Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder


Editor’s Note: The Elephant in the Room is now available as a Full Rules Document and a HeroLab Mod. Thanks for your continued support and interest!

By all metrics, Pathfinder is the most satisfying pen-and-paper game I’ve ever played. The class balance feels good, the math isn’t overwhelming, and the community support is outstanding. However, it suffers from one syndrome that haunts the creation of every new character: feat taxes.

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.

Below 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.

Martial Mastery

Gone. Combat feats like Weapon Focus now apply to weapon groups instead of a specific weapon by default.

Pathfinder frequently forces a player to invest heavily in a single weapon. For instance, two-weapon fighting rogues are stuck with mirrored weapons so their Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus benefits apply to both their attacks. Expanding these feats to cover the weapon groups mentioned under the fighter’s Weapon Training would make things much more flexible. We might finally see a samurai wielding a daisho.

Weapon Finesse

Gone. The “light weapons” category has been renamed to “finesse weapons.” Characters can choose to use either their dexterity bonus or their strength bonus to hit with these weapons, no feat required. “Finesse” is also now a weapon attribute like “brace” or “trip,” allowing a weapon in another category to be finessed (like the rapier).

Weapon Finesse is the ultimate feat tax. It’s begrudgingly mandatory for most rogues, specifically two-weapon fighting builds. I understand Paizo worries that dexterity might become an uber stat, but weapon finesse still doesn’t grant a damage bonus. It’s really the only thing rogue’s have to compensate for their lackluster BAB.

Agile Maneuvers

Gone. A character adds their dexterity to the CMB if they’re wielding a finesse weapon and their strength otherwise.

This goes hand and hand with the previous change. Making combat maneuvers more accessible will be a recurring theme of this article.

Combat Expertise

Gone. Now simple a combat option for any class with at least +1 BAB.

The most heinous feat tax next to Weapon Finesse. Combat Expertise is taken to progress to better feats then promptly forgotten about. I like it as an option, but it’s not worth spending a feat on.

Improved Trip, Improved Disarm, Improved Dirty Trick, Improved Feint, Improved Reposition, Improved Steal

Gone. Replaced with Deft Maneuvers.

Deft Maneuvers

New. You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a trip, disarm, dirty trick, feint, reposition, or steal combat maneuver. In addition, you receive a +2 bonus on checks with these combat maneuvers. Now a prerequisite for the relevant greater combat maneuver feats.

Why is it so hard to pull off combat maneuvers in this game? It seems like you need three feats before you can attempt to trip someone without impaling yourself on your own polearm. Eliminating Combat Expertise as a prerequisite and wrapping up all these improved combat maneuver feats into a single package simplifies things. It would prevent fighters from being stonewalled if a monster is immune to their combat maneuver of choice and make the feats much more attractive to feat-starved classes.


Power Attack

Gone. Now simply a combat option for any class with at least +1 BAB.

Power Attack is too useful to be a feat. It’s the first feat taken by any character with the strength and BAB to abuse it and likely ranks as the single most popular feat in Pathfinder. Turning it into a combat option available to anyone with at least +1 BAB is a reasonable change and still stalls caster and hybrid classes from grabbing specialized combat feats too early.

Improved Bull Rush, Improved Drag, Improved Overrun, Improved Sunder

Gone. Replaced with Powerful Maneuvers.

Powerful Maneuvers

New. You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a bull rush, drag, overrun, or sunder combat maneuver. In addition, you receive a +2 bonus on checks with these combat maneuvers. Now a prerequisite for the relevant greater combat maneuver feats.

The same deal as Deft Maneuvers. More combat maneuvers at a lower feat investment is just a good idea all around.

Point-Blank Shot

Gone. Precise Shot replaces it as a prerequisite for further archery feats.

I like Point-Blank Shot, but Precise Shot is the real breadwinner for any ranged build. It’s the one trick every archer wants out of the gate and the one combat feat many wizards and sorcerers would love to cherry pick to aid their ray spells. The loss of Point-Blank Shot can easily be compensated for by Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization, but it’s not like archery builds are hurting anyhow.

Deadly Aim

Gone. Now simple a combat option for any class with at least +1 BAB.

Like Power Attack, Deadly Aim is another mandatory feat that should be available to everyone. It takes a high BAB to abuse Deadly Aim, so I’m not overly concerned about the change throwing a wrench into class balance.


Gone. Merged with Dodge.


Revised. You gain a +1 dodge bonus to your AC. This bonus increases to +4 against attacks of opportunity caused when you move out of or within a threatened tile. A condition that makes you lose your Dex bonus to AC also makes you lose the benefits of this feat.

Spring Attack isn’t a great feat, but it lends itself to interesting builds. Unfortunately, the prerequisites of Dodge and Mobility are often too much for a player to stomach. Merging these feats makes Spring Attack more accessible and subsequently transforms two mediocre feats into a single spectacular one.

Improved Two-Weapon Fighting

Gone. Merged with Greater Two-Weapon Fighting

Greater Two-Weapon Fighting

Revised. Prerequisites now Dex 17, Two-Weapon Fighting, BAB +6. In addition to the standard single extra attack you get with an off-hand weapon, you get a second attack with it, albeit at a –5 penalty. Once your BAB reaches +11, you also gain a third attack with your off-hand weapon, albeit at a –10 penalty.

Two-weapon fighting isn’t as good as Paizo seems to think it is. Pathfinder Society scenarios are seemingly designed to prevent full-attacks; I’ve rarely encountered one without difficult terrain, magical entanglement, or some other battlefield hindrance. The massive feat investment only adds insult to injury. Coupled with the Weapon Finesse change, this feat merger puts two-weapon fighting more in line with the generally much stronger two-handed weapon builds.


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  • There are several things I like about these house rules, but there are also several I am leery of.

    Martial Versatility, Mastery, etc.: Fighters are supposed to be the melee powerhouses of the game world. One of the reasons they get feats thrown at them like skittles is so they can accomplish that. Giving this kind of flexibility to all classes seems excessive.

    Weapon Finesse: I wouldn’t eliminate this, but I might give it to rogue classes for free.

    Deft/Powerful maneuvers: I like this, so long as the next level (greater trip, etc.) has to be taken individually as specializations. It also encourages greater use of these maneuvers by players. Always a good thing.

    Dodge: The version in my game is incremental. (+2 at 18 dex, +3 at 23 dex, to a maximum +5 at 33 dex). It was mobility I got rid of.

    Two-weapon fighting: These feats are sub par for a fighter and crappy for everyone else, but for a rogue they are golden. Be very careful when messing with these feats at high level. A rogue has the potential of doing an average of 40 hps a hit, 6 hits a round, not including strength, crits, bursts, banes, or weapon enhancement. At high levels a rogue with two weapons and greater invisibility could average over 300 hps damage a round. I think having to pay a few feats for that is a small price to pay.

    Just my two cents.

    • Hmmm…
      1) Scaling up Dodge feat based on a stat (Dex)? Broken. Maybe by HD or class level. The Skill Focus feat scales up from +3 to +6 once that character has 10 ranks. So, what about scaling up from +1AC to +2AC for Dodge once they hit +10BAB… or even 10HD.
      Yes, remove and possibly merge Mobility.

      2) I totally agree that movement and environmental barriers are are an issue, and unfairly target/cripple TWFing builds. Some of the variants I’ve worked on in my Vrangolis campaign dealt to tackle these include the Iterative Attacks think where all attack are from your highest BAB (no -5, -10, etc) but all suffer a small penalty which decreases over time (-2, to -1, to -0) and more standard and move options.
      The point is the streamline and scale back full-round attacks and empower standard and move options to make a more tactically robust combat game. If the “right” answer is always a full-round attack VS full-round attack “Roshambo” battle, we’re failed in this Design Objective.

      3) Thinking about how many of these feat fixes deal with Dex related issues and the rogue, ranger, and archer builds which often use them, it feels like we’re rethinking the role of DPS in combat. Less feat tax and more combat options. Similarly, the role of Tank/Defender might also need to be rethought. More about combat options and player choices (vs just passive high AC or HP), I think the Pathfinder rules for Stamina are a great start and there could be more ways to handle things like deflecting/parrying attacks, AC or save buffs based on certain stances or situations (hence you “prep” to defend against that upcoming attack), and MAYBE Marking. Marking was one of the better rules that came out of 4th Ed, but it is a big addition. Marking does have cool DPS and Tank/Defender options, no doubt. As soon as I saw it, I instantly thought the Ranger was better handled as a focused warrior who can “mark” a prey and opt to get bonuses than a creature type expert… the generically useful skills of good hunting and focus VS the expert training against a given foe type.

      Who likes Stamina? Is Marking doable in a Pathfinder 3.5 OGL compatible system? What can we do to make both DPS and Tank/Defender builds have more combat options?

  • I was thinking about modifying the twf tree by merging double slice with Two-Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Rend with Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, and even reducing the penalty to attack for twf by 2 with Improved Two-Weapon Fighting. It streamlines the main tree in terms of damage for non-rogues without giving twf rogues any more of an advantage. The reduced twf penalty helps all characters, also, by removing an unnecessary handicap.

    • That’s not a bad idea. Two weapon fighting is probably the feat line most in need of a look. It’s a massive investment for a fighting style that falls flat on its face if you can’t remain perfectly still and attack.

      • I’ve had some success by simply eliminating full attacks as a concept. All classes are entitled to all of their iterative attacks as part of a standard action. If a wizard can bend space and time and still move I don’t see why a highly trained soldier can’t get half a dozen hits in during the same amount of time.

        • Seriously, what real life fight has you making a single attack every 6 seconds even for untrained martials? If it weren’t game breaking it would make sense to get all iteratives at first level (granted the -10 and -15 would probably never hit for the first couple levels). Granted you would have to modify a lot of feats’ wording or function (unless you wanted improved/greater vital strike to work with twf) so you don’t charge and get all attacks or cleave with all of your attacks. This is a great idea, the current model of combat is not at all like how actual martial combat happened and when a sorcerer can do 7280 damage with a level 6 spell (maximized empowered enlarged fire snake) a fighter getting to full attack every round even if he moves isn’t an issue.

          • Making an attack, and landing an attack, are two different things Austin.

            The combat in PAthfinder is suppose to be simulating the constant back and forth blow and counter blow of combat. Getting that hit in, means you have slide past the opponents guard, defeated they’re armor, and they failed to dodge out of the way… The issue isn’t that the Fighter doesn’t get his full attack after moving, it is that he cannot manage to get past the guard, armor, and dodging of his opponent reliable those 4-6 times if he himself is trying to move in on the opponent.

          • You got the math wrong on that spell. you have to be level 16 have a 11 spell slot, and it does 135 damage in 80 feet and it has to be ” The fire snake affects one 5-foot square per caster level, and each square must be adjacent to the previous square, starting with you.”
            yeah still powerful, but good fighters can do more single target damage.

        • The concept is that two people dukeing it out are attacking a lot but only connecting with 1 every 6 seconds a higher level fighter getting 3 attacks in 6 seconds is on par with whoing his higher skill at getting though the other person’s defense That is how real life sword play works. When two very good fighters come at each other then are a lot of deflected or blocked attacks until someone break though the others defense. The break through are rarely life threatening until someone gets tired and makes a big mistake. If you ever watched kendo sparing or any other sword sparing such as fencing you would see this.

