Wizards of the Coast has introduced several new feats in Dragon magazine that share a common mechanic of slightly modifying the class-provided powers of a character. These feats have been presented as Arena Fighting feats in Dragon 368’s “We Who Are About to Die…” and as Heritage feats in Dragon 317’s “Legacy of Acererak”. I happen to dislike this trend in feat design for a few reasons.
First, I’d prefer avoiding groupings of feats that don’t have any special meaning. There is very little that makes a Heritage/Arena Fighting feat different from any other feat other than their particular mechanics (modifying at-will powers) and a note on not being able to stack their effects. It seems like both classes of feats should be grouped into a single keyword like Power Modification and then separated into the normal feat grouping by tier.
Second, I don’t like that the feats have multiple effects, but any character taking the feat is likely to only benefit from one. I don’t understand why the feat is one feat rather than three separate feats. For example, a paladin taking Radiant Soul gets to modify its bolstering strike power to allow an extra saving throw against necrotic effects, where a warlock taking the same feat gets the entirely different benefit of being able to deal radiant damage against undead when using its hellish rebuke power. The only ways that a single character could benefit from both these benefits would be paragon multi-classing or using the half-elf’s dilettante trait to pick up one of the powers.
One reason that I can see to group the benefits is that the feats are meant to encourage paragon multi-classing. If this is the case, then it would make sense to have each feat focus on two classes and somehow work towards unifying the class themes into a dual-class niche. For example, an Undead Hunter feat in this mold could have benefits for the ranger and paladin. Perhaps the paladin power would get a bonus if the target was the ranger’s quarry and the ranger power would add radiant damage against undead. The feats would be designed to be useable by single-class characters but would encourage multi-classing and also help to tie together some dual-class combinations.
The only other reason for the grouping that I can come up with, which I hope isn’t the actual reason, is that the designers felt that it was too difficult to come up with meaningful, non-conflicting names so multiple feats ended up getting grouped under a single name.
I’m starting to really like the idea of focused dual-class feats… I’ll have to brainstorm some more on them…