Spike Spiegel - A Cowboy Bebop Rogue Subclass
Spike Spiegel is arguably the best bounty hunter in the known universe. The blue suit wearing, chain smoking, former assassin for the Syndicate is one of the most beloved characters in anime. He is so much more than just a Bounty Hunter. The label may be correct in terms of what he does for a living, but his character is so deep and he has so many more skills than the other bounty hunters, we shouldn't play him as just a Bounty Hunter, but as a much more complex character.
Should it be a class in and of itself, or a subclass? Rogue or Ranger? Spike has so many traits of so many classes - Bounty Hunter, Assassin, Monk, Gunslinger, Ranger, it was hard to decide what to do. I even thought of adding a dash of the Bard, since Spike had some pretty funny one liners throughout the episodes. I landed on making it a subclass. Now I had to decide what it was going to be a subclass of. There are so many Bounty Hunter subclasses out there, do we really need another? Yes, because Spike Spiegel deserves his own! Reading through many of the Bounty Hunter descriptions, they all seemed to have some elements of Spike, but nothing quite captured is essence.
So where to start. Spike is not your typical 5e bounty hunter. He has a past, and I can tell you it was definitely not a ranger. I understand why people would use this class as the base for their creation, since they can do all sorts for dumb ranger things, like track people and creatures. But Spike wasn’t fucking Aragorn in his previous life. He was a bad ass, stone cold killer. So then fighter or rogue? Well, it’s true that Spike was an assassin for the syndicate before he left that life. I really wanted to make him a fighter subclass, but the more and more I thought about it, the abilities that the rogue gets as they level up makes more sense. So rogue it is.
For those that don’t want my thought process behind the Winchester Hunter:
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Spike’s weapon of choice was a nine millimeter, which obviously translates into being proficient in firearms. It would have been fun to have done a subclass for Spike’s arch enemy Vicious, as his weapon of choice is a sword. But since we are talking about Spike, firearms is what you become proficient in.
Also at 3rd level, you get a modified version of the Ranger’s tracking ability. In Cowboy Bebop, Spike hunted down mostly humanoids but it can be argued that a few of the people he attempted to collect the bounty on were magical creatures of some sort, but in really they were still humanoid. Therefore Spike gets two choose two humanoid races to be his favored enemy. Wisdom for tracking and Dexterity for sneaking up on the bounty works well here. Finally, you get to add one additional favored enemy at 9th and 15th levels.
For anyone that has watched the show, they know Spike can fight like Bruce Lee in close quarters. He is just as good in hand to hand combat as he is with a gun, possibly even better. The fight scenes in the show were amazing. The animation was so far ahead of its time (and still better than some of the anime crap that is out there now) that the scenes were detailed, fluid and beautiful to watch. The crazy ninjitsu that Spike would use in the show was basically the Monk’s Martial Arts skill. I didn’t want to create a whole new skill set (that’s Stephens forte), so the using the Monk skill with a few minor tweaks made sense.
Gettting the Jump on Them
The element of surprise is important for any bounty hunter. Spike would seemingly appear out of nowhere and get the jump on his quarry. Sometimes he would act the fool, with his opponent underestimating him and getting the crap kicked out of them. Sure, sometimes it went horribly wrong, but that makes for good TV. The opening of the movie is a good example. Spike plays the idiot when he walks in on the people he is hunting, and he (along with Jet) take them down quick. Of course they didn’t realize that one of the bad guys was in the bathroom, but Spike was able to drop him with one well placed gunshot. At 13th level, you gain advantage on your initiative rolls, and for good measure you can’t be surprised.
Take Them Down
Spike could usually take his opponent down with one crippling strike, either from his gun or some crazy karate chop. Sure, I know you’re thinking, “Why not use that strike first and end the fight right there?” First, it’s a TV show and we want our action scenes. Second, you have to wear your opponent down a little bit before the attack will be truly effective. At 17th level, you gain the ability to land a critical hit on any one attack. You can use this ability equal to your Dexterity modifier per long rest.
There it is, the Spike Spiegel Bounty Hunter Rogue Subclass. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have any ideas for a pop culture class/subclass you’d like to see, drop me line.