<- Return to All Rules (Group by Source)
<- Return to Stratagems

All Rules in Stratagems

+ An entry marked with this has additional sections within it.

Engaged Stratagems

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 138
Engaged stratagems are more personal and costly than simmering stratagems, evidencing the nemesis’s attention and a growing, vicious grudge.

Allies in Peril

XP Reward medium

The nemesis takes an ally of the PCs hostage while they’re away or otherwise distracted. Removing the ally proves to be a boon for the nemesis and a detriment to the PCs. The PCs might be forced to decide whether to spend their efforts locating their ally and attempting a rescue, or opposing the nemesis’s goal.

Opportunities

The captured ally learns a considerable amount during her imprisonment, such as the location of the nemesis’s lair, its interior layout, or the movements of guards.

Call on Dark Power

XP Reward medium

The nemesis makes a pact with a fiend or other dark force to thwart the PCs. He gains the temporary service of a powerful evil outsider (with a CR no higher than the party’s APL + 3), but forfeits something significant in the process. This could include the nemesis taking a penalty to an ability score while the creature is in his service. Or, maybe the pact requires him to make a monthly sacrifice of intelligent creatures (usually a number equal to the evil outsider’s Hit Dice).

Opportunities

The PCs discover the price the nemesis paid to summon the dark power, perhaps revealing some manner of infernal contract. Others groups might also condemn him for his dark dealings.

Contingency Plan

XP Reward medium

The nemesis has become accustomed to the PCs’ interference and has developed a contingency plan. When the PCs are about to foil his current scheme, he either instantly benefits from an effect of a 1st- through 4th-level spell, as the spell contingency. Alternatively, he might unleash some nonmagical contingency, such as collapsing the ceiling or opening a floodgate.

Opportunities

In his rush, the nemesis leaves behind some evidence of his hideout’s location or compromising secret. Also, others might be harmed by his dramatic escape, leading them to help the PCs.

Half Time

XP Reward medium

In the wake of the last setback the PCs caused, the nemesis works harder to attain his goals. He completes one of his current projects (such as a ritual, research, influence, construction, or any other task) in half the usual time required. In exchange, he is fatigued when the PCs exploit their next opportunity. Or, if the PCs face him in a noncombat situation, his work proves shoddy, and this provides the PCs with a small advantage against him.

Opportunities

The PCs notice where the nemesis cut corners on this and other schemes, revealing vulnerabilities in his new weaponry, magical defenses, or hideout.

No Prize for Second Place

XP Reward medium

The nemesis discovers the PCs’ eventual destination while they are on a quest, whether through spying or divination, and gets there ahead of them. He might alert those at their destination and explain the PCs’ strengths and weaknesses (giving the denizens time to flee or set an ambush) or slaughter the guardians and pillage the place, leaving behind only traps for the PCs.

Opportunities

The nemesis’s attempt to rob the destination reveals an unexplored section rife with greater treasures. Alternatively, the nemesis might trigger some curse or defense that targets him rather than the PCs.

Nowhere is Safe

XP Reward low or medium

The nemesis sends one or more agents ahead of the PCs as they are traveling or resting, tasking them with manufacturing obstacles to slow the PCs down. Simple dangers that the agents might devise, and that provide a low XP reward, include obstructing the PCs’ travels by destroying a bridge, stealing the PCs’ mounts, or luring ordinary animals to the PCs’ camp to cause havoc. More threatening obstacles that provide a medium XP reward include locking the PCs inside a building and setting it on fire, triggering an avalanche, or provoking a dangerous creature to attack the PCs. To use this stratagem, the nemesis must have already used a tail stratagem against the PCs at least once (or have another way of knowing where the PCs are going, such as if the PCs are pursuing the nemesis; see Pursuit).

Opportunities

The trap the nemesis’s agents set up reveal a threat that might be used against the nemesis on the return trip. Tempting creatures into the PCs’ camp might also give those beasts the scent of the nemesis and his agents, with unintended consequences.

Powerful Allies

XP Reward medium

The nemesis strikes a temporary agreement with another group. This grants him the services of a number of allies equal to the number of PCs, though the CR of each ally should usually be no greater than the party’s APL – 1. These allies assist the nemesis with whatever he requires, whether directly confronting the PCs or assisting him with aid and resources. The alliance lasts a number of days equal to the nemesis’s Hit Dice.

Opportunities

The PCs might discover the points of contention between the nemesis and his new allies, potentially using their knowledge to turn them against each other. Also, the PCs might bring the nemesis to the attention of a larger, more dangerous group or individual that doesn’t appreciate an outsider manipulating her pawns.

Robbery

XP Reward medium

The nemesis attempts to steal something of value from the PCs. If they have stored valuable items at a particular location, the nemesis or his servants attempt a heist, typically stealing between 10% and 100% of the value stored at that location. If the PCs carry all of their wealth with them, the nemesis instead sends pickpockets to steal items from the PCs, using Sleight of Hand and Stealth to purloin what they can and retreat.

Opportunities

The PCs find evidence pointing back to the nemesis, giving them an opportunity to retrieve what they lost with interest in a counter-heist.

Surprise

XP Reward medium

The nemesis launches a surprise attack against the PCs at an inopportune time. The nemesis could send a powerful agent or team of agents against the PCs while they are already in combat, or when they are resting after running out of resources for the day. The surprise might also be an unsuspected sabotage of a plan or project the PCs are pursuing.

Opportunities

Intending to use it to overbear the unprepared PCs, the nemesis’s agents possessed more valuable treasure than usual or had one of the nemesis’s useful magic items in their possession. Upon defeating their foes, the PCs gain a useful treasure for themselves.