Great feats of mankind vs. RPG feats (3rd and 4th Edition of D&D)

Welcome traveler. Take a seat by the warm fire and leave your burdens outside in the darkness.

The year 2000 it was a major milestone at the rpg community. The major reason behind this was the open license of wizards of the coast. By that time I believe that the company of the most famous rpg in the planet wasn’t aware of the consequences of their own actions. It was and still is an avalanche of ideas and opinions. I feel it is similar to Greek myth of Prometheus. So the titan decided to steal the fire from the Olympian gods and gave it to humankind. His decision was followed by a chain of events leading eventually to the much desired human civilization. 

As I continue my grumblings, another milestone was the introduction of the feats. But what are feats exactly? And why it took 14 years of the famous company to fade them back at the background as an optional rule?

Using Oxford dictionary Feat is: An achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength. Let’s take decompose the above sentence into elements.

With the word courage we imply a bold movement that has a great chance of failing.

Skills come up as character knowledge of specific abilities, inherent or not.

Strength is sometimes a physical value and other times a mental one. 

Back to game designing, feats is a subsystem of the rpgs that tend to include all the above elements into single notion of action. If you enjoy a good mmo game, Feat is a macro button that can handle a course of actions. But the thing is that we are talking about tabletop rpgs and not computer games…

So how was the world before 2000 around rpgs? How was the world without feats? In my humble opinion and using one word… was creative. Please don’t misunderstand the reason behind these thoughts. I do enjoy options but in a manner that doesn’t affect the in game thinking. I always believed that feats represent a bridge between out of character thinking and in character role playing. I know a lot of people who enjoys that notion but for me it is spoiling the moments of inception.

For one more time I’m conducting a heresy. But wherever you see that using the feats system optionally will hinder our fantastic heroes, I see opportunities. My fantasy heroes will have to be creative in order to overcome the in game challenges. They will strive to create advantages in the favour in order to beat the unbeatable. In a sense feats of mankind are summarized at the above 2 sentences.

So choose your destiny and avoid being shaped…

 “Some men […] choose to seek greatness, while others are forced to it. It is always better to choose than to be forced.
A man who is forced is never completely his own master. He must dance on the strings of those who forced him.” 
 Robert Jordan, The Great Hunt, Wheel of Time, 1990. 


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