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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 (16)
Discussions (89)
Customer avatar
Matt S April 22, 2019 12:31 am UTC
PURCHASER
So when using say brass knuckles, as not a pugilist I can replace the normal 1 dmg with the weapon dmg? And if I am using on as a pugilist then I would just be rolling my fisticuffs dmg instead? The only added benefit of the weapons are if they have magical properties and the dmg types?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H April 22, 2019 5:38 am UTC
CREATOR
That is correct.
Customer avatar
Michael G April 19, 2019 5:07 am UTC
PURCHASER
So I had another idea on how to improve the Pugilist's AC. I thought about making the improvement a feature.

<Bob & Weave- at 8th level, you may now add your Dexterity modifier(minimum +1) to your Iron Chin AC calculation. Your AC now equals 12+your CON mod+your DEX mod(minimum +1).>

With this, you get a little more AC even if you don't have the stats.
Customer avatar
C… S April 20, 2019 4:05 am UTC
PURCHASER
That's a strictly better version of the Barbarian's Unarmored Defense, though. =T
Customer avatar
Erik J April 15, 2019 6:20 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey, love the class myself but got a couple quick questions re: the XXX and Vinegar subclass. Firstly, Salty Salute, this no longer requires a moxie point to use? It's just a bonus action I can take as often as I like without requiring short rest/long rest, etc? Seems really strong! Secondly, the 6th level dirty tricks allow you to get bonus effects and you GAIN a moxie point? You don't spend any moxie to use them? Just want to double check again, I see at least in those instances it would require a SR/LR before using again but just making sure.

Thanks!
Customer avatar
Benjamin H April 16, 2019 3:53 am UTC
CREATOR
Salty Salute no longer requires a moxie point. This is because the Pugilist class already relies on having a high Strength and Constitution so your Charisma has to share priority with those abilities. If it also cost a moxie I think cost-benefit-wise it would not shake out to ever be worth using.

Dirty Tricks give you moxie if the creature fails its saving throw and suffers its effects. This is a mechanics way of showing the XXX & Vinegar theme of relying on (and relishing) dirty fighting.
Customer avatar
Erik J April 16, 2019 2:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Awesome, thanks for the clarification!
Customer avatar
Danielle J April 11, 2019 10:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
So Ive been playing this class as a guest in one of my friend's game and let me just say that I am obsessed with it! Amazing work! Do you think youll be setting up this class in DnD beyond as well?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H April 11, 2019 10:54 pm UTC
CREATOR
Really glad you like it! DnD Beyond has expressed an interest in publishing the Pugilist class but I have not heard from them in quite some time. I know they were keen to introduce it alongside some other curated classes. I recommended letting them know you're interested in the class being available there!
Customer avatar
Łukasz M April 10, 2019 4:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I couldn't really play it yet, but this does seem like one of the most fun brawler type classes, especially XXX and Vinegar.
It's good that your hound can attack as your bonus action, and not your action in Dog And Hound. Overall I'd say money well spent, can't wait to play this one
Customer avatar
Chris W April 04, 2019 8:58 am UTC
PURCHASER
Awesome homebrew. Really appreciate your hard work. Only issue I have is the AC. If you had left Pugilist as a general class, the Iron Chin feature would be perfect. You added a Sweet Science subclass, though. That subset should factor in Dex. I understand you can't touch upon every nuance but "hit and don't get hit" is boxing 101. "Speed kills" is another tenet of boxing. I mean jumping rope is probably the most well-known boxing workout with the possible exception of roadwork. Won't count mitt and bag work. Hard to live those principles when Dex is a secondary stat. Just my two cents. Awesome job overall, though. I really love every supplement I've read from you.
Customer avatar
James H April 01, 2019 2:39 am UTC
PURCHASER
The charisma dependency for XXX & Vinegar seems very harsh. I can’t think of any other class that has the same level of MAD to function.
Customer avatar
Thomas V March 26, 2019 3:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
okay being that your armor class is your con and not your dex then what does that mean the pugilist doesn't Dodge very well or isn't that nimble. Would that mean you take disadvantage on your dex saving throws when you're trying to dodge something
Customer avatar
Benjamin H April 16, 2019 3:58 am UTC
CREATOR
Disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws would be a very unbalancing nerf for this class. Pugilist's can use normal AC calculations, as anyone with an AC alternative feature can, but they can also use Iron Chin. If they choose to use Iron Chin, it represents their ability to take physical punishment and keep going rather than just dodge it.
Customer avatar
Evan H March 19, 2019 8:45 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm getting ready to play this in an upcoming campaign, and I was reading over the different Fight Clubs. While reading over the Sweet Science, I noticed their features have a higher cost than average. I'm interested in the decision to make Cross Counter take 2 Moxie, when it functions nearly identically to the Monk Deflect Missiles, but for melee attacks.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H April 16, 2019 3:59 am UTC
CREATOR
The feedback that feature received in development was that melee attacks are much more common than missile attacks, making this ability significantly more useful. In the end, I agreed and increased the cost.
Customer avatar
Edward J February 16, 2019 5:02 pm UTC
I have a question with regards to Iron Chin. It says that your AC while unarmoured or lightly armoured is 12+CON: am I reading this correctly in thinking that your AC would be the same without armour as it would be with light armour (not accounting for magic armour, of course)? Just so I'm sure I'm understanding it correctly.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H February 19, 2019 5:33 pm UTC
CREATOR
You are correct.
Customer avatar
C… S February 20, 2019 5:29 am UTC
PURCHASER
@Benjamin H: Hi, could I please get an answer on why the Squared Circle's grapple expertise was removed?
Customer avatar
C… S February 12, 2019 7:25 am UTC
PURCHASER
Why did you get rid of the grapple expertise in the Groundwork feature? Now I'll have to multiclass, so I need 13 Dex or Cha *grumble*
By the way, the Mage Mashers should probably include the Innate Spellcasting trait as well as Spellcasting and Pact Magic.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H February 22, 2019 4:27 am UTC
CREATOR
The grapple expertise was removed because the subclass was rightly criticized as having all the pieces in place to be the best grappler in the game with no additional effort. I felt like it was worth it to keep *To the Mat* and *Compression Lock* in as is to slightly nerf the passive benefits. So that's what I did.

