Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire Builds Guide: Brawler (Unarmed)

Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire Builds Guide: Brawler (Unarmed)

In this Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Build Guide we’re going to be taking a look at the Brawler Class, which is a mixture of Fighter and Monk. I’ll be providing information on AttributesWeaponsArmor, and most importantly, what Abilities to take and how to use them. Please keep in mind that this is my Brawler Build, and there are plenty of ways you can build this class, and this is not the only one. If you’re new to Pillars of Eternity 2, or you just love creating characters as much as I do, then this Guide is for you. Please note that this Build Guide was updated for the 5.0 version of the game, as well as 1.01 on console (as of January 20th, 2020), and works with both Real Time with Pause and Turn-Based.

Brawler Build Guide

The Brawler class combines that lightning fast attacks of the Monk with the combat prowess of the Fighter. Fighters provide healing, weapon expertise and the option to wear some Armor with low Recovery Time penalty. This helps to fill in the weaknesses of the Monk, and is an extremely deadly combination, that often results in many downed enemies within seconds. This an very solid Multiclass that is highly recommended to anyone that just wants reliable damage with decent survive ability.

First, using the Monk Ability Swift Flurry, we gain the option to strike again whenever we Crit with a Weapon. When combined with the Cleaving Stance of the Fighter, we often proc this a few times when one enemy goes down, usually killing another enemy which just repeats this process. It used to be that Swift Flurry worked with any weapon (when this Build first came out), and Blunderbusses made a great option because they fired multiple projectiles, but now Dual Wielding is the way to go for this Build since it gives you the most attacks possible per attack as a Brawler.

Swift Flurry gives you 33% chance to attack again when you Crit in melee combat. With the Heartbeat Drumming passive you’ll have over a 50% chance with every melee Crit!

Brawler Subclasses (Devoted & Helwalker)

For my Fighter Subclass I chose Devoted in order to get extra Penetration and Crit Damage. The great thing about this Subclass is that it applies these benefits to Unarmed and whatever other Weapon type you choose, so you’ll gain them no matter which you are using. You really couldn’t ask for more!

For my Monk Subclass I chose Helwalker for increased Damage at the expensive of more Damage taken. Anything we can do to improve their damage is always good. The downside is that you have a tendency to die much easier in some situations. You can play the Brawler with any of the Monk Subclass, so choose whichever you like and don’t worry too much about it. Shattered Pillar is also a solid choice, and it’s the one I’d recommend if you don’t play Helwalker.

These two subclasses in combination deal some wicked damage.

Brawler Weapons and Armor

As mentioned above we use both Unarmed for this Build, but you can add another Weapon type if you wish, since Devoted will get Unarmed + Weapon Type for their bonus. Unarmed provides reliable damage and has high Attack Speed, but there are benefits to other weapon types as well. For example, Fists only deal Crush Damage, which means your choice of weapon should be something that does Slash or Pierce. So make sure you have whatever weapon this is equipped in separate slots for these occasions.

When it comes to Armor you want to use the lightest you can and try not to incur any more Recovery Time penalty than is needed. Because Fighters have the passive ability Armored Grace, they can use Light Armor with almost no penalty. Because I chose Helwalker, I’d advise upgrading to Medium Armor as soon as you get this passive because you will be taking 30%+ increased damage quite regularly and you will need to mitigate some of it. However, if you chose another Subclass you can probably remain in Light Armor without issue. If you’re playing Turn-Based you’ll definitely want Heavy Armor to protect yourself as much as possible, since Recovery Time is less important in this game mode.

Brawler Abilities

In this section we’re going to cover the “must have” Brawler Abilities for this Build. You are free to pick and choose which you want outside of these because everyone’s style of play is different and there is no perfect way. However, these ones will be needed for this Build to work effectively.


Disciplined Barrage – This ability increases our Perception, which helps with Accuracy, and converts 50% of Grazes to Hits. This really boosts the overall performance of the Build, especially when attacking with Fists earlier in the game.

Fighter Stances – These Stances become available at level 4 and you want to get them ASAP. You’ll want to use Warrior Stance when beginning combat, and switch to Cleaving Stance when an enemy is about to fall.

