Thursday, August 1, 2013

What a Feat! More Pathfinder Basics

Ah, here we go. This time, I’m going to have a brief overview of feats. Now, I am not going too in depth, which has been the broken record line for this series of posts. With feats, it would simply take too long. I’ve seen people dedicate entire posts to a single feat or even multiple posts to a single feat, blogs that show you how best to optimize a character, and so on and so forth.

Since 3rd edition, feats have been an important part of Dungeons & Dragons. Since you will sometimes hear Pathfinder referred to as Dungeons & Dragons 3.75, it only make sense that they would be a big part here as well. Feats help you to customize your character and set them apart from other characters of the same class and race. They grant mechanical benefits, usually in combat, but not necessarily always.

So, feats are those little edges that characters can get in Pathfinder that make them just a bit more awesome than the next, similar character. There are people who will spend a long time finding the ultimate build for a character and it revolves mostly around feats. For myself, I take what I like. My character may not be fully optimized, but they are what I want to play, which makes them optimal for me. I have heard of people having problems in games where failing to have the right set of feats meant that the character was not dishing out enough damage or was not able to do something necessary, because the conflict was designed for only optimized characters. For that, I say it’s either poor playing, poor GMing, poor design, or some combination of the three. My characters have never run into this problem in D&D 3rd edition games. If I did, I would probably be in a game I didn’t enjoy very much.

As for feats as they are, I am not wholly thrilled on some of the perquisites. Sometimes, characters are just cool. This is true in the source material of epic fantasy. However, in a role playing game like Pathfinder, we start out cooler than the rest of mooks with a first level character, but nowhere near as cool as a 20th level character. And, for cool, you can swap in just about any word you want—competent, skilled, dangerous, devastating, deadly, threatening, awesome, capable, etc. So, to help keep the game alive instead of just starting out with the most awesome of characters, we have prerequisites on feats. Okay, I can live with this. I do not necessarily agree with every single of the prerequisites as listed, but that’s okay. I do not have to agree with everything. I love pistachios. I hate deshelling them. Sure, I could get already shelled ones, but that costs more. Sometimes, you simply take the good with the bad.

In regards to prerequisites, however, there are a number of skills built in a tree-like fashion. Now, if you have played White Wolf’s Exalted, you know about trees. Oh boy, do you know about trees. In some cases, these perquisite feats to get another feat just do not make sense. Why do I want to take all these things I may never use in order to get the one thing I really want. It is resource burning. Maybe that was done as a matter of balance, but I do not think we can say it is a matter of realism. Remember, math is not my strong suit, so I do not get overly in depth when analyzing balance…ever!

Pathfinder breaks the feats down into categories in order to help them be a bit easier to digest. Now, I said earlier that these feats are pretty much only usable in combat , but there are other uses. Still, the different feat categories in Pathfinder are Combat, Critical, Item Creation, and Metamagic. Right off the bat, I am intrigued by Critical feats. These apparently allow characters to cause additional or different results upon scoring a critical success. Further, there is apparently a Critical Mastery feat that characters can take to apply multiple effects to a critical strike? This has definitely got my attention.

I am not sure if what I am seeing with metamagic feats is a change or not. I didn’t play a lot of casters in 3x/d20. In Pathfinder, the metamagic feats are chosen for the character, but they are not forever attached to a single spell. Instead, as spellcaster who need to prepare their spells do so they choose which to attach the metamagic feats to. For those that do not prepare their spells, they attach the feats as they cast, which causes higher spell slots to be used up.  So, in theory, multiple metamagic feats could be attached to a single spell or even the same feat to several different spells in either case.

Not being someone who goes through and memorizes all the feats, I am not going to go through each of them line by line here. I choose them as I go through character creation and the process of leveling up, and that suits me just fine.