Welcome to Iconic Design, where we discuss the creation of exciting new character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!
Although most of the pastimes we enjoy when we are young simply fade away, there always seems to be those special memories that refuse to leave us. Memories of exciting stories or thrilling experiences that we carry on with us into adulthood and share with younger folk in order to keep the legacy alive. I could be talking about one of several dozen nostalgic TV shows, movies, or novels, but I’m assuming you all read the title of this Installment and yeah, we’re building He-Man today.
God, I hope I don’t regret this decision.
There isn’t a lot to talk about in terms of Prince Adam of Grayskull’s background. The son of the planet’s rulers, Prince Adam is able to transform into He-Man using a special sword given to him by the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull. His primary power is superhuman strength; in his original comic debut, He-Man could stand toe-to-toe with Superman of DC Comics fame. Prince Adam mostly uses his indestructible sword to parry attacks and focused on using his physical strength to defeat adversaries.
In order to properly capture Prince Adam’s skills and abilities, we need several things:
- Physical Ability Scores approaching the insane.
- A “transformation” mechanic.
- Brains. He-Man was sharp in addition to strong.
- A build that allows He-Man to fight defensively and overwhelm opponents with his massive Strength.
This is the build that I have selected in order to meet these goals:
- Super-Crazy Multiclass: The build focuses heavily on the Synthesis Summoner, whose fused eidolon mechanic will serve nicely as “the power of Grayskull.” Considering the eidolon engulfs the summoner, the costume change that Prince Adam undergoes upon transforming is also represented in this class choice. In order to gain the start-up feats we need to give He-Man all of the abilities he should have Prince Adam will begin his career as a multiclass fighter/monk before gaining his eidolon armor.
- Focus on Prince Adam’s mental scores (representing his Intelligence) and a focus on his eidolon armor’s physical ability scores (He-Man).
Early Levels (1–7)
Prince Adam begins as a human with a 20 pt. buy for his ability scores. Use the following: STR 13 DEX 13 CON 11 INT 14 WIS 14 CHA 15. At 4th level, Prince Adam’s Charisma becomes 16. We need to invest ability score points into Prince Adam’s physical scores is to allow him to meet the prerequisites for the oodles of feats he’ll be earning; as written, the eidolon armor is not able to allow Prince Adam to use its ability scores in place of Adam’s for the purpose of qualifying for feats.
Adam’s first five levels are a combination of Fighter (Lore Warden) and Monk (Maneuver Master). Adam is going to need Combat Expertise to qualify for most of the combat maneuver feats he is going to be grabbing, and between these two classes Prince Adam will have access to a ridiculous number of feats; a wonderful benefit considering that the summoner class will not be giving Prince Adam any feats to speak of. Lore Warden and Maneuver Master synergize well with one another as dips because of the combined focus on combat maneuvers.
- Classes: Fighter (Lore Warden) 3 / Monk (Maneuver) 2 / Summoner (Synthesist) 2
- Feats: Power Attack (Human Bonus), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword (Bonus Feat), Shield of Swings (1st), Combat Expertise (Bonus Feat), Improved Grapple (Bonus Feat), Improved Bull Rush (3rd), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus Feat), Improved Trip (Bonus), Stunning Fist (Bonus), Improved Dirty Trick (Bonus), Combat Reflexes (5th), Leadership (7th)
- Abilities: AC Bonus, Evasion, Flurry of Maneuvers, Fused Eidolon, Fused Link, Maneuver Mastery +2, Scholastic, Summon Monster I, Unarmed Strike (1d6)
- Summoner Cantrips: detect magic, guidance, message, read magic, resistance
- Summoner 1st Level Spells: jump, lesser rejuvenate eidolon
- Eidolon (Bipedal Form): climb, skilled (Acrobatics), slam (replaces claws), swim
Didn’t I tell you that there was going to be a lot of feats in this build? As you can see, Prince Adam is already off to smashing start, possessing the ability to make tons of different combat maneuvers at his whims. Shield of Swings does a good job of replicating Adam’s tendency to use his sword to deflect incoming blows and Stunning Fist is filled with He-Man flavor. I chose a bastard sword for He-Man’s weapon in order to emulate his fighting style; He-Man has used his blade in one hand enough times in the show that this build needs to account for it too. Prince Adam has an astoundingly good AC while assuming the He-Man persona; He-Man has a Dexterity bonus to AC of +1, plus +2 natural armor, plus his Wisdom modifier thanks to the monk’s AC bonus, +4 while using Shield of Swings, and +2 while using Combat Expertise. Naturally, He-Man isn’t going to want to use Shield of Swings and Combat Expertise at the same time (yet), but it is a tactic he could employ if he chooses.
