Pugilist (3.5e Prestige Class)

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In every city, there are people who love to fight, bare fisted, no holds barred. In many cities, there are guilds of such pugilists. They stage competitions among their members, put on exhibitions, and challenge armored warriors to see whose techniques are more effective. Depending on the guild, they might also arrange contracts when someone needs to be roughed up a little without inflicting permanent injury.

Pugilists come from all walks of life, but many start out as street brawlers or thugs. Monks have the right talents, but disdain the pugilist's narrow focus and lack of discipline.


Alignment: Any nonlawful.

Base Attack Bonus: +6.

Feats: Combat Expertise, Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike).

Skills: Bluff 5 ranks.


  1. Challenge all comers for at least an hour in a crowded bar or on a busy street corner (or equivalent), and win at least two-thirds of your matches.
  2. Go unarmed one-on-one against a veteran soldier with heavy armor and a weapon of war, and win.
  3. Accept a challenge from a current guild member, and remain conscious for at least a minute.

Assuming you survive, you can keep trying all of the qualifying tests until you succeed. Pugilists respect perseverance.

Table: The Pugilist
Hit Die: d10
Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Unarmed
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 [step 1] Improved Feint
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Improved Combat Expertise
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 +1 step
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 1/–
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 1/– Sneak Attack +1d6
6th +6 +5 +2 +2 +1 step 1/–
7th +7 +5 +2 +2 2/–
8th +8 +6 +2 +2 2/– Lightning Feint
9th +9 +6 +3 +3 +1 step 2/–
10th +10 +7 +3 +3 3/–
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).

Class Features[edit]

Table: Pugilist Unarmed Damage by Step and Size
Step Size
Small Medium Large
1 1d4 1d6 1d8
2 1d6 1d8 2d6
3 1d8 1d10 2d8
4 1d10 2d6 3d6
5 2d6 2d8 3d8
6 2d8 2d10 4d8

All the following are class features of the Pugilist:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A pugilist does not gain any proficiency with weapons or armor.

Unarmed Damage (Ex)

A pugilist deals more damage with an unarmed strike than a normal person would.

If the character dealt normal damage with an unarmed strike before becoming a pugilist, then at 1st level she does damage at step 1 on Table: Pugilist Unarmed Damage by Step and Size, according to her size. If she already dealt increased damage before becoming a pugilist, her damage does not change at 1st level. In either case, her unarmed combat damage increases one step each at 3rd, 6th, and 9th levels. In no case can she increase beyond step 6.

For example, an 8th level halfling monk deals 1d8 unarmed damage, which is step 3 on Table: Pugilist Unarmed Damage by Step and Size for a small character. If that character then becomes a pugilist (requiring her to become nonlawful), her unarmed damage does not change at 1st level. If she continues as a pugilist, at 3rd level her unarmed damage increases one step to 1d10, at 6th level her unarmed damage increases to 2d6, and at 9th level her unarmed damage increases to 2d8.

Improved Feint (Ex)

A pugilist is adept at throwing a defender off balance with feints and fancy footwork.

Starting at 1st level, a pugilist can make a Bluff check to feint in combat either as a move action, or in place of an attack during a full attack action.

Improved Combat Expertise (Ex)

A pugilist is adept at dodging and weaving to avoid blows.

Starting at 2nd level, any AC bonus the pugilist receives from applying Combat Expertise is doubled, to a maximum of +10. This bonus applies only when wearing light or no armor, carrying no more than a light load, and carrying nothing in either hand.

Damage Reduction (Ex)

A pugilist becomes thick-skinned from constant sparring.

At 4th level, a pugilist gains damage reduction 1/–. The amount of damage reduction increases to 2/– at 7th level and 3/– at 10th level.

Sneak Attack

Starting at 5th level, a pugilist’s unarmed strike deals an extra 1d6 damage any time his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the pugilist flanks his target. This extra damage stacks with sneak attack damage from another class. Should the pugilist score a critical hit with a sneak attack, the sneak attack damage is not multiplied.

A pugilist can choose to deal nonlethal damage with his sneak attack.

A pugilist can sneak attack only living creatures with discernible anatomies — undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. The pugilist must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A pugilist cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

Lightning Feint (Ex)

Starting at 8th level, a pugilist can make a Bluff check to feint in combat as a swift action. If he succeeds, his opponent is denied a Dexterity bonus to AC for every attack the pugilist makes up until the beginning of his next turn.

The Epic Pugilist[edit]

Table: The Epic Pugilist
Hit Die: d10
Level Damage
11th 3/– Sneak Attack +2d6
12th 3/–
13th 4/–
14th 4/– Bonus feat
15th 4/–
16th 5/–
17th 5/– Sneak Attack +3d6
18th 5/–
19th 6/–
20th 6/– Bonus feat

Skill Points Per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Unarmed Combat Bonus Feats (Ex)

At 14th level, and again at 20th level, an epic pugilist gains a bonus feat. This feat must be selected from the list of fighter bonus feats or epic fighter bonus feats, and must be applicable while fighting unarmed. An epic pugilist must meet all prerequisites for a bonus feat, including ability score and base attack bonus minimums.

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