Iconic Design: Big, Dumb Fighter

Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at an Iconic Design for Roy Greenhilt.

Order of the Stick fans, you really need to thank me for this one. I almost didn’t do it. My self-imposed “no archetypes” rule made this one difficult, especially because today’s character belongs to a class that was REALLY boring back in 3.5 Edition. That’s right, folks! Today we’re going to look at Roy Greenhilt, de facto leader of the Order of the Stick!


Long story cut short, Roy is the son of a wizard whose grandfather was a proud fighter. Roy grew up staring at the family sword, whose hilt gives his family its name. As a teenager, Roy “rebels” against his father by going to fighter college and majoring in battlefield tactics. When his father dies, he finds out that his father can’t pass into Heaven because he swore a blood oath to destroy a lich named Xyklon and now its up to Roy to finish what his father couldn’t.

Roy is an intelligent man and desperate to prove to others that warriors aren’t big, dumb brutes. Since all of the members of the Order of the Stick serve to denounce one RPG stereotype or another, Roy stands in opposition to the “big, dumb, fighter” stereotype. He is quite smart, thought as others have pointed out he can’t really USE that intelligence in a fight. Except for one time when he does.

You KNOW you want to click on this to see the epicness of Rich Burlew!

Build Concept

Like most of my Order of the Stick builds, today’s Iconic Design is deceptively simple. Roy is well-established as a fighter, but how, exactly, are we going to build him without using any archetypes? Well …

  • Mobility: Roy only wears a breastplate in Order of the Stick (medium armor). Because of armor training, Roy can move at his speed while wearing his breastplate as early as 3rd level, so that’s about when we’ll start working on his mobility.
  • Smarts: Roy can’t be a “hit one guy over and over until he’s dead” character. He’s way too smart for that. We’re going to try to build him “smart” without relying on the conventional methods, such as Kirin Style. As fun as it could be, Roy is clearly not a “style” user.
  • Meatgrinder: Roy is well known for his strategy of drawing enemy agro by smacking a bunch of enemies all at once. He does this in Order of the Stick using the Cleave feat, so we’re going to be using a healthy dose of Cleave ourselves.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Fighter 7
  • Feats: Power Attack (Bonus), Weapon Focus: Greatsword (Bonus), Skill Focus: Knowledge (engineering) (1st), Cleave (Bonus), Step Up (3rd), Weapon Specialization: Greatsword (4th), Great Cleave (5th), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Following Step (7th)
  • Abilities: Armor Training 2, Bravery +2, Weapon Training (Heavy Blades +1)

Roy’s build starts off grabbing the essentials: Weapon Focus, Cleave, and Step Up. Step Up is Roy’s primary mobility tactic at low-levels while Cleave is his best method of keeping hordes of minions away from his allies. As Roy approaches 10th level, his tricks improve, granting him Great Cleave at 5th level and Following Step at 7th level. He also picks up Combat Reflexes at 6th level as a precursor to a later strategy, but for now his ability to dart around the battlefield is looking pretty good. He can chase down anyone who runs with Following Step and smack everyone around him with Great Cleave. Roy’s Weapon Training, obviously, is his greatsword, his family heirloom.

Let’s continue.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Fighter 14
  • Feats: Power Attack (Bonus), Weapon Focus: Greatsword (Bonus), Skill Focus: Knowledge (engineering) (1st), Cleave (Bonus), Step Up (3rd), Weapon Specialization: Greatsword (4th), Great Cleave (5th), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Following Step (7th), Step Up and Strike (Bonus), Cleaving Finish (9th), Spellbreaker (Bonus), Improved Cleaving Finish (11th), Dodge (Bonus), Mobility (13th), Combat Patrol (Bonus)
  • Abilities: Armor Training 3, Bravery +4, Weapon Training (Close +1, Hammers +2, Heavy Blades +3)

