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Mastering Intrigue


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.

Individual Influence

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The most common model for social encounters involves a single exchange involving a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check. The following influence system serves as a more robust replacement for that basic system. It also encourages the entire party to participate in a social encounter, and can be used in encounters with multiple NPCs. In the individual influence system, participants try to change the targets’ opinions or court favor by succeeding at a variety of checks unique to each individual target. Known as influence checks, these are usually skill checks, though other types of checks may suffice, as an NPC may be especially impressed by other qualities, such as drinking ability or martial prowess.

In this system, a social encounter is divided into one or more phases. The length of a phase is flexible, and typically lasts 15 minutes to 1 hour—long enough for each PC to perform several minutes’ worth of actions per phase that are unrelated to influence checks (such as investigating a murder scene or surreptitiously defeating an assassin) without forgoing their chances to participate in the social encounter. GMs should determine beforehand how many phases a social encounter will last, thus determining how many chances the PCs will have to influence or learn about their targets—generally two to six. The GM should also determine whether the PCs’ actions can win them additional phases. For example, seducing a baroness or forestalling her carriage may both earn the PCs an extra phase in which to win her favor.

At the beginning of a phase, each PC selects an NPC. During each phase, a PC can either try to directly influence the NPC via an influence check, or attempt to learn more about that NPC with a discovery check—a check to learn about an NPC that can help with future influence checks during the same social encounter. The kinds of checks required for an influence check or a discovery check, known as influence skills, are unique to each individual. The PCs can learn an NPC’s influence skills through successful discovery checks (see Discovery Checks); otherwise, they must guess.

Discovery and Influence Check DCs

The appropriate DC for an influence check depends upon several factors. The table of standard influence DCs listed below provides a baseline for DCs for each average party level (APL). These DCs should be relatively easy for the PCs as a group (particularly those with access to aid another and the benefits from discovery), and they are generally appropriate for the skill that is most effective at influencing an NPC. To generate a typical influence check DC, add 5 to the base DC; add 10 to generate a difficult influence check DC. The DCs for skills in which many PCs have extremely high bonuses, such as Diplomacy and Perception, should be increased further to compensate. An NPC who is hard to influence might use the typical and difficult DCs for her influence skills, or possibly even higher DCs.

If a major event takes place during the social encounter, consider whether any of the NPCs’ influence DCs should change in response to the event. For example, if someone breaks into a sealed vault containing priceless treasures during the social encounter, law-abiding NPCs who suspect the PCs committed that crime become harder to influence.


Discovery Check

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Each PC who attempts a discovery check rolls separately, even if multiple PCs attempt to discover information about the same NPC during the same phase. This represents the PCs forming their own separate opinions and analyses.

At the beginning of the social encounter, each PC can attempt a relevant Knowledge check to recognize particularly prominent NPCs (see Discover and Influence Check DCs under Individual Infleunce). If any PC succeeds at this check for an NPC, then all PCs gain a +4 bonus on their discovery checks involving that NPC. Before attempting a discovery check, a PC chooses whether to try to learn the NPC’s strengths, the NPC’s weaknesses, or the skills that can be used to influence him. Each type of discovery check has its own requisite skill and DC. Sense Motive often works as a discovery skill, but it may not be the best choice because it’s so general. When a PC chooses to attempt a discovery check, the GM should tell the player the possible types of skill checks for each kind of discovery check (though not the DCs), and let her pick which to attempt. If a discovery check relies on a Knowledge skill, it requires observation in the current moment, not static knowledge.

A PC who succeeds at a discovery check learns one of the skills that can influence the NPC (starting with the skill with the lowest DC), one of his strengths, or one of his weaknesses. For every 5 by which the PC exceeds the DC, she learns an additional influence skill, strength, or weakness. Thus, a withdrawn but observant character can provide allies with a significant bonus (or help them avoid significant penalties) on future influence checks, making her as important to the group’s success as PCs who prefer the spotlight.

Influence Check

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Without a successful discovery check, a PC attempting an influence check must guess what an NPC’s influence skills are. A PC generally gains no benefit or hindrance when using a skill that cannot influence the NPC, though the GM may rule that multiple fumblings annoy the target and impose penalties on future rolls. Guidelines for setting influence check DCs appear Discover and Influence Check DCs under Individual Infleunce.

The PCs usually must succeed at more than one influence check to sway an NPC. No matter how many PCs speak to the same NPC, only one check to influence that NPC can be attempted during that phase. Additional checks serve as aid another attempts tied to the principal check. Succeeding at an influence check by a substantial margin provides additional benefits. Succeeding at an influence check by 5 or more counts as succeeding at an influence check and a discovery check (the PC chooses whether to learn one of the skills that influences the NPC, one of the NPC’s strengths, or one of the NPC’s weaknesses after the check is rolled instead of before the check, but the check otherwise functions as a successful discovery check). Succeeding at an influence check by 10 or more allows the PC to choose between gaining the benefit of succeeding at two influence checks or the benefits of an influence check and a discovery check (as if she had succeeded by only 5 or more).

Failing an influence check by a substantial margin makes it harder to influence the target in the future. If a PC fails an influence check by 5 or more, she cannot attempt to influence that NPC using the same skill for the remainder of that social encounter. A PC who fails an influence check by 10 or more cannot influence that NPC for the rest of the social encounter at all. For example, if the NPC’s influence skills are Diplomacy and Knowledge (arcana), a PC who fails a Diplomacy check against that NPC by 5 or more can still attempt to influence the NPC with Knowledge (arcana). These restrictions also apply to aiding another—a PC who fails by 10 or more irritates the NPC to the point that the party can no longer take advantage of her assistance.

A PC doesn’t necessarily realize whether or not she has succeeded at an influence check unless she succeeds by at least 5, but a character always knows when she has achieved the maximum possible influence over an NPC. Some NPCs might act as if they were being influenced even if they have no intention of listening to the PCs.

The GM may wish to limit the number of PCs who can interact with a single NPC during a phase. After all, the NPC can hold a conversation with only so many people at once, and if six characters cluster around, the interaction may seem more ominous than intended. Limiting the number of PCs who can simultaneously interact with an NPC to two or three (with the other PCs attempting discovery checks or focusing on other NPCs), helps the encounter flow briskly and prevents a single PC from taking too much of the spotlight.

Once the PCs succeed at a certain number of influence checks, they gain sway over that NPC, changing his opinion on an issue, earning a favor, or otherwise gaining some benefit or removing an obstacle.

Before a Social Event

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If the PCs know which NPCs they need to influence in advance, they can seek out information to assist them in doing so ahead of time, potentially gaining information from the social stat block before the encounter. To represent the results of such preparations, each PC can attempt one Knowledge-based discovery check in advance with a – 5 penalty. The GM can allow other discovery skills to work, but Sense Motive should never work in advance unless the PC is actively stalking the NPC, which might require additional Disguise or Stealth checks and could lead to negative consequences. If the PCs attempt a discovery check against a particularly prominent NPC in advance, the PCs can attempt the Knowledge check to receive a +4 on the discovery check in advance, as well (see Discovery Checks).

Active Opponents

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The PCs may not be the only ones seeking to influence prominent NPCs. An opposing party of NPCs at the same event can place additional pressure on the PCs to complete their task. Once either the PCs or the opposing party gain sway over an NPC (see Benefits of Influence), the other group can’t attempt further influence checks during that event. If the two groups are actively opposed, one group’s successful check causes the other group to take a cumulative –2 penalty on subsequent influence checks against that NPC, which can change the strategies the PCs might use. For instance, if the PCs notice the other group talking with a particular NPC, they have to decide whether to try to influence that NPC (thus foiling their rivals) or to yield that NPC to the other group and focus on influencing other NPCs.

