Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flaws and Merits (Alea Publishing Group)

Even though this type of quid-pro-quo feats has existed since the 2e days (although they weren't feats back then), I have always avoided them like the plague. Mostly because I thought they were useless and for munchkins. Want a sick mage? Give him a low CON-score and roleplay the rest. Want a paladin that runs like a girl every time he sees a spider? Roleplay it. In fact, the whole idea of getting a bonus, for giving your character some character and perhaps a less than perfect personality, was very foreign to me. But things change...

One trap with such products is that it often becomes way too easy to grab a couple of weaknesses and acquire some flaws that almost never come up in the campaign. However, for Flaws and Merits, it looks as if the flaws (while not equal of course) still overall will matter if you take them - They are, for a lack of better word, general enough. I think it was a great idea to categorize them by role, instead of by class.

So, while the flaws seem fairly balanced out, the merits trail a bit behind. Eidetic Mastery (regain daily for AP) is a bit too awesome for that orb-wizard with sleep memorized. Rejuvenating (spend daily so that all allies in area can spend a healing surge) is a Merit that fits a controller poorly, or Prepared which gives you the ability to use any utility power before combat starts, even if surprised (pretty broken for a feat I think) or the big winner of course, Quick Study which gives you an extra At-will power - heh.

Unfortunately there is also at least one misconception about the core rules, which makes some flaws confusing - The number of death saves available to a character is not counted between extended rests but in between short rests.

Overall it started well, and almost had me hooked, but in the end, I am convinced that this kind of rules are neither my cup of tea, nor balanced enough to integrated into a (my) campaign. I am sure lots of others will like them.
Rating:* * *

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  1. I agree with you, actually. I've never liked flaws/rewards systems, the quid pro kind. Having separate systems where a number of flaws and a number of benefits are chosen independently is fine (like Savage Worlds).

  2. I don't know about flaws/rewards systems in D&D, its basically a way to graft point buy onto a class-based system. IME, at least in 3.5e (I did use the flaw system in UA once) most of the time the flaws are outweighed by the benefits of the feats.