12/13 - Design a Feat Chain (Submission)

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Fixxxer
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12/13 - Design a Feat Chain (Submission)

As it has been a long while since these competitions were actually run month-to-month, we're planning on slowly getting you back into the habit of designing an entry. We don't want to scare you off with the (false) expectation that you'll need to spend hours upon hours designing something or the (false) expectation that you don't stand a chance against some of the possibly more-seasoned competitors. With this in mind, this month's competition is almost as simple as it gets.

This time around, you'll be designing a feat chain. Feats are arguably the method by which you can mechanically set your character aside from every other character out there. No two fighters have to be alike, no two elves need be identical, not when there's a plethora of feats to choose from to help set them apart.

For this competition, you will design a chain of no less than three feats. What exactly is a feat chain? Take the example from Player's Handbook of Dodge, Mobility and Spring Attack. Dodge makes you less likely to get hit, Mobility improves upon that by making you harder to hit in another situation and Spring Attack continues the trend by allowing you to make an attack without risking getting hit. Like any other chain of feats, the feats in your chain must rely upon and build upon one another. In addition, your feat chain must meet the requirements of one (1) of these optional elements:

1: The feats in the chain are designed mostly with the monk in mind and are therefore available for the monk to choose as his bonus feats at 1st, 2nd and 6th level.

2: The feats in the chain all bear the [Psionic] descriptor.

3: Each of the feats in your chain have prerequisites that include at least one feat from the core rules*.

4: The feats in your chain all bear the [Metamagic], [Metapsionic] or [Item Creation] descriptors.

5: There are no less than five feats in your chain.

*"Core Rules" for the purposes of this competition is defined as material from Player's Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual, Expanded Psionics Handbook, [url="http://www.d20srd.org/"]The SRD[/url] and non-setting material (unless you are the author of said setting or have the permission of the author to use their work) from The Dungeons and Dragons Archive.

As per usual, the rules used in this competition are to be D&D 3.5 compatible and should be drawn from the core rulebooks (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual), Expanded Psionics Handbook, Unearthed Arcana, [url="http://www.d20srd.org/"]The SRD[/url] and material from The Dungeons and Dragons Archive.

Submitting Your Entry
Please submit your entry directly to this thread. Questions and comments posted in this thread will be deleted. Submissions posted in the Questions thread will not be judged. Participants are encouraged to enter their submission well before the deadline. While a subsequent entry may be inspired by an earlier entry, the scoring takes into account originality, and the earlier entry may well score better simply as a result of being submitted first.

Final Details
The judge for this competition will be Fixxxer. Questions about the competition can be asked and will be answered in the Questions thread. The judges will provide such answer as they deem appropriate. Anything not prohibited in the above instructions is permissible.

The competition will run through the entire month of December and will end at 11:59pm (EST) on December 31, 2013. Entries will be scored and feedback (if any) will be provided before the end of January... or whenever the hell I get around to it. The winners will be announced in this thread.

Good luck!

Edited by: Fixxxer on 12/01/2013 - 10:24
deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Continuing my efforts to get caught up on things I should have done years ago, here is my feat chain not quite five years too late!

Every martial artist owes their training to a teacher, who learned from their teacher and so on and so forth to the person that originally created the style. These creators, shrouded in myths and legends, also had teachers in a manner of speaking. Many of the most famous fighting styles are inspired by the animals that fight and die in a never-ending circle of life usually ignored by mortal civilization. But with a keen eye, careful study, and long hours of practice, the skills and techniques nature provides to even the smallest of insects can be turned into a dangerous weapon with the dedication and training a martial artist undertakes. One such style owes its existence to the preying mantis.

Mantis Stance[General]
Prerequisites
Improved Initiative
Benefit
The mantis is an ambush predator, and is ever ready to launch an attack. You retain your Dexterity modifier to your AC prior to your action during a Surprise Round. If you are aware of your opponents during a surprise round, you may take a standard action and a move action or a full-round action.
Normal
Without this feat, during a surprise round, you may only take a standard action if you are aware of your opponent.
Special
A monk may select Mantis Stance as a bonus feat at 1st level, even if she does not meet the prerequisites.

