The wholly wonderful Wayne A. Reynolds (artist of the piece above and all of the Pathfinder RPG’s iconic characters) posted a fantastic description of his sources, inspirations, and intentions for Kess the Brawler’s outfit over on the Paizo messageboards. Especially after the discussion we’ve had here about this character, I’ve shared the artist’s thoughts here:
"There seems to be a number of questions and theories about Kess’s costume and fighting style. And in response to Dark Psions’s request I thought I’d post some of the concepts I had when designing Kess.
"The concept I had for the Brawler was a combination of a 2nd century European Gladiator combined with a 20th Century boxer. Her costume is an attempt to reflect both aspects without becoming too much of either and at the same time create something completely new.
She’s wearing sections of latticed leather armour combined with smooth sections of leather with padding underneath. The individual straps within the latticed leather provide a little bit more flexibility of movement than a complete hide. The “Criss-cross” pattern has been repeated throughout the armour to create a visual theme. The armour’s been designed around a gladiatorial aesthetic to enable Kess to fight mostly humanoid opponents. She hasn’t needed to be heavily armoured so far. All the impact points are protected; Knuckles, elbows, forearms, knees, feet and forehead. She’s relying on being able to move her vambraces, greaves and fascia to protect her vital organs - Just like gladiators and pugilists throughout history have.
On her left arm she wears a leather shoulder guard called a Galerus. Historically, a galerus would be made out of metal but as Kess wears leather armour I added the brass bull as both decoration and reinforcement. In Roman arenas, the combatants would wear these on their off- arm and present it to their opponent as a target. The gladiator’s fighting style was a series of responses to a blow. Not necessarily an efficient fighting technique but one that would look really cool and entertain a crowd. Afterall, the crowd wanted to see gladiators getting hit and a gladiatorial fighting technique was one that provided that aspect but also ensured that a gladiator wouldn’t get too injured by doing it.
Kess’s headgear was designed to look like a gladiatorial version of a boxer’s padded headgear. She’s never needed a full crown helmet. I added the brass lion as both decoration and reinforcement just like the galerus, again creating another visual theme.
"She wears medals won in various bouts on her costume. This says “Hey, look how many fights I’ve won – I’m gonna win this one too!” The one on her pelvis depicts a stylised image of a griffon with peacock wings.
She’s armed with a Cestus and a spiked knuckleduster. Initially, I was just going to limit her to bludgeoning weapons. The punch dagger on her hip was added as an afterthought. Maybe for use in particularly viscous fights.
She also has a money pouch and a waterbottle. I figured she’d travel around looking for fight arenas so I added the mat with the marker sticks.
Oh, and her nose IS broken.
Hope that answers a few questions.
This is by no means a definitive explanation of this character class, just the reasoning behind the design. I’m not usually privy to planned game mechanics or the fantastic back stories.If there’s something that I’ve described that doesn’t quite fit with your concept of the Brawler, you always have the option to change it to fit your game.
"That’s the beauty of Pathfinder RPG"