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The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder

In September of 2012, my brother and I released a blog post discussing the issue of feat taxes in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Although the post was intended to be a one-off thought experiment based on our experiences building characters for organized play, it gained an inexplicable amount of traction on Reddit, Facebook, and the official Paizo forums.

In response to the interest expressed by the Pathfinder community, we decided to publish an updated version of our feat tree. This document, titled The Elephant in the Room after the original blog post, includes a reimagined version of the entire feat section found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

  • Dozens of weak or situational feats have been reworked (such as Shield Focus) or merged together (such as Dodge and Mobility)
  • Power Attack, Deadly Aim, and Combat Expertise are now combat options available to any character with at least +1 BAB
  • 10 completely new feats have been created to improve dead-end feat lines: Vital Strike as part of a spring attack/charge with Savage Charge or gain evasion when wielding a shield with Iron Guard
  • Master multiple combat maneuvers with a single feat - including the new Hamstring combat maneuver
  • Enjoy a Pathfinder Core Campaign experience with best-of options curated from the Advanced Players Guide and Pathfinder Unchained

More than anything, we hope that this document continues to spur interesting and lively discussion of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, just as the original blog post did.


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(3 total ratings)
AuthorMammoth Island
TagsDungeons & Dragons, Fantasy, pathfinder, pen-and-paper, Tabletop role-playing game


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I tried to buy that last physical copy for 40 dollars should i be worried that it's been a month?


Hi! I’ve pinged you via email so we can sort things out.


What happened to Deft maneuvers affecting dirty trick, reposition and steal?


We decided that for the print book, we would limit ourselves to the Core Rulebook. This was mainly to manage the scope of the document (Pathfinder has a lot of rules!).

I think if you look through the comments here, and through the website comments, you’ll find some homebrew solutions people have whipped up.


Or you can use my guide, where I also basically brought back the original idea of using Deft Maneuvers to replace the Improved Dirty Trick/Reposition/Steal feats, and having Powerful Maneuvers replace the Improved Drag feat:


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Also, I have made an 8 page guide and homebrew collection based on 20 years playing D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG, which includes several artworks that I commissioned from friends to make for it and which I've included using a program.

I've recommended your Elephant in the Room work in it, as I believe it improves the experience of playing this great game even further. Here is a link:


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Hello Mammothisland,

I'm from the Netherlands, but wish to purchase one of your Elephant in the Room printed books. Could I pay you the 40$, and then also add the shipping cost from the US to the Netherlands? I'm a big fan of your work, and I would love to have a printed copy of your work as well. The average cost of shipping a thin book from the US to the Netherlands is around 12 euro I believe, so I was hoping to be able to purchase it from you for 55$. Would that be alright?


Hi! We’re from Canada, but I think that should work out. I’ll send you some extra goodies if the shipping cost ends up being lower than you think too.

Great! I send it to you through paypal, and filled in the adress afterwards. Let me know should you need any more information of course.

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I just received the books, thank you for sending them my way! I will cherish them both, while keeping one as a spare.

I just realized that in the Special notes for Agile Combatant it states that even without the feat you can apply Dex to your CMB instead of Str when attempting Disarm, Trip, or Sunder maneuvers with a Finesse weapon. But it doesn't call out weapons with the Agile feature.
Is this an oversight or did you really intend for this Special ruling to only apply to Finesse weapons and not One or Two-handed weapons with Agile?

My group is using EitR for the first time in our current game and one of our players wants to use a Weapon Modification as described in Adventurer's Armory 2. Putting a modification on a weapon increases it's category by one degree, from simple to martial, martial to exotic, and moding an exotic weapon requires an extra feat beyond normal exotic weapon prof. Because EitR removes exotic weapon profs we're unsure of how to allow the player to get the benefit he wants on a martial weapon. Specifically he wants to use the Versatile Design modification to add the Monk weapon group to a Rapier, which would normally make the Rapier into an Exotic weapon or require another feat to use.

Do you have any insight or suggestions about how to handle the situation?


I’m not overly familiar with those rules, but I suggest that requiring the Modified Weapon Proficiency feat would make sense. It seems designed to mesh Weapon Modification with class features.

However, the Rapier is not particularly game-breaking (it’s essentially the same as a Wave Blade, from the same sourcebook) so I might just let them use one anyways.

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Thanks for that! I always forget about the Waveblade because it's not listed as part of the monk weapon group over on AoN.

We had discussed Modified Weapon Prof and the Weapon Adept feats from the source too but weren't totally sure how they'd apply. But after further consideration we realized that EitR doesn't actually remove the weapon categories from the game. Weapons can still be Simple, Martial, or Exotic, so a Fighter would still need to spend a feat to gain access to exotic weapons, they'd just gain a whole weapon group instead of only 1 weapon.

