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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, Hand of Dread, 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 Adamantine Update?

June 2019 marks the Pugilist class' 3rd anniversary on the DM's Guild. We celebrated the occasion by adding new content to the Pugilist:

  • New background prompts and personaltiy quirks to help you build your next Pugilist character.
  • A new fight club, the Hand of Dread.

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 (18)
Discussions (108)
Customer avatar
Doug R December 13, 2019 1:38 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Just wanted to say thanks for this - it's one of very few homebrew classes I've seen that I wish DNDBeyond would look at adding to their setup or allow us to add (if they ever FINALLY add the ability to create classes).
Customer avatar
Jared V December 08, 2019 2:46 am UTC
PURCHASER
Also "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". As a player who reads that. I expected this to be a damage dealing ability, but in fact is not. You just regain 1 moxie point back. Constructive criticism from me would be to completely change this feature as it doesn't really have a use.
Customer avatar
Steven C December 08, 2019 4:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
It looks like you're reading abilities without actually thinking about what they say.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee: You are effectively using cross-counter. What does "cross counter" do? It allows you to reduce damage and also, conditionally, make another attack. It also gives you another moxie point. What do moxie points do? They allow you to make additional attacks. How? via "One Two Tree Floor" and "The Old One-Two".

If your modifiers don't increase, how else can you deal more damage? Do more attacks.
Customer avatar
Jared V December 08, 2019 2:26 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm missing something here, please clarify. From what I've read about the class it seems like you have plenty of attacks, but they're weak. You roll 1d6 for your unarmed attack and that's it. I see the dice changes as you level but what other attack bonuses do you have. None of the subclasses really stand out to me for laying down the hurt. Again, I feel as though I'm misunderstanding this class.
Customer avatar
Steven C December 08, 2019 4:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
You spend moxie points and reactions to do more damage, also see the answer to your other question.
Customer avatar
Niko S December 04, 2019 5:37 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Iron Chin rule question. If I were to play a lizardfolk pugilist, who have natural armour 13+dex and Iron Chin gives 12+con, how would that end up? Would it be 15+con (natural + iron chin + con) or 13+con or dex, or would it be a choice between natural armour or Iron Chin?
Customer avatar
Richard S December 05, 2019 4:55 am UTC
PURCHASER
You would have to choose between 13+dex or 12+con
Customer avatar
Richard S November 02, 2019 6:56 am UTC
PURCHASER
I love the pugilist! Had my hands on a pirated copy of the pdf and never used it, but now that I have the chance in an upcoming campaign I noticed a difference between Iron Chin in the different versions. I like the new version, but one problem I have with it is that it reduces the usefulness of any magical light armor you find unless your dex is equal to your con in comparison to the older version. I probably sound a little entitled, but would it be possible to also have the option for replacing dex with con in AC calculations?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H November 02, 2019 4:47 pm UTC
CREATOR
Can you clarify that? Why would the usefulness of magical light armor be any less?
Customer avatar
Richard S November 02, 2019 5:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The new text of iron chin is that you can replace your ac calculation with 12 + con. if you make a 12 dex 16 con pugilist you have a +1 and +3 mod respectively. That's 15 ac for the pugilist. Say said pugilist finds +1 studded leather. You would have to make the choice between using the armor calculation (12 + 1 + 1 = 14) or the iron chin calculation (12 + 3 = 15). In older versions the pugilist could wear the armor like this: (12 + 1 + 3 = 16).
Customer avatar
Benjamin H November 03, 2019 12:21 am UTC
CREATOR
I don't know how much older the version you were looking at was but it was never intended that you would add both Dexterity mod and Con mod to AC.
Customer avatar
Richard S November 03, 2019 2:10 am UTC
PURCHASER
I am referring to replacing dex with con. So wearing normal leather armor would give 11 + con, rather than 11 + dex
Customer avatar
David F November 03, 2019 6:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Basically, in older versions you could get +1 studded leather (13) + con mod and the like. Now it is always either 12+con or armor worn (say the aforementioned 13) + dex mod.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H November 03, 2019 11:25 pm UTC
CREATOR
Because wearing magic armor gives an AC boost it still applies even with Iron Chin. Leather studded armor +1 isn't AC 13 + Dexterity modifier it's AC 12 + Dexterity modifier + 1. It's the same logic with Iron Chin. You have AC 12 + Constitution modifier due to Iron Chin then if you have magic armor it's bonuses are added as normal.
Customer avatar
David F November 17, 2019 2:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I am not convinced that works with RAW. 5th Edition uses armor calculations for determining AC, if you wear armor your AC calculation is armor value + dex + enhancement bonus. Iron Chin gives its own AC calculation that has no mention of working with the enhancement bonus of armor worn. If you wished for it to be the way you are looking for it to be you need to spell it out.
Customer avatar
Darius V October 23, 2019 4:49 pm UTC