          • Yes and no. If you run up behind someone who is focused on another fighter and they don’t see you coming you could hit them several times with even a single weapon before they even turn around, or a dozen other situations where a combatant should be able to hit their opponent multiple times in 6 seconds but is still only allowed to strike once because they are standing on broken floor tiles or they had to adjust their position.

      • Personally, I would retain the single attack with a given weapon on a non-full attack round. ThIS change would allow TWF classes to attack once with each weapon. It makes sense that a rogue sneaking up behind someone and attacking initially with two weapons would strike with each. Especially small weapons like daggers. Later rounds would of course enable more attacks per the usual rules. I think that would balance well.

  • Some of these are good ideas, and some are really, really not. Fighters are the ultimate weapon masters. They get more Feats than sense for a reason, and that reason is that they can devote them to mastering a fighting style or a signature weapon.

    Two-Weapon Fighting is devastating in the hands of Rogues, and there are a few exotic double weapons that can be problematic if Two Weapon Fighting becomes too easy – see the Dire Flail for an example.

    The one for Weapon Finesse is a good one, though, and one I was considering adopting myself.

    • I have heard rumblings that RS’s suggested Weapon Finesse fix (reclassified weapons rather than a feat tax) is similar to what they’re doing in D&D 5th Edition. It makes me even more curious about this whole “Dungeons and Dragons Next” business.

      • Honestly I’m willing to give D&D Next a miss. I’ve spent enough money on polishing a d20 game model at this point, and now I am content to patch up Pathfinder with house rules and fix what little is really wrong with a completely workable game.

    • A bit late to the party but TWF isn’t very special, especially on rogues. A generic ranger with a 2-handed weapon and Power Attack can out-damage a TWF rogue most of the time. At high levels it’s not even a contest (sneak attack adds an average of 3.5/die of damage, which at +10d6 is an average of +35 damage; which sounds like a lot, but the ranger is going to have around a 30 Strength, so that’s +15 w/ 2-hander, then power attack (another +18 dmg), and can pop Instant Enemy to get an extra +10 to hit/dmg vs the target. The rogue severely loses out because most of the rogue’s attacks will miss while the ranger will rarely miss (+20 BAB, +10 Str, -6 PA, +10 Instant Enemy = +34, add +2 for flanking and +5 from weapon enhancement, and +1 from haste, and the Ranger is swinging at +52/+52/+47/+42/+37, and dealing +30 damage per swing). If the ranger wants, he can activate Quarry (usable every in-game hour) to add another +4 to hit and auto-confirm critical hits.

      The rogue by comparison is severely hurting (rogue has no methods to buff themselves like clerics or druids, has a mediocre BAB, suffers additional penalties due to dual-wielding, has to pay for twice as many weapon enhancements, and loses sneak attack randomly based on creature type or their opponents simply gaining concealment, as without a splat-book feat concealment stops sneak attacking dead in its tracks).

      To add insult to injury, the Ranger is comparable in terms of skills (they get 6+ Int base), has better stealth potential (obtaining various hide in plain sight abilities, also as spellcasters they can take Craft Wondrous Item and make their own elixirs of hiding and supplemental items, as well as in-house access to things like nondetection and freedom of movement), and they’re a lot sturdier than rogues to boot (they have better Hp, better saves, better armor, and easy access to immunities and energy resistances). Better still, they get early access to a variety of good feats for which they needn’t meet prerequisites for (meaning they can carve things to pieces in melee AND bring complete ruin to them from a distance).

      Paladins, Clerics, and Druids can all do similar things with similar numbers. Rogues are not special. They are somewhat relevant IF they’re dealing sneak attack damage, but it’s easy to prevent them from doing (a cheap smokestick neuters them unless they spend yet more feats), and they’re too fragile to actually stay in melee to TWF with (the ranger has the HP and AC to back it up, while the rogue is more likely to die when the foe pounces, or die when the foe-full attacks the rogue after they move up to engage). The Ranger also only gets better when the foe is flanked, but a rogue is useless unless the foe can be flanked (or the rogue has a reliable way of being invisible 100% of the time).

      Just sayin’.

      • I don’t know when Paizo added it, but the Circling Mongoose feat does a lot for a rogue. You emphasize your DEX as a rogue by default so you’re well-equipped to duck around counterattacks as you circle the enemy, keeping your flat-footed (and thus sneak attack die) as long as you keep hitting.

        As to their fragility problem, it’s not terribly hard for a rogue to get good at Use Magical Device and keep a scroll of Vanish on hand for the approach. After that point, especially if an enemy is focused on the screaming barbarian power-attacking their ass, the sneak attack die piles on absurdly quickly; I’ve watched a rogue do a one-turn kill of a CR16 monster at level 17, without a big melee hitter to help him. Even more so if you take a Knife Master archetype rogue and all of your sneak attack dies are d8s.

        • Circling Mongoose only addresses one of the many issues that Ashiel brought up and isn’t really relevant to the damage comparison since we were assuming a flank (though it’s still important to note that some enemies are simply immune to sneak attack and rogue doesn’t have a means to overcome this while the ranger isn’t so limited with their bonus damage).

          Let’s get grittier with the math. We’re looking at level 20 and we’ll give your rogue the d8 sneak attack die, mean and mode CR 20 AC is 36:

          The Ranger (greatsword)
          20 BAB + 10 Str – 6 PA + 4 Quarry + 10 instant enemy + 2 flanking + 5 enhancement + 1 haste = +46 attack for 22 Str + 18 PA + 5 enhancement + 10 IE = +55 damage

          +46/+46/+41/+36/+31 greatsword (2d6+55 19-20/x2)
          4((.855)62+(.095)124)+((.705)62)+(.095)124))=314.65 average DPR

          The Ranger (dual wield)
          20 BAB + 10 Str – 2 TWF – 6 PA + 4 Quarry + 10 instant enemy + 2 flanking + 5 enhancement + 1 haste = +44 attack for 10 Str + 12 PA + 5 enhancement + 10 IE = +37 damage and +10 Str (Double Slice) + 6 PA + 5 enhancement + 10 IE = +31 damage

          +44/+44/+39/+34/+29 longsword (1d8+37 19-20/x2);
          +44/+39/+34 short sword (1d6+31 19-20/x2);
          rend (1d10+27 i skipped instant enemy damage here as there’s contention about whether or not that applies with rend)
          32.5=346.9125 average DPR

          The Chained Rogue
          15 BAB + 10 Dex – 2 TWF – 4 piranha strike + 2 flanking + 5 enhancement + 1 haste = +26 attack for 10 Dex +45 SA + 8 PS + 5 enhancement = +68 damage and +10 Dex (DS) +45 SA + 4 PS + 5 enhancement = +64 damage

          +26/+26/+21/+16 shortsword (1d6+23 19-20/x2 +45);
          +26/+21/+16 shortsword (1d6+19 19-20/x2 +45);
          rend (1d10+59)
          (.982)64.5=215.4065 average DPR

          The Unchained Rogue
          15 BAB + 10 Dex – 2 TWF – 4 piranha strike + 2 flanking + 5 enhancement + 1 haste = +26 attack for 10 Dex +45 SA + 8 PS + 5 enhancement = +68 damage and +10 Dex (DS) +45 SA + 4 PS + 5 enhancement = +64 damage

          +26/+34/+29/+24 shortsword (1d6+23 19-20/x2 +45);
          +34/+29/+24 shortsword (1d6+19 19-20/x2 +45);
          rend (1d10+59)
          64.5=364.9475 average DPR

          So, if you’re using the unchained rogue (which you probably should be) and this feat fix allows you to pick up Two-Weapon Rend when you otherwise would not have, then you do marginally more DPR than a not quite optimized TWF ranger. Circling Mongoose is nice if you NEED it, but it ultimately lowers your average DPR since, if you miss, you lose flanking and, therefore, sneak attack for the rest of the round. You can keep your damage up all day where the ranger is relying on a few limited abilities; in exchange, the ranger is tougher, has better stealth options, and probably has another body to improve its action economy and add a little bit of DPR to their turn in addition to miscellaneous other things an animal companion is good for.

        • You uh… Do realize that a level 17 PC with appropriate wealth is a CR 17 creature right?

          It should come as no surprise they can one-round a foe below their own CR without help.

  • I think most of these changes are pretty good; they allow non-fighters to get a seat at the table of versatility, and let fighters experiment more. While tweaking TWF in regards to Rogues needs caution, the attack from Greater TWF is hard enough to hit with that I’ve seen a lot of advice to not bother with it. Even then, these changes probably won’t let you do much more than you could already, you just have another few feats, allowing you to make more interesting decisions about your character.

    • A lot of optimization guides are like “YES ROGUE SPEND ALL YOUR FEATS ON TWF!” and I never go beyond Improved. The Greater TWF iterative attack is too hard to hit with when you’ve got a Rogue’s BAB, it’s a waste of a feat trying desperately to eke out one last sneak attack in a round.

  • I like the idea of having Weapon Focus/Specialisation applying to weapon groups, but ultimately I don’t think it’s needed unless you’re wanting to dual wield different weapons(say a longsword and a shortsword).

    Having your CMB gain your dex bonus when wielding a finesse weapon is a little too weird – what if you’re attempting to initiate a grapple? I think there’s only a few weapons that can be used to grapple as it is.

    Feat taxes can be annoying, but they’re there for a reason. A big one is Improved Trip. It requires Combat Expertise, which admittedly sucks, but that’s because tripping is such an excellent move.

    Combat maneuvers are excellent, but I think a lot of people underestimate how effective they can be. Disarm or trip a fighter, and they’re severely compromised. Sundering is an amazing tactic as well against anyone. I think in particular, being able to trip willy nilly should require a certain amount of investment.

    While I don’t think that the Pathfinder feats are perfect, I do think that they do well enough as they are.

    • Because what fighter uses one weapon?

      Actually, every weapon can be used to grapple, but only grapple weapons grant a +2 when you use ten to grapple.

      Tripping (unless they are a grapple based class) only gives an increased 20% chance to hit, which isn’t crippling especially when they can just stand up next round; while I would agree disarming completely disables everyone but monks and brawlers, the simple solution is to have a backup weapon or a leather wrist chord for your weapon. While combat maneuvers are good, the amount of investment required to remain viable at high levels requires these stacking +2s where ever you get them and makes it so that a simple improved ____ feat is enough of a cost relative to the reward.

      • Additionally, how does one disarm or sender a dragon? Or any non humanoid weapon weilding opponent? Tripping doesn’t often work against non humanoids as well, so requiring several feats for the opportunity to attempt a different tactic with some opponents seems too costly.

      • So, grapple weapons do not grant a +2 on the hit, they grant only a free grapple check on a critical. Furthermore, you cannot otherwise grapple with any weapon, as attempting to grapple without two free hands is specifically called out as imposing a -4 penalty on the check. This also means you cannot add bonii from your weapon to your grapple check (unless you crit with a grapple weapon).

        Next, trip is far more powerful than you understand it to be. You give them a -4 to armour class (+20% hit for you), a -4 to all attacks (-20% hit to them), they cannot make any ranged attacks except with a crossbow, AND standing up generally provokes an attack of opportunity, while denying them a full attack!

