I recently had the what I believed was an original thought I wanted to build a strength-based monk. We were embarking on a new campaign, and the advice from the DM was to “Git ya eye patches out, it’ll be a slightly piratey theme”. I had an idea to be the hardworking, bar-brawling, Iron Mike Tyson-built half-orc deckhand Gunner Rogers. The fisticuffs seemed to me a key part of the concept, and while the monk class is more or less fit for purpose, I wondered if someone else had the idea of redesigning the monk class with bare knuckle brawling in mind.
Lo and behold, I found the Pugilist Class on DMs Guild, and it was precisely what I was looking for. It was a far superior take on the concept that I had managed to put together, and had been subject to considerable evolution as well – it celebrated its 3rd anniversary on the DM’s Guild in June this year.
There is much to recommend this product, but two things in particular stand out as just delectable flavour wins:
- The ability of monks to harness the mystic energy of ki in D&D is replaced by the concept of “moxie”. In the words of the author, “Pugilists unconsciously tap into their own inner strength in the form of moxie. This is not an esoteric or mystical
energy that flows through the multiverse, but the result of determination forged over a lifetime of hardship with a never-say-die attitude.” In other words, it’s not about magic – it’s about swagger.
- All pugilists belong to a Fight Club, an informal fraternity of brawlers with similar style, that shapes the way they fight. If you join the Squared Circle at 3rd level, you get to complement your stand-up techniques with a series of grappling and groundwork techniques, including compression locks, quick pins, and advanced takedowns.
Before I knew it, I’d created a half-orc MMA fighter, and was describing my actions using language straight out of Joe Rogan and the colour commentators from the UFC broadcast team. But more than this, the gameplay of the Squared Circle pugilist is immensely rewarding. Best described by one of the reviewers on DMG:
It’s a high risk, high reward class. You’re 5 hp from a dirt nap, 1 moxie left in the tank, you have your enemy on the ground, under you, bucking and swinging for your head, Do you brace up and dig deep to survive a few more hits, dragging its sorry ass over to your buddies for a stomping, or do you go all-out, throwing 4 wild haymakers into it, turning it into a bloody smear as everyone around you cheers?
Are you not entertained?
This is a great product for expanding your fighter-based play-style: well conceived, carefully balanced and well written. You can test out a free version for yourself or buy the full version for less than $5. You can also grab the Character Sheet here.