Brienne of Tarth is one of the most memorable characters in A Song of Ice and Fire as well as its counterpart the Game of Thrones television show. A huge, homely woman Brienne is strong and skilled, deadly in combat and relentless in pursuit of her goals. For Pathfinder RPG players who want to try and capture the spirit of the Maid of Tarth this guide should help you get a handle on her.
For the other unattractive-yet-dangerous fighter from the series check out this character build for Sandor "The Hound" Clegane.
If you prefer brains over brawn though you might want to take a look at this character build for Tyrion Lannister.
The rest of my character builds, including Gotham Knights and The Avengers along with my other Game of Thrones posts, are available on the Character Conversions page of my blog Improved Initiative!
Attributes and Traits
Brienne, whose father is the Lord of the Sapphire Isles, is an unusual woman. Mannish in both her appearance and carriage, she has armored herself literally and metaphorically so that she can protect herself from the slings and arrows so often pointed toward her. Her strength and physical toughness are enough to rival nearly any opponent, and she is skilled enough to fight with two blades, meaning that her physical stats are going to take precedence. Exact numbers will be determined by the feats you choose to give her.
Regarding her mental attributes, we can safely put her lowest number into her charisma. While Brienne's appearance is unattractive, she's also reticent, brusque, and rarely communicative. While she isn't stupid, Brienne's schooling was more in the arts of swordplay and horsemanship than in history or politics. Her willpower is indomitable though, and she is far from naive about the world and how it sees her.
As to her traits there are a number of them that would be appropriate for the Beauty. Traits like Cynical Ear (Bastards of Golarion 27) make sense for someone with an unkind social upbringing, increasing the DC of intimidate and diplomacy checks made against you by +2. Other traits like Armor Expert (reduce the armor check penalty of any armor worn by -1), Reactionary (+2 trait bonus to initiative rolls), or Resilient (+1 trait bonus on fortitude saves) are also good options to represent Brienne's unusual background.
Class and Abilities
Honor in All Things
Brienne is many things, but the chief word to describe her is honorable. She is a knight in every respect, and while her views are often black-and-white they also make her implacable when it comes to fulfilling her duties. Also, while Brienne is certainly not to be trifled with at the best of times she becomes truly determined only when she is in someone's service. Whether it's Lord Renly's Rainbow Guard, or the personal guard of Catelyn Stark Brienne needs a commander to ground her and direct her.
It's for that reason that the class which fits her best is the Samurai.
Brienne gains the ability to focus her full might against an opponent with the Challenge ability, not unlike when she defeated Loras Tyrell, or when she fought Jaime Lannister to a standstill. She's a dedicated mounted combatant, and the Resolve ability would allow her to keep coming in the face of even overwhelming, impossible odds. The daughter of a noble lord she has a coat of arms that could be displayed using the Banner ability, and her mastery of weapons is undisputed. As a member of the Order of the Warrior her skill in battle is increased, especially while in the lands held by her liege (such as when she escorted the Kingslayer through what was considered Stark lands). Even the weapon she's gifted by Jaime Lannister, the sword Oathkeeper, could take the form (or at least the stats) of a katana due to its unusual forging.
Skill and Feats
While samurai gets more skills than your average fighter (they are the children of nobility after all, and they have more time to train and study throughout their lives), Brienne still needs to allocate hers accordingly. Sense motive, ride, and handle animal should be on the list, and since her natural charisma is so low it might be a good idea to give her ranks in intimidate. If you have the leftover skill points it's always a good idea to invest in perception (especially with the Eyes of the City trait that gives you a +1 trait bonus and makes perception a class skill for you).
Now onward to feats!
Brienne fights primarily with a single sword, but when she does choose to fill both her hands with steel she is a force to be reckoned with. As such the suggested list of feats for her includes (in no particular order):
- Two Weapon Fighting (Core Rulebook 136): As part of a full-attack make an additional attack with your off-hand weapon.
- Weapon Focus (longsword or katana) (Core Rulebook 136): gain +1 to hit with the selected weapon.
- Double Slice (Core Rulebook 122): Add your full strength modifier to attacks made with your off-hand weapon.
- Weapon Specialization (longsword or katana) (Core Rulebook 137): Add +2 to your damage with the selected weapon.
- Improved Two Weapon Fighting (Core Rulebook 128): Gain a second attack with your off-hand weapon as part of a full attack.
- Power Attack (Core Rulebook 131): Take a negative to your attack, gain damage.
- Furious Focus (Advanced Player's Guide 161): Ignore the negative from power attack on your first attack.
- Greater Two Weapon Fighting (Core Rulebook 126): Gain a third attack with your off-hand weapon.
- Two Weapon Rend (Core Rulebook 136): If you hit with a primary and off-hand attack on the same target deal an addition 1d10 of damage once per turn.
While Westeros is a place steeped in old magic and new blood, not many of the heroes and villains who walk its lands carry shards of that power with them. Brienne was gifted with the Valyrian steel sword Oathkeeper, though whether it's more than a masterwork blade remains to be seen (though something with a magical bonus and perhaps the keen ability would not be untoward). Her armor is also a masterwork set of plate that's a deep, dull blue (which you could represent as an unusual material like adamantine or lacquered mithril), but given that we're in Golarion it could just as easily possess qualities like determined (casting breath of life once per day on the wearer if she's dropped below 0 hit points).
Defining Your Beauty
A requirement of any character conversion is to ask whether you're attempting to re-create the character down to their haircut and speech pattern, or if you just want a hero or heroine who is cast in the same mold. For example, is your Brienne someone whose features mark her out as unattractive, or does she have the opposite problem of possessing a physical beauty that makes no one take her seriously when she picks up a sword? Is she seeking to defend the weak and innocent, or does she serve a lord she does not love but still swore fealty to?
What you choose to do is totally up to you, but you should think carefully about it before you set your character in stone.