Batman might be one of the most infamous heroes of the DC comics universe, skilled and strong enough to take on all comers, but he's only one man. Like all great crusaders the Dark Knight needed a squire, and that role is filled by Robin. Many have filled this role over the years, but this particular build will focus on Dick Grayson; the first Robin who grew into the hero Nightwing.
If you'd like to see the rest of my Gotham Knights character builds, along with my takes on The Avengers and the cast of Game of Thrones, check out the Character Conversions page on Improved Initiative!
Also, for those who have always wondered why superheroes wear their underwear on the outside check out the answer right here!
Race and Attributes
Just like Bruce, Dick is human. This gives him access to the same bonus feat and bonus skill point as his mentor, which is going to come in quite handy. It's a good idea to prioritize his strength, dexterity, and wisdom, though much like Batman Robin doesn't really have a “dump stat” per se. These three should be the ones that get first consideration, though.
When it comes to his traits it's important to remember that Dick was raised by a family of acrobats; he wasn't exactly unskilled when Bruce took him in as a ward. Keeping that in mind there are a wide variety of traits that might fit Robin, from reckless (+1 to acrobatics, and acrobatics is always a class skill for you) to crowd dodger (+2 to acrobatics checks to move through another creature's square and to avoid attacks of opportunity), to deft dodger (+1 trait bonus on reflex saves). Traits like reactionary (+2 bonus on initiative checks) or dangerously curious (+1 bonus on use magic device and use magic device is always a class skill) are also good choices.
Remember that as long as a trait provides a bonus you're going to use and that helps flesh out your concept, it's a good trait to take. Some traits are just used more often than others.
A Master of The Martial Arts
Robin is an unparalleled acrobat, and a master of various martial arts styles (as Nightwing he favors escrima sticks, though he can use a wide variety of weapons). As a youth he isn't dedicated to a code in the same way the Batman is, which means Robin is a little more on the neutral or chaotic side. Combined with his lack of spiritual teachings from monasteries and holy sites across the world, this makes him an ideal candidate for the Martial Artist monk variant (Ultimate Combat 59). He keeps all of the damage, but never gains a ki pool or the associated abilities that come with it.
What does the Martial Artist offer the build? Starting at level 3 it provides bonuses on critical hit confirmation rolls, and increases the DC of both stunning fist and quivering palm. These abilities are extremely useful for a monk who wants to stun, confuse, and ultimately strip his opponent of the ability to threatenen to the party. A Martial Artist can also use his monk level to qualify for fighter feats, and can exploit creatures' weaknesses to ignore hardness and DR, along with gaining bonuses to any and all attacks. With extreme endurance, physical resistance, and access to a rogue's defensive roll ability to shrug off punishment, this class fits Robin just as well as it does his more adult version.
Who's Batman? Say It!
You're *cough* Batman...
Robin learned from one of the best, which means that he has quite a slew of skills of his own. With monks there's a minimum of 5 skills ranks (4 for the class and 1 for being human), which should be invested in Acrobatics, Stealth, Perception, Escape Artist, Use Magic Device (this last can be made a class skill with the dangerously curious trait). If you have bonus skill points left over try investing in Climb, Intimidate, or Sense Motive. All of these are quite useful skills, but they're of secondary use for a character who operates as combat backup.
Much like his mentor an accurate-to-the-comics Robin could have most of the feats in Pathfinder. Since that's not possible, here's a list of some of the feats he does have access to that will be helpful in bringing across the concept. The feats are listed in trees to make them easier to acquire.
Combat Expertise (Core Rulebook119) Gain dodge bonus, take attack negative.
Improved Disarm (Core Rulebook 127) Gain +2 to disarm, provoke no attack of opportunity.
Greater Disarm (Core Rulebook 125) Gain +2 to disarm, weapons land 15 feet away.
Improved Trip (Core Rulebook 128) Gain +2 to trip, provoke no attack of opportunity.
Greater Trip (Core Rulebook 126) Gain +2 to trip, falling enemy provokes attack of opportunity.
Improved Steal (Advanced Players Guide) Gain +2 to steal, provoke no attack of opportunity.
