Author Topic: Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat  (Read 350 times)

Offline LanthSor

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Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat
« on: December 05, 2017, 04:40:59 PM »
Feats are unfortunately too diverse of a category to organize in the homogeneous way we do. As such I propose we reallocate how feats are acquired.
Step one throw out the old system entirely.
Step two rank the current feats, flaws, PF traits, and PF Drawbacks based on mechanical value(ie a tier list) I suggest 10 tiers. Feats and traits would cost their tier and flaws and drawbacks would grant their tier in points.
Step three define feat point gains.

Feat Points

3.5 column reflects base 3.5 feat points that can spent on any feat you meet the requirement for.
Pathfinder column reflects base pathfinder feat points that can be spent on any feat you meet the requirements for.
Fighter/Wizard feat shows how many points a class with the fighter feat progression would gain in addition to the base list, of course the classes would be limited to feats on the class list. Class feats points can be spent with general feat points to grain feats on the class list but not the other way around.
Experts feat list is any feat they meet the requirement for so they are added to the general pool instead of a class pool.

Tier List Consideration

Tier 1 would be unreasonable to take other than fluff or fundamentally required to function.
Tier 2 provides a minor benefit or penalty that is negligible. Pathfinder traits that grant +1 to a skill and make it a class skill.
Tier 3 unlocks new avenues that do not shift character option majorly.
Tier 4 refined specialization that isn't required, but helps and doesn't change gameplay massively just moderate benefits.
Tier 5 impacts your ability to succeed or opens a new option of impressive power.
Tier 6 impact is seen by the entire party but not unbalancing.
Tier 7 provides major quality of life improvement or new option.
Tier 8 provides game changing modification to character or noticeable party change.
Tier 9 alters the game world on a noticeable scale at the local level or causes significant rise in character power.
Tier 10 alter the game world or party balance in major degrees.

Feat Tier list
10- Most Scaling feats, Epic Spellcasting, Epic Leadership,  Redshirt [3.5 Flaw]
9- Leadership [Feat]
8- Vow of Poverty [3.5 Feat, BOED]
7- Roll With It[3.5 Feat, SS]
6- Skill Focus(Use Magic/Psionic Device)
5- Spell Focus(Evocation)[Feat], Improved Toughness[3.5 Feat, PHB2], Toughness[PF Feat] Spell Focus(Any)[Feat], Skill Focus(Linguistics)[PF Feat]
4- Toughness, Improved Initiative, Warded Against Nature [PF Drawback]
3- Trapfinder [PF Trait],  Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus, Spell Focus(Divination), Skill Focus(Any)
2- Duel Strike[Feat](CW), Shaky[3.5 Flaw], Reactionary [PF Trait]
1- Skill Focus(Speak Language), Percise shot.

If (any) is listed then a specific one is listed the specific one is the exception and any is the rule.
CW=Complete Warrior, SS=Savage Species, BOED=Book of Exalted Deeds, PHB2=Player Handbook 2

Please Comment with additions and adjustments to tier list and common classes to add with odd feat progressions.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2017, 07:33:42 PM by LanthSor »

Offline Eldritch_Lord

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Re: Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2017, 11:45:38 PM »
"Feat point" systems are pretty common homebrew projects in general, and this system in particular basically reinvents the exact feat point system that Sean K. Reynolds came up with back in the 3.0 days.  Unfortunately, I think the feat point approach to fixing feats is fundamentally flawed, for three reasons:

1) Feat point systems in general are too granular.

2) Getting people to agree on feat values (or setting criteria in the first place) is hard, and most people have no idea what feats are really worth or what impact they have.

3) Feats are highly variable in value on a campaign-by-campaign and character-by-character basis.

When it comes to spells, it's pretty easy to figure out where something should go on a scale of 1 to 10—or, technically, 0 to 9—because (A) spells level are gained as the characters progress, so a given class gains access to all Xth level spells at the same level and they can thus be judged to be level-appropriate or not for Xth level, and (B) spells range in power from "make your porridge taste slightly less bland" for cantrips to "ask God a favor and he has to do it for you" for 9th-level spells.

