Homebrew feat for non-monk / brawler unarmed combatants


Homebrew and House Rules

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Just thinking about something for people who, for whatever reason, find themselves wanting to use unarmed strike (or fist weapons) as part of their combat schtick, if only as backup -- but do not want to level as/dip into monk or the upcoming brawler. I find a lot of people avoid unarmed strikes entirely because it's annoying to roll 1d3, but of course people often throw punches, kicks, etc. in a variety of situations and I wanted to make it be a more attractive option for those who wanted it, while still leaving monks and brawlers their niche.

This would be nice for the unarmed fighter archetype.

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Bruiser
You pack a notable punch.
Prerequisites: Improved Unarmed Strike, BAB +1
When attacking with unarmed strikes, you deal 1d4 instead of 1d3 damage (if you are Large you deal 1d6 damage, if Small, 1d3). When attacking with an unarmed strike during a grapple, you add +1 to your damage (this damage multiplies on a critical hit).
Furthermore, when you attack with brass knuckles or cesti, these weapons also deal 1d4 damage instead of 1d3 (scaling appropriately for size).
Special: Monks and brawlers or other characters with an improved damage die with use their normal damage for unarmed strike, but gain the other benefits of this feat if they take it, including dealing 1d4 damage with brass knuckles and cesti.
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I don't think it's too powerful, still lets the unarmed specialist classes do their thing (and can benefit them as well). It's not meant to be optimal or for optimizers (the boost of the die I realize statistically improves damage very minimally). It's just for people who want to feel more confident about getting into a good brawl without needing certain class levels.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for reading.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

It's a really weak feat. Your average unarmed strike damage increases by 0.5 and you add +1 situational damage. If the feat was a little underpowered, that's fine, but this has a feat tax. Also, cestus already deal 1d4 damage. Even then, there's no reason for a cestus wielder to take this as the entire point of the cestus is to enable a character to do unarmed strikes without having to waste a feat on Improved Unarmed Strike.


i personally feel that Improved Unarmed Strike should increase damage to d6. Even that isn't on par with just using a weapon.


What might be fun is allow this feat to qualify you for improved grapple.


While I appreciate that it's not meant to be about optimising, there's no reason why it can't also be strong. Hell, it really ought to be, since non-monk, non-brawler unarmed characters are going to be sub-optimal. I'd aim high.

Why not have it give unarmed strikes a +1 enhancement bonus to hit, making them equivalent to a masterwork weapon? Some way around DR wouldn't hurt either.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Thanks for all of your comments.

Cyrad wrote:
It's a really weak feat. Your average unarmed strike damage increases by 0.5 and you add +1 situational damage. If the feat was a little underpowered, that's fine, but this has a feat tax. Also, cestus already deal 1d4 damage. Even then, there's no reason for a cestus wielder to take this as the entire point of the cestus is to enable a character to do unarmed strikes without having to waste a feat on Improved Unarmed Strike.

You're right about the cestus, I managed to mis-read the damage line. So I will just remove the line about cesti. I would disagree the point of cesti is to unarmed strike without spending a feat on IUS -- I think the point of cesti is to be able to fight with cesti, a concealable piercing weapon. Someone who wants to be unarmed may be in circumstances where they do not want to draw weapons or do not have them, or wants the choice of dealing nonlethal damage, things that cesti do not do. The thought about boosting the damage dice of some fist weapons was just more about alleviating, in however a small way, many players' annoyance at the errata for brass knuckles. But maybe there's just no call for that.

The only reason for the feat requirement is I'd expect you'd need to be good at unarmed striking anyway before you got better at hurting people with unarmed strikes--and anyone who'd want this feat would probably also want Improved Unarmed Strike anyway (this is an attempt to insert something into the existing system as written, so I can't and won't assume IUS is houseruled away or made more powerful). I only consider a feat a feat tax if it isn't a feat you'd want anyway (e.g., I've seen maybe Combat Expertise used twice in 14 years, and it's only ever taken to qualify for combat maneuvers). I can drop the BAB requirement though.

I don't care that it doesn't do lots more damage, frankly -- as I noted in the point is to make things easier to play than be deadly. I think if I played with its power level--yes, all that said, it is weak--I'd rather work on other aspects -- improving the damage done during grappling (1d4 damage instead of +1?) and/or perhaps doing something like a bonus to confirm critical hits.

Mortuum wrote:
Why not have it give unarmed strikes a +1 enhancement bonus to hit, making them equivalent to a masterwork weapon? Some way around DR wouldn't hurt either.

My initial reaction to +1 to hit was no.... because you technically have unlimited unarmed strikes in the way you do not have unlimited weapons (although of course you are restricted to how many attacks you can make per round, regardless).

But then I think maybe you have a point. Unarmed strike fighters don't really have access to that easy-to-access bonus to hit low level characters have, do they? So at low levels they are always going to be inherently at a -1 to hit compared to those with masterwork weapons (something low-level adventurers get their hands on pretty quickly, in my experience). They could also be augmented by spells like magic weapon which I think is okay--which would help with DR.

So, revision:
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Bruiser
You pack a notable punch.
Prerequisites: Improved Unarmed Strike
When attacking with unarmed strikes, you gain a +1 enhancement bonus to attacks and deal 1d4 instead of 1d3 damage (if you are Large you deal 1d6 damage; if Small, 1d3). You also add +1 to damage rolls when attacking with unarmed strikes during a grapple; this damage is multiplied on a critical hit.
None of these bonuses are considered magic, but characters with the bruiser feat have honed their brawling talents in such a way that they can have their unarmed strikes enhanced as if they were weapons using spells and similar effects like magic weapon.
Special: Monks and other characters with improved damage dice for unarmed strikes use their usual damage die if they have this feat, but they gain its other benefits.

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