Great note on the Mage Mashers!
Customer avatar
C… S February 23, 2019 7:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
…Should it not be the best grappler? I thought that was the point of the subclass.
Do you mean that other classes were taking a 3-level dip for it or summat? If so, why not just push it back a few levels =S
Customer avatar
Benjamin H April 16, 2019 4:00 am UTC
CREATOR
It should be, and I think it still is, the best grappler.
Customer avatar
Wheelercub L February 05, 2019 10:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I like what I see for the most part. Though I am curious why the damage is 1 die step higher than the "expert martial artist" Monk? Seems odd to me that a Fisticuffs brawler can dish out more damage than someone with honed skills in ancient martial precision. If anything, the damage progression should mimic the Monk's.

I love that they are Improvised Weapons masters, being able to deal additional damage with them. But I think there should be more Moxie options in the core class. Or at least give a certain number of choices. Here are some ideas I grabbed from another Pugilist version I found online.

* Body Slam - You spend one Moxie when you make an Attack action to lift a creature your size or one size smaller and slam them into the ground with you on top. If the Attack is successful, you roll your Fisticuffs die for damage and you and the creature are both prone. The target creature must make a Constitution saving throw or also be stunned for one round. You may not be wielding...See more
Customer avatar
Mervyn H February 01, 2019 7:24 am UTC
PURCHASER
Just bought the Pugilist, read it over, and am completely loving it! That said, when it comes to Iron Chin, would changing it to be exactly like the Barbarian’s Unarmored Defense or even some other stat combination (STR+CON) be too powerful?

Barring any magical gear, the highest AC you could get with this feature would be 17. I’m not sure about others, but this does seem a bit low as a frontline fighter. Even monks can get up to a 20.

On the other hand, am I simply looking at the wrong feature for defense? Is the Temp HP the pugilist generates meant to make up for the low-ish AC of the class?

My last question is about the hit die; without changing anything else, in your testing, would upgrading up to a d10 be too much?
Customer avatar
Adrian M February 01, 2019 10:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I am far from an expert, but I think the d8 is fine.

The way I read it a Pugilist will get a *ton* of temporary hit points to make up for the mediocre AC and hit point maximum. You can trade moxie points for Brace Up, and moxie points recharge on a short rest. This is a significant amount, even with moxie competing for other resources.
The other big one is Bloodied But Unbowed, at level 3. It's like a reset button at half health, and.... more temporary HP! At level 7 Fancy Footwork gives you added defensive capabilities against spells and similar effects.

