In this series, we recreate a character from our favorite works in Pathfinder.
This installment’s character: Beatrix Kiddo, the Bride (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2)
As I learn the ins-and-outs of Pathfinder, one of my favorite ways to test my knowledge is to recreate characters from others works. The Cloning Factory is a series in which I’ll try to build, using only official Pathfinder content, some of my favorite characters.
Each build will stick to a few rules:
- Each build will be a maximum of 10th level.
- Each build will have appropriate average recommended PC wealth-per level and use a 20-point buy.
- Each build will use only official Pathfinder content.
I have characters I’m looking forward to cloning, but if there are any you’d like to see let me know.
Check out the last Cloning Factory subject: Corvo Attano.
Today’s Cloning Factory subject is Beatrix Kiddo, better known as the Bride from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
The Bride is a hitwoman in the Deadly Vipers Assassination Squad (DVAS) who sought to
escape her life as a killer and raise her child in peaceful obscurity. On her wedding day, the DVAS, led by Bill, massacred the wedding party and left the Bride for dead. She awoke and committed herself to exacting her revenge against the DVAS. The movies then leap into homages of classic martial arts flicks, a unique visual style, and a whole lotta blood.
The Bride is an entirely mundane character. She’s a human and wields no magic, relying instead only on her skill in combat and, centrally, the sword Hanzo Hattori crafted for her. The Bride also wears no armor. In Pathfinder, that’s hard to make work well in the context of the rest of the build we’re aiming for, so we’ll have to bend our interpretation a bit in that arena, but our Bride will have no intrinsic magical abilities whatsoever. The Bride is agile, terrifying, and determined beyond all reason.
The Bride we’re going to make will:
- Wield a katana better than any other weapon
- Focus on finesse over raw strength
- Inspire terror in her enemies
- Take a beating
- Excel in duels
There are a lot of different ways we could build the Bride. A more holistic interpretation might use the Monk class to make a versatile unarmored unarmed fighter with a host of East Asian martial arts-inspired weaponry and a touch of wuxia-inspired abilities. An interpretation aiming for fidelity to the modern setting might use Guns Everywhere rules and build a Bride better suited to surviving amidst gunfire.
But the build we’re looking into here is focused on the Bride we see fighting O-ren Ishii at the end of Kill Bill, Vol 1.: a brutal, quick, katana-wielding killer that excels in combat against other melee combatants. The Bride rarely uses raw strength in combat, favoring precision, and so we’re going to need classes that work well with the Dexterity stat. The Bride is never shown to be of singular intelligence or cleverness, so we’ll avoid putting a lot of weight into Intelligence or Wisdom. She is relentless and she is terrifying, which means we’ll be giving some extra attention to Constitution and Charisma.
Dexterity + Charisma + Melee Combatant = Swashbuckler. The swashbuckler is a lightly armored, flashy hybrid of the Fighter and the Gunslinger that focuses solely on piercing weapons and outmaneuvering their opponent through dodges and parries.
But the Bride has a very clear preference for the katana, an exotic slashing weapon the Swashbuckler alone does not prepare her to use. Further, she demands vengeance, issues challenges to single opponents, and lives in a universe dripping with respect for the martial arts film genre. We’re going to make our stop in Swashbuckler a brief one, and spend the rest of our time in the Samurai class. Specifically, the Sword Saint archetype. Samurai normally become good mounted archers, but that’s irrelevant for the Bride. The Sword Saint focuses entirely on delivering swift brutal strikes. The Samurai is an alternate class to the Cavalier and, like that class, must follow an edict and may issue challenges to single enemies.
The edict the Bride will follow belongs to the Order of Vengeance.
The Bride must seek retaliation (legal or otherwise) for any unjustified harm to her person or property. She may not forgive even the slightest insult.
|Beatrix Kiddo (a.k.a “The Bride”)|
|Swashbuckler 1 / Samurai (Sword Saint) 9
Medium Humanoid (Human)
|AC 21, touch 15, flat-footed 15
(+6 Dex, +5 Armor); +4 if using Dodging Panache; +2 vs Challenge Target; +1 shield if using Combat Expertise or Total Defense action in Swordplay style;HP: 91 (10d10+30)
Fort: +9, Ref: +9, Will: +6
|Speed: 40 ft.
