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the Pugilist Class
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the Pugilist Class

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With nothing but their wits, will, and fists, pugilists lay it all on the table every time they’re in for a scrap. No strangers to adversity, pugilists can dish it out, take a licking and still keep coming back for more. A pugilist’s unbreakable spirit and talent for fisticuffs don’t come from rigorous training or high minded philosophies but are the hard won trophies of never backing down from a fight no matter the odds.

All pugilists belong to a Fight Club, an informal fraternity of brawlers with similar style, that shapes the way they fight. Pugilists in the Squared Circle are skilled at grapples and take downs, immobilizing and controlling even those opponents that tower over them. Pugilists in the Sweet Science learn to keep their fists up and punish their opponents attacks with cross counters and solid hits that will knock them flat.

The Pugilist is a new class for D&D 5e. You can find additional Fight Clubs from the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co. here.

And you can read our guide to creating your own Fight Clubs for the Pugilist at our blog, the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co.

If you enjoy the Pugilist, you might also like:

Or grab them all in the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co. Anthology!

 
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Reviews (5)
Discussions (28)
Customer avatar
Curtis R June 05, 2017 3:04 am UTC
PURCHASER
If I may ask, why did you chose a D8 for Hit Dice? With the class being a mixture of monk and barbarian. Monk being D8, and Barbarian being D12, I would have though it would be 1D10.
Customer avatar
June 06, 2017 2:08 am UTC
CREATOR
In early iterations of the class it did have higher hit dice and that was not well received by much of the public. The difference between a d8 and a d10 is very small in play and it wouldn't affect balance if you wanted to make that change in your own game.
Customer avatar
Truls L May 25, 2017 12:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I really enjoyed this class, but am curious to (and I hope this is'nt me not having read the pdf well enough), how long does the temporary Hp from those abilities that give that last?
Customer avatar
June 06, 2017 2:07 am UTC
CREATOR
Unless otherwise specified by the source, temporary hit points last until you take a long rest. Since the Pugilist's features don't specify otherwise, they last until the Pugilist takes a long rest.
Customer avatar
Truls L June 19, 2017 1:18 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Then I assume they do not stack?
Customer avatar
Robin G April 24, 2017 1:45 am UTC
Hi! I'm thinking about adding pugilists and other Sterling Vermin to my campaign as a DM, the class sounds super interesting and fun to roleplay. Does this document include information about creating enemy NPCs in the pugilist class?
Customer avatar
June 06, 2017 2:06 am UTC
CREATOR
Check back on Wednesday and it will!
Customer avatar
Luis Y March 29, 2017 7:29 am UTC
PURCHASER
Love this class, completely in love with it and have been reading it and re-reading it over and over for days. I have a small suggestion that I feel would help balance things out very quickly, and that is to make Moxie regen when you take your entire pugilist level in damage, as opposed to half. I feel like making it half is almost overkill for how often the pugilist gets hit. At that point, when you're level 7 and you like, step on a hot coal for 1d4 damage and you're gaining a moxie point on a comedic relief "non-combat" moment, it's a bit too much.

As well, I do feel like Brace Up does essentially top-out around 10th level or so where everything you even sneeze at is doing more than the paltry 17 or so temporary hp you get. Seems almost pointless to do it over the old one two
Customer avatar
April 02, 2017 4:58 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! In June it will be the Pugilist's birthday on the DM's Guild and I plan to look at any revisions or additions I want to make around then. I'll take these thoughts into consideration!
Customer avatar
Charlie W February 20, 2017 1:00 am UTC
PURCHASER
Quick question as i am new to this do fisticuffs have any bonus damage additions also what kind of pugilist weapons are there?

Customer avatar
February 20, 2017 8:14 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Charlie! You can add your strength modifier to damage dealt with unarmed attacks that benefit from the fisticuffs feature. So your damage as an unarmed pugilist should look be your fisticuffs die + your strength modifier. Pugilist weapons are, "...simple melee weapons without the two-handed property, whips, and improvised weapons." Hope that helps!
Customer avatar
Charlie W February 20, 2017 1:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks a lot! This class is awesome cant wait to play it!
Customer avatar
Adam B January 19, 2017 10:26 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Love this class! My player has been enjoying it for about 6 months and has just hit level 7.