Influence and Magic

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PCs can also use magic to assist in gaining influence over key NPCs. In most cases, casting mind-affecting or other intrusive spells is socially unacceptable or even criminal, so PCs who wish to use such magic should use discretion. Whenever a PC (or NPC) casts a spell, NPCs with the Spellcraft skill attempt to identify that spell. Even NPCs unfamiliar with magic are likely to assume that spells are intended for mischief, unnatural control, or other selfish ends. The most common schools of magic used in social situations are divination, enchantment, and illusion.

Divination spells can assist the PCs in similar ways to a discovery check. Spells such as detect magic and identify reveal active spells and magic items. Spells and items far beyond the reasonable means of an NPC may indicate that NPC is hiding something, or is more than she seems. Alignment-detecting spells reveal whether someone has an unusually strong or unexpected aura. Other divination spells, such as detect thoughts, pry directly into a target’s mind, and can provide valuable clues at the GM’s discretion, most commonly replicating a successful discovery check.

Enchantment spells and effects are extremely effective tools for increasing influence, but their use is dangerous. When cast during a social encounter, spells such as charm person grant a +5 circumstance bonus on influence checks in place of their normal spell effects, as long as the target fails the saving throw and remains unaware that she is under an enchantment effect. More powerful enchantments such as suggestion are unhelpful for gaining influence, since they compel limited actions for a time and then stop. Spells such as geas/quest or dominate person might obviate the need to sway an NPC, but the magical influence is obvious to many people interacting with the NPC. People typically react poorly to realizing that enchantment magic has been used on them. The consequences of getting caught range from the offending PC being unable to attempt further influence checks against that NPC at that social event, to the whole party being unable to attempt further influence checks against that NPC during that event, up to the party being kicked out of the event entirely or charged with a crime.

From innocuous glamers—such as magic that sustains illusory finery—to spells disguising an individual as a different person, illusion spells are versatile tools of deception. Many illusions that allow a saving throw require the viewers to study the illusion carefully or interact with it before they attempt a saving throw. In the context of the influence system, the first time a PC interacts with an NPC during a phase, the PC and the NPC each receive a saving throw against the other’s relevant illusions, as they are assumed to be studying each other carefully at some point during the first exchange. After that, participants generally become more complacent in the way they examine each other, so they receive saving throws against only illusions dealing with particularly specific aspects of their interaction. For example, a glamer to make a dress look nicer would grant a saving throw during the first phase of interaction, but it usually wouldn’t recur in later phases unless the topic of the dress came up in conversation.

Secret Identities and Hidden Allegiences

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When an NPC is being deceptive, it is possible that the PCs never discover the NPC’s true allegiance—even in the case of a recurring villain, as such an NPC’s exceptional skills may render his deceptions undetectable until later in the campaign. While Perception and Sense Motive checks are often used to oppose Disguise and Bluff checks, sometimes another skill might be more useful in discerning an impostor. For example, someone pretending to be a noble of a certain house could accidentally reveal his deception through his ignorance of facts that the noble should know.

The PCs themselves may also be interested in using secrecy and trickery. A PC may even be present at a large social event under more than one identity at the same time. All participants each typically attempt a Sense Motive and Perception check upon first encountering a deception and can attempt another check only if new lies or disguises are introduced during the event. However, each time a PC makes a claim or takes an action that seems implausible for the person she claims to be, nearby opponents can attempt another opposed check.

Divided Parties

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In general, this influence system assumes that the PCs share roughly the same goals, and that the party shares the total number of successful influence checks. Games developed around intrigue can produce unusual situations, though, and it is possible that the PCs may be split into groups working at cross-purposes, or, more likely, toward unrelated goals, where each purpose is separate but not in direct conflict. For example, Valeros and Seelah may want to influence the NPCs in the king’s court to support a war against the necromancer queen of a neighboring land, while Kyra and Ezren want to influence those same NPCs to gain support for Kyra to marry the princess. In such cases, each groups’ number of successful influence checks should be tracked separately; if their goals are unrelated rather than conflicting, one group’s influence over an NPC doesn’t take that NPC out of play for the others, as it would for an opposing group.

Benefits of Influence

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In a single encounter, the goal is often to convince an NPC to perform a specific favor. In longer-term social engagements, the PCs may need to build toward larger goals. Each time the PCs sway an NPC using the influence rules (gaining the number of successes listed in the NPC’s social stat block), they increase their influence level over that NPC by one step. For instance, if the PCs are unknown to an NPC who requires 3 successes to influence, after 3 successes, the PCs succeed in winning some of their target’s trust and thus increase their influence level from no sway to minor sway. An NPC the PCs have not yet influenced typically treats them as strangers.

No Sway: The NPC treats the PCs as any group of strangers.

Minor Sway: The NPC might perform small favors for the PCs that do not involve a significant expenditure of resources. The NPC speaks favorably about the PCs to others. The NPC does not interfere in the PCs’ plans unless they conflict with her goals.

Moderate Sway: The NPC might perform favors for the PCs that require some of her own resources or are time-consuming, as long as they do not threaten the NPC’s overall interests. The NPC actively seeks to convince people to work with the PCs. If the NPC’s plans conflict with the PCs’ goals, the NPC tries to work with the PCs to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the conflict.

Major Sway: The NPC assists the PCs with tasks that pose a significant risk to her position or status, and depending upon the circumstances, may risk her safety for them. The NPC advocates for the PCs, even when doing so is unpopular, and she undermines the PCs’ enemies. The NPC concedes a personal goal in order to allow the PCs to move forward with one of their plans, as long as they provide a suitable alternative.

Not all favors are reasonable, no matter how much sway the PCs gain over an NPC. For example, asking a cleric to betray her deity typically falls outside of the bounds of influence. Similarly, reaching the higher levels of influence should become increasingly difficult; the check DCs and the number of successes required increases by 2 for each progressive level of influence. Just as some NPCs are impossible to influence in a certain encounter, some NPCs will never become particularly friendly with the PCs, who cannot exercise more than moderate or even minor sway over them.

GMs also can use the influence system instead of Diplomacy to modify NPC attitudes. In this case, rather than using influence levels, each time the PCs successfully sway an NPC, the NPC’s attitude toward the PCs improves by one step. Most NPCs start at indifferent or unfriendly. An NPC whose attitude is not at least indifferent will always refuse requests for aid.

Countering Influence

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A character can attempt an influence check with the goal of lowering an enemy’s influence level over an NPC rather than raising her own. The DC for this kind of influence check is based on the enemy’s influence level with the NPC in question. The sabotaging character gains a +2 bonus on these checks if she has minor sway over that NPC, a +4 bonus if she has moderate sway, or a +6 bonus if she has major sway. Sabotaging an NPC’s influence level requires as many successes as the enemy would need to increase his influence level with that NPC. A sabotaging character who knows of an NPC’s strengths can use that knowledge to ascribe unfavorable characteristics to the enemy she hopes to sabotage. If these disparaging descriptions are true (or if the NPC believes them to be true), the saboteur gains a +2 bonus per strength on influence checks to counter the enemy’s influence.

This mechanic is appropriate when the saboteur and the enemy she is trying to sabotage are on roughly equal footing, or when the saboteur has a higher level of influence. A saboteur wishing to erode the influence of a far more trusted individual, such as a group seeking to convince a queen that her closest advisor is betraying her, either cannot attempt to lower the trusted individual’s influence level without first gathering substantial evidence against the advisor, or might not be able to lower the advisor’s influence level at all in some circumstances.

