As I said two weeks ago, I’m in Dragon magazine again, and I’ve finally received my copy on this side of the pond. Turn to page 92 of the November 2006 issue. It’s always exciting to see my own work in print, and it’s interesting to see how the editors have quietly corrected subtle mistakes and made improvements I wouldn’t have considered.
I originally wrote the variant class abilities as variant classes, the Archon’s Soldier (an extraplanar paladin boasting no dead levels) and the Brawler (an unarmed barbarian). Despite losing some focus by splitting the class into abilities, I’m quite pleased at how much more accessible the PHB2 format makes them.
However, I suspect that a few of the edits made for brevity and balance require some commentary.
City Brawler: This is the most significant edit. This ability additionally granted unarmed strike damage as a monk of half your barbarian level - I suspect that “monk’s unarmed strike ability” was inadvertently edited to “Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat”. As originally written, it gave you the equivalent of two-weapon fighting with a quarterstaff at 1st level, rising to a greatclub in each hand by 16th. As printed you’re attacking at -2 to deal 2d3 damage, and losing proficiencies for it!
Additionally, I had the improvised weapon penalty reduced to 0 instead of -2, since improvised weapons are never better than standard weapons. Largely I just liked the idea of a character who doesn’t need to use weapons, and is afforded the freedom to grasp improvised weapons on the fly—bar chairs, rocks, goblin corpses—without having to accept an attack or damage penalty compared to normal weapons.
Finally, I didn’t realise it but I left out two things when when converted this article from variant classes to individual abilities. One, the class had another ability adding half your brawler level as a dodge bonus to AC when unarmoured or lightly so (perhaps too powerful, in practice). Two, some flavour text about brawlers overcoming damage reduction using silver knuckledusters.
Fancy Footwork: This ability was cut for space limitations. It allowed you to trade your fast movement ability for the ability to make two five foot steps whenever you could normally make one (essentially, you can make ten foot steps without provoking an AoO). Does it bend the basic assumptions of the game too much?
Improved Grapple: Trade your uncanny dodge for Improved Grapple as a bonus feat and proficiency with armor spikes.
Devil’s Luck: I originally titled this ability “The Devil’s Own Luck”; now I’d be worried it sounds like it has something to do with the baatezu. Edited for space, I also allowed you to apply the luck bonus to all Profession (gambling) checks.
Aside from the mixup with the City Brawler ability, however, I’m quite pleased with the article as it stands. If you’re interested in some butt-kicking barbarians or demon-hunting paladins, pick up a copy of Dragon #349.
Cool! I had been wanting to make a character like the City Brawler. I was close to your article’s concepts, but your’s was a couple of levels better than mine. Great work!
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