PURCHASER
"Unarmed. When you make an unarmed attack you can choose to deal the damage of this weapon instead of your normal unarmed attack damage."
So is this property of these simple melee weapons only really meant to benefit Monks and Pugilist? Does this really serve any benefits on other classes? Has making any one of these finesse ever come in mind?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H October 25, 2019 3:04 am UTC
CREATOR
No, those weapons are actually more beneficial for other classes than Pugilist and Monk (who will get to deal good damage unarmed anyway). I can't really picture what brawling aid would also use finesse but I'm not ideologically opposed to the idea.
Customer avatar
Darius V October 25, 2019 3:11 am UTC
PURCHASER
Can you explain how the "Unarmed" property benefits other classes? I'm not sure what practical use it would really give for most classes (except for Pugilist and Monk). You still have to use the hand space for these items which makes them the equivalent of weapons and at that point why not just attack with the weapon (ex. Fighter or Barbarian or Bard etc, just hits you with a Brass Knuckle instead of using an unarmed strike, because why would they?) rather than use the "Unarmed" Property on these items? I can see how it really benefits a Monk or Pugilist as they have bonus action attacks that state "You must make a unarmed strike" which means you could then use one of these Simple Weapons damage + magical properties whereas if you just used your fist it would not add the magical part.
Customer avatar
Darius V October 25, 2019 3:18 am UTC
PURCHASER
Also I was thinking a hand claw maybe could work for some type of finesse item, as an example.
Customer avatar
Micah P September 06, 2019 1:28 am UTC
PURCHASER
I haven't played this class yet, but I love the flavor of the Pugilist. At first glance, it seems a little fragile for a melee-exclusive character. Is that intentional? How would the class change if you bumped the hit die to a d10? Or having the moxie points equal the pugilist level? Would that mess with the in game balance too much?
Customer avatar
Micah P September 06, 2019 3:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
One other thing, is there any particular reason you have Iron Chin as 12+Con rather than an Unarmored Defense that more nearly matched the Barbarian?
Customer avatar
Justin G October 27, 2019 4:32 am UTC
PURCHASER
Pugilists are supposed to get a great deal of durability thanks to their "bulk up" ability which grants them a bunch of temp HP. also pugilists get more moxie than you think, they get a short rest ability to regain all their moxie when they hit half HP, effectively giving them moxie equal to their pugilist level.
Customer avatar
Nick D August 10, 2019 5:04 am UTC
PURCHASER
Been playing the class for a few months now, absolutely having a ball with it. Just hit level 5 last session, just wanted to clarify something on Haymakers. Where it says you make all weapon attack rolls with disadvantage, does this also include unarmed strikes?
Customer avatar
Steven C August 10, 2019 3:49 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Yes. Wouldn't be a very good trade off if you didn't actually suffer a negative effect. For the most part I end up using it only when I have advantage, then it's just a normal attack roll.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 10, 2019 6:03 pm UTC
CREATOR
Yes, it includes unarmed strikes.
Customer avatar
David F August 23, 2019 11:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
In my campaign we've been reading haymaker as always being at disadvantage even if you have advantage on the attack. Is this the correct way to do this or should they be canceling each other out as normal?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 25, 2019 3:08 pm UTC
CREATOR
The disadvantage caused by Haymakers follows all the normal rules for disadvantage and advantage, so if you use Haymaker but have advantage on your attacks the advantage and disadvantage cancel one another (you still get the damage benefit of using Haymaker though).
Customer avatar
Logan B August 07, 2019 6:45 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Does the Squared Circle have a modified grapple? Since they are a ground specialist or is it the normal grapple?
Customer avatar
Steven C August 10, 2019 3:52 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Why would they need modified grapple? Is there some limitation of the normal grapple you don't like?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H August 10, 2019 6:05 pm UTC
CREATOR
Most of their features modify grappling in some way. Other than the ways those features explicitly state, no.
Customer avatar
Dan H July 24, 2019 5:35 am UTC
PURCHASER
Man do I love this class, and the new subclasses just make it better and better. It's actually kind of funny how I was thinking up a custom subclass to give them Warlock, pact-based powers and suddenly I don't have to! Absolutely love this. Maybe next up you can think of a Captain America shield-bearer type of Pugilist? Or maybe something more along the druidic lines? Partial Wild Shaper who transforms portions of their body for animal-like abilities? Hell, maybe a proper 'Penitent Pummeler' whose Paladin-like powers let them wrestle Fiends into submission? I can't wait to see how much more this class can evolve, and look forward to continue allowing it in my own home games.
Customer avatar
Steven T July 15, 2019 6:37 pm UTC
I don't understand why people would play Monk if the Pugilist is a thing. The unarmed damage and Unarmored defense is just better for Pugilist than Monk's
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 16, 2019 11:00 pm UTC
CREATOR
Stunning Strikes is probably the single most powerful feature in 5e. In exchange for not being able to stun an enemy 20 times per short rest, the Pugilist deals am average of +1 damage per hit over the Monk.