For example, suppose Merisiel has achieved moderate sway over the mayor, and Ezren has achieved minor sway over the mayor. The DC for Ezren to influence the mayor with Diplomacy is 23, with two successful checks required, and the DC for Merisiel to influence the mayor with Diplomacy is 27, with three successful checks required (since it is harder for her to move from holding moderate sway to major sway). If Merisiel wanted to lower Ezren’s influence over the mayor from minor sway to no sway, she would need to succeed at two DC 23 Diplomacy checks, with a +4 bonus from her moderate sway, to make a persuasive case that Ezren should not be trusted. Since the mayor is deeply religious, Merisiel reminds the mayor of Ezren’s detachment from religion to gain another +2 bonus. On the other hand, if Ezren wanted to lower Merisiel’s influence level with the mayor, he would need to succeed at three DC 27 Diplomacy checks, with a +2 bonus from his minor sway.


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Over time, a PC’s influence over an NPC is likely to wane if the PC doesn’t keep in contact with her (and continue making influence checks every once in a while), depending on the influence’s nature. Generally, the higher the influence level, the more effort the PC must commit and thus the faster the influence degrades with neglect. However, if the PCs achieve major sway over an NPC because she becomes deeply indebted to them, at the GM’s discretion their influence level may not degrade until the NPC feels she has repaid that debt, making it a matter of favors rather than time.

Social Stat Block

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For social encounters, GMs should build social stat blocks for important NPCs. Social stat blocks are very flexible, and can include any information relevant to the encounter, though most include the information below. Examples are listed here.

Name: The NPCs’ name, alignment, and established class.

Affiliation: This notes the NPC’s loyalties.

Secret Identity: Some NPCs have secret identities. There may not be any skill checks that would allow the PCs to detect such a secret identity (in which case no checks are listed), but if the NPC is disguised or the PCs have met this NPC before under another name, the skill check necessary to uncover the truth is listed here.

Background: This is a brief description of this NPC’s history and how she is relevant to the PCs.

Recognize: This is the check required to recognize the NPC by reputation or fame.

Appearance: This is a description of the NPC, including any characteristic features.

Introduction: This section describes how the NPC introduces herself to the PCs (or perhaps, how a herald or mutual acquaintance introduces them). The introduction should generally include hints about which skills are used for influence checks against this NPC, and may include an in-character quote, if that is helpful.

Personality: This is a short description of the NPC’s personality and demeanor or a list of adjectives that describe the NPC’s behavior. The more NPCs are present in a social encounter, the more important it is to make them distinctive so that the players can keep them straight.

Goals: This is a list of the NPC’s public goals.

Hidden Agenda: If your game utilizes intrigue, it’s unlikely that all NPCs are entirely up front about their goals. Any particularly secret objectives are found in this section, rather than in the goals entry.

Biases: Some NPCs have biases—subtle attitudes that influence an encounter. For example, an NPC may think favorably of half-orcs and be suspicious of elves. If the NPC’s biases affect a PC, apply a +2 or –2 circumstance modifier on that PC’s influence checks, depending on whether the bias is in the PC’s favor or not. If an NPC is strongly biased for or against a PC, the modifier may be even greater, but such strong biases are readily apparent. PCs can detect a bias with a successful DC 20 Sense Motive check.

Skills and Saves: Only a few of the NPC’s skills are likely to be relevant. Sense Motive and Perception are almost always necessary. If the NPC is hiding something major from the PCs, Bluff and Disguise are also important. This section should also include Spellcraft and likely saving throw modifiers if the spellcasting might occur during the event; Will saving throws are the most common for intrigue-related spells such as charm person or detect thoughts.

Analyze: A PC who succeeds at the listed check learns details about what skills or checks can influence the NPC. Each sentence should contain the information a single successful discovery check reveals.

Strengths: An NPC may be particularly resistant to certain tactics; such tactics are referred to as that NPC’s strengths. For example, a person with little patience for flattery may think less favorably of someone who showers her with compliments. The skills and DCs required to discover these strengths are listed here. A PC who incorporates an NPC’s strength into an influence check takes a –4 penalty on the check. Knowledge of an NPC’s strengths can be a powerful tool for sabotaging someone else’s attempt to gain influence over her—see the <%Countering Influence&Category=Individual Influence">Countering Influence section for more information.

Weaknesses: Most NPCs have at least one weakness. A weakness could be a deep-seated secret or insecurity, or a hobby that the NPC can talk about for days on end. The skills and DCs needed to discover these weaknesses are listed here. For each weakness a PC incorporates into her influence check, she gains a cumulative +2 bonus.

Influence Skills: The skills and DCs for each influence check are listed here. If a skill isn’t listed, it normally doesn’t work at all, but if a player presents a strong narrative reason why a skill should work, his GM can add it to the list. Diplomacy and Bluff are usually on the list of possible skills. If Diplomacy isn’t on the list of skills, there should be a reason in the NPC’s personality. For example, an NPC who intensely dislikes small talk and only wishes to converse only about arcane theory may not respond to Diplomacy. However, Diplomacy is rarely the best skill with which to influence someone; the DC of Diplomacy checks to influence an NPC is typically higher than the DC when using skills tailored to the NPC’s personality or interests. GMs should keep the PCs’ skills in mind when designing a social encounter so each PC has a way to contribute. Not every NPC can necessarily be influenced, in which case discovery checks reveal that the NPC is a lost cause.

Successes Needed: This lists the number of successful skill checks the PCs need to sway an NPC’s opinion.

Favor: The NPC might ask a favor of those he trusts. If so, a short description of the favor and what the PCs must do to accomplish it is listed here, as well as the benefit the PCs gain from successfully performing the favor.

Events: This is the place to describe external events that affect the PCs’ ability to influence this NPC, anything from the NPC leaving an event early to the NPC becoming suspicious of the PCs after someone robs her manor.

Benefit: This section details what the PCs gain if they sway this NPC.

Penalty: This section details what the PCs lose if they antagonize this NPC (if antagonizing her is possible).

Using the Individual Influence System

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Individual influence is great for situations such as high-stakes auctions, political lobbying, or convincing a guard to let the PCs go after they are framed and imprisoned. The following example uses the influence rules as the framework for a classic murder mystery.

Setting the Scene

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The PCs have been invited to a day of festivities at the estate of the hostess to discuss trade agreements and access to exotic markets. The hostess meets the PCs when they arrive late at night, sharing a drink with them before asking a servant to show them to their rooms in the nearby guest house (allow a single phase of influence or discovery checks against her during this time for the ostensible purpose of trade agreements). However, by the start of festivities the next morning, disaster strikes. A few minutes after the PCs and other guests begin arriving for breakfast, greeted by the hostess’s second husband, the butler discovers the hostess’s body. A brief argument ensues, with all the NPCs (and possibly the PCs as well) bickering about who should investigate and who might just be trying to hide evidence of the crime. Eventually, the NPCs agree that guards should accompany every person who leaves the drawing room, and the opportunity for influence begins. The PCs have a total of four phases in which to influence the NPCs and conduct their own investigations (under the guards’ watchful eyes).

What Happened

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The hostess’s close friend is in serious financial trouble, which she has hidden, continuing to present a veneer of wealth. To fund her continued lifestyle, she began to steal from the hostess. When the hostess caught her in the act, the close friend lashed out with a nearby object and accidentally killed the hostess. Horrified at what she had done and afraid of being caught, the close friend cleaned up the blood, then activated a scroll of dress corpse (see page 212) from the hostess’s first husband’s supply of scrolls, applied poison stolen from the butler’s supplies, and moved the body to the bedroom, all while avoiding the night guards through her careful study of their patterns used to assist her previous larceny.

