So this is my first campaign in any tabletop rpg and I decided to go with the brawler class and after my friend explained character creation I ended up having some problems
First being that after seeing the brawlers flurry ability I want to ask if it's entirely possible to go purely unarmed or will my damage slowly fall behind compared to a TWF.
In addition to this what are good wondrous items, feats and gear to boost my damage later on if unarmed is possible?
If purely unarmed isn't possible what is a good starting melee class besides fighter?
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Welcome. I've made my first brawler as well, I get to try him out on Sunday.
Unarmed is good, most of the time. However, you'll want to have some weapons in a pinch. For example, fighting werewolves really requires silver weapons, and silver fists are difficult to come by (but not impossible, because magic).
So, If you see a werewolf, grab that silver axe. For other stuff, punch away.
There's already a thread on items to buy, check the stickied section of the advice forum, toward the bottom.
Also here, look at the fighter and monk items.
If this is your first time playing any tabletop RPG, I can't say I'd recommend the brawler, or any class outside the Core Rulebook for that matter.
The brawler has the ability to switch out feats, feats which you need to meet the prerequisites for. That means you will do well to know many of the thousands of feats in the game, and how they all work, and when certain ones will work best for you.
That's generally the domain of an experienced player. I fear you will have a hard time with an advanced class such as the brawler and will feel let down in the end due to your lack of familiarity.
Spellcasters are similar in their complexity in that they can have dozens of spells out of thousands and, like feats, each and every one of them has ITS OWN RULES. If you've played for a long time, you probably have a passing familiarity with them already. If not, I'd advise something easier.
As to your question, a brawler can do pretty nice damage with his unarmed strikes--even more than a dual-weapon wielder in some cases. It's all going to be about what feats, abilities, and magical items you invest in. Off of the top of my head, I would recommend an amulet of mighty fists for starters.
Unarmed fighting gets propped up by some of the brawler's class features: by level 10 you're doing more damage one-handed than you'd likely do with a weapon, and unlike TWF you get to apply your full strength to each punch/kick/knee/elbow! Maybe sub in a monk weapon or something to cover your damage reduction issues if you need to, but brawlers are very much effective at punching things.
If you can swing Weapon Specialization at level 4 you get some added punch damage, and I believe the go-to wondrous item for monks and brawlers is the Amulet of Mighty Fists. (Remember, your brawler is also a fighter and a monk for the purposes of getting feats and using magic items)
If you still end up dumping your unarmed, anything with full BAB (BAB = level) makes a pretty good melee-er.
I've got a level 7 brawler I've worked up from first level and it takes some background knowledge to really use well. However, you can do what I did without getting too bonkers.
Armor: Get light armor with the Brawling enchantment on it ASAP.
Weapons: You need something quick and easy. My preference are Cestus. You can always wear them and switch between them and unarmed at will, you're hands are free for grappling, you can do piercing damage, which gets you around some early DR, and you are considered armed AND have an open hand for disarming (meaning you take the weapon into your hand instead of it falling at the opponent's feet). I wouldn't enchant them until you get to adamantine, because if you pump it up to a +3, it also bypasses silver and cold iron damage reduction.
Martial Flexibility: This is where a lot of trouble can come in. I recommend keeping it simple. Print out or write out a list of every "Improved [COMBAT MANEUVER]" feat for disarm, grapple, trip, dirty trick, and maybe bull rush. For the first 5 levels those are probably the most amusing feats you'll want to pull out of your hat. This also means you MUST take power attack and combat expertise as feats right out of the gate (the prerequisite feats). Outside of that, read about feats! They are your bread and butter!
Feats: My preference is for Power Attack and Combat Expertise right out the gate, and then if you want to focus on a combat maneuver, take the improved/greater [COMBAT MANEUVER] feats for the tree. Everything else you can use Martial Flexibility to get. I took Deflect Arrows as a flavor feat, because it's fun, and Snake Style to not suck so horribly against ranged touch attacks. Iron Will is also super useful because your will save will suck. Since you can take fighter feats, grabbing weapon focus (unarmed) and weapon specialization (unarmed) help get your unarmed attacks capable of being your primary offensive option.
Attributes: Dump into strength, with dex and con as your secondary. You don't need int or cha unless you want to go for an intimidation build.
Magic Items: Monks Robe (more damage and a little AC/CMD), Dusty Rose Prisim in a Wayfinder (resonant power is +2 CMB/CMD, untyped, so it stacks with everything), catfall boots are nice in case you fall off a cliff (max 20 damage from any fall).
Basic feats which help you meet the prerequisites for dozens of others are as follows:
Improved Unarmed Strike (you get this for free already)
With these core feats you can swap in whole feat trees at high levels.