I’ve always found the idea of feats more compelling than the reality. As I conceive them, I expect them to have a strong signature. That is, I expect them to really be strong differentiators, something that really calls out a clear distinction between characters who might otherwise be fairly similar. In 4e, this is one of the key things in determining a character’s style, something I’ve touched upon before.
Now, a few feats actually are this interesting, or at least point that way (something like a two-weapon fighting feat is usually a gateway) but the vast majority of them are small nudges, things that might be interesting in aggregate, but which are rarely worth getting excited about it. That would not be too bad a thing, except that a flat feat can mean advancement feels flat. That’s no fun.
The catch is, there are exceptions. There are a handful of feats floating around out there which are both interesting and mechanically potent. Some of the classics (like racial weapon feats) have just been seen as gimmies, feats you should always take if you can use them. I’ve always been drawn to those, and have always wanted more feats like them. Yes, this technically makes for more powerful characters, but usually in a way that makes them more thematic and interesting as well.
But the twist is this – I want to guarantee that. I want a player to be able to pick a feat and have it carry a lot of weight, but at the same time, I don’t want to just be making more powerful feats, so here’s the extra element I want.
At the end of every feat, I want to include a question.
The default question is simple: “Who did you learn this from?” or some variant on that. Maybe that’s the only question. The purpose of asking is simple: to introduce a new character into the world, one with a baked in connection to the characters. The lack of that is the death of many a game, something I will probably get into tomorrow.