The Value of Influence

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Influenced NPCs allow the PCs access to additional clues or restricted areas, as mentioned in their social stat blocks.

Dramatis Personae

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The following characters are available for influence during the murder mystery (the hostess is not available, as she is dead): the spy, the butler, the close friend, the rival investigator, and the second husband. The spy is the most complicated (since she has a secret identity), and her social stat block can be found below. The others have descriptions to assist in building their social stat blocks.

The Spy

CN female human rogue
Affiliation The spy is ostensibly a minor member of a littleknown noble house.
Secret Identity The spy is really an agent for a morally dubious merchant consortium.
Background The spy claims to be a representative of a fictitious noble house that she invented to gain access to the hostess’s estate and gather information for her patron. Although she was spying on the hostess’s house, she views her actions as strictly professional. She bore no ill will toward the lady of the house, and is horrified by her death.
Recognize Knowledge (nobility) DC 20 to recognize her noble cover identity (as she has been seeding stories about her cover identity and the family she invented).


Appearance This middle-aged human woman wears a rich green noble’s gown, a set of valuable but tasteful emerald-and- gold jewelry, and a pair of gold-filigreed shoes. She carries a silk fan that matches her gown.
Introduction If at least one of the PCs appears to be a noble, she introduces herself to that PC the morning after the murder. She is visibly distraught at the hostess’s death, and waves her fan briskly in an attempt to get more air. She (truthfully) explains to the PCs that she has been to several of the hostess’s parties, and was looking forward to furthering the alliance between their houses. If none of the PCs appears to be a noble, she remains aloof until a PC approaches her.
Personality The spy is cunning, haughty, and secretive.
Goal Ensure that the murderer is found guilty.
Hidden Agenda Ensure that her own snooping in the house’s records does not come to light, and if it does, that she does not take the fall for the murder.
Biases The spy has a bias toward merchants and nobles (+2) and a bias against agents of law, such as paladins, lawyers, and guards (–2).
Skills Bluff +16, Disguise +16, Perception +15, Sense Motive +15, Sleight of Hand +12


Analyze (Sense Motive DC 20) The fastest way to gain the spy’s respect is to demonstrate skill at trade (Profession [merchant]). PCs who succeed at a Knowledge (nobility) or Bluff check to impress her with their civility can influence her. She is impressed by dexterous parlor tricks and skilled legerdemain involving Sleight of Hand. Finally, the spy is well versed in persuasive arguments and sweet-talking, so Diplomacy is the most difficult way to influence her.
Strengths (Sense Motive DC 20) The spy does not appreciate being intimidated or threatened, and her training as a spy has prepared her to deflect these approaches. A PC who includes a threat in an influence check against her takes a –4 penalty on the check.
Weaknesses (Sense Motive DC 20) The spy appreciates those who are not sticklers for the rules and who understand that business flourishes in gray areas. She also appreciates those who truthfully (or with a believable lie) claim that they don’t suspect her of the murder.


Influence Checks Profession (merchant) DC 15; Bluff, Knowledge (nobility), or Sleight of Hand DC 20; Diplomacy DC 25
Successes Needed 3 checks
Benefit If the PCs influence the spy, she tells the PCs she heard a crashing sound from the direction of the drawing room on the night of the murder. She says she was having trouble sleeping that night, and was awake in her room. If the PCs present proof that she is lying about her whereabouts, she admits that she was in the records room—though she does not admit to her allegiance or what she was searching for in particular—and offers to aid the PCs in their investigation in exchange for their agreement not to disclose her activities that night.
Penalty If the spy learns that the PCs have discovered her snooping and that they are telling other NPCs, she plants a clue that implicates the PCs in the murder.

The Butler

The butler is actually an accomplished alchemist, and thus also serves as a doctor. If influenced, she allows the PCs to search her private research room while she observes. The butler keeps poisons for medicinal purposes. The poison the real murderer used as a cover came from the butler’s supply. The butler claims that some of her poisons and medicines have gone missing, however (which is true, since the close friend has been stealing medical supplies to sell). Until the PCs influence her, she suspects that the thief might have been the PCs.

The Close Friend

As mentioned earlier, the close friend is the murderer. She is genuinely distraught about the situation and full of grief over her friend’s death. However, she does her best to avoid being caught. She feigns being influenced quickly (after one apparent success) and offers to help the PCs investigate or influence others.

The Rival Investigator

The hostess’s accountant is also a fan of detective stories and fancies herself an amateur investigator. Extremely detail-oriented, she noticed the use of dress corpse, keeping it to herself. She suspects the PCs because no one else present should have had access to the sort of magic adventurers do, and adventurers are known to kill people with weapons, rather than expensive poison. She is extremely antagonistic toward the PCs, attempting to deny them access at every turn. They can’t influence her without sufficient evidence that they have been framed (evidence that they conclusively didn’t plant), but once they do, she allows them access to the records room and shares the clues she has discovered so far (including the remains of the bloodstain at the true murder scene, if the PCs haven’t noticed it yet).

The Second Husband

The second husband stands to inherit the hostess’s vast fortune because she never had children. He is legitimately distraught by her death. The second husband is known to have insomnia and was out of his bedroom for the entire night. He was in the garden at the time of the murder, so he didn’t notice anything. If the PCs gain sway over him, he allows them full access to the bedroom (the apparent murder scene).

Organizational Influence

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The organizational influence system provides the GM with tools to track the PCs’ social cachet within organizations. Small organizations seeking to make their mark on society may allow the PCs a great deal of clout within them, but are limited in what they can offer. Large organizations, on the other hand, are typically more difficult to influence, but can bring much more power to bear on an area at large.

Influence Points and Ranks

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The organizational influence system uses influence points to track the opinion of an organization concerning the PCs. When the PCs first interact with an organization, they typically start with 0 influence points, and hold no control over the organization’s actions. If the PCs demonstrate their value to the organization, they can gain influence points, representing their growing ability to call in favors. If the PCs repeatedly fail or work against an organization, they lose influence points (see Gaining Influence Points and Losing Influence Points). The PCs’ influence point total with an organization can be a negative number—the lower the total, the more resources the organization is willing to commit to actively oppose the PCs.

The PCs’ influence points help determine the number of resources an organization is willing to commit to help or hinder them, but it is not the only component of that calculation. If the PCs seek to build a positive relationship with an organization, they may find themselves limited in what benefits they can gain until they perform certain tasks. For example, most organizations limit the number of resources they commit to nonmembers, so PCs may need to officially join to gain access. On the other hand, an organization at odds with the PCs should not provide the same response to minor insults from the PCs as it does to the PCs crippling one of its major operations. The nine influence ranks presented below take into account tasks that the PCs may accomplish to pass to fundamentally alter their relationship with an organization (see Table 3–1 under Favors for examples). To reach a new influence rank, the PCs must accumulate (or lose) a certain number of influence points, as decided by the GM, and perform any required tasks that the GM sets. See the sidebar Influence Thresholds below for guidelines on setting the required number of influence points for each rank. The possible influence ranks, and their meanings, are presented below.

Influence Thresholds

The number of influence points required to shift from one influence rank to the next sets the pace for how quickly the PCs’ power in organizations can change. The three main factors that play into setting influence thresholds are the length of the campaign, the interest level of the players in exploring their interactions with organizations, and the power and personality of the organization itself. Short story arcs generally require lower thresholds than long campaigns. Some groups of players would rather slowly earn influence within a difficult organization, while others would rather see how quickly their PCs can become powerful in multiple organizations. Finally, within a campaign, weaker organizations typically allow the PCs to gain influence ranks more quickly than prominent ones.

