Design Tips: Trap Features

ThinkDM

We used to build characters a different way. Back in 3.x, the splat got so numerous that you were practically forced to “work backwards from 20.” In other words, you would build your ultimate character concept and work backwards to see what you needed to take at each level. For example, failure to properly plan your feat tree could penalize you by delaying access to features if you failed to pick up the right prerequisites. This is vastly oversimplifying things, but you get the point.

5th Edition tries to get away from this, and does a great job doing so. Generally, the design eschews prerequisites. There are some exceptions, such as Warlock invocations. Notably, there’s no more feat trees (you could argue armor has a feat tree, but that’s technically proficiency-based). As a result of limiting prerequisites, we get a system that makes it easier to make player choices as…

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