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I have a cleric who will be 7th level (as soon as I give XP). He is the brains, heart and soul of the party. He also has big plans. As a DM I try to allow my players some leg-room when it comes to their creativity and inventiveness, I give additional XP to PCs who actively try to overcome problems, compared to those who sit at the table and wait for their turn before contributing.

This cleric needs more feats; he would like to take Craft Construct to create golems, but it requires Craft Wondrous Item (which he has) and Craft Magical Arms & Armor (which he does not have). We have discussed retraining, but prerequisites cause problems. We have also considered custom-made magic items that grant feats; in effect, turning an item-creation feat into some other feat by creating an item. As an adventurer, magic item creation feats are needed but not helpful when fighting evil priests with armies of undead at the party's heels.

Is there a rule or a reasonable alteration to allow PCs to have more than the PHB 3.5 rule?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You said you considered custom magic items that grant feats, is there a reason why you didn't go with that? \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Nov 1 '14 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am new to 3.5 and my PCs are not. They are sticklers of the rules. I am just trying to get a better grasp on it. Sometimes my PCs want me to accept their word. I am willing to be fair but not let them tell me what the rules are. \$\endgroup\$ – DM911 Nov 2 '14 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough. :) It's worth noting that the items listed in the book are not an exhaustive list, and custom items are entirely within the rules (especially for a DM). For a situation like this, a Crown of Crafting Stuff is an easy way to remove the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Nov 3 '14 at 15:09
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The creator of an item need not have or obtain all of the feats and materials required to make the item alone. If I were you, I would apply that same logic to crafting a construct. Simply have the player in question hire an NPC to assist him in the Golem creation process who has the Create Magical Arms and Armor feat. Both the PC and NPC should have the Craft Construct feat, granted to them by your DM fiat. Make sure to include language such that they can only actually use Craft Construct together when both of them are present (or perhaps, by a different partner who fulfills the same requirement: access to Craft Construct through whichever co-requisite of Craft Construct that they don't have). Also, instead of having the PC hire this NPC, you could make it a plot hook and have the players go on a quest where they rescue the NPC in question. It could even be non-humanoid or extraplanar. There are a lot of options to flavor it toward your specific campaign and game world.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't just neeed the CMA&A feat to use Craft Construct, you need it to take Craft Construct. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Nov 1 '14 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ We are like minds. I had very similar ideas. Thanks \$\endgroup\$ – DM911 Nov 2 '14 at 3:31
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In addition to Doug’s suggestions, I have some more:

Unearthed Arcana flaws

The option of taking Flaws is presented in Unearthed Arcana. For each flaw a character has (up to two), the character gains an additional feat.

In general, this is a great trade every time; you can easily take flaws that do not impact your character much, or match behaviors you were exhibiting anyway for the sake of characterization, or simply aren’t that burdensome. This is generally seen as a problem with the Flaw system’s design, but many DMs allow it anyway, as an easy way to strap more feats onto characters, while encouraging at least a little thought about player character’s flaws.

The other nice thing is that it makes humans less of a “gimme.” Doubling your 1st-level feats is huge; it’s a 100% improvement. Adding a fourth feat when you already have three is only a 33% improvement; less critical. Humans still remain very popular, even with flaws, since feats are just that valuable, but flaws make it much more likely that someone will find another race’s offerings to be more valuable than a fourth feat.

The advantage of this, as opposed to something like Pathfinder’s feat-at-odd-levels, is that you get the additional feats up-front. While Pathfinder offers four more feats than 3.5, these feats do not show up until 7th level; at the levels your players are at, they’d see only a single additional feat. You generally take Flaws as a part of character creation; this helps you get prerequisite feats out of the way, and in my experience, works better because of it.

Of course, you can do both; I’ve played in many successful games where we had both flaws and feats-every-odd-level. With extreme number of feat requirements for things in 3.5, this has never really been a problem, and has meant that players were more willing and able to pursue options that ordinarily just take too many feats.

Feat tax evasion

Another thing is that 3.5 is utterly plagued by so-called “feat taxes.” These are weak feats, or at the very least feats you wouldn’t otherwise take, that you end up having to take in order to take the feats or prestige classes you do want. There has probably never been a 3.5 character that hasn’t run into this problem.

Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magical Arms and Armor as requirements for Craft Construct are excellent examples: neither’s really a bad feat, and you can kind of see where they were coming from using them as requirements, but ultimately they just are not really necessary here. Golems only have a passing resemblance to weapons and armor, really; it’s not like you’re making a flaming keen golem or a light fortitude golem. So nix the requirement.

You can do this all over the place. I have played in many games which eliminated Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Point-blank Shot, and/or Weapon Focus from the game entirely, or at least from requirements, and in my opinion that massively improved things. These are very-weak feats that are required for a ton of different options. When you eliminate these feats, you allow players to more easily take more interesting feats, allowing them to get benefits in keeping with the relative scarcity (even with flaws and/or feats-at-odd-levels) of feats.

Kill the “There’s a Feat For That!” Phenomenon

Part of the problem with 3.5’s extremely large selection of feats is that you start to get the idea that you can only do things that you have feats for. Especially when really basic things start appearing as feats – my personal pet peeve in this regard is Spell Thematics: why does a wizard need a feat to say that his fireball looks like a giant flaming skull? Does that matter? No, it’s just a cool bit of characterization; that sort of thing should be encouraged, not charged a feat for.

The authors themselves seemed to go back and forth on this one; some books (or even some sections of books) encourage players to be clever and DMs to allow them to do things differently, while others print feats that imply the feat is necessary.

This doesn’t really apply to Craft Construct; that’s probably a pretty reasonable feat. But this is something to consider when you talk to players about feats they want, are taking, or are considering: you may be able to considerably improve their experience just by looking at a feat and saying “you don’t need a feat to do this, just say you’re doing it.”

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My favorite example of Spell Thematics is Jim Darkmagic's(TM) Magic Missile. \$\endgroup\$ – Dyndrilliac Nov 1 '14 at 22:19
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Let The Wizards Make Magic Items Without Spending All Their Feats

Seriously. Just houserule it. No more magic item creation feats. Casters want to spend a bunch of XP and be shitty at casting due to being lower level? Why not?

Wizards sitting in towers making magic items while the fighter goes and trains a militia or the bard learns useful information and the rogue goes and gets blackmail material and favours is perfectly fine. Just make sure other people have downtime stuff to gain power, too, and there's no problem.

All my games are time-limited, so I also waive the XP cost - the time spent making the item is the cost. But if your game has infinite downtime or you are cutting the crafting time down, you could safely just charge the XP, and still not require a feat. In fact, you could keep the feats in the game by having them halve the XP costs for that type of magic item.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I have decided that the cost in gold is at least 2X no matter what. Unless the PC spends research figuring out, (discovering really) a formula to create the item. Then I allow him to quest for items needed. Usually if you acquire extra of the needed item then you may sell and even earn some gold. In that case I give a break on the XP cost too. As a DM I like to see my pCs involved and not just phoning it in. \$\endgroup\$ – DM911 Nov 2 '14 at 3:26

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