Monk has always been the Rhoda of our gaming group. Without heavy archetype use and access to extensive third party options monk’s sole claim to fame was still often “Hey, I am still alive!” due to ridiculous saves and defensive abilities. But when it came down to it, it never really kept up.
Enter Style Feats
With progressive sets of martial arts and style feats entering the game there was at last hope for monks as bleeds, conditions and bonus elemental became part of the monks suite and announced the class as a latecomer “fifth-wheel” role-debuffer. Sure, style feats are an investment but the results should be worth it right?
Strangely enough my groups still faced monk paralysis. I did start seeing effective monks, especially in organized play. But the concept of three feat investments in single focus attacks was a bit much for my home tables where similar feat chains added whole new suites of abilities of comparable or better strength. The concept that these abilities were sustainable over larger periods of time was often lost on players looking at spell-based and daily use economy.
Along Comes Mary (the Brawler)
With addition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Class Guide we get the brawler, a fist-fighting badass with the base attack of a fighter, increased unarmed strikes like a monk and the ability to temporarily gain the feats she needs to kick the ass she wants to, how she wants to do it. Kirin style to recognize a foe first round? No problem. Dragon style to resist lich paralysis? Done. Light up some elemental fist power for the finisher. Set and match.
Martial flexibility not enough?
How about KO’ing a dragon with a single punch?
It can happen.
The build and shaping options are crazy. Martial flexibility at first level makes this a dip-friendly class for multiclassing. If you have had a craving to play a martial class character but have always found the feat chains too tight or the fear of simplistic play off putting… Fear not the brawler is here. And she is fighting mad.