Feat or Edge
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Basic Information

A Feat or Edge is a type of Special Ability that is available in many RPGs.

A Feat or Edge is differentiated from a Merit or Advantage in that, except for exceptional circumstances, you can only take a Merit at the time of Character Creation. A Feat or Edge, on the other hand, can be picked up later in the campaign.

It's different from a Character Class in that the Edge tends to be narrower. It does just one thing, or one small group of inter-related things. A Character Class, by way of contrast, probably determines numerous facets of your character, from Attack Rolls to Skill Points. In some systems, Character Class determines what Feats you can take.

Feats can also shade into the skill system - especially in cRPGs - where they may unlock specific activities that are not generally available, or the (in character) social aspects of the game representing membership in organisations, privileges granted or allegiances.


Games that use a Feat or Edge system:
1. Dungeons & Dragons - The grand-daddy of all RPGs. The original Feats were the "Non-Weapon Proficiencies", introduced in the Oriental Adventures sourcebook for 1st Ed D&D. The term "Feat" was introduced in 3rd Edition.
2. Feng Shui RPG - calls it's feats "Schticks".
3. Savage Worlds - uses Edges, in addition to something called a "Background Edge" that's a little more like a Merit or Advantage
4. Scion RPG - all the powers and magic are basically set up as Feats, and any character can take any power.
: SPECIAL … the driving system behind the Fallout cRPGs, although it has been spun off into a couple of (unofficial) pRPGs. Full of 'Perks' which are earned on levellling, and can also be won by various in game methods, ranging from completing a quest, through collecting a certain number of items or killing certain creatures to repeatedly cleaning out a stable. Despite the name they're not all bonuses.

Game and Story Use

  • Most characters will accumulate many Feats or Edges, provided the campaign runs more than a month or two. This allows for some great differentiation between characters, but it can have a few issues that GMs might want to keep their eyes open for.
    • Complexity Creep - characters become more complex over time, and it may eventually start getting hard to keep all the rules and modifiers in mind. As you go up in power, it may ironically get harder to utilize your power most effectively.
      • Splatbooks can be particularly bad for this as the designers cram in more k3wl stufz, often without checking whether it duplicates, renders obsolete or even flat out breaks something in core.
    • Focus Dillution - where characters start taking Feats and Edges that have nothing to do with their Character Niche or Combat Role. This itself can be further subdivided into two distinct flavors of trouble
      • Master of None - Some game systems really reward narrow characters. Playing the generalist can be very tricky, and it's easy to lose out on the power curve. Pregenerated monsters might have been designed for more focused character builds, which results in the GM having a harder time picking out appropriate challenges for the group.
      • Loss of Character Niche - Sometimes a particular Edge ends up being a little too good. Over time, the players realize it, and everyone starts taking it. Too much of this, and the characters all start looking alike. Not really a problem in games with solid Character Classes that don't overlap much, but it can sometimes creep up in games with point-buy systems and lots of freedom for character development. Especially if the Edge in question gives you some magical power or other unusual ability.
      • Junk and Tax feats - not all feats are as equal as others. Sometimes there will be those that really aren't worth the opportunity cost compared to the alternatives … Tax feats, by contrast, are those which are required to unlock more powerful feats higher up a progression tree. If these are worthwhile in their own right then they are usually unobjectionable but when a tax feat is also junk, player rage can result.
        • The linear/quadratic problem can kick in here if the warrior needs to spend a handful of feats to (say) learn to perform an all-round attack whilst the same number of feats allow the wizard to buff every aspect of his spells and still have feats over to make magic items.
  • Despite those potential problems, many gamers really like Feats and Edges because they allow further development of your character, in ways that may feel more meaningful than just another +1 bonus to some skill roll. Systems with this sort of dynamic are especially good for players who like to see their characters grow or become more powerful over time.
    • "Fluff unlocks" - that is, feats made available by gameplay (as noted for cRPG popularity above) can be impressive and make for great story awards if well handled. IF badly handled - for example if the GM then decouples them from their intended context - they become tedious. Also much hated by min-maxers, roll-players and other pejoratives who dislike having a mechanical benefit that they can't get at without jumping a story barrier.
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