It’s important to note that Prince Adam uses his eidolon’s base attack bonus while merged; at this stage of the game, it’s a +6 bonus. Its also important to remember that Prince Adam gets to make one free combat maneuver check of any kind whenever he takes a full attack action; he can even make maneuver checks that normally require a standard action to make as part of this full attack. This is a place where Adam’s Maneuver Mastery ability shines, as it gives him a +2 bonus on all combat maneuver checks in addition to the +2 he gets for having the associated combat maneuver feat. In all, Prince Adam gets a +4 bonus on bull rush, dirty trick, grapple, and trip maneuvers. Furthermore, his eidolon armor bestows its STR 17 onto Prince Adam, giving him another much-needed boost. Its worth noting that Prince Adam gets Leadership in this build; whether you choose to give him a Battle Cat or a She-Ra is up to you. I’d go with Battle Cat considering that She-Ra would be a very similar build to He-Man.
He’s certainly not as crazy as a 7th level synthesis summoner (not much is), but the build itself is coming along nicely thus far.
Mid Levels (8 –14)
In the Mid Level ballpark, Prince Adam is devoting his entirety to mastering the powers of Castle Grayskull. For Prince Adam’s ability score modifiers, you should choose whatever mental stat you find to be most useful for the build. Personally, I would consider Wisdom or Intelligence over Prince Adam’s already high Charisma, as Charisma provides a non-existent combat benefit to Prince Adam. I’m going to recommend Wisdom because increases to Wisdom add to He-Man’s AC through the AC Bonus class feature. The eidolon armor’s ability score increases are a no-brainer, all Strength!
- Classes: Fighter (Lore Warden) 3 / Monk (Maneuver) 2 / Summoner (Synthesist) 9
- Feats: Power Attack (Human Bonus), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword (Bonus Feat), Shield of Swings (1st), Combat Expertise (Bonus Feat), Improved Grapple (Bonus Feat), Improved Bull Rush (3rd), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus Feat), Improved Trip (Bonus), Stunning Fist (Bonus), Improved Dirty Trick (Bonus), Combat Reflexes (5th), Leadership (7th), Improved Disarm (9th), Greater Trip (11th), Greater Grapple (13th)
- Abilities: AC Bonus, Aspect, Evasion, Flurry of Maneuvers, Fused Eidolon, Fused Link, Maker’s Jump (1/Day), Maneuver Mastery +2, Scholastic, Shielded Meld, Summon Monster V, Unarmed Strike (1d6)
- Summoner Cantrips: arcane mark, detect magic, guidance, message, read magic, resistance
- Summoner 1st Level Spells: ant haul, expeditious retreat, feather fall, jump, lesser rejuvenate eidolon
- Summoner 2nd Level Spells: glide, haste, protection from arrows, resist energy
- Summoner 3rd Level Spells: communal protection from arrows, heroism, rejuvenate eidolon, restore eidolon
- Eidolon (Bipedal Form): Ability Increase (Strength x2, Dexterity) climb, skilled (Acrobatics, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Perception), slam (replaces claws), swim
In addition to gaining the ability to restore his eidolon armor’s vitality, Prince Adam also begins to pick up the Greater combat maneuver feats and Improved Disarm; the reason this feat is earned before Greater Trip is a matter of preference, as Prince Adam won’t have the Dexterity to make enough attacks of opportunity to sustain Greater Trip until higher levels, but again; matter of preference. Prince Adam’s BAB is sitting at a respectable +11 while acting as He-Man or +10 while not merged. More importantly, however, his Strength score is beginning to reach truly epic levels; He-Man now has a Strength of 23 while merged and a Dexterity of 17 before factoring magical enhancements. Armed with a decent sword and an amulet of mighty fists, Prince Adam won’t have much trouble mowing down his aggressors.
Whelp, here we are: endgame. Again, I’d pump Prince Adam’s AC by putting his ability score increases into Wisdom, but this time I’d use the eidolon’s final ability score increase (at 20th level) to bump its Constitution up to 14 for more temporary hit points. Adam’s Wisdom is likely to be an 18 before magic items at this point, which is a +4 to his AC. Increasing the eidolon’s Con by 1 ultimately gives it 12 extra temporary hit points as well. All around, these are good investments.
