4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 6: Feats

Another day, another twenty pages of the D&D Fourth Edition Players Handbook, read and broken down for your deviant pleasures. This time, it’s Chapter 5: Feats.

Feats were the “big addition” in the Third Edition rules. Other games had done them, but this was the first time D&D had done anything like it.

As expected, you get many more feats in 4e. One at every other level, and one at 11th and 21st to boot. They break feats down into Class, Divinity, Multiclass, and Racial. There are also general feats, but that’s not officially a category. They are also broken up into Heroic, Paragon, and Epic levelled feats – you can’t take feats from a higher tier.

Most feats have a prereq – a class, race, or 1-2 stats of 13+. Some of the feats are more granular in 3e – for example, every different armor is a proficiency – chain requires leather, scale requires chain, plate requires scale… They’re pretty much all combat, except for a couple skill ones. There’s no metamagic or item creation feats – the first are gone ’cause there’s no spells, and the second have been turned into rituals. They’ve also been converted from “sliding” scales to fixed, e.g. Power Attack is -2 to hit, +2 to damage (+3 with a two-handed weapon).

They list paragon and epic tier feats in separate sections, which will be handy when levelling but will suck when as a DM you go to look up a feat.

Heroic tier feats are like the current 3e feats. +1 to this, +2 to damage of that, +3 to a skill. For example,

Heroic Feat: Dark Fury
Prerequisites: Con 13, Wis 13
Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to damage rolls
when you use a power that has the necrotic or psychic
At 11th level, this bonus increases to +2. At 21st
level, it increases to +3.

Paragon tier feats definitely “level up.” Many of them are rerolls – like Danger Sense, you roll twice for init and take the highest. Or Devastating Critical, where when you crit you do an additional d10 damage. Or Hammer Rhythm, where even if you miss with a hammer or mace, you do damage equal to your Con mod. Evasion (per the 3e ability) is a paragon tier feat.

Paragon Feat: Heavy Blade Opportunity
Prerequisites: Str 15, Dex 15
Benefit: When you make an opportunity attack with a heavy blade, you can use an at-will attack that has the weapon keyword instead of a basic attack.

You’ll want more feats. There’s only 23 paragon feats (not counting the armor profs) and you’ll get six of them – and a number of them are race or class specific – so there’ll be a lot of overlaps. I assume future products will fill this gap 🙂

Same deal with Epic feats, there’s 17 of them and you get 5. These don’t seem as cool as the paragon feats actually. There’s [Pick|Spear|etc] Mastery, which is Improved Crit (19-20) for that weapon only. (That’s 7 of the epic feats right there!) And many have stat requirements in the 21 range.

Epic Feat: Triumphant Attack
Benefit: If you score a critical hit with a melee attack, the target of your attack takes a –2 penalty to attack rolls and defenses for the rest of the encounter (save ends).

Hmmm, interesting. I just realized – there are absolutely no feats having to do with unarmed combat. I know the monk’s gone, but… I don’t see anything on grappling either.

Anyway, I give the general feats a thumbs up – seem to be fine.

And then things got out of hand.

Multiclassing feats. There is no multiclassing in 4e. You can do some limited pseudo-multiclassing by taking these feats. It’s heavily restricted – you can only take multiclass feats for one other class, ever. By “multiclassing,” you can spend a feat to get one specific ability, usually limited. For example:

Sneak of Shadows
[Multiclass Rogue]
Prerequisite: Dex 13
Benefit: You gain training in the Thievery skill.
Once per encounter, you can use the rogue’s Sneak Attack class feature.

This really cuts down on the number of character concepts that 4e can accomplish – the Classes section took a big swing at that but this breaks the pinata.

Now, they do then have some power-swap feats, where you can swap a power with a multiclass. So that helps. But it’s still quite a restriction. Unlimited multiclassing was one of the cool things about 3e. It did make you have to be careful about class design – you couldn’t frontload powers at level 1, for example. I guess rather than have to deal with that, they’re doing away with it entirely. So a thumbs down on this part.

Next time – Equipment!

5 responses to “4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 6: Feats

  1. Hrm. read all your thumbthroughs, and pretty much, everything you liked about 3e (huge amount of muticlass potions, feats that did everything, spellcasters being unweildy) was what i disliked. everything from what a wizard cast at first level (come on, we all took the same spells) and what a cleric could do, were slaughtered.

    I do like the new style, it focus’s less on “crunchy bits” by making the choices less of the character than the rping of the Character themselves. but then again, i will play any RPG system. its not the system that makes the games fun, its the players !

  2. I’ve never understood the argument that worse rules equals promoting roleplaying. Maybe by being more rules light – but 4e is not more rules light than 3e, hence the 300 pages of PHB.

    A game system can contribute, or detract, from role-playing. There are many other RPGs whose rules do a good job of promoting roleplaying. D&D in any of its incarnations, but especially 4e, cannot be accused of that. Its pseudoscientific approach, its heavy focus on tactical minis rules – you can like or not like the specific rules changes, but they have nothing to do with D&D being the roleplaying ghetto it always has been. Anyone doing decent RP in D&D is rising above the medium, it’s certainly not working with them.

  3. The killing of multiclassing irked me a great deal. It’s such an artificial thing to say ‘um … no you can’t learn to be a warrior, you’re a wizard. Deal with it.’

    But then if I wanted realism I’d be playing chaosium.

    Armour feats blow chunks. It doesn’t take much real world experience to learn how to wear armour, let alone specific types. They should have had one feat called “Improved Armour” which boosted AC or removed skill penalty a fraction and that’s it.

  4. Not only can you not take a feat from a higher tier, you can’t take one from a lower one. If you didn’t pick up Armor Proficiency (Chain) before you gained 11th level, you are out of luck if you need it then.

    The logic of this design choice escapes me.

  5. I was wrong. I misread some text. There’s no such rule. My apologies.

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