Feat Points

Its not a secret that not all feats are created equal. In a world where Prone Shooter and Rapid Shot are both options that cost one feat, how can there be balance? I’ve talked earlier about my philosophy of character resource and power, and this is just an extension of that reasoning.

In the past, I’ve tried to add scaling to feats to make them all comparable. However, I found that that solution was far too time consuming and lead to really weird power creep. For example, most people would agree that Skill Focus (Acrobatics) is not as strong as Power Attack. However, how could we balance them? We could have the skill focus give a bigger bonus, but at some point the bonus becomes absurd and would break the skill system wide open. Even beyond balance problems, I don’t have the patience or creative juice to re-write every pathfinder feat ever written, and my play group does not want to read 300 pages of basically custom feats I’ve tried to balance.

This is when I stumbled on a great idea in the Giant In The Playground Forum: Give each feat a point value. Then whenever your character would gain a feat, you instead gain some number of feat points to spend on feats.

The main drawback of the system is of course that since you are now trying to quantify the value of individual parts of a complex system no two people will be able to clearly agree on how much a given feat costs. You can see this in action in the link above since the writer of that point system references a previous iteration which in turn references another until we get back to Sean K. Reynolds blog-post (which he has taken down due to too much argument.)

So Why am I writing yet another feat point blog post? Well, the previous incarnations were for DnD 3.5, or were never completed, So without further ado, here are my feat point rules!

Feat Points

Whenever you would gain a feat, you instead gain 8 feat points. You may spend feat points on feats whenever you would normally gain a feat.

If you gain a bonus feat from a limited list, you instead gain a number of feat points equal to the most valuable feat in that list. Feat points gained this way may only be used to buy feats on that limited list, but may be combined freely with feat points from other sources.

You may choose not to spend all of your feat points when you gain them, instead saving them for later levels.

An example

A level 1 half-orc fighter starts with 8 feat points from his 1 hit die. He also gains 8 feat points from his fighter bonus feat class feature. Our half-orc could spend 4 generall feat points on skill focus (perception). He could spend 4 of his combat feat points on weapon focus (battleaxe) and he could spend 4 of his remaining general feat points along with the 4 combat feat points to learn power attack. However, he could not spend those points on learning eclectic as eclectic is not a combat feat.

You can find my point values for Paizo RPG rulebooks here. I’ve priced out feats up to Ultimate Magic so far. You can use this Greasemonkey script (get Greasemonkey here) to see my point values on the Archive of Nethys. To install the script click on ‘raw’ in the top right of the script code.

Pricing Philosophy

Why 8 points?

Eight is a good number. It can be divided in half, and then in half again. It gives you a decent range for prices without having too much wiggle room for arguments.

No feat costs more than 8 points

Once you start playing with values above the maximum there is no end to how much you can second guess your point values.

Power attack is worth 8 points

You have to pick anchor points somewhere. In my mind, power attack is an excellent feat from a design stand point. It scales with levels, so it never becomes irrelevant. It feels good to use, because in the usual case, you are getting +3 or more damage with it. And most importantly, you don’t need to jump through any hoops to use it. You pick up a chair and you can power attack with it.

So that will be my criteria for an 8 point feat.

  1. Feels good to use
  2. Always relevant
  3. Don’t need to work hard to turn it on

Weapon Focus is worth 4 points

Weapon focus is a really boring feat. It’s often used as a prerequisite for better feats. If you could help it, you would very rarely take weapon focus. None the less, if it is too cheap, then you could generate absurd bonuses to one statistic and break the random number system.

Thus, my criteria for a 4 point feat is anything that grants a small, flat, constant bonus to a combat-relevant statistic.

Blind-fight is worth 3 points

Blind fight is really strong if you are blinded or are fighting in darkness or mist. The rest of the time it is worthless. None the less, it is a pretty cool power. My thinking is that if turning on a feat requires a situation that you don’t control, but in that situation it would be an 8 point feat, that feat should be worth 3 points.

Dazzling display is worth 6 points

Dazzling display is a powerful effect, but has terrible action economy. It is excellent if you can grab an effect that lets you overcome its deficiencies. For example, if you have hurtful then you can use dazzling display and still attack. Then it become awesome. Thus, my criteria for a 6 point feat is if it requires some non-trivial amount of set up to work, but has a pay off that is worth more than an 8 point feat would be.

Skill focus is worth 4 points

Small skill bonuses like skill focus are not really exciting. They are often prerequisites, but are sometimes useful. That being said, the only time someone takes skill focus is if they get some extra use out of it. For example: +3 to sense motive is cool, but not the end of the world. +3 to sense motive when you can use it to parry attacks is much stronger.

If a feat gives a bonus that is much larger than skill focus, then add a point to the cost.

Discretionary adjustments

If a feat is especially weak or strong, you can adjust its value. Generally, I try to think of what other feat could combo with this feat to make me seriously consider taking the pair of them over a better feat.