        Scenario 1: you run up to an opponent and attack them. You deal standard damage (say, greatsword, 22 Str, BAB +8, +2 weapon; total of 2d6+20, for about 25-30 damage). Then it’s their turn: they full attack, using identical stats, dealing 50-60 damage. You trade blows, trusting your dice to be better than theirs, but otherwise taking turns to be in a better position in the fight and hoping that their hitpoints give way first.

        Scenario 2: you run up to an opponent and attack them. You use a trip combat maneuver, with all the same bonii as your standard attack, AND the +4 from improved and greater trip. You then get to make an attack of opportunity against the opponent you tripped, dealing 25-30 damage, with a +4 to hit the now prone target. Then it’s their turn: they consider attacking from where they are now, but while they were formerly attacking at the same bonus as you, they would now be at a relative -8. They make a split second decision, and go instead with standing up.

        You cackle gleefully.

        This immediately provokes attacks of opportunity from you and anyone else who is threatening them, with the +4 because they are still considered prone when they do so. This puts them down 50-60 hitpoints before they even touch you. That was their move action, which leaves them only a single standard left to inflict 25-30 damage on you. Now you get to full attack, starting with a trip. You get to AoO on the success, and your iterative is now far more likely to hit, so you have now done 100-120 damage to them, for 25-30 in return. You are scoring 3 hits for every 1 of theirs, and all of them at a +4 to hit for your target being prone. The fight is now either already over, or weighted VERY heavily in your favour.

        And that’s just a basic fighter with a sideline in tripping. If you want to see really filthy, look at a Hunter. Take Greater Trip, Vicious Stomp, Tandem Trip (she and her companion both get to roll twice on any trip attempt), Outflank and Pack Flanking (+4 to hit on all attacks while riding your companion), paired opportunists so you essentially get two attacks per provoked AoO… it gets nasty. Charge in and trip (roll twice, with a +2 from charging, +4 from flanking, +4 from improved and greater trip, and +2 from your +2 weapon, for +12 over your normal CMB), if successful they take attacks from Greater Trip and Vicious Stomp, with paired opportunist giving your companion a pair as well. Also your animal companion gets to make its charge attack. For five attacks total (7 if any of them are crits), on a charge.

        While combat maneuvers all have situations where they are not usable, they are often far more powerful than a single attack would be. If your standard attack is perfectly acceptable, then you can choose which of the two your opponent is more susceptible to. High AC low CMD monsters exist, and this can make a significant difference against them. Dragons may not be trippable or sunderable, but if you can get up to them (or bring them down to you) then you can grapple them.

  • What I don’t think people realize is that the reason these fixes AREN’T “too much” is that Fighters and Rogues NEED to be able to annihilate enemies in a few rounds, because any magic-using opponents are going to be difficult to even REACH to get an attack off. By the time you get enough feats to be dangerous, casters are going to be nigh-untouchable. The problem really starts to become evident at the Level-10-plus range, where casters have SO many options for avoiding, breaking off, and coming back even better prepared. If a rogue doesn’t have a chance to kill a caster in 1 round, the combat is over and the caster will come back, and out for blood.

    The main problem with “feat taxes” is that they force martial classes to become 1-trick-ponies, which are not only boring to play, but make them obsolete in many fights, whereas casters can still take a fairly flexible box of toys with them wherever they go (this doesn’t even include magic items like wands, scrolls, etc). Sure, martial classes ARE more powerful when the feats are streamlined, but they aren’t necessarily more powerful in ONE kind of combat – they are more useful in different kinds of combat.

    I actually ran a playtest of D&D Next recently, and some of the changes were good, but martial classes were still boring, though there were a few promising mechanics that might get developed better in future.

    • I think you’re forgetting concentration checks for spell casters after receiving damage. A fighter or rogue doesn’t have to kill a spellcaster to nulilify it’s ability to cast more spells. Just a fair amount of damage will do.

      • Sure at level 1.

        Now try that at level 13 on the Wizard with 8 Mirror Images, Greater Invis, Fire Shield, and Form of the Dragon on.

        3/4 BAB class being able to TWF a BBEG isn’t going to ruin your game.

        • You can’t have Greater Invisibility and Mirror Image at the same time, but yeah I get your point.

        • How many rounds did that mage have to buff for free? And why aren’t you giving your whiteroom big stupid fighter that many rounds to buff up?

          If your mage has umpteen high level buffs on, then this Fighter has the magic sword that kills you in one hit no matter what and ignores all your buffs.

          • Wizards in stock adventures tend to be perpetually buffed. PFS modules especially.

            Also… fighters don’t have spells to buff with, and potion/oil/UMD buffs tend to be much weaker than spell-caster ones.

            Sadly, there isn’t a Buff-Skipping Falchion in the game currently.

  • Wow, that’s like a dozen free combat feats for low level characters. I’m not sure why anyone would play a fighter with these rules. Just be a rogue that gets free combat feats, is automatically good at combat maneuvers, puts out more damage, and still has tons of skills. If the goal here was to make fighters more appealing, I think these rules did the exact opposite.

    Anyway, just make sure to use the same rules for monsters that you use for players. If that low level gnoll or ogre isn’t routinely tripping, disarming, and sundering your player’s equipment, then all you have done is skew the CR system several notches.

    • One of my main goals was to allow non-fighter classes to become combat ready without forfeiting every single one of their feats. An analysis of the shortcomings of the fighter class probably warrants a post of its own. I could retool feats all day long, but it’s not going to fix the “fighters are linear, wizards are quadratic” conundrum.

      • I think people who have never played the game are the only ones who complain about whether anyone is “combat ready without forfeiting every single one of their feats”. No one who plays the game regularly that I have ever met has ever thought that you need ten feats to kill monsters.

        I also question your “quadratic wizards” idea. Save DCs don’t manage to keep up with monster save bonuses, especially if monsters have any kind of buffs at all. When your spells have a 50% chance of working, at the very most optimum, that’s not really what I would call “quadratic”. Then if you take into account how many blanket immunities the Bestiary’s monsters have on average, the opportunity cost of action economy, range limitations and the sheer expense of gold to purchase and inscribe all those spells (on the order of 3/4ths of your WBL at any given level…) it’s pretty obvious that mages who do anything other than buff the warrior are a waste of XP.

        And if you’re buffing the warrior… then what’s the complaint?

        • Quadratic wizards is actually not a new idea. It’s a well-established trope spanning back to earlier editions of D&D.

          Something to remember is to not think of spellcasters as save-or-die machines. Their ability to summon creatures and manipulate the battlefield give them an unrivaled ability to influence combat. They can isolate enemies with walls, summon high CR creatures to fight alongside the party, and create environmental effects that completely debilitate martial-types.

          As for DCs… the best spells don’t use them. Reverse Gravity, Wall of Force, Summon Monster. All of these have huge potential to sway combat, and there isn’t much the enemy can do to prevent them.

    • Fighters still have tons going for them with these changes, especially compared to Rogues. Weapon and Armor training, good BAB (those Sneak Attacks do 0 damage if they miss / better Power Attack progression). And under these changes, Fighters STILL get their extra feats, and now they can use them on things that are more interesting than Combat Expertise.

    • It opens the fighter up to deeper and more varied forms of combat without spending feats on mediocre choices because they have to. It doesn’t give rogues all that much more power, because fighters still have 20 feats to play with, while rogues still have 10. It just goes to redress the wizrads vs. martial power imbalance (but not a lot, no offense Radiostorm; it’s the nature of the beast) while making some of the more flavorful and fun feats available to everyone.

      For example: ever seen anyone take the whole “Step Up” tree? I played a class that would have benefited greatly from taking the whole Combat Expertise/Dodge/Mobility/Spring Attack/Whirlwind attack tree. Except he wouldn’t be useful for anything else. Look at that disgusting progression. Hello? I’d like to have, oh, I dunno, weapon finesse? Oh wait, that’s a feat tax, too. How about improving a weak save? Nope. Improved initiative? Ha! Toughness? Nice try.

      A dextrous person shouldn’t have to learn how to use their dexterity in the same way a strong person shouldn’t have to learn how to use their strength. Power attack and Weapon Finesse are heinous. Hell, I think even Spring Attack is something you should be able to do with a sufficiently high acrobatics check instead of needing a whole feat. And I think the iterative attacks from the TWF tree should result in lessened damage, not accuracy.

      All in all, I like your ideas.

      • great observations if anything your response helped sell me all most every change of feat tree. we changed power attack to a one to a one swap years ago. Giving this feat away means little unless your strength is high enough which most classes dont have that luxury. also the rouge’s bab will prevent too much twf exploitation sure the dex exploit brings up thier thaco (lol) but not damage an they still have less attacks than the fighters. These changes do exactly what he intends adds depth and flavor. Unfortunately it will eliminate the niche hybrid Brawler class because every fighter and monk will have versatility 😉

    • Because fighters are more than just feats.

      And because the fighters who crave feats are still feat starved.

      Heck I’ve experimented with a Fighter Homebrew that got 2 bonus combat feats per level and I was always hungry for the next level and the next feats, because unfortunately, 3.P feats just don’t accomplish all that much.

      I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to giving the PF Fighter 1 feat per level per spell level a Wizard can cast at that level (1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3……) and removing the Combat Feat requirement. Maybe I should try a build of that and see how it looks… Better include 3.X feats or we might run out of useful things to do with them.

  • Really like some. I am adding that weapon finesse is still a feat, but weapon finesse grants 1/2 of your streets mod for damage and 1/2 your del mod for damage giving the style more of a diverse feel.

  • I would venture to guess that Improved Grapple remains unchanged. I personally think Improved Unarmed is a great feat by itself (especially when DMs like to capture PCs), so I can understand leaving that tree unchanged.

  • Some of these 9especially getting rid of the Combat Expertise feat tax) are very much necessary.

    I’d say Point Blank Shot should still exist, just not be required as a feat tax for other archery/crossbow feats. You should be able to take Precise Shot as your first feat.

    Others overpower certain things. Combat Finesse has to be required for Dex to be the to-hit stat, or Dex will be the king of physical stats.

    The same is true with Agile Maneuvers having to require a feat, and there should be no way, period, even with feats. to get Dex-to-Damage with any weapon, or there will be melee builds with Str as a dump stat, which should be impossible.

    The Improved feats for combat maneuvers (whether improved Feint, Improved Trip, Improved Sunder, or Improved Grapple) should have no prerequisites, but should have to be taken separately. One feat that gives most of them is overpowered.

    • Dex to damage will not lead to STR dumping, you still have to carry all your gear after all, because it would make those dex classes that have to be in light load to be effective carry a toothbrush and their weapon to stay in light load. What’s wrong with having a dump stat, btw? Every optimized fighter dumps CHA as is, why would you dump something else is it makes your design work better.

    • There is a feat. Dervish Dance though it only works with scimitars and you have to wield them one handed and nothing in your other hand.

      • There’s also the Mythic Weapon Finesse, but the mythic feats break the game by design anyhow, that’s what they are supposed to do.

        I have a bard with Dervish Dance and I say that keeping one hand free is a very considerable penalty. I’m yet to find a good one-handed archetype or build, and Dervish Dance is the closest I got to it, even though there are various moments I’d rather have a shield (using UMD and scrolls of Shield is a good substitute, but it is risky and takes a whole turn from a char where EVERY TURN I want to do half a dozen different things).

