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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. Fight Clubs included in the full version of the Pugilist class are: Arena Royale, Bloodhound Bruisers, Dog & Hound, Piss & Vinegar, the Squared Circle, and the Sweet Science. Whether you’re interested in playing an adventuring luchador, a boxer fighting the good fight, or a hard-nosed detective with a penchant for pugilism, these Fight Clubs have you covered!

What's New in the 2nd Anniversary Update?

June 2018 marks the Pugilist class' 2nd anniversary on the DM's Guild. We celebrated the occasion by making the following changes and additions to the Pugilist:

  • Minor quality of life changes to class features.
  • Major improvements and revisions of the fight clubs originally featured in the "Additional Fight Clubs" product.
  • The addition of a new fight club, Dog & Hound.
  • 14 new magical items (added to the 8 from last year's anniversary).

You can find a free trial version of the class here.

Our friend Emmet Byrne created a character sheet specifically for use with the Pugilist class. You can get that here.

Like the Pugilist class? You can find other Sterling Vermin products on DM's Guild!

 
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Reviews (11)
Discussions (71)
Customer avatar
Phil R October 19, 2018 6:21 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Ben- Great work on the Pugilist!

In regards to the Pugilist weapons... I've been considering using this class for my next character but I feel like I'm missing something.

"Unarmed. When you make an unarmed attack you can choose to deal the damage of this weapon instead of your normal unarmed attack damage."

Given that my Fisticuffs die is a D6 at level one, why would I ever choose to do the D4 Brass knuckles damage instead?
Customer avatar
Marc B October 19, 2018 9:46 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Brass Knuckles are considered a pugilist weapon, so you would be using your d6 anyway. For a Pugilist, they would mostly be flavor.

For any other class, excluding the monk, it would be an opportunity to fight 'bare-handed'. For example, to get the upper hand in a bar brawl by augmenting the usual 1+STR unarmed damage.

The Katar and Knuckle Spikes can still be used by a Pugilist to change damage types from bludgeoning to slashing and piercing respectively.
Customer avatar
Michael G October 19, 2018 9:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I can explain this one. Took me awhile to get it too, but once I did, I realized the creation of the "unarmed" weapon property was pretty great.

First, you're mistaken about the damage. The Brass Knuckles and other fist weapons are simple melee weapons, thus they can use your Fisticuffs die.

Next, lets talk Bonus Actions. For context we'll look at the Monk. A Monk, with it Martial Ats feature can use it's Monk die in place of the weapons normal dice, but it doesn't have to. So a level 2 monk can wield a Quarterstaff with both hands a do a d8 of damage, damage it can't do unarmed until level 11.

Now with the Monk's Martial Arts and Flurry Of Blows feature, the Monk can use it's bonus action to make attacks, but only unarmed. Thus, those bonus action attacks are limited to what the monks Martial Arts die is, and can only do bludgeoning damage.

The Pugilist's Fisticuffs and The Old One-Two feature work the same. But with the fist weapons "unarmed"...See more
Customer avatar
Michael G September 29, 2018 6:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Ben, first let me say that I love this class. Fist-fighters have always been a favorite of mine.

Now, I'm a bit of a newbie player and haven't gotten a chance to test out this class, but like some others, I have concerns about the IronChin. I know it allows light armor that has a potential to add +3 to AC, but then that tops off IronChin at AC 20. A Monk with max stats and "Bracers Of Defense" has an AC of 22.

My idea is for IronChin's base AC to increase with levels. I was thinking it should increase by 1 at every fifth level( 13 at 5th, 14 at 10th, 15 at 15th, and 16 at 20th). With max CON this is AC 20 at 15th and at 20th level AC 22 with PeakPhysicalCondition. Depending on a players luck rolling stats and the DM's generosity with the Bracers, a Monk could a have AC 22 way earlier.

Also, I don't know if you have explained this before but why is the Pugilist's Hit Dice d8s. Shouldn't this kind of class at least have d10s?