Neither of these apply to feats.  Regarding point A, a feat worth, say, 8 points might first be able to be gained at 1st level if it has no prereqs or 20th level if it has a BAB +20 prereq or the like, so there's no common basis for comparison across levels and the difference between a 6-, 7-, and 8-point feat is huge based on level gained, number of prereqs, etc.  Regarding point B, feats have a much lower average power ceiling; things like Epic Spellcasting and Epic Leadership are certainly incredibly powerful and game-changing, but there's a huge drop in power from there to things like regular Leadership which is on par with a mid level spell or two down to even powerful fighter-centric feats that work out to low level spells at best, so feats are weighted heavily towards the lower end of the scale.

Criteria and Values
I don't mean to sound overly critical, but the examples you list illustrate both issues pretty clearly:
  • Tier 3 "unlocks new avenues", but four of the five examples are purely numerical boosts (and small ones at that) that just reinforce what you're already doing.
  • Tier 4 "refines specialization" and gives "moderate benefits", but this tier include both Toughness and Improved Initiative; the former grants a negligible benefit that one won't even notice past level 1 or maybe 2 and the latter grants a universally useful and noticeably-large bonus to a stat that everyone wants and is hard to boost, so it's hardly a "moderate" benefit for either one, and neither one is about specializing at all.
  • Tier 5 "impacts your ability to succeed" (which literally every feat does) or "opens a new option of impressive power" (which none of the listed examples do, making it hard to judge what "impressive" is supposed to mean here).
  • Tier 7 "provides major quality of life improvement or new options", neither of which the listed example does (DR 2, even 2/—, is fairly trivial past the low levels and doesn't grant any new capabilities).
  • Tier 8 "provides game changing modification to character or noticeable party change", and yes, Vow of Poverty does do that...but only in the sense that a character who takes it is pretty severely restricted without items and is noticeably weaker.
Those are five different tiers that all claim to do basically the same thing—grant generic numerical boosts or grant new options—yet there's nothing to differentiate them aside from some vague adjectives and none of the listed examples clearly fit into those categories at all.

To return to Vow of Poverty for a moment, it's a terrible feat.  VoP doesn't provide anything comparable to the benefit of items in terms of either power or options, characters with the feat rarely meet the sort of "must be this tall to play" level-appropriate benchmarks, many classes are weakened at best or crippled at worst without items even if the raw numerical bonuses from VoP are level-appropriate, and so forth.  By the listed criteria, it's a Tier 1 feat: you take it if you were going to roleplay a peasant without two coppers to rub together anyway and don't want to be completely useless, otherwise don't bother.

...Unless you're playing in a game where you loot is very limited (survival horror, fighting lots of monsters without gear) or overly restricted (DM is stingy with loot for you or the whole party, a module with random loot tables where everything's subpar) anyway and you're a monk or druid or other class that can survive without the limited gear you get, in which case it's a no-brainer pure power-up that everyone wants to take and 1 point is far too low a cost for the benefits.

The reverse goes for Leadership (usually very strong, occasionally useless instead of usually useless, occasionally very strong), but it's the same general idea: there's a big difference between taking Leadership in a campaign where armies are useful, the DM lets you build your cohort and choose your follower, you're doing lots of roleplaying and politicking where contacts are useful, and so forth versus taking it in a campaign where you're dungeon-delving with no room for many NPCs, the DM randomizes your cohort and followers or builds them for flavor, and so on.  Item creation feats are somewhere in the middle: usually of moderate power, amazing if you have lots of downtime and/or can use cost-reducers, useless if you're running from one adventure to another and/or get custom-tailored gear already.

On a character basis, some feats have certain synergy with class abilities (metamagic feats are better for full casters than for half-casters because they have the slots to use them, Martial Study is better if you already have an initiator level from your class and so can get higher-level maneuvers at a given character level and recover them in combat), some have synergy with other feats (Psionic Body with lots of other psionic feats, Arcane Thesis with lots of metamagic), and some are just very niche (Lightning Mace is a weak-to-mediocre feat on its own, but with critical enhancers, aptitude abuse, and the like it gets really ridiculous).

