Iconic Design: Punch Against Sleepy Times!

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 building an NPC build for Princess Bubblegum.

I need to do more Iconic Designs for female characters. Let’s start with Bonnibelle Bubblegum, Princess of the Candy Kingdom!


Its hard to give a background for a character that fans know so little about. Princess Bubblegum is the ruler of the Candy Kingdom in Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time. Rather than be a traditional princess, she’s something more of a LN scientist who is constantly (and personally) inventing new things to help protect her people. She is a very active ruler who can be somewhat schizophrenic. It is implied that she is at least 800 years old and was created as a result of a nuclear apocalypse that ravaged Earth and all but wiped out humanity. She is made of a material called “candy biomass” and while she is kind, she also seems to have trouble separating emotion from empiric data. In the few episodes where she’s done stuff, she’s shown to be trained in martial arts and a very analytic person, able to come up with great amounts of information from small bits of details. With all that in mind, let’s look at our build.

Build Concept

I’ve been wanting to make Bonnibelle Bubblegum for some time, but I needed to wait for the Advanced Class Guide. Now that its out, let me show you my blueprints!

  • Investigator (Empiricist): I’ve always known that the investigator was the perfect Bonnibelle class, from its science-like alchemy to its analytic inspiration ability. The empiricist just modifies the investigator to make it even more like Bubblegum by allowing the investigator to use her Intelligence modifier on a wide array of skills. My only regret is that I’m not able to grab the clone extracts for the investigator, as those are only available to the alchemist through a specific archetype and a subset of discoveries that the investigator cannot select. That said, sometimes you need to make tradeoffs and this class / archetype combination is otherwise perfect for our needs.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Investigator (Empiricist) 7
  • Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike (1st), Power Attack (3rd), Extra Inspiration (5th), Leadership (7th)
  • Abilities: Alchemy, Inspiration (Int + 6), Ceaseless Observation, Investigator Talent (Expanded Inspiration, Perceptive Tracking, Trap Spotter), Keen Recollection, Studied Combat, Studied Strike +2d6, Trap Sense +2, Trapfinding +3, Unfailing Logic

Alright! Let’s talk about the oddness that is Princess Bubblegum. First, the empiricist practically SCREAMS Bubblegum, as it is all about observation and intelligence. Being a braniac is sort of Bubblegum’s thing and she happens to be REALLY good at it. Now, she’s not often shown outright fighting in Adventure Time but when she is, its usually hand-to-hand combat. Now, I could have gone into my bag of tricks and pulled out brawler or monk levels, but those don’t really “feel” like Bubblegum to me. She relies on her Intelligence in battle, and Studied Strike accomplishes that perfectly. Going forward, you’re probably not going to see me focusing on her combat abilities, which honestly makes Bubblegum better as an NPC build than a PC build. (You can argue that she’s an NPC in Adventure Time as well.)

Inspiration is really the perfect mechanic for Princess Bubblegum. There’s one excellent scene in an episode called Maja the Sky Witch where Princess Bubblegum is using her perceptive skills to determine where the sky witch is hiding. The entire screen lights up and it shows Bubblegum’s vision honing in on different clues in a single room before deciding which way to go. She’s right. This perfectly matches not only the Inspiration ability, but also her ceaseless observation class feature’s ability that allows her to add her Intelligence on Perception checks and her Perceptive Tracking talent, which allows her to follow tracks with Perception.

As a monarch, she’s got to have Leadership. I’d pick her magic flying swan as her cohort, personally. And no, I have absolutely no idea how you’d build that as a cohort. Absolutely. No. Idea. Probably best to make some sort of Giant Swan monster (I think Bestiary 4 has one), slap on the awakened template, and use its CR as its base character level. Then give it levels of Sorcerer or something.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Investigator (Empiricist) 14
  • Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike (1st), Power Attack (3rd), Extra Inspiration (5th), Leadership (7th), Inspired Strike (9th), Extra Investigator Talent (11th), Pummeling Style (13th)
  • Abilities: Alchemy, Inspiration (Int + 6), Ceaseless Observation, Investigator Talent (Amazing Inspiration, Combat Inspiration, Eidetic Recollection, Expanded Inspiration, Perceptive Tracking, Quick Study, Trap Spotter), Keen Recollection, Studied Combat, Studied Strike +6d6, Trap Sense +4, Trapfinding +3, Unfailing Logic

In the mid levels, we focus Bonnibelle’s selections into improving her Inspiration even more. She gains the ability to roll d8s with her inspiration and use her inspiration on damage rolls made during studied combat. Those two abilities make for a nice combo, she can add an extra 1d8 to damage whenever she wants by spending a use of inspiration. Towards the end of the build, you begin to see where I’m going with this build. Pummeling Style.

Pummeling Style is a somewhat controversial feat. Basically, it works like the gunslinger’s dead shot deed. Bubblegum can pool her full-round attacks into a single, devastating strike. To me, that sounds like the perfect ability for an analytic character like Princess Bubblegum, and you’ll probably see me doing something similar when I get around to doing Sherlock Holmes.