Love the Pugilist. Thanks...See more
Customer avatar
Símun M October 04, 2018 5:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The simple solution would be to change the AC calculation to 10 + proficiency bonus + constitution modifier, capping at 22 at lvl 20(exactly the same as a barbarian). However, I see no real reason for the pugilist to completely drop dexterity, a street brawler would still be dodging punches.
Customer avatar
Michael G October 07, 2018 10:03 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Prof Bonus + CON, yeah that could work. The AC increase in more or less the same and it adds to the idea of IronChin of you character learning to take hits better, to roll with the punches.
Customer avatar
Patrick M October 11, 2018 5:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I agree with this calculation completely. It’s kind of balanced, but could overshadow others. For example: if we got pretty standard rolls for stats, we should have a +3 or +2 modifier to CON, so with a +2 Prof, we get 15 or 14 AC at lvl 1. By comparison a Rogue who starts out with leather armor will have a 11+Dex modifier AC, which for comparison we’ll say is a +3 modifier, the Rogue will have a 14 AC at lvl 1. The Monk should be about same as this as with a standard rolled ray it should have a +3 modifier to DEX and a +2 modifier to WIS, giving you 15. This continues to scale very well (arguably better than its competitors). At level 5, your proficiency increases to +3 so you will have a 16 or 15 AC if you didn’t increase your CON by a modifier level, or a 17/ 16 if you did. By comparison, the rogue should have studded leather armor by now, and will have a 15 AC or 16 AC depending. Monk should have about the same. Of course this is without considering any racial bonuses, so many of these numbers are likely...See more
Customer avatar
JAMES G September 27, 2018 2:04 pm UTC
PURCHASER
First off, I am a big fan of the Pugilist, and I think it is the best homebrew for 5e and is better written and designed than several AL legal classes (including the Monk itself!). I especially love the feel of the fight clubs, which really open up the class to many different classic fantasy archetypes.

I appreciate that this is nearly as finished as homebrew can ever be, but there are two small mechanical changes I would make:

First, I really feel that Iron Chin should be 13 + Con mod; that is still a modest AC for front-line fighter, topping out at just 18 with 20 Con, but means that the Pugilist won't inevitably fall behind even spellcasters using Mage Armour for AC in the long term. The Pugilist having low AC makes sense, but having the lowest AC of *any class in the game* doesn't, and feels bad to play.

Second, I think that Coordinated Attack in the Hound & Dog subclass overtunes the hound; with it, you can unleash 5 attacks per round, 2 from the Pugilist and 3...See more
Customer avatar
Vincent T September 23, 2018 3:37 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Due to story reasons I've gotten a free level of Paladin tagged onto my Pugilist (Dog & Hound). So far the 5pt lay on hands seems like a nice add on, but going forward I'm unsure if the Paladin class is worth pursuing over the Pugilist class for DPS.
Customer avatar
Marc B September 17, 2018 8:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I really enjoy the Pugilist, but the new Iron Chin feels like a swing and miss to me. I won't recount the arguments I've made here some time ago in favor of simply seeing Iron Chin, as it was before at least, as a way of altering AC calculations, rather than as an AC calculation in and of itself, though I still stand by them. But topping the Pugilist off at ÁC 17 is way too low for what should be a front line fighter/tank. I would suggest returning Iron Chin to what it was, clearly stating it to be a way of modifying whatever AC calculation you're using (Whoops, still did it...). Perhaps adding in a line stating it does not work if the user has other items that give a flat bonus to AC. I'm not much of a homebrewer I'll admit, just spitballing.