        Besides, D&D Next pretty much made str or dex for damage and to-hit be the norm and yet I’ve seem lots of str build. It also help that DEX isn’t that powerful when it comes to AC, though.

        • Slashing grace works as well, and not just with scimitars. Dex to damage and attack, with the prereq’s finesse and weapon focus, one of which is gone, and the other is changed to be better.

  • Regarding weapon finesse, are you including other weapons finessable by RAW, which are not light weapons, in that group of weapons that dex can be used for? Elven curve blade, rapier, whip and spiked chain come to mind.

  • Interesting changes, but it feels like you want to make a lot of Combat moves free for all. What use is that, then, to a Wizard? They won’t be using a lot of the naturally available feats, because they’ll typically be having their Spells and dex based ranged attacks.

    Also in REALLY kills the Fighter class, seeing the Barbarian now gets all their feats without having to Multi-class. You could change the rules as suggested, but you’d need to consider the new Uber Barbarian, and rename it “group face smasher” in general, seeing it does both roles.

    I did like how you wanted Weapon Specialisation to work for groups of weapons, not just one. This was the trouble with Weapon Finesse originally (I think it was DnD 3 or 3.5) where in you could get Finesse for ONE weapon. Now, it’s Finesses for any light weapon. It’s make sense, because it’s the users skills that creates the alternate bonus, not the weapon itself that creates a more deadly/useable weapon (I imagine that is best shown by the different crit ranges of various weapons. A rapier is 18-20, but it’s Dex that lets you point it right at their heart).

    I do also agree that some of the Feats on the way to Feats seem taxing, but there are many classes that get to skip some prereqs, such as Monk and Fighter feats. If you really have a PC that just wants to play a “I do this feat and nothing else” character then that’s just their problem. If you have them fall in love with it, and never ever take anything else, well that grows stale, and I would opt for using your alternate suggestions here.

    • Thanks for your feedback! I’m not going to debate the absolute merits of the house-rules, as they are completely optional and are neither “right” nor “wrong.” I would like you to consider a few points though:

      Firstly, these rules can actually be quite beneficial to Wizards, Druids, and other feat-lite classes. Streamlining feat trees allows these classes to hit key feats faster, making exotic builds (Wizard with a longbow, for example) much more viable.

      Also, BAB and level prerequisites still exist, so this isn’t quite as large a free-for-all as it may appear. Under this system, Fighters are able to take more non-combat oriented feats (skill focus, fleet, run, etc…), but still have access to their list of “fighter only” feats such as Weapon Specialization and Greater Weapon Focus. I think it is a good balance.

      I will consider “Group Face Smasher” as a new Barbarian archetype, but I think it may be a touch long.

  • I read over your recommended changes, and I think my forehead will never look the same after all the facepalming I did. The comments were even worse.

    First, I need to correct a few misconceptions about fighters, rogues, monks, and other martial classes in general. They’re not weak. In terms of pure damage, the most damaging character I’ve ever made was a Human Fighter. It’s capable of one-shotting some CR 22+ monsters, without any min-maxing whatsoever. He even has a good amount of Charisma, 15 as I recall, and still deals between 339-389 damage per turn on a +38 to-hit. Two-Handed Fighter archetype is flat-out broken at Level 20, just saying.

    Rogue is actually a very, very powerful class for what it does. What it does is use situations to its advantage, and modify the situations it finds itself in. Trapfinding, one of their best abilities, effectively replacing Dispel Magic from the wizard in disarming magical traps, as no amount of Disable Device without that class feature will do it. Not to mention, unless you have Trapfinding, you can’t even see a trap that requires a perception DC over 20 by the Rules as Written. Now, they CAN fill the role of Striker and help with some damage, but at high levels their skills with Use Magic Device and Stealth actually make them a hard counter to the average mage, especially if they take the correct rogue talents.

    With Monk, if you have half an idea of what you’re doing, you can crank their AC up higher than any other class that I’m aware of. Dexterity plus Wisdom plus Monk bonuses plus items results in insanity, especially concerning Touch AC. Flurry of Blows is just a bonus, and I’d trade it in a heartbeat for the Master of Many Styles archetype.

    Barbarian… DR 12 at Level 10 sound fun? Without sacrificing your damage at all?

    The point is that with the correct application of brainpower, you can build any class with almost any archetype to be stupidly powerful. The only reason you think that spellcasters are so much better is that the spells do the thinking for you.

    Now that it’s established, I hope, that martial classes played by players who think about what they’re doing don’t need any buffs, or even Unchained, let’s take an in-depth look into what you believe to be necessary fixes to the game.

    First, Martial Mastery. Why shouldn’t Weapon Focus apply to a lot of weapons at once? Mostly because of the flavor reasons for the feat itself. You have focused your training on one weapon. You are not prohibited from using other weapons, but you have focused on one more than the others and mastered the intricacies of its use. A Falchion does not handle at all like a Greatsword, Longsword, Elven Curve Blade, Scimitar, or Scythe, but all of those are in the Heavy Blades fighter weapon group. Besides, that’s what the Weapon Training class feature is for. So, this change takes half of a Fighter class feature and allows everyone to take it as a feat. No, I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. Also, fun fact, just because you take Weapon Focus doesn’t mean you can’t use other weapons. It’s more efficient to do so, but your effectiveness with a Greataxe is not diminished just because you focused on a Shortsword.

    Second, Weapon Finesse is perfectly viable as a feat for one reason: it reflects training. You need to train in order to know how to use a weapon in such a way that is not just “Hit it as hard as you can”. That’s why it’s not the default. One change I MIGHT make to it is to add the Scimitar to the list of allowed non-light weapons, but applying this feat to every character is ridiculous, especially when they never trained to use skill instead of strength. Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Improved [insert name of combat maneuver here], and Deadly Aim fall into this category as well. The reason feats exist is to represent training of some kind, extra effort put forth to learn to do something unique above and beyond what the average Joe can do. When did a Wizard ever learn how to use skill to disarm his opponent instead of pure muscle? He might know that it’s a better idea if you don’t have much muscle, but that’s not the same as knowing how to do it.

    Power Attack is a feat with a Strength requirement for a reason. If I am best at fighting when using finesse instead of smashing someone’s face, then it doesn’t make sense for me to try to hit someone as hard as possible. Giving it to everyone just amped the Druid, Ranger, Rogue, Magus, Monk (holy cow did it amp the Monk!), Alchemist, Cavalier, and Inquisitor, not even including the Hybrid classes (if your GM allows those) or caring about Unchained (if your GM actually believes the BS about how “weak” a Monk or Rogue is). That’s not what Power Attack is about. It’s about smashing your opponent in the face as hard as possible with the biggest metal stick you can find. Instead… well, the Magus just got a damage boost, as if it needed one.

    Point-Blank is, in fact, necessary from a roleplay standpoint. The reason why Point-Blank comes before Precise Shot is something that you might not be aware of unless you happen to be an archer (I do not call myself an archer, but I do have some skill with the bow by way of summer camps). When you learn to shoot, you are learning to shoot a target. The target is stationary and there is no significant effect, from the target’s point of view, whether you hit the bulls-eye or the outer ring. Compare this to combat, where hitting someone in the chest is more beneficial than, excuse the cliche, the knee. When you’re focusing and you know in which direction you need to “fudge” your aim, you can almost always hit a stationary target somewhere close to the bullseye. Assuming proficiency means that you can do that, Point-Blank shot could be re-named “Combat Archery”. You know how to quickly adjust your aim to hit a moving target in a good spot, hence the +1 Attack and +1 Damage. Now let’s complicate that situation even more. That target is moving through your allies. You are assumed to not be wanting to hit your allies, so when that target is near an ally, it’s more beneficial to err on the side of missing both than hitting your ally. Hence the -4 to Attack when they’re in melee. Being able to pin-point a good spot on the enemy while they’re duking it out with the Fighter without hitting your ally is quite the feat that requires a lot of training and experience. When did the Ranger put that time in? Every round he’s in combat. When did the Wizard put that time in? Well, uh, you see…

    Deadly Aim for free isn’t as much of a problem as Power Attack, but it’s still a huge problem from a roleplay standpoint. See above for details on how much training it takes for a Ranger to hit someone while they’re in melee without damaging their allies. Now let’s force them to hit a particularly vulnerable spot as well. At Level 1. It’s not going to happen, I’ll just tell you that right now.

    Dodge is possibly the most under-appreciated feat in existence. You get +1 AC, making enemies 5% less likely to hit you at all times. That’s worth a feat if you’re getting anywhere close to an enemy. Mobility is a close second. It literally imitates a Level 1 spell, but is constantly active. Mobility gives you a +4 to AC, which equates to a +20% chance to not be hit when you’re moving through an enemy’s square. See the spell Blurred Movement for details. Now I get a flat +5% against everything AND a permanent Blurred Movement for the cost of one feat? Yeah, I’m sold, and if I’m sold that quickly there’s something wrong. By the way, you mis-wrote the feat. If you wanted to combine the two perfectly, than it should read “This bonus increases by 4” instead of “This bonus increases to +4”.

    I can’t help but notice a certain lack of faith in the Two-Weapon Warrior archetype. +5 Dodge AC after a full attack, +4 hit and damage for both weapons, standard action to hit with both weapons, AOO with both weapons, no penalties if at least one of his two weapons is a Light weapon, free Disarm, Sunder, or Trip, and an AOO on every hit. The build walks into a crowd of enemies, butchers them all, and walks out like a badass. Sure, you won’t always get a full attack action, but when you do, consider the enemy dead. I actually power-built a Two-Weapon Warrior to Level 20 and pitted it mano y mano against a Great Wyrm Red Dragon in melee. The Great Wyrm died in two rounds using nothing but perfectly averaged damage while the Two-Weapon Warrior survived with more than half health. So, the idea that dual-wielding builds are weak can suck it. Besides that, if you’re even half-decent at battlefield positioning and know the Pathfinder version of “taunt” (aka: “I take a free action to flip off the orc.”), you will get a full round.

    Long story short…

    If you want to roleplay a character’s life, struggles, friendships, and epic battles, and actually experience them in a mechanically accurate way as the character learns and grows, then Pathfinder is the game for you. If you want to play an RPG and be completely OP, buy a W.O.W. subscription and stop whining about how you can’t be the entire party by yourself. You’re not supposed to be the entire party by yourself for a reason, and that reason is that there are 3-5 other people playing with you who ALSO want to do what their characters do. Paizo knew that when they started making the game.

    • Thanks for your feedback! I’m not going to debate the absolute merits of the house-rules, as they are completely optional and are neither “right” nor “wrong.” However, I would like you to consider a couple of points:

      1) I personally believe that role-playing originates from the player, not the rule-set. The rules definitely frame what a character can and cannot do in combat, but the tic-and-tac of a PC’s personality and backstory are established by the player through play.

      2) One of the reasons for this feat tax system is to avoid a situation like WoW, where so much character functionality is tied to investing in a deep feat tree. The system we designed allows characters – especially melee characters, who often end up with one-dimensional roles – to do more different things in and out of combat.

      3) Although not explicitly stated in this article, there are still level/BAB/feat requirements that prevent characters from getting too powerful too quickly.