Melee: +1 Keen Katana +17/+12 (1d8+7, 15-20/x2)Special Attacks:
Full-Round Action: With your weapon sheathed, against a challenged target you haven’t yet attacked, make an attack roll as normal. If it hits, deal an additional 5d6 damage. For 1 round, you take a -4 penalty to AC.Gain +4 on attack rolls to confirm a critical hit. Gain +½ level on attack rolls to confirm Iaijutsu Strike critical hit. Gain +2 on attack rolls to confirm a critical hit with a katana.
|Swashbuckler Panache & Deeds
Panache Pool: 4
Derring Do: Expend 1 Panache point to gain 1d6 on your next Acrobatics, Climb, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, or Swim check. If you roll a 6, repeat.
Dodging Panache: When an enemy makes a melee attack against you, spend 1 point as an immediate action to move 5 feet and gain your Charisma modifier as a dodge bonus to your AC against that attack.
Opportune Parry and Riposte: When an enemy makes a melee attack against you, spend 1 Panache point and an attack of opportunity to make an attack roll against that creature. If the result of your roll exceeds their attack roll, their attack misses. If you have at least 1 panache point left, you may then take an immediate action to make an attack against that creature.
Order of Vengeance
Edict: Must never let an insult or injury go unanswered.
Challenge: 3/day. Gain +3 morale bonus on attack rolls against the challenged target, if the Bride has encountered another creature of that same type within 24 hours.
Class Skills: Gain Kn. Nobility and Kn. Local as class skills. Gain ½ level as a bonus on Diplomacy checks to gather information.
Air Grievances: Gain ½ level on Intimidate checks to demoralize. Penalties suffered by demoralized opponents increase by 1.
Eye for an Eye: Gain Critical Focus as a bonus feat.
Weapon Expertise (Katana)
Can draw a Katana as though you had the Quick Draw feat. Gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls to confirm critical strikes with a katana.
Gain ½ samurai levels as a bonus on an attack roll to confirm a critical hit with Iaijutsu Strike.
On a successful iaijutsu strike, all enemies within 30 feet must succeed at a Will saving throw or be demoralized for 1d4+1 rounds.
5/day. Regain one use when you kill the target of your challenge.
Determined: As a standard action, remove the fatigued, shaken, sickened, exhausted, frightened, nauseated, or staggered condition.
Resolute: As an immediate action before needing to roll a saving throw, roll twice and take the better result.
Unstoppable: When reduced to 0 hit points but not slain, use an immediate action to stabilize and remain conscious. You are staggered, but remain conscious even if you take a standard action. You fall unconscious if you take additional damage from any source.
Greater Resolve: When struck by a critical hit, as an immediate action, negate the critical and make the attack a normal attack. Effects that trigger on critical hits do not apply to this attack.
|Str 10, Dex 22, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 18
Base Atk +10/+5, CMB +10; CMD 26
Feats: Weapon Finesse; Slashing Grace; Combat Reflexes; Weapon Focus; Combat Expertise; Improved Feint; Swordplay Style; Critical Focus; Swordplay Upset
Gear: Belt of Incredible Dexterity +4; Headband of Alluring Charisma +4; Cloak of Resistance +3; +2 Champion Studded Leather; Boots of Striding and Springing
Swashbuckler 1 gets important fundamentals in place for us to build upon as we advance in levels. The Bride can’t yet use a katana, but she can get along well enough with another weapon until level 2.
- Weapon Finesse: Swashbucklers gain the benefits of Weapon Finesse with light or one-handed piercing melee weapons, and are considered to have the feat for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites. While not technically granting the feat, it gets the Bride Dexterity to her attack rolls and will later work with the katana. Gained through the Swashbuckler class.
- Slashing Grace: Weapon Finesse is useful, but katana are slashing weapons, not piercing. Slashing Grace allows the Bride to, when she wields a chosen weapon one-handed, treat it as though it were a piercing weapon for the purpose of feats and abilities, and also use her Dexterity modifier in place of her Strength modifier for damage rolls with that weapon. Of course, we’ll choose the katana. Gained as the bonus feat humans receive at 1st level.
