How To Build Iron Man in The Pathfinder RPG
A Character Conversion Guide
Tony Stark is, at his core, the story of a knight. A man who overcomes his weakness by putting on a suit of armor and trying to live up to the ideals of a hero while plagued by his own, very human shortcomings. From alcoholism to irresponsibility, revenge to fear, Tony Stark dons the skin of Iron Man in order to become more than who he is without his armor. For players who want to bring that kind of a theme to their games, as well as a sweet re-creation of the Mark II and many of Stark's other armors, this character build guide should help.
For the rest of the team, as well as my Gotham Knights and Game of Thrones character build series, check out the Character Conversions page on my blog Improved Initiative! And if you're looking for more articles on gaming and geekery, then check out my full Vocal archive as well!
The Man (Attributes, Race, and Traits)
When it comes to your Iron Man the primary attribute is going to be whatever you need as a spellcaster (or Intelligence, if you are opting for the non-caster route). If you want to make him a sorcerer then you need a high Charisma, but if you'd rather make him a wizard or a magus then you're going to want Intelligence as your primary attribute. While charming and handsome, it's important to remember that Tony Stark is also a genius, so it can go either way. Dexterity and Wisdom should be considerations for second tier scores, with strength likely coming in toward the bottom of the list. Tony might have average strength, but it's his armor that turns him into a titan.
For those who want to keep this build as close to the comics as possible it's a good idea to leave Tony as a human. However there are benefits to making him an elf (intelligence bumps for magi and wizards), but it's also possible to make the build work with half elves, or even half orcs if you desire. Human is still the best bet though, and the one we'll be using from this point onward.
As to Tony's traits, you're going to want something that boosts his Craft skill. Spark of Creation, out of Champions of Purity, is probably your best bet. This trait gives you a +1 trait bonus on Craft checks, and reduces the cost of crafted magic items by 5 percent. That's going to come in handy. Additionally, you might want to take Armor Expert, which reduces the armor check penalty for a suit of armor by 1. There are plenty of other options, such as Avid Reader (which allows you to take 10 on a selected knowledge skill even when threatened) or Bruising Intellect (which allows you to make intimidate checks using your intelligence modifier and which makes intimidate a class skill for you), as well. Choose the traits you will use most often!
The Legend (Class Options)
As previously mentioned the big contenders for Iron Man are a sorcerer, magus, or wizard. Perhaps the smoothest in terms of meeting all the prerequisites is the Clocksmith wizard archetype out of the Construct Builder's Guidebook, but the other options are totally doable if you're willing to take the extra time and resources.
When it comes to your spell selection it's important to learn as many as possible, but judging from how Tony acts outside of his armor (see Iron Man 3 when he assaults the villain's compound) you're going to be preparing a lot of evocation spells. It's probably a good idea to prepare plenty of abjuration spells as well, so that your squishy, unarmored self lives to build the item that grants him his namesake.
The Repertoire (Skill and Feats)
As a human wizard your Iron Man will have an absolute minimum of 3 skill ranks (2 for the class, and 1 for being human). Given that intelligence is the major casting stat, we're going to assume a minimum of a +4 bonus, allowing for 7 skill ranks per level. Adjust these numbers based on the class you end up choosing.
The skills you're going to want are Craft (armor), Spellcraft, Knowledge (arcana), Linguistics, Knowledge (planes), Craft (sculpture), Craft (siege engine). Additional skills like Use Magic Device are helpful, particularly if you decide to take the trait Dangerously Curious which makes use magic device a class skill and provides you a +1 on all checks with the skill.
As to Tony's feats, you've got a lot of things you need to nab. Some of the necessities include:
Craft Magic Arms and Armor (Core Rulebook 120): You can craft and repair magic weapons and armor. Requires you to be a 5th level caster, and may be taken as a 5th level bonus feat for the wizard.
Craft Wondrous Item (Core Rulebook 120): You can craft and repair wondrous items. Requires you to be a 3rd level caster, and should be taken as your 3rd level feat.
Craft Construct (Bestiary I): You may craft and repair constructs. Requires character to be a 5th level caster, and can be taken as your 5th level feat, however the Clocksmith wizards gains this as a bonus feat at level 1.
Arcane Armor Training (Core Rulebook 118): As a swift action reduce the arcane spell failure chance for any armor worn by 10% for a single round. This requires light armor proficiency, and a 3rd level caster.
