Character Build: Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman)

Jessica Drew. Marvel Comics.

If I’m being honest, Jessica Drew, better known as Spider-Woman, is perhaps not the most High Evolutionary-adjacent character I could be choosing for our second hero build of the month. Adam Warlock is more intrinsically linked to Herbert Edgar Wyndham, but he’s also a character I know a lot less about. I’d like to take a crack at building Adam someday, but for now, I thought I’d play it safe—and have a bit of fun—by working on a character I know and love.

Spider-Woman proved tricky. She’s an excellent hand-to-hand combatant; a spy trained by both SHIELD and HYDRA; she can stick to walls and shoot venom blasts; and she gives off mind-affecting pheromones. That’s a tall order! Lots of very different abilities to pack into a single character. I think I just may have figured it out, though.

Level 1: Let’s start with Ancestry. It won’t surprise anyone when I choose Human here, but my choice of Heritage may raise a few eyebrows: I’m going with Half-Orc. It’s not the best thematic pick, but it gives her access to Orc Ancestry feats, and that’s going to be somewhat important, because the very first Ancestry feat I’m taking here at level 1 is Iron Fists, making unarmed strikes a viable combat choice (albeit one that still deals fairly low damage). Yes, I could’ve accomplished the same thing better with the Martial Artist Archetype, but as you’ll soon see, Archetypes aren’t really on the table for Ms. Drew. Her Ancestry ability boosts will go into Dexterity and Charisma.

To my surprise, there’s no Spy Background, but that’s okay—Detective is equally applicable to Jessica! The associated skills and Streetwise feat are perfect for her. I’ll put the ability boosts into Intelligence and Charisma (normally I’d do Dexterity for the second boost, but it’s important that her Charisma be 14 at character creation).

Finally, for class, I have to go with Rogue (though Investigator is a close second). Her racket of choice will be Eldritch Trickster, allowing her to immediately pick up the Sorcerer Dedication feat—hence the need for a high Charisma. That said, I’m not choosing Charisma as her key ability score—she’s going to stick with Dexterity for that. That will put her starting scores at Strength 10, Dexterity 14, Constitution 10, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 14.

For the Sorcerer Dedication, I’m picking the Fey Bloodline to get access to the Primal spell list. She’ll immediately get two cantrips; Acid Splash will stand in for her venom blasts, while Daze can mimic some of her pheromone-based abilities.

The Fey Bloodline also makes her Trained in Deception and Nature; additionally, she’s automatically Trained in Stealth from being a Rogue. She’ll get to choose another eight skills to become Trained in; let’s go with Acrobatics, Athletics, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Medicine, Performance, Survival, and Thievery. This is all, of course, in addition to the Society and Underworld Lore from her Background.

All that leaves is a couple of feats! Jess is quite acrobatic, so Nimble Dodge is a good fit for her initial class feat; along those same lines, Titan Wrestler is a solid skill feat to take at level 1.

Level 2: Oh boy, Jess is another character who gets to deal with skills at every level. I’ll start by increasing her Acrobatics to Expert—simple enough. I’ll take Cat Fall while I’m at it, too; between her spider-powers and her gliding costume, she’s pretty good at avoiding fall damage. Then, the Mobility class feat will let her move around in combat without fear of reprisal.

Level 3: Being a trained spy, Spider-Woman deserves to have her Stealth raised to Expert. Shadow Mark is a great low-level skill feat, while Incredible Initiative is a worthwhile general feat that—again—makes sense for a spy who needs to think on her feet.

Level 4: Society is a handy skill, so let’s move that up to Expert and snag the Read Lips skill feat; I’m not sure if she’s ever explicitly displayed that ability, but it makes sense to me that she’d be able to. Now, here’s the big one: instead of a Rogue feat, I’m taking the Basic Sorcerer Spellcasting Archetype feat. Right now, that’s going to give her a 1st-level spell slot and a single spell of that level—in this case, Charm. Hello, pheromones!

Level 5: Ah, level 5. You know what that means: ability boosts! I’m going with Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma, bringing her totals up to Strength 10, Dexterity 16, Constitution 12, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 16.

For skills, Underworld Lore is going up to Expert and she’s taking the Underground Network feat. Ancestry feat options are somehow slim for Jess, even with having access to two ancestries, so I’ll choose Clever Improviser. She’s got to think on her feet!

Level 6: Speaking of her feet, let’s take the Light Step class feat to represent her acrobatic acumen and sticky appendages. Reinforcing these abilities even more, she gets a 2nd-level spell from her Sorcerer Archetype, which I’m going to use to get Spider Climb! Then, for skills, I’ll bring Thievery to Expert (because why not) and grab Combat Climber so she can climb alright even without the spell.

