Rules Index | GM Screen

Mastering Intrigue


Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 130
Social interactions and the bonds between people are some of the most important elements in any story. One of the best ways to portray those ties and bring a supporting cast of NPCs to life is through the Leadership feat, though getting the most out of it can sometimes be a challenge for both players and GMs. This section offers an in-depth overview of the Leadership feat, presenting suggestions for how to include cohorts and followers in your game and incorporate them into various rules systems found in Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Campaign.

Leadership Modifiers

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 130
The leadership modifiers in the description of the Leadership feat are concise, so some GMs may appreciate more guidance on adjudicating them. With the reputation and fame system from Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Campaign, or the new influence system, it is possible to create a more detailed framework to determine when those modifiers apply.

Great Renown: If using the reputation and fame system from Ultimate Campaign, a character gains a +1 bonus to her Leadership score if she has at least 30 Fame and a +2 bonus if she has at least 55 Fame. Alternatively, if using the organizational influence system and recruiting cohorts or followers from an organization, a character gains a +1 bonus to her Leadership score for those cohorts and followers if she is Rank 2 or 3 with that organization and a +2 bonus if she is Rank 4.

Generosity and Stinginess: To receive a +1 bonus from fairness and generosity, a character must provide above-average remuneration to her cohort and followers. In the case of an adventuring cohort, an average amount of remuneration would be an equal or slightly less than equal cut of the treasure. If a leader provides her cohort and followers with poor remuneration, she still retains the loyalty of her cohort and followers, but she takes a – 1 penalty to her Leadership score. If she doesn’t pay them enough to subsist (or provide subsistence for them), she takes a –2 penalty and risks double or even triple that penalty if such behavior lasts more than a week.

Special Power: This refers to something beyond the typical power that a character gains from increasing in level (which is already reflected in her Leadership score by the inclusion of character level). A mythic character would definitely gain the +1 bonus to her Leadership score, as would one who possesses an artifact or knows a number of powerful and rare occult rituals.

Success and Failure: A character who achieves a significant string of successes gains a +1 bonus to her Leadership score, and a character who meets with a significant string of failures takes a –1 penalty to her Leadership score. If using social conflicts, a character who wins a significant long-term social conflict might gain a permanent +1 bonus to her Leadership score each time she does so, and one who loses such a conflict might instead take a permanent –1 penalty to her Leadership score.

Aloofness and Camaraderie: A character who is aloof and elitist takes a –1 penalty to her Leadership score, while a character who is friendly, supportive, and accessible gains a +1 bonus to her Leadership score. If using the relationships system, a character instead gains a +1 bonus for camaraderie with a cohort if their Relationship Level is fellowship, which increases to +2 if their Relationship Level is devotion; this bonus doesn’t stack with modifiers incurred for aloofness or camaraderie toward other characters.

Cruelty: A character who is cruel and callous toward her cohorts and followers takes a –2 penalty to her Leadership score. In the case of a particularly evil character whose cruelty is part of her legend and who is recruiting equally horrific individuals, this penalty might not apply, but she might take a similar penalty if she performs too many acts of kindness, ruining her reputation for cruelty. This is not to say that most evil leaders work this way, however, as kindness can be an exceptionally useful tool for a manipulative leader.

Other Modifiers from the Core Rulebook: The other modifiers from the Core Rulebook, such as having a familiar, recruiting a cohort of a different alignment, or causing deaths, are simpler to adjudicate. Many characters qualify for having a guildhouse or base of operations, gaining a +2 bonus to their Leadership scores specifically for the purpose of followers.

High Leadership Scores and Followers

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 130
Some characters might have a Leadership score well above 25, and a GM can allow such characters to have more followers. For every 2 points by which a character’s Leadership score exceeds 25, multiply the number of 1st-level followers gained by 1–1/2 (round down); the character gains 1/10 that many 2nd-level followers (round down), 1/2 as many 3rd-level followers as 2nd-level followers (round up), 1/2 as many 4th-level followers as 3rd-level followers (round up), and so on up to 6th-level followers. To calculate the number of 1st-level followers gained at an even Leadership score beyond 25, take the average of the number of 1st-level followers gained for the two nearest odd Leadership scores, and round down. Then calculate the remaining followers in the same way as for odd Leadership scores (with one exception: a character with a Leadership score of 26 has two 6th-level followers).

For example, a character with a Leadership score of 27 would have 202 1st-level followers, 20 2nd-level followers, 10 3rd-level followers, five 4th-level followers, three 5thlevel followers, and two 6th-level followers. Meanwhile, a character with a Leadership score of 26 would have 168 1st-level followers, 16 2nd-level followers, eight 3rd-level followers, four 4th-level followers, two 5th-level followers, and two 6th-level followers (due to the exception).

