I just had a brain flash.
Feats. Coveted by players, contentious among DMs. Not included in the first few incarnations of D&D, feats became an option in AD&D2, and fully integrated in 3.0. They allow more complex customization of characters than straight up classes do, but there are so many options and some characters (I’m looking at you, fighters) get SO DANG MANY!
What is a “feat” then?
noun: feat; plural noun: feats
an achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength.
So, ideally, a feat should be something extraordinary, requiring above average ability. Hmm. Granted, PCs are by definition extraordinary, but in different ways. So why should feats be handed out across the board regardless of ability except that required to become a leveled character?
This is where I step in with my brain flash. Feats as described in the PHB are extra skills and abilities or bonuses that you acquire as you level up. Looking at the list, there are two varieties of feats: what I will call Learned Feats and Natural Feats. Learned feats are those things which require some practice to become good at, say Two Weapon Fighting. Natural feats are those which denote a superior skill in a certain area, such as the Athletic feat. My proposal for the modification of the feat system is twofold: First, assign “natural” feats at character creation, as they seem like the sort of abilities that one naturally possesses, and base the assignment of them on ability scores. Second, limit the number of “learned” feats on Intelligence, because as we all know, intelligence is a measure of how well and readily we learn.
First, a table:
Hopefully that reads ok. Anyway, each of these natural feats is presented with the key ability score that drives it. For each point of modifier that a particular ability has (Like a Strength of 18 having a bonus of +4), there is a 20% chance for a character to have the natural feat at first level. The maximum number of natural feats related to a particular ability score is the bonus value (4 at 18, 3 at 16-17, etc.). If the percentage rolled for each feat indicates the character would qualify for more than the maximum allowed, determine which feats are gained randomly.
Granted, the feats in the PHB are slanted towards those with a high Dex, and Str and Con are woefully underrepresented. But high scores in those abilities translate to better damage and HP, so I think it’s a decent trade-off.
As for learned feats, instead of one at first, third, and every three levels thereafter, I propose a total number of feats equal to 1+(Int bonus x 2), evenly divided over levels 1-20. Thus, a character with a +3 bonus to Int will get the same number of feats as normal, while those with +4 Int bonus will get more. +1 and +2 bonuses will receive fewer feats, but then, they aren’t super intelligent either, so it makes sense. There’s only so much room in your brain for extra training, and if you are getting other class bonuses then it’s not a huge hinderance.
Fighters, though, also have all those bonus feats to deal with. I’ve also cut back on the number of feats that fighters get if they elect to make Intelligence their dump stat. Another table:
This is the schedule for fighter bonus feats based on Int bonuses. (The number of bonus feats is 2+2Int if you want the formula). See? It pays to be smart. Other classes that get bonus feats I would adjust on a similar schedule, figuring a +3 bonus allowing the unmodified schedule, and lesser intelligence scores proportionately less, possibly with no Int bonus allowing at least 1 bonus feat. I’m not completely heartless, after all. Plus you got all those extra feats for being so dang dextrous, what do you have to complain about?