Brace Up is a neat feature, and as the party tank, I use it quite heavily. However, as the levels increase, instead of chipping away at my temporary hit points as they did before, a lot of creatures can take them out in a single blow now. A lucky hit manages...See more
Customer avatar
Patrick M September 12, 2018 1:53 am UTC
PURCHASER
First off, Benjamin, I really love this class. It's just like a bare-knuckle bruiser from the movies, and I love that about it; however, after some play-testing, it starts suffering at higher levels (especially against its monk contemporary). From my experience, it is good up until around level 7, then it starts getting overtaken by the monk. At 7th level, the monk gets Evasion, while you get proficiency in dex saving throws. At 13th level, you are resistant to psychic stuff and get well-known in settlements while the monk is immune to all poisons and diseases, and can speak to anything that understands a language (and next level gains proficiency in all saving throws and no longer has to eat or drink the level after that). On top of this, you suffer some base weaknesses against the monk. While the monk only has two stats important for its class (Wis and Dex), you have 3 (Con, Cha, Str). Also, Iron Chin is really not on par with the monk's unarmoured defense as it maxes out your AC at 17 while the Monk can get...See more
Customer avatar
Patrick M September 21, 2018 9:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Ok, after some further thought on this, I do want to add a few addendums on comments I had that are either vague or unhelpful.
1. As for Iron Chin, I do think it is in the right vein. What I would personally do is I would have the effects be thus: When unarmored (and not using a shield?) you may calculate your AC as 10+Con mod.+ Str. Mod. This would allow you to put your AC up to 20, and even 22 at level 20.
2. As for my comment about the class being reliant on 3 stats, while I do think that can be a problem with this class, Its core stats should be all three (CON, STR, CHA), and thematically and mechanically CHA makes a lot of sense to use, and can even give your party more versatility as you can both be a tank and the party "face".
3. To be more specific on throwing Haymakers and about why I would impose a flat penalty to hit rather than disadvantage is that disadvantage is more about circumstance and things out of the player's control. Because the Haymakers are something...See more
Customer avatar
Vincent T August 12, 2018 11:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Dog & Hound says the dog gains hit dice with each level above 3rd. Just for clarity sake, is that Pugilist level, or character level?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 13, 2018 12:01 am UTC
CREATOR
Should say pugilist level. I will clarify that in a future update.
Customer avatar
David W August 01, 2018 1:12 am UTC
PURCHASER
I have a question about multiclassing Pugilist and Barbarian. What are the rules about declaring Reckless Attack and Haymaker?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 01, 2018 5:57 pm UTC
CREATOR
The rules don't change in respect to when you can declare you're using the abilities. As for how they interact, when you are using both you make attack rolls without advantage or disadvantage, deal maximum damage on a hit, and attacks against you have advantage (until whenever Reckless Attacks says that ends).
Customer avatar
Garrett F August 17, 2018 9:24 am UTC
PURCHASER
To piggy back on this how would you say Iron Chin and the Barbarian unarmored defense interact. I have ruled that it doesnt allow you to get a 10+con+con AC, however, some players in my group are arguing that I should have it.
Customer avatar
Robert W August 17, 2018 10:39 am UTC
PURCHASER
Garret, you are correct in your assumption that you shouldn't get the bonus; I'm not able to point you in the direction of the specific passage of the PHB but the rules do specify that if you have multiple ways of calculating your AC, then you pick one; it is only bonuses to AC which stack.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 17, 2018 8:43 pm UTC
CREATOR
Garret, you are correct for the reason Robert pointed out. You can only ever use one AC modification feature/ trait.
Customer avatar
Marc B August 22, 2018 7:05 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Far be it for me to argue with the creator of this fine document, but I will argue in favor of allowing the combination of Iron Chin and Unarmored Defense.

Unarmored Defense states that you can only benefit from it while wearing no armor. Iron Chin states you may only benefit from it with light armor on and not using a shield.
As such, a Pugilist/Barbarian can wear no armor nor a shield, should they want to benefit from both. This is of course assuming one is willing to ignore the one sentence in the PHB about armor calculations.

Assuming one does, a Pg/Barb would calculate AC with 10+CON+CON. This means that with a CON score of 20 and thus a modifier of +5, they would cap their Armor Class at 20.

This is the same as someone wearing non-magical plate armor and a basic, non-magical shield, which can be procured fairly easily once the party has 1510 gold to spare.
Should a party get extremely lucky, they could have a +3 AC bonus on both the plate and the shield...See more
Customer avatar
Travis L August 28, 2018 8:30 am UTC
The reality of it is the PHB explicitly states that when you are given the option to pick between two AC calculations, you only pick one. If you receive bonuses to AC, those may stack.

Unarmored Defense and Iron Chin are total AC calculations; not in any way, shape, or form are they AC bonuses. Therefore, you pick one.

If I were a DM, I'd do the same thing my group does with natural armor and let you pick a calculation and then have a +1 AC bonus for having those two different kinds of defense.
Customer avatar
Dylan W July 15, 2018 8:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Do you have a changelog for what's new in v3? I see that there are supposed to be "Minor quality of life changes to class features", but that is incredibly vague. Thanks
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 15, 2018 10:34 pm UTC
CREATOR
Only changes to core class that weren't just tweaks to language were:

**Bloodied but Unbowed** is not a choice to trigger but takes a reaction. Previously it happened automatically with no action required. It's a net positive in most cases for the Pugilist.

**Herculean** the jump bonus changed from a multiplier to jump ranges to allowing you to make standing jumps as if they were running jumps. Purely a stylistic change, mechanical effect will be mixed depending on exact circumstances.

There is an upcoming change to **Haymaker** to clarify that the maximum damage applies only to fisticuff damage dice.
Customer avatar
Robert W July 12, 2018 10:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi,

Relatively new to the hobby (been playing just under a year) but having already purchased all the core rule-books I have recently been looking into home-brew content available on line and have been trying my hand at making some of my own and looking at your Pugilist I have to say it is one of the best examples of home-brew content I've seen yet.