My one question - is there a printer friendly version? That would be really fantastic.

Thanks!
Customer avatar
January 20, 2017 10:27 am UTC
CREATOR
We are currently working on a printer friendly version of all our content, including the Pugilist. Hopefully the files will be updated in the next 2 weeks.

As it so happens, we are also in the midst of reviewing the Pugilist for possible tweaks and additions and you and your Pugilist player's experience would be very helpful for us to hear. If you could share the positive and negatives of his/her and your experience here or at our subreddit (r/sterlingvermin) we'd appreciate it!
Customer avatar
January 25, 2017 9:06 pm UTC
CREATOR
There is now a printer friendly version included.
Customer avatar
Benjamin W January 07, 2017 1:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
So I'd like to start with saying that I really like this class, and of the dmsguild stuff that I've allowed into my campaign, this is the first that one of my players wanted to use. That being said, I have some concerns that I fear will be realized as the party progresses in levels. If anyone has played the class past level 5, I'd love to hear your experience to either confirm or refute my suspicions.

Allow me to summarize what I’m asking, since this is a very long post. I’d like to ask other people that have seen this class in action a question: how often is Brace Up used in combat, and how effective is it?

So as Benjamin Huffman (the creator) has said in a previous comment than an important part of the pugilist is that the player has to decide “when to alternate between being on the offensive and being on the defensive.” They do this by using their moxie and bonus actions to Brace Up or use The Old One-Two. I loved this concept, as it added a risk-reward element to the fight...See more
Customer avatar
January 25, 2017 9:07 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hey Benjamin,

DM's Guild isn't the easiest format to have conversations on - can I suggest taking this to our subreddit? We have a thread open for just this conversation right now. Can't guarantee all suggested changes will be taken into account but this is the place we'll be looking at to collect all feedback and consider what changes (if any) to make to the Pugilist. Here's a link to the conversation on /r/sterlingvermin: https://www.reddit.com/r/sterlingvermin/comments/5p2ti5/today_is_the_anniversary_of_the_pugilists_debut/
Customer avatar
Benjamin W January 26, 2017 2:27 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you so much for responding!
The suggested change was more of a "I don't want to make a problem without a solution" thing, so I'm perfectly okay if that doesn't make it through.
I guess I should make a reddit account and head over, because at the very least I want to talk with others about what they've experienced with the class.
Again, thank you. I really do respect the work you've put into this class.
Customer avatar
Gaelan C January 04, 2017 9:29 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey, I haven't been able to play this yet for myself so I wanted to ask how the moxie system manages to remain balanced? As long as you actually take damage to real hp it seems to outclass ki points, plus your unarmed damage scales much faster. What am I missing? I'm assuming that actually playing it would reveal it, but I doubt my DM will let me play with it without already knowing.
Customer avatar
Benjamin W January 06, 2017 1:35 am UTC
PURCHASER
As a DM who just recently allowed a player to try this class out, I'll give you my opinion so far. Keep in mind, this is based off of a very small sample size and my knowledge of the system which led me to allowing the class in the first place.

As for the unarmed damage, it doesn't scale as fast as you'd expect. The damage dice only deals an average of 1 more point of damage per attack compared to the monk, and since they spend almost all their time on the front lines, they have many incentives to increase their Constitution before their Strength, while a monk almost always maxes out their Dexterity first, allowing them to catch up in damage quite quickly. The pugilist will do more damage eventually, but it doesn't seem so severe to make them a broken class.

As for moxie, the balance at the moment is the limitations of what the moxie can be spent on. A monk can make Stunning Strikes with its ki points, which effectively increases the damage you deal since you're attacks have advantage...See more
Customer avatar
January 06, 2017 9:54 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Gaelan,

Thanks for the question! The biggest difference in terms of play style between the Pugilist and the Monk comes from the facts that 1.) the Pugilist has worse AC than the Monk and 2.) the Pugilist doesn't get Stunning Strike. To make up for the Pugilist's lower AC, the Pugilist has an easy way to gain temporary hit points. To make up for the Pugilist's lack of Stunning Strike (which is the bread and butter of the Monk class after level 5), the Pugilist has more raw damage options (and a bit more tanking options with Dig Deep).

