There’s something to be said for doing something truly epic in your game. I don’t mean in the sense of getting more than 20 levels (though that’s certainly impressive), but rather those actions that are above and beyond the usual course of game-play. Killing an enemy and healing your wounded ally is par for the course; leaping onto the flying enemy mage from the top of the tower, slashing his throat, and riding his magically-flying corpse to the ground just in time to heal your dying companion is epic. It’s with that sort of thought in mind that we have Achievement Feats: Volume 2.
It needs to be noted that the “volume 2” here is a misnomer. This book is unrelated to the previous Achievement Feats. Instead, this is a different take on the same idea. Whereas the first Achievement Feats book was based around the Xbox-style achievements where you do enough of something to get a special reward, this book takes a different tack; as stated above, it’s about doing something truly impressive.
The book tells us that each PC has a single “achievement slot.” This means that you can only ever have one achievement feat (which is gained automatically when you meet the prerequisite) – if you later qualify for another achievement, you have to choose between the new one and the one you have, and if you trade your old one in, you lose all its benefits. You can gain a second achievement slot (via a new feat, or an alternate human racial trait), but you can never have more than two.
As for the achievement feats themselves, over thirty are present here. While some of these have prerequisites that don’t seem too over the top (e.g. spend all of your skill points on one skill when you gain a level), most of them range from “damn, that’d be tough to do” to “are you freaking KIDDING me?!” Seriously, there are achievement feats here for taking control of a major world religion, slaying the ruler of Hell or a similar plane, or killing everything in an entire plane of existence.
Yeah, you read that right. Killing everyone on an entire plane of existence.
Now, pound-for-pound, the benefits you get from an achievement feat are quite a bit stronger than what you’d get for taking a normal feat. But given the prerequisites mentioned above, I’m almost tempted to think they sound positively miniscule in comparison to what you have to do. Still, these are pretty hefty bonuses. Take control of a major world religion, for example, you get free Knowledge (religion) ranks, free extra spells, and can never lose class abilities due to personal conduct. Not too shabby.
The book ends with a surprising, and surprisingly-helpful, section discussing making up new achievement feats. It divides such activities into ad hoc feats (made up to suit something epic) and pre-made feats (made ahead of time for something epic that you think the PCs will do). It also talks about if you should let the PCs know ahead of time what these feats are and how to get them – there’s pros and cons either way, making it interesting to consider.
Ultimately, this book’s takes on feats of achievement is that less is more; it’s not about how often you do something, but about how epic a stunt you pull off. And that’s something I can absolutely respect; if your PC accomplishes something uber-impressive, why not give them a powerful reward for being just that awesome? If you want your characters’ achievements to have a tangible impact on what their character can do, pick up Achievement Feats Volume 2.