Monday, February 13, 2012

Old School feats - my take

In a post some while back, FrDave posted his ideas about how to spice up the use of stats in old school D&D by some "feats" for those with exceptional stats. I liked the idea of some extra ability that set just that level 2 fighter apart from the dozen next to him in line at the dungeon entrance. Stats mean very little in earlier editions, and while I think the way it works in, say 1st ed AD&D, is a a bit excessive I still think some more use could be had out of them.

Here are my lists for "old school" feats.

This is build for the B/X edition of D&D, with a +1 for 13-15, +2 for 16-17 and +3 for 18 in a stat. The reverse applies for stats lower than 8.

  • STR - 1-3 times a day, the fighter attack may stun an opponent who must make a save or dazed only defend himself.
  • INT - Once a day, you can find and exploit a flaw of the opponent. Adjust his and/or your AC up or down 1-3 points.
  • WIS - 1-3 times a day the fighter can feint an opponent, who then looses his next action.
  • DEX - 1-3 times a day, a successful attack may disarm an opponent.
  • CON - 1-3 extra HP added at character generation.
  • CHA - daily an intimidate attempt may be made, and 1-3 bonus gained to one to hit roll.
Magic-User (repost from Blood of Prokopius)
  • STR - 1-3 spells per day have their durations doubled.
  • INT - 1-3 spells with variable effects are maximized.
  • WIS - 1-3 spells may be spontaneously cast in place of memorized spell of equal or lower level.
  • DEX - 1-3 spells with an area effect have it doubled.
  • CON - may use 1-3 weapons or armour chosen at character generation not normally available. Leather must be the first choice and no heavier than chain.
  • CHA -  1-3 spells a day require two successful saves.

  • STR - thrown weapons gets +1-3 damage
  • INT - 1-3 times a day the thief manoeuvre himself so to grant initiative for his side. Ignore the dice.
  • WIS - daily the thief may push and shove enemies in a fight, granting +1-3 to one attack/save on a friendly side.
  • DEX - 1-3 times a day, an attempt at sleight of hand will automatically succeed.
  • CON - 1-3 times a day you get +1 to a save of your choice.
  • CHA - you can tell 1-3 totally convincing lies each day.
  • STR - 1-3 times a day, you can re-roll a to hit or damage for one ranged attack.
  • INT - 1-3 bonus once a day to find hidden things.
  • WIS - once a day, your sixth sense will warn you of impending danger, on a roll of [1-3] in a six.
  • DEX - one fight a day, you get 1-3 bonus to AC.
  • CON - 1-3 bonus to any save, once a day.
  • CHA - 1-3 times a day, you may sing a silly song gaining a 1-3 morale bonus for the whole party.
  • STR - if an opponent if of a faith directly opposing your own, you may once a day smite the unbeliever for 1-3 extra damage.
  • INT - 1-3 memorized spells may be swapped out for a healing spell of equal or lower level, at will.
  • WIS - once a day, turning attempts will affect 1-3 extra targets.
  • DEX - 1-3 spells of variable area of effect is doubled once a day.
  • CON - daily after a short prayer, the cleric will regain 1-3 HP.
  • CHA - the true intentions of 1-3 individuals with whim he has conversed will be revealed by the cleric's god.
  • STR - once a day, you get 1-3 bonus to a save against spells with physical effects.
  • INT - 1-3 times a day, a spell cast will be retained in memory.
  • WIS - on a [1-3] in 6, small woodland creatures will give you warnings of dangers and happening in the wild you are travelling through.
  • DEX - 1-3 rounds a day the elf may shoot twice in combat.
  • CON - 1-3 days an adventure the elf may survive without sleep/food or water.
  • CHA - on a 1 in 6 the elf might know, once a day, a snippet of knowledge of greater or lesser relevance to the adventure at hand.
  • STR - 1-3 attacks a day will not only harm, but also stun the target into loosing their next action.
  • INT - may identify the make and/or source of gems and precious metals, on a [1-3] roll in six once a day.
  • WIS - once a day 1-3 spells of the dwarfs level or lower will not affect him.
  • DEX - when an enemy falls for your axe, you may 1-3 times a day immediately roll to also attack the closest enemy.
  • CON - 1-3 days a week, the dwarf may drink any amount of alcohol without passing out.
  • CHA - once a day, saves against any fear effect will get a 1-3 bonus for everyone within 10' of the steady dwarf. 

So what say you? I think these can be used to great effect to make that character of yours stand out a bit from the rest, without degenerating into super heroics of a kind not fitting for B/X.


  1. I take it if you have the +1 bonus you get to use the feat 1 time a day and so forth?

    I think they look pretty good. Since each character might have at most 2-3 of these happening 1-2 times a day, it's not going to be a game-breaker, and it lets a character pull of a little "stunt" without it going all Matrix-y and throwing the game out of whack.

  2. Jack,

    Kind of like that yes. All the time I refer to 1-3 it's based on the potential 1-3 bonus from the stat.

    As for power, yes I think these are very slight, but potentially cool, extras that wont be game breakers for anyone.

  3. I'm not very fond of daily powers: I don't like tracking them, and I don't think they work very with the different time scales between in-dungeon and overland or city adventures. I'm also not particularly fond of bonuses that are kept trivial so as not to unbalance things; if it's small enough it's safely balanced against not having it, it's too small to be worthwhile. On the other hand I'd rather not reinforce the notion that your character is just your stats and an average or worse character is gimped for play; something like feats is a good way to differentiate characters with an identical class and stats...this just makes them *more* alike, particularly if you use roll and arrange to taste.

    I think I'd rather do chargen something like: Roll in order. For each stat you can choose 3d6 or 4d6 drop lowest. Each time you choose 3d6, you get one random feat. The feats provide a non-trivial "at will" bonus. You may then swap attrs around, but for each pair you swap, you lose one of your feats. Once you're out of feats (for instance you did 4d6 drop all the way), you can't swap any more.

    1. I seem to have dropped a "well" between very and with in that first bit there...

  4. Hey, that's an interesting idea there, Joshua!

    Personally I'm in the strict 3d6 in order camp, but your options are interesting.

    I think the question whether anything like feats works for you is how you feel about having feats or class be the things that distinguishes you.

  5. Andreas,

    Thanks for taking this idea and running with it. I very much like some of your ideas; however, I am Joshua at being hesitant about daily powers. I know used them with magic-users, but they already do that kind of book keeping, so the feats that are daily are already tied to daily spells.

    For some of the other classes, I would tend to go for either situational bonuses that can be used whenever that situation comes up — no book keeping and it encourages a particular "style" of play — or means of overcoming class limitations (like the armor and weapon possibilities for Magic-users).

    At the end of the day, however, I am all for these kinds of things to be customized for every table and every campaign — the important factor is having fun.

  6. Yeah, maybe the daily uses is a bit fiddly. I am thinking out writing these up in more formal form before using them. Maybe I should rethink those dailies in line of situational powers. Good feedback, all of you! Thanks.


Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Andreas Davour. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger.