The Huntress has gone through a lot of changes over the years. The name and persona were originally assigned to Helena Wayne, the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (alias Batman and Catwoman). When her mother dies Helena dons a costume of her own, and uses the skills her parents taught her to find the man responsible and bring him to justice. In alternative stories the mantle was worn by Helena Bertinelli, a mafia daughter who vows bloody vengeance when her whole family is wiped out by a rival gang. Both versions are swift, deadly, and precise. Both versions have been woven in and out of the Bat-family, which makes her a snug fit into this Gotham Knights character build series.
If you'd like to see the rest of the Gotham Knights, or if you'd prefer character builds for The Avengers 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 well wonder no more!
Attributes and Race
Like so many of the other heroes and vigilantes that make up Gotham, Huntress is human. Players are free to experiment with other races, but human is most accurate to the character and the bonus feat at creation along with the extra skill point per level is certainly going to come in handy. Like Gotham's other protectors the Huntress doesn't have a “dump stat” per se, but emphasis should be placed on her dexterity, strength, constitution, and intelligence.
Her two starting traits are far from an easy decision. On the one hand traits like reactionary (+2 trait bonus to initiative) and dangerously curious (+1 trait bonus to use magic device, and use magic device is always a class skill for you) are always a good pair to have. However traits like ambush training (+1 trait bonus to initiative and a +1 to weapon damage rolls during any surprise round one acts in), soaring sprinter (gain a +2 trait bonus to acrobatics attempts to keep your balance or jump, and acrobatics becomes a class skill for you), or bruising intellect (use your intelligence modifier instead of your charisma modifier on intimidate checks, and intimidate becomes a class skill for you) are also tempting choices.
When choosing traits remember to look at the character and ask how often the bonuses will be used. While many traits sound cool or fit well with the Huntress's background, keep in mind that a bonus you don't use is a bonus you might as well not have.
The Huntress stalks the concrete canyons and steel spires that make up her city. She slips from shadow to shadow, and she waits as patiently as any big cat for the right moment to strike. With her trademark crossbow, the Huntress is best realized as a ranger. Not just any ranger though; she should use the Urban Ranger archetype found in the Advanced Player's Guide.
There aren't too many differences between the urban archetype and the parent class. Urban rangers lose handle animal and knowledge (nature), but they gain disable device and knowledge (local). These skills will be invaluable for a vigilante who needs to know where the bad guys' headquarters is, and then stealthily sneak in. Urban rangers lose favored terrain, but gain favored communities. The bonuses don't change, and having a community the ranger can move through with ease makes more sense for an urban avenger. These rangers also gain trapfinding like rogues, and they can move through crowds as if they were made up of allies. At higher levels these masters of urban camouflage can vanish into crowds just as if they belonged there.
If the Huntress is going to be stalking street scum and putting down gang lords, then she's going to want humans as a favored enemy. If a gang of goblinoids, tieflings, half-orcs, or other kind of creature starts stirring up trouble though, then it's a good idea to expand Huntress's repertoire of studied foes. Adapt as either the campaign requires, or as the character's experiences dictate.
The Huntress uses a crossbow, and despite the weapon's changing size and style in her comic and television portrayals it's remained a part of her repertoire. As such the crossbow style is really the way to go with her.
The minimum amount of skills the Huntress receives is 7 (6 for being a ranger, and 1 for a bonus human skill point). She should have an intelligence modifier though, which will add on to the number of skills she possesses.
The Huntress should have ranks in climb (for getting to high places), Intimidate (for interrogation), Knowledge (local) [in order to get the best information on what's happening], Knowledge (dungeoneering) [so she's never caught off guard in a dungeon], disable device (for getting around pesky locks and traps), Perception (to see what the enemy is doing), and stealth (so the enemy can't see her).
Other skills the Huntress will find useful include acrobatics, use magic device, sleight of hand, and survival. All but the last one are not class skills, but they can become class skills with the proper traits
The Huntress, like the rest of the Gotham Knights, tends to engage the city's swollen, putrid underbelly fist-first. Since combat is a foregone conclusion, and since she comes loaded for bear it's important to know which feats to take to maximize her deadliness. The following feats are quite useful, and her bonus style feats have been marked with an asterisk to show that no prerequisites need to be met for them when they're taken as part of her Crossbow Style.
Point Blank Shot (Core 131) +1 to attack and damage with ranged weapons within 30 feet.
Precise Shot (Core 131) Ignore the -4 penalty for firing into melee.
