The monk is a disciplined martial artist who spends years of practice to perfect his body and mind. A lawful paragon, the monk has strange and mysterious ki powers. But sometimes you don't want to play Bruce Lee. Sometimes you want to be Chuck Norris. No rules, no discipline, just a headbutt, a kick in the face, and a sucker punch. Bloody, ugly, but effective. If that's what you want, the Advanced Class Guide has the class you've been waiting for.
From the very first playtest version, the Brawler has also possessed some key features. She had full base attack bonus and rocked the monk's unarmed strike damage. She kept all her abilities in light armor (so appropriately, she is brutal in brawling armor). And she had a unique key feature all her own, martial maneuvers, now with a new name in the final version that better carries the awesomeness of the ability—martial flexibility. Martial flexibility is the brawler's answer for the disciplined abilities that the monk learns from all those years of study and perfection. With her flexible mind and intuitive grasp of close-quarters combat, the brawler has seen pretty much every trick in the book throughout her many bar brawls, arena fights, and adventuring combats. Martial flexibility allows her to spontaneously gain access to just the right combat feat (or later feats!) for her situation. Did someone splash ale in your eyes? Gain Blind-Fight. A spellcaster giving you the blues? Try Disruptive and Spellbreaker, maybe with an added dash of Step-Up. Giant enemy archer? Just take Deflect Arrows and they can kiss their Manyshot goodbye (after which you hit their weak point for massive damage).
During the playtest, we were all out on the forums bringing back our data, which revealed a few things. Mainly, we all discovered that martial flexibility was awesome, but the brawler could use some more tricks that she could rely on consistently and that are unique to her. Have you ever wished you could hit that weakling wizard right beneath the jaw in just the right spot to knock him out in one hit? As of the second playtest version, the brawler gained the ability to dish out an instant knockout blow starting at level 13 with a devastating DC based on the brawler's Str or Dex score (your choice!). Furthermore, she gained the ability to use Awesome Blow without being size Large, eventually gaining the ability to dropkick the tarrasque 10 feet, knocking it prone, despite being size Medium.
As of the end of the playtest, the brawler was already awesome, and she seemed to have found a good place, but there were still a few observations from playtesters that led to some tweaks for the final version. First of all, the final brawler can deal increased damage with the close weapon group (growing at a slightly reduced rate from her unarmed damage), letting her brawl with everything at her disposal. Second, the knockout ability appearing at level 13 and then growing to 3 uses per day at level 16 seemed rather late and sudden. So the final version? She can start her instant knockout attacks at level 4! And just wait until you see the frankly mind-boggling feat novas you can pull off with her new capstone!
If standard brawler flavor isn't enough, brawler has some of the most evocative archetypes in the book. Instead of using unarmed strikes, the Exemplar can inspire allies like a bard and teach them teamwork feats. If you want a brawler like Bane who is at her best due to chemical enhancements, the Mutagenic Mauler has your back. And the Shield Champion throws her shield like Captain America. I mean look at that Shield Champion. It seems like she's about to punch you in the face right after the shield hits you and leaves you reeling. How cool is that? And that's only the first half of the archetypes in the book!
So to recap, the brawler is the monk's rowdy cousin, more interested in kicking ass than contemplating koans. The brawler is the Chuck Norris base class, and she's not afraid to get her hands dirty. Are you?