Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder (Third Printing)

the elephant in the room logo, featuring a foiled pachyderm face on a green faux-leather background

The Elephant in the Room v3.0 (Download)

In 2018, my brother and I published a PDF version of our Pathfinder feat tree, designed to encapsulate and expand upon the modifications suggested in our original blog post. Entitled The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder, the document features a re-imagined version of the entire feat section found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook plus some appendices to aid with usability. To our bewilderment, the document has now been downloaded tens of thousands of times and has proven to be one of the most popular Pathfinder homebrew rulesets in the world.

Three years later, we are releasing a small update to the document that is centered around a trio of key changes.

  • First, we have corrected numerous errors in the document, mostly related to typos and layout.
  • Second, we have updated the back page ad-sheet to include some projects that we are particularly excited about.
  • Finally, we have shifted the hosting of the document from this website to the Mammoth Island Itch.io page as a pay-what-you-want download.

This is intended to be the final iteration of The Elephant in the Room, and we currently don’t plan on implementing further changes beyond correcting glaring mistakes. However, we may have some news regarding a vanity run of print copies, which we felt would be a nice way to cap off nearly ten years of pachyderm-inspired Pathfinder.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • One of the abilities from the original blog post (the one regarding martial mastery…and the concept of feats affecting entire weapon groups instead of individual weapons)…is missing. Any particular reason for that change? I liked that clause from the original…

    • I think we did adjust some feats to adopt the idea of weapon groups. If we missed a few, you can generally assume that weapon feats apply to rules.

  • You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a trip or disarm combat maneuver. In addition, you receive a +2 bonus on checks with trip and disarm combat maneuvers, and you can make a Bluff check to feint in combat as a move action. You also receive a +2 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense whenever an opponent tries to trip or disarm you… deft maneuvers only trip or disarm bonus. where steal and dirty trick?

  • Why does Defensive Stance only apply its penalty to melee attacks? I understand that it’s supposed to be a replacement for Combat Expertise, which only applied to melee attacks, but it’s also supposed to be a replacement for Fighting Defensively, which worked with both melee and ranged attacks.

  • First of all, thank you for making this. This fixes 99% of the issues I’ve had with Pathfinder! I have been using these rules for a while, and wanted to finally thank you for your amazing work on making this.

    That said, is there any chance for you to bring back Dirty Trick and Steal as part of the Deft Maneuvers? I love the direction you have taken with feint, as now I can picture even a knight taking this feat thematically while making it useful due to feint now being a move action. But it would be nice to have more options. Plus you can keep Hamstring, as that is now part of Powerful Maneuvers, thus giving that feat its own maneuver.

    Perhaps you could just add that you also don’t provoke opportunity attacks with Deft Maneuvers when you use dirty trick or steal, and gain a +2 bonus (similar to the other maneuvers), and also add the following:

    Special: When you are using a finesse weapon, you may use your Dexterity bonus in place of your Strength bonus when attempting a disarm, sunder, or trip maneuver. You may always use your Dexterity bonus in place of your Strength bonus when attempting a dirty trick or steal maneuver.

    And then simply add that Deft Maneuvers also replaces the Improved Dirty Trick and Improved Steal feats as prerequisites for other feats.

    This in order to make the document more complete, without really doing anything with dirty trick or steal, but still including them as options. I’ve had numerous cases where a player decided to think outside of the box and come up with a clever idea, and by using the dirty trick maneuver he was able to pull it off and was rewarded for his ingenuity. Would you consider making one final update, where that is included? You could even include a text that states that the player must have a well thought out enough idea that the DM’s approves off in order to use dirty trick, as opposed to the always available trip or feint or hamstring’s entangle to name a few. Thus giving DM’s a way to reward players who come up with clever solutions, and give more flexible options to the Deft Maneuvers feats without it going at the expense of the other options.

    • Hi Niels, glad you enjoyed the document!

      These are great ideas but we intentionally scoped down the document as there is just too much Pathfinder content to take into account. I would endorse these as homebrew changes, however. I don’t think we’ll be making any more changes to the document.


      • Hello Michael,

        Understandable, I suppose it does make sense to keep it to the core rulebook rules, as those are the basics that everyone uses. Thank you regardlessly for making this document, as it is still an amazing help in our games!

        Speaking of endorsement, I actually endorsed your work in my 8 page Pathfinder guide and homebrew document, and also added in this suggestion I gave instead, so that players will just have it as an option. In this document I added several of the homebrew fixes which were fundamental in my groups, and even commissioned several friends of mine to make art for it. If you are intersted, here is a link to it:


        • That’s a beautiful looking guide, Niels! I always like Unchained-styled supplements that tactically rework aspects of the game. Thanks for including us!

  • Feinting is still a mess.

    If I want to feint without TWF then I will never get more then one attack in a round. Greater Feint is a terrible feat as it doesn’t change the action, thus I still only get one attack except AoO. The only way to Feint effectively is with TWF Feint which Deft Manuevers doesn’t improve. You should include TWF Feint’s benefits into Deft Maneuvers as then Greater Feint would become useful. I would recommend going a step further and include Ranged Feint in as well.
    If I want to make a thrown weapon feinting build, per RAW, I need 8 feats
    Quick Draw, TWF, Combat Expertise, TWF Feint, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Improved TWF, Improved TWF Feint

    Elephant in the Room has greatly improved this but still requires 6 Feats which means I won’t get them till level 11, unless I go human, or use a rogue talent.
    Quick Draw, TWF, TWF Feint, Precise Shot, Improved TWF, Improved TWF Feint

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