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View Full Version : Scaling Feats: Does this seem right?



Shhalahr Windrider
2008-01-21, 07:09 PM
One of the big problems with a number of core feats is they give a numeric bonus to die rolls that are pretty good at 1st and maybe 2nd level, but are just drops in the bucket at 20th. It has been suggested that such feats can be improved by having their bonuses scale with level. Though this suggestion is not uncommon, I haven't seen much discussion on good rates for scaling. So I've had to give it some thought.

So, I'd appreciate input on whether the scaling in the following house rule seems about right.


House Rule: Feats that give a flat, unchanging bonus to a particular die roll now scale with character level according to the following table:
{table=head]Original Bonus|Scaling Bonus
+1|+1 + 1/6 levels
+2|+2 + 1/5 levels
+3|+3 + 1/4 levels
+4|+4 + 1/3 levels[/table]
The new bonus is calculated from your character level.

For those interested, I arrived at the scale rates on the notion that the various feats that provide a +4 bonus seemed like they'd be about right when providing a +10 bonus at 20th level. Especially the combat maneuver ones like Improved Grapple.

For the sake of formal rules, I will also accept critique on the wording of the rule.

Partysan
2008-01-22, 05:43 AM
The numbers seem right for me. I'll try to find feats that would break the system, but I think it could be done this way without too many problems.

However, there's another sacling feat system, a bit more complicated, but very flavourful imo. It has been made ba Szatany who has now quit D&D.
can be found here:
http://boards1.wizards.com/showthread.php?t=809334

Shhalahr Windrider
2008-01-22, 08:02 AM
The numbers seem right for me. I'll try to find feats that would break the system, but I think it could be done this way without too many problems.
Yeah, if only a few specific feats cause any kind of problem, then I should jut make a specific case patch for those. Keep on with the whole "General Rule" vs. "Specific Rule" thing.

Akennedy
2008-01-22, 09:36 AM
I really like the idea of scaling feats, for the reason you mentioned, good at level one and two, but crap at level 6. My only critique for the scaling that you've suggested is that +4 bonuses scale too fast... Example: at level 6, besides all other modifiers, I would have +12 to "trip" from one modifier. If you included size bonuses and strength modifiers, you would be able to trip a dragon no problem. My suggestion to you is to reduce the scaling of the higher bonus ones. Perhaps give all bonuses ( +1, +2, +3, and +4 ) the same scaling rate? This way, the feat would double and triple it's original potency every set number of levels.

Shhalahr Windrider
2008-01-22, 09:58 AM
My only critique for the scaling that you've suggested is that +4 bonuses scale too fast... Example: at level 6, besides all other modifiers, I would have +12 to "trip" from one modifier.
:smallconfused:
+4 becomes +4 +1/3 levels. At level six this means +4 + floor((1 * 6 / 3)) = +6 total bonus.

By level 20 you only have +4 + floor((1 * 20 / 3)) = +10 total bonus. That's roughly equivalent to the tripping strength of a creature two and a half size categories above your own. Impressive but hardly enough to manage a competition with the Tarrasque.

Hm. I suppose the biggest trouble does come from creatures that are already massive. 'Specially since they have more HD than they need. (For instance, the aforementioned Tarrasque would now get a +20 bonus to Bull Rush from its Improved Bull Rush feat. Not that it even needed the +4...) Should probably cap the bonus at level 20.


Perhaps give all bonuses (+1, +2, +3, and +4) the same scaling rate? This way, the feat would double and triple it's original potency every set number of levels.
If a feat only grants a +1 bonus to a roll, the flat bonus is considered more potent than the flat bonus of a +4. That is, you need a bigger number for one type of roll than the other in order for it to be balanced.

In other words, you get more of a kick with the slower scaling on the lower bonuses than you do with the higher bonuses. You need faster scaling on the ones with the higher bonus to maintain that level of balance.

ZeroNumerous
2008-01-28, 09:53 PM
Ya, but at Level 20 and Improved Initiative, you'd have a +10 to Initiative. A goodly DEX and can you say "I just go first"?

TheLogman
2008-01-28, 09:56 PM
For the purposes of Clarification, what if the bonus for scaling is not a whole number?

Seems like a pretty Balanced rule, makes feats a lot more powerful, but it also makes all feats even. I like this.

Gralamin
2008-01-28, 10:04 PM
How does this interact with monsters? Does a Great Wyrm Black Dragon with Improved Initiative have +16 to initiative?