    • Trapfinding is less a boon for the Rogue and more of an example of the less desirable forms that niche protection can take in an RPG when you consider it in the context of the evolution from AD&D through D&D 3rd Edition and its 3.5 revision and then into Pathfinder.

    • Trapfinding is not a particularly good ability because the bonus is not enough to write home about (inspire competence is stronger), and magical traps are pretty rare in most settings (your claim about DC20+ perception traps is not backed up by any rule I can find). You say the rogue can replace dispel magic, I say dispel magic can replace the rogue. An entire character to replace a single spell is not a good trade. As Fortuna Veritas mentioned, trapfinding is an example of niche protection – the rogue needs to be given something unique to do because he’s otherwise kind of terrible. Except that he’s not even unique in that any more since a couple of other, better classes can take it as well.

      You want UMD? There’s probably half a dozen classes that can easily get a better UMD than a rogue. There’s easily a further dozen that can take a single trait and do the same. You want stealth? He will be no better than any other high dex class that puts skill ranks into it, and worse than every single arcane caster who can simply turn invisible. Bards, Alchemists and especially Investigators will all generally be better at skills than a rogue, and all three have medium progression spells/alchemy to back their skill points up with, giving them vastly more problem solving potential than a rogue.

      Rogues get a high base number of skills, but have no reason to pump their Int, and have absolutely no class features to improve any skills not related to traps, unless they spend a rogue talent on it (and at that point, why not just take Skill Focus?). They are not special in the skills department. So, what do they get that *does* make them special? “A hard counter to the average mage”? No. At high levels the average Mage is under some form of concealment, making them completely immune to 95% of the rogue’s damage. The rogue doesn’t have any native way of flying or doing any significant damage at range (usually), and has no way of removing the magical protections the wizard almost certainly has up (assuming your definition of “high levels” is anywhere above 10). If you want to counter high level casters, go a barbarian and take Spell Sunder. It, and the pre-requisite rage powers, actually give you a viable means of dealing with the caster, which the rogue is completely lacking.

      Without dex-to-damage, or power attack, the rogue takes an uncomfortably long time to get a higher damage potential than a fighter (who has better accuracy, HP, and AC for comparative amounts spent). At level 5 the rogue (12 str, 20 dex, dual wielding short swords) has two attacks worth 4d6+1, average damage =30 for both. A fighter (20 str, 12 dex, weapon focus & specialisation (greatsword), power attack, furious focus), hits at 2d6+16, for 23 damage. BUT he gets this on a standard action every round, with a +12 to hit. The rogue gets this damage only on full attacks and only while flanking, and only at a +6 to hit. Against the average CR6 AC of 18, the rogue has a 40% chance to hit, compared to the fighter’s 70%. Next level the fighter gets an iterative attack that is about as likely to hit as the rogue’s primary.

      Let’s have another look at level 9. If your build hasn’t come online by level 9, then you are doing something very, very wrong. Both have 26 in their primary stat, the fighter has a +3 weapon, the rogue has a pair of +2’s.

      The rogue deals 6d6+3, for 24 average damage per hit, or 96 per full attack, but even picking up Weapon Focus only hits at +15/+15/+10/+10. Compared to the average CR 10 AC of 23, gives 65% chance of hitting the first two, and 40% for the second two. Expected damage dealt of 50.4 on a full round with sneak attack, 15.6 on a standard with sneak attack, and 4.9 without. Oh, and with power attack your expected damage actually goes *down* due to your already poor accuracy dropping even lower.

      The fighter, now with Greater Weapon Focus and weapon training up to +2, has a +22 on his primary attack thanks to Furious Focus, or a 95% chance to hit the same monster. His iterative is at a -8 to that, so that only has a 55% hit chance. Still, with each hit dealing 2d6+28, or 35 expected, his accuracy gives him 52.5 expected damage.

      Now granted the thief remains close to the fighter for most of this period, but only if he can get the battlefield playing right for him, which I would estimate to be roughly 50% of the time (Ninjas can use Vanishing Trick to get closer to 75%, while also significantly boosting their defense). The rest of the time his damage output is basically negligible. Plus the fighter has ranged options. I don’t know how you got the misconception that the rogue was a strong class, but it’s really not.

      You say the rogue is a master at altering a situation to his advantage, which is a horribly vague statement so it’s hard to point to exactly why this is wrong, other than to say that there is nothing a rogue can do that another class cannot do better. The only things the class gets are sneak attack (which has good damage if it lands, but is far too unreliable), trapfinding (both weak and situational unless your GM has a hard-on for traps), and
      rogue talents. Rogue talents are highly varied, from worse than Skill Focus to actually kinda viable (once you get past the obligatory ones required to make your chosen combat style work), but generally don’t give the rogue anything particularly strong, or make him stand out from any other class. He can add some nice effects to his sneak attack, but if you want a combat rogue, play a slayer – hit like a fighter but still add sneak attack effects. If you want a skill rogue play an Investigator – better skill ranks and a class ability to boost them even further.

      I’ve already ranted too much so I’ll be brief addressing the rest of your points. Granting a class feature as a feat is not intrinsically bad – some class features literally grant you a feat (look at the Swashbuckler).

      Changes to feats should be based primarily on the mechanics of the system and the balance within it, rather than complicating everything simply to add more realism – everyone has their own brand of hyper-realism, and rarely do they actually improve the system part of a role playing system.

      Dodge is underappreciated for a reason: defence is weaker than offence – +1 AC is nice, sure, but not as strong as +1 to hit. I rate it as a second tier feat; grab it if you have a spare feat, but don’t drop something you want from your build to make room for it. Mobility however is weak. If you need to flank a target (rare enough in itself) half the time you can do so without provoking at all. Far too circumstantial to take unless I was using a build that needed it, and these are rare since trading a standard action attack for a AoO attack is far from an ideal way to spend your turn in combat, and mobility doesn’t change that. Sure the new feat is good, but it’s not so great that I’m rushing out to grab it – there’s just so many feats that are better, no matter who you are.

      Pitting a two-weapon fighter against a great wyrm in melee sounds like pitting a fire elemental against an ice elemental in a volcano. Run the scenario again with the dragon able to use its flight and spellcasting to its advantage rather than simply slogging it out in melee. Sure it’s no slouch up close, but you’re still losing half of what it can do. Also, sure it can walk into a crowd of enemies and kill them all, but so can a whole bunch of builds. Plus there are plenty that don’t need to walk into the crowd to kill them. Run a comparable scenario with the fighter at level 5, 10, and 15 and see how long it takes the fighter to really come into his own, plus compare to a vanilla barbarian and a tricked out wildshape druid or something to see how it compares. But yes, a Two-Weapon Warrior fighter is quite good at what they do.

      • Also wizards can teleport, stop time, create illusions… And Dragon Form, too. What’s the fighter going to do when he gets Reach-Planeshifted into the plane of negative energy?

  • I like the ideas discussed here some of which I would have liked to see in Unchained. I personally dislike “breaking” too many game rules, so I settled on something else instead.
    An alternative that I like to use in my own home games is an initial bonus “armament” Feat at 1st (to help deal with said Feat tax). It could be a Signature weapon, armor, or style feat that is unique to just that PC. Technically, one could open it up to some of the “taxing” feats listed here. If you like making PCs a little stronger, you could also do things like Way of the Wicked (25 pt buy, +2 skill points/level, bonus specialized skill, etc). I think these kinds of builds lend themselves better to smaller parties that need a boost.

  • Greater Spell Penetration
    Gone. Merged with “Spell Penetration”.
    Spell Penetration
    Revised: You get a +2 bonus on caster level checks (1d20 + caster level) made to overcome a creature’s spell resistance. At 10th level, this bonus becomes a +4

    Spell Penetration is a feat tax chain too, and sucks up arcane caster’s very limited feats. To not upset balance too much, we should also look at redundancies on the caster side

    • That is an interesting thought! I guess this mirrors Skill Focus in a lot of ways, but I’m unsure if SR and skill check DCs scale in similar ways.

      I wonder if Spell Resistance needs a general overhaul? I find Spell Resistance and Dispel Magic to be mostly “coin flips” in battle, and can really slow down fights.

  • How about merging Piranha Strike into Power Attack? Although it’s a prerequisite for any other feat, it still feels like it should be an option for everyone, for the same reason as PAtk.

  • Hi… You say that “we might finally see a samurai wielding a daisho”, but since the katana and wakizashi aren’t in the same weapons group, your rules actually don’t help at all with that… or am I missing something ?

    Also, how do you deal with proficiencies, especially when it comes to exotic weapons ?

    • Interesting question! In our homebrew, we actually don’t really have exotic weapons, so this point never came up.

      If you wanted a quick fix, you could meld some of the exotic weapons into existing weapon groups (axes, bows, close, cudgels, firearms, flails, hammers, heavy blades, light blades, spears, thrown). Katanas could fall into heavy blades while daisho would be light blades.

      Using your GM’s discretion, you could also create entirely new weapon groups. In this case, it may make sense to group traditional samurai melee weapons together (katana, wazikashi, daisho). That way your samurai could still specialize in a distinct flavour of weaponry.

  • Our group tends to play lower level characters (maxing out around 10-12th level), in part because the game system start falling apart at higher levels. Also I think Pathfinder has gone a bit overboard with feats, so some streamlining would be good. With that in mind, here are some comments:

    I definitely like the Deft Maneuvers and Powerful Maneuvers grouping; but think getting rid of provoking opportunity attacks is enough. The +2 part is probably overkill, and they can always take the corresponding “Greater” feat to improve their chances to hit. This should make games more colorful if characters feel less restrained about performing these types of maneuvers.

    Agree that Combat Expertise, Power Attack and Deadly Aim should be part of the game system, and not require feats. By default, there should be a 1 for 1 trade-off (increase AC by lowering chance to hit, or trade-off between chance to hit vs. damage). The Power Attack and Deadly Aim feats can stick around (to get the 2-1 trade off), but should not be prerequisites. Combat Expertise should go altogether. Weapon Finesse should also be baked into the game system (this what DnD5 did).

    Agree that Point Blank Shot should not be a prerequisite (still nice to have around for Rogues to get sneak attack damage, and for others who want the close range bonus).

    You have written some nice descriptions of why some feats could exist, and I like your roleplaying examples (such as: “It’s about smashing your opponent in the face as hard as possible with the biggest metal stick you can find.”). But ultimately I don’t find much of your arguments about the need for special training to be convincing. A martial artist of almost any skill level knows how to trade off between attack and defense, why does the game system require extra training (in the form of a Combat Expertise feat)?

    By your own argument, Point Blank Shot/PBS (or at least the aspects you describe early on) is necessary for all archers. I would argue this is already included in the game system, being proficient with a bow means more then static target shooting. The rest of the argument is convincing as to why special training is needed for shooting into combat without a penalty; but no one here is advocating doing away with Precise Shot/PS. The question is why do you need two types of special training (PBS and PS), and does that make sense from a “feel” and “mechanics” perspective. The two feel pretty similar, but there are enough practical differences that I am OK with them being separate. But from a mechanic point of view, having PBS a requirement for PB really does seem like “feat tax”, e.g. a mechanism to slow down and dilute the power of feats.

    Aside – although I am still coming to an opinion on DnD5 overall, for low level characters I really like what they have done with feats. The feats are powerful, but much harder to get.

    • Thanks for the feedback!