In the mid-levels, some of Roy’s tricks come to fruition. Step Up and Strike goes live at 8th level, which allows him to make an attack of opportunity against anyone who tries to run away from him. Combat Reflexes allows him to do this more often. Cleaving Finish, while not specific to Cleave, allows Roy to make more attacks when he manages to topple an opponent, and its limit is removed at 11th level by Improved Cleaving Finish. In the story, Roy learns a technique for disrupting spellcasters that is perfectly mirrored by Disruptive (taken at 6th level) and Spellbreaker (taken at 10th level. Combined with Following Strike (and later Combat Patrol at 14th level), it becomes very difficult for spellcasters to escape Roy’s attacks when he threatens them. Better still, if a spellcaster tries to 5-foot step away from Roy, he follows them, gets an attack of opportunity, and would still be able to hold any readied action he might have taken to deal some interrupting damage against his buddy. Any devoted spellcaster will have trouble casting safely around Roy even if they can hold on to their spell slots!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Fighter 20
  • Feats: Power Attack (Bonus), Weapon Focus: Greatsword (Bonus), Skill Focus: Knowledge (engineering) (1st), Cleave (Bonus), Step Up (3rd), Weapon Specialization: Greatsword (4th), Great Cleave (5th), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Following Step (7th), Step Up and Strike (Bonus), Cleaving Finish (9th), Spellbreaker (Bonus), Improved Cleaving Finish (11th), Dodge (Bonus), Mobility (13th), Combat Patrol (Bonus), Greater Weapon Focus: Greatsword (15th), Greater Weapon Specialization: Greatsword (Bonus), Furious Focus (17th), Penetrating Strike (Bonus), Greater Penetrating Strike (19th), Combat Expertise (20th)
  • Abilities: Armor Mastery, Armor Training 4, Bravery +6, Weapon Mastery: Greatsword, Weapon Training (Close +2, Hammers +3, Heavy Blades +4, Light Blades +1)

Roy’s end game is just adding additional fighter tricks to his roster. Bigger bonuses from his class features, ignoring damage reduction with the fighter-exclusive Penetrating Strike feats (Roy would like the exclusitivity) and it ends with … Combat Expertise. That baseline Combat Feat that requires you to have a high Intelligence. Its not awesome, but it makes sense and by 20th level there aren’t many feats that you NEED, so why not?


Roy’s a champion. Take Path abilities to improve his speed and maneuverability, primarily. Precision is a good path ability for Roy, as is anything that improves his single-target damage. Mythic Power Attack is a good example, and surprisingly the Step Up feat line has Mythic versions. You’re not going to kill anyone with those feats, but they’re neat?

Other Notes

For anyone playing this build at home, I would take the Martial Master archetype, from the Advanced Class Guide. This archetype trades your weapon training ability (a hefty loss) for martial flexibility, which allows you to have “floater feats.” That’s an ability that feels very Roy-like to me, adaptable on-the-fly feats. Granted, that’s not an Order of the Stick-like ability (plus my self-imposed restrictions), so you don’t see it here. Lore Warden might also work for Roy, but I didn’t really focus on any combat maneuvers, though if you took your maneuvers as floater feats with martial versatility, things could work out nicely for you!

And that’s my build for Roy Greenhilt. What do you think? Faithful to the source? Unfaithful? Would you play this build? Like it or hate it, leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll see you next week for another exciting installment in Iconic Design! Take care, folks!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune martial master.

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at http://www.everybodygames.net, or support him personally on Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/eversagarpg.


  1. Darrell Vin Zant Reply to Darrell

    I would add toughness. Roy is one tough mother effer. He’s taken some serious beatings through out the strips (especially when he opted to fight ‘smart’), but keeps on chugging along. In fact, the only person who even comes close to taking the same amount of damage is Belkar, but even Belkar doesn’t hold a candle to Roy. I swear, Bruce Willis is in envy of the punishment Roy can take.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      You could easily do this by swapping out Skill Focus for Toughness. I like Roy with that skill because it comes up a LOT in the storyline, almost as much as Haley and Bluff (which is, to say, very frequently).

  2. Roy is strong enough to break a pillar by kicking someone into it, tough enough to take a sword through his chest (on many occasions even when he’s badly hurt), and has a high enough INT and WIS to be an arcane or divine spellcaster. IMO, Roy’s player rolled very high for stats and compromised with his DM by playing a fighter. Replicating that would be tough. I do like the build though!

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