I have no idea what you mean about Iron Chin v Unarmored Defense since the later is going to always be equal to or higher.
Customer avatar
Devin B September 04, 2019 5:52 pm UTC
Alright cool I didn't know if you thought the class was weak or not, glad you at least recognize that it has little to compare to monk.
Customer avatar
Steven T November 20, 2019 4:42 am UTC
Sorry for such late reply but I realize now that each class is actually fairly even. Monk is more defensive while Pugilist is very offense oriented.

And the Unarmored Defense v Iron Chin argument was focusing on the fact Pugilist gets HP and defense from it, but after seeing it in action, it's not as troublesome as I initially thought. I apologize for making the initial statement.

Flavor-wise, I still feel that pugilist has a clear advantage over monk.
Customer avatar
David F June 26, 2019 2:03 pm UTC
PURCHASER
For Deal with the Devil, are you using pugilist level for the prerequisites of certain invocations or does it only get to choose ones that don't have level prerequisites?
Customer avatar
C… S June 27, 2019 5:30 am UTC
PURCHASER
Also, does the Tomb of Levistus invocation count your pugilist level rather than warlock level? (I'd assume so, but you should specify in the text)
Also also, you need to define the spell save DC for Mask of Many Faces and Misty Visions.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 16, 2019 10:56 pm UTC
CREATOR
Your Pugilist level counts for the prerequisites.

And thanks for those other pointers - when this gets revised I will address those issues.
Customer avatar
Matt F September 23, 2019 10:17 am UTC
PURCHASER
It would be useful to clarify the list of useable invocations also. Assumption is that those related to the warlock pacts would be off-limits? Such as Aspects of the Moon.

Love your work, wish it could be incorporated into dndbeyond!
Customer avatar
Matt F September 23, 2019 7:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Also, where a spell such as Signs of Ill Omen is cast using a warlock spell slot, how does this scale with the pugilist level? I know these will be addressed in an update, just wanted to highlight them.
Customer avatar
Lee P June 22, 2019 4:59 pm UTC
For anyone still curious about AC calculations and balance, I am using the free preview and I'm testing out this for one of my NPCs and seeing how it feels.

Iron Chin
Beginning at 1st level, while you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, your AC equals 10 your Dexterity Modifier + Constitution modifier + Wisdom modifier.

The way I see it is the Con modifier represents hits taken (like armor), Dex equals your ability to dodge, and Wisdom is your ability to anticipate what your opponent will do. It is a bit MAD so it shouldn't be too high, but should scale into higher levels.
Customer avatar
Robert W June 24, 2019 2:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
That is insanely OP; as Iron Chin stands it allows a maximum of AC 17 without magic items. Your proposed change would give it a theoretical maximum of 25 without magic items. For comparison the Barb and Monk have max. AC 20 with their Unarmoured Defence features and even a Fighter with plate armour, shield and armoured fighting style only gets to 21. If you were to make a change to the ability I would change it to 10+Dex+Con; same as a Barbarian. Adding Wis into the mix doesn't really make sense.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H June 24, 2019 7:21 pm UTC
CREATOR
Robert is right that this AC change would be pretty far out of balance with existing 5e features. Secondarily, it goes against the themes of the Pugilist class. If you are finding the class is struggling to stay up in a fight, consider increasing it's hit die before increasing it's AC. The Pugilist gains power from taking damage so, ultimately, you really don't want people missing a bunch of attacks against you.
Customer avatar
Steven T July 15, 2019 6:39 pm UTC
The actual ability states it lets you replace Dex mods (for light armor and other things) with Con
Customer avatar
Lee P July 27, 2019 6:04 pm UTC
"wearing no armor and not wielding a shield" Assuming someone maxes both Dex and Con to their max of 20, gaining +5 to both, my math shows that would max out at 20, 22 if you use bracers of defense. Where are you getting a maximum of 25? And how would someone max both Dex and Con when they also need Strength for this being a pugilist?