      As a side-note, we actually wrote this post before 5th edition was released, and we were glad to see feats become more streamlined in D&D Next (although we are still Pathfinder die-hards).

    • if you remove the +2, you should also considering limiting CMDs to Str or Dex but not both.

  • it occurred to me that merging dual strike (standard action attack once with each weapon with normal TWF penalties) with the first TWF feat would also help make the style more viable at early levels.

  • Hm. I notice a conspicuous lack of Improved Grapple from the combined maneuver feats.
    Is that a deliberate design choice, or just an omission?
    I’m gonna assume it’s the former, in which case: Why?

    • When this article was first written, we had omitted it by accident. We have since created the Unarmed Combatant feat in our feat tree, which merges Improved Grapple and Improved Unarmed Strike:

      Unarmed Combatant
      You are skilled at grappling and fighting while unarmed.

      Benefit: You are considered to be armed even when unarmed—you do not provoke attacks of opportunity when you attack foes while unarmed. Your unarmed strikes can deal lethal or nonlethal damage, at your choice.

      You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a grapple combat maneuver. In addition, you receive a +2 bonus on checks made to grapple a foe. You also receive a +2 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense whenever an opponent tries to grapple you.

      Normal: Without this feat, you are considered unarmed when attacking with an unarmed strike, and you can deal only nonlethal damage with such an attack. You provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a grapple combat maneuver.

      • I like the core concept here, but I would change the grapple benefit. Many martial artists are not grapplers. Instead, I would work your second benefits paragraph as follows:

        “Additionally, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity when performing unarmed combat maneuvers. You receive a +2 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense when an opponent who is classified as “unarmed” attempts an unarmed combat maneuver against you. This bonus does not stack with those bonuses granted by other combat maneuver feats, such as Improved Deft Maneuvers or Improved Powerful Maneuvers. You instead benefit from whichever bonus is superior.”

        This makes you better at avoiding untrained unarmed combat maneuvers. You would have no advantage over an opponent who possessed this same feat, a similar feat (such as Dirty Fighting), or a natural attack which performs combat maneuvers in a fashion similar to possessing an applicable feat (such as a wolf’s trip feature). Simultaneously, this approach would expand the capabilities of Unarmed Combatant by removing the inherent penalties for performing combat maneuvers untrained when unarmed, going off the assumption that training in this feat included rudimentary instruction in performing an assortment of basic combat maneuvers, but not assuming you are trained in wrestling or jujitsu. 😉

      • Addendum:

        “Performing the Sunder combat maneuver with this feat requires a special Standard action, in which you perform a special grapple attack against the target’s applicable equipment, then attempt to smash it with your fist, break it over your knee, or similarly strike the item in question. If the Sunder attempt fails, you may either release the item as a free action or maintain the grapple. If the item in question is a sword or similar slashing or piercing weapon (where the majority of the weapon deals damage; blunt weapons and weapons with extensive non-lethal portions such as spears, polearms, and whips, do not apply), any attempts by the weapons wielder to escape this grapple automatically inflict 1d4 slashing damage, plus any enhancement modifiers, and half the wielder’s combined other applicable modifiers, such as from high Strength, Weapon Specialization, etc. Wielders of these weapons receive a +5 bonus to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and/or Escape Artist roll when attempting to break the grapple. Weapons with damage dealing enchantments, such as Flaming, Shock, Frost, Bane, and Holy, automatically deal this enchantment damage when the Sunder maneuver is attempted, as well as each round in which the grapple is maintained at the beginning of the wielder’s turn. Flexible weapons, such as chains, flails, and whips, are immune to unarmed Sunders attempted with this feat.”

    • So, my modification to Michael’s suggestion does not address the lack of Improved Grapple. I have a suggestion for that specifically noted omission. Take in mind, this suggestion does not require the suggested “Unarmed Combatant” feat proposed by Michael, nor my altered version suggestion, rather it compliments the feat while standing independent of it. My suggestion is as follows:

      [b]Unarmed Maneuver Specialist[/b]
      [i]Your specialized esoteric unarmed style has taught you optimal methods of physically manipulating your opponents.[/i]

      [b]Benefits:[/b] When performing any combat maneuver unarmed or with a free hand, these attempts do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Additionally, you receive a +2 bonus to all unarmed combat maneuver rolls, and you may apply both your Strength and Dexterity modifiers to your Combat Maneuver Bonus with unarmed combat maneuver attempts. If you are unarmed or have a free hand, you also receive a +2 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense whenever an opponent attempts a bull rush, drag, grapple, reposition, steal, or trip combat maneuver against you. You are still subject to any penalties which apply to one-handed combat maneuver attempts.

      If your Base Attack Bonus is +6 or greater, the bonuses conferred by this feat increase to +4. Additionally, opponents affected by your successful combat maneuvers are subject to attacks of opportunity. If you possess a prehensile feature, such as a tiefling’s Prehensile Tail, a witch’s Prehensile Hair, or similar feature, you may make unarmed Disarm, Dirty Trick, Feint, and Steal attempts using this feature, even if you normally could not. The prehensile feature must be otherwise unoccupied, just as a free hand.

      If your Base Attack Bonus is +11 or greater, you no longer suffer penalties for attempting combat maneuvers one-handed. Additionally, you may perform unarmed Bull Rush, Disarm, Reposition, and Trip combat maneuvers even when you don’t have a free hand, using your shoulders, elbows, knees, feet, and even torso, as your unarmed “weapon”. If you possess a “prehensile” feature, you may now attempt unarmed Disarm and Trip combat maneuvers with this feature, even if you otherwise could not. The prehensile feature must qualify as a free hand, as above.

      If your Base Attack Bonus is +16 or greater, you may perform all combat maneuvers unarmed, with the exception of Steal, even when you don’t have a free hand. If attempting an unarmed Grapple maneuver in this manner, you are movement speed is reduced to 0 as you are using your leg or legs to perform this Grapple, but you are otherwise not considered to be grappled yourself. If you possess a prehensile feature, as above, you may perform any unarmed combat maneuver attempt with this feature, even if you otherwise could not. This feature does not have to be considered a free hand, except to perform the Steal combat maneuver.

  • Looking over these alternate rules, I like a LOT of what you wrote here. I like the idea of certain feats being either free to all with contingencies (like Power Attack, Deadly Aim, Weapon Finesse, Combat Expertise, and a handful of others that escape me, at the moment) or more widely encompassing (Weapon Focus (but NOT Specialization… It’s in the name; you’re specializing in a specific weapon), Dodge, Improved X Maneuvers, Improved/Greater X (Whip Mastery, Two-Weapon Fighting, other examples I can’t think of), and others.

    I love what D&D 5E has done with feats, for the most part. They definitely went down the right path there.

    IMHO, the feat system needs a total overhaul. But to add to your suggestions, rather than demolishing the foundation and laying down new concrete. Examples:

    1. Style Feat Chains: Most of these start out somewhat mediocre, and only become good once you have at least two, if not all three (or more as applicable), of the feats in the chain. I think it would be better to make them each just ONE FEAT (MAYBE 2, for particularly long chains, such as the Dimensional Agility chain (Agility, Assault, Dervish, Savant, Maneuvers)), with iterative bonuses that unlock as the character advances. Any current feat chain that has “Style” attached to it, as well as any chain which have the same naming format and are intended to be chained together for iterative improvements (Dimensional Agility, Whip Mastery, etc.) should fall into this category.

    2. All feats which are, quite frankly, CRAP should be improved, either in a singularly lumped improvement (ex. Dodge grants a +2 or +3 AC bonus, combined with Mobility, granting double this bonus when the character threatens attacks of opportunity due to movement), or an iterative bonus as the character gains character levels, BAB, and/or spell levels, but not class levels (ex. Dodge grants +1 AC, increasing by +1 at character level 5 and every 5 levels thereafter, combined with Mobility in the aforementioned manner). This sort of bonus could apply to any feat which is currently considered a “feat tax”, such as Skill Focus, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, etc.), and those feats should not be prerequisites except in very rare and specifically strong circumstances.

    3. Not a feat modification, but a general modification and feat related. Caster Level. Multiclassing as a caster SUCKS in every way possible, but only for a caster. Multiclassing as a non-caster is far less damaging. Caster Level should equal Character Level. This is to say that if you advance to level 5 Wizard, for example, then move forward as a Fighter, the spells you are able to cast should still improve. You wouldn’t gain additional spell levels or other class benefits for general level advancement, but everything that relies on Caster Level should still improve. You’re already gimping your spellcasting by losing spell advancement. Does any non-caster class stop gaining base attack bonus for multiclassing? No. Additionally, power gained from a class that gains incremental increases for gaining class levels should instead improve in the same manner for gaining character levels. Yes, this would require those developing classes to scrutinize a class a bit more when developing them, but it makes more sense to me that experience (not referring to the points a character gains, rather the actual definition) should grant improvements in all aspects of the character. A character who does not retrain out of a class is essentially keeping those abilities because they want to USE THEM. That intent to use should translate to those abilities improving. In the above example, the Wizard/Fighter still wants to use his spellcasting prowess and the class abilities gained up to that point, but wants to broaden their utility by being more physically effective in combat. They will not get any additional spells per day, access to new spell levels, or new School powers, but those they’ve already gained would still improve. This should apply to every class. Certain abilities, such as Sneak Attack, might need to be changed. Sneak Attack is easy. At first level, the Rogue gets the Sneak Attack class feature as it is, for +1d6 precision damage to applicable attacks. Period. End of story. It never increases. HOWEVER… at every odd level (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19) the Rogue gains the a bonus feat. This bonus feat allows the Rogue to choose from specific options that relate to the Sneak Attack class feature, and one of those options is the new feat “Accomplished Sneak Attacker”. This gives the Rogue the inherent ability to advance their Sneak Attack in the manner it already does, as well as granting some flexibility to alternate concepts. (Any archetype which alters the advancement of the Sneak Attack class feature would, instead, alter the access to these bonus feats.) By doing this, specific abilities would not advance automatically by gaining class levels (no 1-level dip into Rogue to get full Sneak Attack), but characters could still have the OPTION of increasing them with their own feats. I doubt anyone is going to want to spend 9/10 of their character feats on Accomplished Sneak Attacker, unless they are a Fighter or other class that gets bonus feats, AND their concept is very feat lite. This same methodology could apply to any class which has feature(s) which gets incrementally better through advancement, such as Weapon / Armor Training, Channel Energy, Judgment, Bane, Unarmed Strike, Rage, Bombs, Summoning, etc., requiring a feat to advance the ability in question (the feat, of course, requires possessing the base class feature), levels in the class would automatically grant this bonus feat (or a bonus feat with options specific to said class feature). Class feature with no inherent advancement (such as class-granted bonus feats), specific class level-based abilities (advanced Grit / Panache Deeds, spell level increases, etc.), and other abilities attained specifically through the advancement in a class (Evasion/Improved, Wizard School Powers, Sorcerer Bloodline Powers, Rogue / Slayer / Ninja Talents, Hexes, Exploits, Arcana, Discoveries, Rage Powers, Bardic Performances, Druid Shapechange, Ranger Animal Companion, etc., etc., ad nauseum) could only be acquired through advancing the specific class to the applicable level. Exception: Having a class feature with level-based gains (Exploits, Talents, Hexes, etc.) for which a feat exists to grant an additional variation of the core feature could still be gained through the expenditure of said feat(s).