Mantis Block [General]
Prerequisites
Dex 13, Wis 13, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Mantis Stance, Stunning Fist, base attack bonus +8.
Benefit
Using whip-like movements of your hooked fingers, you may attempt to redirect a melee attack against you to an adjacent foe. Redirecting an attack requires one use of Stunning Fist. The attacker must attempt a Reflex saving throw (DC 10 + ½ your character level + your Wis modifier) to resist the effect. If you are successful in redirecting the attack (regardless of whether it hits the intended target), you may make an attack of opportunity against your attacker.
Special
At 2nd level, a monk may select Mantis Block as a bonus feat, even if she does not have the prerequisites.

Mantis Strike [General]
Prerequisites
Dex 13, Wis 13, Improved Initiative, Mantis Stance, Stunning Fist, base attack bonus +8.
Benefit
Among practioners of the other styles, mantis warriors are known for their frenetic flurry of blows. When using a Stunning Fist, you may roll your attack twice and choose the higher result.
Normal
Without this feat, a failed attack roll ruins the attempt.
Special
At 6th level, a monk may select Mantis Strike as a bonus feat, even if she does not have the prerequisites.

Thoughts
I’m fascinated by the various kung-fu fighting styles and I don’t think there have been very many successful attempts at implementing them through the feat section. The Pathfinder feat mantis style simply increases the DC of a Stunning Fist, which doesn’t seem to represent the major facets of the style which include redirecting attacks followed by rapid counterstrikes. My hope is that with this trio of feats. The way monk bonus feats work, it is possible to select any one of these feats at the appropriate level without the other feats in the chain. Considering that Stunning Fist is available as a bonus feat at 1st level, and how difficult the requirements are to meet, a smart player will probably choose to take Mantis Stance as a normal feat – a 1st level human could choose Improved Initiative and Mantis Stance at 1st level without using any monk bonus feats.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I have questions, mostly because I'm an asshole.

The Mantis Stance feat says that you keep your Dexterity modifier to AC during a surprise round prior to your having acted during the surprise round. Does this mean that you retain your Dex modifier to AC even if you are unaware of your opponent and wouldn't be able to act?

Mantis Block specifies that you can redirect an attack so that it strikes an adjacent opponent. Does that mean you can redirect the attack so that it strikes the foe who originated it, so long as he's adjacent to you, or must it be used to redirect an incoming attack to hit some other foe? And do you HAVE to redirect the attack to hit a foe, or can you redirect it at an ally or bystander?

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Talanall wrote:

I have questions, mostly because I'm an asshole.

I love questions.

Talanall wrote:

The Mantis Stance feat says that you keep your Dexterity modifier to AC during a surprise round prior to your having acted during the surprise round. Does this mean that you retain your Dex modifier to AC even if you are unaware of your opponent and wouldn't be able to act?

It was my intention that you retain your Dexterity modifier during the surprise round even if you were unaware of your opponent. This is similar to, but more restricted, than Uncanny Dodge. Uncanny Dodge applies in all situations you are flat-footed (such as if an opponent successfully feints against you) and I wanted to make this more limited.

Talanall wrote:

Mantis Block specifies that you can redirect an attack so that it strikes an adjacent opponent. Does that mean you can redirect the attack so that it strikes the foe who originated it, so long as he's adjacent to you, or must it be used to redirect an incoming attack to hit some other foe? And do you HAVE to redirect the attack to hit a foe, or can you redirect it at an ally or bystander?

