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How to Build Lyudmila Pavlichenko in the Pathfinder RPG

A Character Conversion Guide

By Neal LitherlandPublished 6 years ago Updated 3 years ago 6 min read

The second World War was a time of darkness and blood, where forces of authoritarian madmen committed atrocities that still seem unbelievable even in the light of the modern day. Legends were born on those battlefields. Some were shining beacons of hope and heroism in the shadow of evil, and others were grim harbingers of destruction born from the womb of war.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a little of both.

The most accomplished female sniper in the Red Army, Pavlichenko would have lived her life as a simple student if the Nazis had not bombed Kiev University to rubble. She signed up for the army soon afterward, turning her accomplished skill with a rifle into something that German soldiers came to fear.

And if that's not an origin story for a player character, I don't know what is. For those who want to bring her to your Pathfinder table, this Badasses of History guide should help get you started. For other installments in this series, such as Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, or even the infamous Andrew Jackson, check out the Character Conversions page on Improved Initiative.

And, of course, for additional gaming content and general geekery, check out some more of my work here on Vocal!

Attributes, Traits, and Race

Lyudmila was a Ukrainian-born woman, and a university student before the war came to her doorstep. However, she had been a lifetime shootist, and was already as accomplished as any civilian could be. As such, Dexterity should be her highest stat. She was also tough, smart, and no-nonsense, so middle-to-high Wisdom, Constitution, and Intelligence is also important.

As for her two background traits, there are several that would be appropriate. The two that seem most fitting are City Defender (+1 on rolls to confirm critical hits with ranged weapons), and Ambush Training (+1 trait bonus on Initiative checks, and a +1 trait bonus on weapon damage rolls on any surprise round in which you act). These traits accurately represent Lyudmila's skills and experience, but are far from the only options for those who wish to go in another direction.

Skills (Class and Skills)

Lyudmila was one of the best snipers Russia ever produced. With 309 enemy kills ascribed to her, including 36 enemy snipers, the German forces knew her name. They rarely spoke it, though, as if the act of doing so would settle her crosshairs on them. Known as Lady Death, among other less-complimentary titles, Lyudmila was a ghost who claimed lives from the ranks no matter what they did to hide from her.

Which is why rogue is likely the best class for her. Not just any rogue, though; the survivalist archetype. A survivalist can go double the number of days without food or water before taking penalties, and they are able to endure the elements in ways that would kill those less hardy. Given that Lyudmila survived some of the worst conditions her motherland could throw at her, that is saying something.

As to which Rogue Talents best support Lyudmila, there are a slew of them. The first should be Firearm Training (assuming you don't take Exotic Weapon Proficiency [firearms] as a feat), but Camouflage, Favored Terrain, and Fast Stealth are also important. Other useful Talents include Rapid Perception (for locating enemy snipers and hidden targets), Snap Shot (for a natural 20 on Initiative checks during the surprise round), and Superior Sniper (gain Expert Sniper as a bonus feat, though you could take a feat slot for this to get it sooner/to free up other Rogue Talent slots).

As to Lyudmila's skills, she'll have several to choose from as a rogue. Perception and Stealth should be top priority, but she should also have Survival, Diplomacy (as a nod to her public speaking skills), and Intimidate (for those times when she took command during battle). Those who want to mimic her ability to set up decoys and distractions may want to invest points in Craft (Trap). Additionally, Heal, Knowledge (Nature), and Knowledge (Geography) may also be useful things to have on hand.


Lyudmila's skill on the battlefield is hard to mimic, even in a medium meant for fantastic achievements. However, there are a number of feats you should definitely have in order to do the best you can. While presented in a particular order, feel free to alter it if that suits your game better.

  • Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Firearms): If you didn't gain this through a Rogue Talent, you need to take the feat.
  • Point Blank Shot: +1 to attacks and damage within 30 feet with ranged weapons.
  • Precise Shot: Ignore the -4 penalty for firing into melee.
  • Deadly Aim: Take a negative for attacks, but get bonus damage.
  • Expert Sniper: Reduce the penalty to Stealth to -10 from -20 for sniping.
  • Weapon Focus (Mosin-Nagant 1891): The standard weapon used by Soviet forces early in the war, this bolt-action rifle was Lyudmila's standard weapon for some time.
  • Vital Strike: Make one attack at your highest base attack bonus, and roll damage dice twice. Useful for snipers, as sniping only gives you one attack (Improved Vital Strike is equally useful if your game goes on that long).
  • Devastating Strike: Add bonus damage to uses of Vital Strike based on bonus damage.

You may also want to consider taking Rapid Shot and Master Sniper, which allows you to take two shots when sniping instead of just the one. Useful for situations where two shots will do more overall damage (with additional sneak attack), than a single Vital Strike.


Lyudmila is capable of making most of the things she'll need in the field, but there are a few items that will be required in order to make her the most effective she can be. The first is, of course, her rifle. While the simple bolt-action weapon may be considered an antique to us, and there are stats for it in the game, it may be hard to acquire her model for a particular campaign.

In addition to her Mosin-Nagant, though, it's a good idea to invest in a set of Sniper's Goggles. Though expensive at 20,000 gp, they are absolutely essential for making sure that when Lyudmila places her shot, the target isn't around for her to need a second one. Or, if he is, that she gets her sneak attack on all of them. Additionally, putting a Seeker' Sight on her weapon would allow her to find and eliminate targets with invisibility... something her record clearly states she was able to do several times.

Background and Story

The final component of this build is to ask who Lyudmila is in your game? A humble student turned soldier? The child of a nation ravaged by a foreign power? A hunter's daughter putting what she learned in her youth to deadly effect?

There are all sorts of possibilities, but if you're looking for additional inspiration consider some of the following for extended reading:

- 100 Random Mercenary Companies: With several free companies dedicated to marksman, scouts, and other irregular positions, there's more than a few mercenary outfits in here that would make a fine substitute for Mother Russia's red army.

- 100 Knightly Orders: A decorated soldier, Lyudmila would be at-home among a knightly order who fought against an enemy as universally loathed as the Nazis. And many of these orders leave their good manners and notions of courtly etiquette behind when it's time to take the field, as any good sniper does.

- 100 Sci-Fi Mercenary Companies: If your take on Lyudmila is more of a freedom fighter from the far future, or someone who's caught up in interplanetary conflicts, then you may want to leave more traditional fantasy trappings behind... in which case these sci-fi free companies will be a much friendly home for her.

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.



Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary

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