Thursday Theme: The Tough Guy (or Gal!)

Today we present a couple thoughts on creating a character who’s the toughest, the roughest, and the most down-to-earth in the party. The tough guy (or gal!) isn’t fazed by much, but knows when it’s time to run. When that happens, he can keep it up longer than anyone.

The tough guy is usually a front-line combatant, but not always. You might play a tough guy (or tough gal!) who casts spells. Sometimes that’s what the world needs.

Anyways, here are your finest options:


The epitome of the gruff and tough. A classic that’s been almost done to death. How do you make this your own? The answer is to think about why your tough, gruff character is this way. Perhaps your dwarf experienced the most unimaginable of tragedies, or maybe he’s afraid someone will see the scared kid inside.


Another hard-bitten classic. However, where this gets fun is if you become a wizard or other spellcaster–the unique half-orc abilities work wonders with spellcasting, and this guy gets a +2 to anything for his human heritage. Prejudice will drive the most intelligent of wizards to being tough.


Mandatory feat for playing the tough guy (or gal!). Hit Points are generally the most precious commodity in the game, and your tough practicality would never let you ignore the feat that bears your name. Melee combatants need toughness because they are constantly taking damage; ranged combatants need toughness because if they take damage, they’re in trouble.


A feat from the Advanced Player’s Guide for half-orcs and dwarves. Don’t play an orc. Anyway, it’s a strong feat with lots of flavor and it makes you look like a badass every single time you get attacked. Make sure to mention how your callused skin deflected the blow.

Heroic Defiance & Heroic Recovery

Let these feats from the Advanced Player’s Guide stand in for endurance and diehard as well . This series of feats is a powerful series of choices for the tough character. Unlike most melee-style defensive abilities, this series rocks against casters as well as fanged monsters. Endurance doesn’t rock, but it’s quite flavorful. You can laugh at the other players who can’t keep up with your unfaltering step.


It should be fairly obvious that rangers fit easily into the tough guy (or gal!) role. Make sure that your character comments on the need for being tough and being practical. There are too many strong, silent, and boring rangers in the world already.

Mind’s Eye

A homebrew feat with good flavor for the tough character. Not the most effective of feat choices, but nice in that it counteracts the most frustrating spells commonly used on tough characters.

Touch Me Not

A hilarious spell from Forgotten Foes by Tricky Owlbear publishing. Use this lightning spell to make sure that enemies leave you alone. You take your personal space seriously, and you want everyone else to take it very, very seriously too.


A really wonderful homebrew prestige class. Originally designed for 3.5, it would need a little expansion to get up to Pathfinder standards. Instead of having your dieharder die at -20 instead of -10, I would simply double and then triple the requirement to keep the same ratio. So becoming a Dieharder means you die when your hit points reach a negative number equal to twice your constitution score. And you stay conscious all through! The truly tough tread here.


The most important thing to remember is that being tough or defensive does not mean being passive. Your practical, hard-as-nails character wants to impose his or her worldview on everyone. Then maybe everyone will survive like you.



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