In a fight the Pugilist class is all about the player deciding when to alternate between being on the offensive and being on the defensive. When the Pugilist is taking a lot of hits, he needs to play defensively and start using his Moxie & bonus actions to Brace Up. Because the Pugilist will get hit more often than the Monk he will need the temporary hit points provided by Brace Up to survive on the front lines. Unfortunately for the Pugilist, he will...See more
Customer avatar
Eric Y March 11, 2017 3:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
Still it's seem moxie points coming back mid fight abit strong. I feel it would be like Battlemaster getting Battle dice back or monk with ki point ir sorcerer with points these things are resources that are spent with tough decision not freely. Saw another write up the pugilist seem abit more balance
Customer avatar
March 12, 2017 6:07 pm UTC
CREATOR
It might seem that way, Eric, but no one whose actually played it so far has said it's a problem. In fact, in a game I was playing in alongside a Monk and a Pugilist the Pugilist often ran out of moxie before the Monk ran out of ki and then had to settle for relying on non-moxie abilities while the Monk ran around trying to stunning strike every hit.
Customer avatar
Duncan A December 14, 2016 9:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
The Dig Deep feature says you gain resistance to bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage for one minute. I interpret this as nonmagical damage only, but is it meant to include magical b/p/s?
Customer avatar
December 14, 2016 5:12 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hi Duncan! Dig Deep gives resistance to all bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing magical or not. Thanks for the question!
Customer avatar
November 17, 2016 7:38 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey sir im sure you are busy and i posted on your additional archetypes for this class but i have a similar question would mage armor work with iron chin? i wold imagine it would as the feat isnt armor just replaces Dex. so if one were to take the magic initiate feat and use mage armor they could potentially forego armor as an option?
Customer avatar
Ethan J November 30, 2016 7:14 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I would rule that it doesn't. Iron Chin replaces AC calculation and Mage Armor does the same.
Customer avatar
December 10, 2016 5:51 pm UTC
CREATOR
To be consistent with the rulings given by Sage Advice you would only be able to benefit from one or the other. In play, nothing is going to break if you allow someone to use Mage Armor's AC calculation but swap out Constitution for Dexterity because it's only +1 higher than they could already get with normal light armor (which Pugilists can wear) and it costs a spell slot. So officially no they don't but it's not going to be a balance problem at your table if you rule otherwise.
Customer avatar
Ian G November 15, 2016 8:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Really well done homebrew class! Quick question though, since Fisticuffs reads: You can roll a d6 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or pugilist weapon. Does that mean it replaces all the damage or just the damage dice? Basically, does the substituted dice still allow you to add your strength modifier like with a standard unarmed strike? Also, does anyone have any recommendations for potential rewards to give to pugilist characters considering they don't typically use weapons and only use light or no armor? I just don't want my player feeling like he won't have an opportunity to get cool gear.
Customer avatar
November 16, 2016 9:07 pm UTC
PURCHASER
as a DM I would give them special movement items, resistance items, and items that can summon small monsters that martial classes can use. that's just my ideas before even reading the class but ill offer more ideas once I look at this class :) hope this helped.
Customer avatar
November 17, 2016 4:39 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Ian!

Yes, you can still add your strength modifier to your fisticuffs damage. The language in Fisticuffs is largely adapted from the Martial Arts feature but I can see how it might be unclear.

