Achievement Feats for Pathfinder RPG
Pathfinder RPG Feat Option: Achievement Feats
One of the greatest things about Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is that they make no bones about it being everyone’s game. The publishers picked up the Open Game License where Wizards of the Coast worked to let it die off or even outright kill it. Paizo took a different route and ran with it. With the OGL, other publishers—often known as third party publishers, or 3PP, are able to produce and publish additions to the rules framework, create new rules, classes, races, even entire worlds and settings. One such publisher, Tricky Owlbear Publishing, has put out a number of supplements for use with the Pathfinder RPG. One such supplement is called Achievement Feats.
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A Brief Review of Advancement Feats
As a roleplaying game supplement, Achievement Feats by Tricky Owlbear Publishing is a pretty decent book. From a technical standpoint. The art is decent, the formant is good, and the PDF has been optimized. There really isn’t any prose to speak of, but the technical writing is adequate. In saying this, it is neither a compliment nor an insult. The technical writing is clear and concise. It does its job. It also follows a few standard patterns.
The Achievement Feats PDF is a 10 page document, one page being used for the cover, another for the OGL license, but is otherwise almost all content. This includes a brief, half page explanation of achievement feats for Pathfinder. The remainder of the book is filled with 50 new feats that can be added to your Pathfinder game. Achievement feats can be purchased in place of normal feats as your character advances. They cannot be chosen at character creation. The requirements for these feats are earned over time though gameplay. One such feat, Traps Can’t Touch Me, has the requirement that the character must have triggered at least 20 traps without having been killed by those traps. The bonus the feat grants is an automatic perception test to locate traps within a certain distance. Other feats from this work are related to crafting, casting spells from a wand, and so on. In all cases, the character must do something a certain number of times to gain a bonus.
Advancement Feats: Suggested Changes
I like the idea of Achievement Feats. Back in the day, I played a lot of MMO games, like World of Warcraft. In those games, you drive your character through a bunch of monotonous tasks that can help them gain bonuses, whether it be access to special gear, a faster mount, a vanity pet, or something else. The big difference with those games is that the computer is keeping track of your progress toward various achievements. Trying to do the same in a pen and paper RPG requires a lot more work. It means a lot of bookkeeping. You thinking keeping track of HP loss, wound penalties, and ammunition is a pain? How about keeping track of each item you make, each time you cast a particular spell from a wand, bypass a trap, or kill a certain type of creature?
By the same token, Pathfinder RPG players often tend to enjoy more crunch, which often translate to more bookkeeping. I could totally see players keeping track of some of these types of things to help them gain an edge for their character. But, how does the GM know that their record keeping is accurate? As a good friend and fellow gamer often points out, “If someone has to cheat at a roleplaying game to make themselves feel better, the more power to them.” People play RPGs to have fun and overcome challenges. Many who enjoy more rules-centric games such as Pathfinder, enjoy them because of the inherent challenge. Yes, to let your own players keep track of these sorts of things, you need to be able to trust them. If, as a GM, you feel you cannot trust your players, this option may not be the best for your group.
So, the other part, as a GM, that I do not enjoy about achievement feats is that characters must spend their regular feats on them. They are already doing the extra work by keep track of everything. This makes it so that the characters have one more set of feats to look through. There are already hundreds to choose from whenever your character levels. My suggestion, on the other hand, is to allow achievement feats to be rewarded without having to expend one of their limited number of feats. Yes, this ends up granting the characters bonus feats. Yes, there is constantly discussion of the number of feats and balance. However, whenever everybody, including PCs and named NPCs, has the same ability to gain these same bonus feats, does that not help maintain balance? Of course, balance comes through play testing. Any discussion to the item beforehand is merely theoretical.
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Playing with Pathfinder
One of the coolest things about the Pathfinder RPG is that it was introduced under the Open Gaming License. That opens up the floor for both professionals and amateur fans to create additional products and materials for the game. Those who enjoy roleplaying games often make their own homebrew rules to help play the games the way they see fit. Achievement Feats provides us yet another example of that and me going back and modifying what they did is another way we build upon and take advantage of the OGL. This comes around full circle. Someone else will look at this and see how they can make it better. So, yes, we end up with a bunch of variations out there, but it provides for a much fuller, richer gaming experience because we are able to sample different ways of doing things, seeing what works best for us and our groups and introducing other players to things they haven’t seen or tried before so they can take those back to those groups. I look forward to trying out Achievement Feats in my upcoming Pathfinder game along with some other modifications I will be making. I’ll be sure to come back and update this article to let you know how it went.
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