A new Idea for Feats

Right now feats hold an odd design space. They are meant to provide options to expand upon your character but they cover both combat and non combat abilities. This has been shown to be a poor design for the last 2.5 editions. Combat character creation and non combat character creation resources should not be forced to compete with eachother.

As such I propose that feats be split up into two categories: Combat Feats and non-combat feats. A PC will gain a combat feat at levels 1, 3, 9, and 15. A PC will gain a non-combat feat at levels 1, 6, 12, and 18. By level 20 PCs will have 4 combat and 4 non-combat feats.

Giving all PCs more non-combat options will help improve gameplay overall as classes who currently have significantly fewer non-combat capabilities will gain a significant non-combat boost.

My 5e Homebrew Material

The Warblade: A Mythic Fighter

The Hero: A Modular Class

What if all someone wants is one category or the other?
What if all someone wants is one category or the other?

Wouldn't that really depend on the game? What if someone doesn't want feats at all? I'll be interested to see how someone without feats performs next to someone who does have them.

What if all someone wants is one category or the other?

That is kind of the point of the split, to prevent people from taking all combat or all non-combat feats. Throughout 3e and 4e the majority of players chose "combat" feats instead of "RP" feats. Well, now players can have both.

If the player really wants nothing in regards to out of combat resources they can easily take the feats skill focus and skill mastery for underwater basket weaving. 
That is kind of the point of the split, to prevent people from taking all combat or all non-combat feats. Throughout 3e and 4e the majority of players chose "combat" feats instead of "RP" feats.

So?
Well, now players can have both.

Now players are mandated to take both.


Here's how to do it:
Recycle Talents from SWSE.

It's that simple.

I don't see how it'd be such a tragedy to ask players to focus on more than one thing, and one of the problems with feats is how broad in scope they are. Traits are good too.


My issue with this specific idea is it means I have to look through more than one list. It also lengthens the time between things by alternating selection, which may not be that bad but it means someone who's seriously focused on non combat has to wait twice as long for their next upgrade.


I think probably the more common complaint would be having to wait for their next combat feat.

Actually this is brilliant, you wanna know why you have so many people taking all combat options and the social/exploration feats get labled as garbage? BEcause if you have to choose between +2 to diplomacy and +3 to damage, guess whose gonna win.

Give everyone social abilities without forcing them to trade their combat powers and you'll be likely to see non-combat actions even from the most hardcore min-maxers since they now have the ability to impact a non-combat encounter.

The problem with offering combat and non-combat options out of the same resourse pool is two fold: 1.) It's exceedingly difficult to balance between them because of how different the systems they run on are. 2.) COmbat is often consisdered the more reliabel and higher stakes, so focusing on combat abilities is generally smarter.

By running them off different resource pools you allow for game customization (feats, no feats, non-com feats only, com-feats only), it gives the min-maxxers the ability to participate in non-combat encounters without getting into a huge row with the DM, it keeps the actors from gimping themselves and hamstringing the party, and it's balanced.

Here's how to do it:
Recycle Traits from SWSE.

It's that simple.



How did traits work in SWSE ? I've never had a chance to try it out . I'd love to hear how it was done and how it could make non-combat better for DDN

Thank you,

It is a good idea that people have been suggesting for years. I know several people (including myself) suggested it when 4e was in the works. If the designers are worried about naming, change one from feats to abilities, traits, or whatever. It doesn't really complicate the game as it doesn't add more feats, just splits up the list.

The only real issue is people trawling through the non-combat list to find feats they can use in combat anyway. Such as +2 to bluff so they can feint better in combat. This is really a minor issue though as long as the designers keep that possibility in mind when designing feats.

I would also suggest that there be one feat that lets you take one option from the other side, but it should only be available once per character. That would give a bit of flexibility to people who wanted to focus on combat or non-combat without letting them go overboard. That depends a bit on the number of feats available though, with Next's very limited number of feats, that might be focusing too much onto one side or the other.

I've been saying to do this since 3E hit the shelves in 2000...technically before that, as 2E's non-weapon proficiencies had several combat-related ones mixed in with the OOC ones (why not take blind-fighting as opposed to fire-building?).

"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H.P. Lovecraft
How did traits work in SWSE ? I've never had a chance to try it out . I'd love to hear how it was done and how it could make non-combat better for DDN

Oops.  They are called "Talents".  Sorry about that.

They were, essentially, "light" feats, arranged into families and trees. 
swrpgrc.com/files/Saga%20Edition%20Resou...