Confident Aim – This passive also helps to convert Grazes to Hits, and is excellent for early game damage until you have better Accuracy.

Two Weapon Style – This passive reduces our Recovery Time when dual-wielding which we will be the entire game. Grab it early and enjoy it. This one isn’t necessary if you’re playing Turn-Based.

Disciplined Strikes – This upgrade of Disciplined Barrage increases the likelihood that you will Crit by 25%, which helps to proc Swift Flurry in melee. This is one of the best ways we can increase our Crit Chance!

Penetrating Strike – This ability is amazing for 1 Discipline. Not only is it a Full Attack, meaning you will strike with both Fists or weapon, but it increases the damage by 20% and adds +3 Penetration. Did I mention it only costs 1 Discipline?

Rapid Recovery – This upgrade of Constant Recovery really helps to keep you alive while in combat and is just an all around good use of an ability point on any Fighter.

Weapon Specialization – This passive will further increase our damage with Fists and your chosen weapon so we take it when we can.

Conqueror Stance – This stance gives you additional Accuracy when above 75% Health which helps to increase your Crit chance. Get this one and use it when your guns are drawn.

Mob Stance – This stance will upgrade Cleaving Stance so that you gain even further reduced Recovery Time for each enemy around you. You’ll absolutely want this one, because faster attacks mean more dead bodies. Don’t take this, however, if you’re playing Turn-Based.

Uncanny Luck – This ability gives you a small chance to resist damage or Crit, and we need both. Take it when there is nothing else worth getting.

Armored Grace – This ability will reduce the penalty you take to Recovery Time when wearing Armor. Get this one as soon as you can and switch to Medium Armor if you’re playing as a Helwalker. Not needed if you’re playing Turn-Based.

Improved Critical – This passive will further increase your Crit Damage, and you will be doing a lot of Crits, so it’s a no brainer.

Weapon Mastery – Another passive that increases damage so we pick it up. You can never have enough passives that do this, and Fighters possess many, which is great.


Swift Strikes – This ability increases your Action Speed and gives you Dexterity which does the same thing. This allows us to attack lighting fast, and we take it during Character Creation.

Dance of Death – This ability will grant you increased Wounds and Accuracy as long as you don’t get Hit. A great way to boost damage as long as you know you won’t be struck.

Swift Flurry – This upgrade is what allows this Build to work, by giving you a chance to strike again when you Crit with a weapon.

Duality of Mortal Presence – This ability will give you increased Intelligence or Constitution for each Wound you have, which is awesome. Later we’ll upgrade this for increased damage.

Thunderous Blows – For 2 Wounds we gain +5 Might and +2 Penetration. We don’t really need the Penetration, but the Might is too hard to pass up, so we take this one. The Duration is also pretty good at 20 seconds. Note this does not stack with the Unarmed Weapon Modal: Haymaker, so don’t use it if you’re using this.

Enduring Dance – A good upgrade for Dance of Death because it allows you to keep the status until you are Hit a few times. Since it’s much harder to avoid being Hit once, rather than 3 times, this can save you a lot of resources.

Rooting Pain – This ability damages, and more importantly, Interrupts enemies around you when you gain a Wound. This drastically helps your survive ability, and cannot be understated. Be sure to get this one as soon as you can.

Enervating Blows – We’re going to be doing lots of Crits in melee so this is an easy choice here. Take it when there is nothing better to get.

Turning Wheel – This ability will allow us to gain up to +20% Damage as Burn when meleeing with our Fists or weapons. We will already be doing incredible damage without this, and this will just put us over the top.

Heartbeat Drumming – This passive gives us even more of a chance to strike again when we Crit, but only in melee combat. Since this should be often, we take it and put it to good use.

Brawler Attributes

In this section we’ll cover Attributes for the Brawler, and explain a bit about each and why we need it or why it’s important. This Brawler Build needs Perception, Dexterity and Constitution. Might would also be good to have, but doesn’t really do much for the damage of the Blunderbuss. Intellect and Resolve are not necessary, and I would dump some Resolve for extra points. You’ll want to keep Intellect at 10 or better because you don’t want to hurt the Durations of Swift Flurry and Disciplined Strikes, as they are already short. Note that if you’re playing Turn-Based it’s better to pump Perception, Constitution and Might rather than Dexterity.

