Amazing Feats of Ability

2007 October 4
by Stupid Ranger

Recently, Jonathan Drain posted his picks for Top Five Fighter Feats. I like his picks… these are some really great feats! And I was inspired to share of some of my own favorites – for both fighters and non-fighters.

1. Weapon Finesse – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… this is a must for those characters whose Dexterity is better than their Strength. Add your Dex bonus to your attack to give yourself a better chance to hit the Big Bad. It doesn’t add to your damage, but it’s still a nice option for those Dex-based characters.

2. Dodge – How many times have you wished your AC was just a little higher? Dodge gives you that +1 that can help you keep you just a little bit safer. It’s not a huge bonus, and you do have to declare against which single target you set your Dodge, but it’s a little extra something.

3. Combat Casting – A nice addition to the spellcaster’s arsenal. Gain +4 to Concentration while casting defensively. That extra little bonus may make the difference between actually casting your spell off and letting it fizzle from lack of concentration.

4. Point Blank Shot – Your ranged weapon with melee capabilities… how awesome is that?! Even if you prefer to stay a nice, safe distance away from the chaos of melee fighting, this gives you the security that if melee comes to you, you’re not completely handicapped.

5. Two-Weapon Fighting – My newest favorite for melee fighters. In my mind, there’s something very poetic about a fighter wielding two weapons in a dance of deadly grace. The feat reduces the penalties to only -2 for each attack with two light weapons, and if you follow the feat ladder, you can add additional off-hand attacks.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Jonathan Drain permalink
    October 4, 2007

    Point Blank Shot is an amazingly good feat. I only omitted it from my own list because most fighters in my experience are melee, but if you’re a ranged attacker this feat is an automatic pick. If you don’t take it, you’re shooting yourself in the foot (pun intended).

    Combat Casting, it’s a little mediocre. At low levels you want to stay right out of combat and cast from a safe distance. At higher levels, your Concentration skill rises faster than the DCs to cast defensively.

  2. Doug Hagler permalink
    October 4, 2007

    This would be my list of my favorite Feats in general (from the Phb only):

    Combat Expertise – this is a great Feat for when you’re in trouble and can’t take another hit or you just want to fight carefully. It also opens up a great Feat chain.

    Dodge – again, for the chain, though the extra AC is nice.

    Eschew Materials – I just like the convenience of not having to worry about materials, though most groups don’t keep track

    Improved Initiative – you roll Init so often, you might as well catch everyone flat-footed 🙂

    Mounted Combat – if you have a mount, this is necessary, and it often makes enemies waste attacks on your mount – and d20+Ride Skill is almost always higher than your mount’s AC…it also gives your mount two chances not to be hit

  3. cycl0ps permalink
    October 9, 2007

    I am new to this blog but not to DMing, and I am gonna have to differ with your list of feats:

    Combat Casting is a minor help for low-level battle clerics, but other than that is is useless. Mirror image, invis, just plain good field position, etc. should keep any arcane caster free from AoOs. I advise my casters to go without it for a few levels and see if they need it before wasting the feat.

    Dodge, while a prereq for some truly tasty feats (like Spring Attack), is pretty weak to take for its own sake. A +1 to AC is a modest boon when your AC is in the high teens and truly insignificant as characters approach the mid-twenties. And, keep in mind, this bonus is only effective versus one opponent. Iron Will and Imp. Init. are always better alternatives to dodge. Min/maxing is fine, but there are other stats besides AC.

    Finally, the ubiquitous 2-Weapon Fighting. I get it, anyone not wielding two weapons at the same time is some sort of dunce compared to some crazy-d8-hit-die-having, light-armored, flamboyant, high-dex, elf wannabe. I am tired of every single would-be warrior being given two and only two images of his or her character. He or she can wield two weapons and be a coordinated and fast warrior, or the character can wield a single weapon and be a slow, plodding embarrassment. I love all forms of fighting, single and dual-wielding. And I am tired of carbon-copy Drizzt wannabes every time somebody rolls a warrior. When did BAB go out of fashion?
    Stats-wise, wielding two weapons makes no sense. Take two sixth-lvl fighters. In order to get the 15 dex for two weapon fighting, likely the dual-wielder will take a hit on str. So, one fighter has a 16 dex and 12 str, while the other has 12 str and 16 dex. Both specialize for the most damage: shortsword for the dual (so every strike gets +1 focus and +2 to dmg) and greatsword for the single. The single has Power Attack and Cleave. The dual has Two-Weapon Fighting and Finesse (having to forgo cleave for the sake of his or her BAB).