Looks like DDN does recycle the concept, and just mashed it into Feats.
I think the feats are on the right track as it is. For the first time since...ever really, my players are taking feats like skill training and herbalism, and not thinking twice about it.
My two copper.


 That is kind of the point of the split, to prevent people from taking all combat or all non-combat feats. Throughout 3e and 4e the majority of players chose "combat" feats instead of "RP" feats. Well, now players can have both.

Why is "preventing people from making specific choices" such a good idea that you have to make the game MORE complicated to achive this goal?

If the player really wants nothing in regards to out of combat resources they can easily take the feats skill focus and skill mastery for underwater basket weaving. 


Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?
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Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?

What if, background traits accumulated over levels?

Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?

What if, background traits accumulated over levels?



that would be awesome (they'd be a bit like feats in that regard)
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That is kind of the point of the split, to prevent people from taking all combat or all non-combat feats. Throughout 3e and 4e the majority of players chose "combat" feats instead of "RP" feats. Well, now players can have both.

Why is "preventing people from making specific choices" such a good idea that you have to make the game MORE complicated to achive this goal?

If the player really wants nothing in regards to out of combat resources they can easily take the feats skill focus and skill mastery for underwater basket weaving. 


Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?



Chuck i think you are missing the point slighty, but Rampant said it much better than I did.

It is almost impossible to balance a combat feat with a non combat feat simply because each DM devotes a different amount of time to each. What is a better option increasing you HP by 33% (durable) or herbalist. What about doubling your damage (riposte) or skill training? What about gaining advantage on all attacks (that two weapon fighting feat) or advantage on all climb chekcs? Most people end up chosing the combat feats, and that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Combat feats also tend to be the most "visible" so players tend to gravitate towards those. Even wotc has said that the majority of feats chosen (from character builder data) are combat feats. Currently, if one PC choses 4 combat feats and another choses 4 RP feats, then you end up with a huge disparity between PC capabilities.

Having two separate types of feats player can choose will not only help PCs grow while remaining balanced, but will lead to more interesting "characters" overall. Afterall having all players end up with 4 RP feats and 4 combat feats will most certainly lead to more diverse characters than PCs with only 4 combat feats.

It also is in no way complicating the game. At most it requires feats to have a lable: combat or non-combat. If you think that is complicated let me introduce you to my friend spell save DCs and magical attack bonus.
Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?

What if, background traits accumulated over levels?



I think backgrounds should grant "skill tricks" similar to 4e skill utility powers and 5e skill tricks. 1 at level 1, and an extra at 5, 10, 15, and 20. 

Rogues will have their unique class specific skill tricks and more skill tricks than everyone else (but only the same number of trained skills).
Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?

What if, background traits accumulated over levels?



I think backgrounds should grant "skill tricks" similar to 4e skill utility powers and 5e skill tricks. 1 at level 1, and an extra at 5, 10, 15, and 20. 

Rogues will have their unique class specific skill tricks and more skill tricks than everyone else (but only the same number of trained skills).


That puts a lot of pressure on using what's listed in the book rather than making your own if you want to.
My two copper.
Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?

What if, background traits accumulated over levels?



I think backgrounds should grant "skill tricks" similar to 4e skill utility powers and 5e skill tricks. 1 at level 1, and an extra at 5, 10, 15, and 20. 

Rogues will have their unique class specific skill tricks and more skill tricks than everyone else (but only the same number of trained skills).


That puts a lot of pressure on using what's listed in the book rather than making your own if you want to.

Nah, the background would just be a preselcted group of skills, a trait, and the 5 skill tricks you gain. Exactly the same as specialties being a group of pre-selected feats.

If you build your own you choose the 5 skills, 1 trait, and 5 skill tricks by yourself. 

That is kind of the point of the split, to prevent people from taking all combat or all non-combat feats. Throughout 3e and 4e the majority of players chose "combat" feats instead of "RP" feats. Well, now players can have both.

Why is "preventing people from making specific choices" such a good idea that you have to make the game MORE complicated to achive this goal?

If the player really wants nothing in regards to out of combat resources they can easily take the feats skill focus and skill mastery for underwater basket weaving. 


Or design some OOC feat that are ACTUALY GOOD... wouldn't that be an easier and empowering way to "force" players to take OOC feats?



Chuck i think you are missing the point slighty, but Rampant said it much better than I did.

It is almost impossible to balance a combat feat with a non combat feat simply because each DM devotes a different amount of time to each. What is a better option increasing you HP by 33% (durable) or herbalist. What about doubling your damage (riposte) or skill training? What about gaining advantage on all attacks (that two weapon fighting feat) or advantage on all climb chekcs? Most people end up chosing the combat feats, and that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Combat feats also tend to be the most "visible" so players tend to gravitate towards those. Even wotc has said that the majority of feats chosen (from character builder data) are combat feats. Currently, if one PC choses 4 combat feats and another choses 4 RP feats, then you end up with a huge disparity between PC capabilities.