- Classes: Fighter (Lore Warden) 3 / Monk (Maneuver) 2 / Summoner (Synthesist) 15
- Feats: Power Attack (Human Bonus), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword (Bonus Feat), Shield of Swings (1st), Combat Expertise (Bonus Feat), Improved Grapple (Bonus Feat), Improved Bull Rush (3rd), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus Feat), Improved Trip (Bonus), Stunning Fist (Bonus), Improved Dirty Trick (Bonus), Combat Reflexes (5th), Leadership (7th), Improved Disarm (9th), Greater Trip (11th), Greater Grapple (13th), Greater Bull Rush (15th), Vicious Stomp (17th), Dazing Assault (19th)
- Abilities: AC Bonus, Aspect, Evasion, Flurry of Maneuvers, Fused Eidolon, Fused Link, Greater Shielded Meld, Maker’s Jump (2/Day), Maneuver Mastery +2, Scholastic, Shielded Meld, Summon Monster V, Unarmed Strike (1d6)
- Summoner Cantrips: arcane mark, detect magic, guidance, message, read magic, resistance
- Summoner 1st Level Spells: ant haul, endure elements, expeditious retreat, feather fall, jump, lesser rejuvenate eidolon
- Summoner 2nd Level Spells: glide, haste, lesser evolution surge, protection from arrows, resist energy, summon eidolon
- Summoner 3rd Level Spells: communal protection from arrows, heroism, rejuvenate eidolon, restore eidolon, stoneskin
- Summoner 4th Level Spells: communal protection from energy, purified calling, transmogrify, wall of stone
- Summoner 5th Level Spells: greater heroism, greater rejuvenate eidolon, repulsion, wall of iron
- Eidolon (Bipedal Form): Ability Increase (Strength x3, Dexterity x2, Constitution) climb, improved natural armor, skilled (Acrobatics, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Perception), slam (replaces claws), swim
Alright, let’s look at where Prince Adam ends up; BAB of +16 while merged; worse than a fighter or monk, but slightly better than a straight summoner. While merged, Adam’s physical ability scores are as such before enhancement bonuses: Strengh 30, Dex 22, Con 16. He has a natural armor bonus of 16 and adds both his Dexterity and Wisdom modifiers to his AC for a minimum AC of 33, which he can further boost with Shield of Swings and/or Combat Expertise and 12d10+36 temporary hit points from the eidolon (an average of 102). When he power attacks as He-Man, Prince Adam’s base attack bonus is just high enough to reach the +16 threshold, allowing his bastard sword to deal 1d10 + 15 (1-1/2 Strength) + 15 (1-1/2 Power Attack). Remember that these values don’t include whatever magical items Prince Adam has acquired over 20 levels of adventuring.
If you’re wondering why I gave Prince Adam wall of stone, picture it like this: He-Man punches the ground while casting the spell and a wall of stone appears; he punches the ground so hard that stone pops up/down/across/whatever. You need to get creative with the summoner spell list; its not very exciting or fun to select spells from. And as for repulsion, have you ever seen how long certain minions will take to attack He-Man? They’ll stand there while he and his allies spout lines of dialogue at one another! If that’s not the repulsion spell, I don’t know what is!
I wasn’t originally going to provide Mythic Rules for Prince Adam, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he truly is an example of a mythic character. Prince Adam’s path is obviously the champion path. When working with Prince Adam, go against your instincts and don’t allocate any of the mythic path’s ability score increases to Strength; put them in Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. I’d double up on Intelligence and Wisdom and take Charisma once, personally. The reason you don’t want Strength is that these bonuses will only be added to Prince Adam’s Strength; when transforming into He-Man, the bonuses will be overridden.
- Standard Mythic Abilities, Champion’s Strike (Sudden Strike), Legendary Champion
- Path Abilities: Aerial Assault, Always Armed, Blowback, Burst Through, Devestating Smash, Display of Strength, Groundshaker, Mighty Hurler, Precision, Uncanny Grapple, Wall Smasher
- Mythic Feats: Combat Reflexes, Extra Path Ability, Improved Unarmed Strike, Power Attack, Titan Strike
This Mythic set-up gives He-Man many iconic strongman abilities, from the ability to break the ground by punching it to the ability to smash enemies into walls. My personal favorite is the interaction between uncanny grapple and always armed, which allows He-Man to grapple opponents and wield them as improvised weapons with no penalties.
He-Man benefits greatly from his Mythic Power Attack and Mythic Combat Reflexes feat; the former increases his Power Attack damage at 20th level from 15 to 22 and the latter allows him to make as many attacks of opportunity per round as he wishes, which is extremely helpful considering his Greater Trip and Vicious Stomp feats. Titan Strike and Improved Unarmed Strike also make his unarmed strikes all the more threatening; Titan Strike improves his damage to 1d8 (one size category larger) and Improved Unarmed Strike adds half of He-Man’s tier as a damage bonus on unarmed strikes. Whether he is attacking with his sword or punching people out with his fists, a Mythic He-Man is a force to reckon with!
Side Note: I really wanted to give Prince Adam the legendary item mythic path abilities. Three times, even! The problem is that there are so many cooler champion mythic path abilities that make more sense for a character like He-Man. That isn’t to say that He-Man shouldn’t have an artifact weapon; he should. I made the decision to give him awesome powers of his own instead. If you are a GM using this build, I recommend that you use Mythic Adventures’ suggestion of giving Prince Adam the Sword of Grayskull as a pre-built legendary item; a weapon that is legendary due to its own merits, and not for being associated with Prince Adam. If you’re a player taking part in a campaign like this, talk to your GM and see what you can work out together. Ask him if he’ll give you the sword without the path ability at the cost of taking the dependency mythic flaw; losing the sword is a big deal to Prince Adam, and the drawback might be enough for your GM to say yes!
And there you have it; a 1st–20th level (and MR 10) guide to building your very own He-Man! Now, I have to admit, I’m too young to have had much exposure to the show as a child (hint, any) so I primarily went off of what I’ve seen of it as a teenager and adult. I’m curious to see what diehard He-Man fans think of this build. Do you think this is a faithful rendition of He-Man? What would you change? Is this a build you would want to try for yourself, or does the presence of the all-power synthesist summoner turn you off? Leave your answers and comments below and I’ll see you at the next Iconic Design!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune summoner, and his favorite pastime is screaming, “I HAVE THE POWER!” in the middle of crowded shopping malls.