With all of these factors in mind, the following ranges provide guidelines for determining the number of total influence points a character must gain to reach positive ranks, or lose to reach negative ranks. These thresholds are for a weak organization. For a moderately prominent organization, multiply the numbers by 2. For a strong organization, multiply by 3, and for a preeminent organization, multiply by 4. For more details on deciding the prominence of an organization, see Prominence.

Rank 1 or –1: From 1 to 5 total influence points.

Rank 2 or –2: From 3 to 8 total influence points.

Rank 3 or –3: From 7 to 12 total influence points.

Rank 4 or –4: From 13 to 18 total influence points.

NPC Attitudes

The PCs’ influence rank with an organization determines the typical starting attitude of members who have heard of the PCs. The starting attitudes of individual members may vary.

Hunted, Hated, or Disliked (Rank –2 or below): Hostile.

Known Opponent (Rank –1): Unfriendly.

Unknown (Rank 0): Indifferent.

Known Ally (Rank 1): Friendly.

Respected, Admired, or Revered (Rank 2 or above): Helpful.

Positive Ranks

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At these ranks, an organization either doesn’t care about the PCs or considers them allies.

Unknown (Rank 0): The organization either doesn’t know who the PCs are, or does not believe they are relevant.

Known Ally (Rank 1): The PCs’ actions have proven that they are aligned with the organization’s goals. One or more PCs may be low-ranking members.

Respected (Rank 2): The PCs have performed significant services for the organization. Some low-ranking members of the organization look up to the PCs. One or more PCs are members of the organization in good standing.

Admired (Rank 3): Average organization members admire the PCs. Some low-ranking members may have strong loyalties to the PCs. The PCs have notable positions within the organization.

Revered (Rank 4): While the PCs are not the official leaders of the organization, they are key members. The PCs can direct and shape policy.

Negative Ranks

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At these ranks, an organization actively opposes the PCs.

Known Opponent (Rank –1): The organization’s opinion of the PCs is unfavorable. It may act against the PCs if they are interfering in its affairs, but the organization mostly focuses on its own goals.

Disliked (Rank –2): The organization commits some resources to targeting the PCs even when the PCs are not actively interfering with its goals, and retaliates when the PCs acts against it.

Hated (Rank –3): The organization seeks to discredit, humiliate, or kill the PCs, and commits substantial resources to doing so. However, the organization ultimately prioritizes its long-term power and stability over harming the PCs.

Hunted (Rank –4): The organization seeks to discredit, humiliate, or kill the PCs, and is willing to sacrifice enough time, resources, and lives to markedly weaken itself in the pursuit of this goal. Even the organization’s leaders may risk their lives in pursuit of the PCs’ downfall.

Gaining Influence Points

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As the PCs perform tasks that benefit an organization, they gain influence points. Performing favors requested by an organization is the most effective way for the PCs to accrue influence points with that organization. A typical favor earns the PCs from 2 to 5 influence points, depending upon how difficult and dangerous the favor is to complete. See the Favors section for more details. The PCs can also accrue influence points with an organization by taking actions that coincidentally further the organization’s interests. Such actions typically earn the PCs 1 or 2 influence points. For example, if the PCs apprehend a notorious jewel thief who has been stealing from their own coffers (as well as those of local nobles), they may gain an influence point with the local nobility. The PCs can also gain influence points by building trust with a member of the organization. The personal influence system found at the beginning of this section is one good way to create an encounter based around improving this NPC’s opinion of the PCs, while the verbal dueling system on pages 176–181 is another. The number of organizational influence points that the PCs can earn from gaining the approval of a single NPC within the organization typically ranges from 1 to 5. Backing a rank-and-file member of the organization is worth at most 1 influence point, while the backing of one of an organization’s leaders is worth 5 influence points, and may be worth more in extraordinary circumstances, at the GM’s discretion.

Losing Influence Points

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The PCs generally won’t actively seek to lose influence points with an organization. However, the PCs’ actions over the course of a campaign are likely to put them at odds with one or more organizations, and the PCs may inadvertently harm organizations that they do not wish to antagonize. Whenever the PCs actively sabotage an organization’s interests, they lose from 2 to 5 influence points with the organization. If the PCs take actions that coincidentally work against the organization’s interests, they instead lose 1 or 2 influence points. If the PCs horribly botch an attempt to perform a favor for an organization, they may similarly lose 1 or 2 influence points. If the PCs damage a prominent member’s reputation or finances, they lose from 1 to 3 influence points, depending on the extent of the damage and the power that member wields within the organization. The PCs also lose influence points if they harm a prominent member of the organization. Killing members of any organization is a particularly effective way to lose influence. For most organizations, any time the PCs kill one or more members of an organization, they lose at least 5 influence points per incident. If the organization is a primary antagonist of the campaign or story arc, the GM may consider using the nemesis system on pages 136–141 to complement the organization influence rules, particularly if the organization is led by a single individual.

The most crippling blow to the PCs’ reputation with organization is betrayal. To be considered traitors to the organization, the PCs must violate the organization’s fundamental tenets while using the organization’s own resources against it. If an organization that favors the PCs becomes convinced of the PCs’ betrayal, the PCs immediately lose a number of influence points equal to twice their current total, essentially reversing their standing with the group. In general, the higher the PCs’ influence rank, the more evidence the organization requires before it considers any accusations of treachery credible. If an organization declares the PCs traitors, it is possible (though difficult) for them to redeem their reputation. In general, this process requires the PCs to track down and discredit the source of the slanderous evidence. Doing so restores the PCs’ original influence point total, and likely earns them additional rewards from the organization for unmasking the true threat against it. If they only partially exonerate themselves, they may regain some but not all of their influence points.

Organization Interactions

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The PCs’ interactions with organizations are often only a piece of a larger political tapestry. Alliances and rivalries between organizations shape how each organization reacts to the PCs’ actions. If two organizations are rivals, they typically require the PCs to choose a side. The PCs may automatically lose influence points with one for supporting the other. For example, if the PCs perform a favor for one faction during a war and gain influence points with that faction, they lose an equal number of influence points with that faction’s rivals. In less extreme circumstances, the PCs may lose half as many influence points as they gain.

While rivalries between organizations make holding split loyalties difficult, allegiances between multiple organizations can help the PCs accrue influence faster than they could otherwise, and provide the PCs with access to additional resources. If the PCs help or harm one of two allied organizations, treat them as coincidentally working for or against the second organization’s interests for the purposes of the number of influence points the PCs gain or lose.

As the campaign unfolds, the web of alliances and rivalries between organizations may shift. A sudden shift in allegiances does not retroactively adjust the PCs’ influence point total.


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An organization’s prominence represents the political and social power of that organization in its home community or area of influence. The categories of prominence are weak, moderate, strong, and preeminent. In general, a weak organization can provide only simple assistance within its limited area of concern. Most weak organizations are eager to recruit new members to increase their prominence, though some appreciate the lack of attention they draw from outside forces. A gang of pickpockets is an example of a weak organization. In comparison, a moderate organization holds an established place in the power structure of its local area, and has some connections and contacts with other local organizations. A thieves’ guild is likely to be a moderate organization. A strong organization, on the other hand, may be at the top of the power structure for its area of concern, or it may be one of several organizations that hold power on a regional or national scale. The cathedral of a major deity in a state with multiple religious traditions is likely to be a strong organization. Finally, a preeminent organization is the undisputed head of the power structure in its sizable area of concern—the ruling body of a nation is an example of a preeminent organization, as is a merchants’ guild that effectively controls trade in a large region.


