Character Build: Stephanie Brown

Stephanie Brown as Spoiler. Image: DC Comics.

As soon as I decided to build Tim Drake, I knew I also had to build his long-time love interest and frequent crime-fighting partner, Stephanie Brown.

Unfortunately, in terms of super-heroics, Stephanie doesn’t have a strong identity until the 2009 Batgirl series (which only lasted two years before the New 52 kicked her out of continuity for a while). Up to that point, she’s Spoiler, whose deal is basically that she’s… not quite as good at anything as Robin is. Which is a bummer.

However, one of the many great things about Stephanie Brown is that she never gives up, and over the years she picks up a lot of training from a huge assortment of characters: Batman, Robin, Black Canary, Cassandra Cain, and Barbara Gordon all help mentor her at various points.

Plus, even before she picked up the Bat-Family’s combat skills, she was still sneaking around busting her dad’s crimes, so she clearly has a lot of innate talent!

Level 1: Like Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown is a normal, un-super-powered person, so she’s going to be a Human in Pathfinder. For Heritage, I’m picking Skilled and choosing Acrobatics as the linked skill. Her ability boosts will go to Strength and Charisma; unlike Tim, Steph is pretty personable, and she’s obviously tough.

For Background, I think Scout is a good choice: we’re introduced to her when she’s scoping out her dad’s future crime scene, after all. I’m putting her ability boosts into Dexterity and Intelligence; unlike Tim, she doesn’t really have a ‘key’ attribute, narratively, and I’m not building toward an Archetype that has stat requirements like Staff Acrobat, so I want to make her pretty balanced in terms of ability scores. The Forager feat that comes with Scout isn’t all that thematic to the character, but oh well! For skills, she’ll become Trained in Survival and a Lore skill related to somewhere she’s scouted in; this is sort of tricky, but I’d petition the DM to allow ‘City Lore’ (or something similar) here.

Finally, there’s Class. Spoiler (and I am building her as Spoiler here, not Batgirl) is a sneaky character: she begins her career observing her father, Cluemaster, from the shadows. That’s why I think Rogue is a natural fit for her. This is going to have the unfortunate side effect of making her a skill monkey, which is a role I don’t necessarily associate her with in the comics, but then again, she did train under a wide variety of people who imparted a lot of different skills—that makes it work in my book. Speaking of skills, I chose the following to become Trained at level 1: Athletics, Deception, Intimidation, Medicine, Nature, Performance, Religion, Stealth, and Thievery. I’m also giving her the Mastermind Racket, which will bring Society and Occultism up to Trained as well (as you’ll remember from the Tim build, I’m treating Occultism as ‘supervillain stuff’ for the purposes of these character builds).

Dexterity is the key ability for Rogues, giving her a boost to that. Therefore, at creation, her abilities will look like this: Strength 12, Dexterity 14, Constitution 10, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 12.

She will, of course, get all the regular proficiencies and class features of a 1st-level Rogue; as you likely noticed last time, I’m not going to mention the basic stuff in these builds unless it’s something really key to the character—these posts run long anyway, so I’d rather focus on the parts of the build that I need to make actual decisions for.

On the topic of decisions, I need to pick out an Ancestry feat, a skill feat, and a Rogue feat. For Ancestry, how could I go with anything other than Haughty Obstinacy? Steph—especially early Steph—is nothing if not obstinate. Her skill and Rogue feats will be a pair of sneaky abilities: Pickpocket for the former and Plant Evidence for the latter. I’m particularly happy that she can get Plant Evidence immediately, since doing so is kind of her whole deal as Spoiler.

Level 2: Second level is a light one, but it will give Stephanie a key feat: the Martial Artist Dedication. While she’s been known to fight with a staff on occasion, Spoiler more commonly fights hand-to-hand, so improving her unarmed strikes just makes sense. I’m also going to raise her Stealth skill to Expert and pick up the Glean Contents skill feat—she needs to be able to figure out her dad’s plans quickly, after all, and Glean Contents can help with that.

Level 3: I’m going to raise her Athletics to Expert here. For a skill feat, I like Charming Liar; she’s certainly more charming (and a better liar) than Tim, at least. General feats are always kind of a pain, but Incredible Initiative seems reasonable.

Level 4: Now that I’ve got her Martial Artist Dedication taken care of, I want to pop back to the level 2 Rogue feats to pick up Underhanded Assault. Spoiler is almost always working with someone, whether that’s Robin, the Birds of Prey, or Batman, so I like giving her abilities that tie into her having allies. I’ll bring Occultism up to Expert and take Shadow Mark for her skill feat.

Level 5: The most exciting thing about level 5 is, obviously, ability boosts. I’m going to put these into Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. That brings her totals up to Strength 14, Dexterity 16, Constitution 12, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 14—she’s tougher and more acrobatic than average, very likable, but a bit short on common sense (I mean, you’d have to be to try to fight crime in Gotham).

While we’re on the topic of boosting things, I’ll raise Survival to Expert, and Acrobatics will go up to Expert too thanks to her Heritage. Skilled Tracker is good enough for a skill feat, and I’ll continue the focus on allies by grabbing Cooperative Nature for her Ancestry feat.