- Combat Reflexes: The Bride isn’t the sort of person to only attack on her turn. Combat Reflexes lets her perform additional attacks of opportunity per round equal to her Dexterity modifier, which is all but necessary to get the most out of a key Swashbuckler ability. Gained through the normal feat received at 1st level.
- Panache & Deeds: Panache is a pool of points, equal to the Bride’s Charisma modifier, which she can individually spend to perform different activities or “deeds.” Each morning, the Bride’s pool fills up to its maximum. She regains points by either killing an enemy with a piercing (or slashing, thanks Slashing Grace!) weapon or confirming a critical hit with the same. At 1st level, Swashbucklers learn three deeds:
- Derring Do: Whenever she makes an Acrobatics, Climb, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, or Swim skill check, the Bride can expend 1 point and add 1d6 to the result of the check. If she rolls a 6, she can roll again and add that result as well. If it’s a 6, she repeats, and so on.
- Dodging Panache: Whenever an enemy makes a melee attack against her, the Bride may take an immediate action and spend 1 point to move 5 feet in any direction. This grants her a dodge bonus to her AC equal to her Charisma modifier.
- Opportune Parry and Riposte: Whenever an enemy makes a melee attack against her, the Bride may spend 1 point and make an opposed attack roll. If her result is higher than her opponent’s, the attack misses. Then, if she has at least 1 panache point in her pool, she can use an immediate action to make an attack against that enemy.
- Swashbuckler’s Finesse: This gives the Bride Weapon Finesse, as discussed above. It also allows the Bride to use her Charisma modifier in place of her Intelligence modifier for the purpose of meeting combat feat prerequisites, which is useful for the feat path we’re going to take.
Swashbuckler (S) 1 / Sword Saint Samurai 1
- Katana proficiency: The Samurai class gives the Bride proficiency in many weapons, but we care most about the katana. With this proficiency, the Bride can wield her katana one-handed, which triggers Slashing Grace which, in turn, enables her to use her katana for her Swashbuckler abilities.
- Iaijutsu Strike: Against a challenged opponent the Bride has not yet attacked and while the Bride has her weapon sheathed, she may take a full round action to make a normal attack roll against that opponent. If this attack lands, the Bride adds 1d6 to the damage roll. For 1 round after using this, the Bride takes a -4 penalty to her AC. Dodging Panache can mitigate this, and Opportune Parry & Riposte may assist when simple AC isn’t enough. With this, the Bride goes for a quick, clean kill.
- Challenge: Samurai and Cavaliers can issue challenges to single enemies, taking a -2 to their AC against all other targets and gaining bonuses against the challenged target. Order of Vengeance Samurai gain a bonus to their attack rolls against the target if they’ve encountered a being of the same type within 24 hours. For the Bride, whose targets are all human and who lives in a human-filled world, this is an easy requirement to meet.
- Resolve: The Bride never, ever surrenders. Resolve gives her some of the sturdiness that Constitution alone won’t provide, by enabling the Bride to temporarily ignore defeat, shake off conditions, and resist harmful effects.
- Skills: The Order of Vengeance grants the Bride Knowledge (Local) and Knowledge (Nobility). It also grants her a bonus to Diplomacy checks made to gather information. Together, these three will help the Bride track down the targets of her vengeance.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 2
- Weapon Focus: Weapon Focus is a bit uninteresting as far as feats go, but it’s a strong and necessary step in the feat path we want to follow. It’s bonus to attack rolls is always useful. Gained through the normal feat received at character level 3rd.
- Air Grievances: This ability, granted by the Order of Vengeance, improves the Bride’s ability to intimidate her opponents. Later on, the penalties she inflicts upon enemies through Intimidate become stronger. And, of course, the Bride needs a mechanical benefit to telling her enemies exactly why she wants to kill them.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 3
- Iaijutsu Strike: +1d6 damage.
- Weapon Expertise: With this, the Bride can draw her katana instantly. In addition, she gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls made to confirm a critical strike with the katana. Finally, her samurai levels count as fighter levels for the purpose of feat prerequisites, but our build doesn’t rely on that class of feats.