Having two separate types of feats player can choose will not only help PCs grow while remaining balanced, but will lead to more interesting "characters" overall. Afterall having all players end up with 4 RP feats and 4 combat feats will most certainly lead to more diverse characters than PCs with only 4 combat feats.

It also is in no way complicating the game. At most it requires feats to have a lable: combat or non-combat. If you think that is complicated let me introduce you to my friend spell save DCs and magical attack bonus.



The funny thing is, In my game, combat and non-combat feats are being picked in about the same ratio.

My point was simply that instead of giving a label to all feats and alternating between choosing a combat and a non-combat feat, the devs could simply make non-combat feats more apealing. players WILL consider them more when they chose their feats if they are really good.
It may not be THAT more complicated, but to a new player, every twist of rules matter.
And there are games out there where players only pick combat feat because that's what the game is all about for them, and that's cool too! I wouldn't want them to "have to" pick feats they don't give a crap about just for the sake of balance.

Also, I don't think there would be a huge disparity in capabilities between a character that picks 4 combat feats and another one who picks 4 non-combat feats: there might be a huge disparity in COMBAT capabilities yes, but in capabilities overall, I think the later would do just fine if not better. Don't forget that the second player CHOSE to pick all non-combat feats, so a combat inballance might not be an issue at all to him or her

That's the beauty of feats: you get to define what your character is all about, with no restrictions.
you pick all feats in the "strangling people" feat chain? well, you are about helping people kick the oxygen habit.
you pick all the herbalism feats ? your character is a happy gardener 
You pick a mish-mash of unrelated feats? your character is a dabbler

I think feats as they are right now are in a sort of weird position: there is not enough of them to realy help define your character, and they are not powerfull enough to realy make an impact.
They feel like an afterthought: they were there in the last 2 edition, and most people likes them, so they are back...bland as ever  
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The funny thing is, In my game, combat and non-combat feats are being picked in about the same ratio.

My point was simply that instead of giving a label to all feats and alternating between choosing a combat and a non-combat feat, the devs could simply make non-combat feats more apealing. players WILL consider them more when they chose their feats if they are really good.
It may not be THAT more complicated, but to a new player, every twist of rules matter.
And there are games out there where players only pick combat feat because that's what the game is all about for them, and that's cool too! I wouldn't want them to "have to" pick feats they don't give a crap about just for the sake of balance. 



Yeah, at first I was very much opposed to non-combat feats, but the way they've been implemented is better than I feared.

I think they've done a few things right:

1. Since most feats give you new options rather than just more power in combat, and those that DO give you more power are fairly restrained, you're not giving up basic effectiveness when you choose non-combat feats.

2. Most of the noncombat feats are actually quite powerful. 

3. There are few noncombat feats that just take over RP aspects of the game. No "leadership" feat if you want to attract followers.

Right now, a character with all "non-combat" feats will excel in other aspects of the game but still be quite effective in combat; conversely, a character with all combat feats is awesome in combat and hopefully not useless in exploration and interaction. 

I dont think its necessary. Its a team game. The character takes what is best for the party and it all balances out. If some characters are a little better in combat or outside of combat than other it doesn’t matter. The party is one entity.


I dont think its necessary. It a team game. The character takes what is best for the party and it all balances out. If some characters are a little better in combat or outside of combat than other it doesn’t matter. The party is one entity.




I don't disagree that it is a team game; however, I can't expect my players to sacrifice their fun, because that is what is best for the party.  There should be a way to play the game without having to make that sacrifice.
Ok please this is a playtest forum for dnd. 

No real world politics, religion, or blatant optimism. 

You'll invoke the wrath of Murphy. 

I dont think its necessary. Its a team game. The character takes what is best for the party and it all balances out. If some characters are a little better in combat or outside of combat than other it doesn’t matter. The party is one entity.




I don't disagree that it is a team game; however, I can't expect my players to sacrifice their fun, because that is what is best for the party.  There should be a way to play the game without having to make that sacrifice.



You are only going to sacrifice fun if the feats arent fun. Feats are one of the few areas where I give Next five stars. Besides if someone wants to take a combat feat when the party needs a skills expert there is nothing stopping them from being a selfish adventurer.
Right now feats hold an odd design space. They are meant to provide options to expand upon your character but they cover both combat and non combat abilities. This has been shown to be a poor design for the last 2.5 editions. Combat character creation and non combat character creation resources should not be forced to compete with eachother.

