[RPG] Player trading Drawback traits for feats in pathfinder


I've been running a pathfinder campaign for a few sessions and one of the players is a powergamer type that discovered you can choose not to get a feat and rather get two traits as an equivelant.

Now, what he took from that is 'I can do the opposite and take drawbacks to get additional feats' although the trouble is, he's done it on a one for one basis, so he thinks he can get one drawback and then get one feat, so his character now has five feats (he's a level 2 goblin rogue)

Plus he has a positive trait as well

If I argue against this and say it needs to be changed he says I'm trying to nerf him or brings up GM fiat.

(For context as well, I don't design my campaigns to be horribly difficult to prompt, I try to maintain balance)

What do I tell him?

Best Answer

There is no rule that allows you to take a Drawback to gain a Feat.

It's not a nerf if the rules don't support it and you don't allow it.

Drawbacks are very clear:

Drawbacks are traits in reverse. Instead of granting you a boon, they grant you a negative effect, typically in particular circumstances. If you choose to take a drawback, you can take a third trait that you have access to. You are not required to take a drawback.

A couple things to note include

  • that it does not mention Feats, anywhere
  • you can only do this once, for a third trait

Furthermore, Traits are valued at two traits being roughly equivalent to one Feat. This isn't exactly true, but that's the valuation based on the Additional Traits feat. You'll also note, that you cannot take the Feat more than once. By this logic, if you allowed it (which is not supported by any rules), a player could take 2 Drawbacks for 1 Feat.

Side Note: Major Drawbacks are an option from 3rd party producer Rogue Genius Games. You are under no obligation to include these rules in your game. It makes no mention of doing this more than once on a character.

GM Fiat isn't a bad thing.

Don't let your problem player try to throw this in your face. The Gamemaster's primary responsibility is

arbitrate... the rules of the game

If you're Gamemastering, you get to pick which rules and non-rules apply to your game. No player gets to pick your rules. If they don't like it, then there needs to be an open discussion where you explain that 'no, you cannot give yourself bonus feats; I don't want to have to manage that many Drawbacks to actually make you pay for them, and there's no rule that says you could anyway'. If they're worried that you're trying to manage their power level... tell them yes. Yes you are, because it's your job and 1st/2nd level characters aren't supposed to have 5 Feats.

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