Level 6: Since Steph is a pretty good liar, let’s bump Deception up to Expert. Titan Wrestler is always a good skill feat, and it’s a nice fit for Spoiler, who is a relatively petite teenage girl going up against Gotham’s underworld—a group that features big guys like Killer Croc and Solomon Grundy. The Rogue feat Skirmish Strike will give her a little added fluidity in combat; it seems like the kind of thing she’d pick up from the Birds of Prey.

Level 7: Now that Master-level skills are on the table, I’ll bring her Stealth up to Master and give her the Swift Sneak skill feat. For a general feat, I’m thinking Thorough Search to up her detective skills a bit (she doesn’t usually get much credit for her powers of deduction, but come on—she foiled Cluemaster pretty effectively in her first appearance).

Level 8: I’m going to raise her Medicine to Expert and give her the Battle Medicine skill feat, because you don’t hang out with the Bat-Family and not learn how to patch yourself up. Plus, she spent a year in Africa with Leslie Thompkins, who probably taught her a thing or two. As for a Rogue feat, I’m going to continue the theme of mobility by giving her Sidestep.

Level 9: Steph is a pretty acrobatic lady—I feel like I remember her mentioning that she was involved in gymnastics at school—so I’m going to bring her Acrobatics up to Master. The Streetwise skill feat fits with most any member of the Bat-Family, and for her Ancestry feat, I’m going to build on her Cooperative Nature with Cooperative Soul.

Level 10: Time for more ability boosts! I’ve chosen Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma, bringing her scores to Strength 16, Dexterity 16, Constitution 14, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 16.

Skill-wise, I’m upping Society to Expert and taking the Discreet Inquiry feat. I’m specifically thinking of the storyline where she pretends to be a nurse so that she can covertly question Star, the skateboard girl, about Tim.

For her Rogue feat, I’m going to dip back into the Martial Artist Archetype really quick to grab Follow-Up Strike. This seems like something Cassandra Cain would’ve taught her.

Level 11: Nothing fancy this level; I’m raising Athletics to Master, grabbing the Powerful Leap skill feat, and taking Incredible Scout as a general feat. All of these just shore up areas that Steph is already fairly good at.

Level 12: I’ll bring Intimidation up to Expert, but—much like Tim—at this point I’m just sort of grabbing any old thing for skills. Intimidation seems like a decent choice, but skill selection has ceased to be a major consideration of theme by now.  As for feats: I like Spring From the Shadows for a Rogue feat, as it feels very Batman; sticking with the ‘springing’ idea, I’ll take Wall Jump as a skill feat.

Level 13: Let’s get Crafting up to Trained. Why not? Looking at skill feats, I like Group Coercion—as I’ve said, giving her abilities that hinge on allies feels like a good fit. Her Ancestry feat is going to be Bounce Back, letting her recover from near death, because, well… “War Games.”

Level 14: I feel like I remember a panel from Stephanie’s brief stint as Robin where Batman is having her, like, defuse a bomb or something, so I’m going to bump her Thievery to Expert so I can grab the Wary Disarmament skill feat and make her better at dealing with traps. As for her Rogue feat, Defensive Roll should help her out in combat, which is always good.

Level 15: You have to love these ability boost levels! I’m putting them in Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom; totals now are Strength 18, Dexterity 16, Constitution 16, Intelligence 16, Wisdom 12, and Charisma 16.

This is also the level where we can take skills up to Legendary rank, which I’ll do for her Stealth. That’ll allow me to grab the Legendary Sneak skill feat. For her general feat, I’m choosing Diehard, because, again, “War Games.”

Level 16: I’m going to keep the Legendary skill rolling by raising Acrobatics. Building on that, how about I grab Swift Elusion for her Rogue feat this level? Criminal Connections is a skill feat I’m surprised I haven’t taken yet, so let’s go ahead and do so.

Level 17: Steph should be at least Trained in Diplomacy, so I’ll take care of that now. Heroic Presence is the natural Ancestry feat here, so that just leaves a skill feat; she’s quicker with a quip than Tim is, so I’m going with Bon Mot.

Level 18: I’m going to use Batman’s training as an excuse to raise her Nature to Expert. Come to think of it, that’s a good excuse for taking Kip Up as a skill feat, too! Finally, the Rogue feat Powerful Sneak is going to let her dish out some solid damage against certain foes.

Level 19: Deception is going up to Master. For her skill feat, I guess Slippery Secrets? Because… sometimes she… kept secrets from Tim…? Yeah, this one’s a reach. For her general feat I’m going with Numb to Death, because—you guessed it—“War Games.” Yes, I know that it was retconned so that she never actually died. I don’t care.

Level 20: Here we go: the final ability boosts! I’m putting them in Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma. That brings her final totals to Strength 18, Dexterity 18, Constitution 18, Intelligence 18, Wisdom 12, and Charisma 18—very well-balanced, though still not great in the common sense department.

I’m going to bring her Diplomacy up to Expert and grab the Doublespeak skill feat, and then all that’s left is her capstone Rogue feat. The choice is clear: Hidden Paragon, so that she can briefly turn invisible. Remember when she could do that in the comics? There was a hot second where she’d, like, stolen tech from the Penguin or something and could briefly turn invisible. Weird!

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