As for magical items, wondrous items, amulets, and magical simple weapons (who can use them as pugilist weapons) would all work for a Pugilist. If you are feeling inventive you could come up with fist wraps that enchant unarmed attacks similar to magical weapons as well. You've got me thinking though - maybe i should feature some Pugilist-centric magic items on the blog!
Customer avatar
HUNTER J November 15, 2016 4:58 am UTC
PURCHASER
So if I'm rolling with advantage and use Haymaker, does that mean the advantage cancels out the disadvantage and I attack normally but deal maximum damage?
Customer avatar
November 17, 2016 4:29 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Hunter - yes, that's correct!
Customer avatar
December 07, 2016 6:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
So, a pugilist with the grappler feat can technically always attack normally and deal max damage. Is there a limit on a number of uses for the haymaker feature?
Customer avatar
December 10, 2016 5:54 pm UTC
CREATOR
It's a bit of a stretch to say they will technically always attack normally and deal max damage. A pugilist will have to start and maintain grapples and against creatures he can do that against, yes, he will roll attacks normally and deal maximum damage. Having seen a Pugilist & Monk combo in play I can say that this trade off of losing advantage on an attack (in our game's case because the Monk has stunned a target) for maximum damage seems pretty fair. While everyone else is getting almost every hit our Pugilist is missing about half of them - so it mostly evens out.
Customer avatar
Andy H October 31, 2016 3:30 am UTC
PURCHASER
So, I'm "forcing" my players to play grittier (yes, pun) characters, because I'm tired of the min-maxed toons throwing off any game balance. I found this class and liked it instantly for my half-orc barbarian player, as well as the Branell Jones version of the Gunslinger class for my "gun"-swordmage player. However, I still got a paladin and a rogue to re-spec and was wondering if anyone has made any other grit point classes, maybe even you? Not sure if I should be asking for others' material, here, but more grit point classes will make this one easier for my players to accept.
Customer avatar
November 03, 2016 4:47 am UTC
CREATOR
I'm not sure of any class that necessarily uses the "grit point" mechanic although I do have a Gunslinger archetype for Fighter on my blog that uses such a mechanic (sounds like it might not work for your campaign though since you are already uses a Gunslinger class). Depending on what level your players are starting at you could check out the Scholar class I'm developing (also on my blog) that is an Int based non-spellcasting class with two archetypes currently. Enough people have asked me to continue working on it that it's likely after I finish the Magus I will double back and finish it.

If you don't already know, you can check out the blog at www.sterlingvermin.com
Customer avatar
Bobby R October 06, 2016 10:12 pm UTC
Great class except for the weak AC. For a character with short range attacks it should have unarmored defense closer to the barbarian, because as it stands the pugilist is even squishier than the monk.
Customer avatar
October 26, 2016 1:55 am UTC
CREATOR
The Pugilist has a lower AC than the Monk because it has an easily replenished well of temporary hit points. Also since the Pugilist can forsake Dexterity for Constitution its generally going to have at least an extra +2 hp per level over a Monk. So, yeah, a Pugilist is gonna get hit more often than a Monk but the Pugilist will 1.) have more hit points 2.) be able to generate nearly as many temporary hit points as he needs if he's tanking.
Customer avatar
Nate L September 30, 2016 11:38 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm a huge fan of the class. Just some weird questions. If someone decided to multiclass into monk, then it should be fair to switch between dex martial arts and str fisticuffs in between attacks for unarmed damage? Or would you have to stick with one. Same with unarmored defense and iron chin for AC, though that one would be weirder. I know this concept is really MAD, and that 5e monks were pushing away from that, and the pugilist is an option for a non-mystic martial artist. This was just an idea for a character that alternates styles.
Customer avatar
October 26, 2016 1:56 am UTC
CREATOR
That's great to hear, Nate! You could switch between Martial Arts & Fisticuffs if you wanted, yes. As per Sage Advice, any feature that modifies AC is exclusive so if you have multiple you have to pick one - in this case, you'd pick Unarmored Defense or Iron Chin. I'm glad you're thinking outside the box with character options!
Customer avatar
Anthony F September 20, 2016 3:04 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I like the class, I just have one minor problem with it currently. There does not seem to be any starting wealth by class noted, not a major problem, but in certain games that could be an issue.
Customer avatar
September 22, 2016 3:08 am UTC
CREATOR
I should update this file with that. I have gone back and forth on what's appropriate but I think 2d4 x 5 gp makes sense.
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