    There is MUCH more I could go into, but I’ve already build a wall of text, so I’ll cut it here.

    TL/DR: I like your ideas, and I feel they should be expanded upon in ways which add more versatility to character concepts, while not hamstringing them for coloring outside the lines.

    • Paizo goofed a bit with CL = CL bit and how to fix it.

      In ADND and 3.0/3.5 you had feats and exp bonuses that would correct that issue.

      In PF? You get Magical Knack a trait that is so unique and powerful because of its uniqueness its routinely banned or shunned as cheesing.

        • That… seems like banning weapon focus as cheese. It was published in a core book, and is used in the exact way it was designed to work. The only straight classes that get anything out of it are the Ranger and Paladin (and for them, mostly only to duration), anyone else only benefits while multiclassing. Then they are paying heavily for it by giving up levels of spell progression, even if they keep their caster level the same they will delay access to the really tasty spells. It no way is this trait cheese. It gives people more options with their build without giving anyone a straight power spike, which is exactly what I want from a trait.

  • How do you handle classes (Swashbuckler for example) that get Weapon Finesse for free? Just ignore it? Give them another feat?

    • I think a bonus feat would work in this scenario, and Deft Maneuvers seems like a comfortable fit.

      These changes get complicated when you factor in classes that get a lot of bonus feats, such as Rangers. I’d leave it to the GM’s discretion to figure our replacement feats/powers.

    • Vital Strike’s damage is heavily tied to BAB progression (+6/+11/+16). I think it’s probably for the best that the Improved/Greater variations require feat investment, as they can be quite powerful.

      However, if you really wanted to further slim down the feat tree, you could make Vital Strike a single feat that scales up based on BAB. This would be similar to how Power Attack and Deadly Aim scale in the Core rules.

      You could even integrate it with the Powerful Maneuvers line of feats: Powerful Maneuvers -> Vital Strike. It makes sense thematically.

      • My understanding of vital strike is that it is an inferior choice in almost every situation, save a crane-style fighting defensively. It stacks with almost nothing (charge, spring attack, AoO, although there was some FAQ jabber about this being repealed). Even against what it was designed to counter, DR, iterative attacks are still usually the better option due to multipliers. It’s widely lauded as a poor choice, especially when having to stack feats.

        You correctly assess TWF as a choice that falls short in most situations, save maybe a perfectly positioned rogue at level 15. Your 2WF takes iterative attack scaling into account without breaking the average damage output, so I’m somewhat bewildered why the same treatment wasn’t allotted to Vital Strike tree. I don’t have actual spreadsheet damage projections, but there are out there. I have yet to see any talk about VS breaking any expectations.

        I would suggest looking at spreadsheets of damage projection of both vital strike and other damage-focused feat chains AFTER your changes are applied to them. If they are comparable, vital strike really should be added tot he list.

        That all said, these changes is everything I ever wanted from the feat tree. Combat in Pathfinder is deliberately stylized, and this gives martial classes the ability to stylize how they fight much more readily. /Like button.

  • It doesn’t make sense to lump Improved Feint into Deft Maneuvers. It’s not like the other Improved * feats.

    Feint never provokes an AoO. What Improved Feint does is allow you to Feint as a Move action rather than as a Standard action. This is useful enough that I’d recommend keeping it as a separate feat.

      • While requiring Combat Expertise, feint is not an actual combat maneuver. It’s tree focuses around action economy, rather than provoking an AoO.

        I would be very wary to include this before looking at damage outputs of feint. Additionally, I wonder how the above changes would affect two-weapon feint as well. Rogues may have sudden power spikes at level 6 that they didn’t previously. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • I realize this was posted a while ago, but you misunderstand agile maneuvers, or wrote your fix for it in error. Disarm, trip and sunder are the only combat maneuvers which can use weapons. That means your weapon finesse fix already covers using a fineseable weapon for those 3 CMs

  • Okay, I have a question. I have an Aasimar Fighter (2nd level)/Warpriest (1st level). My DM is wanting to implement these modifications, and I’m trying to figure out how to make it work, but I have used Herolab to create my character. Since this is changing the rules fairly significantly, and we’re still low level, my DM is letting us retcon our characters, and change some things. Currently, my character uses a shield/hammer (Light hammer, or Warhammer) for most encounters, but he has weapon focus in Greatsword, which he pulls out when he deems the foe worthy of using it in battle (Sort of an honor thing…). Anyway, I’m trying to figure out how to make it work, to get the Weapon Focus: Hammer group and Sacred Weapon aspect from Warpriest (If I understand correctly, eventually, I’ll be doing a lot more base damage with my Warhammer, and I’d be doing 1D6 base damage with my Light hammers, plus have the ability to throw them. Whcih will all become more significant as I gain levels, correct? My question is this…how would I go about adjusting Herolab to reflect these changes? I tried installing the mods that someone worked up, but it didn’t seem to show the changes. Any help would be appreciated.

    • I actually do not use HeroLab extensively myself, so I can’t really troubleshoot things for you. Sorry!

      That being said, you may have to remake your character in order for the mod to take effect. I’m not sure if it makes edits retroactively.

    • as bonus feats. grant your self bonus weapon focus feats for each hammer you plan to use, as well as any other feats like Combat expertise, etc if need be. That option is under the dm award section.

    • @Reangelis Hi, I’m the guy who wrote the Hero Lab mod. I didn’t realize Warpriests were broken, but they definitely were. I’ve just updated the Hero Lab mod so that they should get Weapon Focus (the group variant) for free at level 1 the way they’re supposed to. It appears to work correctly with the Sacred Weapon damage increase as well.

      @Michael If you get any more questions/bug reports about the Hero Lab mod here, could you please direct them to the thread on the Wolflair forums? I get email notifications when that one is posted to. Thanks.

  • My only complaint is that it seems that you may be off on what some of the feats did to start with. For example, under your section for Martial Mastery you talk about having to use the exact same weapons in both hands for Weapon Finesse to apply but Weapon Finesse applies to every light weapon and several not light weapons not to a specific weapon you choose.

    Also, I don’t really see that two handed is that much more powerful then two weapon. In every game I have played in I have averaged more damage a round dual-wielding then the two handed character every level, although sometimes it can be pretty even or slightly towards them at levels 1-2.

    Example, I dual-wield a longsword and shortsword and they are two-handing a tradition martial weapon, let’s say greataxe. They hit something for 1d12 and 1 and 1/2 times strength. I hit for 1d8 plus strength and 1d6 1/2 strength or full strength if I take double slice, which why wouldn’t I. So they average 6-7 plus 1 and 1/2 times strength where I am averaging 4-5 plus strength and 3-4 plus strength and that’s not even counting something like two-weapon rend which makes that 4-5 plus strength and 3-4 plus strength and 5-6 plus 1 and 1/2 times strength.

    Then of course comes the issue with using this and wanting to do a game that includes Mythic, suddenly the people who would take the feats listed on here are constantly getting massive numbers of free extra feats and will quickly outpace everyone else.

  • Probably the only real nitpick I’ve got with this selection is with the Deft/Powerful Manoeuvres. They’re great, but I get kind of antsy at the fact Deft gets 6, while Powerful gets 4. I would move one from one to the other (I moved reposition, personally)

  • May I ask why the greater two weapon fighting DEX requirement is so high? One could argue they were better off with the improved two weapon fighting option because of the lower entry cost.

    • I’m a bit confused by this comment.

      Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, under this system, has a 17 Dexterity entry cost. This is actually two lower than Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (19 Dex) in the Core rules, and equal to Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (17 Dex) in Core rules. If anything, the entry cost is lower than before.

  • I feel Selective Channel should be free for classes that can channel energy. Healing is already borked at pathfinder (sans the Heal spell). Since you have to invest Charisma to gain more uses of Channel and you don’t gain extra uses on your level (except for two or three archetypes) it allows the cleric to use their Channel in combat without having to worry about healing enemies (unless they get swarmed with enemies more than their charisma modifier).

    • That’s an interesting point of debate. We kept Selective Channel in, mostly because our document tends to focus less on arcane/divine spellcasting and more on melee and ranged combat. Clerics are so powerful already that they didn’t seem to merit a huge rework.

      Personally, I think the entire healing system in Pathfinder needs a re-imagining. Even with feat support, channeling is still an awkward and ineffective form of damage mitigation.

  • Only real issue I have (though maybe I’m misunderstanding) is that a character who uses two weapons has to wait for a while until they’re able to not be terrible with them. Since Improved TWF is removed by the Feat Tax system, say you’re a level 1 rogue – with a Light weapon in offhand, you’re staring at -4/-8 until level 8?

  • Two-weapon fighting seems a bit retarded stupid concept since with a weapon you get an attack and dual wield gives you extra attack, wtf, why can’t you get second attack with single weapon since apparently those all should be classified as move actions in a round and then you could designate whatever you are going to do in a round, x attacks as full round, less with some other fancy move etc.

    • I think two-weapon fighting is a neat concept that fails somewhat in its execution. We’ll see if they clean things up in Pathfinder 2.0 (I know that they’ve simplified the action structure a bit).

      As a side note, I’ve edited the word “retarded” out of your comment. For many people with intellectual disabilities, the use of the R-word invokes memories of being bullied; endless days of being demeaned and countless times being told that they are outsiders not worthy of respect.

      I invite you to check out the #NoGoodWay campaign for more details: https://www.motionball.com/nogoodway/

  • You mention that you have a full rules document but every time I click on the link, I come right to this page. Is it something I am doing wrong or is the link broken?

    • I think the latest WordPress update wonked out my theme, so some of the links aren’t working properly. I’ll be fixing this over the next couple of days.

        • I don’t think it’s been fixed..
          clicking on the “full rules document” link at the top, just links back to this page.

          • That is odd, since I’ve verified that link on a few different computers. Try emptying your cache or running your browser in debugging mode (F12 in Chrome).

  • Where is the herolab mod now hosted? the provided link on “theworldissqure.com” seems to be a suspended account.

  • In the PDF, Martial Weapon Proficiency has been entirely removed.

    The consequence of removing this feat is that classes that were automatically proficient in all martial weapons (e.g. fighter) no longer are. Additionally, those classes must buy a Weapon Proficiency (group) feat in order to become proficient in any type of martial weapon that they would have been in vanilla PF?

    This seems like an odd design choice if the intention is to reduce feat taxes.

    Or am I misunderstanding this change?

    • Weapon proficiencies provided by classes are still valid as the Martial Weapon equipment category still exists. Classes generally grant proficiencies based on these equipment categories, rather than referring to specific feats:

      A fighter is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all armor (heavy, light, and medium) and shields (including tower shields).

      Martial Weapon Proficiency has been sort of folded into Weapon Proficiency, a new feat which grants proficiency in weapon groups as opposed to singular weapons. We wanted characters to have the option of using more weapons, as Pathfinder often forces a PC to be a single-weapon warrior.

  • Regarding feat taxes, would the tax would cut also the Combat Reflexes feat – considering that it works a quite the same like deadly aim, combat expertise etc? If you have dex +1 then you’d get automatically those extra attacks of opportunity? (also would give +dex items for non dex characters some benefit to some extend).

