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Mastering Intrigue

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 98
Any adventure can contain elements of intrigue, and even the most combat-filled dungeon crawl often benefits from breaking up the action with more nuanced encounters as a change of pace. Because it’s less confrontational than physical combat, intrigue acts as a counterpoint to battles, and serves to highlight and strengthen a campaign’s high-octane moments, helping tension to build slowly and naturally and creating satisfying storytelling moments.

All references to “an intrigue-based game” in the following section apply to a game that incorporates any amount of intrigue, from one with a splash of deviousness to a full-on political thriller.

Intrigue Systems

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 98
This chapter consists of new subsystems, new rules, and advice to add robust elements of intrigue to your game.

Influence: This rules system measures how characters gain influence and reputation with various organizations. Rather than boiling a social interaction down to just a skill check or two, influence creates a back-and-forth that plays out over a longer scene. It provides concrete rewards for engaging with such groups, which can be customized to fit your game.

Heists: This sections presents tips on organizing and running heists, such as running a con or penetrating a set of complex defenses to steal an object, rescue a person, or attain some other goal. This section also discusses the similar topic of infiltration.

Leadership: Expanding upon the Leadership feat, this section offers ways to incorporate leadership into the game so the PCs can attract hirelings and other followers. Discover advice on how leadership works in an intriguebased game, and the role that cohorts and followers can take on in such campaigns.

Nemeses: To amp up the dramatic thrusts and parries of an adversarial relationship, the nemesis system adds nasty stratagems an enemy can employ against the party. This section also includes suggestions for how to escalate the animosity, as well as specific strategies and XP rewards.

Pursuit: For long-lasting chases that take several days, these new pursuit rules make the back-and-forth of such engagements fun and strategic, offering opportunities to gain edges over your pursuers or quarries.

Research: Obscure information lies hidden within great libraries and other repositories of knowledge. The research system gives a procedure for digging into the ancient tomes and gleaning those rare pieces of information.

Spells of Intrigue: Many spells cause problems with an intrigue-based game by enabling characters to easily detect lies, charm creatures who have needed knowledge, or otherwise bypass social interactions. This section talks about these spells both in general terms and in specifics for certain prominent spells.


Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 102
Jockeying for position and favor is natural part of human social dynamics, as common in the armies of high-minded crusaders as in the courts of wicked nobles. The resulting web of allegiances lies at the heart of any intrigue-focused campaign, with individuals scheming to gain allies while undermining their enemies’ support. To represent these machinations, this section introduces two influence systems: one for individual influence and one for organizational influence. The first system provides a dynamic framework for social encounters in which the PCs gain or lose the favor of key NPCs, as well as a mechanic for calling in debts. The second system models the way the PCs’ actions affect their clout within allied organizations, and how far organizations at cross-purposes with the PCs will go to undermine them.