So making a modified a Rapier would make it exotic, but still a part of the Light Blades group, so someone with Martial prof wouldn't be able to use it proficiently without taking Weapon Prof with Light Blades, Modified Weapon Prof, or Weapon Adept. Likewise someone with Weapon Prof in Flails wouldn't treat a modified Spiked Chain as something they were proficient with unless they also had the appropriate Modified Weapon Prof or Weapon Adept feat to match it. Tho to keep pace with EitR Modified Weapon Prof would be for a whole group not just a single weapon.

As for our Modified Rapier, the character wanting the mod is a rogue/monk so they have proficiency with the Rapier itself from Rogue, but also with all Monk weapons from Monk. So modifying Versatile Design on the Rapier would change the weapon's category to Exotic, but also add it to the Monk Group so the character wouldn't need more feats to use it. :)

Hi! Where Furious Focus is now? I can't find it in the new feat list and I can't find it in the list of eliminated feats...

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Hello! The Elephant in the Room uses only the Core Rulebook feats (for the most part) and Furious Focus was released in the Advanced Player’s Guide.

My suggestion would be to introduce it as a standalone feat with a STR 13 and BAB +1 prerequisite.

Honestly I prefer the format of the original blog post, glad I didn't spend money on the PDF or i would want a refund. why did you include all kinds of feats that you didn't change? It makes it harder to tell what has and hasn't been altered, the pdf just feels like 30 repeated pages and pulling out the actual useful changes is no longer worth the effort of referencing yet another overly long document. (leaving this as my first reaction)

finally saw the appendix, that is not what they are usually used for. I still say the first 30 pages of the pdf are pointless. the whole thing could easily have fit into 10 pages and still had room for you to explain your choices and alteration like you did in the original blog post.  you wanted to profit from your otherwise good ideas and turned them into a bloated mess. I like well reasoned arguments and thorough explanations and was expecting more of those, not mostly filler. Do I understand why catch off guard now has prerequisites? Do I have any idea why you feel hamstring is balanced?(or even makes sense, you don't walk off a severed hamstring.) changes without explanations aren't useful, the WHY matters even more than the what, but you ignored it completely.

Hello there, and I’m sorry that your hatred for the PDF burns so brightly!

We’ve generally found that folks are split down the middle between preferring the original blog post and the PDF. One of the reasons we made the PDF was to respond to the 100+ comments we received on the initial post, in which people asked for rules clarifications and more detailed advice on how EitR interacted with numerous feats. We added some additional homebrew flourishes to flesh things out further but, like all aspects of the rule-set, they are completely optional.

Regardless, to say that we do this type of design work for profit is a bit humorous to me. While we are certainly grateful to all the folks who have chosen to pay for a copy of EitR, the profits we make off the publication are relatively meager (and certainly don’t cover the labour we put into it). In fact, any of our Itch.io funds go straight into a stash that we have dedicated to future TTRPG development. This is strictly a hobbyist endeavor, which is why everything Mammoth Island has made thus far is essentially PWYC.

After 13k+ downloads, and with Pathfinder 1E all but wrapped up, I don’t see us revisiting or revising this rule-set in the future. You’ll have to enjoy it as-is or move on. If you are looking for another source of Pathfinder homebrew content, I’d highly recommend Spheres of Power.

Take care!

With Martial and Exotic Weapon Proficiency removed how do classes that have Martial Weapon proficiency as a base feat work? Just one weapon group? Or classed as being proficient in all weapons?

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This is kind of a necro, but it's a question that's worth answering in case anyone else comes here looking for it.

EitR doesn't remove weapon categories. So weapons are still Simple, Martial, or Exotic. It just removes Martial and Exotic Weapon Prof as feats and replaces them with proficiency with Groups of weapons instead. Classes that start with Martial Weapon Proficiency are still proficient with all Martial weapons per their category. Other classes don't have the option of becoming proficient with all Martial weapons. Instead having to choose a specific group of weapons to train with, but getting proficiency with all weapons in that group, be they Simple, Martial, or Exotic.

This means that classes that start with Martial Weapon Proficiency still need to spend a feat to gain access to Exotic weapons, but they get more for their feat investment than just 1 weapon. They get all Exotic weapons in that group, and depending on the group (I'm lookin at you Flails and Thrown) they could be gaining A LOT for that choice.

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I wanted to know what your thoughts on on Spell Focus (Conjuration) leading to Argument Summoning? The reason I ask is that for a Druid, there are only a handful of reasonable spells that are Conjuration spells, and so far, as a 14th level Druid, I find it to be a pretty useless feat to get to a much better feat. Couple that with the fact that a Druid is fairly feat starved already (only 1 every other level as opposed to a lot of other classes), it’s a pretty costly way to get to upgrade the summoned creatures.

