Last week, I had a look at some Pathfinder options for Xena’s faithful sidekick, Gabrielle. Today, I’m going to look at building the warrior princess herself. There probably dozens of different ways to build Xena as a PC or NPC in the Pathfinder system, so what you’ll find here are some ideas to help you create your own version.
Xena starts the series as an accomplished warrior, and grows to wield legendary power. In the Pathfinder system, I reckon she probably starts somewhere around 10th level, and progresses to at least level 20, possibly with some mythic tiers as well. If you need a refresher on some of Xena’s moves, check out this video.
Weapons: While it’s clear Xena can handle just about any weapon, as well as improvised weapons such as frying pans and fish, she has two weapons that she uses throughout the series. Conveniently, both of these weapons happen to fall into the heavy blades fighter weapon group.
- Longsword: Xena’s primary weapon is a jeweled longsword that her enemies instantly recognise. It’s probably a +5 longsword.
- Chakram: Xena’s primary ranged attack is her trusty chakram (likely a magic weapon with the returning ability), which later gets upgraded to the split chakram. The split chakram might be a special custom weapon or a magic weapon similar to a dagger of doubling, or even a minor artifact.
Armour: Xena seems to be comfortable in just about any type of armour, though her iconic armour is probably light or medium armour. It’s mostly made of leather, with a breastplate on top that’s more decorative than protective. Given how easily Xena can manoeuvre in her armour, I reckon it would be leather or studded leather in terms of the Pathfinder rules.
Attributes: Xena is a legendary character, so all her stats are probably well above average. She’s incredibly tough, strong, and agile, with pretty crazy reflexes. I think she would have a very high Constitution score, followed by Strength and Dexterity. As for mental stats, she is definitely charismatic and intelligent, though I feel that Wisdom would be her highest mental stat, or at least the mental stat that increases the most over the course of the series.
Alignment: Before the start of the Xena: Warrior Princess series, Xena was a powerful and evil pirate and warlord in command of her own army. She had her own code, but also committed some chaotic acts, so I think she would have been neutral evil. When Hercules helps turn her to good, Xena follows a pretty strict code (the greater good), which I think makes her lawful good. Or at least neutral good with a strong leaning towards lawful.
Skills: As Xena often says herself, she has many skills. Some of her key skills should include Intimidate, Acrobatics, Heal, Ride, Perception and Survival. Climb, Swim, Disguise, Escape Artist, Sense Motive, Handle Animal and even Stealth would also fit. Skills like Perform (sing, dance) and some of the knowledge skills would work as well.
Abilities and Feats
Warcry: Xena’s iconic warcry strikes fear into the hearts of foes who hear it, which I would consider a flavourful use of the Intimidate skill to demoralise opponents. Some feats to help make that warcry truly terrifying include Intimidating Prowess, Dazzling Display, Cornugon Smash, Gory Finish, and even Skill Focus (Intimidate).
Pressure points: Another iconic Xena move is her ‘I’ve cut off the flow of blood to your brain’ neck pinch. There is actually a ninja trick with the name pressure points, which would work, except only the ninja gains access to this. Another option is reflavouring Stunning Fist, which has just about the right effect. It could even work as a form of the Intimidation skill. Her non-combat use of pressure points could be considered part of the Heal skill.
Two-weapon fighting: Xena often ends up fighting with two weapons or double weapons, suggesting at least some training in Two-Weapon Fighting.
Unarmed strike: Xena does a lot of kicking, punching and head-butting in addition to her attacks with weapons, so she would certainly have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat or class ability.
Improvised weapons: To Xena, just about anything can be a weapon. Catch Off Guard, Throw Anything, and Improvised Weapon Mastery are good feats to consider. The Surprise Weapon trait would fit in well with these feats.
Dealing with multiple foes: The Cleave line of feats could help replicate the way Xena tends to cut down a lot of foes quickly.
Mounted combat: Xena’s horse Argo displays unerring loyalty and an uncanny understanding of what Xena asks her to do. In Pathfinder, this could mean Argo is a well-trained warhorse and Xena has a good Handle Animal score, or that she is a special mount or animal companion who actually does understand what Xena says.
Leadership: Xena tends to inspire devotion in her allies. She once commanded an army, and you could consider Gabrielle her cohort, and characters like Joxer and Amarice as some of her higher level followers, making her a candidate for the Leadership feat.
General feats: Xena has uncanny reflexes, suggesting feats like Dodge, Quick Draw, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, and Combat Reflexes. She’s also really tough, so Toughness and Great Fortitude are also logical choices. Weapon Focus and Improved Critical in her favourite weapons would fit as well. She also uses some combat maneouvers, so the ‘improved combat maneouver’ feats would make sense. Power Attack is also a good option.
Magic? Xena gains various temporary magic or magic-like abilities over the course of the series, but nothing permanent, so I would use magic items if I wanted to replicate some of those abilities.
The vast range of abilities that Xena demonstrates would take quite a lot of feats if a character were to attempt to do all of them. There are two options to deal with this: take a class like the fighter that has access to a lot of feats, or choose a class that gets some of the desired abilities for free, or choose a class or archetype that grants access to the martial flexibility ability.
Fighter: The standard fighter would work well for Xena. The stamina system from Pathfinder Unchained could help augment her impressive skill on the battlefield. The martial master archetype grants the martial flexibility of the brawler, which would grant access to a lot more feats than a standard fighter, at the expense of the weapon training ability. The roughrider archetype focuses on mounted combat.
Ranger: With full base attack bonus, access to weapons and armour, free combat style feats, improved tracking ability and a potential animal companion, the ranger is a strong contender. Since Xena doesn’t really have any magic abilities, I would only take a few levels of ranger, or use the skirmisher archetype or the spell-less ranger.
Monk: With her extensive use of unarmed strikes, the monk makes some sense for Xena. Archetypes like the monk of the mantis or martial artist offer some pressure point flavour, while the sohei archetype offers mounted options. The ki pool and the lack of armour makes the monk a less than ideal choice for Xena, however. If I were to take monk levels, I would use the unchained monk to get the full base attack bonus.
Ninja: If you want to represent Xena’s training in the East and also grab the pressure points trick, two levels of ninja would do the trick. It will slow down your base attack bonus progress a little though, and the poison-related abilities don’t really fit.
Slayer: The slayer class offers full base attack bonus, access to the right weapons and armour, as well as sneak attack and some nice talents. Even though Xena isn’t particularly sneaky, she would be able to flank enemies with Gabrielle’s help. I would ask the GM to allow me to take the pressure points ninja talent if I went with this class
Brawler: Full base attack bonus, unarmed strike, and martial flexibility make the brawler my first choice for Xena. I would grab a level or two of one of the classes discussed above to get proficiency with Xena’s weapons. The wild child brawler archetype gives access to an animal companion and some skirmisher tricks, which opens up some pretty nice possibilities.
How would you build the legendary Xena: Warrior Princess? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!