Concept Feat: Wings!
Posted by okcstephens
There are lots of different ways to pick a character concept to play in a roleplaying game. For class-and-level games like Pathfinder, I generally flip through the various core options and customizable choices, and those will spark a character concept. (If I’ve made characters in a specific game system many times, my process may be a little different). The advantage of this system is that my concept is inspired by mechanics, so I am unlikely to try to make a character the system doesn’t handle well.
But in my experience with players, it’s actually more common to be inspired by a character from fiction, or video games, or even other RPGS, and try to find a way to build that concept using whatever rules are available. That can cause issues, because not every RPG is designed to support every character concept. Extreme cases of this issue are fairly intuitive—no one seems surprised that Pathfinder is the wrong RPG to try to play Superman—but if the inspirational character is in a genre anywhere near the RPG’s genre, players get more annoyed. There’s no good way to play a rich princess with hundreds of servants and loyal knights as a 1st level character in Pathfinder except for the GM to decide the campaign being run will give you that position outside of anything on your character sheet.
Some people accept level limitations to character concepts (as soon as you can take Leadership that princess becomes easier, and most people understand in-his-prime Batman isn’t a 1st level character), but it chafes for people who just want to make something they think would be fun and run with it. And ideas that don’t integrate well with the rules at any level are even more disappointing.
In general, it’s up to a GM and players to ensure PC concepts are appropriate to a campaign, and no RPG handles every concept as attempted by any player, but some common difficult trops can be tackled in an effort to show how a GM CAN accommodate some character concepts with house rules, if the GM wants to.
One way to do that is “concept feats,” feats that do more than a typical feat but are taken only at character creation and only with GM approval to create a specific concept for a character. Such feats need to scale carefully, so they aren’t overpowering at low levels, and players just need to accept that the trappings of the idea may not come in at full power early on. Such feats aren’t designed for general use as available options for any character at any level, but as special options granted only at character creation when a GM and player want to stretch the rules a bit. To be most useful a GM needs to be able to create concept feats to match each PC concept the GM likes and wants to allow, but the rules don’t currently exist for. Most likely charatcers should be limited to one concept feat and they such have a notation to indicate their special nature, such as an explanation point in their title. Here’s an example concept feat, Wings!
Whether a result of a storied lineage or a strange mutation or special blessing, you have innate wings.
Prerequisites: Taken at character creation with GM permission to allow an otherwise-impossible character concept.
Benefit: You have wings. While they don’t weigh you down or cause problems with your gear, you can only use them when you are not suffering any penalties to your movement rate or mobility (such as from armor or encumbrance or slowing magic, or grappling), and only if you have enough room for a creature one size larger than you (though your actual space does not increase). If any effect disables one of your limbs, there is a 25% chance it instead disables a wing.
Fly is always a class skill for you, and you can make Fly checks in place of Acrobatics checks whenever you are able to use your wings, and for any Acrobatics-based prerequisites. At 1st level, your wings allow you to treat all jumps as running jumps, and to jump down a number of feet equal to double a Fly check result without taking damage or falling prone. At 3rd level you can fly downward with a fly speed equal to double your movement rate. At 5th level you double all Fly checks made as Acrobatics checks to jump. At 7th level you can fly with a fly speed equal to double your movement rate for a number of minutes per day equal to your level. At 9th level, you wings grant you a normal fly speed equal to double your movement rate.
Patreon Exclusive Content
I realized I never tackled the idea of the 1st level PC who is royalty, or something similar, so I created the Upper Class! concept feat, which is currently a patron-exclusive post over at my Patreon.
Check it out!