Paying Your Taxes: With Feats!
So all of us have likely experienced that feeling where we’re making a character and we go to start our favorite feat chain or even just pick one feat and realize that there was a prerequisite that we forgot. Sometimes it’s a happy thought because the feat we still need is a good one, but more often it’s a disappointment because the feat we need is something like Combat Expertise.
We call that a feat tax. You want to go around tripping all your foes then first you need to select a really awful feat. So the question is how necessary are all of these feat taxes? What do they do for us and why do they exist? A friend of mine recently talked about how many feats he was thinking about eliminating for the greater good of the game, but how much good will it do?
In order to answer that I think it’s vital to ask what it is about feat taxes that is important for the game.
1) It assures that some classes get earlier access to certain feats while others must wait longer.
2) It delays the acquisition of certain feats to later levels while still allowing someone who has worked diligently to get it earlier than might be appropriate.
3) It allows for high powered feats because it increases the cost to obtain them.
4) It allows a place for simple feats which aren’t necessarily bad, but people likely wouldn’t pick otherwise.
So let us talk about each of these for a moment.
1) How does this differ from normal prerequisites? BAB and class features are usually enough to direct when and if a class can qualify for a feat, but there are a few instances when they aren’t. Specifically when it comes to combat feats. When BAB becomes a prerequisite those classes which rely mostly on their physical side that are ¾ BAB suffer greatly. Using feat taxes instead of BAB requirements often puts them on equal footing. Additionally some full BAB classes get bonus feats which allow them access certain chains of feats earlier than other and that is intended for the balance of power among the classes.
2) Some feats in the game are as powerful or more powerful than many class features obtained by the classes as they advance. Due to this it is important for game balance that some feats be relegated to the higher levels. There are many ways to structure prerequisites such that a class cannot obtain feats until they reach a certain point, and feat taxes perform as one of those ways. As a matter of fact it is often a very good one for the same reason I gave in the previous paragraph. Could there be a better way? I think the only real replacement is if they stated putting level based prerequisites on those feats instead, but that tends to cause stagnation more than anything else in my opinion.
3) This ties into my previous point, but as a matter of principle when a feat is difficult to move into due to prerequisites or takes more devotion min-maxing dippers are less likely to bother and instead makes these feats more unique and potentially more powerful. That said there are plenty of ways to build prerequisites that don’t require awful feats.
4) This one is tricky, because in my opinion there should be no terrible feats (like Combat Expertise). Some feat taxes fit the ideal (Point-Blank Shot for example is great in the early game for that extra hit and damage and Dodge while not amazing is still +1 AC which stacks with everything), but there are plenty that seem to serve no purpose other than to make it more difficult to obtain that which you want. Things like Endurance and Combat Expertise lead into huge chains of feats, but they themselves are rarely of use. Of course in many cases feats like Point-Blank Shot and Dodge would be ignored if they weren’t part of feat chains that required them despite being perfectly reasonable early game feats.
So can they be fixed? In my opinion they cannot be fixed per say, but we can pick and choose a few select ones that are utterly useless and eliminate them as prerequisites. The following list contains many feats which I would consider to be feat taxes that can be eliminated for the betterment and ease of character building in the game. There are certainly many more feat taxes besides these, but I do believe some of them are actually worthwhile as feat taxes or required for the sheer power of the feats that are being entered into.
Tax Feats to Be Eliminated:
Combat Expertise (generally useless and requires and INT typically unavailable to any class that cares)
Critical Focus (an incredibly minor bonus for such a high level feat, while critical feats are always the capping point for the late game in physical and should be more open to ¾ BAB characters)
Endurance (Such a narrow bonus is hardly worth the effort)
Improved Unarmed Strike is no longer a prerequisite for any Grapple related feat (Remains one for anything else)
Point-Blank Shot is no longer a prerequisite for Precise Shot (Remains one for anything else)
Power Attack is no longer a prerequisite for any CMB/CMD related feat (Remains one for anything else)
In the end it’s a pretty short list is it not? I think it makes all the different though.
Hope you enjoyed the small article! Tomorrow I’m going to show off a few of my homebrewed feats! See you then.