Character Build: Tim Drake

Tim Drake. Art by Belen Ortega, colors by Alejandro Sanchez. Image: DC Comics.

One of the things I’d like to do in the TTRPG space is to build comic book characters in my current favorite tabletop game, Pathfinder 2E.

Our inaugural character–and the focus of the first episode of the upcoming podcast–is none other than Tim Drake, also known as Tim Wayne, also known as Alvin Draper, also known as Gary Glanz, also known as Robin, also known as Mr. Sarcastic, also known as Red Robin, also known as Drake!

Of all his many identities, Tim is best known as the third Robin—the Robin who featured in Batman stories throughout the ‘90s and early ‘00s until Damian Wayne arrived on the scene. He stands out among his fellow Robins for a very specific reason: he’s the one who most embodies the ‘Detective’ aspect of the Batman mythos. Not much of a fighter, but with a keen mind, I figured that Tim fit best into the Investigator class.

Level 1: Obviously, first level is where all the heavy lifting is. Let’s focus on Ancestry first: surprising no one, Tim Drake is going to be an average human. His two ability boosts will go to Dexterity and Intelligence, and for Heritage, I’m thinking Skilled, choosing Athletics as the skill in question.

Next, we can tackle his Background. It was tempting to go with Detective here, but ultimately, I decided on Martial Disciple; while Tim never rivals the rest of the Bat-Family in fighting prowess, he is always striving to learn fresh moves and tactics. Boosts will once again go to Dexterity and Intelligence, and we’ll raise Acrobatics and Warfare Lore skills to Trained. For Martial Disciple’s bonus feat, Cat Fall seems useful.

Last but not least, we need to choose Tim’s class. At root, the reason Tim works so well with Batman is that he’s a natural detective—I mean, this is the guy who is best known for figuring out Batman and Robin’s secret identity when he was a kid. I feel like the only correct choice here is Investigator. That’s going to give him another boost to Intelligence and a heaping helping of skills: I’m going to get him Trained in Society, Stealth, Survival, Religion, Nature, Medicine, Intimidation, and Crafting.

This is going to put Tim’s starting attributes at the following levels: Dexterity 14, Intelligence 16, and 10 in everything else.

He’ll also get access to the Investigator’s proficiencies and starting abilities, so I need to address an unfortunate reality of this build: Strategic Strike, a cornerstone of the Investigator class, is only usable with Agile or Finesse weapons, but there are no staff weapons that have those traits. Obviously, Tim has to fight with a staff, so he’ll only be able to use Strategic Strike with unarmed strikes (or thrown weapons, if you want to give him some of those to mimic batarangs).

For Tim’s Investigator methodology, Empiricism seems the obvious choice. I’ll use that to Train him in Occultism (which I’m going to use as a sort of stand-in for ‘supervillain stuff’). Empiricism will also give Tim access to the That’s Odd feat.

Speaking of feats, I’m giving Tim Know Oneself as his first-level Ancestry feat–we know that Tim practices meditation techniques like the ‘Black Pearl.’ For his Investigator feat, I kind of have to go with Underworld Investigator, right? It’s too perfect.

Level 2: Investigators get to crank up a skill at every level, and they get lots of skill feats, too. At second level, I’m going to bring Warfare Lore up to expert and grab the Battle Planner skill feat to make him a little more versatile in combat; likewise, I’ll take Athletic Strategist for his Investigator feat. I like that there are ways to use intelligence and strategy to drive his combat prowess.

Level 3: Tim gains the Keen Recollection class feature, making him better at skill checks. I’m going to bump Deception up to Trained for his skill increase (Tim’s not a great liar, but hey, he tries) and grab Schooled in Secrets for Tim’s first Skillful Lesson. Tim’s dealt with the League of Assassins, Kobra, and other groups often enough that he ought to be able to gather information on them fairly easily. Finally, I’m going to select Breath Control for a general feat, since that’s something Tim’s been shown to do in the comics (most memorably in Robin #100).

Level 4: Fourth level is a simple one. I’ll raise Society to Expert, since there are a lot of good detective-y feats linked to that skill; Streetwise as a skill feat to take advantage of that increase; and Detective’s Readiness to help with investigations.

Level 5: This is where Tim gets an important set of ability boosts: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence. That’ll boost his damage output and health, make him even better at finding clues, and provide the Dexterity boost we’re going to need next level.

Thanks to Skilled Heritage kicking in, Tim’s Athletics will jump up to Expert, and I’ll raise his Stealth to Expert as well. For this level’s Skillful Lesson, I’m going to go with Crafter’s Appraisal, but honestly, from this point on, a lot of these skill feats are going to be chosen semi-randomly. There’s a lot that seems applicable, but not key to the build, so you could definitely make substitutions as you see fit.

That just leaves an Ancestry feat. I honestly don’t think there are a lot of great Human Ancestry feats that scream ‘Tim Drake,’ so I chose Gloomseer, which grants Darkvision. Does Tim have magic eyes? No, but he does have night-vision lenses in his mask!

Level 6: Getting the skill stuff out of the way first, I’ll bump Athletics to Expert and take the Armor Assist skill feat (because what superhero doesn’t need to change into costume quickly?). Then, a key piece of Tim Drake comes into play: rather than a regular Investigator feat, I’m going to grab the Staff Acrobat Dedication. This will help Tim use some of his more iconic moves from the comics.

Level 7: This is another level aimed at making Tim a better detective—I’m raising his Society to Master now that we’re high enough level to do so, taking Expeditious Search as a general feat so that he can examine a crime scene faster, and choosing Biographical Eye as a Skillful Lesson so that he can learn a lot about an NPC in a short amount of time.

