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Who is James Gordon?

James Gordon is one of the oldest supporting characters in the Batman universe. Debuted in Detective Comics #27, Gordon is one of the first members of the cast to be introduced. He's gone through almost as many changes as the caped crusader himself, but for this particular version we're going to use the version of Jim Gordon created by Frank Miller inBatman: Year One. This version of Jim Gordon was pressured out of the Chicago Police Department because he brought down two dirty cops, and who has recently become a detective in Gotham. Driven, hard-as-nails, and a veteran of the military, this Gordon is uncompromising in his desire to clean up his new home town.

If you'd like to see the rest of the Gotham Knight series, or if you'd like to check out my takes on The Avenges or the cast of Game of Thrones, check out the Character Conversions page on Improved Initiative!

Also, if you've ever wondered why superheroes wear their underwear on the outside then wonder no more!

Race and Attributes

Jim Gordon, like all of the other heroes in Gotham, is human. This means that he gains a bonus skill point and a bonus feat at level one, which are going to come in handy, but he also gains a +2 to a single ability score. That +2 should go either to dexterity or charisma (Gordon's two primary stats), and the third and fourth highest stats should go to his constitution and strength. Gordon a tough hero, and he gets results through time and tenacity more often than startling insight the way Batman does.


Gordon gets two traits just like every other character, and there's quite a selection to choose from. Traits like courageous (+2 against fear effects) or inspiring (+1 morale bonus to an ally on an action once per day) might fit with the character, but they may not be as useful in the field as you think. Traits like affable (gain a +2 on diplomacy checks to gather information, and the task takes half the time while making diplomacy a class skill), cynical ear (increase the DC of diplomacy and intimidate checks against you by 2), or black powder fortune (gain a +2 trait bonus on saves against curses, fear, and emotion effects while holding a firearm) might be a little more useful.

Gotham City Grit

Jim Gordon is a detective who eventually rises to the rank of commissioner, but much like Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes stories Gordon gets results through force of will and dogged determination. Not only that, but this version of Gordon comes from the far-off city of Chicago, making him an unknown outsider with grit between his teeth.

The class that best fits this version of Gordon is the gunslinger (Ultimate Combat 9), with the Mysterious Stranger variant (Ultimate Combat 51). This variant allows him to use his charisma score to determine his grit points, it gives Gordon access to deeds that do more damage, provides luck bonuses to will saves, and allows him to ignore misfires at later levels. Given that Gordon is a natural leader this class fits quite nicely.

Gordon also gains proficiency with all simple and martial weapons (he's never been shy about using a truncheon if needs be), along with access to light armor. Given that light armor is all he ever wore as an officer and as a soldier (it was strongly hinted his service was during the Vietnam era), this is also quite appropriate.

Credit: MorgueFile Image

This gives "shield-bashing" a whole new meaning.


As a human gunslinger Gordon should get 5 skill points (4 from the class + 1 for being human), assuming no intelligence negatives or modifiers. Useful skills include Perception (for spotting clues, ambushes, and of course for seeing Batman every now and again), Intimidate (useful for putting the fear of god into both criminals and cops who aren't doing their jobs), Knowledge (local) [because Gordon still knows what's going on, even if he doesn't have the same network the dark knight does], Bluff (because undercover operations require it), and Diplomacy (the other half of any good interrogation).

Of these skills Diplomacy is the only one that isn't a class skill, but traits like the aforementioned affable makes it a class skill. Craft (firearms) is typically a useful skill for gunslingers, and if Gordon is going to be following blood trails or tracking down bad guys in person then Survival is also a good investment.


James Gordon is a man of action, but his feats need to be geared toward specific purpose. If your Gordon is going to be shouting commands to the party, shooting with one hand and using a billy club in the other, or blasting away with a shotgun to buy his allies time to act then you need to build him appropriately. The following feats are merely suggestions, and you can mix-and-match them however you wish.

Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot (Core 131): Gain +1 to attack and damage with ranged attacks within 30 feet, and ignore the -4 penalty for firing into melee.

Rapid Shot (Core 132): Fire an additional time when making a full attack action, -2 on all attacks.

Weapon Focus (Core 136): Gain +1 on all attacks with a given weapon.

Snap Shot (Ultimate Combat 119): You threaten 5 feet around you, and may make attacks of opportunity with the weapon for which you have weapon focus.