Loyalty and the Leadership Feat

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 131
Conflicting loyalties and potential betrayals are part of the excitement of the Leadership feat. Having fully loyal followers weakens the tension of the game—imagine if all the PCs and NPCs used Leadership to surround themselves with implacably loyal allies who neither side could subvert, trick, or recruit. Cohorts and followers begin genuinely loyal to their leaders, but they aren’t immune to bribery, blackmail, replacement with an impostor, and other manners of threats and enticements.

On the other hand, players like to receive a more concrete benefit from their feats—the benefits of Toughness and Skill Focus, for example, can’t be reduced by bribes or chicanery. For that reason, as well as to balance the spotlight, consider making the Leadership feat free in an intrigue-focused campaign, with the caveat that players’ cohorts and followers may change their loyalties in certain circumstances. Sometimes, a little warning is all it takes to avoid an unpleasant clash of expectations later in the game.

Some groups have players with the Leadership feat run their cohorts during combat to take the burden of running additional NPCs off the GM. This method can still be used in a campaign where cohorts and followers might betray the PCs, but the GM should remind players that she might make adjustments to a cohort’s proposed actions every once in a while. For more advice on running cohorts, see the companions system.

The Role of Cohorts and Followers

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 131
Cohorts traditionally function as fellow adventurers, and followers function as background characters who perform tasks to help the PCs behind the scenes. There are plenty of other things for these characters to do, however, such as aiding in downtime activities or kingdom-building. The options below make followers more involved in campaigns, and also provide alternatives for groups that want to enjoy the character interaction from having cohorts but don’t want more characters in combat.

Contacts: When using the contacts rules, a cohort or a follower can act as a contact. Followers typically have a Trust score of 3 or 4, whereas a cohort always has a Trust score of 5. Using followers and cohorts as contacts is a good way to keep them in the background and away from the direct spotlight.

Downtime: The downtime system in Ultimate Campaign already interfaces with the Leadership feat. A character can use followers as labor or organize them into teams, and can appoint a cohort or a notable follower to serve as a manager for her business. See Using Followers for more details.

Heists: Followers can aid in overcoming the obstacles of a heist. They can help distract guards, help foil barriers, and even brave hazards. Cohorts can act as if they were additional PCs during the heist, allowing the group to do more to achieve the heist’s goals.

Influence: When using the influence system, cohorts can potentially help the party gain influence at a social event, allowing more discovery or influence checks. A character could also offer the service of her cohorts and followers to curry favor with an organization, and if the organization is the source of these followers or cohorts, the character can gain additional Leadership bonuses from having high influence (see the Great Renown section on page 130).

Kingdoms: When using the kingdom-building rules from Ultimate Campaign, a cohort—or, in rare cases, an extremely skilled follower— can serve as a kingdom leader.

Mass Combat: When using the mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign, cohorts or notable followers can act as commanders for armies, and a numerous group of like-leveled followers (such as the 1st-level followers at extremely high levels of Leadership) can combine to form their own army.

Reputation: When using the reputation and fame system from Ultimate Campaign, a character could have her followers or cohort perform impressive actions to enhance her reputation. Fame also provides a good measure of how famous the character is for the purpose of Leadership bonuses (see the Great Renown section).

Social Conflicts: A party engaged in a social conflict can use cohorts or followers as agents to attempt to perform goals during challenges, potentially increasing the party’s reach and allowing them to participate in multiple engagements simultaneously. Sneaky, personable, or knowledgeable cohorts and followers can aid in discovery challenges or even take on the challenges themselves.

Verbal Duels: A clever PC can stack the deck in her favor by seeding followers into an audience before a verbal duel in an attempt to gain an edge or at least counter negative biases.

Monstrous Allies

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 132
Sometimes befriending a monster instead of relying on force can lead to a particularly satisfying experience. On the next page is a list of potential monster cohorts linked to their monster entry.

On occasion, a monster’s cohort level has been adjusted from previous publications because its abilities have the potential to be extremely disruptive. Use the cohort levels presented here instead of those provided in earlier publications.

Variant Leadership

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 132
While the Leadership feat excels at granting the widest variety of cohorts and followers, there are a number of other ways is which you can introduce Leadership into your campaign. The following are a few different forms of Leadership, most of which can be taken at a lower level and then upgraded to the full Leadership feat at some later point in the campaign, if so desired. All of the variant feats in this section are optional, and Vile Leadership is suited only for evil characters. A player should get her GM’s permission before selecting any of these feats.