The Pugilist, Early Draft

Scrappers and scrappettes!

This week I intended to post the Complete Devout Handbook, compiling all of the previous Devout Handbook entries into one revised document. While some of the archetypes required very little revision, one in particular is needing a lot more TLC than expected. Because I have no interest in rushing it out before it’s ready, the Complete Devout Handbook will now release next week. Instead we get to talk about the Pugilist!

The pugilist is a bit of an experiment. When I was working on monk archetypes last year I noticed that there really wasn’t a good way to play a Strength based fistfighter. I thought that was a shame and that it left out a lot of fun character concepts. While typically class archetypes are great for exploring variations on the same basic premise, I found that with monk it wouldn’t really make any sense if suddenly 3 levels into the class you started getting the ability to focus on Strength instead of Dexterity for your hand to hand fighting. Additionally, I wanted to be able to play a brawler without all the mystic baggage that monk carries with it.

So it became clear that the pugilist couldn’t just be a class archetype for monk but, when I kept thinking about it, there were a lot of monk features and abilities that would make sense for any unarmed warrior to have. I decided that even though there is no “official” middle ground between full class and archetype that there was no good reason there couldn’t be. That’s how I settled on the concept of a “variant class”.

A variant class is a character theme that’s bigger than an archetype but smaller than a full class. A variant class is usually based off of a single PHB class, using many of the same features but changing or adding more features that would be possible by just being an archetype. Variant classes do not have archetypes of their own but will have other ways of specializing. In the case of the pugilist, most of the monk features that were kept were altered to fit the flavor of a rough and tumble street fighter as opposed to a disciplined and wise martial artist. Replacing archetypes, the pugilist learns different regional styles of brawling known as fight clubs. As you look over the pugilist class I hope it inspires new character concepts and, even more, I hope you get to play them!

Hey there! If you’re just reading this for the first time, or you’re reading it again, you will be happy to know that the full version of the Pugilist class is now available as a Pay What You Want product on DM’s Guild! Older versions of the class have been removed from the blog to comply with the rules regarding content posted to the DM’s Guild – you can find the full class here!

the Pugilist, Final Version

P.S. This is just the early draft of the Pugilist. Any feedback the readers provide will help the development of the class. I expect to have a revised draft back in about a month with the final draft a month after that! The more you comment, the more input you have in the future of the class!

7 thoughts on “The Pugilist, Early Draft

  1. It reminds me of mix between fighter/barbarian with some monk.

    An idea would be a separate Pugilist 3rd level class path for a Barbarian and Fighter.


    1. Yeah, the Pugilist definitely incorporates a lot of fighter, barbarian, and rogue ideas into the monk base to create something new. In older drafts the Pugilist even had Second Wind and Action Surge but ultimately they were cut to make room for unique features instead.

      While it would be doable to make a Barbarian or Fighter archetype that’s a fist fighter my biggest problem with that, as a player, would be that I had to wait til 3rd levcl to play a fistfighter. Up to that point it would be a tremendously bad idea to be fighting with your hands as a Barbarian or Fighter because your unarmed strike would only deal 1 bludgeoning damage. You could be a grappler but, at that level, grappling alone isn’t going to get you very far or be a very viable combat strategy.

      All that said, your comment does make me wistful thinking about how to get pugilists the ability to rage. Maybe the easiest answer would be just multiclassing into Barbarian.


  2. Today was a record breaking day at the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co. with the Pugilist pulling in over twice as many viewers as our previous record day. That’s amazing! While most of the feedback was very positive, certain features were repeatedly pointed out as potential sore points. The following changes addresses the majority of those sore points. When possible, I attempted to eliminate duplicated monk features rather than unique pugilist features.

    In addition to the changes below, I expect the next version of the pugilist to feature full archetypes. While I was originally skeptical that there would be enough interest in the pugilist class to warrant this I was very wrong. All levels that currently say, “Fight Club improvement” will say, “Fight Club feature” in the revised. Pugilists will select a fighting style to specialize in although the stance & signature move might make a comeback in one of the pugilist archetypes.

    You can check out planned updates to the pugilist here.

    Liked by 1 person

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