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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 (7)
Discussions (36)
Customer avatar
William C September 18, 2017 5:45 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey, Ben!
I recently started a campaign playing as you Pugilist class, but I am playing version one.
Is there a place where I can get a copy of the version one PDF? My DM would like an in paper copy of the class, and I only seem to be able to find the version two.
Thank you, And I love the class.
Will
Customer avatar
Benjamin H September 23, 2017 3:56 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi William,

To prevent confusion the version 1 has been removed so it no longer exists and the rules of DM's Guild prevent me from sharing content previously featured on the site. The changes were minimal but primarily it just changed from moxie regenerating all at once one time to bit by bit (each time the Pugilist took 1/2 their level in hit points).
Customer avatar
Cody T September 18, 2017 3:29 am UTC
PURCHASER
how would you suggest altering the street smart feature for a lawful good character so they dont have to go carousing?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H September 23, 2017 3:57 am UTC
CREATOR
I can't see anything about carousing that a lawful good creature couldn't do. Drinking and partying isn't inherently chaotic or evil unless you live in a place that outlaws drinking, dancing, or any other kind of carrying on. Anything that fits the pugilist's theme of underdog / common man would be a good replacement behavior though.
Customer avatar
Cody T September 23, 2017 4:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm thinking paladin/cleric lawful good. A paladin or cleric wouldn't engage in vices like gambling and excessive drinking, or do anything that could get them arrested which can happen while carousing.
Customer avatar
Andrew P September 11, 2017 10:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
May i ask why you removed the athletics expertise when grappling and shoving?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H September 12, 2017 5:41 pm UTC
CREATOR
For two reasons, 1.) it did not match with 5e's style (as a single feature it offered too many benefits) and 2.) I just way overshot it in terms of specializing. In 5e there are lots of character options that specialize in a given field without dominating it and that feature was written at a time where I don't think I had the design eye to spot it really edged out any other grappling build in the game in a way that wasn't interesting or fair.

That said, one of the moxie abilities it gets in that same feature was buffed a bit to compensate.
Customer avatar
Dawson S August 18, 2017 6:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
Did you get rid of the ability to gain moxie back mid battle? If so, then the monk will greatly outshine the pugilist to the point of it being a ridiculous choice
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 20, 2017 4:51 pm UTC
CREATOR
I did not. Pugilists now regain all expended moxie when their feature, Bloodied but Unbowed triggers.
Customer avatar
Marc D August 24, 2017 5:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Regarding the way Bloodied but Unbowed triggers, does it have to be triggered when you cross that half-hp threshold?

Say you have 100hp maximum, can it trigger when:

You go from 51 current hp to 0 (assuming not as it's temp hp)?
You go from 49 current hp to any non-0 number below 49?

If not for the latter, why not (it seems a bit awkward if that's the case)?

In any case - I love this brew mate - especially the Bloodhound Bruiser - keep up the good work!
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 30, 2017 7:06 am UTC
CREATOR
It always triggers when you go below half your maximum hit points. If you have 51 hit points and are reduced to 0 hit points by an attack you would still gain temporary hit points AND be at 0 hit points (which would help if they plan on continuing to beat on you now that you're down). If you are at 49 hit points and your maximum is 100 you have already triggered the feature. In the case of the 100 hit point Pugilist, the feature would trigger when you have 51 or more hit points and you are reduced to 50 hit points or less (assuming you haven't used the feature yet since your last short / long rest).

Does that answer your question?
Customer avatar
Marc D September 20, 2017 9:30 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yeah - the part I was struggling with was whether or not activating it was a choice; which in retrospect I could've made clearer. But I think this answers that - short answer: No. It activates when you cross the half-hp the threshold regardless.

Which given that Bloody but Unbowed your Moxie regeneration mechanic could potentially be somewhat frustrating, there's no guarantee you'll have spent many or any of your Moxie by that point. With the previous mechanic there was little chance of missing out on regenerating a point due to being full, and when it happened it was only one point so no biggie.

I'm not sure that there's anything strictly wrong with that, but it has the possibility to take a lot away from the player simply for having been hit hard early in a fight - losing HP is bad enough, losing the possibility of regenerating most of your Moxie is just salt in the wounds. It could be made to work if you were rewarded temp HP for every moxie point you still had as compensation, if...See more
Customer avatar
Hunter H July 25, 2017 2:27 am UTC
PURCHASER
Is it possible to get this in the form of a "JSON" file so I could add it to a character sheet app?
Customer avatar
Glenn D July 07, 2017 11:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hello! I plan on playing this class in an upcoming campaign but just had a question about the Pugilist Weapons. In the class it reads "At 1st level, your years of fighting in back alleys and
taverns have given you mastery over combat styles that use unarmed strikes and pugilist weapons, which are simple melee weapons without the two-handed property, whips, and improvised weapons. " Would I be able to use a spear or quarterstaff as a Pugilist Weapon as long as I only use them one-handed? Or does the versatile trait make both of them unusable as a Pugilist Weapon?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 08, 2017 12:31 am UTC
CREATOR
You may use a versatile weapon, even two-handed, as a pugilist weapon. You just can't use a weapon with the two-handed property.
Customer avatar
Glenn D July 08, 2017 1:02 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oh! Interesting! Thank you for answering! Also on a maybe unrelated note? I saw somewhere on reddit you said the Additional Fight Clubs such as Arena Royale were outdated, I don't mean to rush you but do you think you have an ETA on when it will be updated?
Customer avatar
Alistair W July 03, 2017 7:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm yet to play the class but looking forward to it. Fills a nice niche for my brawling strongman. I have a couple questions because I have not been able to find the answers in the comments or pdf. First off, is there a recommended starting wealth for this class (Xd4 x 10)? Secondly, where is the mechanic for moxie regen other than resting explained in the pdf? I have seen some comments about the mid-combat regen but don't know what it is (is it the part mentioned in Bloodied but Unbowed?).

