Welcome to Iconic Design, where we discuss the creation of exciting new character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!
Today is my birthday! Huzzah! In honor of my birthday, I’m going to provide you all with another one of my character build; my absolute favorite Pathfinder character that I have ever played ever. Why is this my favorite? You’ll simply have to read onward and see.
Just shy of a year ago, my buddy came up to me and asked me if my brother and I would want to participate in a little campaign he was running. I’ve mentioned this buddy before; he’s the guy who got me into Dungeons and Dragons when I was in High School. At the time, I was running a big campaign that included him and not only did he have a GMing itch that needed scratching, but he also wanted to make sure that I didn’t burn myself out GMing his campaign. (What a guy, right?) Well, I knew this friend and his world pretty well and I was apprehensive; although he got me started in the game, he and I have drastically different tastes in campaign settings. He’s a big elf-nut; I think elves are boring. I’m big into anthromorphic animal races like gnolls and adlets and (shocker) kitsune; he’s not. The thing is, though, I REALLY wanted to play in this game as a kitsune. Against what some might call “better judgment” I asked him. But here’s the catch; I gave him a brief, oral backstory that cemented my character’s childhood as an adopted orphan amidst his favorite culture of elves. Hook, line, and sinker: Kyr’shin Yilenzo was born.
Kyr’shin quickly became my favorite Pathfinder character the more we played this game. He’s one of those personalities that people just remember, and we had a lot of fun playing that game. Playing Kyr’shin helped me cope through several trying times last year and I always look forward to playing out his antics.
When I designed Kyr’shin, I wanted to epitomize what it means to be a kitsune warrior. To me, that meant fighting with flair and personality. One thing that’s pretty endearing is the idea that Charisma is a dump stat for most martial characters, and as a kitsune I knew I didn’t want to dump Charisma. Also, my GM had prewarned us that we were going into a Kingdom Building campaign. Charisma was preferred. So I set out to make a build that focused on tricky kitsune-like fighting and Charisma-based combat. Here’s what I used to accomplish this build:
- Cavalier (Gendarme, Honor Guard): Having joined the Order of the Dazzling Lotus (homebrewed Order of the Cockatrice mechanics without the self-serving edicts) for the Dazzling Display feat as a bonus feat, I knew I needed an archetype that got rid of tactician, which I’m not a big fan of as a mechanic. Genedarme was perfect: feats are the core of any strong multiclass build, and an archetype that let me pick up Power Attack as a bonus feat at 1st level sounds awesome in my book. Honor Guard fit nicely with my goal to help my allies survive combat because it bestows the Bodyguard feat onto the cavalier as a bonus feat, and grabbing it was pretty useful as I went on my way towards expert trainer.
- Fighter (Lore Warden): Kyr’shin is actually what made Lore Warden my favorite archetype. I’ve used it countless times since him, but Kyr’shin was the first.
- Rogue (Thug): Ah, the thug. You can’t specialize in demoralization without grabbing the thug archetype. The ability to add a round onto a demoralize attempt is awesome. The ability to upgrade shaken into frightening is even better. Plus, I love rogue for the extra skill ranks and additional class skills. A +3 bonus in some of the game’s most essential skills will not be scoffed at!
Early Levels (1–7)
- Classes: Cavalier 2, Fighter 4, Rogue 1
- Feats: Power Attack (Genedarme Bonus), Improved Antagonize (1st), Dazzling Display (Bonus), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Katana (3rd), Combat Expertise (Bonus), Improved Feint (Bonus), Improved Trip (5th), Greater Trip (Bonus), Iron Will (7th)
- Abilities: Challenge 1/Day, Frightening, Maneuver Mastery +2, Mount, Order of the Dazzling Lotus (Romantic Tirade), Scholastic, Sneak Attack +1d6
So, I bet you’re wondering what Improved Antagonize is. It’s a houseruled feat that involves my Psychological Combat rules. Kyr’shin was one of two pilot characters for that system, which is one of the reasons he focuses so heavily on feinting and demoralizing in addition to the antagonize special action. I’m not going to explain how my antagonize rules work here; you’ll just have to check out Psychological Combat for yourselves! (Or the Product Plug article that I’ll undoubtedly write for it when it’s done, if it’s not already published by the time you’re reading this.)
As you can see, this build is feat maximized to the extreme. At 7th level I have access to a maddening 10 feats, all of which serve to define what my character is and how he acts in combat. My base attack bonus is surprisingly good; I have a +6 at 7th level, which is good enough for an iterative attack. One area that suffers is my saving throws: my Reflex is already because Kyr’shin has a good Dexterity modifier from being a kitsune, but my Will saving throw is horrendous, which is why I grabbed Iron Will at 7th level. I simply couldn’t take failing all my saves all the time anymore!
