[Pathfinder] Monk Tweak: Bulking up the Bonus Feat entry
In this latest installment of my "Monk Tweak" threads, I'm looking at the Bonus Feat section of the Monk class in Pathfinder.
One of the clear improvements of Pathfinder over 3.5 was the Feats section. A lot of new feats were added that help diversify character abilities and also help shore up some gaps for particular builds and classes. Sure, there are changes to some feats that people can complain about, however a lot of new material was added which is a good thing.
The Monk class gets bonus feats, somewhat like fighters, however they get to ignore prerequisites, which is great since they don't have enough feats to go around to climb through all of the feat trees.
Several new feats were added to the Monk's bonus feat list, which was great to see as many of them add additional flavor to the class. However, when I started to pick apart the Pathfinder Core book I was surprised at how many feats were left of the Monk's bonus feat list that seemed like they ought to have been there.
So, after spending far too many hours mulling over the feats, I've put together a new suggested revision for the Bonus Feats section of the Monk class, allowing another easy tweak that can help smooth out some of the issues with the class:
At 1st level, 2nd level, and every 4 levels thereafter, a monk may select a bonus feat. These feats must be taken from the following list:
Defensive Combat Training
Improved Bull Rush
At 6th level, the following feats are added to the list:
Greater Bull Rush
Improvised Weapon Mastery
At 10th level, the following feats are added to the list:
Improved Vital Strike
A monk need not have any of the prerequisites normally required for these feats to select them.
There are two things that I kept going back and forth over with the above revision.
One of the perks for the bonus feats for Monks is that you can ignore prerequisites, although for the most part I was letting things roll out at the BAB level equivalents. I couldn't decide on whether to essentially shift the Vital Strike tree of feats up a notch and let Vital Strike be taken at first level.
As has been pointed out in many other posts, Vital Strike really does fit the overall strategy of the Monk, being a kind of mobile striker/controller, so if you let him take it at level 1-5 I'm not seeing a great deal of game breaking combinations at work, but I know my math kung-fu isn't as awesome as others, so I'm tossing out there the question of whether accelerating the vital strike chain for Monks screws up the game or not?
I really wanted to get Dazzling Display on the list, but unfortunately how the feat is written you can't just skip over the prerequisite of Weapon Focus, as the feat is driven by your weapon focus selection.
Out of any class, Dazzling Display really ought to be tied to the Monk class. The classic trope of a guy whipping a weapon around in an impressive display is almost always found in connection to the martial arts, whether it is nunchuks, or Bruce Lee giving his "come here" hand wave, or even the horribly cliched dopey character who bluffs that he knows kung-fu.
It's easy enough for a player to just pick Weapon Focus and Dazzling Display with general feats, it is only two feats. However, part of the intent of bulking out the bonus feat list for the Monk is also to give a bit of a pointer to players to nudge them away from trying to be fighters, and instead be controllers. The monk should be a "condition wizard" and Dazzlingly Display is one of the most efficient ways of realizing that.
One solution would be to bake into either Unarmed Strike or perhaps Flurry of Blows the Weapon Focus feat. I don't see it as a big deal, it's just another little way of boosting the performance problems of the Monk. In a certain way it has more to do with how many people will scream "overpowered!" at seeing such an addition.