*Deadly Aim (Core 121) Take a negative to attack, gain a bonus to damage with ranged weapons.
Focused Shot (Advanced Player's Guide) Make a single ranged weapon attack, add your intelligence modifier to your damage.
Rapid Reload (Core 132) Reduce the action to reload a crossbow. Light crossbow reduced to a free action.
*Crossbow Mastery (Advanced Player's Guide) Reload any crossbow as a free action. Reloading for the type of crossbow you have Rapid Reload for doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity.
Rapid Shot (Core 132) Make an additional attack with a bow or crossbow when making a full attack at a penalty.
Weapon Focus (Light Crossbow) (Core 136) Gain +1 to attack when using a light crossbow.
*Pinpoint Targeting (Core 131) Make a single attack, target gains no armor, natural armor, or shield bonuses.
These feats allow you to build the Huntress up to a very dangerous 10th level urban ranger. For those who want to give her additional options beyond her ranged striking though, Quarterstaff Master (Ultimate Magic 154), Skill Focus (Stealth) (Core 134), and Hellcat Stealth (Cheliax: Empire of Devils) are all choice feats. Improved Initiative (Core 127) and other miscellaneous combat feats are also useful, though they won't allow her to do any more damage.
Whether she's a mafiosa out for blood or the vengeful daughter of Gotham City's greatest costumed characters, the Huntress tends to have quite the arsenal of tricks slung round her hips. For those who want to be ready for anything, it's important to come prepared.
While it might sound silly, sometimes it's the non-magical equipment that can really make the difference (for a full list of handy equipment check out the links in the Bibliography section at the end of the article below). A silk rope and a grappling hook are often worth more than epic-level scrolls in a tight pinch, for instance. Chalk and candles weigh practically nothing, but can be great for marking a path and seeing in the dark without drawing attention. Alchemical items are your best friend, and it's a good idea to have plenty of tanglefoot bags and smokesticks on hand. It's a good idea to have plenty of bolts, and if you have the spare room bring a net and a lasso. There's nothing like an entangled opponent to make a challenging combat a little less dire. Lastly, caltrops can save your life when a chase is under way; never forget that.
The Huntress's main weapon is her crossbow, and it's a good idea to make it magical as soon as possible. However, while it's tempting to put a whole slew of enchantments on the weapon, it's a better idea to put specific elements or magical effects on her bolts and to just boost the attack power of the crossbow itself. Fire and ice, acid and electricity, holy, bane, and wounding are all great, but different foes call for different enchantments. It's also a good idea to have backups, which is why a quarterstaff, cestus, spiked gauntlet, and shuriken are all handy things to have hidden about your person. Just in case.
Much like Batman, the Huntress should wear light armor to maximize her mobility. With her additional range enemies shouldn't be able to close with her before she can put them down. That said it's a good idea to invest in mithril armor, perhaps with theshadow or slick enchantments to make sure she doesn't get seen or grappled. If she gets the first shot in, that will put the enemy at a disadvantage. Especially if she uses poisoned bolts that have also been enchanted.
Miscellaneous Magical Items
It never hurts to have a few holdouts when it comes to additional magic items. Aneversmoking bottle (Core 513) and a set of fogcutter lenses (Ultimate Equipment) can give the Huntress a field of fire where her enemies will never be able to find her. A vest of escape (Core 532) can grant much-needed bonuses to surpassing locks and getting out of grapples, where rings and pendants can provide immunity to poison, gas attacks, or ensure that she always has feather fall ready and waiting in case she takes a tumble off of a rooftop. The cloak of the bat (Core 506) or cloak of elvenkind (Core 507) can provide helpful boosts to stealth as well.
While urban rangers do get a small selection of spells, it's a good plan to keep some scrolls and potions on hand just in case. Healing potions are a no-brainer, but potions of spells as simple as barkskin, cat's grace, and other buffs can be just what you need to give you that extra boost before wading in to duke it out with a big boss. Wands of simple spells can also come in handy, particularly if you need to cure poison, or restore ability damage with a lesser restoration spell.
What's Her Story?
The Huntress has had a lot of different stories over the years, but before you put her into your Pathfinder game you need to ask yourself what her story is now. Is she a child of privilege who is lashing out against the corruption in her city? Is she someone who's seen the dark, seedy side of the city and realized that it's a jungle sure as any wilderness and she's out to keep it in line? Or is she someone kept on call by the city council, given tacit permission to clean up in places where more traditional law enforcement simply hasn't gotten results?