- Brutal Slash: Whenever the Bride threatens a critical hit with her Iaijutsu strike, she adds half her samurai level to attack rolls made to confirm that critical strike. This stacks with the benefit provided by Weapon Expertise.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 4:
- Combat Expertise: Still setting up our foundation for later feats, Combat Expertise is a feat tax that may still be useful. The Bride is under-armored, and Combat Expertise’s bonus to AC may come in useful, particularly with high Dexterity and Weapon Focus providing a buffer to her attack roll. Gained through the normal feat received at character level 5th.
- Challenge: +1 use per day.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 5:
- Iaijutsu Strike: +1d6 damage.
- Terrifying Iaijutsu: Whenever the Bride successfully lands an Iaijutsu Strike, she forces all enemies within 30 feet to make a Will save or be shaken for 1d4+1 rounds. Including, if they survive, the target of her Iaijutsu Strike. The Bride’s a scary woman, and with this ability she further lives up to that reputation.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 6:
- Improved Feint: A necessary step for a later feat, Improved Feint remains useful because it allows the Bride to hit her enemies more frequently. The Bride can feint the round before delivering an Iaijutsu strike, making the strike easier to land and thereby triggering Terrifying Iaijutsu. Gained through the 6th level bonus feat received by samurai.
- Swordplay Style: The Bride is first and foremost a swordswoman. While in this stance, whenever she fights with Combat Expertise active or takes the total defense action, she uses her sword skills to increase her AC. Additinally, Combat Expertise’s melee penalty doesn’t apply to her first attack each turn. Like, for example, Iaitjutsu Strike. Gained through the normal feat received at character level 7th.
- Bonus Feat: Precisely what it says on the tin. This is what allows us to grab Improved Feint at this level while also picking up Swordplay Style.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 7:
- Challenge: +1 use per day.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 8:
- Critical Focus: This feat grants a +4 bonus to attack rolls made to confirm a critical strike. This stacks with all the other bonuses we’ve identified so far to these same types of attack rolls. The Bride is becoming a crit-confirming machine. Gained through the 8th level bonus Critical Focus feat granted to Order of Vengeance samurai.
- Swordplay Upset: This allows the Bride to make a feint as an immediate action against an opponent that misses her. If she successfully parries an opponent’s attack, for example, the Bride can make a feint check during the opponent’s turn. Then, on her own turn, deliver a full-attack action against a flat-footed opponent.
- Eye for an Eye: This Order of Vengeance ability is what grants the Bride the bonus Critical Focus feat. Further, it allows the Bride to temporarily grant this feat or another critical feat she possess to her allies, like the cavalier ability Tactician. The Bride isn’t much of a team player, but some concessions must be made.
S1 / Sword Saint Samurai 9
- Greater Resolve: The Bride is good at confirming critical hits, but being on the receiving end of them can’t be fun. Greater Resolve lets the Bride turn critical threats against her into normal attacks, preventing her assailant from receiving their benefits.
If we kept building the Bride for just one additional level, we’d finish the Swordplay Style feat tree with Swordplay Deflection, further bolstering her AC whenever she successfully parries an opponent’s attack.
As far as items go, a Belt of Incredible Dexterity and a Headband of Alluring Charisma are central to this build. I’ve also included a Cloak of Resistance and Boots of Springing and Striding for survivability and mobility, respectively.
I mentioned that our Bride is under-armored, which is an unfortunate necessity of the Swashbuckler abilities and of the character’s source material. I’ve included some magic light armor to give her a baseline of survivability, but the Bride’s longevity will result from dodging and parrying far more than it will from simply endurance. The armor’s Champion ability grants the wearer AC bonuses against the targets of her challenges, giving the Bride defense when she needs it most. The Champion armor does require the character be good, however. If your Bride is evil, consider the Dastard enchantment (the profane counterpart to Champion’s sacred bonus). If your Bride is neutral, you may need to consider an enhancement that provides a different sort of ability.
And the katana, of course, is a +1 Keen katana. Another version of this build worked Bane (Human) into it, but I decided to save that money and put it towards other items. The Keen Katana makes critical strikes far more likely, and we’re relying on critical strikes and Iaijutsu Strike to quickly kill enemies and debilitate others.
Kill Bill content and materials are trademarks and copyrights of Miramax Film Corporation.