Arcane Armor Mastery (Core Rulebook 118): As a swift action reduce the arcane spell failure chance for any armor worn by 20% for a single round. Requires medium armor proficiency and a 7th level caster.
(Note: Arcane armor training and mastery are easier if players take a single level of a martial class like fighter, or they can be ignored altogether when using a magus instead of a wizard.)
Other feats that you'll find useful for your Iron Man build include:
Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot (Core Rulebook 131): Provides a +1 to hit and damage for ranged attacks within 30 feet, and allows the character to ignore the -4 for firing into melee respectively.
Skill Focus (Core Rulebook 134): Provides a +3 bonus on a skill, and a +6 bonus after a character has 10 ranks in that skill. Best used on your Craft skill of choice for your future projects.
Magical Aptitude (Core Rule Book 130): Provides a +2 on spellcraft and use magic device checks, and a +4 bonus after a character has 10 or more ranks in the skill.
The Machine (Armor)
Once you have the ability to craft constructs then you have the capacity to start creating your Iron Man armor. We're not talking just any old run of the mill +1 or +2 armor that gives you the look of the iconic character either; we're talking a full-on comic book replica.
The secret to this is on page 114 of Ultimate Magic. When you create or acquire a construct of your size you can modify it so that it becomes construct armor. This adds 35,000 gold to the cost, and +1 to the CR of the construct, but it allows the creator to wear it as armor in addition to any other abilities the construct has on its own. The construct armor is considered to be a breastplate, and it takes a full-round to don if it's functional. The armor may be ordered to release the wearer as a swift action if it's still functional, stepping into an adjacent square. All attacks on the wearer first target the armor, and it takes no independent actions, instead allowing the wearer to control it and all of its abilities (whatever those may be). When not being worn the construct can be directed just as any other construct of its type.
This is not a quick or easy solution, but once you have the time to craft your ideal armor, the parts and pieces you need, and the cash to afford it, the sky is basically the limit on which suit you bring to the party.
When it comes to what constructs you're going to modify for your armor, there are a plethora of options available. For the most genuine feel, a medium-sized iron golem is tough to beat (though it requires a 16th level caster, barring some shenanigans if you took the Clocksmith archetype). For those who want a lower chance of arcane failure, a mithral golem (which requires an 18th level caster) is a solid bet. Of course when it comes to sheer firepower or brute determination a cannon golem or an adamantine golem are terrifying sights to behold.
Golems aren't easy to build, I'll grant. They have a slew of skills and spells that you have to have access to, they're expensive, and if you want to add modifications like the ability to fly or an Intelligence score they're even more ridiculously over-priced. There's a reason that people who aren't billionaire playboys don't have these suits in their closets. However, golems are immune to most spells (which will target the armor first), and they can often be healed by certain kinds of energy damage. They're tough, hard-hitting, and will buy your man in the can plenty of time to slug it out with whatever big bads come his way.
Lastly, remember this; a majority of the time, all of the necessities with the exception of the item creation feat can be ignored, with a +5 added to the DC for every spell or skill that the crafter lacks. There's a lot of number crunching and record keeping, but it can all be worth it when you finally get a chance to suit up in your ultimate creation.
Backstory and History
One of the most important questions to consider when it comes to your version of Iron Man is just how much of Tony Stark's DNA does this character have, and how much is totally unique to you? Are they a weapons developer who went rogue when they realized the widespread misery their creations were causing? Were they born as the weak second child, so they used their brilliance to craft a suit of armor that would allow them to stand before the mightiest threats? Are they a knight in shining armor, or a noble lord who defends their people?
These are all questions you should ask yourself, but if you're looking for inspiration, check out some of the following:
- 100 Random Mercenary Companies: With freelances like the war wizards in the Acolytes of Arannis, this collection has all sorts of dangerous warriors and magically competent contractors who could easily be the origin for your Iron Man.
- 100 Knightly Orders: With orders like The Tinkers of The Scarlet Cog, as well as the Locust Knights, these knightly orders could very well be the source for construct armor that would make your Iron Man stand out. It may even be the signature armor of a particular order, allowing them to be part of something greater.
- A Baker's Dozen of Noble Families: Capitalists are the royalty of the modern age, and if you want a family background to explain where so many of your resources came from, this collection has you covered. Or if you're looking for friends, rivals, and fellow genteel tinkerers, you may want to check out 100 Nobles to Encounter as well!