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Favors lie at the heart of the organizational influence system. When the PCs perform a favor for an organization, they can either gain influence points, or they can earn a favor from the organization in return. The PCs can spend favors that they have earned to gain benefits from the organization. The PCs can slowly earn favors over time, after a certain number of sessions or amount of in-game time that is appropriate for the campaign. This rate also provides a guideline for modeling the behavior of organizations.

Typically, this rate is an appropriate benchmark for how often allied organizations approach the PCs with requests, as well as how often opposed organizations act against them. In general, if an organization is willing to grant a benefit to the PCs when they have a positive rank with that organization, it is willing to grant that same benefit to someone acting against the PCs should they attain the corresponding negative rank.

Favors: Sometimes, tasks for the PCs to complete as favors to an organization arise naturally out of the events of the campaign. However, at other times, the PCs may actively seek to assist an organization at a time when such tasks are not so forthcoming. The 28 favors on Table 3–1 are generic enough to apply to almost any organization. Some of the tasks near the top of the chart are too inconsequential for established members, while the tasks at the bottom of the chart are too significant for initiates. To use this chart, roll a d20, and add twice the PCs’ influence rank to the result.

Benefits: Each organization provides its own unique set of possible benefits to the PCs based on their influence rank. The PCs can spend a favor that they have earned to gain one of the benefits that they have unlocked. Some benefits become free once the PCs become sufficiently influential in an organization, allowing the PCs to make use of them without expending a favor (see Benefits under Organization Stat Block).

Table 3-1: Favors

1Deliver a message to a member of the organization.
2Perform a disgusting or unpleasant chore for the organization.
3Assist the organization in gathering information in preparation for an upcoming mission.
4Purchase and deliver supplies to a member of the organization.
5Carry out the duties of a specific low-ranking member of the organization for 1 week.
6Produce verbal or written propaganda in favor of the organization.
7Mediate a disagreement between members of the organization.
8Provide spellcasting services or other specialized tasks to the organization for several days.
9Credit the organization for your own publicly popular actions.
10Collect money for the organization.
11Assist in the construction or renovation of a building for the organization’s use.
12Investigate the disappearance of an ally of the organization.
13Donate a substantial amount of money to the organization.
14Recruit a new member to the organization.
15Obtain a significant item for the organization.
16Defeat a challenging foe of the organization. The foe’s CR must be equal to or greater than the party’s APL + 2.
17Help a member of the organization escape a dangerous situation.
18Collect valuable information for the organization.
19Mentor a new member of the organization.
20Convince a powerful individual to cooperate with the organization.
21Cover up evidence of an indiscretion tied to the organization.
22Plan and execute a dangerous operation to achieve a difficult goal.
23Sabotage an organization with opposing goals.
24Repay the organization’s debts by performing a challenging task for another organization.
25Investigate a possible traitor within the organization.
26Establish a branch of the organization in a new district or city.
27Represent the organization in a meeting with extraordinary stakes.
28Carry out the duties of a key member of the organization for 1 week.

Clandestine Operations

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The base organizational influence system assumes that the PCs act as a unified group and do not take extraordinary effort to conceal their identities and activities. In an intrigue-based campaign, these assumptions are not always accurate. The simplest type of clandestine operation to adjudicate is a single secret favor. If the PCs perform a favor for an organization and conceal their actions, do not decrease the PCs’ influence points with that organization’s enemies. The PCs can use secret identities to perform more complicated maneuvers, such as playing multiple sides of a conflict, or perhaps even infiltrating an organization as spies. As long as an organization knows that the PCs are infiltrating its rivals, that organization’s members continue to believe that they have the PCs’ loyalty; they typically overlook minor actions that the PCs take against the organization, so long as the PCs provide a plausible justification for their misdeeds.

If the PCs use secret identities, track their influence under each set of identities separately as long as they maintain the ruse. Maintaining two distinct sets of identities over a long period of time should be challenging, but not impossible if the PCs are careful. Common features between the identities—anything from physical features or mannerisms to equipment, fighting style, or associates— present the threat of exposure. If the PCs rise to high influence ranks in two opposing organizations, their risk of being caught increases significantly. The vigilante class is particularly well suited to the challenge of maintaining multiple identities.

If an organization figures out that the PCs are maintaining two separate identities, the PCs’ influence point total for that organization may change drastically. If both sets of the PCs’ identities are aligned with an organization, the PCs’ influence point total may go as high as the sum of the points they earned under both identities. Conversely, if both sets of the PCs’ identities are aligned against an organization, the PCs’ influence point total may go as low as a negative number equal to the sum of the two. Adding the two values sometimes allows a single action to count twice—this reflects that the organization may either respect the PCs’ dedication to their cause, or revile the PCs for their dedication to opposing it. In most cases, however, the resulting change in influence should be less extreme than a direct sum, even if the organization has a favorable opinion of both identities. If the PCs are working for two opposed organizations, see the last paragraph of Losing Influence for details on how an organization responds to being betrayed.

Organization Stat Block

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An organization’s stat block is arranged as follows.

Name: The organization’s name.

Alignment and Prominence: An organization’s alignment is the alignment that most closely represents its policies and actions. While individual members of an organization may be of any alignment, an organization’s key NPCs are typically within one step of the organization’s overall alignment. An organization’s prominence may be weak, moderate, strong, or preeminent. More details on prominence appear under Prominence.

Size: An organization’s size is an approximation of its number of active members.

Key Members: Key members of an organization are both visible leaders and shadowy schemers who have significant pull.

Values: An organization may value any number of traits in its members, such as creativity, generosity, dependability, skill at particular tasks, or social station.

Public Goals: All but the most clandestine organizations share some of their goals with the general public.

Private Goals: These are the private goals both of the organization as a whole and of key members. Sometimes, the private goal of a key member might conflict with the private goal of the organization.

Allies and Enemies: Organizations do not exist in a vacuum. An organization’s prominent allies and enemies are noted here. PCs can gain or lose influence with an organization based on their interactions with its allied or opposed organizations.

Membership Requirements: Most organizations have a procedure for officially joining them, and expect their members to satisfy ongoing commitments (like paying dues).

Influence Limitations: Often, the PCs need to perform a specific task for an organization before they can raise their influence past a certain threshold. The most common requirement is for the PCs to join an organization, but organizations may require more complicated tasks or favors before counting the PCs among their most trusted allies.

Benefits: This section lists favors that the PCs can call in based on their influence rank with the organization. The PCs can always choose benefits on the available list for their current rank or a lower rank within the organization, and, at the GM’s discretion, the PCs might be able to access the benefits for lower ranks for a decreased number of favors, or even for free, if the PCs request the benefit a reasonable number of times. To approximate the benefits that the PCs can gain from an organization outside of its base of operations, the GM should decrease the PCs’ effective influence rank appropriately, to a minimum of Rank 0 if the PCs are entirely beyond the organization’s reach.

New Benefits: This section details the benefits the PCs can earn from the organization beyond those listed in the Common Benefits section.

Common Benefits

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The following benefits appear in many organizations’ stat blocks, and are defined below.

Borrow Resources: Many organizations allow members in good standing to borrow money or items for short periods of time. PCs can borrow money or items worth a total amount listed in parentheses. If the PCs do not repay the loan in a timely manner, they risk losing influence points. Typically, the PCs cannot borrow resources from an organization if they have outstanding debts, and some organizations require collateral. Organizations are more likely to have items that are relevant to their own interests—a mercenary group might loan weapons and armor, but not holy symbols or arcane books, for example.