I do though have a few notes/queries that I would just like to throw out there and hopefully they'll be useful to you, sorry in advance for the long comment:

1. I find it strange that 'Brace Up' has no duration especially as it means that the temporary hit points can carry over rests; the Brace Up feature is already arguably superior to the Monk equivalent 'Patient Defense' and I'm not sure it makes sense from an RP perspective either; if I were running the character in a game I think I would change the wording to;
"When you roll for initiative or as a Bonus action on a subsequent turn you can spend 1 moxie point to...See more
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 12, 2018 11:41 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hey Robert,

First, welcome to the hobby and good luck on your journey of creating content. When I first got involved in the hobby (at age 11 or so), I couldn't wait to start making up my own stuff and it's obviously become a life long obsession! My responses will be brief but I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

1. Temporary hit points always go away during a long rest unless the feature you use explicitly says they don't. They also don't stack so if you gain new temporary hit points you have to choose to either take the new amount or keep the amount you have already.

2. I don't think the Pugilist could be balanced with an animal companion that acted on its own turn. The Pugilist is already VERY good about dealing damage. The Dog & Hound animal companion is significantly different from the Beast Master animal companion in that you can use a bonus action, rather than an action, to command it. I think that's the biggest issue with the Beast Master conclave....See more
Customer avatar
Robert W July 18, 2018 9:43 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi,

Thanks for responding to my comment, everything you said makes perfect sense.

And apologies but I think my 4th comment was predicated on the assumption that people would want to take the grappler feat at some point early in the game but having done a bit more research it seems that 'grappler' is basically obsolete any way. This is because you can simply shove a grappled creature prone anyway which gives advantage on subsequent attack roles against them and essentially does what the 'pin' feature of the 'grappler' feat does but much better. Because of this and the fact that the 'to the mat' feature allows you to knock an enemy prone as part of a grapple action it's really not worth investing in the grappler feat anyway.

I guess this means there is still some redundancy with the 17th level feature as it is so easy to get advantage anyway but one possible.way to solve that might be for the 'meatshield' feature only to work if the grappled creature isn't prone; this would...See more
Customer avatar
Darius V July 09, 2018 10:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey, Benjamin nice update! I wanted to throw out two things.

1) The Haymaker still implies that you deal maximum damage with all forms of damage (Spells for example) when last you stated it was not supposed to, is it supposed to now?

2) One of my players has been using those brass knuckles for one of their characters and we made a magical set, feel free to take them. Though I just noticed these are called Brass Knuckles implying they are two-handed weapons, not just a singular Brass Knuckle, you may want to clarify if they are two-handed or not.

"Thoughts & Prayers"
"Rare, Requires Attunement"
"These immaculate steel brass knuckles shine brighter than the smiles of halflings. Thoughts deals an extra 1d6 psychic damage to any target it hits. Prayers deals an extra 1d6 radiant damage to any target it hits. When you make a death saving throw you can instead choose to treat the d20 roll as a 20 and can immediately stand up from prone,...See more
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 09, 2018 10:45 pm UTC
CREATOR
1.) This is an issue of me being an idiot and not a design decision. I will correct this soon, probably in the next week to give time for any more corrections that need to be made. Haymakers only maximize the damage of weapon attacks.

2.) Thoughts & Prayers is great!
Customer avatar
Darius V July 09, 2018 11:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Cool! Quick clarification, does Iron Chin work on Mage Armor? I got a crazy idea for a Sorcerer/Pugilist with elemental brass knuckles.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 10, 2018 1:17 am UTC
CREATOR
Technically you can only ever use one alternative means of AC calculation but in the case of Mage Armor it doesn't break the game to let you use both. So officially no but just for consistency's sake, not for game balance's sake.
Customer avatar
Darius V July 10, 2018 2:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
Ah, dang that's okay Light armor works just fine as well. Thanks!
Customer avatar
Marc D July 19, 2018 6:18 am UTC
PURCHASER
It needs to be said that from a rules perspective, Iron Chin is not a means of AC calculation; examples of that would be Mage Armour, Unarmoured Defence etc. Instances of abilities that provide a formula as a means of calculating AC, rather Iron Chin provides the ability to substitute a different modifier within a range of different formulas available.

Technically, RAW, you could take a level of monk and have 10 + WisMod + ConMod as your AC. This obviously is not the intention based on your responses, but it can be persuasively argued that this is the case in a setting where the creator does not have a voice.

To quote the PHB (page 14.):
"Some spells and class features give you a different way to calculate your AC. If you have multiple features that give you different ways to calculate your AC, you choose which one to use."

You don't get to ship a copy of you or your intent with the class unfortunately, and I think it needs to be made explicitly clear that...See more
Customer avatar
Seth G July 09, 2018 7:37 pm UTC
Heya Benjamin, first of all, love the class. Can't wait to get some spare funds to buy the full thing!

