by Mike Shea on 3 January 2012
From time to time you might be called upon to build characters for other players. Whether it's for a one-shot game, a convention game, a guest player, or a player who simply cannot be bothered to maintain their own character; sometimes it's up to you to build out a character.
The following list of default feats will help build up a PC with simple, always-on feats that give them the right leg up in offensive and defensive power without overly complicated mechanics. While a lot of these feats offer situational bonuses, most of them give static bonuses to attack, damage, or defenses.
Specific characters, like scouts, might replace some of these feats with feats that fit their class such as two-weapon defense and two-weapon fighting. You'll want to tweak these results when building your character.
As a default set of feats, however, this list should keep a PC with the right scores without a lot of extra work.
Master at Arms or Implement Expertise: A +1 bonus to attack is always worth while. Master at Arms is a good choice for weapon versatility and drawing as a free action is nice. For casters, you'll want to choose the right implement expertise. Like other Essentials feats, this scales up per tier.
Toughness: 5 extra hit points is always nice, but the sooner a PC gets this feat, the more those hit points will matter. Scaling up to 10 and 15 at paragon and epic is also very nice. It's a good always-on feat.
Lighting or Superior Reflexes: The first of the defense feats, at lower levels more creatures attack reflexes but shoring up your lowest defense is always a good strategy.
Great or Superior Fortitude: Again, choose which ever defense boost shores up your weaker one first, but choosing all three defense boots will make themselves useful at all tiers and all levels.
Iron or Superior Will: The last defense boost. Superior bonuses have nice additional effects, even if they are often forgotten. The straight-up defense boost is still well worth the slot.
Weapon or Implement Focus Though not as universal as Master at Arms, Weapon and Implement focuses gives the PC a good bonus to damage, particularly when the PC heads into paragon and epic.
Heat / Cold Adaptation: Both of these feats give the PC good resistance to cold and fire. Fire is more likely so start with that but having cold resistance is nice as well. Good solid always-on feats.
Resilient Focus: A nice +2 bonus to saving throws is a bonus the PC will use often, particularly at paragon and epic where saves can mean a lot more.
Durable: Another always-on feat, durable gives the PC some nice padding to healing surges. Useful when PCs get up into the paragon tier and face some surge-draining beasts.
Improved Initiative: Area blasting spell casters probably want this early on but its a nice static bonus to give PCs a leg up on the monsters.
While this list won't take PCs all the way through the epic tier, it gives them a good base from which to start. When building these characters, you'll want to mix in some specific feats based on their class or race as well. Still, as a start, you could do a lot worse than beginning your character build with this list.
If you enjoyed this article take a look at Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips and Running Epic Tier D&D Games. You can also collect all these feats in the two Essentials books where D&D 4e should have started: Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. Looking for some good heroic minis? Check out the Pathfinder Heroes miniatures at Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.