually, because I want her to actually enjoy her experience and come around to the more complicated aspects of the game in her own due time.

D&D players aren't little children. There is no reason to treat them as such.

Have you looked around these forums?
No, but seriously, the children part of the analogy is the wrong part to be clinging to, because it's really not relevant. Put an adult in the analogy and it'll still hold true. I'm not going to teach an adult to swim by pushing them in the deep end. Heck, that'd be an even worse idea than the child. At least a child is light enough that I could easily rescue them when they inevidably start drowning... Actually, maybe that does for metaphorically, with weight being flexibility of thought or some such nonsense... Nah, too much effort, never mind.

Aren't you belittling your friend by artificially deciding for her what her own due time is?  Isn't that choice hers to make, and not yours?

I've run quite a few RPGs, both tabletop and LARP.  I'd never imagine assuming what my players are and aren't capable of.  That simply sets everybody up to lose.

One doesn't gain experience by not experiencing.

So when we're teaching kids to swim we should just start off by throwing them in the deep end naked and seeing how they do? No, I don't buy that. There are a lot of kids who could grow up to be great swimmers; we don't need to scare them off by making their first experience with it the terror of drowning.



No.  You should make sure they are properly attired in socially acceptable clothing before throwing them off the deep end.
Prepackaged specialties don't offer me anything if I am just going to read through all of the feats and decide which ones I want anyway.  I need a reason why a prepackaged specialty can give me some added enjoyment.  It doesn't need to be a min-max advantage but it does need to offer something over the more customizable model.
I will never use specialties as such if I can pick and choose my individual feats.  I may like one specialty but not want the order that the specialty states and I would likely substitute at least one instead.
Better not to waste the space by offering specialties.  It is adding another layer of complexity with very little added value.  While novices might like it initially, most people I know would want to know what choices they missed.
i think the whole purpose to specialites is to put forward the idea that your feats shouldn't just be a hodgepodge of mechanical boons, but a tree of similarly themed options that collectively say something about what your character does in the world.

 
i think the whole purpose to specialites is to put forward the idea that your feats shouldn't just be a hodgepodge of mechanical boons, but a tree of similarly themed options that collectively say something about what your character does in the world.

The problem with that is the player becomes beholden to the developer's concept of similarly themed options.  If your playstyle isn't supported, you're SOL.  I know my concept of TWF doesn't include TWD, as an example.
i think the whole purpose to specialites is to put forward the idea that your feats shouldn't just be a hodgepodge of mechanical boons, but a tree of similarly themed options that collectively say something about what your character does in the world.

The problem with that is the player becomes beholden to the developer's concept of similarly themed options.  If your playstyle isn't supported, you're SOL.  I know my concept of TWF doesn't include TWD, as an example.




did you not notice the section that says you can come up with your own speciality? Or even the part that says you can deviate from the specialty you've chosen?

the goal isn't to have pre-made specialties cover every character concept, the goal is to get people to think of feats as a collection of similarly themed options that say something about what your character does in the world.
i think the whole purpose to specialites is to put forward the idea that your feats shouldn't just be a hodgepodge of mechanical boons, but a tree of similarly themed options that collectively say something about what your character does in the world.

The problem with that is the player becomes beholden to the developer's concept of similarly themed options.  If your playstyle isn't supported, you're SOL.  I know my concept of TWF doesn't include TWD, as an example.


That's the problem I have with it. It kind of railroads you into becoming something else which is what the background system does as well. I'd rather see a list of feats and wade through them rather than pick a tree to follow. Its the same with a set of skills and traits. Its part of building a character and I'm getting the feeling that they are kind of making that disappear. If I want to follow some tree of pre-set stuff then I'd be playing a video game instead...
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
i think the whole purpose to specialites is to put forward the idea that your feats shouldn't just be a hodgepodge of mechanical boons, but a tree of similarly themed options that collectively say something about what your character does in the world.

The problem with that is the player becomes beholden to the developer's concept of similarly themed options.  If your playstyle isn't supported, you're SOL.  I know my concept of TWF doesn't include TWD, as an example.




did you not notice the section that says you can come up with your own speciality? Or even the part that says you can deviate from the specialty you've chosen?

the goal isn't to have pre-made specialties cover every character concept, the goal is to get people to think of feats as a collection of similarly themed options that say something about what your character does in the world.