I started specializing in the Trip feats after a few in-character events where I made untrained trip attempts. Overall it was a very useful tactic and served to shape the direction that I built Kyr’shin in, which should become more apparent in the Mid-Levels.
Mid Levels (8 –14)
- Classes: Cavalier 4, Fighter 6, Rogue 4
- Feats: Power Attack (Genedarme Bonus), Improved Antagonize (1st), Dazzling Display (Order Bonus), Combat Reflexes (Fighter Bonus), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Katana (3rd), Combat Expertise (Lore Warden Bonus), Improved Feint (Fighter Bonus), Improved Trip (5th), Greater Trip (Fighter Bonus), Iron Will (7th), Bodyguard (Honor Guard Bonus), Horse Master (9th), Weapon Focus: katana (Rogue Bonus), Shatter Defenses (11th), Violent Display (Rogue Bonus), Dazing Assault (13th), Critical Focus (Fighter Bonus)
- Abilities: Brutal Beatdown, Challenge 2/Day, Expert Trainer, Evasion, Frightening, Intercept, Maneuver Mastery +2, Mount, Order of the Dazzling Lotus (Romantic Tirade), Rogue Talent (Combat Trick, Weapon Training), Scholastic, Sneak Attack +1d6, Uncanny Dodge, Weapon Training: Heavy Blades
Whew, that’s a crap ton of abilities, isn’t it? As you can probably tell, at this stage of the game Kyr’shin is designed to debuff the heck out of his opponents, especially humanoids. Kyr’shin is able to easily inflict the following conditions onto his enemies with this build: flat-footed, prone, shaken, and sickened. Kyr’shin’s ultimate goal is to get all of these conditions onto his opponent, which is surprisingly easy if he is flanking an opponent. If he knocks a foe prone with trip, he gets an attack of opportunity. Violent Display allows him use Dazzling Display as an immediate action if he hits a foe with his sneak attack, which inflicts the shaken condition onto his opponent. If that opponent tries to stand up, Kyr’shin gets another attack of opportunity thanks to Combat Reflexes, which causes the enemy to become flat-footed if it hits because of Dazzling Display. Furthermore, he can forgo the sneak attack damage for this attack of opportunity to instead sicken his target with brutal beatdown for 2 rounds. Because the penalties from these conditions stack, Kyr’shin makes sure that his allies have a much easier time striking his foes in combat.
If that wasn’t enough, Kyr’shin has a surprising among of defensive abilities. From evasion and uncanny dodge to Combat Expertise, Kyr’shin can keep himself safe while whittling away at his enemies. While riding a mount, of course, because Kyr’shin’s mount uses his character level as his cavalier level thanks to Horse Master. We’ll get to the mount at the end of the article, but it’s designed to support Kyr’shin’s combat style in every possible way.
- Classes: Cavalier 4, Fighter 12, Rogue 4
- Feats: Power Attack (Genedarme Bonus), Improved Antagonize (1st), Dazzling Display (Order Bonus), Combat Reflexes (Fighter Bonus), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Katana (3rd), Combat Expertise (Lore Warden Bonus), Improved Feint (Fighter Bonus), Improved Trip (5th), Greater Trip (Fighter Bonus), Iron Will (7th), Bodyguard (Honor Guard Bonus), Horse Master (9th), Weapon Focus: katana (Rogue Bonus), Shatter Defenses (11th), Violent Display (Rogue Bonus), Dazing Assault (13th), Critical Focus (Fighter Bonus), Bleeding Critical (15th), Sneaking Precision (Fighter Bonus), Cleave (17th), Weapon Specialization: katana (Fighter Bonus), Greater Weapon Focus: katana (19th), Penetrating Strike (Fighter Bonus)
- Abilities: Brutal Beatdown, Challenge 2/Day, Expert Trainer, Evasion, Frightening, Hair’s Breadth, Intercept, Know the Enemy, Maneuver Mastery +4, Mount, Order of the Dazzling Lotus (Romantic Tirade), Rogue Talent (Combat Trick, Weapon Training), Scholastic, Sneak Attack +1d6, Uncanny Dodge, Weapon Training: Heavy Blades, Light Blades
I’ll admit that every feat after Sneaking Precision isn’t exactly hammer in stone, especially Cleave. It’d be very easy to swap any one of those five feats out for something else if a new feat I like gets printed or I discover a huge flaw in my build that I need to patch up towards the end of the game. In terms of what I might swap it out for, Realistic Likeness is always an awesome feat to have or I could invest lightly in another combat maneuver. I could even pick up something like Combat Patrol if I wanted to; there are plenty of options I could pick from and when I’m designing a character to act as my PC, I like leaving some wriggle room so I can adjust my build as the campaign unfolds somewhat.
