The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder

PDF Download (Second Printing, June 2018)

This document is currently in its second printing. To view the differences between the first and second edition, check out this blog post.

In September of 2012, my brother and I released a blog post discussing the issue of feat taxes in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Although the post was intended to be a one-off thought experiment based on our experiences building characters for organized play, it gained an inexplicable amount of traction on Reddit, Facebook, and the official Paizo forums. It is responsible for 90% of the traffic on this website, recently celebrated its 100th comment, and has been used for countless Pathfinder home campaigns.

In response to the continued interest expressed by the Pathfinder community, we’ve decided to publish an updated and expanded version of our feat tree. This document, titled The Elephant in the Room after the original blog post, includes a re-imagined version of the entire feat section found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

We’re publishing the revised rules both here and on the Hearth & Blade website. Hearth & Blade was largely inspired by these feat tax rules, albeit adjusted for the P6 rule set, and the document provides a good idea of what our upcoming core rulebook will look like when it is finished.

More than anything, however, we hope that this document continues to spur interesting and lively discussion of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, just as the original blog post did.

The Original Blog Post

Written in the autumn of 2012. More of a broad overview rather than a definitive set of rules, this easy-to-follow guide discusses methods to streamline feat chains in the Pathfinder RPG. I think the sheer about of comments attached to the article can be considered “bonus content” at this point.

Many veteran players lament that you need three feats to go to the bathroom in Pathfinder. It’s a cheeky musing, but one rooted in truth. Pathfinder’s feats are arranged in sprawling tiers, often requiring an investment of three or more feats to unlock a single more advanced one. While it’s satisfying to work towards a goal, many rungs on the feat ladder are considered either undesirable or overtly mundane. These are feat taxes.

In this article, I’ve highlighted a number of revisions to Pathfinder’s feat tree to help ease the situation. I’ve focused mainly on combat feats, arguably the worst offenders. Feel free to incorporate these changes into your own house rules or make your own suggestions in the comments.

Feat Taxes in Pathfinder: HeroLab Mod

Although the above article was intended to be a one-off project, the talented WDMartin from the Lone Wolf Development Forums took things one step further. He designed a fully functional mod that allows you to use the feat tax rules in HeroLab! HeroLab is a great character building tool, and having the ability to flick on-and-off the feat tax rules like a light-switch is very convenient.

Installation is simple, and WDMartin has even made a step-by-step guide to get you started. The download is 100% free for current HeroLab users, and you can provide feedback on the related forum thread.