As such I propose that feats be split up into two categories: Combat Feats and non-combat feats. A PC will gain a combat feat at levels 1, 3, 9, and 15. A PC will gain a non-combat feat at levels 1, 6, 12, and 18. By level 20 PCs will have 4 combat and 4 non-combat feats.

Giving all PCs more non-combat options will help improve gameplay overall as classes who currently have significantly fewer non-combat capabilities will gain a significant non-combat boost.




so you mean exactly how older editions used weapon and non weapon proficiency slots as you leveled. im fine with the setup i like it alot and it would end the fighter issues with no no outside of combat skills
No it doesn't.

Even if we implemented 2 feat pools the fighter class still needs OOC abilities or the other classes need to  loose theirs.

This vastly improves the feat system, it doesn't fix the classes. 
 This has been shown to be a poor design for the last 2.5 editions.


I have never figured out how people prove that something is bad game design.  Posters love to claim that something they personally don't like is "bad game design" when other posters like it.

Anyone have an opinion on how to prove something is "actually" bad game design and not just subjectively disliked?
"Prove"?  No idea.

But it's something that's been complained about - loudly - every once in a while, for a long time.
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Why is that bad game design? Let the player chose what he wants to focus on.

The good thing right now about feats is that it gives you options instead of making you numerically better. This is excellent. It means that you can have a PC that is viable in combat with zero options beyond basic attack and loads of fun options outside of combat.  
The 4e designers talked about how they were disappointed that the majority of players chose combat related utility powers and feats instead of non combat utility powers and feats at one point I believe.

Also the WoW devs have talked about the topic a lot in regards to DPS talents and "fun" talents. Through extensive data they were seeing that the majority of players would forgo "fun" abilities in favor of even a 1% DPS increase. Current talent trees now have the "DPS" abilities baked in and most talents are "fun".

I know other game designers have talked about how when combat and non combat resources come from the same pool it easily creates imbalance.

If 5e feats were less powerful overall this probably wouldn't be an issue but when you have a fighter who takes skills such as climb, swim, profession (blacksmith), and craft, who then takes skill focus/mastery for each of those skills for his 4 feats and compare it to a rogue who takes 4 combat feats and you notice a huge disparity. The rogue will be 3x as good at non-combat and twice as good in combat.

I'm all for letting the player decide what they want to focus their character around, but I don't think limiting that focus is good. It makes more sense for the player to choose a combat focus and a non combat focus. PCs aren't one dimensional killing machines after all.
If 5e feats were less powerful overall this probably wouldn't be an issue


But doesn't this point towards the real problem? In 13th Age each class has both Talents and Feats. The Talents are what provide major benefits that define a character (like making the Ranger a powerful TWF). Feats just provide limited enhancement to a specific maneuver/spell/power/Talent/Class feature, etc. This two-tiered approach keeps feats from having to do the heavy lifting and thus allows them to be much more focused and balanced. If players could make their character's combat capabalities distinct without having to burn up feats, they would be much more likely to use a feat to get an extra skill or some other non-combat ability.

That type of split (between Powerful feats and Weak feats) gives the developers more design space while allowing the players to decide how much balance they want between combat and non-combat capability. On the other hand, splitting feats between combat and non-combat slots forces a particular mix on players and doesn't address the issue that has plagued feats in 3E and 4E, which is how terribly uneven they are.


Again, I'll repeat. As it stands right now, I have seen plenty of people picking non combat feats. Most of this seems like fear borne from 3e and 4e, and can be visualized in 5e. But in reality, from my experience at least, the "combat" feats aren't so good that people who want to take other feats don't. I even have rogues taking extra skills instead of Ambusher and the like. That's a good sign, because ambusher is a good feat.
My two copper.
What if all someone wants is one category or the other?

That's one of the areas where modules can easily fix things.  You publish them in different lists, and then have optional rules that each table can pick according to group preference.

1) Choose combat feats at 1, 3, 9... and noncombat feats at 1, 6, 12...
2) Take feats from one list at 1, 3, 9... and from the other at 1, 6, 12...  Each player may choose which list he takes from first and which he takes from second.
3) Take feats from either list whenever you gain a feat.

