Pugilist (monk)

The pugilist is the most down-to-earth of all the classes. Although prizefighting is illegal for a good portion of the Victorian age, a pugilist is respected by both rich and poor for his willingness to give his all, in the ring or elsewhere. Most pugilists train as prizefighters, despite its illegality, where they are expected to keep fighting until they can no longer stand. Victorian fights often went on for hours, with barely a rest. Rules were codified over time, but some fights still held to an “anything goes” attitude. It is these prizefighters, the ones who choose to fight without the safety rules, who are most likely to become pugilist adventurers.

Adventures: Pugilists do not shy away from adventure. Nobody who fears physical hardship starts down the path of the pugilist. Most pugilists come from poor circumstances, and feel they have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain from a life of adventure. Some pugilists are inspired by the notion of fighting for justice, while others simply enjoy the satisfaction of beating an adversary into submission. Either way, they will find many opportunities adventuring.

Characteristics: The key feature of the pugilist is his ability to fight unarmed and unarmored. Thanks to his training, he can strike as hard as if he were armed, and faster than a warrior with a sword.

Pugilists don’t cast spells, and are so grounded in simple reality that magic has no place in a pugilist’s psyche. A highly skilled pugilist can shrug off many magical effects simply by virtue of his totally mundane nature. As he gains experience, some of his abilities may seem to border on the magical, but in truth they simply stem from long training and sheer dogged stubbornness.

Alignment: Pugilists can be any alignment, though they are less often lawful, since prizefighting is often engaged in illegally. It is possible for a lawful pugilist to gain the necessary training through legal means, but the one best prepared for adventure is the one who puts his life at stake in an illegal ring.

Religion: Pugilists are not generally disposed toward the spiritual life. They may offer lip service to the religion in which they were raised, but it is the rare pugilist who is introspective enough to examine his faith.

Sex: Pugilists are almost always men, though women are not unknown in the field. Since there is no specific formal training required of a pugilist, a woman could theoretically follow the path if she found an opportunity to begin her training, but it would be a rare woman who would dare to pursue such a course. Some of the coarser members of the lower classes enjoy the novelty of watching women in the ring, so a woman who shows both interest and ability can have her chance.

Background: Pugilists usually come from the lower classes. A century earlier, gentlemen were expected to train in pugilism, but the art has become less fashionable in Victorian times. The middle and upper classes have more access to high-quality weapons that make such harsh training unnecessary.

Pugilists generally pass the practice down from father to son. Someone who shows promise in the art might be taken under the wing of an experienced pugilist. If someone from the poorer classes has a strong talent, it may prove to be his ticket out of poverty. Many pugilists are content to simply practice the sport for money, but one’s meddle is never fully tested without going against a lethal enemy of unknown abilities.

Races: Humans are the original practitioners of the art as written. Half-orcs and dwarves have taken up the style with great skill. Other races tend to prefer their own variations of the class that were developed independently in their own realms. There are tales of elves from Asia who practice a sort of unarmed combat that leads to mystical abilities (yes, monks).

Other Classes: Pugilists tend to think that practitioners of most other classes are sissies, to one degree or another. Rugby players and explorers might earn their respect, but steam warriors and nationalists hide behind their armor, rogues are afraid of an honest fight, and the casting classes hardly qualify as risk-takers at all. However, pugilists are willing to work with anyone brave enough to seek out adventure.


Pugilists have the following game statistics.
*Abilitie*s:Wisdom powers many of the pugilist’s special offensive and defensive capabilities. Dexterity provides the unarmored pugilist with a better defense and with bonuses to some class skills. Strength helps a pugilist’s unarmed combat ability.
Alignment: Any
Hit Die: d8

Class Skills

The pugilist’s class skills are Balance, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Swim, and Tumble.

Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the pugilist.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Pugilists are trained to fight with their bare hands, and would be ashamed to be seen carrying a weapon. However, when bare hands simply won’t do, a pugilist is capable of improvising. Monks begin with the Weapons of Opportunity feat (Steam & Sorcery, p. 106). Pugilists can use weapons as well as mundane objects this way, but a weapon does no more damage than any other random object of its size, though a magic weapon does get its bonuses.