    Full attack for the dual wielder would be: +8/+8(off hand)/+3
    Damage would be 1d6+3 for each strike. Average damage if each hit lands: 19. Max: 27. Min: 12.

    A comparable full attack for the single wielder would be:
    +8(power attacking for 2)/+3(once again, for 2)
    Damage would be 2d6+10 for each strike (+4 str for wielding 2-handed, +2 specialization, +4 power attack 2-handed).
    Average damage if each hit lands: 33. Max: 44. Min: 24.

    And if the single-wielder crits, forget about it.

    Keep in mind, Power Attack can scale against opponents’ ACs. And, it is a gateway to Cleave, perhaps the best feat a warrior can get. A 2-weapon warrior must take a stat hit to get the requisite dex and the warrior must spend 2 feats (finesse and 2-weapon fighting) to fight effectively AND he or she must wield light weapons in both hands to get the specialization bonus on all attacks. There is no comparison. And don’t get me started on low-hit point rangers with their light armor who somehow think they can go toe-to-toe with fighters and barbarians.

    I don’t hate 2-weapon fighters, but they are far from unilaterally better than classic (and more realistic) warriors. And the often-overlooked Power Attack is a wonderful feat in the hands of a skilled warrior. When used I do not picture a clumsy, outrageous haymaker, but, rather, a precise and devastating blow – like the one Aragorn delivered to the badass ork at the end of Fellowship.

    If you must, take Two-Weapon Fighting, but it is nowhere near the top of my Useful Feats list. Iron Will is useful to all who have low will saves. Improved Initiative is useful to all, period – it keeps you on your toes and away from sneak attacks and sudden strikes. Two-Weapon Fighting is useful to… umm… those who want to look cool while doing less damage, I guess. I grew up with Conan, not Jet Li, and I miss the tough guy. Somewhere along the way the tough guy became equated with slow and stupid while the effete, tumbling rogue became the only option for RPG enthusiasts. Makes me sad.

  4. Kevin permalink
    June 4, 2010

    The character I’m working on right now is a Barbarian/Fighter with a high Dexterity, which brings me to the first in my top 5 feats, which are listed in no particular order.

    Weapon Finesse: Simply because my character’s Dex is greater than his Strength. I prefer to have a greater Dex, because it is better for Initiative and Armor Class, and allows for more ranged and stealth ability.

    Two-Weapon Fighting: My last character’s signature feat, and a good one to have because you never know when the situation might be better with two weapons. Using short-swords and natural attacks (which are always Light weapons), this feat reduces my two-weapon attacks to -2 for each hand, which I think is worth the payoff.

    Cleave: Another good signature feat, I’ve seen it work wonders with others. It lets you gain levels quickly, which is nice when starting out. A friend of mine (Lvl 1 Barbarian) once gained two levels in a single battle by using Cleave against a horde of goblins. Another friend of mine (Lvl 6 Paladin) killed an entire legion at the city gates without taking a single step (to be fair, he also had Greater Cleave). I use this in combination with Two-Weapon Fighting to allow my character to switch from sword-and-shield to two-weapons when the situation calls for it. This is made easier by having a sheath inside your shield.

    Power Attack: I used this only to get Cleave, but it is a good stepping stone to other feats that require physical combat.

    Combat Reflexes: Another feat to have with high Dexterity, this is a defensive feat, and goes well with Dodge and Mobility if defense is your thing. I prefer a mix. And you never know when the enemy will leave himself open.

    I would’ve also suggested Mounted Combat and Mounted Archery, but I could only list 5. What I’m trying to go for is a balanced character that can fight with many styles and weapons, which is good when starting out just for survival, because you never know what will happen, and to flesh out your character’s preferred fighting style. The character himself is a sort of test of combat styles.

    The Barbarian/Fighter multiclass works very well for a character designed to reach level 20. Many feats must be gained through a particular fighting style, and you will be forced to give up ever using those feats depending on what style you choose. Some feats are also pretty useless, such as the Skill feats, so a 20th-level Fighter would not be as productive as a 10th-level Fighter multiclass, who has picked only the best feats. Fighter also gives you all armor and weapon proficiencies. Barbarian gives you good Constitution, which you’ll need for HP, a Speed bonus, the Rage ability, and some useful Rogue-like abilities (Uncanny Dodge, Trap Sense). The only major disadvantage is that Barbarian and Fighter have almost identical Class Skills.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS