D&D 5E Mythological Figures: Irene Adler

Today in Mythological Figures we’ve got a woman able to hold her own against the World’s Greatest Detective, that opera singing savant known as Irene Adler!

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Irene Adler was one of the only people to successfully match wits with Sherlock Holmes! Although she’s been written into other stories, movies, and the like, originally Irene only appears in A Scandal in Bohemia where she threatens to share a photograph confirming the relationship she once had with Willhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein (when she was an opera singer and he the Crown Prince of Bohemia, now a king and about to wed the princess of Scandinavia Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meiningen). When questioned by a disguised Sherlock she realizes who he really is, confirming her suspicions by taking up a disguise of her own later that night. In the morning Sherlock, Watson, and the king come to Adler’s home to retrieve the photograph but instead they find a photo of herself and a letter penned to the detective—with the promise that she’ll naught reveal the blackmailing photograph he sought, but that she will retain it as security from reprisal. Notably Sherlock Holmes was at Adler’s marriage to the lawyer Godfrey Norton, and in later stories she is referenced by Arthur Conan Doyle as the “late” Irene Adler but he sometimes did that for when a character’s name changed (instead of when they die).

Design Notes: We’re going to lean into a more cinematic version of Irene Adler to match up with the 13th level build for Sherlock Holmes elsewhere in this column. For her superlative social skills she needs a decent Charisma, but being the intellectual peer of the World’s Greatest Detective is no small thing so she ought to have that 20 in Intelligence. Although that doesn’t leave much room for combat statistics, it does position Irene to be excellent with trickery of all kinds. To cover her history as an opera singer (and give her a bit of mechanical depth) she’s got some bard levels, the disguise bits are addressed with the Charlatan background, and then a bunch of rogue levels to make her quick, provide a level of guaranteed effectiveness, and shore up some of those social aspects with the Inquisitive archetype. Let’s do the numbers! The DMG came in at 4.25, the Blog of Holding at 5.2, and that averages out to a solid 4: an excellent returning antagonist!

Irene Adler

Medium humanoid (human), neutral good rogue (inquisitive) 9/bard 4 (college of lore)
Armor Class 14 (studded leather)
Hit Points 58 (13d8)
Speed 30 ft.
10 (+0)​
14 (+2)​
10 (+0)​
20 (+5)​
13 (+1)​
16 (+3)​
Saving Throws Dex +7, Int +10
Skills Acrobatics +7, Deception +13, Insight +11, Investigation +15, Perception +11, Performance +13, Persuasion +8, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +12, Survival +6; disguise kit +10, thieves’ tools +7
Senses passive Perception 21
Languages English
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Background: Charlatan. Irene has the papers, clothing, and contacts required to justify an entirely different identity. When Irene has access to an official document or example of a creature’s handwriting, she can make forgeries of similar papers (whether personal or official).

Bardic Inspiration (3d6/Long Rest). As a bonus action on her turn, Irene can choose one other creature within 60 feet who can hear her. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the GM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.

Cunning Action (1/Turn). Irene can use a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action, or to make an Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check.

Evasion. When Irene is subjected to an effect that allows her to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, she instead takes no damage if she succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if she fails.

Feat: Brilliant. Irene always knows how long it will be before the next sunset or sunrise, the northerly direction, and can perfectly remember anything she’s experienced within the last 31 days.

Fight Smart. Irene can use a bonus action to make a Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by the Charisma (Deception) check of a creature she can see that isn’t incapacitated. On a success, for the next minute she does not require advantage to Sneak Attack the creature (she still cannot Sneak Attack with disadvantage). This benefit ends if Irene successfully uses Fight Smart against another creature.

Jack of All Trades. Irene adds +2 to any ability check she makes that doesn’t already include her proficiency bonus.

Naturally Inquisitive. Whenever Irene makes a Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by a Charisma (Deception) check, she can treat a d20 roll of 7 or lower as an 8.

Quick Assessment. So long as she moves no more than half her speed, Irene has advantage on Intelligence (Investigation) and Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Irene deals an extra 17 (5d6) damage when she hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Irene that isn’t incapacitated and Irene doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

Song of Rest. After a short rest, if Irene or any friendly creatures who can hear her performance regain hit points by spending one or more Hit Dice, each of those creatures regains an extra 1d6 hit points.

Spellcasting. Irene is a 4th level spellcaster that uses Charisma as her spellcasting ability (spell save DC 16). She has the following spells prepared from the bard’s spell list:
Cantrips: message, true strike, vicious mockery
1st level (4 slots): charm person, comprehend languages, heroism, hideous laughter
2nd level (3 slots): detect thoughts, suggestion, zone of truth

Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.

Cutting Words. When a creature that Irene can see within 60 feet of her makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, she can use her reaction to expend one of her uses of Bardic Inspiration, subtracting 1d6 from the creature’s roll. She can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the GM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it can’t hear Irene or if it’s immune to being charmed.

Uncanny Dodge. When an attacker that Irene can see hits her with an attack, she can use her reaction to halve the attack’s damage against her.

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Mike Myler

Mike Myler


I don't know, if her big thing is seeing through Sherlock Holmes enough to stay one step ahead, that might be Wisdom Insight instead of Intelligence Investigation.

My memory of the TV show one I remember leaning a lot into demonstrating Intelligence though.

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