Greater Steal (Advanced Players Guide) Gain +2 to steal, opponent doesn't notice theft.
Point Black Shot (Core Rulebook 131) +1 to attack and damage within 30 feet.
Precise Shot (Core Rulebook 131) Avoid -4 penalty on shooting or throwing into melee.
These feats (taken in whatever order best suits the player) allow Robin to use thrown weapons like his mentor, and they also allow him to use his monk level when making combat maneuver checks. Stealing opponents' weapons, disarming them, or knocking them flat on their butts (since you can replace regular attacks with trip or disarm maneuvers, even in a flurry of blows) is a great way to take away whatever threat enemies pose. While it isn't necessary to have steal, disarm, and trip, it's a good idea to have at least one of these maneuvers on hand for combat purposes. Other feats that might be useful for your Robin include:
Weapon Focus (Core Rulebook 136) +1 on attack rolls with selected weapon (quarterstaff recommended).
Weapon Specialization (Core Rulebook 137) +2 on damage rolls with selected weapon.
Quarterstaff Master (Ultimate Magic 154) Use a quarterstaff as a 1-handed weapon.
Greater Weapon Focus (Core Rulebook 126) Additional +1 on attack rolls.
Greater Weapon Specialization (Core Rulebook 126) Additional +2 with selected weapon.
Spring Attack (Core Rulebook 134) Attack after moving 10 feet, then continue moving. Do not provoke attacks of opportunity (may be taken as a monk feat after 6thlevel).
Some of these feats may be taken as monk bonus feats, but it's important to sit down before you begin and decide which feats you're going to take in which order. This will let you know which of Robin's abilities you can use at which levels.
Much like Batman, Robin's bag of tricks is part of what makes him such a dangerous adversary. With a monk's battlefield maneuverability and enhanced movement Robin can engage nearly any target he wants to.
But it helps if he has the right tools on hand for it. While mundane gear like the bandolier for his utility belt or a set of masterwork lockpicks is helpful, here are a few tricks of the superhero trade.
Alchemical items are life savers, and Robin might find items like clear ear (Adventurer's Armory) to be useful along with the usual tanglefoot bags, thunderstones, and troll styptics. With a bandolier of handy toys it's possible to deal with any threat that might rear its ugly head.
Since monks can't wear armor a lot of Robin's gold will be focused on his armory. A quarterstaff is a solid choice, but so are the kama, the sai (disarming weapons), shuriken and crossbow. Brass knuckles are a good way to add magic to your attacks while keeping your monk unarmed damage, and the same is true of the cestus. While a monk is always armed, it never hurts to have every kind of damage on hand, particularly with shuriken which can be poisoned or enchanted with relatively little difficulty.
It's important to make sure that your Robin gets every possible advantage when it comes to adventuring. Any and all stat-enhancing items (gloves, belts, headbands, etc.) are quite useful. Significant attention should be paid to Robin's wisdom score, as that affects the save for his stunning fist and quivering palm, as well as his armor class bonus. The boots of elvenkind (Core Rulebook 503) and the cloak of elvenkind(Core Rulebook 507) are also solid choices for enhancing his acrobatic and stealth skills. The iron bands of binding (Core Rulebook 521) are a great way to end an enemy's effectiveness in a combat without injuring him, and items like the necklace of adaptation (Core Rulebook 524) make Robin immune to gas-based attacks (useful when fighting scarecrow and similar villains). The gloves of reconnaissance (Ultimate Equipment) allow you to see through doors, and the great combination of theeversmoking bottle (Core Rulebook 512) and the fogcutter lenses (Ultimate Equipment) means you have 50 feet of smoke where you can see your enemies, but they can't see you.
Don't be afraid to go down the lists of magic items and make some strategic purchases either. A few potions of cure here, and a few scrolls of hold person there can be quite useful in the right moment. Wands for low level spells you'll use a lot of, like mage armor or protection from evil are also great to have on hand. If you have a high use magic device skill then they also become easy to use regularly and with only a 5% chance of failure (the dreaded natural 1).