I’ve suggested to my GM to allow Spell Focus to be for all schools, or just to skip over it all together to get to Argument Summoning. What are your thoughts on that? Do you feel like it would cause problems in the game for balance?

[Edit] I’m also noticing in your book you specifically mention Spell Focus (Conjuration) with the Arcane type of magic. Was that for a specific purpose? Druids are divine, so I’m just wondering if you had a reason for specifying that in your guide.



This is a tough one!

I agree that Spell Focus can be pretty useless for some spell schools, but making it universal might be a little OP (that’s a flat +1 to DCs, essentially). If I were to homebrew something, I’d probably have Spell Focus grant some sort of minor boon in addition to the DC boost. Think along the lines of Varisian Tattoo and how it grants minor spell-like abilities: https://aonprd.com/FeatDisplay.aspx?ItemName=Varisian%20Tattoo

I can’t open the PDF at the moment, but I’m assuming it reads as arcane-only because: a) that is how it is in the original book, or b) it’s a typo. I’d default to whatever the Core Rulebook says as we didn’t intend to change anything with Spell Focus.

Hope this is useful!

Picked this up a while back (137 days according to this thing) and players love it.  Definitely, be adding this to my games.  How/where do I give credit to you guys for this?

Hi Steelhaven!

Not sure what you mean by credit, but we always appreciate it when folks share the rules with others. Just linking to this Itch.io page means a lot to us! If your players want to chip in a couple bucks to help our self-caffeination efforts, they can do also do so through the PWYC purchase options.


I have a question regarding Deft Maneuvers and Powerful Maneuvers with regard to the new and exciting Hamstring Maneuver.

Why is it a Powerful Maneuver? To me a hamstring would be done by a rogue first and foremost, since you have to get behind someone to do it. 

Deft Maneuvers has Trip or Disarm

Powerful has Bull Rush, Overrun, Sunder and Hamstring (thigh).

Hamstring is more of a Deft move to strike a particular spot as are Trip (legs) and Disarm (wrist or elbow?).

Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Thanks

Hello Rizzoxiii!

We wanted to give both Deft Maneuvers and Powerful Maneuvers a movement impeding option. The actual implementation is a bit of a mix of Stand Still and Scorpion Style, and the name is really more of a metaphorical adoption of hamstring (impeding movement or limiting activity) rather than a literal attack on someone’s tendons.

Also, Deft Maneuvers also improves a character’s ability to feint, so the disparity between Deft/Powerful is not quite that large.

Ok makes sense, thanks for the quick response. Love the book.

Is Weapon Focus (Ray) removed in EitR? Replaced?

Removed, but not by intent. I think that it fell through the cracks when we made the switch from individual weapons for Weapon Focus to Fighter weapon training groups.

I think I’d probably house-rule that “rays” can be selected for Weapon Focus.

I would argue they would come under 'firearms' because firearms use Touch AC as well, seems fitting.

Not sure where to post it, i'm just curious about some changes that i noticed from reading v3.
Especially two major ones:

"Extra Rogue Talent" is missing the special descriptor for being able to take it multiple times. It's just such a sad change to see, as rogue talents are such a joy to use.  Was that intentional and if so why?

Furthermore, deft maneuvers only applies to trip and disarm according to the feat overview/descriptions now.
Is this supposed to nerf steal/dirty trick combat maneuvers in comparison to earlier rules edition? If so, what was the reasoning behind that decision?
As dirty tricks are just a fun wildcard for doing a lot creative non lethal manauvers.
That stealing potions from your enemies is fun, i don't need to explain...

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Extra Rogue Talent is definitely a mistake! We’re going to “hot fix” the pdf sometime in the coming weeks with that change.

Dirty Trick is APG, so we didn’t include it in this document (which is, for the most part, Core Rules only). Feel free to include Dirty Tricky for your own campaign - we’re not opposed to having it part of Deft Maneuvers, it’s really just a rules-scoping thing.

Oh thank god. I'm playing in a lw, where raw is held up pretty high, due to lot's of gm's stirring the same pot.
So i'm glad there's no greater reason to exclude those two maneuvers.

Thanks for your fast respond ^^

I do have one big question, why does the document include so many feats that are completely unchanged from the vanilla Pathfinder versions?

One of the things we grappled with when designing this document was if we should present it as:

a) A self-contained rules document, that wouldn’t require consulting back to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. b) A list of errata/changes that could be skimmed quickly.

We ended up doing a bit of a mix of both these approaches. We listed all the (core) Pathfinder feats so people could build their characters without having to flip back and forth between books. We also added appendices that quickly list the changes, so folks who are already familiar with the rules could take in everything at a glance.

Additionally, we found that even changing a couple of feats created ripple effects throughout the entire feat tree. We had to tweak the prerequisites and wording of a bunch of otherwise unaltered feats to resolve minor rules conflicts, and including the full feat listing helped us keep track of things.

Hope this answers your question!