Pugilists are not proficient with armor or shields, but they are highly trained at dodging blows, and the develop a “sixth sense” that lets them avoid even unanticipated attacks. A pugilist adds his Wisdom bonus (if any) to AC, in addition to his normal Dexterity modifier, and his AC improves as he gains levels. (Only add this AC bonus if the total of the pugilist’s Wisdom modifier and the number in the “AC Bonus” column on Table 3-10 is a positive number. The Wisdom bonus and the AC bonus represent a preternatural awareness of danger, and a pugilist does not lose either even in situations where he loses his Dexterity modifier due to being unprepared, ambushed, stunned, and so on. (Pugilists do lose these AC bonuses when immobilized.)

A pugilist’s special skills require freedom of movement. When wearing armor, a pugilist loses his AC bonus for Wisdom, AC bonus for class and level, favorable multiple unarmed attacks per round, and heightened movement. Furthermore, his special abilities all face the arcane spell failure chance that the armor type normally imposes. In addition, wearing armor heavier than leather imposes check penalties to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Pick Pocket, and Tumble. Also, Swim checks suffer a -1 penalty for every 5 pounds of armor or equipment carried.

Unarmed Strike: See Monk: Unarmed Strike.

Stunning Attack: See Monk: Stunning Attack (the pugilist’s Stunning Attack does not count as a supernatural ability).

Evasion: See Monk: Evasion.

Dodge Bullets: At 2nd level, the pugilist gains the ability to dodge a projectile. He must have no armor and be carrying no more than a light load to make this attempt. Once per round when he would normally be hit with a ranged weapon, he may make a Reflex saving throw against a DC of 20 (if the ranged weapon has a magical bonus to attack, the DC increases by that amount). If he succeeds, he dodges that bullet. He must be aware of the attack and not flat-footed. Attempting to dodge a bullet doesn’t count as an action. Exceptional ranged weapons, such as boulders hurled by giants or Melf’s acid arrows, can’t be dodged.

Fast Movement: See Monk: Fast Movement.

Nobody’s Fool: At 3rd Level, a pugilist gets a +2 bonus to saving throws against spells and effects from the Illusion school, since his grounding in reality allows him to better resist mind-affecting attacks.

Slow Fall: See Monk: Slow Fall.

Tough as Nails: See Monk: Purity of Body.

Improved Trip: See Monk: Improved Trip.

Shake It Off: See Monk: Wholeness of Body

Float like a Butterfly: See Monk: Leap of the Clouds.

Improved Evasion: See Monk: Improved Evasion.

Sting like a Bee: See Monk: Ki Strike.

Tougher than Arsenic: See Monk: Diamond Body

Behind You!: At 12th level, a pugilist can take an extra five foot step as a free action.

Magic Is for Sissies: See Monk: Diamond Soul.

Down for the Count: Starting at 15th level, a pugilist knows just how to land a punch that can incapacitate his opponent. Constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to critical hits cannot be affected. The pugilist must be of a higher level than the target (or have more levels than the target’s number of Hit Dice). The pugilist may use this ability once per week, and must announce his intent before making his attack roll. If the pugilist strikes successfully, and the target takes damage from the blow, the attack succeeds. The target’s physical Abilities are reduced to one and his mental Abilities are reduced to three. His Saving Throws are appropriately reduced as well, but not his hit points. These Abilities return at a rate of one per minute. The target immediately falls down, and is unable to get up or defend himself until his physical Abilities return to three (or more if he is heavily armored, larger than medium size, etc.). While he is down, he is semi-conscious, but cannot defend against a coup-de-grace.

Tough Old Coot: See Monk: Timeless Body.

Back in the Ring: At 17th level, if a pugilist is a target of a spell with lasting effects, and that spell has a saving throw that would negate its effects, but the pugilist fails his saving throw, he may continue to make another saving throw every round. He may not take any action except that which is required of him by the spell until he either makes his saving throw or gives up. If the duration of the spell is instantaneous, but the effect is permanent (such as Flesh to Stone), he may make a saving throw once per day. These saving throws are automatic, and continue to occur as long as he attempted to make the first saving throw, even if he is not consciously aware of his situation once under the spell. This ability does not allow him to undo any damage taken in previous rounds.

Clear Head: At 19th level, a pugilist gains Spell Resistance 15 + pugilist level versus all Enchantment and Illusion spells.

Untouchable: At 20th level, a pugilist gains Damage Reduction 20/+2.


If a pugilist ever sets down a path to learn arcane magic, he loses all his special pugilist abilities. The practical, straightforward mindset of the pugilist is incompatible with the mysteries of arcane magic.

Pugilist (monk)

Victoriana Striga