    • No, Combat Reflexes is still a feat.

      That’s an interesting consideration – naturalizing AoOs and simply attaching them to DEX. I would be concerned about how it could slow down combat movement though, as every monster/character with a decent DEX score would automatically get additional AoOs.

      If you end up house-ruling it, let me know how it goes!

      • so this is something we usually do in our games just cause it makes sense to us i mean most of my group does dex stuff but mostly they only really use the multiple aoo for bosses or bigger cr creatures

  • I’m very interested in these rules and the hero labs mod. What is all in the hero labs mod for this?
    Do you have any plans on expanding these rules to cover all the Paizo Pathfinder Products? The ultimates and so forth?

  • So I’ve been reading this over and I got to ask. Why did you only give out replacers to some of the feats you removed and not all?
    Weapon Finesse and Unarmed Strike were replaced just fine without hurting the class.
    But then you removed martial and exotic weapon proficiency and gave nothing to the classes who get them for free. Since as far as I can tell you have it so that the martial classes are all now default only proficient with simple weapons?

    • I see this was addressed earlier by someone elses comment and it just hasn’t been updated into the pdf yet.

  • For the changes to Mobility, what is meant by moving “within a threatened tile”? The rules for AOO discuss moving out of a threatened square and actions performed within a threatened square (which aren’t considered movement). Does Mobility now encompass actions performed within a threatened square that would normally provoke an AOO (e.g. casting, standing from prone, using an item)?

    • No, there is no change as to how Mobility functions in terms of movement. Any wording changes are either: a) a mistake, or b) artifacts from an earlier version of the rules.

  • I am a big fan of your EITR ruleset and E6 games in general, and it has become a given for games I run anymore. I am actually in the process of writing up my own homebrew setting which is based on the E6 system called Savage Dawn, which takes place in a mythical stone age. I am hoping to write everything up into a single pdf that will allow anyone who wants to use the setting to do so with as few outside resources as possible. Since I am writing it for use with the EITR rules, would you mind if I included these rules with my setting? Proper credit will of course be given.

      • Will do, and thanks! It will be a while yet of course, but the basic plan is to get everything written up into a PDF with the relevent Homebrew stuff and toss it online for people to use. I’ll definitely share it here when it is done.

  • Thanks for posting this. We are using this in a couple of games and I have a question. Does slashing grace also work for the whole light weapons group like weapon focus? Seems like it would to me but looking for clarification.

    Also, in your rules the str requirement for Power attack is removed as well, correct? The GM of one of the games is under the impression that the str requirement still applies.

    • We didn’t design these rules with anything but Core in mind, but I would say that Slashing Grace applies to a weapon group. Of course, the final call is up to your GM!

      The STR requirement is removed for Risky Strike (which is an amalgam of Power Attack and Deadly Aim, as outlined in the rules PDF). You still need a +1 BAB to use it though.

  • Hey, I wanted to ask about the interaction between dervish dance and the agile maneuvers change. It seems like a scimitar with dervish dance is ment to function like a finesse weapon and it would make sense for combat maneuvers to be based of dex when wielding one. What’s your take on this?

  • I like the “weapon-specific are now weapon group-specific” one, all of my Fighters focus on a very specific weapon so that they can take advantage of everything without double/triple/etc.-ing the number of Feats required. Recently I decided I wanted to play more of a “weapon master” instead of a “master of a weapon,” and I needed to find an exploit from an obscure rulebook to make it viable, with it only being possible with the Monk weapon group…
    I also like Combat Expertise and Power Attack being free with BAB+1, since those were, exactly as you said, a “take only to fulfill prerequisites” and a “take with anything that deals melee damage,” respectively, so it’s nice to not have those sitting there stalling out my builds that are focused around one or more Feats that have those as prerequisites.
    I generally prefer damage over positional manipulation, but I’ll admit that one idea I had for a maneuver-based build was killed in development by the fact that I would need more than half of my total Feat allotment just to reach the point where it had an appreciable number of options.
    Finally, I’ll openly admit that I’ve had a few ideas for Spring Attack/Shot on the Run builds that were killed in development by the number of Feats needed to make one attack while moving. It’s kind of embarrassing for the ruleset that when I wanted to make a build focused around re-positioning and attacking at the same time I used Panther Style instead of Spring Attack…

  • So I’m super late to the game, because I just inherited the “off” weeks from our 5e game and wanted to revisit Rise of the Runelords. One of my players suggested these homebrew rules (specifically the maneuvers ones.) While I do like the “flavor” aspect of making these easier and less feat intensive, I kind of loathe them in general. I’m not a “player slayer” but I want to have fun as well.

    A player who has “specialized” in any one of these (especially trip or grapple or even dirty trick) can be a REAL pain in the ass, and now you’re asking me to accept player(s) who can do ALL of them? It’s all well and good for minions and lower level stuff, but exactly how are you supposed to be “dirty trick” blinding something that’s 10 feet taller than you? Or grappling something that’s 3 size categories bigger? Especially since they’ve watered down the size modifiers (from 3.5) it just feels like a bridge too far for me.

    Make all the excuses you want about “well giants have a 35 strength and therefore high CMD” but no thank you. At LEAST make it that you need to take the “greater [whatever]” to get the +4 to the CMB, instead of smooshing 6 feats into one AND removing the AOO AND giving the +2 to attack AND defense. I’m ALL for limiting “feat tax” but no thanks.

    And PLEASE don’t give me the “well you just have to get creative as a DM” (the rationale of the player who suggested this.) I’m a good DM (not a great one) and I’m thrilled when my players do something clever to neutralize a foe, but it gets boring (and frustrating) for me when it’s “here we go again where one successful trip attack basically ends combat.”

    I suppose this isn’t a -ton- different than “oh look, the fighter with a 22 STR, power attack and improved critical with his falchion just hacked something to bits.” Yes, wizards start getting access to “save or die” type magic, but they have to expend super high slots to cast such things.

    Am I just being a whiny b*tch, or is this a legitimate criticism of combat maneuvers in general?

    • As with all house rules, your mileage may vary. However, there are thousands of ways to exploit the Pathfinder RPG system, so if your players are dedicated to power- or meta-gaming, then whether or not you adapt these rule changes is really a secondary concern.

      I will point to two things though. First, while these feat changes do make it easier for players to access combat maneuvers, there are still quite a few prerequisites (BAB, stats, additional feats, etc.) to get them working well. Second, these changes work both ways. One of the things we suggest in the PDF rules-document is updating monster stat-blocks to reflect the feat changes. Notably, this means that many monsters have access to a variation of power-attack by default and gain Powerful/Deft Maneuvers for free.

  • Hey, just wanted to say thanks for these. I’ve looked at the feat tree a number of times and been very frustrated at how many pre-reqs there are that I won’t even use in some of my builds. Power Attack is very high on that list, particularly. I am almost never willing to take the accuracy hit to do more damage, but feats I would take are gated by it.

    ‘Giving away’ the basic, improved combat maneuvers is completely in line with something I would be likely to implement at my table anyways. My philosophy is that I want my players to get to do their ‘signature thing’ as much as they care to do it, and many of the limitations in system, particularly at low level, are absolutely crippling.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to say these are well thought out. They might have some minor implications for power creep, but my argument there, as a GM myself… is that it’s the GM’s problem and prerogative to make adjustments in that eventuality.

  • We’ve been using these houserules for our Strange Aeons playthrough, and (like most of the posters here) found it works very well.
    Because SA is a very low-loot AP, to make our money go farther the GM decided to: combine Scribe Scroll & Brew Potion into a single feat, Craft Rod, Staff & Wand were combined, and Forge Ring was merged into Craft Wondrous Item.

    • I’ve never been a huge fan of crafting feats (they have, in the past, thrown off the balance of home campaigns), but I really like your idea of merging a few of them together. Wizards are so feat-strapped already! Plus, the limiting factor for crafting is usually money anyways.

    • I’m not the party’s crafter, so apparently I made a mistake stating our houserules: there’s no merged Scribe Scroll & Brew potion feat. These feats don’t exist at all, everyone who can cast spells can just do them by default.

  • If feats like “Power Attack” & “Combat Expertise” are now free for any character with BAB+1, what happens to the usual requirements for those feats?
    Can my rogue with Str 8 still use “Power Attack” once he has BAB+1, even though that feat normally requires Str 13?

    Can my Int 6 barbarian use “Combat Expertise”, despite it’s normal requirement of Int 13?

    If the Int 13 requirement for “Combat Expertise” is now removed entirely, does that also remove the Int 13 requirement from “Whirlwind Attack”?

    Can you apply “Weapon Finesse” to Unarmed Strikes? If so, does that mean that a Dex focused character can still benefit from “Agile Maneuvers” while unarmed?

    • Hello! This is fully addressed in the PDF version of the rules. I’ve copied the relevant sections below:

      In place of Power Attack, Deadly Aim, Fight Defensively, and Combat Expertise, players are granted two new combat options: Risky Strike and Defensive Stance. Both are usable by any character with a base attack bonus of at least +1, and neither option requires a feat to access.

      Risky Strike //
      Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1.
      You can choose to take a –1 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +2 bonus on all damage rolls. This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a onehanded weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every 4 points thereafter, the penalty increases by –1 and the bonus to damage increases by +2. You must choose to use Risky Strike before making an attack roll, and its effects last until your next turn. The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.

      Defensive Stance //
      Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1.
      You can choose to take a -1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, the penalty increases by -1 and the dodge bonus increases by +1. You must choose to use Defensive Stance before making an attack roll and its effects last until your next turn.

      (In the PDF, we’ve also updated the feat tree to accommodate the removal of these feats. Thanks!)

  • I think the only issue i have is the Dex 17 and level-lock requirement (BAB +6) for Greater two-weapon fighting. This will hamper 2-weapon builds significantly compared to 2-handed or one-handed-and-shield. The massive penalties received for two-weapon attacks is crippling at low levels without the reduction granted by Improved 2-weapon fighting, and would render even finesse-based two-weapon builds untenable below level 6 (level 8 for Rogues and similar midrange-attack value classes).

  • Animal Companion and Weapon Finesse. Would you recommend keeping Weapon Finesse for the purpose of allowing animal companions to use DEX to hit instead of STR to hit?

    • They can hit with DEX, by default, as “a wielder may choose to use their Dexterity modifier instead of their Strength modifier on attack rolls with a finesse weapon” and “unarmed strikes and natural attacks are always considered finesse weapons.”

  • We’ve been using this system throughout our current Pathfinder campaign. Overall, it’s great and we really appreciate all the hard work put into it.

    Issues begin to arise in high-level games (our characters are currently level 17 and progressing quickly). It’s interesting that you talk about “abusing” Power Attack and Deadly Aim, because that’s exactly the right word for what happens at higher levels. Giving every character this ability for free is going to frustrate most DMs trying to provide a fun challenge for higher level parties.

  • Thank you all for making this, this really streamlines the feats for Pathfinder RPG!

    On that note, I understand that you want to keep it to the core rules, but I do miss how you allowed Deft Maneuvers to benefit the Dirty Trick, reposition, and Steal combat maneuvers, and letting Powerful Maneuvers benefit the Drag maneuver. On that note, I recommended your work in my Pathfinder 1st edition guide, and included those maneuvers as being part of the Deft Maneuvers feat:


By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer