Alacrity and Vitality

Hi all.  I’ve been tinkering with ways to port some of the fun bits from 4e into pathfinder.  Here are some of the feats I’m using to do that.  As always, suggestions on this are definitely welcome.


Alacrity Feats

Adventurer’s Alacrity (General)

Benefit: You get a certain thrill out of overcoming challenges and can draw on that to act with greater vigor. At the end of any encounter in which you come into conflict with a significant threat you gain a point of alacrity. Once per turn, you may spend a point of alacrity to take an additional swift or immediate action. Alternately, you may spend 2 points of alacrity to take a move or standard action. You lose a point of alacrity for each hour of rest you take.


Vitality Feats

Defiant Soul (General)

Prerequisites: Improved Vitality

Benefit: Your strong life force protects you from the clutches of death. When you are subject to an effect that would render you permanently unable to act, you may spend hit points equal to the effect’s save DC to ignore that effect. If no save is allowed, use 10 + ½ the source’s caster level or hit die instead. You can also use this at the start of your turn to shake off an effect that prevented you from acting during your last turn at half that cost.


Hidden Vitality (General)

Benefit: You are remarkably resilient. Gain a pool of vitality points equal to 6 + your constitution modifier. Once per minute of rest you can spend a point of vitality to recover 1 hit point, +1 for every 4 hit die you have. When in immediate danger, you can trigger this recovery as part of a total defense action. You can only use that option once per encounter. You recover all spent vitality after 6 hours of rest.


Improved Vitality (General)

Prerequisites: Hidden Vitality

Benefit: When spend vitality to recover hit points, increase the amount recovered to 1 + ½ the number of hit die you have. You can also count non-strenuous activity as rest for the purposes of recovering.


Unbound Vitality (General)

Prerequisites: Improved Vitality

Benefit: When spend vitality to recover hit points, increase the amount recovered to ¼ your total hit points.

Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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4e Option: Expanded Defense

One of the interesting features of 4th edition D&D is how it pairs abilities to determine defenses. The nice thing about this is that you only need to pay attention to 3 ability scores to have well rounds defenses. The downside is if your two highest scores are in the same pairing, you’ll have weaker defenses than some one with the same values in different score. This means things like being strong and tough, smart and graceful, or wise and charming poor choices, despite being good thematic combos. To help address this, I present the following feat.

Expanded Defense
Heroic Tier
Benefit: Select two of your defenses when you take this feat. You can use the lowest ability modifier assocaited with first defense as the ability modifier for the second defense you chose.

For example, if some one wanted to play a strong and tough warrior type, they might pick fortitude and will with this feat. That would let them use the lower of their strength or constitution modifier as the ability modifier for their will defense in place of their wisdom or charisma modifier.

Since this is essential a bug fix feat, DMs may even want to provide this as a free feat. It’s main effect is to let you swap a score into another pairing, so it’s impact is fairly low outside of shoring up certain ability score combos.

Published in: on April 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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4E Variant: Pairing Feats

One the complaints I see now and again in 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons discussions is the existence of “feat taxes”. For those not familiar with the term, “feat taxes” are essentially feats the player feels they must by simply to keep the character from becoming ineffective.

The biggest culprits are usually the “math fix” feats such as Expertise, Weapon/Implement Focus, and Improved Defenses. For some classes this can also include armor proficiency (ex. Constitution heavy shamans) or melee training (ex. many defenders which don’t specialize in strength).

A common answer to this is to simply give those feats away for free as a house rule. However, if you’re doing that anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone?

Rules Change

If a character selects a “flavor” feat, they gain a “tax” feat at the next level where they wouldn’t normally gain a feat. For example, if a character took a flavor feat at level 4, they would gain a tax feat at level 5. If they did this again at level 11, they’d gain another tax feat at level 13 (level 12 already grants a feat).

The list of possible flavor and tax feats is determined by the DM. Prime candidates for flavor feats include Linguist and teamwork feats. Bloodlines may also make acceptable flavor feats. Prime candidates for tax feats include Weapon/Implement Focus, Improved Defenses, and the various expertise feats. Melee Training and proficiency feats may also be reasonable tax feats.

Behind the Scenes

The purpose of this change is to make feat taxes less onerous by linking them to free feats. It also serves to bring underused feats into play by reducing their cost. After all, rather than making you loss on a higher utility feat to gain them, you simply delay when the addition of a “boring but practical” feat by 1 to 2 levels.

Published in: on November 26, 2011 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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4E Variant: Skills for All

One of the big features promoted in 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons is class balance. The apparent design intent is that all classes will have similar levels of in combat effectiveness. However, the game then goes on to give classes different numbers of trained skills. As skills are the primary means of out of combat effectiveness, this creates an odd situation.

If we assume classes are balanced in combat, than these varied skill numbers make some classes more effective overall, leading to a general class imbalance. If we assume the classes are balanced overall, then that implies that the skill heavy classes are less combat effective. This does not only what has been seen in actual play. For example, both Rangers and Rogues get a large number of trained skills while also being among the game’s top tier strikers.

In this post I’d like to look at one way to even things out a bit. This does make characters more skilled overall in the long run. However, that also means there’s more situations where each character can contribute.

Rules Change

All classes start with only 3 trained skills. If your class would normally grant specific skill for free those skill are taken out of your starting picks. For example, a Thief gains Stealth, Thievery and one other class skill, a Wizard gains Arcana and two other class skills, and so on.

Each character also gain a bonus feat at levels 3, 13, and 23. These feats must either add a new trained skill or improve a trained skill. Good examples are the Skill Training, Skill Focus, or Skill Power feats. DMs may adjust this list as needed. For example, multiclass feats also grant a trained skill, but they also come bundled with other features and growth opportunities.

Behind the Scenes

I could have just fixed each class at a set number of skills. However, there are a few benefits to using feats instead.

The most notable of these is that feat slot can be used on skill related feats that don’t add a new trained skill, characters can stop adding new skills once they’ve reach a number of trained skills they’re comfortable with. One player might specialize in a few skills while another tries to cover a wide range of skills.

Another side benefit is feat selections aren’t limited to class skills. This makes it potentially easier for character to fill in for missing skills sets with the party. Normally filling in like that would keep the character from gain a combat related feat. Restricting bonus feat choices like this leaves the player free to improve skills with feeling like it costs them in another area.

A side benefit of this approach is it distributes skill selection over multiple levels. While starting character do have fewer skills, this also means potentially faster character creation and more informed decisions when they do add new skills.

Additional Variants

The above rule cover the standard range of skill coverage, with 3 skills on the low end and 6 on the high end. However, you might want to adjust these numbers in your own game. For example, starting with 4 skills instead of 3 means every class starts with an average skill spread. That does mean a slight power inflation at higher levels as it allows for 7 trained skills. However, such inflation is likely to be relatively minor and most likely result more in wider skill coverage by the party, which potentially means more character contributes per skill challenge.

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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