I have always loved cracking open a new rulebook for a roleplaying game and imaging all the possibilities. A true geek at heart, I revel in the opportunity to imagine all the neat characters I could come up with. Heck, I’ve even based satisfying character builds completely around a suboptimal feat, or optional class feature. This doesn’t always yield viable characters, but sometimes, gems emerge.
This character is one of those, “If I got the chance, I would love to play this…” kinda guys. Well, I say guy, but this could easily be made into a lady. Heck, I’ll even make this example female. This is one tough cookie… and a frustrating one to get in a tangle with. With a moderate Western theme, Etta Skaalsdottir is packing a nasty six-shooter, and is more than ready to go bare-knuckle on anyone who gets in the way of her service to Cayden Cailean (which mostly consists of drinking). She is a 5th-level Pathfinder character hailing originally from the city of Alkenstar, in the Mana Wastes of Golarion. For those interested in that sort of thing, she has a 25-point ability score buy.
Note: I have extensively linked items here to D20 PFSRD. The D20 PFSRD is an excellent fan-made resource collecting all the rules of the Pathfinder RPG, and you should definitely check it out.
“Her language brings color to the world, and her scowl can move mountains…” –Daern Calder, dwarf pyromancer
CG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +7; Senses Perception +12
AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 15
( +3 Dex, +4 Wis, +1 Deflection)
HP 39 (4d8+ +1d10 + 5, +3 favored class)
Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +9
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Unarmed Strike +5 (1d6+2, x2) (+1 to hit when AoO)
Ranged +1 Revolver +7 (1d8+1, x4, Range 20)
Special Attacks Stunning Fist (2/day, Fort Save DC 16), Flurry of Blows
Spells Known (CL 5th for effects):
1st (4/day)—cure light wounds, lock gaze, true strike, burst bonds
0 (Orisons)—brand, create water, detect magic, detect poison, guidance, light
Str 14, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +5 CMD 18
Feats Point Blank Shot, Panther Style, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Combat Reflexes, Gunsmithing, Panther Claw, Disruptive, Panther Parry
Skills Acrobatics +11, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (Arcana) +6 (+10 for monster lore), Perception +12, Sense Motive +13, Stealth +11, Survival +10 (+11 to track)
SQ Grit (Grit Pool 4), Deeds, Judgment 1/day, Detect Alignment, Determination 2/day
Combat Gear Ring of Protection +1, Silver Holy Symbol (Cayden Cailean), 20 alchemical rounds
Originally hailing from the Mana Wastes, Etta Skaalsdottir is a force to be reckonened with. Most folks, especially those who know her, give her a wide berth. Her foul temper is matched only by her foul mouth, and she rarely hesitates to give anyone a piece of her mind if she feels inconvenienced in any way. Even those who would consider her a friend knows enough to tread lightly around her, as she is far more intimidating than someone of her size and build ought to be. Even burly half-orcs sense it’s a bad idea to mess with this waifish woman who looks like she hasn’t eaten a full meal in weeks, despite evidence on her poncho to the contrary.
The streets of Alkenstar tempered this fair-haired fighter, and she can –and did- fight bare-knuckled with the worst those streets had to offer, and she has the scarred knuckles and crooked nose to prove it. By the time she was a teenager, she was already fighting for loose copper to keep her and her “family” of orphans fed, and eventually became a pretty good bareknuckle boxer. At seventeen years old, she pilfered her first pistol and became adept with that, as well, eventually hiring herself out as a caravan guard. An ill-fated mission to Nex ended with her half-dead and forcefully teleported to Varisia. An ambush by spell-wielding highwaymen awoke some of the latent magical scars of that land, and Etta believes herself to be the sole survivor of that mishap.
Etta now is based loosely in Magnimar, and through aid to the orphans of that city, discovered the faith of Cayden Cailean and has become one of his champions. Already a “practitioner” of most tenets of his clergy (drinking, foolhardiness and service to the downtrodden… but mostly just drinking), she was anointed an inquisitor in his name. She provides monetary support to the orphanage in Magnimar, and those who find themselves there might just see some of the few genuine smiles Etta has to offer.
