Pathfinder Society — Brawler Level 1


Playtest Feedback


Character Build
Brawler 1
Human
Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 13
Wis 10
Cha 12

Traits:
Threatening Defender (Cheliax, Empire of Devils 19)
Affable (Champions of Purity 13)

Feats:
Toughness
Combat Expertise

Attack Line:
Unarmed Strike +4 (1d6+3)

Defenses:
AC: 15 (3 armor, 2 dex), 16 AC with combat expertise

Background:
Dax was orphaned during the Goblinblood Wars and spent her youth as a rough and tumble street fighter in Elidir. She turned to the worship of Kurgess as an escape from the oppressive environs. Inspired by the courage of her hero, she made her way south to Andoran, largely relying on a ready smile and the kindness of strangers to help her on her way.

Build Philosophy:
It seems like Martial Maneuvers is the cornerstone of the class, lending instantaneous in combat flexibility. I'm building the character as a generalist, with base feats that will allow for maximum feat chaining: Combat Expertise, Power Attack (which I almost took at first level instead), and weapon focus. I've got my eye on using Martial Maneuvers for the Improved [CMD] feats, as well as a few styles such as Dragon Style.

Confirmation PFS Playtest
Warning: SPOILERS

Party Composition and Marching Order:
Fighter (2-handed)
Warpriest
Brawler
Sorcerer (burning hands, color spray)
Alchemist
Druid

1st Encounter: Swarm
The brawler performed about as well as a 1st level melee character can be expected to do versus a swarm. She benefitted from her high fort save, and threw an acid flask (and missed, haha).

2nd Encounter: Undead
My character benefitted from her high hit points and bludgeoning damage. The high hit points (and reasonably good AC) allowed me to get into position to defend casters with impunity while taking some AoOs. I had acrobatics as a skill, but simply moved because of distance.

3rd Encounter: Young Gelatinous Cube
Moving up in single file, the fighter runs straight into the cube and promptly becomes paralyzed. At this point, I wish I had taken power attack so I could use Martial Maneuvers for Improved Bull Rush. I decided to go for broke, and bull rushed the gelatinous cube anyway down the narrow hallway and into an open space. From a purely qualitative point of view, I felt like this was the moment that was built for the Brawler. There was a niche combat situation, and had I selected my feats differently, I could have really taken advantage of it. I was going to grapple the fighter out of the cube in the next round, but it choose to abandon the fighter and try to engulf me instead, which I managed to escape.

4th Encounter: Minotaur
Combat setup: We emerged from a cave and saw the baddie about 120 feet away, across a stream. The brawler benefitted from the 30 foot movement speed and skills. After a round of positioning, in the second round I managed a running leap over the stream and charged into combat. Already injured from my companions' spells and bombs, the Minotaur attempted to escape, and I landed a dramatic AoO crit and downed the creature.

Overall Feedback:
First of all, I did not built an overly min-maxed Brawler, and I'm very well aware that I could have had a lot more strength or dex. But I built a character that is very much in line with my personal preference and play style. While not crippling, I feel like the character is a bit on the weak side mechanically. Compared to a regular monk with flurry of blows and a regular fighter with higher weapon damage (and a bonus feat), the 1d6+3 per round is a bit underwhelming. If you count Martial Maneuvers as roughly equivalent to a bonus feat, the Brawler still might benefit from getting Brawler's flurry at 1st level.

Additionally, after reading the blog post last week, I looked at the close weapons list. But quite frankly, the close weapons list still contains a bunch of Asian weapons, and is really weak compared to the monk list. Most of them are 1d3 or 1d4 damage, and I'd rather not use them at all. The only exception is using a spiked shield with the bashing property, but even then brawlers aren't proficient with shields as armor :) Perhaps the brawler can use his own unarmed damage when using a close weapon...but then again, I foresee a lot of unintended consequences (read: game-breaking) with that option.

I suggest using close, monk AND light blades as options for the Brawler.

Scarab Sages

As for weapons, Punching Daggers and Cestus are both close weapons. Neither are asian, the cestus has a choice in damage types and they both have a nicer crit profile than a plain x2 to compensate for the d4 damage.

Scarab Sages

I had a very similar experience today playing a Brawler through The Confirmation.

Character Build
Stelio
Brawler 1
Half-Orc
Str 18
Dex 12
Con 14
Int 13
Wis 10
Cha 10

Traits:
Friend in Every Town (Ultimate Campaign)
Bad Reputation (Guide to Organized Play)

Feats:
Enforcer

Attack Line:
Unarmed Strike +5 (1d6+4)
CMB +5

Defenses:
AC: 15 (4 armor, 1 dex)

Background: Stelio grew up in his home country of Varisia, a member of the "family," but viewed as an outsider due to his Orc blood. His brutish size, however, kept him useful to his cousins, and he soon found his place as an Enforcer, making sure the family's business associates kept up their end of the deal. Stelio took no pleasure in the work, and he was smarter than his cousins gave him credit for. When he saw the in flux of Pathfinders to Varisia, he spoke to cousin Karela, who encouraged him to join the organization and prove himself outside the family, while helping Guaril keep tabs as well.