Command Team: When the PCs reach a high influence rank within an organization, the organization typically allows the PCs to lead a team of its members on a mission. The PCs are expected to protect this team and bring the members back alive. PCs can lead groups of the size and strength listed in each favor’s entry.

Gather Information: The PCs can ask several members of the organization to assist them in gathering information about a particular subject, and gain a +4 circumstance bonus on all Diplomacy checks to gather such information.

Put in a Good Word: The organization promotes the PCs’ reputation among its allies. The PCs gain a number of influence points equal to their rank with the organization with one of the group’s allied organizations.

Reciprocal Benefits: The organization leverages its ties to one of its closest allies for the PCs’ gain. The PCs can purchase a benefit from the benefits list of a closely allied organization by expending two favors. Treat the PCs’ influence rank with the allied organization as 1 lower than their rank with the initial organization.

Sample Organizations

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The sample organizations in this section span all possible levels of influence. The organizations that are relevant to each GM depend upon the campaign.

Other ideas for organizations that are not detailed below include an assassin’s guild, a bardic college, a merchant’s guild, a museum, a secret society, and a university.

Small-Time Gang

CN weak organization
Size 15 members
Key members
Greedy Jenny (LE female human sorcerer 1)
Martin Quickfingers (CN male halfling rogue 2)
Values This small-time gang of petty crooks is always willing to accept new members who prove their skills.
Public Goals When caught, these criminals claim that they only steal enough to survive.
Private Goals Martin would like to recruit other down-on-their luck individuals to join the growing organization, while Jenny cares only about her own profits.
Allies The small-time gang is allied with local beggars, who provide them with information in exchange for small amounts of food and clothing.
Enemies The town guard has not yet caught wind of these thieves, but it would oppose them if it knew of their activities.
Membership Requirements The PCs must steal an item worth at least 20 gp, and donate half the value of the item to the small-time gang.
Influence Limitations A PC must join the thieves formally to rise above Rank 1. If a PC rises to Rank 3, Martin sees that PC as a threat and tries to eliminate her. Defeating Martin makes that PC the leader of the organization, and increases her rank to 4.
Benefits These petty thieves band together to help each other survive and profit.
Rank 1: borrow resources (10 gp), case (+6), lookout (1 way, +6)
Rank 2: borrow resources (50 gp), diversion (+6), gather information, pickpocket (+8), put in a good word
Rank 3: borrow resources (250 gp), reciprocal benefits
Rank 4: borrow resources (500 gp), command team (1d4 1st-level rogues)
New Benefits The petty thieves grant the following unusual benefits.
Case: A group of thieves cases an area, searching for guards, hiding places, and entrances. The thieves’ total Perception skill bonus is +6.
Diversion: A group of thieves creates a diversion to allow the PCs to sneak past guards or other watchful eyes. The thieves’ total Bluff skill bonus is +6.
Lookout: A thief acts as a lookout, monitoring one direction for oncoming guards or witnesses. The thief’s total Perception skill bonus is +6.
Pickpocket: A thief attempts to take a specific item from a specific person. The thief’s total Sleight of Hand skill bonus is +8. If the thief believes the situation is too dangerous, she informs the PCs and refuses to attempt the task—in this case, the favor is not expended.

Thieves' Guild

LE moderate organization
Size 200 members
Key members
Chief (LE male half-orc ranger 7)
Kalgeen (LE female human wererat rogue 5)
Values This thieves’ guild has a strict code of conduct for its members, who must look out for each other at all times and may never steal from each other’s friends or relatives. The guild values loyalty and resourcefulness.
Public Goals The guild has no publicly stated goals.
Private Goals The guild seeks to expand its reach into additional settlements.
Allies The guild is allied with a local group of merchants.
Enemies The thieves’ guild has made enemies among the organizations that it regularly targets and local law enforcement officials.
Membership Requirements The PCs must steal an item worth at least 250 gp, and donate half the value of the item to the thieves’ guild.
Influence Limitations A PC must formally join the thieves’ guild to rise to Rank 2. To rise to Rank 4, the PCs must execute a complex heist (see pages 118–129).
Benefits While this thieves’ guild cannot operate openly, it helps its members scope out potential jobs.
Rank 1: borrow resources (100 gp), case (+10), lookout (2 ways, +10)
Rank 2: borrow resources (500 gp), diversion (+10), gather information, pickpocket (+12), put in a good word
Rank 3: borrow resources (2,500 gp), reciprocal benefits, remove evidence, rob, search black market
Rank 4: borrow resources (5,000 gp), command team (1d4 3rd-level rogues or 3d4 1st-level rogues)
New Benefits The thieves’ guild grants the following unusual benefits.
Case: Per the benefit under small-time gang above, except the thieves’ total Perception skill bonus is +10.
Diversion: Per the benefit under small-time gang above, except the thieves’ total Bluff skill bonus is +10.
Lookout: A pair of thieves act as lookouts, monitoring up to two directions for oncoming guards or witnesses. The thieves’ total Perception skill bonuses are +10.
Pickpocket: Per the benefit under small-time gang above, except the thief’s total Sleight of Hand skill bonus is +12.
Remove Evidence: A group of thieves carefully enters a scene where the PCs committed a crime and removes evidence. This eliminates any obvious clues, such as the body of a victim or notes the PCs left at the scene, and increases the Perception DC to find more subtle clues by 5.
Rob: The thieves’ guild sends an agent to steal a specific item from a secured location. The agent has a +10 total skill bonus on Stealth checks and a +12 total skill bonus on Disable Device checks. This benefit costs from 1 to 3 favors, depending upon the danger involved. The thief expects the PCs to pay half the value of the stolen item.
Search Black Market: The thieves’ guild locates any type of item whose value is up to the base value of the settlement, even if the item is illegal in that settlement, and arranges for the PCs to purchase it.

Mage's Guild

N strong organization
Size 520 members
Key members
Archmage Theona Tethril (N female human diviner 9)
Master of Wards Falariel (NG male elf abjurer 7)
Values The mages’ guild values curiosity, creativity, and magical aptitude.
Public Goals To regulate the use of magic for the public good.
Private Goals The mages’ guild seeks out arcane knowledge that it deems too dangerous and stores such information in its heavily secured secret library. The master of wards protects the books from public access, while the archmage uses them to learn more about the people who would abuse the dangerous knowledge contained within the tomes.
Allies The mages’ guild is on good terms with several nearby universities and the alchemists’ union.
Enemies The mages’ guild has made several enemies among evil cults and other organizations that make use of profane knowledge.
Membership Requirements To join the mages’ guild, a PC must spend 1 week teaching spells to guild members, or bring a spell or bit of arcane knowledge to the guild that it does not already possess in its libraries.
Influence Limitations The PCs must all join the mages’ guild before they can reach Rank 2.
Benefits This guild of mages provides training to its members, and casts spells for them.
Rank 1: borrow resources (100 gp), spell library (Core Rulebook spells only)
Rank 2: arcane library, borrow resources (750 gp), gather information, item crafting, put in a good word, spell library spellcasting (1st- and 2nd-level spells)
Rank 3: borrow resources (1,500 gp), reciprocal benefits, spellcasting (3rd- and 4th-level spells)
Rank 4: borrow resources (4,000 gp), spellcasting (5th-level spells)
New Benefits The mages’ guild grants the following unusual benefits.
Arcane Library: The PCs gain access to the guild’s library, allowing them to potentially learn secrets relevant to their current adventures (consider using the research system on pages 148–153 to handle research in the arcane library).
Item Crafting: The mages’ guild crafts a custom-ordered collection of scrolls, potions, or wondrous items for the PCs. The items cost their usual market value in gold pieces plus 1 favor for every 2 days of crafting required.
Spell Library: The mages’ guild provides the PCs with access to its extensive library of spells. The PCs can learn a spell in the library. Spells from the Core Rulebook cost 1 favor, and all other spells that are available cost 2 favors.
Spellcasting: The PCs can expend favors instead of paying the typical cost for spellcasting services. A 1st- or 2nd-level spell costs 1 favor, a 3rd- or 4th-level spell costs 2 favors, and a 5th-level spell costs 3 favors. The cost and availability of spellcasting is based upon the levels of the guild’s members (in this guild, a 5th-level spell always comes from the archmage herself, and consequently is quite expensive).

