Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder (Full Rules Document)

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

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

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

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


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    • while I agree the feat is bad, but you can use it to push someone into falling damage should the map allow with out a grapple cheack. so yes get rid of it, but its hardly useless. just over powered.

  • I really hope you guys intend to release a version of this that ONLY contains things that are different from the 1pp versions of things, because the actual changes you’ve made could be summed up in 3 pages, maybe 4-5 if you really wanted to stretch it out. The original blog post being (relatively) brief was what made it something I could easily throw at other players (and potential GMs).

  • @Drifter – All of that is listed in Appendix 1 in the document they provided above. Just point your GM/players there.

    I’ll be implementing these changes in the Hero Lab module soon. Please bear with me until they’re done.

  • There is one horrible change that seems to be the opposite of intended that didn’t get into the documentation of the changes. Point blank shot requires precise shot instead of the other way around, imposing an additional feat tax on archers of all kinds. Honestly, if you are trying to reduce feat taxes, removing the point-blank shot prerequisites would be better than replacing them with precise shot.

    • When we consulted with people, the general consensus was that Precise Shot was more desirable than Point Blank Shot. Overall, PBS was seen as a bit of a tax to get Precise Shot. In this iteration of the rules PBS is completely optional, unless you want to get Point Blank Master (and cannot take it as a Ranger bonus feat).

      Additionally, both Matt and I felt that Point Blank Shot was a pretty strong feat anyways: +1 to-hit and +1 damage for all ranged attacks within 30ft is quite good. It’s certainly not an unbearable stepping stone for archers who wish to flourish in melee.

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