We need Perception because we need to Crit often to make this Build work. Even if we deal less damage with the Crits we do, just doing a Crit could trigger Swift Flurry, which is all we need to do to deal more damage. Take this one to max if you can, because you’ll need as much Accuracy as you can get.

Dexterity is needed to attack as quickly as we can and try to get a Crit to proc Swift Flurry. It also helps with the Reload Time of the Blunderbuss, which would otherwise be longer. You don’t need to max this during Character Creation, but it should be close.

Constitution is third because you will take increased damage from being a Helwalker Monk, and we need a larger Health pool so we don’t die from it. How much you want to spend here will partly be determined by your group’s make up, but I would put at least 3 points in it. More is of course better if you have points to spare.

Final Tips

The Race I chose for this Build was Hearth Orlan for the extra 10% chance to convert Hits to Crits. Human is very good for increased Accuracy and Damage when Bloodied, and Fire Godlike shines when surrounded. Pick whichever you like, they all have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s not going to make or break this build either way.

Using a single Weapon will increase your Crit Chance by 20% (with One-Handed Style), and is an alternative to dual-wielding, since it helps with the damage loop of Swift Flurry. However, it doesn’t take advantage of Penetrating Strike well, because this is a Full Attack, which strikes with two-weapons if you have two equipped. Additionally, if you down an enemy you gain a Full Attack from Cleaving Stance, and that will attack with both Weapons. If you have only one equipped then you will deal less damage from these, so there are trade offs.


Penetrating Strike allows you to attack with both Fists or both weapons, and provides extra Damage and Penetration.

Make sure you lead with Warrior Stance when attacking for extra Accuracy, and then swap to Cleaving Stance when an enemy is about to go down to get that extra attack. Every little bit of Accuracy helps, so don’t miss out on it. Additionally, the longer you can keep Dance of Death up, the more damage you will deal. Be sure to use your Mortification on this, and spend your Discipline on Penetrating Strike.

Lastly, if you’re playing Turn-Based consider adding Charge to Stun multiple enemies. It’s much more effective in this game mode because your whole team will get a turn before Stunned enemies can attack, and this means you can eliminate them much more easily without taking damage. If you have to, you can spam it, making enemies forfeit their turns over and over while the rest of your group cleans them up.

Stay tuned for more Pillars of Eternity 2 Build Guides through out May, as we make some more specific Guides covering some of the most fun and interesting combinations we could find. If there is a specific combination you would like to see, please post in the comments and we will do our best to accommodate!


Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.

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5 comments on “Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire Builds Guide: Brawler (Unarmed)”

  1. Athos_Reborn says:

    Thank you for your reply, Cas.
    I made a turnbased version that is monk+paladin and its applicable to TBS without the mod that reverts all the changes. The biggest change that I struggled with to understand and put into actual gameplay was the stats priority, as I made him 19 Might 16 Con 10 Dex 16 Per.
    Thank you for your work, and have a nice day!

  2. Avatar Castielle says:

    theoretically it should work in turn-based. Since getting a Crit will just fire your Blunderbuss again, it should work much the same way.


  3. Athos_Reborn says:

    Hey, I would like to thank you and the rest of the guys working on this builds.
    Thanks to you guys, I got way more close to this title and to Divinity 2 as well, the builds are fun, are a nice way to RP (I usually create the musketeers, Aramis – Dark/Blood Paladin as an example).
    I do have a question related to the Brawler build, I found it very fun in the normal version (after modding it to undo the changes – huge thank you to the person creating the mod), but how would it be viable in turn base mode? Is there any way to make it work even in turn base? Thanks and cheers!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great build!

    Patch 1.1.0 made this build not viable, as Swift Flurry was changed to melee weapons only, so I made a mod to change it back to proc on all attacks.

    The name of the mod is “Make Swift Flurry Great Again” and it is available on NexusMods.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sir,
    Any other great Rogue class for melee that that is high risk high reward that does not include Cipher :)

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