The only way to fairly price these sorts of feats using such granular and variable criteria as feat points so that characters don't either snap up tons of especially-good-for-them feats for 1 or 2 points apiece or have to spend 7 or 8 points for marginal benefit would be to give the feats differing point values for different characters based on their class, race, build, other feats, etc., and that's a rabbit hole that no one is ever going to go down successfully.


As the very first line of your post says, feats are too diverse to categorize them overly strictly.  Using the same universal "1 feat slot" currency is a poor way to organize them, but trying to shoehorn feats into an at once overly-rigid and overly-broad system like feat points doesn't improve on the matter at all, it just goes from too few incoherent categories to too many incoherent categories.

Offline Archon

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Re: Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2017, 05:57:23 AM »
A system like this would work well with one of those systems which turn the entire system into point buy (which are universally lacking in content and pretty poorly balanced, from what I can see, though).

But all of the things Eldritch_Lord said are very true - your levels are poorly distinguished, and the example feats are wildly placed - many of the feats I would consider interesting/good to take (darkstalker, martial study, metamagic, item creation, even aberration feats), are missing, and would have to ranked higher than the feats you show - which all seem to be mechanical number increasing feats. - you don't have any feats which actually open a option until about tier 7.

If you were to go with this system in future, I would:

1. re-write feats so they are less pre-requisite dependant (on feats), and merge/split some to make more natural packages.
2. use a narrower range of tiers (say, four), and live with the fact that you will have lots of bad feats at the bottom, and probably can't price epic spell-casting or epic leadership. Because those feats are so powerful that they probably breach expected feat guidelines - both are intended to open epic options to a existing build, which that build kinda expects to have at those levels, rather than really be a build option.

Offline LanthSor

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Re: Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2017, 08:09:05 PM »
Thanks for input. That helps a lot, I'll be rethinking the approach.

I posted over on Giant as well this was much more enlightening.

Offline Archon

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Re: Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 01:56:54 AM »
I'll be glad to see what you come up with

Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: Alternate Feat/Flaw System: Balancing Feat vs Feat
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2017, 01:26:22 PM »
Many threads have been made to redesign and rebalance feats. And for good reasons. Sometime the scope was a small set or groups of feats, othertimes it was aimed at all of them. I don't think I ever came upon writing which succeeded in the goals that it set for itself. Nevertheless, I would love to make it works.
So, bring it on.

If you're going to throw out the old system, then why rank whatever it is the exists today?
If we're honest for a moment, most if not all of d&d's problems stems from trying to come up with new things that either don't equal in power level to what already is in game, or serve a different purpose and therefore cannot be even compared. Examples include Natural Spell for druids which is a a must have, so much so that it shouldn't even be an option to not take it; Extra rage is a trap - it is more beneficial if you up your cons' score. Ride-by attack is bizarrely worded, a problem for some feats which because of RAW won't allow for combination with newer additions.
There are feats that mimic spells which seems to me like an unnatural duality because of undefined roles for both spellcasting and feats.
And not to mention the ungodly amount of splatbooks and extras that contribute to this giant mass.

My suggestion - create some sort of scaling meter to compare the material up against. What doesn't shape up when compared to the ruler isn't allowed in game.
Keep in mind that, like I mentioned above, it is highly advisable to declare in advance what is the role of feats. What are the boundaries. Who will gain access and when (you don't have to follow the fighter and/or wizard feat progression).

Now I see the 10 tiers you wrote down. My gripe with how it is presented is that it is so far away from math. It is also far from philosophical logic which is quantifiable and sometimes is used in a math-like way.
So, at least for me, this is not really usable.

But don't stay your hand. I'd love to see something of this nature succeed.

@Eldritch_Lord: Well done for this explanation. It is very well made and presented. You win a star.