I like to think of the various classes of the Pathfinder roleplaying game as building blocks that you can make the characters you want. In this build, it all fits together thematically as well as mechanically. The Martial Artist archetype for the monk class is a non-ki using version, and it also does not have an alignment restriction. This makes sense for Etta's background, since she's a street tough who is most assuredly not from a monastic tradition. The level of gunslinger provides the basic necessities of using firearms, as well as basic deeds and Grit. And inquisitor is just a fun and interesting class. Put together, these kind of make a rough, fist-fighting gun-toting brawler.
In combat, Etta is a confusing foe who gets in the middle of the action and harries her foes. Most players go out of their way to provoke as few Attacks of Opportunity (AoO’s) as possible, but this is not how to play Etta. The Panther Style feat chain allows her to retailiate against AoO’s with an unarmed strike before the opponent’s attack is resolved. You heard me right… before. At 5th level, 1d6+2 damage isn’t a great trade-off for whatever a melee juggernaut is able to do against you, but most likely, Etta is going to run through a crowd of goons, take some lumps, and then pop a shot off at the biggest threat, and hopefully park it near an enemy spellcaster. Since she has Stunning Fist, she may also declare one of those retaliatory strikes a stunning attempt. With a gun, Etta is pretty good, too. Firearms in Golarion ignore armor bonus in the first range increment, and Gunslingers can extend that range with Grit points via the Deadeye Shot deed.
A favorite tactic for Etta is the Dirty Trick. This is a very useful combat maneuver, and can cause a variety of status conditions that last for 1 round plus an additional round per 5 points her CMB roll exceeds the enemy’s CMD, though can be remedied with a Move-equivalent action by the recipient. Since she didn’t invest in nor qualify for the feats Combat Expertise and Improved Dirty trick, she’ll provoke AoO’s for doing this, but most likely the opponent will already have used this to attack her for moving (and thus, will not have another attack to make unless he has Combat Reflexes). This great thematically as well as mechanically, since we’re billing her as a dirty fighter.
Etta eats arcane spellcasters for lunch, if she can get to them. The Spellkiller Inquisition grants her the Disruptive feat (meaning the DC to cast defensively increases by +4), as well as the ability to give them the Staggered condition upon hitting them (even at range!) if Etta has defeated another opponent previously in the encounter. Once she is adjacent to them, using Dirty Trick to make them Deaf, Blind, Entangled or Sickened is good, especially if she has already provoked an Attack of opportunity and used Panther Claw. Another option is to use a Move action to provoke the AoO, then ready a standard action to shoot them if they cast a spell… and announce nonchalantly that she will do so.
Etta should continue advancing as an Inquisitor for the rest of her career. To keep pace with her party’s damage potential, she’s going to need to get the Bane class feature, and use her Judgements well. Since Inquisitor is her favored class, she will get the favored class bonus and she should always take the extra hit point; her tactics usually get her damaged every encounter. Additionally, the spellcasting helps… especially for quick first aid in combat.
For feats, her best next feat is Step Up. This allows her to take a 5ft. Step when adjacent to an opponent that does. This will truly make her the bane of spellcasters, since a typical tactic is to take a step away to avoid attacks of opportunity or the risk losing a spell due to a failed Concentration check. Grit feats are good investments, too, but most have feat prerequisites that may be hard to meet. Toughness is also a decent choice, given her "in the thick of it" style.
The easiest variation is a reskinning... just change the theme and make it a Lawful Evil mage assassin. It would make a great foil to a party's primary spellcaster, particularly arcane caster. Or swap out the Point Blank Shot for the Grit feat No Name, change the alignment to Chaotic Neutral and you've got a Clint Eastwood/spaghetti western style antihero. A very interesting variant would be to swap out Point Blank Shot with Dodge, take Mobility as your next feat and get into the Shadowdancer class. This would make for an even more frustrating combatant, as well as set the character up for some of the better Grit feats. Nifty, huh? What do you think of the character? Let me know!