When I did the math it didn't change that much?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H July 28, 2019 11:28 pm UTC
CREATOR
Maybe you didn't mean to, Lee, but your original post suggested you were changing the AC calculation to 10 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier + Wisdom modifier (which would create a possible max AC of 25).
Customer avatar
finn D June 03, 2019 11:01 am UTC
PURCHASER
hey just a quick question:

With float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Do you get a moxie point, when you reduce the attack to 0 and when you hit the creature with the following attack for a total of 2 points or (the one I assume is correct) get 1 when you have succesfully done both?
If it's the second one, what situation would the "(up to your maximum)" be relevant for, because you'll always use 2 moxie points and only regain 1.

Sorry if it's nitpicky, was just curious if I am not using the class as it is intended to.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H June 03, 2019 11:59 pm UTC
CREATOR
The one you assume is correct is correct.

As for the "up to your maximum" language, unless something really strange happens it's probably not going to come up. I guess if the creature was able to attack you back when you made the unarmed strike and deal damage to you (or you take damage from hitting it, possibly because it's on fire or something) triggering your Bloodied But Unbowed feature then it's possible it would be relevant.
Customer avatar
David F June 15, 2019 10:53 am UTC
PURCHASER
Even then I believe both take reactions to use so you wouldn't be able to use Bloodied but Unbowed from the conditional damage of say punching a creature with heated body.
Customer avatar
Jonathan K May 28, 2019 2:40 am UTC
PURCHASER
Question about grapple to prone like with club feature "To the Matt"
Would this then make myself prone also? My DM is calling that if I ever take someone prone then I am also prone but i feel this isn't right. (other than the DM is always right...)
Customer avatar
Jonathan K May 28, 2019 3:19 am UTC
PURCHASER
If I am prone for the action this is fine but would I be able to hold them prone after standing. ie foot on back, choke-hold, arm bar, a little something something.
Customer avatar
Benjamin H May 28, 2019 3:04 pm UTC
CREATOR
That is your DM's house rule and not how pushing someone prone works for the Pugilist specifically or in 5e generally.
Customer avatar
Jonathan K May 29, 2019 12:19 am UTC
PURCHASER
He is open to discussion I just cant find any material on this subject out there. Can you offer some insight to how you think it should be working? Using the 5E The Grappler's Manual as a reference but it does not cover this question.
Customer avatar
Steven C May 29, 2019 1:56 am UTC
PURCHASER
You're clothes lining them. You have to remember, that fight club is essentially WWE. The enemy bouces off the ropes back at you, you Dodge and clothes line them and they hit the ground. You don't also go down when you clothes line someone
Customer avatar
Jonathan K May 29, 2019 2:11 am UTC
PURCHASER
someone just sent me this too. which is very helpful!
https://www.sageadvice.eu/2016/09/14/does-grappling-a-prone-target-make-you-prone/
You might ask "But if I'm wrestling them doesn't that mean I'm all on the ground hugging the creature?" and the answer is no. To visualize with the way the rules are, you're basically just constantly moving around and keeping them on the ground, off balance, and pressing them down where you can. It's an active activity. Well, I'm no wrestler but you could look up some wrestling videos to see how wrestlers maintain control without going prone themselves.
Customer avatar
Bartholomew F May 19, 2019 10:54 pm UTC
I've been loving Pugilist, amazingly well balanced.
Question about Street Smart. Is it intended to let you go without sleep?
Customer avatar
Benjamin H May 20, 2019 1:29 am UTC
CREATOR
No. D&D is kind of weird about resting and sleep. You have to sleep unless you have a trait or feature that says otherwise or else you'll start accruing exhaustion. Something being considered "light activity" just means you can do it as part of a short or long rest. You might be able to skip sleep for a night but push it past that and there will be consequences (or, at least, I believe the designers intend there to be - it's not clearly spelled out that I'm aware of).
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on June 06, 2016.