Shhalahr Windrider
2008-01-28, 10:37 PM
Ya, but at Level 20 and Improved Initiative, you'd have a +10 to Initiative. A goodly DEX and can you say "I just go first"?
Bring that up on Gaming, and you're likely to be reminded of wizards with foresight and celerity. :smallamused:

Even for a prerequisite-less feat, I think that's pretty standard for the type of thing we should be expecting from 20th level characters.

I'll admit the +4 scaling up to +10 was really built with the Improved Special Attack feats in mind. You know, the ones where your opponents' size modifiers are going to be outshining the bonus from the feat anyway. Didn't give it as much thought with regards to Improved Initiative.

Might be a bit overpowered. I admit I tend to have a bias towards underestimating the impact of initiative. I rarely see the first round count for as much as the optimizers over on Gaming insist it does.


How does this interact with monsters? Does a Great Wyrm Black Dragon with Improved Initiative have +16 to initiative?
As currently written, that would be the case. One of the reasons I'd consider putting a max cap on the thing somewhere or at least slow down the scaling la Epic Attack Bonuses. But then, a Great Wyrm Black is CR 22, and its 10 Dex means that +16 isn't quite competing with the total +20 from the party rogue with Improved Initiative...

I think there's a potential for problems, but I'm not quite convinced that there actually are any yet.

Yakk
2008-01-29, 09:51 PM
Bonuses to damage can scale.

Bonuses to d20 rolls that scale break the game.

+1 vs DC 11 is the same as +20 vs DC 31.

Adding +2 to both checks has the same impact on probability in both cases.

Adding +2 at level 1, and +6 at level 20, doesn't make the feat more balanced.

The problem with improved trip isn't that it doesn't scale -- the problem is that it grants a bonus to a single tactical maneuver that only works effectively on a limited class of opponents.

If you scaled improved trip enough that a L 20 character could use it on a tarrasque with any degree of reliablity, it becomes an instant-win attack against anything that isn't as large as a tarrasque.

The tarrasque, given it's modifiers, is supposed to be untrippable. The flaw isn't in the tarrasque being untripable -- the flaw is in making a feat that is as narrow as improved trip.

Here is a good scaling feat:
Combat Expertise:
You gain +2 AC when fighting defensively or doing a full defense action. In addition, you learn one combat trick, plus 1 for every 5 character levels. These tricks include:

Expert Trip: Your trips do not provoke AoO. You gain +4 to your trip check.
Expert Disarm: Your disarms do not provoke AoO. You gain +4 to your disarm check.
Expert Feint: You can feint as a move action. Your gain a +4 bonus to all fient checks.
Expert Defense: Your gain a +4 bonus to defend against disarms, trips, grapples, bull rushes when fighting defensively or taking a full defense action.
Expert Withdrawl: You may choose to give ground against an attack. You can gain a +4 bonus to AC, but in exchange your opponent can force you to move 5' away from them during or immediately after their attack. If they still have movement remaining, they can follow into the square you left.
Whirlwind Attack: Also requires Mobility. See description under Mobility.
Follow up: When making a standard attack, you may take a -2 penalty to hit. In exchange, if your primary attack hits, you can consume an attack of opportunity to make a secondary attack with an offhand weapon.
Expert Evasion: You may consume a movement action to prepare to evade. If you are prepared to evade and you succeed at a reflex save against an area effect spell, you may move up to your standard movement before the spell lands. If this moves you outside of the radius of the spell, you take no damage from it.
Expert Riposte: When you are taking the total defense action, attacks who miss you provoke attacks of opportunity.


Etc etc etc.

Jaerc
2008-01-29, 10:22 PM
Yakk is quite right. While he explained the direct mechanical reasons for this, I wll try to explain the more general causation.

Scaling feats, especially ones that follow universal, aesthetically appealing, but flawed ratios don't work. Now don't get me wrong, they are a solid idea when it comes to design and there are certain ways to implement numerically scaling feats with more success.

Overall though, rather than tackling the problem of certain feats being crappy at later levels and "solving" that introducing a scaling mechanism, let's look at some other solutions--in order of relevance.

1. You can give a feat multiple, linked, character options that become unlocked as (typically) a characters HD increase. For examples of this mechanic in published work look to the Devotion feats in the Complete Champion.

2. You can give a feat a static bonus, with the option to take the feat again (often with various limitations) for another, (often) smaller bonus.

3. You can give a feat a bonus that is increased when you take other feats with it's [Tag]. For instance a version of Weapon Focus feat that gives a +1 to attack and an additional +1 to attack for every 2 [Fighter]* feats you take.



*It's worth nothing that the [Fighter] tag doesn't exist in WotC based D&D any longer.