This is no Barbarian, and I think it requires more skill from the player to utilize the Brace Up feature at key moments. But it reads as well balanced and iterated homebrew class.

In all honesty, I'm dying to find a DM so kind to let me play it :-)
Customer avatar
Mervyn H February 02, 2019 5:01 am UTC
PURCHASER
After reading the class a couple more times, as well as others' comments and discussions, I'm really starting to agree with that. I suppose we can look at the Pugilist almost like a rogue, who, barring any magic items, also caps out at 17 AC. From a mechanical view though, I think the pugilist will have a bit more defensive power as well as handling more crowd control in the offense category when compared to the rogue and their just straight HP damage.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H February 02, 2019 7:14 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hi Marvyn, Adrian hit all the points I would have made. Another consideration in this is also that since Pugilist's can use Constitution in place of Dexterity for AC, they get double the benefits for a good Constitution - increased AC and increased hp.

Of all the suggestions you made, I think the least invasive and most mechanically sound is increasing the hit die to a d10. The feedback, however, is mostly that this is unnecessary and that Pugilist's stay up through Brace Up and Bloodied but Unbowed (with the rare use of Dig Deep).
Customer avatar
Michael G February 08, 2019 2:52 am UTC
PURCHASER
So the Temporary Hit Points compensate for the relatively average HP. Ok, I can understand that.
But does Brace Up really generate enough THP to also make up for a comparatively average, even low, AC? Especially at high levels?

Sorry to keep pestering you about this. I haven't had the opportunity to play this class, nor have I seen it be played, so it's a little difficult to wrap my head around this AC calculation combined with the THP generation. To know if they are enough for a front row fighter.

I'm sure you've done your due diligence, it just, the AC doesn't feel right to me. Of course, what we feel and what Is right are two separate things.
Thank you for all your work.
Customer avatar
Steven C February 08, 2019 3:08 am UTC
PURCHASER
In my experience so far it goes both ways. Level 5.

Either I'm totally fine or the temp hp doesn't work. There have been some instances where missing a save our something pops Dig Deep then another failed save puts me down. That'll happen for any character though. Do it kind of depends how you moxie.
Customer avatar
Jakob S January 22, 2019 2:07 pm UTC
d8 seems kinda low tbh. Iron chin already leaves you with low AC. I can kinda see the "not dodging but rather taking a lot of hits" style but HP doesnt seem that high either. Bloodied but unbound gives you a bit of extra HP but not that often. And from the feel Pugilist should be d10.

And dig deeps cost of exhaustion seems rather steep.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H January 25, 2019 3:54 pm UTC
CREATOR
Pugilists generate a TON of temporary hit points (when they need to). Older drafts did have a higher die, a d12 even, but public feedback was overwhelmingly that it needed to be lower.

Pugilists also benefit from being able to make Constitution their second or first highest stat since it adds to both AC and HP for them so they almost always have higher how than other d8 classes.
Customer avatar
Chris W April 04, 2019 9:09 am UTC
PURCHASER
I hear you, man. But outside of the brawler types, soaking up damage isn't the goal for most boxers. Even the ones with solid chins. generally had good to great defense. Whitaker, Tyson, Ali, Mayweather, Hopkins. Only in the Rocky movies is the goal to absorb punishment and hope your foe gets tired of hitting you.
Customer avatar
PATRICIA SANGIOGO S January 21, 2019 11:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Customer avatar
Slox N December 11, 2018 2:04 am UTC
PURCHASER
I think you should consider changing Haymaker to work with just unarmed strikes only and not with pugilist weapons because it could be easily broken when combined with features like paladin's divine smite especially sense
divine smite can be chosen after the attack hits, but otherwise I think its an amazing class.
Customer avatar
Jesse A January 11, 2019 1:39 am UTC
PURCHASER
Problem with that is you can already use divine smite with unarmed strikes same with the extra dmg from a barbs rage as the unarmed strike counts as a melee weapon attack
Customer avatar
Gerrit K March 08, 2019 12:38 am UTC
PURCHASER
The thing is you maximize the weapons damage die, you still have to roll the smite damage or other extra damage effects. So i think its fine
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