Path of War Monsters: The Accursed Disciple

Whether from ambient necromatic energies or the action of a dark priest, when a dead warrior rises as an undead creature, they retain none of the skills they knew in life. Yet sometimes, when a skilled warrior dies in the service of an evil cause his body remembers his techniques and wields them with the dark cunning of the undead. Such creatures are known as Accursed Disciples.

Half-elf Accursed Disciple CR 1/2

The zombie before you is clad in a battle-scarred suit of scalemail and carries a flail. A palpable cloud of dread follows the creature and dark fires burn in it’s eyes.

NE Medium undead
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 17, touch 10, flat-footed 17 (+2 natural, +5 armor)
hp 14 (2d8+5)
Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +3
DR 5/slashing; Immune undead traits
Offense
Speed 20 ft.
Melee Heavy Flail +4 (1d10+4) 19-20/x2
Statistics
Str 17, Dex 10, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB +4; CMD 14
Feats ToughnessB, Martial ChargeB ,
skills intimidate +2 (+7 with Black Seraph’s Glare)
Maneuvers known (1 readied)
Strength of Hell, Gutstrike (DC 14)
Stance
Black Seraph’s Glare

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Feat taxation without representation

Feats are the currency of combat in Pathfinder (and DnD.) If you spend 2 feats mastering archery, and I spend 3, then I am a better archer than you – probobly. However, this is not true across different combat styles. Say you spend 3 feats on using the longbow (point-blank shot, precise shot, rapid shot) and I spend 4 feats on the light crossbow (point-blank shot, precise shot, rapid shot, rapid-reload); In this case, we are equally good. We both make 2 attacks per turn for 1d8+1 damage apiece. At first glace, this seems fair. The crossbow is after all a simple weapon and the bow is martial. But imagine that we are both playing fighters. I want to be Van Helsing and you want to be Legolas. We both have martial weapon proficiency, we are both the same class, yet you are better at shooting things than me.

Why does this happen? I call it “feat buy-in.” To be able to use a particular combat style without sucking, you usually have to spend a feat to buy into it. For example, it is pointless to use a bow in combat without precise shot. Just like it is pointless to try to use two weapons without two-weapon fighting. Worse, some fighting styles are actually mixing two styles. Being a crossbowman means you need to buy into both ranged combat and the crossbow.

I think it should be obvious that this is unfair from a game-play point of view. Van Helsing is not a sidekick, he should be able to fight just as well as Legolas. So what is fair? I define a fair character creation systems as such: If you meet two equal level adventurers in a tavern, you should be able to recruit either one of them and have about the same chance to complete your quest. This is not to say that everyone needs to be the same. If you have a crossbowman, an archer and the lord of water-balloons; they can contribute to the party in distinct ways. Maybe the crossbowman can make fewer more powerful attacks, whereas the water-balloons deal no damage but can knock enemies around the battlefield with their concussive force.

A related, but different problem with buy-in feats is that they are boring. When I am building a character, I don’t want to spend feats on just not sucking with my chosen weapon. I want to actually do new things.

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