Posted by : David Guyll April 15, 2013
When we actually sat down to play however, I noticed that most of my players tended to stick to feats that just boosted your numbers, like Improved Initiative, Skill Focus, Weapon Focus, Iron Will, etc. This really came as no surprise, as they were simple-yet-solid choices that you just add to your other numbers and forget about.
Which is why I considered many of them to be pretty boring.
This is just one reason why I consider 3rd Edition's treatment of feats largely to be a mess; you only got a handful over twenty levels, many were severely under-powered (Weapon Specialization) if not outright traps (Cooperative Casting), and by the time you wrapped up a feat tree the capstone benefit was likely not worth it. 4th Edition was not nearly as bad, providing plenty of interesting feats that shook up what your race and/or class could do, but it still had its share of static number-boosters even before Essentials introduced the auto-scaling revamps.
When it comes to 5th Edition I like what it has to offer, or rather I like what I think it is trying to offer, which are more interesting options. As an example Arcane Dabbler lets you pick two cantrips at 1st-level. Granted it is a small list, and I do not think it needs to be, but it is still meatier than a lot of the initial offerings that we saw from past editions. This complexity is understandably not something that everyone wants, and is something that the designers are aiming to address along with a few other changes.
While simplicity is not necessarily bad, I am not a fan of feats boosting ability scores. Already I find it incredibly easy for at least one character in the bunch to hit the cap, oftentimes before they get around to purchasing equipment. Given that some feats are also going to have level requirements--which is nothing new, as a minimum level was kind of passive-aggressively enforced even in 3rd Edition--depending on what the rest do I think that a lot of players are just going to ignore the low-level stuff until they either max out their key stats, or something down the road catches their eye.
I am also not a fan of classes gaining access to feats at different rates, especially when the rationale is that rogues and fighters "will gain more feats than other classes to reflect their versatility". Why are they more versatile than other classes? Why do their features need to be delivered via feats? Why not take a page from Star Wars: Saga Edition or Dungeon World by giving each class a batch of talents/moves to pick from at set levels, and then adding in feats that lets you pick up a feature/talent/move from another class?
This way every class--all of them, but particularly the barbarian, druid, monk, paladin, and ranger--gets some much need flexibility, but you can also expand on them later by simply adding new features, instead of having to introduce entirely new classes. Kind of like 4th Edition, but without having each and every new decision adding yet one more card to the deck. Well, unless a player wants to.
Ultimately the more I think about feats, the more I am starting to feel like this is just what they should be doing (and may be slowly driving towards): make a list of general feats that allow characters to bend or break the rules, or to just gain access to an entirely new option--which 5th Edition already has, with feats like Superior Footwork and Seize the Advantage--then make focused lists that you gain access to by virtue of taking enough class levels.