5e: Fighter Archetype—The Fist Fighter

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Hybrid Archetypes: Fist Fighters Cover © RDD Wilkin / Spilled Ale Studios.

Today, I have another fighter archetype for you.

The Fist Fighter is my attempt to make an unarmed warrior without all the mystic/wuxia elements integrated into the monk. While I am a big fan of the Pugilist class by the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co, to the point that I’m presently playing one, I wanted to try and create an archetype that would achieve a similar theme making use of core class features.

This archetype is somewhat unusual, in that it assumes that a character began their career as a Monk and multiclassed into Fighter. Taking just a single level of Monk grants a character all the necessary features to realise the essentials of the theme—unarmored defense, and improved unarmed attacks from the martial arts feature.

The character then multiclasses into Fighter, which will grant them all the features they need to be a potent warrior without all the exotic elements of the Monk which we’re not interested in for this concept.

The first feature of this archetype is what ties everything together, allowing the Fist Fighter to treat their Fighter levels as Monk levels in respect to the damage from the Monk’s 1st level Martial Arts feature. It also ensures that the Fist Fighter will eventually be able to treat their unarmed strikes as magical. If the DM prefers, they may wish to ignore this feature. An alternative is to grant the Fist Fighter PC bracers, an amulet, or some other kind of magic item that lets them treat their unarmed strikes as magical when they attain an appropriate level, in the same way that the DM would hand other PCs magical weapons.

The Fist Fighter

Fists of Fury

Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, your  Fighter levels count as Monk levels for the purpose of determining your Monk Martial Arts damage.

When you attain 6th level, your fighting passion burns so fiercely within you that your unarmed strikes count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Iron Body

At 7th level, your long experience of brutal brawls against tough and often armed opponents dramatically increases your endurance. You can now use your Second Wind twice per short or long rest. Additionally, you have advantage on saving throws against exhaustion.

Technical Fighting 

At 10th level, once per turn when you hit a target with an unarmed strike, you can choose to force the target to make a Strength or Dexterity saving throw or else suffer one of the following effects:

  • The target must succeed at a Strength or Dexterity saving throw is moved to any free space within 10 feet of both the target and yourself.
  • The target becomes prone.
  • You and the target switch places.

The saving throw DC for Technical Fighting is calculated as follows:

Technical Fighting save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice)

Signature Move

At 15th level, you gain one of the following features of your choice.

  • Cross-counter. When an attacker that you can see and within your reach hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to make an unarmed strike against them.   
  • Rabbit Punch. You can forfeit your extra attacks during an Attack action you make while unarmed, making only a single attack instead. For the purpose of this attack only, you score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20. Additionally, if the attack hits your target is stunned until the beginning of your next turn. 
  • Uncanny Dodge. When an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack’s damage against you.