Level 8: Let’s balance all that smart stuff with some physical training. I’m going to bring his Acrobatics to Expert and take Quick Jump as a skill feat. Now is probably a good time to mention that I’m approaching these skill improvements in the same way I’m looking at skill feats—I’m not necessarily doing them in the ‘best’ or ‘most efficient’ way, I’m just upgrading whatever seems right at the time. Anyway, for Tim’s Investigator feat this level, I’m dipping back into Staff Acrobat for Bullying Staff, making Tim more effective at fighting larger creatures. I mean, he’s been tangling with Killer Croc since he was 14, so he definitely has the training for it.

Level 9: For this level, I’m brining Athletics up to Master and focusing a bit on Tim’s friends: I’ll take Sense Allies as an Ancestry feat and Underground Network as a Skillful Lesson. I particularly like the latter, as it reminds me of Tim getting support from Oracle as well as embedding his own agents in some of Gotham’s gangs to serve as informants.

Level 10: Gotta love ability boosts! I’m going with the same array as last time: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence. Just so we’re all on the same page, that should put his abilities as follows: Strength 14, Dexterity 18, Constitution 14, Intelligence 19, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 10 (no offense to Tim, but he’s not the wisest or most suave guy in the world).

It feels like it’s time to take his Stealth up to Master; doing so will allow me to grab Swift Sneak as a skill feat. While Robin is meant to be flashier than his mentor, he was still trained by Batman and should be able to get around unseen if he wants.

What about our Investigator feat? You guessed it—I’m going back to Staff Acrobat for Staff Sweep, letting Tim trip up multiple opponents at once.

Level 11: I’m going to go full Batman here, upping Intimidation to Expert and choosing Forensic Acumen for the level’s Skillful Lesson to make Tim even better at examining crime scenes. Plus, I’ll grab Prescient Planner for the level’s general feat—nothing is more Batman than being prepared for anything!

Level 12: I don’t typically think of Tim as a skilled pickpocket, but there are a few times that he slips a tracer onto a foe or something like that, so it might behoove me to raise his Thievery to Trained at this point. I’ll take a break from Staff Acrobat to take the Investigator feat Reason Rapidly, allowing Tim to use several Recall Knowledge actions in a row, and for his skill feat I chose Experienced Tracker, because… well, I don’t know. He tracks people sometimes, I guess?

Level 13: By this point, Tim should be a pretty seasoned crime-fighter, so I’ll take Occultism up to Expert. I’ll also grab the Quick Identification feat as a Skillful Lesson so that he’ll be better at recognizing magic items (like, say, a mysterious box that’s delivered on his birthday). Stubborn Persistence feels right for his Ancestry feat—the kid never gives up.

Level 14: I’m going to give Tim a bit more combat focus on this level by bumping his Warfare Lore to Master and taking Whirlwind Strike from the Staff Acrobat archetype. For his skill feat, I’m thinking Assured Identification, because… he’s Tim Drake. He doesn’t make silly mistakes when investigating.

Level 15: Another round of ability boosts! This time we’re going to hit Strength (now 16), Constitution (now 16), Intelligence (now 20), and Charisma (now 12). Between these boosts and the ones at level 20, I suppose we could get his Dexterity to 20, but I feel like that’s more Dick’s territory, so I’d rather up his Charisma a little bit; he is a natural leader when he’s on Young Justice and the Teen Titans, after all.

Level 15 means he can take skills to Legendary, so naturally, we’re going to do so for Society. Eye For Numbers seems like a handy Skillful Lesson, and Prescient Consumable helps Tim prepare for anything.

Level 16: I think I’m going to boost Medicine up to Expert, because why not; then, I’ll give Tim some extra mobility by taking the Wall Jump skill feat and Staff Acrobat’s Pivot Strike.

Level 17: Because skills barely mean anything anymore, I’ll just take Nature up to Expert, I guess? Heroic Presence is really the only Ancestry feat that makes sense here—get used to seeing that in these character builds—so that just leaves a Skillful Lesson. Focusing on Tim’s big brain, I’ll take Legendary Codebreaker.

Level 18: I’ll bump Religion up to Expert (maybe he’s been hanging out with Azrael), then take Kreighton’s Cognitive Crossover as this level’s skill feat. Thorough Research is an Investigator feat from way back that I missed because I was grabbing stuff from Staff Acrobat; I’ll take it now because it’s necessary setup for Tim’s 20th-level feat.

Level 19: Occultism will go up to Master, and for a Skillful Lesson, I’ll choose Glean Contents—honestly, this one would probably have been good a bit earlier in the build. For the general feat, I went with Supertaster. It’s not, you know, super thematic, but… it’s kind of detective-y?

Level 20: Here it is! The final level! For Tim’s final ability boosts, I chose Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma, putting his final stats at Strength 18, Dexterity 18, Constitution 18, Intelligence 20, Wisdom 12, and Charisma 14.

As for skills, I’m going to take Stealth up to Legendary (yes, I could’ve done this earlier, but again—Tim isn’t necessarily as adept at stealth as his mentor, so I wanted to save it for the end). I’m taking Shadow Mark, too, to make him even stealthier. To wrap things up, I must of course take Just the Facts for Tim’s final Investigator feat.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with this build! It gives Tim a lot to do outside of combat while also allowing for his trademark staff-based combat (that Staff Acrobat archetype is really perfect for Tim). It’s not perfect, but with a few homebrew items—like a staff that works with Strategic Strike—it could get even better!

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