Learning a Feat (5e Variant Rule)
From D&D Wiki
The general consensus is that, under normal circumstances, PCs should not be able to obtain feats outside of the normal class progression system. However, the vast majority of the feats all appear to be things that a person could, theoretically, learn to do. (Like using both hands to draw two one-handed weapons simultaneously, rather than one hand at a time. Apparently, D&D people are incredibly awkward) These aren't super-powers. So then the problem becomes, how does one concede to the rationale that it makes sense to be able to learn these things on your own, but still not bust the balance of the game's level progression? My solution is to use a downtime activity, as this is the choice most people turn to when they ask about it online. The downtime expense needs to be very high- feats are incredibly powerful. I previously determined that a single +1 to an ability score should be worth about the same DT as three tool proficiencies or languages, which came out to 750 days, based on the time from the training activity in the PHB p.187. Since a feat is already shown to be worth +2ASI, that means the DT to learn one feat should be 1500. That is... Some kind of a number! That puts feats as being 300 days more time consuming than the construction of a palace, an activity no PC can even get enough downtime for unless they continue adventuring past level 20. (Or their DM is absurdly generous) And, you know what? That works out just perfect anyways. If the PCs are max level, there's very little room to move as far as character advancement goes, so that aspect of the game just dies at the moment. The only options made available to PCs for build development after level 20 are getting more magic gear, (which you can only make practical use of a few at a time) and convincing gods to give you boons, (of which there are only a handful). So, for a character who just has no dang use for all this insane DT he's collected, and has no interest in the fluffy world-building downtime activities, this seems a reasonable boobie-prize. They'd have to adventure for ages more to even use this activity more than once, and it's well out of the hands of low level PCs, so I think it balances fine. Now to write it out.
Learning a Feat
Characters may wish to spend their downtime learning to master a unique technique unlike anything most people could hope to do. These incredible talents are called feats, and they are what set heroes apart from the common folk. A single feat is an incredible benefit to the person who wields it. Though most people obtain feats through experiences which reveal hidden, innate talents, it is possible to learn such a trick, though very difficult. It could take a man his entire lifetime to master a single feat without the underlying talent to lead him there. To learn a feat, a PC must spend 1500 days of downtime, paying for at least a comfortable lifestyle for the duration. At the DM's discretion, this downtime activity may be restricted in various ways.
- It may be restricted to characters of level 20
- It may be restricted to a limited number of uses, most likely 1, or the limit may be set by the PC's capacity to learn, such as their Intelligence bonus. (IE, a modifier of <1 means they cannot do this activity)
- It may be coupled with the prerequisite of completing a unique adventure before the feat is awarded
- It may have additional financial expenses