How To Build Sandor "The Hound" Clegane in The Pathfinder RPG
A Character Conversion Guide
Sandor Clegane, known as The Hound, is perhaps one of the most vicious and canny fighters in the Seven Kingdoms. A brutal man whose love of killing is the only thing more well-known than his horrendous burn scar, Sandor is much more complicated than he appears to casual observers. If you'd like to bring the combination of brawn and brutality that the younger Clegane has to offer to your Pathfinder table, then this guide is a good place to get started.
For the elder brother check out my character build for Gregor Clegane "The Mountain That Rides". If you prefer brains over brawn then take a look at this character build for Tyrion Lannister!
If you liked this build and you'd like to see more, go to the Character Conversions page of my blog Improved Initiative. From Game of Thrones to Gotham Knights to the Avengers, there's something for everyone there. And if you'd like more gaming content, as well as other works on the geeky and nerdy, check out my full Vocal archive, too!
Making the Monster (Attributes, Race, and Traits)
While Sandor isn't as big as The Mountain, he is a huge, imposing man. Strong, tough, and always willing to use those attributes to his advantage, Strength and Constitution should be your biggest investments. Dexterity is not something that should be in the negatives, but the Hound tends to rely on his shield and armor more than on fast feet in battle. While Sandor is notoriously ugly because of his scar (and his demeanor) he is not without force of personality. He's also strong-willed, though his attention to books and the knowledge of history and scholarly arts seems to be mostly nonexistent.
When it comes to Sandor's traits, you have a lot of options to choose from, depending on what you want your Hound to be good at. Traits like Killer (+1 to confirm all critical hits) work well with someone who killed his first man at 12. Steel Skin (don or remove heavy armor in half the normal time, and you gain a helm bearing the iconography of your family that provides a +2 bonus on Intimidate checks when worn with heavy armor) gives the Hound an ideal representation of his signature helmet. Hard to Kill (when rolling to stabilize only use half your negative hit point total as a penalty) specifically mentions a childhood accident, and Bully (+1 to Intimidate checks, and intimidate is always a class skill for you) clearly illustrates Sandor's preferred methods of social interaction.
Even traits like Finish the Fight (half-orc raised by orcs: gain a +1 trait bonus to attack against any enemy you've injured in the past 24 hours) could work if you were to make your Sandor something other than human. That will take away a little bit of the realism that has made Game of Thrones so popular as a series, but the Pass For Human feat can take you pretty far!
A History of Violence (Classes)
Sandor is a capable warrior, and he's one that combines brutal opportunism with a burning hatred of the world, and of all the things it's done to him. Given that he's a complicated man, it can take a little bit of multiclassing to realize all of his abilities.
We start with a touch of barbarian, specifically the Scarred Rager variant (Ultimate Combat 29). You gain Terrifying Visage, which adds half your barbarian level to your Intimidate checks made against non-barbarians, along with Tolerance and Scarification, which allow you bonus saves against certain effects, and the ability to ignore bleed damage respectively. You mix that with Rage, and the right powers you have a potent, difficult-to-put-down warrior. At least 6 levels of barbarian should be in the mix to get the full power of these abilities.
Next you add in a few levels of rogue, specifically the Thug variant (Advanced Player's Guide 135). You gain Frightening, which automatically increases the length a target is demoralized from Intimidate by 1 round, and if a target would be shaken for 4 or more rounds the thug can instead make the target frightened. At 3rd level you gain Brutal Beating, letting you sacrifice 1d6 of sneak attack to sicken an opponent for half your rogue level in rounds. 4th level will give you Uncanny Dodge, which you lose with Scarred Rager, making this a solid investment since Sandor is rarely caught off guard by anything.
If that mix doesn't satisfy your needs for accuracy, though, add in a dash of Low Templar (Inner Sea World Guide 280). The Low Templar gives you heavy armor use (which you don't get as a barbarian or a rogue), but it also gives you Flag of Convenience, Dirty Fighting, and more Sneak Attack. Not only that but it gives you full BAB, and pretty good saves to boot.
Bark and Bite (Feats, Rage Powers, and Rogue Talents)
Whenever you multiclass you will lose some power in one class to make up for what you gain in the others. Rage powers often depend on your barbarian level, which is why you need to carefully select the ones you give to your version of Sandor. Useful, relevant powers that you should find fitting and worthwhile include:
- Intimidating Glare (Core Rulebook 33): Make an Intimidate check as a move action against an adjacent foe. The enemy is demoralized for 1d4 rounds, +1 round per every 5 points he beats the DC by (with an additional round tacked on for Frightening).
- Roused Anger (Core Rulebook 33): You can enter a Rage even if fatigued, but you're exhausted for 10 minutes per round spent raging. Sandor has never let days without sleep or wounds slow him when it's time to get some killing done.
- Strength Surge (Core Rulebook 33): Add your barbarian level to a Strength check, or to your combat maneuver check or defense. It may only be a +6, but when you're putting in your all that can be a game-changer.
- Good For What Ails You (Advanced Player's Guide 76): This gives you an extra save against several status effects and poison if you drink while raging. It fits Sandor's propensity for consuming huge amounts of alcohol.
If you really want to have a Hound that lives up to his nick name there are rage powers that will give you a bite attack, the scent ability, etc. The above powers are some of the most accurate for the character we've seen in the books and on television, though.