End game for Kyr’shin is basically just more fighter levels for more feats and tricks. His attack bonuses from Weapon Training and Weapon Focus get better, he gets neat mileage out of Know Thy Enemy and Hair’s Breadth. This is especially true of Hair’s Breadth considering how Kyr’shin is a frontline fighter with a penchant for dexterous defensive abilities. One sneak attack die isn’t much, but it’s enough to qualify Kyr’shin for Sneaking Precision, which allows him to easily make use of his Bleeding Critical feat, which was chosen because it is the only critical feat that outright improves the amount of damage you inflict to enemies on a critical hit. Between having a katana and Sneaking Precision, I should have surprisingly good uptime on Bleeding Critical.
Throughout the campaign, my GM hinted that we were gong Mythic with this campaign, so I sat down and thought about what path abilities I would like Kyr’shin to have. Playing off his role as a combat maneuver specialist, I knew I would probably need some combination of champion and trickster. He’s what I came up with to supplement this build:
- Mythic Path: Trickster (Sudden Strike)
- Path Abilities: Display of Charisma (1st), Deadly Dodge (2nd), Maneuver Expert (3rd), Combat Trickery (4th), Path Dabbling: Retributive Reach (5th), Precision Critical (6th), Impossible Speed (Bonus), Fleet Warrior (7th), Crusader (8th), Down Like Dominos (9th), Longevity (10th)
- Mythic Feats: Combat Reflexes (1st), Dual Path: Champion (3rd), Power Attack (5th), Extra Path Ability (7th), Combat Expertise (9th)
Most of the mythic powers I’ve selected augment Kyr’shin’s ability to do what he does best: avoid getting hit and penalize his opponents in combat. Display of Charisma is an awesome path ability for this build: it gives me a +20 on Intimidate or Bluff checks when I really need to get my special actions off or can help me immensely in roleplaying situations. Deadly Dodge is the bread and butter of my defensive abilities, granting a huge bonus to AC and a free attack of opportunity if an opponent misses me. Speaking of attacks of opportunity, Combat Reflexes (Mythic) gives me an infinite number of them. Awesome! Retributive Reach allows me to hit foes with my attacks of opportunity from farther away and Down Like Dominos allows me to potentially trip more opponents, which means more attacks of opportunity! Huzzah!
Out of the whole list, the only ability that I’m not really sold on is Precision Critical. Doubling 2d6 damage to 4d6 damage on my sneak attacks isn’t an amazingly powerful ability and I suspect that I’ll change that one out as I get more experience playing Kyr’shin in a Mythic Campaign. I could see myself taking Impossible Speed a tier earlier and grabbing a different Mythic feat instead of Extra Path ability. Finally, I think Longevity is an awesome cool path ability and I always try to fit at least one “fun” mythic ability in my build somewhere.
My GM is super nice. Because we’re playing in a jungle and he has befriended a tribe of dinosaur-riding jungle elves, Kyr’shin has a dinosaur as his mount. Specifically, he has a megaraptor (though he uses the Allosaurus statistics for this purpose because it’s the closest available critter to the megaraptor). Kyr’shin’s mount is designed with Kyr’shin’s abilities in mind. Since Animal Companions don’t really have any special changes outside of feats, here’s a quick breakdown:
- Companion Archetype: Charger
- Feats: Light Armor Proficiency (Cavalier Bonus), Power Attack (1 HD), Improved Overrun (3 HD), Charge Through (5 HD), Greater Overrun (7 HD), Combat Reflexes (9 HD), Improved Natural Attack (11 HD), Medium Armor Proficiency (13 HD), Heavy Armor Proficiency (15 HD)
As noted, Kyr’shin’s dino has the Charger archetype from Animal Archive. This awesome archetype allows the mount to share Kyr’shin’s limited Challenge benefits and gives it something akin to Armor Mastery as it levels up; it becomes increasingly easier for the mount to move in medium and heavy armor. The net result is that Kyr’shin’s mount becomes harder to hit than he is, and Kyr’shin can further boost his mount’s AC with the Bodyguard feat.
Like Kyr’shin, his mount gains a wicked number of attacks of opportunity from Combat Reflexes and with the Overrun feats; Kyr’shin’s mount can knock over and provoke oodles of attacks of opportunities from opponents which Kyr’shin can participate in. Effectively, Kyr’shin’s mount can knock over foes so Kyr’shin can perform other actions in combat. Furthermore, the mount gains the grab special ability with its bite, imposing yet another penalty onto an enemy for Kyr’shin to exploit.
And there you have it; my absolute favorite character build for my absolute favorite Pathfinder character. What do you think? Would you change anything or do you like the build I’ve posted? What’s your favorite character build to play? Leave your answers and comments below and I’ll see you next week for BIRTHDAY WEEK 2: THE AFTERMATH! Take care!
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 multiclass fighter/cavalier/rogue, and his favorite pastime is plotting ways to make his birthday last FOREVER!