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High-Level Play (13+)

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 162
The most reliable spells for finding out information arrive at higher levels, and are 7th level or higher.


Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 162
At least one noteworthy abjuration spell becomes available at 15th level, with far-reaching effects.

Mind Blank: The 8th-level spell mind blank is a powerful and versatile protection spell that becomes ubiquitous at high levels. Spells such as discern location can make people easy to find in high-level play, so a credible villain whose identity the PCs know should have mind blank cast on himself at all times. If the villain absolutely can’t employ a spellcaster with this spell, consider having him join forces with a hag coven (which can offer unlimited castings of mind blank spells each day) or equipping him with a headband of sealed thoughts.

The PCs are likely starting to cast mind blank as much as possible at this level as well, so the villains should put in at least as much effort. Obviously, the villain won’t be able to keep all his allies and staff under mind blank, which provides plenty of opportunities for clever PCs to exploit. For instance, though scrying on a nearby ally of the villain still doesn’t reveal the villain protected by mind blank, PCs might be able to notice a one-sided conversation that indicates that someone with mind blank is present.

It all comes down to the villain mustering a defense that is reasonable given his resources, and allowing the PCs to find a clever way to circumvent those defenses. No defense in the world is perfect. For instance, even if a villain somehow convinced a coven of hags to act as a source of mind blank for his entire network of allies, the hags become a new vulnerability. The PCs can capture one of the villain’s agents, discover information about the hags, and then eliminate the hags or scout out their coven’s domain in an attempt to ambush the villain on his way to reestablishing his mind blank.


Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 162
Divinations in high-level play tend to be incredibly powerful, with only mind blank offering protection.

Discern Location: This spell lacks the mitigations common to lower-level locating spells. Unless you have a deity willing to cooperate, the only protection from discern location is mind blank. Because not everyone can be under mind blank all the time, discern location is incredibly useful, allowing the PCs to get close to a target protected by mind blank as long as he has allies or interacts with other people—almost a certainty in an intrigue-focused game. The spell becomes well known by most NPCs, and even threatening to use discern location can be a powerful tactic.

Greater Scrying: This is mostly the same as its lesser version, but the timing is vastly different. It takes only a single standard action to cast, and can last the better part of a day. The long duration gives the caster a much greater chance of following the target to a place about which the caster knows the exact layout and precise location. On the other hand, by this level, detect scrying becomes easier to cast, many creatures can see invisible spies, and mind blank may shield targets.

Vision: Compared to legend lore, vision takes much less time to cast, causes fatigue, and requires a caster level check to succeed. Stylistically, the big difference is that the caster sees a single vision rather than hearing information from numerous legends. The character also gets to ask a particular question to narrow the scope of the spell, so that one vision is likely to be related to a topic about which the character really wants to know. For a vision spell, put some good thought into exactly what the PC sees, and try to describe it as vividly as possible with plenty of visual details. You can tailor the vision to show the most-interesting visual snippet related to the question the PC asked. By describing what the PC sees as if she were there, you make the spell an experience rather than a simple information dump. The PC must still interpret what she saw. You may even wish to take the spellcaster’s player to another room and describe the vision, then let her return to describe and interpret what her spell revealed to the rest of the party. Sometimes the caster will focus on one of the visual details when another was an even greater clue, which she only discovers later on in an exciting moment of revelation.