Anyway, it is time to move on to the final stretch of Bonnibelle Bubblegum’s career. Onward!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Investigator (Empiricist) 20
  • Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike (1st), Power Attack (3rd), Extra Inspiration (5th), Leadership (7th), Inspired Strike (9th), Extra Investigator Talent (11th), Pummeling Style (13th), Pummeling Charge (15th), Two-Weapon Fighting (17th), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (19th)
  • Abilities: Alchemy, Inspiration (Int + 3), Ceaseless Observation, Investigator Talent (Amazing Inspiration, Combat Inspiration, Combine Extracts, Eidetic Recollection, Expanded Inspiration, Greater Combat Inspiration: Unarmed Strike, Perceptive Tracking, Tenacious Inspiration, Trap Spotter), Keen Recollection, Master Intellect, Studied Combat, Studied Strike +9d6, Trap Sense +6, Trapfinding +3, Unfailing Logic

End game for the investigator boils down to more talents, more studied strike, and more trap sense. The same holds true for Bubblegum. For her talents, I’ve chosen Greater Combat Inspiration, which will allow her to add her inspiration rolls to her unarmed strike attacks for free at 19th level, plus combine extracts (a very science-y ability) and Tenacious Inspiration, which allows her to roll her Inspiration die twice and use the better result when using Inspiration.

At 20th level, the Empiricist’s capstone allows Bubblegum to use her Inspiration on all skill checks without needing to spend a use of inspiration. Between this and Greater Combat Inspiration, all of Bubblegum’s inspiration uses, which will likely be 11 or more, will be saved for damage rolls with her unarmed strikes. And considering she’ll be rolling 2d8 for her inspiration at 20th level, that’s a surprising amount of extra damage on every attack. 2d8 + her Intelligence bonus, which you’ve hopefully pumped through the roof.

Like Bubblegum herself, this build is not one that worries about the short-term optimization. Its eyes are squarely focused on this long-term goal, for better or for worse.


Since the Advanced Class Guide classes are not specifically supported by the Mythic rules (yet), there isn’t much I can say for a “Mythic” Bubblegum build, although she’s probably Tier 1 at the least. Without a doubt, Bubblegum has Longevity and if she’s earned any ability score increases, they’ve all gone to Intelligence.

Other Notes

Its important to note that a character like Bubblegum, both on the show and in this build, is more likely to be an NPC than a PC. Considering how old she is, it is very likely that Princess Bubblegum is a very high-level character in her world, and this build sort of reflects that. So don’t worry if you’re not crazy about this build. I understand, and I have at least three other Investigator characters better designed as PCs for your pleasure sometime in the future. Until then, you’ll just have to hold on to the edge of your seat!

That’s my build for Bonnibelle Bubblegum. What did you think? Am I right that this build is better for an NPC, or is this something you would play in your home game? Why or why not? Leave me your questions and comments below! Are there any characters you’d like to see me tackle? Leave me a comment and let me know! Until then, that’s Iconic Design for the week! See you next week!

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 investigator, and he is no good at punching against sleepy times.

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

    For traditional Pathfinder, it’s probably an NPC. But for a game that focuses more on an urban political game, or roleplaying, she’d be fine. Also, she’d probably work well in PFS as you can almost always rely on someone else to carry the combat in PFS.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      That’s actually why being a skill-based character is so much fun in PFS. Nobody EVER tries to take your role. Such a combat-focused mindset. I remember all the weird looks I got when I told the table that I took Cosmopolitan on my swashbuckler.

  2. The Letch Reply to The

    A good npc for my new campaign setting, just would need to switch the name a bit, wonder how long it would take for my players to notice who she is.

  3. I have a question: How do you gain pummeling style… you have neither brawlers flurry nor flurry of blows?

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Through the power of semi colans.

      Pummeling Style’s prerequisites are as follows: Improved Unarmed Strike; base attack bonus +6, brawler’s flurry class feature, or flurry of blows class feature.

      Note the Semi Colan between Improved Unarmed Strike and Base Attack Bonus +6. The semi colan denotes an ordered list within a list, and that second list uses commas to separate its elements. So Pummeling Style’s prerequisites reads as follows:

      Improved Unarmed Strike
      Any ONE of the following: (base attack bonus +6, brawler’s flurry class feature, or flurry of blows class feature)

      If the choice was between flurry of blows or brawler’s flurry, it would have been written as follows:

      Improved Unarmed Strike; base attack bonus +6; brawler’s flurry class feature or flurry of blows class feature.

      In short, you wouldn’t have needed the comma between the two class features and there would have been a second semi colan separating BAB +6 and brawler’s flurry. This is a bet of an esoteric English grammar rule, but that’s mostly because this feat is designed to be fairly easy to grab if you’re a brawler or a monk. Monks and Brawlers can pick Pummeling Style at level 1 while everyone else needs to wait until they have a BAB of +6.

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