For years, I hated the fact that if I wanted to play a crazy kung-fu-fighting, butt-kicking, face-punching character, I had to be of lawful alignment, because monk was the only game in town for that kind of character. As far back as early 3.5, there were alternate class features, prestige classes, and other things designed to address the issue, but they all felt somewhat contrived, at least to me. In more recent years, we’ve played around a bit with the concept here at Necromancers of the Northwest, and I’m pretty happy with what we accomplished, but the brawler, from the Advanced Class Guide, really put non-lawful pugilists on the map in a way that felt right and had the full backing of the primary publisher.
So, when I think of brawlers, and what they’re all about, I think of someone with all the fighting fury of a monk, and none of those pesky lawful rules getting in the way. I also think of combat maneuvers because, let’s face it, the class is pretty big on them. So, with these two combined, I was surprised to discover that there’s no archetype for brawlers that focuses on the most rule-breaking combat maneuver of all…the dirty trick.
At least, there wasn’t until today.
New Brawler Archetype
There are few characters who demonstrate the difference between brawlers and monks as clearly as ruthless thugs. While these underhanded fighters are by no means afraid of a fair fight, they just don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t do everything in their power to win, and aren’t willing to limit themselves to fighting in a way that’s “honorable” or “fair” or “decent.” Ruthless thugs prefer the thrill of a combat where it’s no-holds-barred, anything goes, and the only rule is that there are no rules.
Improved Dirty Trick: A ruthless thug must select Improved Dirty Trick for her bonus combat feat at 2nd level, and can select it even if she does not meet the prerequisites. If she already has Improved Dirty Trick, she may select her bonus combat feat normally. A ruthless thug cannot learn new bonus combat feats in place of Improved Dirty Trick at later levels, as she can with other bonus combat feats.
Fast Trick (Ex): By 5th level, a ruthless thug is so used to using underhanded tactics in combat that she can do so much more easily than most. The ruthless thug can use a dirty trick combat maneuver in place of a melee attack when using the full-attack action, instead of having to do so as a standard action. If she chooses to make the dirty trick combat maneuver in place of a melee attack other than the one with the highest base attack bonus, the penalty to that attack applies to the combat maneuver check (for example, a 6th-level ruthless thug who used this ability to make a dirty trick combat maneuver instead of her second attack would make the combat maneuver check as though her base attack bonus were +1, instead of +6).
This ability replaces the bonus combat feat gained at 5th level.
Greater Dirty Trick: A ruthless thug must select Greater Dirty Trick for her bonus combat feat at 8th level, and can select it even if she does not meet the prerequisites. If she already has Greater Dirty Trick, she may select her bonus combat feat normally. A ruthless thug cannot learn new bonus combat feats in place of Greater Dirty Trick at later levels, as she can with other bonus combat feats.
Persistent Trick (Ex): By 11th level, a ruthless thug knows how to ensure that once she uses a dirty trick to disable an opponent, he stays disabled. The effects of her dirty tricks last for 1 additional round. At 15th level, and again at 19th level, the amount of time that the effects of the dirty trick lasts increases by an additional round (to a maximum of 3 additional rounds at 19th level).
Additionally, the action required to remove the effects of the dirty trick is increased to a full-round action, which provokes attacks of opportunity. At 19th level, the target cannot remove the effects of the dirty trick at all.
This ability replaces the bonus combat feat gained at 11th level.
Painful Trick (Ex): Beginning at 14th level, whenever a ruthless thug performs a dirty trick combat maneuver, she can choose to suffer a -2 penalty on the combat maneuver check, in addition to any other penalties that may apply. If she does, and the combat maneuver check is successful, she also damages the target as though she had hit him with a held melee weapon (or an unarmed strike, if she has no held melee weapon, or would rather use her unarmed strike).
This ability replaces the bonus combat feat gained at 14th level.