I intended that you had to direct the attack to someone else (not the original attacker), but an ally or a bystander would work. I thought about the terminology, and I figured if you were willing to stab them, they ought to count as an enemy. I did not intend to allow you to redirect the attack against the person that initiated the attack. While I don't have major problems with that, I thought this was best developed with situational limitations. If you could direct it against the attacker, you could use this 100% of the time your character was attacked in melee. Since there will be times where you are attacked by a single opponent, this wouldn't apply in those cases. There's certainly a range in the power level of various feats - some that are so specific and so weak that nobody should ever take them. I wanted this to be good enough that they're worth considering, but no so good that everyone would take them.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

deadDMwalking wrote:
It was my intention that you retain your Dexterity modifier during the surprise round even if you were unaware of your opponent. This is similar to, but more restricted, than Uncanny Dodge. Uncanny Dodge applies in all situations you are flat-footed (such as if an opponent successfully feints against you) and I wanted to make this more limited.
So if you take this feat, you retain your Dex bonus to AC even if you are totally unaware and are unable to act in the surprise round at all? Does it work if you are facing an invisible attacker, or are in total darkness?

And then, let's say the first ordinary round of combat starts, and you come in dead last for initiative. Under normal circumstances, you'd be flat-footed during the surprise round because you were unaware, and then in the first round of combat you'd be flat-footed until your initiative comes up. Does the feat alleviate this issue?

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Talanall wrote:
So if you take this feat, you retain your Dex bonus to AC even if you are totally unaware and are unable to act in the surprise round at all? Does it work if you are facing an invisible attacker, or are in total darkness?

There's a bit of 'order of operations' that happens here. The first thing that happens is that the GM determines that a Surprise Round happens at all. When the surprise round starts, everyone is flat-footed automatically. Everyone remains flat-footed until they have taken an action in initiative order (either in the surprise round or the first round of combat following the surprise round). The intention here is that after the surprise round is declared, the possessor of the feat retains their Dexterity adjustment to AC even though they are otherwise considered flat-footed. Retaining your Dexterity to AC because you have not yet acted is not intended to allow you to retain your Dexterity modifier to AC for any other reason. If you are in total darkness, you are effectively blind and you lose your Dexterity modifier to AC (besides miss chance and all that fun jazz). If a surprise round occurs in total darkness, a character normally loses their Dexterity modifier to AC due to both the surprise round and the total darkness. A possessor of this feat would still lose their Dexterity modifier to AC, but only for the darkness. If you're walking along and someone sneaky is hiding behind cover (you're not aware of them) and a surprise round is called (they 5' step out of cover making everyone aware of them) and stab you, you would retain your Dexterity modifier because the only reason you wouldn't normally have your Dexterity modifier is that you haven't acted in a surprise round - you don't lose Dexterity for the surprise. If they were invisible and stepped out, you wouldn't lose your Dexterity modifier because they surprised you and acted first in the surprise round, but you would still lose your Dexterity modifer because they're invisible. The description for invisibility says:

SRD wrote:

An invisible creature gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls against sighted opponents, and ignores its opponents' Dexterity bonuses to AC (if any).

Since this feat doesn't do anything to allow you to keep your Dexterity against invisible creatures, it would provide no benefit against the invisible creature. If two creatures both jump out (one invisible, and one visible) you'd lose your Dex modifier against the first but keep it for the second.

Talanall wrote:

And then, let's say the first ordinary round of combat starts, and you come in dead last for initiative. Under normal circumstances, you'd be flat-footed during the surprise round because you were unaware, and then in the first round of combat you'd be flat-footed until your initiative comes up. Does the feat alleviate this issue?

Yes.

"SRD" wrote:

A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flat-footed, not yet reacting normally to the situation. A flat-footed character loses his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) and cannot make attacks of opportunity.

This feat essentially strikes out 'loses his Dexterity bonus to AC' without changing any other aspect of the condition if the flat-footed condition comes from a surprise round. There are a bunch of situations where you lose your Dex modifier to AC (such as if your opponent successfully feints you), but they don't give you the flat-footed condition. You would lose your Dexterity in all of those situations. This includes, but is not limited to: being struck by an invisible attacker; being blind (such as that caused by total darkness); being feinted; being grappled. There are also other situations that confer the 'flat-footed' condition, such as balancing. Since that condition comes from something other than a surprise round, you would lose your Dexterity modifier to AC.