Making your own Specialty or deviating from a Specialty is functionally identical to not using Specialties at all.  The only sane reason to include them is to adhere to them.  They serve no other purpose.  I highly doubt their purpose is to guide the way the player base thinks.  I certainly hope WotC isn't that Orwellian.
i think the whole purpose to specialites is to put forward the idea that your feats shouldn't just be a hodgepodge of mechanical boons, but a tree of similarly themed options that collectively say something about what your character does in the world.

This. 

A tomato spaghetti is really just a assembly of sauce, meat balls and pasta while having a known history and origin. You can replace meat balls with sausage if you prefer while still having a tomato spaghetti. Or you can have sauce, meat balls and pasta with a different flavor and be alfredo fettucini instead. Finally you can just have a meaty sauce and a side of pasta that altogheter is not any known traditional meal.

Just like Specialties...

Prepackaged specialties don't offer me anything if I am just going to read through all of the feats and decide which ones I want anyway.



Ahh, but maybe it's not about you...  You want the complexity and customization of building your own Specialty, which the rules allow for.  The new guy, the drop-in, the one-off session; they might want fast, convenient, straight-forward character creation.  Luckily, the system caters to both camps, so it's win-win.


That's the problem I have with it. It kind of railroads you into becoming something else which is what the background system does as well. I'd rather see a list of feats and wade through them rather than pick a tree to follow. Its the same with a set of skills and traits. Its part of building a character and I'm getting the feeling that they are kind of making that disappear. If I want to follow some tree of pre-set stuff then I'd be playing a video game instead...



Again, because you can choose your own tree, it's a moot point.  Specialties are pre-packaged "kits" you can use if you don't want to choose your own tree.  It's a win-win.

Making your own Specialty or deviating from a Specialty is functionally identical to not using Specialties at all.  The only sane reason to include them is to adhere to them.  They serve no other purpose.  I highly doubt their purpose is to guide the way the player base thinks.  I certainly hope WotC isn't that Orwellian.



See, I disagree.  They serve as pre-packaged templates you can use IF YOU WANT TO.  They are collections of feats that the designers have put together, with the caveat that you can build your own instead.  It's like going to a pizza joint - you can order the Meat Lovers Pizza with x, y and z on it, or you can just pick your own toppings.  There's no influence here, it's merely a convenience that the designers are making the effort to include in order to serve the wider customer base.

tl;dr: If you don't want to use them, don't - they aren't meant for you anyways.
Aren't you belittling your friend by artificially deciding for her what her own due time is?

No, I'm respecting her by letting her decide for herself when it is rather than trying to force it on her before I have any idea whether she's ready. Painting that as belittling is absurd.

Prepackaged specialties don't offer me anything if I am just going to read through all of the feats and decide which ones I want anyway.

Prepackaged specialties aren't supposed to offer you anything you are just going to read through all of the feats and decide which ones you want anyway. That is not their purpose. You are not supposed to have any incentive to take them other than if you're just starting out and want simplicity. It seems like your real problem is that you're having trouble grasping what specialties really are. It's clear that specialties just aren't for you, and that's okay. If you don't need them, then play without them.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'm fine if specialties aren't mathematically optimal, and that they don't get used by people looking to min-max. That's who the op is talking about when he says "some specialties will be avoided".
As for chaks argument, add me to one of the people who disagree. Bundling feats to take up less design space makes sense. For one shotS, I definitely think I'd use specialties - it's easier to figure that my character is a woodsman than figure out 4 different feats. For longer term campaigns, I could see chafing at a specialty. Of course, I'm the reason we're dumbing down d&d. We're selling the fanbase short because mecorva can't hack it. FYI.
Aren't you belittling your friend by artificially deciding for her what her own due time is?

No, I'm respecting her by letting her decide for herself when it is rather than trying to force it on her before I have any idea whether she's ready. Painting that as belittling is absurd.

Not telling your friend about rules options isn't letting her decide anything.  You are actively hiding parts of the game from her.  How is that not belittling?
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