Level 7: Since she can take skills up to Master now, I’m going to do so to Acrobatics. Powerful Leap seems like an appropriate choice of skill feat, and I’ll have her take Fleet as a general feat to increase her speed.

Level 8: The Sly Striker class feat is perfect for someone sneaky like Jess. She’ll also get the 3rd-level spell from her Archetype; there are no great options here, so I’m going to choose Haste under the assumption that she’ll generally use it on herself. Meanwhile, I’ll bring Stealth up to Master and grant her the Swift Sneak feat.

Level 9: I feel like taking Society up to Master and taking the Criminal Connections feat—maybe she still knows some folks from her HYDRA days. For her Ancestry feat, I’ll build on Clever Improviser with Incredible Improvisation.

Level 10: It’s ability boost time again! I want Jess to be a bit more balanced than she is, so I’m going to go with Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom. Her new totals will be Strength 12, Dexterity 16, Constitution 14, Intelligence 16, Wisdom 12, and Charisma 16.

Underworld Lore will get a boost to Master, and I’ll snag Unmistakable Lore so that she’s even better at gathering info on thugs. Now that she can do debilitating strikes, I might as well take the Eldritch Debilitations class feat, which seem like reasonable tricks for Spider-Woman to know.

Level 11: It’s suddenly occurred to me that I’ve put too much focus on Stealth and not nearly enough on Deception; let’s get to work on that by raising Deception to Expert right now. Then, I’ll take the Quick Squeeze skill feat, which Jess will need later. Finally, she needs a general feat—Skitter ought to do nicely.

Level 12: I’ll goose Deception again to take it to Master, boosting it further by grabbing the Charming Liar skill feat. I always picture Jess jumping through the air with that glider suit, so Fantastic Leap feels like a good choice for her class feat here.

Level 13: With Deception taken care of for the moment, I’ll raise her Athletics to Expert. The Glean Contents skill feat is useful for any spy, and then she gets an Ancestry feat—Stubborn Persistence captures Jessica’s determination pretty well (I mean, the woman was fighting supervillains while suffering from agonizing radiation poisoning—it doesn’t get much more stubborn or persistent than that).

Level 14: Let’s stay on that Athletics train and raise it to Master, then pop over to our Deception skill feats and snag Lie to Me. I think of Spider-Woman as being a pretty brutal fighter, so Stay Down! feels like a good class feat choice—if she knocks you down, she expects you to stay there.

Level 15: Ability boosts this level are going into Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom. That brings her totals to Strength 12, Dexterity 18, Constitution 16, Intelligence 18, Wisdom 14, and Charisma 16. Jessica has a well-rounded skill set and I feel like these stats support that.

Now that she can become Legendary in skills, I’m jumping Deception to the front of the line. Discreet Inquiry will help her with information-gathering, while the general feat Toughness will make her, you know… tougher.

Level 16: Acrobatics is going up to Legendary, but I’m sticking with Deception skill feats to give her Slippery Secrets. Along the same lines, I’m also taking the Blank Slate class feat; nobody is going to be able to learn anything about Jessica Drew unless she wants them to.

Level 17: I’m going to take Stealth to Legendary so that Jessica can take the Legendary Sneak skill feat; for her Ancestry feat, there are no surprises here—it’s Heroic Presence, of course.

Level 18: Continuing Jessica’s Legendary streak, I’ll improve Underworld Lore now. She’ll grab the Doublespeak skill feat (for those times that she’s teaming up with Captain Marvel), and thanks to the groundwork we’ve laid in previous levels, the Implausible Infiltration class feat—perfect for a spy!

Level 19: Let’s take Society up to Legendary and grab the Biographical Eye skill feat—taking in details about a person quickly is part of being a good detective, after all. For her final general feat, how about Fast Recovery? That’s practically a requirement to be a superhero, and besides, I’m sure she has, uh… spider… regeneration… or something.

Level 20: Time for the final round of ability boosts! I’m putting them in Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma, for final totals of Strength 14, Dexterity 18, Constitution 18, Intelligence 18, Wisdom 16, and Charisma 18.

For her last skill increase, let’s raise Thievery to Master and take the Quick Unlock skill feat—I’m sure she’s had to break into places for SHIELD or HYDRA before. Then, for her capstone class feat, she can take Impossible Striker to maximize her damage output consistently.

There you have it! This was a tough puzzle to solve, given Spider-Woman’s unique powerset, but the Sorcerer Archetype was a huge boon. I do wish I hadn’t forgotten about Deception until halfway through the build; it might be advisable to focus on that earlier on than I did. Still, overall, I’m happy with how Jess turned out!

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