If there is no surprise round, it should allow you to retain your Dexterity modifier during the first round of combat, even if you are lost in Initiative. I'd be interested in thoughts about phrasing that make that explicit. As written, if there is no surprise round, the feat ability doesn't trigger. I could say:

Benefit At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative order), you retain your Dexterity bonus to AC but are otherwise considered flat-footed. If you are eligible to act in the surprise round (such as because you were aware of your opponent before combat began), you may make a standard and a move action, or a full-round action.
Normal At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative order), you are flat-footed and can’t use your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) while flat-footed. If acting during the surprise round, you are limited to a single standard action (plus free actions).

Thoughts?

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Your new phrasing is more cumbersome. I think it would be best to remove all discussion of surprise rounds, and instead have the feat grant immunity to loss your ability to apply your Dex bonus to AC due to being caught flat-footed, without reference to anything else.

"Flat-footed" is an on-off toggle that normally would be controlled by whether you have acted on your first turn in the initiative order. If the feat's primary function is to make it so that this toggle is always nailed into the "off" condition, then it's extremely easy to adjudicate.

Mantis Stance[General]
Prerequisites:
Improved Initiative
The mantis is an ambush predator, and is ever ready to launch an attack.
Benefit: You can apply your Dexterity bonus to your AC (if any) while you are flat-footed. Additionally, you may take a full-round action or a standard action and a move action if you are able to act during a surprise round.
Normal: When you have not yet taken your first regular turn in the initiative order, you are flat-footed and cannot apply your Dexterity bonus to AC unless you are a barbarian or rogue with the uncanny dodge extraordinary ability. Without this feat, you may only take a standard action during a surprise round.
Special: A monk may select Mantis Stance as a bonus feat at 1st level, even if she does not meet the prerequisites.

Also, I think that this feat is much too powerful with the additional ability to take a larger array of actions during a surprise round. It's absolutely a no-brainer for a rogue or ranger who uses archery, just for example, because it potentially allows you to make a full attack TWICE before your victims can respond, possibly inflicting sneak attack/favored enemy damage. It's also inordinately attractive to spellcasters. Dalvar would love this feat, because it would make it so that he could ambush people with summoned monsters. Sorcerers and other spontaneous casters also would find it ridiculously useful because they'd be able to apply metamagic feats to a spell during a surprise round.

I'm not sure I'd feel better about that if the feat were split into two, one of them for the immunity to being denied Dex to AC, and one for the extra actions. They're still very high value, even to people who clearly aren't your intended users of the feats.

The Dex to AC thing is very powerful, but maybe not game-breaking. The ability to pump out a full-round action during a surprise round that otherwise limits you to a single standard action or move action, though, is apocalyptic.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Follow-up: if you want this feat to be worth something to people who get uncanny dodge, have it eliminate "flat-footed" entirely, so that having the feat allows you to make attacks of opportunity. Uncanny dodge still confers a separate benefit because it protects against being deprived of Dex to AC due to an invisible attacker (including if the character is blinded).

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

While I think this feat is very good, I think it is also fairly limited. Not every combat has a surprise round; when combat does have a surprise round not every character will get to act in the surprise round. If half of your combats have a surprise round (which seems high) and half of those the character with this feat acts (seems reasonable) the character is getting an extra move action in the first round of combat 25% of the time (1 out of 4 fights). For Davlar, I'd want this feat to be on part with Augment Summoning. You should want both of them, but if you can only choose one, it should be a hard choice.

For a melee focused character, taking an action during the surprise round is a difficult choice. If you have to move to attack, you can move now (setting up a full attack next round) but you're also likely to receive a full attack. Letting people (like monks) get close and still do something is worth SOMETHING, but I don't think it will break the game.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

At first level, Dalvar took Improved Initiative and Spell Focus: Conjuration. He picked up Augment Summoning at third. If we'd stayed in 3.5 and this one had been available to him when he got to sixth, he'd certainly have taken it next. There is no question that he'd do otherwise. Between the greater protection against sneak attacks and the possibility of being able to uncork a summoning spell during a surprise round, it's too good to pass up.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
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And if this wasn't an option, what would Dalvar opt for?