Returning to the field with weapons at the ready and maneuvers in mind, Steven D. Russell of Rite Publishing once more enters the breach to bring feats which expand existing chains further and open up new options for fighters and their martial ilk. 101 Combat Feats follows a similar vein to 101 Barbarian Feats in that it supplements existing options smoothly and seamlessly–a fine avenue of approach sure to appeal to all manner of mighty combatant. With much grit, guts and gusto, let’s take a look at just how these feats fare!
Right off the bat we wade into the reference tables for the material herein and it’s easy to see: 101 Combat Feats is bristling to the brim with a veritable arsenal of new options; there is tons of variety which can serve to satisfy anyone fond of arms and armor on the battlefield. Large feat compilations can often end up with entries which feel like filler or, worse-yet, unbalanced–but such is certainly not the case with this collection. Particularly in regards to martial characters, providing interesting, engaging, and mechanically meaningful options is crucial to the appeal of any supplement of this sort–and here Steven D. Russell does not disappoint.
While there are some outliers in the mix, the majority of the feats included here generally fall into one of four foci–weapon specialization, attacks of opportunity, combat maneuvers and grappling. I note grappling separately from combat maneuvers simply because there is a more fine-tuned focus there–essentially wrestling maneuvers chaining off of successful grapple attempts to inflict a variety of status effects or special follow-up maneuvers on opponents who have the misfortune of coming into a martial character’s grasp. For example, Painful Pin can cause a foe to become sickened for a number of rounds equal to your base attack bonus.
Feat effects functioning off of base attack bonus and the like is a rather interesting angle to this supplement on the whole–as not only do the options here provide new ways in which a warrior might control the flow of battle, but having such mechanics ensures these choices continue to scale and remain useful as a character grows in power. In a similar vein to a magic user’s spells growing more potent, here too a martial character might match a similar stride–especially once you look to the later options in each of the newly presented chains, many of which could serve nicely as capstone abilities.
As far as weapon specialization, there are rather interesting options for devotees–particularly those fond of bludgeoning weapons. A series of ‘crush’ feats allow you to debilitate an opponent’s movement, dizzy their own attacks, bypass a shield’s armor class, daze or sow confusion; or, perhaps you’d like to throw your hammer such that it ricochets about? If pole-arms are more your style, there’s new versatility available for getting more mileage out of bracing, lunging and intervening to protect allies from an opponent’s charge. Thrown weapons, shields, and double weapons get love as well–on the whole, there’s plenty of great flavorful feats which broaden options beyond merely making full-round attacks of swings.
Providing added effects to attacks is one of the main themes throughout, and one which is sure to appeal strongly to any martial combatant; all too often the name of the game in melee boils down to full-round attack or bust. Being able to sow status effects on top of damage while maneuvering around the field goes a long way to improving on this predicament. Those fond of exercising battlefield control will find much interest in the feats focused on opportune moments; Opportune Focus kicks off a sizable series of duelist-flavored moves for finesse weapons such as Bold Riposte, which allows you to respond to an attack of opportunity with one of your own (very cool!) while other options like Press the Opportunity–allowing you to reposition in lieu of an attack of opportunity–are present.
Finally, the feats oriented around combat maneuvers are among my favorites of the offerings here, flavored strongly around tactical control; take Strikedown to add a trip attempt to blows modified by Power Attack–or Leap into the Fray to augment a charge attack to overrun your opponents and bowl them over in a blitz. As well, one might get more mileage from Combat Expertise by utilizing Close Quarters Shift to swap places with a foe, or fight with follow-ups based from Dirty Trick like Blinding or Bloody Assault. Needless to say, there are plentiful options available to open the door to a greater engagement of martial mechanics in battle!
As mentioned before, there are feats which would serve well as capstone abilities and truly bring a feeling of awesome power to a martial character’s presence; Destructive Power brings to bear the option, once per day, to force an opponent to make a fortitude save (based off of base attack and strength bonuses) or suffer an additional 10 points of damage per base attack bonus possessed. Fearsome! Bear in mind that the prerequisites include seven feats and 18 levels of fighter. I definitely feel that these feats provide a valuable breadth of appealing options for characters which will grow alongside them on their adventures and serve to add a bold impact at higher levels as well.
Overall: 101 Combat Feats is 32 pages, with 5 occupied by the cover, credits, OGL and advertisements; this leaves us with 7 pages of fine feat tables and the remaining 20 to cover the many martial masterstrokes herein. Rite Publishing’s two-column standard of formatting is present and ever neatly organized; after the feat tables there’s art on every page, a mix of full-color and black and white which match the material well. The artwork accompanying throughout has popped up among other products, but each piece fits nevertheless.
Layout and spacing are good, I did not notice any egregious glitches or typos during my reading; if I had one complaint, it would be that since a number of these feats are at the end of such long chains of prerequisites that at times it can be a bit daunting to pore over everything required for a particular pick–but there’s not a whole lot that could be done in this regard. The PDF is bookmarked for groupings of feats by letter, which is serviceable.
101 Combat Feats provides a fantastic spread of specialty feats to fine-tune and tailor any fighter and their ilk; there is a considerable variety to the offerings here which both bolster the potential of existing chains of character focus as well as inspiring new kits. From combat maneuvers both offensive and defensive to mobility and opportunity-based options, there’s plenty of excellent synergy to help martial characters master the battlefield around them.
On the whole, the options presented herein are flavorful, cool and mechanically interesting and prove very sensible when weighed with existing mechanics; I’ve got to give Steven D. Russell praise for managing such care and thoughtfulness in balancing such a sizable spread of new options while constructing so many choices for characters. To me, these feats feel mechanically in-line with those found in the core–they could easily be included as part and parcel with the official line, which is a simply fantastic benchmark for any 3PP supplement. With that said, the choice is clear: five stars from me and a hearty huzzah!