The Invincible Iron Man
And the less-invincible Tony Stark
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 becomes Iron Man to become more than who he is without his armor. For players who want to bring that kind of a theme, as well as a sweet re-creation of the Mark II and many of Stark's other armors, this character build 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!
Also, have you ever wondered why superheroes look like they just wandered out of a circus? Find out why their costumes look so strange in this article.
Attributes and Race
When it comes to your Iron Man the primary attribute is going to be whatever you need as a caster. 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. Human is still the best bet though, and the one we'll be using from this point onward.
Your Iron Man starts with two traits just like everyone else. Since he (or she) is likely going to be focused on crafting items of great power it's important to pick traits that will help in that regard.
Magic Crafter provides a +1 on appraise checks, and provides a +1 on any craft check used to make a magic item. That's a pretty good start. Then again Spark of Creation, which provides a +1 on all craft checks and reduces the cost of any magic item you make by 5% is also a good choice. Traits that fit the character's persona also include 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, are also useful.
Contrary to popular opinion, Tony does have a little bit...
As previously mentioned it's possible to play Iron Man as a sorcerer, magus, or wizard. For this particular build we're going to use a Universalist wizard whose bonded item is an amulet (which may or may not need to be inset into his chest to save his life at some later date).
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.
War Machine or White Knight?
The Choice is Yours
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.
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 with many character builds the meat of the power comes from the feats (and in this case what the feats and spells combine to let you create). All wizards start with Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat, but there are some others that your Iron Man should have. The necessities are:
Craft Magic Arms and Armor (Core Rule Book 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.
Craft Wondrous Item (Core Rule Book 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): You may craft and repair constructs. Requires character to be a 5th level caster, and can be taken as your 5th level feat.
Arcane Armor Training (Core Rule Book 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 Rule Book 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 are:
Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot (Core Rule Book 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 Rule Book 134): Provides a +3 bonus on a skill, and a +6 bonus after a character has 10 ranks in that skill.
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.
Once you have the ability to craft constructs then you have the ability 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 have 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. 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 generic construct of its type.
But What Will You Wear?
When it comes to what constructs you're going to modify for your armor there are a plethora of options in the bestiary. For the most genuine feel a medium-sized iron golem is tough to beat (though it requires a 16th level caster). 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 intelligence 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; 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. Fortunately, being a universalist wizard, all it takes is a scroll of a spell if the wizard doesn't have it to learn it and use it to create a construct. Choose which kind of constructs you intend to turn into construct armor early on though so you can make absolutely certain that you have the skills and spells you need to make the craft DC as easy to reach as possible.