D&D 5E Mythological Figures: John "Jack" Broughton

I’m right chuffed with today’s entry in Mythological Figures and I reckon if you take a gander you’ll be too. I swear I’m not taking the piss so apologies if I've mucked up the lingo, but it seemed proper for a bloke like John “Jack” Broughton!

Jack Broughton DnD 5e banner.jpg

Really, truly—apologies if I’ve misused the lingo. I am after all a dumb American. Yeet! ¯\(ツ)

I assume most of the readership already knows this guy but to those who don’t this was the first person to set some official rules around English bare-knuckle boxing. Before Jack rolled round one never really knew for sure what parameters to expect for a brawl and they routinely changed depending on where it was and who it was against. His seven rules were as follows:
  1. The ring should have a meter/yard-sized square of chalk in the middle, from which combatants would be taken outside of it to their respective corners by their second after going to the rails or after a fall, during which nobody could hit anybody else.
  2. If a second fails to take their boxer to the corner within 30 seconds, the fallen combatant is defeated.
  3. In main fights the only people on stage are the combatants and their seconds. In bye rounds Mr. Broughton can go up to keep things on an even keel and help people get to their stations, but as soon as the combatants are ready to go everybody gets off the stage.
  4. A combatant isn’t beaten unless they fall coming up into the chalked out square, or their second declares they’ve been beat. A second can ask questions of the enemy combatant or try to cajole them to surrender.
  5. In a bye round, whoever wins gets 2/3rd of the pot after it is publicly divided on the stage (unless there are private arrangements otherwise, of course).
  6. To avoid disputes in a main fight, the combatants pick out two people to be umpires when they get on stage. Umpires’ decisions are final and if they can’t agree, they pick a third to break the tie.
  7. No hitting when someone is down, no grabbing the arms, no breeches, no hits below the belt, and if a combatant goes down on their knees they are considered to be down.
If these sound a bit familiar to you they ought to—they are the basis for London Prize Ring rules, and that was the standard for about a century before the Marquess of Queensberry (check out this bonus content from Morrus Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk for more on that peculiarity; thanks Darryl!) developed more refined rules in the 1860s.

So who was this jacked bald white dude? It’s not widely confirmed but most believe Jack was the son of a farmer in Baunton village in Gloucestershire that left home at 12 for Bristol to work the docks. Apparently there—and I’d love for readers to confirm if it’s true that "Bristol lads, who were always, even then, celebrated for their pugnacious proclivities"—he regularly duked it out with the locals until James Figg noticed him and brought him to London for training in the amphitheatre, and later defeating the man who came to head the place after Figg’s death (fellow by the name of George Stevenson).

As a bit of a famous boxer, with some help from wealthy folks he opened his own place on Hanway Road off Highland Avenue near Oxford Street, starting team staged boxing exhibitions. For a shilling—sometimes less—folks could come and watch several different boxing bouts. Broughton kept engaging with the sport until in 1750 during a fight against Jack Slack he took a punch that blinded him, forcing him to retire from the fight and costing the Duke of Cumberland (his patron) to lose a thousand pounds. He closed up the amphitheater not long after, selling antiques instead. Much, much later he was one of the original inductees to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, forever honored for his early contributions to the art of pugilism.

Design Notes: Initially I was going to give Broughton here a touch of barbarian but I’m glad I went with a dashing of monk instead—what we’ve ended up with is an intriguing combatant that is going to have some interesting fights thanks to superior maneuverability and an excellent capacity for getting back up off the mat. Maybe best of all? He’ll always be able to pick a fight thanks to his background! :D Let’s do the numbers: the DMG comes in at 5.75 and the Blog of Holding at 7.6 (because his highest saving throw bonus is effectively +9), which averages down to a solid 6.675.

John “Jack” Broughton
Medium humanoid (human), fighter (brutal) 7/monk (drunk) 3
Armor Class 16 (Wisdom)
Hit Points 72 (7d10+3d8+20)
Speed 40 ft.

16 (+3)​
16 (+3)​
14 (+2)​
10 (+0)​
16 (+3)​
10 (+0)​

Saving Throws Str +7, Con +6
Skills Acrobatics +7, Athletics +7, Intimidation +4, Performance +4
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages English
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

Background: Performer. Broughton is never without a stage or room to do his act whether in a queen’s castle or a tavern. He receives free accommodations (including a room and meal) each night he performs and is recognized while going about a settlement where he’s performed at least one evening (and is typically well-liked for his unusual talents).

Action Surge (1/Short Rest). Once on his turn, Broughton can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Brutal Toughness. Broughton gains a +1d4 bonus to saving throws and death saves (treating final results of 20 or higher on a death saving throw as a natural 20).

Fighting Style: Unarmed. After successfully grappling a creature, Broughton can deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage to it. Whenever he hits a creature he is grappling with a melee attack he deals an extra 1d4 bludgeoning damage.

Ki (3 Points/Short Rest). Broughton can spend ki points to fuel various ki features.
  • Flurry of Blows. Immediately after Broughton takes the Attack action on his turn, he can spend 1 ki point to make two unarmed strikes as a bonus action. After Broughton uses Flurry of Blows, until the end of his turn his speed increases by 10 feet and his movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.
  • Patient Defense. Broughton can spend 1 ki point to take the Dodge action as a bonus action on his turn.
  • Step of the Wind. Broughton can spend 1 ki point to take the Disengage or Dash action as a bonus action on his turn, and his jump distance is doubled for the turn.
Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Broughton can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+7 hit points.

Extra Attack. Broughton attacks twice when he takes the Attack action (he can use his bonus action to attack a third time, or his bonus action and 1 ki to attack a third and fourth time).

Unarmed. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d6+1d4+3) bludgeoning damage, or 10 (1d8+1d4+3) bludgeoning damage if striking two-handed.

Deflect Missiles. Broughton can use his reaction to deflect or catch the missile when he is hit by a ranged weapon attack. When he does so, the damage he takes from the attack is reduced by 1d10+6. When the damage is reduced to 0, he can catch the missile if it is small enough for him to hold in one hand and he has at least one hand free. If he catches a missile in this way, Broughton can spend 1 ki point to make a ranged attack with the weapon or piece of ammunition he just caught, as part of the same reaction (+7 to hit, range 20/60 ft., 2d4+3 damage).
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler


I really like this entry Mike. He feels like a boxer. The only think that doesn't fit for me is "Deflect Missiles." I would rather give him a parry type reaction.

Also, why is his damage: 1d6 + 1d4 + 3? From the Unarmed trait the extra 1d4 is only added when the target is grappled, or am I missing something?

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
I really like this entry Mike. He feels like a boxer. The only think that doesn't fit for me is "Deflect Missiles." I would rather give him a parry type reaction.

Also, why is his damage: 1d6 + 1d4 + 3? From the Unarmed trait the extra 1d4 is only added when the target is grappled, or am I missing something?

The extra d4 is from being a brute fighter (if he had any other weapons, they'd get +1d4 damage too).

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
I feel like this is really stretching the definition of "mythological."
The column is pretty broad and includes not just mythological figures, but historical figures, and also sometimes literary figures (Captain Ahab went up a bit ago and the Cheshire Cat is just waiting for its post). Probably most importantly: it's request driven! So at some point somebody asked to see Jack and here we are. :)

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