I am one of those guys who can spend hours debating the minutia of RPG systems. One frequent debating partner of mine is my friend Todd. He is not one to embrace new game systems lightly, and 4E is no exception. Some of his recent issues with 4E include:
- It is too difficult to hit opponents. In 3E it was often too easy, but 4E has swung too far the other way. This can frustrate players, especially when they are using a one shot ability like a daily power.
- There is really no reason to use implements unless you have a magical one. Well, maybe for Wizards, but the rest of the spell-casting classes get nothing.
- The feats Implement Expertise and Weapon Expertise, from the new Player's Handbook II, are really too good to pass up. When you pick those feats you either choose a implement for the former type or a weapon group for the latter. You get a +1 when using the item of your choice. The bonus increases to +2 at level 15 and +3 at level 25.
I am not sure if I agree with him on all points, but I realized that a simple house rule that would help address all of the points. Simply grant all characters a bonus feat at first level that must be spent on either Implement Expertise or Weapon Expertise.
Having this feat would help with the issue hitting opponents. It also gives spell-casters other than wizards a reason to use implements from the start. Finally, getting one of the feats for free alleviates the "must have" nature of the feat, since you will have it.
It is true, some of the classes that use both implements and weapons will have to make a choice, but many characters in those classes tend to lean one way or the other already. If they really want both feats, well at least it just costs them one instead of two.
Is this change really necessary? Of course not! Nevertheless, it alleviates some potential issues without changing game balance too much. So if your players agree with Todd on the issues described above, why not give it a try!