Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

Eliminating Feats

“In a classic D&D game you might make one choice: dwarf. Then you fill in all the other details if you like. In AD&D, you make two choices: dwarf and fighter. Again, you fill in all the other details. As the game evolved, players gained more choices to help create the character they wanted to play. Second Edition expanded the proficiency system and introduced kits. Third Edition replaced proficiencies with skills and feats, and it added prestige classes. Fourth Edition ditched prestige classes but brought in paragon paths, epic destinies, backgrounds, and themes.” Form: Beyond Class and Race

I have mentioned before that I prefer Third Edition to any of the others. However, I really enjoyed the open-endedness and fun of First edition. To bring back some of the feel of First Edition I have proposed to require only that you select a race and class. All of your player character’s skills and abilities – which improve as you advance in level – are determined based on those first two choices. The one exception is a single additional skill of your choosing that you can add to represent your characters background and the type of character you want to play. This skill will also improve as you advance in level.

Some objections that I hear to removing feats: “Feats are the principle means for customizing my character. Won’t a total lack of build options and feats make all the characters the same? How will I make a character that is unique and matches my vision of the character I want to play?”

My answer to these objections is that the characters that people played in the First and Second editions were as varied as 90% of the characters being played in later editions. You vision of your character and how you actually play that character has more to do with the type of character than any combination of feats and skills. Furthermore, I find that most players tend to choose the same feats all of the time. Rather than attempting to make a character that has a fun story they tend to design characters for maximum combat effectiveness. To eliminate feats and have D&D v3.5 play more like the early versions of the game, I provide each different character class with its own set of special abilities. Many of these abilities are identical to feats. As the character advances in level additional abilities are added. For this to work, you can not play a multiclass character. All characters become iconic D&D characters. These are the eleven core classes, without regard to race or sex, with each class being the “typical” stereotype character for that class.

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