Secondly, was looking over the new base fight clubs...and I have a question about how Knock Out works now. This is also something I wondered in the older version. So...say if you were currently in Haymaker mode. If you hit your Unarmed Attack during that time and declared you wanted to deliver a strike using the Knock Out feature...Would you still have maximized Damage?

Even though with the new Knock Out you don't deal traditional "damage", say a 17th Level PC were to invest 4 additional Moxie Points into the Knock Out, would you just do 3d12+8d12+17, which when maximized comes to a total of 149 Knock Out "damage"? Cus, if that were the case, the PC could potentially TKO an Elder Red Dragon if they bit their time a little. Which is fitting for what would essentially be equivalent to a Sweet Science Pugilist's 9th level Spell.

I don't know, this has just...See more
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 09, 2018 8:01 pm UTC
CREATOR
There is no interaction between Haymaker and Knock Out since Knock Out does not roll damage.

If you downloaded the Pugilist when it was PWYW you should be able to go to your library and download the updated files without having to purchase this update.
Customer avatar
Vincent T July 07, 2018 6:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I've been itching for a brute, and my DM is allowing this class. I have one question, due to me being tired. Are whips and improvised weapons considered to be pugilist weapons, and thus will increase in damage as the class levels? I'm unclear if that's the case, or the excerpt is a simply a list of proficiencies.

"At 1st level...use unarmed strikes and pugilist weapons, which are simple melee weapons without the two-handed property, whips, and improvised weapons."
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 08, 2018 3:48 am UTC
CREATOR
Those are all pugilist weapons and so the damage die will scale on all of them along with the die.
Customer avatar
Eugene S June 29, 2018 9:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Benjamin...I love this class. I'm currently playing it in a skypirate campaign and it is awesome.

So awesome you made 5.00 sale. I'm going to keep and eye on Sterling Vermin...you and your crew do excellent work.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 01, 2018 12:58 am UTC
CREATOR
Thanks for the kind words, Eugene! Be sure to check back for an update in the next week or so. I'll be doing an update for the Pugilist's (belated) birthday and it will include new magic items and a new archetype as well as some very minor QoL improvements to the class.
Customer avatar
Joseph E June 26, 2018 10:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Benjamin, I'm playing in a homebrew session and the DM is allowing me to play this class, can't wait! I do have a couple of issues though:

1: The class seems a little fragile for what it is. It seems like a d10 or d12 would be much more appropriate for an in-your-face class.
2: Unarmored/Armor proficiency: Seems like a Pugilist wouldn't be proficient with light armor, more just unarmored. To figure AC for this kind of class, I would go 10 + Str modifier + Con/Dex modifier.

Just started the first session, so I can't wait to get a little higher level and get to use Moxie points.
Customer avatar
Marc B June 29, 2018 12:24 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Joseph,

I've been playing a Lizardfolk Pugilist in my current campaign, and not too long ago I reached 5th level. And I can say with confidence that you're wrong on both of those. Allow me to explain:

1: It's true that a d8 seems quite low for what is without a doubt a frontline fighter. However, as you reach 2nd level, you get access to Brace Up. The phrase "Oh no, my temporary hitpoints!" regularly draws a sigh from my DM. With a decent Constitution score you can easily double, if not triple the amount of total 'hitpoints' you have. Use your moxie points wisely, and you can and will be the last man standing.

2: At 1st level, you get the Iron Chin feature. This allows you to replace your DEX modifier with your CON modifier in any armor calculation so long as you wear light or no armor, and are not using a shield. Having a set of studded leather armor on would net you 12+DEX, which becomes 12+CON for you as a Pugilist. That maxes out at 17 with a +5 to CON, which...See more
Customer avatar
Katelin G June 16, 2018 3:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
Would you consider releasing a version of this class in which moxie points are regained as they were in the first edition but with the second edition abilities? Would you suggest playing version 2.0 but just swapping out the moxie regen ability with the original? That's one of the things that makes this class interesting imo since a lot of it's focus seems to be taking damage or disadvantage in order to hit back harder.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H June 16, 2018 8:01 pm UTC
CREATOR
For the sake of keeping things not confusing for people who follow the Pugilist class more casually I would probably not consider releasing a variation. I think you'd be fine using the first version's moxie regeneration with the second version's features. That said, the post-anniversary Pugilist still has that theme it just triggers once off of Bloodied but Unbowed rather than than (potentially) once per hit.
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This title was added to our catalog on June 06, 2016.