Supplement Review: The Complete Advanced Feats by Sigfried Trent from Open Design

Since late 2010, I’ve reviewed four of the books in Sigfried Trent’s Advanced Feats from Open Design – The Inquisitor’s Edge, Visions of the Oracle, The Cavalier’s Creed, and The Summoner’s Circle. Each book follows the same pattern, offering a set of feats fitting a particular theme and a few character builds showing how some of those feats might work in an actual character concept. And every month or two we see a new collection show up from Sigfried.

This series provides a ton of great information for GMs and players of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (or your favorite D&D 3.5e variant) who want to add more choices for PCs and NPCs. Really it’s an amazing amount of detail laid out in bite sized chunks.

So now Open Design has released a collection of all 150+ of the feats as well as all the advanced character builds from the other books with The Complete Advanced Feats. And honestly it’s great to have all the info in one place. I just wish it was organized a little better.

The book is divided into two major sections – “The Advanced Feats” and “Advanced Character
Builds.” And you also get a couple of character sheets to contain all of your character’s “feated” goodness.

The feats are listed in simple alphabetical order, with a seven page summary table in the middle with the feat name, prerequisites, and any benefits. Though I appreciate the one stop shopping, it would have been nice to have seen them organized by broad category – Teamwork, Metamagic, Combat, and so on – so a wizard could quickly look up which feats would help his or her spellcasting abilities or a fighter could quickly find combat-related feats. Even if there was an index with feats broken into numerous categories, that would have done the trick.

That said, I have to mention the “Commentary” section in the description for each feat. The commentary alone is worth the cost of the book, simply to get a better understanding of how a rules designer looks at writing, balancing, and using feats effectively. I’ll give you an example from “Unstable Evolutions”:

This feat suffers from clear potential to slow down play. If you want the versatility it offers – but not the dirty looks from your fellow players – I recommend you master the evolutions and work out alternate forms ahead of time. This means you have shifts ready to go, rather than trying to re-imagine things every time you summon your eidolon. – p. 37

By listing the feat, even though it’s not perfectly balanced, and explaining why you may not want to use it, Sigfried expanded the available options with a clear view of the drawbacks at the same time. Whether to use it or not is up to the player and GM to decide, but they have the facts and can decide for themselves. I wish more books of advanced rules would have this sort of open dialog with the reader.

The character builds are also all here – from The Alchemist, The Cavalier, and The Inquisitor to The Oracle, The Summoner, and The Witch. Each has details about new abilities and how they work with existing rules, plus GMs have a nice collection of actual characters fully fleshed out that they can use as NPCs or hand to new players as examples.

Now, I have to say this book wasn’t all wine and roses for me. I found a spelling error (“crate” instead of “create”), which I don’t think I’ve seen before in a book from Open Design. And there were some odd layout issues with blank spaces, table formatting that cut off text, odd choice of sizes for some images, and so on. I’m hoping it was just the review copy I had available to look at, but I was more than a bit surprised at the errors.

If you need more feats in your campaign and you already have all of the books in the Advanced Feats series, you might be tempted to skip The Complete Advanced Feats. But having all of these feats in one place makes it a very handy resource – especially in PDF form so you can do quick searches for the feat you’re looking for. Look for it at RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, the Kobold Quarterly store and elsewhere.

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