Moving on to rogue talents. Again it's important to note Sandor is dipping into several different classes, and this is going to make selection very important. You have to decide what you want him to be good at, and you need to find abilities that mesh with the core character. Since you get two rogue talents by 4th level here are some suggestions:
- Combat Trick (Core Rulebook 68): Gain a combat feat. You don't have as many feats as you might like, so this might be a good one to take twice if you're feat-happy.
- Weapon Training (Core Rulebook 69): Gain Weapon Focus as a feat. Always a nice thing to have.
- Befuddling Strike (Advanced Player's Guide 130): When the rogue deals sneak attack to a target that target's attacks against the rogue take a -2 for 1d4 rounds. A useful debuff to open a fight with, since Sandor never fights fair.
Now that we've gotten those two lists out of the way, here's a starting feat list. These are presented in no particular order, and if you feel other feats would be better for the way you envision the Hound, then by all means change it up. The goal is to create a character who evokes Clegane, but who functions the way you need him to.
- Weapon Focus (Bastard Sword) [Core Rulebook 136): Gain +1 when fighting with the selected weapon. It's also a prerequisite for Low Templar, though check with your DM to see if they're counting a bastard sword as exotic or martial in their games. If it doesn't apply, longsword might be the next best choice.
- Mounted Combat (Core Rule Book 131): If your mount is hit in combat you can roll a ride check to negate it. This represents Sandor's mounted skill, and it's also a prerequisite for Low Templar.
- Noble Scion (Heroes of The High Court): Despite his brutishness Sandor is a son of house Clegane, and he does keep track of the members of the court. While not essential this feat can provide a variety of useful abilities, such as suppressing fear effects to let you fight on for a short period of time.
- Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword) [Core Rulebook 123): This allows you to wield a bastard sword in one hand. While Sandor isn't as big as Gregor, who can do this with a greatsword, it is still one of his preferred methods of laying waste.
- Endurance (Core Rulebook 122): Gain +4 on several checks and saves.
- Die Hard (Core Rulebook 122): Automatically stabilize when you hit negative hit points, and you may choose to act as if you are disabled. Sandor keeps going until he's got nothing left, then goes a little longer out of spite.
- Toughness (Core Rulebook 135): Gain bonus hit points.
- Leadership (Core Rulebook 129): Gain a cohort and a following. While Sandor doesn't have legions of followers there is an ill-tempered mount no one else can ride, and a deadly little girl who travels in his company.
- Power Attack (Core Rulebook 131): Take a negative to your attack roll, but gain bonus damage.
- Furious Focus (Advanced Player's Guide 161): Ignore the negative for the first attack when using power attack.
It's easy to get side-tracked when it comes to Sandor's feats. It is a good idea for those who want to use combat maneuvers to focus on one of them. Dirty trick, trip, and disarm are solid options, and they will receive bonuses from Low Templar as well as from the Improved and Greater versions of the feats.
Lastly if you want to focus on making the best use of your Intimidate take Dazzling Display (Core Rulebook 120), and Shatter Defenses (Core Rulebook 133) to leave shaken opponents flat-footed against you. Then drop all of the sneak attack down on their heads.
Skills and Equipment
While Sandor is a killer who finds most of his joy on the battlefield (and thus it makes sense if he isn't a character bursting at the seams with skill points) there are some skills he should definitely have under his belt. Perception and Survival are top of the list, since there's nothing wrong with his sight, and he manages quite well in the wild. Intimidate should be maxed out, but skills like Bluff shouldn't be ignored. He'll need ranks in Knowledge (nobility) as well as Ride in order to qualify for Low Templar, and if you have points left over, Handle Animal and Sense Motive are skills that fit his set.
As to Sandor's equipment, there isn't really anything special. His hound-faced helm is acquired as part of his traits, and any weapons and armor he can get his hands on will usually do. Unlike other heroes he doesn't require mystical blades or enchanted armor; typically the uglier and nastier his equipment the better he likes it. This game being Pathfinder though you might want to upgrade to magical weapons and armor as soon as you can manage it.
Story and Additional Resources
When converting a character from one medium (a novel or TV show) to an RPG it's important to ask how you're going to change his back story and origin in addition to how you're going to represent his powers. For Sandor Clegane is he a wandering hedge knight? The son of a brutal tyrant? Is he a scarred monster, cast out from a noble house for some false transgression? Or will you faithfully recreate his entire history down to page citations?
Lastly for some references that might also help you get to where you'd like to be, the following list may be quite helpfu.
- The Bullyboy: A basic character guide for getting the most out of your Intimidate checks. Additional resources might be found in How To Weaponize Your Intimidate Check in Pathfinder.
- 100 Random Mercenary Companies: If you're looking for an organization where a second son of a noble house might have tried to make his own fortune, and where his size and strength would have come in handy, then the Dogs of War, or the Second Sons might be just up your alley. Or, if you want to stand that piece of Sandor's story on its head, then a group like the Howl in 100 Knightly Orders might also be of interest.
- A Baker's Dozen of Noble Families: If you want to keep Sandor's noble lineage, but you prefer something that's not from Westeros, then the Blackbriars or the Harthways might be ideal for your background. And if you're looking for friends, enemies, or just people who know your reputation, then 100 Nobles To Encounter might also be useful to have on hand.