Improved Snap Shot (Ultimate Combat 106): You now threaten 10 feet around you with snap shot.

Deadly Aim (Core 121): Take a negative to attack with a ranged weapon, gain damage.

Focused Shot (Advanced Players Guide): Add your intelligence modifier to a single shot.

Leadership (Core 129): Gain a cohort and followers. Gordon does run a police department after all.

Quick Draw (Core 131): Draw a weapon as a free action.

Sword and Pistol (Ultimate Combat 122): When fighting with a melee weapon and pistol or crossbow the ranged weapon doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity from foes threatened by the melee weapon.

These are just a selection of feats, but depending on what you want to do with your version of Gordon you may have other ideas. Improved Unarmed Strike (Core 128) and the grappling feats that come after might be what you want to see. Maybe you think your Gordon should be able to disarm his foes, arresting them once they're no longer a threat. You can do practically anything you want, as long as you plan out your feat slots in advance, and triple check that you'll be able to take the actions you want to.


Unlike Batman, Jim Gordon doesn't have a utility belt full of tricks. That said, there are still some great items that can make your Gordon a threat not to be taken lightly.

Alchemical Items

I've said it before and I'll say it again, alchemical items can be a game-changer if used properly. Tanglefoot bags (and tanglefoot shot if put into a dragon pistol or blunderbuss) are the ideal riot control and law enforcement item. Thunderstones act like stun grenades, and smokesticks are a solid re-creation of gas grenades used by cops the world over. Troll styptics make great field dressings, and the list goes on and on. Other great alchemical items, as well as other great non-magical gear, may be found at the links below in the Bibliography section.


While Gordon can wear any kind of light armor, one of the ideal garments is the Gunman's Duster (Ultimate Equipment). This overcoat, which mirrors Gordon's comic book look, provides a +4 armor bonus and a +2 luck bonus to touch AC. It also provides an extra grit point per day, and increases the effectiveness of the gunslinger's dodge deed. While it might not provide the absolute best protection, it is one of the most fitting for day-to-day wear. Riot gear, or special occasion armor like Celestial Armor (Core 465) might be more fitting for certain fights, though.


Gordon's iconic image has him carrying a revolver, typically a chief's or detective's special. There are rules for revolvers in Pathfinder, and if there are situations nasty enough to require the Gotham Knights to step in then there's no reason not to give one to Gordon. As with most distance-based characters Gordon would benefit the most from putting the biggest magical bonus to attack and damage as possible on the weapon, and using enchanted ammunition for case-by-case foes. Enchantments like fire or ice, shock or holy, even bane could then be selected on a fight-by-fight basis, giving Gordon more effective options and not tying him down to a single kind of damage.

For those who want to give Gordon a melee weapon it's a good idea to give him something with the Dueling ability for the bonuses to disarming opponents as well as for the initiative bonus. The gunslinger who goes first gets to make the biggest change to the battle before the enemy can advance, cast a spell, or really take any aggressive action against the party.

Wondrous Items

While there's nothing really magical in use by the Gotham P.D., a few exceptions could be made for flavor. The Iron Bands of Binding (Core 521) are a good example of a one-shot method of suspect take down. The combination of smokesticks or an Eversmoking Bottle (Core 512) and Fog Cutter Lenses (Ultimate Equipment) turns your enemies into ducks in a shooting gallery. Magical or alchemical lights are important since Gordon can't see in the dark, and miscellaneous stat boosting items or cloaks that increase his saves are all good investments. While he doesn't have any signature equipment like the city's vigilantes, Gordon is still no pushover.

Who Says Leadership is a Useless Feat?

Credit: Wikimedia Commons Image

Behind The Badge

While there are a lot of ways to mechanically build Gordon, you should ask yourself who your version of him really is. Is he an outcast from the Mana Wastes with nothing more than his gun and a sense of honor? Is he a veteran of the ongoing war at the Worldwound, coming away from hell on earth only to be faced with a corrupt city that doesn't want to be cleaned up? Was she an adventurer who decided to hang up her wandering in exchange for a watchman's badge, only to find that the alleys are more dangerous than a dragon's cave could ever be?

These are the things you need to know, and which will make your version of Jim Gordon really stand out.