So in general like the idea of feats, I think that they’re implemented poorly in D&D 3.X and Pathfinder — especially as you go into the later splatbooks and such, feats become worse and worse in my perspective, both in terms of power creep and in terms of carving off things anyone should be able to do and making it a feat. In general, I think there are three things that a feat should be allowed to do: take away a penalty (as with Precise Shot and shooting in to Melee), give a bonus (as with Point-Blank Shot and targets within 30ft), or allow an action that’s normally impossible (such as Versatile Channeling). A feat that adds an effect to an action (like Stand Still) is effectively giving a bonus, and a feat that lets you perform certain complex actions (such as Bounding Hammer) is probably just removing a penalty (ie, you could attempt to bounce hammers off foes without the feat but at a high penalty). I intend to eliminate or greatly alter feats that I feel simply allow an action that anyone should be able to take (I’m thinking especially of Power Attack and I suspect there are others).
Aside from pruning the trees, I also intend to flatten them. There are a number of feats that are chained together with prerequisites that don’t necessarily matter, and this needlessly prevents effective use of Feats to specialize and customize characters. Why should you have to learn how to shoot accurately at close range before firing at extreme range? And why does a character have to be 7th Level before they can gather followers? I’m not sure that last should even be a Feat (especially when it seems that it was rather fundamental in older versions of D&D).
In order to decouple chains and flatten trees in a meaningful way, though, we need to understand what the current requirements are, what those requirements represent, and whether that’s a meaningful requirement to have. A lot of this relies on my understanding of the intent of the 3.X system (which Pathfinder is based on). (more…)