I guess I'm also curious about the issue brought up but seemingly not addressed about Brace Up's rapid plateau and obsolescence after several levels. Is the defensive aspect of combat supposed to be executed with the other features such as Dig Deep and Bloodied but Unbowed as replacements? Or do pugilists tend toward more of a dps role as the levels rise?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 06, 2017 3:19 am UTC
CREATOR
For starting wealth I would go with 4d4 x 10.

The moxie regeneration mechanic was recently (as of the Pugilist's anniversary of being added to the DM's Guild) altered as it was the most controversial element of the class. It used to be that the Pugilist regained a moxie every time they lost 1/2 their total level in hp (not temporary hp). It created a fun dynamic but it 1.) had a mixed to negative reception and 2.) was possibly out of step with 5e's design (even if the mechanic was good design "in a vacuum"). Now Pugilist's regenerate moxie through their Bloodied but Unbowed feature.

Brace Up was changed also as part of the Pugilist's anniversary and now does scale better with level. That said, Pugilist's basically have to make a decision in any given encounter whether they are tanking or damage dealing and save their moxie mostly for that + if tanking use Dig Deep if things are looking hairy.
Customer avatar
Alistair W July 10, 2017 6:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks, this was a very informative answer.
Customer avatar
Darius V June 29, 2017 8:07 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is a really nice class if I could make a suggestion though, can you change the wording on Haymaker? Currently, it reads "You make all attack rolls until the end of this turn with disadvantage and when you deal damage you do not roll for damage but use the maximum die result instead." In its current state, this ability allows the pugilist to automatically maximize ALL forms of damage (Sneak Attack, Smites, Divine Strikes, Spells, etc.) they deal for the rest of the turn, which I don't think was the intention. It should read something like this, "You make all attack rolls until the end of this turn with disadvantage and when you deal damage with a melee weapon attack you do not roll for damage, but use the maximum die result instead." Also clearing up whether or not Haymakers affect Sneak Attacks, Smites, and Elemental weapons will balance this ability nicely.
Customer avatar
Darius V July 03, 2017 7:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
To add to this, another question arose. In the Fisticuffs ability, it states "You may not use the finesse property of a weapon while using it as a pugilist weapon." this ability makes it so the Pugilist can't use their dexterity modifier for pugilist weapons, but it does not stop Sneak Attack as Sneak Attack is based around the weapon having the finesse property not if you can or can't use it. Was this intended? Did you want the Pugilist to have the ability to Sneak Attack with their finessable pugilist weapons?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 06, 2017 3:14 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Darius, Haymaker is intended to maximize all damage so there is no need to specify. When possible I try to stick with the PHB's informal tone which means not adding extra clarification unless needed. One note though is that it will never be able to maximize Sneak Attack because in order to deal Sneak Attack you can't have disadvantage.

In general, Sneak Attack damage with Pugilist is fine. Monk can do it too so it shouldn't be game breaking but I haven't done all the math on it recently.
Customer avatar
Darius V July 06, 2017 6:40 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for responding.

So this is a very powerful ability, getting hasted or finding any way to attack without using your action can lead to a pretty powerful spell caster. Five levels into Pugilist and the rest into a caster will get some high rewards if they can haste themselves/find another way of attacking without using their action. Also, how does that work for flavor/storytelling? Say a hasted Pugilist haymakers someone as a part of their hasted action then cast fireball? Why does the fireball suddenly do max damage? Lastly, Sneak Attack can be used with this feature through 2 options. 1) You are a Swashbuckler and you have advantage which cancels out the disadvantage giving them sneak attack. 2) You are an Inquisitive (UA) and you can sneak attack with or without disadvantage, (This goes nicely with the Bloodhound Bruiser for flavor).

This seems quite powerful, cause if you crit with this feature your extra damaging options get maxed on both ends as well. Example: 5 Bloodhound...See more
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 08, 2017 12:30 am UTC
CREATOR
Okay, so it's intended to only boost unarmed or pugilist weapon attacks but I can see that it's not worded clearly enough so I will have to update that in another pass sometime soon. As for Sneak Attack, you have disadvantage on a roll regardless of whether or not advantage cancels it out. My reading is that any attack roll that has disadvantage cannot deal Sneak Attack regardless of whether or not that attack roll also has advantage.

I'm not sure I am up to date on Inquisitive but if that nullifies the disadvantage clause of Sneak Attack I'll take a look at it.
Customer avatar
Darius V July 08, 2017 9:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
Okay, thank you so much for clarifying that this does only affect the weapon damage of the pugilist weapons and unarmed strikes. (Sorceror/Pugilist would have been crazy hard to deal with.)

http://www.sageadvice.eu/2015/04/14/advantage-washes-away-disadvantage/

This is a confirmation on the Advantage/Disadvantage comment, also on page 173 of the PHB, it states "If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage."
Customer avatar
Vi F July 11, 2017 4:34 am UTC
Just wanted to clarify your stance cause in an earlier post you said "Haymaker is intended to maximize all damage so there is no need to specify."

So is Haymaker intended to be used with smites/spells/etc or only the unarmed/pugilist weapons?
I have a player who has this class and I read through it with him but came here to inquire about that specifically. It seems very strong if it used with other multiclassed abilities.

thanks!
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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H June 29, 2017 6:23 pm UTC
CREATOR
Correct, temporary hit points never stack. If you gain temporary hit points while you already have them you keep whichever amount is higher (the newly gained ones or the ones you have already).
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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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
Benjamin H 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.
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