Crime Syndicate

NE preeminent organization
Size 15,000 members
Key members
Lady Alixis Drosain/Lyra (N/NE female human vigilante 12)
Nikolas Trivoy (N male human investigator 7)
Whisper (NE female human slayer 10)
Zadreni (N male human bard 9)
Values The syndicate values skill and ambition, but also discretion and loyalty.
Public Goals The crime syndicate’s public goals are to manage and regulate crime, to deliver valuable goods and services, and to invigorate the local economy.
Private Goals Overall, the syndicate’s members seek wealth, power, and prestige. While Lyra has emerged as the undisputed leader of the syndicate, the vigilante will not be satisfied until she controls the open market as well, under her social identity of Lady Drosain. Nikolas is growing increasingly suspicious of Lyra, and he painstakingly seeks material he could leverage against her.
Allies While few organizations would publicly admit to an alliance with the crime syndicate, many groups benefit from under-the-table dealings.
Enemies The crime syndicate has made enemies of several prominent organizations in nearby nations, including the royal house of a neighboring kingdom.
Membership Requirements Steal a unique and iconic item, such as the prize painting in a museum’s collection. Alternatively, establish a legal business whose illegal side dealings provide the PCs with a net profit of at least 100 gp per month.
Influence Limitations Each time the PCs wish to reach a new rank, they must prove their worth to the organization, with a task more spectacular than their last demonstration. The syndicate has plenty of members, and does not spare time for those who are unwilling to prove their worth. PCs must declare their allegiance to reach Rank 1, and they must become full members before they can reach Rank 2.
Benefits This crime syndicate can protect its members from the consequences of all but the most heinous crimes.
Rank 1: borrow resources (100 gp), case (+15), diversion (+15), gather information, lookout (4 ways, +15)
Rank 2: borrow resources (1,000 gp), put in a good word, remove evidence, rob, search black market
Rank 3: borrow resources (5,000 gp), command team (1d4 NPCs of 3rd level, or 3d4 NPCs of 1st level), destroy evidence, market manipulation, reciprocal benefits
Rank 4: black market mastery, borrow resources (15,000 gp), command team (1d4 NPCs of 6th level, or 5d4 NPCs of 3rd level)
New Benefits The crime syndicate grants the following unusual benefits.
Black Market Mastery: The crime syndicate explores the full extent of its black-market contacts to find an item for the PCs. It can locate almost any type of item whose value is below the settlement’s base value. The PCs can use black market mastery to search for one item below the settlement’s base value per favor they expend. Alternatively, the PCs can use black market mastery to search for a single item above the settlement’s base value, at the cost of 3 favors. There is a 50% chance each month that the syndicate locates the requested item. If the PCs seek a unique item, the syndicate may be able to provide the PCs with the location of that item for the cost of 2 favors.
Case: Per the benefit under small-time gang, except the thieves’ total Perception skill bonus is +15.
Destroy Evidence: The crime syndicate makes evidence of a crime that the PCs committed disappear. This ability functions as remove evidence (see thieves' guild above), except that the Perception DC to find any evidence at the crime scene increases to 30 (or by 10, whichever is higher). The syndicate also discourages witnesses from testifying against the PCs, using a combination of intimidation, bribery, and even memory-altering magic. This benefit costs 3 favors.
Diversion: Per the benefit under small-time gang, except the thieves’ total Bluff skill bonus is +15.
Lookout: A group of thieves act as a lookouts, monitoring up to four directions for oncoming guards or witnesses. The thieves’ total Perception skill bonuses are +15. This ability costs 2 favors. Alternatively, the PCs can purchase the lookout ability as listed under the thieves’ guild for 1 favor.
Market Manipulation: The crime syndicate can manipulate market forces to drive business away from the PCs’ rivals and toward any businesses the PCs own. This ability produces an amount of additional money for the PCs that depends upon the extent of the manipulation. This windfall comes in the form of increased results using whichever rules you are using to determine the success of the PCs’ businesses (such as the downtime rules). For each favor spent, the PCs can earn at most 1,000 gp (to a maximum of 5,000 gp).
Remove Evidence: Per the benefit under thieves’ guild.
Rob: Per the benefit under thieves’ guild.
Search Black Market: Per the benefit under thieves’ guild.

National Military

LN preeminent organization
Size 18,000 members
Key members
General Agnar (LG female dwarf fighter 10)
General Rortian (LN male human cavalier 12)
Values The military values order, discipline, loyalty, and service.
Public Goals The military’s goal is to protect the people of its nation and to fight against its enemies.
Private Goals General Rortian seeks to enhance his personal glory by embarking on a campaign to expand his home nation’s territory.
Allies The military of this nation is on good terms with most political organizations within the nation. It is formally allied with the militaries of allied nations.
Enemies The enemies of this military are the political and military organizations within enemy nations. Membership Requirements Joining the military as a recruit requires the PCs to undergo training and prove their ability to follow orders.
Influence Limitations Most militaries maintain a strict hierarchy of command. The PCs must be promoted to a higher military rank before they can increase their influence rank within the military.
Benefits This military force takes pride in its highly trained and well-equipped soldiers.
Rank 1: acquire arms (350 gp), borrow resources (100 gp)
Rank 2: acquire arms (750 gp), borrow resources (750 gp), command team (1d4 1st-level warriors), gather information, put in a good word, retrain
Rank 3: acquire arms (magic), borrow resources (2,500 gp), command team (5d4 3rd-level martial NPCs), reciprocal benefits
Rank 4: borrow resources (18,500 gp), command legion, command team (70 HD worth of NPCs, none of which can be more than 7th level)
New Benefits The national military grants the following uncommon benefits.
Acquire Arms: The national military gathers a collection of mundane weapons and gear from its armory for the PCs. The PCs can purchase this collection for 1 favor or its standard market price. At Rank 1, the combined value us 350 gp or less. At Rank 2, the value of this collection increases to 750 gp. At Rank 3, the PCs can purchase magic weapons and armor from the military at a 10% discount by spending 2 favors. For the purposes of item availability, the military counts as a metropolis.
Command Legion: The national military grants the PCs command of a medium army for 1 week per favor expended. This force comprises 100 2nd-level fighters who follow the PCs loyally. If the PCs do not clearly use this force to further the military’s goals or the PCs are reckless with the soldiers’ lives, the PCs’ influence rank is reduced to 3. Bringing the soldiers into a dungeon that is level-appropriate for the PCs counts as reckless endangerment.
Retrain: Military trainers work together with the PCs, allowing them to retrain archetypes, class features, feats, or skill ranks, as per the retraining rules. At Rank 2, each week of retraining costs 1 favor and the standard cost in gold pieces. At Rank 3, the military covers the gold piece cost. At Rank 4, the PCs can retrain without expending favors or money.