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I'm currently running a D&D 3.5e game for The Shackled City Adventure Path and have allowed my players to use backgrounds provided for it to fit their character's in a little better if they so choose to.

One of my players has and have chosen to use the following background:

Wyrm Blooded
One of your ancestors was a half-black dragon. You have some sort of distinctively draconic feature, be it reptilian eyes, scales on the backs of your hands, or tiny vestigial horns on your head.

Benefit: You gain a +4 bonus on all saving throws against acid effects, a +2 bonus on Swim checks, and a +1 bonus on Listen and Spot checks.

Drawback: Your body isn’t quite as limber as it should be. You take a -1 penalty on Reflex saves

They've also taken the dragontouched feat to imply character's father was a dragon, or half dragon. Though this is something they did before the group was provided with the backgrounds option (an options I provided them with because one or two of the players were having trouble).

So I have been asked the question if they have taken the background, should I make them take the feat too to get the background benefits above given the player's written background?

My initial thought is yes, but that is then unfair on the player as other players haven't had to. Is there a wirtten rule that says this is or isn't the case?

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I've reworded my question to hopefully make a little more sense. –  LiamGu Mar 30 '13 at 15:14
    
The title needs to be reworded, since this isn't really a general question about feats and backgrounds. I'd do it myself, but I don't actually know what feat is being referred to. (Err, that should probably also be edited into the question.) –  starwed Mar 30 '13 at 21:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Okay, so this question seems like it has two closely-related parts: do the rules require the feat in question to benefit from the background trait, and should they?

Is it Required?

No. This one's simple. At no point do the rules state or imply a requirement. The feat option is different from the background option, and the conceptual redundancy between the two doesn't change that.

Should it be Required?

I'd also say no. The feat and the background have different benefits. Yes, the default fluff is a little redundant...but maybe that can be made to work for you. Perhaps the character's dragon blood is exceptionally strong, or maybe something happened to 'awaken' it. Either way, with a little bit of tweaking this can be used to emphasize draconic themes in the character, and if those themes are relevant to your story - or can be made relevant - the more the merrier. Let him have his fun. If he doesn't want one or the other, I'd let him trade it away if the player feels they're too redundant (or weak/costly) to keep both.

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Absolutely Not

This is one of the biggest and most common sources of problems in 3.5. There are a huge number of feats, most of them very weak, whose existence implies that the only way to have that background is to take the feat. Nonsense! and there’s no such rule, either. You take the feat if you want the mechanical benefit, end of story.

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This is another good point to bring up; there's so many ways to represent flavor, background, and themes in 3.X that being shackled to one or two is a quick way to limit the kinds of fun you can have in your games. –  Lord_Gareth Mar 30 '13 at 15:22

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