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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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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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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!