Build Philosophy: Similar to yours, though I wanted him to start out with Enforcer due to his background. I took the City-Raised Half-Orc alternate trait, so he carries a whip in addition to his fists and a couple of javelins. I see Weapon Focus as probably his 2nd level bonus feat, then Power Attack at 3rd, and Combat Expertise at 5th, with either Toughness or Intimidating Prowess. I figured he might still have trouble hitting at low levels, especially once flurry comes online, so that's why I'm delaying Power Attack. By 3rd level I should have Brawling armor and Weapon Focus, so it will offset the Power Attack and TWF penalties. That will still leave me with just a +7 to hit, which is not great, but should be ok. Like with the monk, not having cheap access to a +1 to hit from a masterwork weapon hurts. The whip will hopefully give him extra mileage out of Maneuver Training and the Improved Maneuver feats when they are picked up through Maneuver Master. Really, I want to build him with Dirty Trick in mind. It would be nice if that was included in the flurry options, as it fits great thematically.

Confirmation PFS Playtest
Warning: SPOILERS

Party Composition and Marching Order:
Seelah Level 1 Paladin pre-gen
Stelio Brawler 1
Cleric 2 (Sarenrae, I believe)
Wizard 1 (Illusionist)

1st Encounter:
Swarm
Similarly, I threw one alchemist's fire and hit... For minimum damage. The rest of the group took it out with two more alchemist fires.

2nd Encounter:
Undead
We suffered from losing initiative, so we were all stuck in the hallway behind the Paladin. I broke out the whip and managed to trip the skeleton in the doorway despite the cover penalty from the Paladin being in the way. The Paladin cleared one of the skeletons out of the way, and I managed to get in the room. Two low rolls later, and even with a flank and an extra bonus on the flank, I missed twice. The rest of the party managed to take out the remaining undead, with Seelah dealing most of the damage.

3rd Encounter:
Gelatinous Cube
I got one look at it and decided I didn't want to punch it. We were similarly trapped in a 5 foot hallway, so I initially backed up to let the cleric get closer with her alkali flask. I threw a javelin and hit for max damage (10 points). The alkali flask and other damage finished it off, but not until after it had engulfed the paladin, who lived.

4th Encounter:
Minotaur
We similarly emerged with some distance to the Minotaur and Halfling. As the only one with a 30 move, I headed straight towards them, drawing a javelin as I did. Double move on the first round. Second round threw the javelin and used Maneuver Master to gain Weapon Focus Unarmed Strike. The javelin hit for minimum damage, I think. 5 points. Third round I jumped the river thanks to having a rank in Acrobatics and rolling high. I drew the whip as I ran, and I landed 15 feet from the Minotaur, so I tried to disarm him. I rolled low, so didn't even come close. During all of this, the paladin, cleric, and wizard were making their way toward the bridge, and the paladin, having used smite evil, put a few arrows into the Minotaur. The halfling was taking a beating, though. The Minotaur five footed away from me and continued to attack the Halfling. Not wanting to take a hit from that axe, I tried the disarm again. I rolled a 19 on the die, for a total of 26, and still didn't succeed, since he had it gripped in two hands. The Halfling ran on her next round, provoking an AoO, so I advanced to close combat. I missed. The Minotaur did not, hitting me twice and taking me to -3. Orc Ferocity kept me standing, and I hit on my next round with my fist for 10 points before I dropped. Seelah then crit with an arrow and that was it for the Minotaur. The wizard, unfortunately, didn't have much with a long enough range to affect the Minotaur. The cleric had headed for the Halfling to heal her. So, again, Seelah did most of the damage. I definitely missed Monk AC in this fight, but at least got one shot in. I did forget to declare non-lethal, so I didn't get a Demoralize off.

Overall Thoughts:
I liked the flavor of the character a lot. I probably could have pulled off a similar feel with one of the fighter archetypes or Martial Artist, but this felt ok. The extra skill points above a fighter meant I was useful out of combat. I was the only one with knowledge local, and thanks to a trait and the City-Raised alternate Half-Orc racial trait, I had a +8, so it was even a decent roll for me. In the role play encounter, we decided on diplomacy, so I mostly stayed out of it, but made sure to let the cleric know, "You get tired of talking nice, I take over." That wasn't necessary. At first level, there didn't seem to be enough to make the Brawler special. The increased unarmed damage was nice, but Maneuver Master was more or less an afterthought, saved until the last encounter to ultimately use it to get a +1 to hit. Once I have more of the base feats, I'm sure it will be more useful, but for this run, the Paladin's Smite Evil did a lot more for us than Weapon Focus did for me. The close weapon group didn't bother me, but there isn't a whole lot exciting in there either. Ultimately I'll likely pick up a cestus or something. I picked the javelins over a crossbow to have something ranged that would let me take advantage of my strength. Despite the low bonus to hit, I hit more with those than with my fists. The whip actually added a lot of options to the character and gave me something to do when I couldn't get into range for fists. It's also nice that I don't have to drop it if I decide to swing my fists. Too bad it won't be a flurry weapon. I do agree 1d6+4 wasn't that impressive. I would definitely not have been able to be the sole damage dealer in the group. Seelah doesn't deal a ton of damage either, but it was good there were two of us.

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