I've been thinking of feats for a long time. From my point of view feats are the mess that killed 3E, and even in 4E they are too many and they cause the biggest unbalance. There are some not used feats and there are "must have" feats.
Levels, races, classes, ability scores, and skills have to be enough in a simple game. And perhaps magic items as supplement as well.
If feats stay, I would prefer if they were just a few, and more universal, like More Powerful Attack (regardless of attack by sword, by bow or by magic) or Improved Armor (regardless of type of armor) for instance.
Less skills ment better balanced, universal skills with all valid choices. Split feats to combat and non-combat would be useful as well I guess.
Split feats into combat and noncombat, AND HAVE A DIFFERENT RESOURCE FOR EACH. Call them feats and Talents, or something, but by cordening them off, you can take roleplaying flaws for roleplaying talents, without min maxers charoping through the roof.
More than anything you just need to keep the number of feats in check. Currently when I load up the character builder I have over 1,000 feats to choose from when I create a 1st level character. You would think that more choices amounts to more happiness but it doesn't. There is no way I'm going to read through 1,000 feats. Therefor I know ahead of time that I'm not picking the best feat for my character.
There's something called the paradox of choice. More choices equates to more happiness up to a point. After a while though you become overwhelmed and you hate all the choices you're given because there's no way you can make the right one.
So what is the magic number where people feel like they have plenty of choice, but don't feel overwhelmed? Studies suggest 5-8. This isn't really that surprising since that number also corresponds with the number of things an average person can keep in their head at once.
Now clearly if feats were implemented we'd like to have more than 5-8 feats. This is where nesting or categorization comes in.
5-8 categories of feats (combat, social, exploration, stealth, etc...)
5-8 feats in each category.
This is easy to follow, you can find the kind of feats you're looking for very quickly, you won't feel overwhelmed but you run in to an issue. This system isn't easy to expand on. Historically expansion books have added additional feats but this system allows for a maximum of 64 feats. That may not be enough for some people and you'd either have to drastically limit your initial feat numbers or release few or no expansion feats.
Another idea that has been explored in the past are feat trees or paths. This system means that after you choose a feat you have some additional feats you may choose down the line based on prerequisites. A path gives you a single progression of prerequisite feats where as a tree offers different ways to progress a single feat. Both of these systems have been used in the past and they are not mutually exclusive.
This could be added into the above system so that each feat ends up with a progression path or tree of feats nested under it. The issue with this is that it can still be overwhelming. You now need to be aware of each feat's progression rather than just the base feat. On the other hand it could offer some further expansion without being too overwhelming because if the base feat doesn't fit your character odds are the progression feats won't either.
Also, Race and class prerequisits can also be used to limit a catigory to 5-8 choices.
That is, the "Race" catigory can have 8 choices for Human, 8 choices for Elf, ect.
I don't mind the concept of feats, just the implementation and how they can become redundant or useless as more get published.
Reguardless of all things they should be made optional. In 3rd ed they weren't, in 4th ed they were. I've actually dropped feats from most of my 4e games and I don't miss them.
I do like the customization that feats allow, but without the guides on the CharOp boards I'd be completely lost in the sea of them.
4E's feat system is almost perfect. There is a wide variety of feats available so you rarely see the same feat progression all the time. They need to be more balanced, and I love the idea of a feat/talent system seperating combat and non-combat options.
Yes, have feats.
Yes, have fewer and more generic versions of them.
Yes, make them an optional module.
I think Feats will be optional (maybe part of a module, or in the Basic game).
WotC should pick, either have Feats OR (Non-magic-user) Powers. Powers basically replaced what Feats were for the 3.X game, and were needless weight in 4E.
So, either haveweapon-based characters get Powers (ie, 4E system for one or both types), or give them Feats. Spellcasters wouldn't need Feats (since they have spells), or at least not get nearly as many as weapon-classes.
I expect I'm a minority in this, but I think feats should be almost universally cordonned off into specific, limited areas. Something like a race, class, or other prerequisite for almost every feat, with only a handful of generics (that are broader but generally weaker than the others). Ideally the number of feats you actually qualify should be within that 64 number someone mentioned, or at least somewhere close, with some of the generics being obviously trumped by more specialized feats you qualified for.
Edit to add: A key requirement for this to work is that every race/class has to be published with a healthy chunk of feats.
Basic static mods need to be out of feats entirely, and have a simple category for them. +X damage, +1 attack, +1 AC, +X HP.. etc.. these sort of things need to compete strictly with each other and never be pitted against anything more narrow. Maybe call it 'specializations' or something. But +1 attack shouldn't be in the same set of choices as the things that modify your combat style like improving your racial power, or getting a bonus at-will as an encounter power.
Non-combat options also need to be a seperate resource pool of some kind. Every character should have some variation of cantrips, wilderness talents, psionic talents, etc. Something that lets them do cool things that aren't necessarily applicable to defeating opponents in armed combat.
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