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The Brawler gets Close Weapon Mastery, which sets Close Weapons as being equal to their Unarmed Strikes at 4 levels lower.

The Monk's Robe says to count your Unarmed Damage as if you were 5 levels higher.

My question is this: Do they balance each other out, and if so, what about at level 20? (IE: Since I can't have an effective level above 20, am I locked at level 16 for Close Weapons, or would it still bring me up to level 20 with Close Weapons?)

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This is a great question. Other rules seem to indicate...

Monk's Robes increase your Close Weapon Mastery to your Brawler level+1, up to 20.

You benefit from Monk's Robes fully because of Martial Training1. Unarmed Strikes with this would therefore give you 5 effective levels 'before' calculating your Close Weapon Mastery at -4.

The reason it goes beyond 16 even though Unarmed Strike caps at Effective level 20 is based on similar abilities.

Aasimar get a favored bonus "add 1/4 to the sorcerer's caster level when casting spells with the good descriptor." or an alternate racial trait that give +1 caster level to the good and light descriptors.

Boon Companion increases effective Druid levels similarly, and specifies that it caps at your 'character' level.

From these (and a couple redundant examples) I derive that calculations, per usual, are all completed before resolving the answer against what's 'acceptable' for the total. You don't apply only your bonuses then only your penalties, you apply them all at once.

Thus

  • 20+5-4=21 (reduced to 20)

NOT

  • 20+5=25 (reduced to 20) then 20-4=16

1Martial Training (Ex): At 1st level, a brawler counts her total brawler levels as both fighter levels and monk levels for the purpose of qualifying for feats. She also counts as both a fighter and a monk for feats and magic items that have different effects based on whether the character has levels in those classes (such as Stunning Fist and a monk's robe).

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This is subject to some... limp debate , but the Monk's Robe has only two interactions with Unarmed Strike damage.

1: You are a Monk and thus increase your monk level for the purposes of calculating you Unarmed Strike damage.

2: You are not a monk, and treat your unarmed damage as that of a 5th level monk.

The Brawler class "uses the unarmed strike of a monk 4 levels lower", but doesn't count as a monk.

RAW, I do not see that the Robes would increase the benefit you get from Close Weapon Mastery. You'd get to, I guess, have a better damage for strict Unarmed Attacks at low levels until your Brawler level caught up.

But my understanding of what is written would tell me that it would not stack with Close Weapon Mastery.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There is not even the reference to the Monk class in the description of Close Weapon Mastery, only to Brawler's Unarmed Strike (which are also not linked to the monk's ones even if then happen to be of the same value). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 9:17

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