For those of us who think separate pools are a good idea, having them published in separate lists is helpful.  Having a "sanctioned" rule to that effect helps too.  Those of you who think it's a bad idea lose absolutely nothing to having them organized separately.  In fact, it helps because the pacifist character doesn't have to leaf through pages of combat feats and the warmonger needn't leaf through pages of skill feats, and even the versatilist can decide which facet he wants to focus on this time or at worst read through the same number of feats in a different order that's no less arbitrary than alphabetical by meaningless name.  The only time it would get in the way is if you remembered the name of the feat you wanted but forgot whether it was a combat or non-combat feat - seems like a pretty corner-case scenario to me.  
How did traits work in SWSE ? I've never had a chance to try it out . I'd love to hear how it was done and how it could make non-combat better for DDN

Oops.  They are called "Talents".  Sorry about that.

They were, essentially, "light" feats, arranged into families and trees. 
swrpgrc.com/files/Saga%20Edition%20Resou...

Looks like DDN does recycle the concept, and just mashed it into Feats.



Thanks for the link, I see what you mean,
 
I agree with the notion that a lot of what gets blamed on a general unwillingness to pick noncombat feats is actually more due to the fact that in 3.5 and 4e, noncombat feats tended to either not be very good or not be clearly synergistic, which discouraged people from taking them pretty often. 3e's initial eyeballing of how powerful different effects should be as feats was a little off, which is understandable since they were sort of a new thing at the time, but those baselines served as guides for how powerful different feats should be for a long time. While the relative value of pretty much any two feats varies with the campaign style, in general a campaign had to be atypically combat-light for most non-combat feats to merit consideration.

Note that I'm not saying this because I'm an OMG munchkin who only cares about combat and goshdurnit if I was playing in your campaign then you'd have me appreciating the +3 forgery bonus. In what I would consider a highly atypical campaign, that sort of thing is worth it and I would take it.

It's also the case that people tended to take combat feats in 3.5 because there were just more of them. 3.5's PHB has basically four kinds of feats -

Item creation feats, which were popular and widely-taken.
Combat feats, of which the good ones were popular and widely-taken
Skill Focus and the +2/+2 skill feats, which are bonuses that are pretty small for a feat.
Leadership, which was so potent that it was commonly restricted by DMs. (As a long-time DM, 3.5 leadership is the only game element I can ever remember explicitly cutting out ahead of time.)

So basically it had the property that the non-combat feats were all bad except for the one that was actually way too good. There are piles of bad combat feats too, but those don't matter. The feats that matter are the ones that people want to take. The non-combat feats also are pretty invisible; they don't give you novel abilities, you don't announce you're using them, and since people who are actually taking Skill Focus or a +2/+2 feat probably are putting ranks into the relevant skill anyway, they don't really affect your decision making that much. Subjectively, I feel as though that makes them more boring, which doesn't help their standing.

Next, to its credit, seems to have finally gotten on the train in terms of making non-combat feats appropriately cool and interesting. Many of them are active and give you novel capabilities. The way ability checks work I think even makes skill focus more interesting, although people I've played with haven't been taking it, possibly because it still has Bad Feat stink on it. I think that that's all you have to do to make non-combat feats feel right in the same pool as combat feats: make them as interesting and cool as the combat feats.
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Again, I'll repeat. As it stands right now, I have seen plenty of people picking non combat feats.

LOL And so far, I can't think of a character that HAS picked a pure non-combat feat. Even the free cantrip feats taken were taken so that all the combat cantrips could be taken along with some utility ones and even herbalism was for the healing buff and NOT to make stuff.

Skill feats have been skipped over with NO hesitation or looking over them. People wanting to be a skill monkey pick the rogue. Why take a bunch of feats to just get you to the almost what the rogue starts with?
Again, I'll repeat. As it stands right now, I have seen plenty of people picking non combat feats.

LOL And so far, I can't think of a character that HAS picked a pure non-combat feat. Even the free cantrip feats taken were taken so that all the combat cantrips could be taken along with some utility ones and even herbalism was for the healing buff and NOT to make stuff.

Skill feats have been skipped over with NO hesitation or looking over them. People wanting to be a skill monkey pick the rogue. Why take a bunch of feats to just get you to the almost what the rogue starts with?




is this a system issue with player choice or an issue with the player mindset. i bet if you let them design a tipical character for them and then running a low combat more intellectual based campaign they would see the error of their ways
So the only way the game works is if you run it the one true way?
So the only way the game works is if you run it the one true way?



What a reach
Not really that's what Just mike suggested, take character generation out of the player's hands and don't use combat so much.

Furthermore that still doesn't address the mechanical discrepancies and general dullness of the non-combat feats. 

It's just not smart design to try to charge the player the same cost for skill focus basket weaving as it costs to pick up weapon focus or rapidshot.

Putting them in separate pools solves the issue nicely, what exactly are you trying to protect by arguing agaisnt the idea?