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Infiltration

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 128
An infiltration requires stealth and discretion to win the day. Unlike a heist, infiltration is typically limited to a smaller set of skills, and suited for one or two PCs rather than utilizing the whole group.

Infiltration covers both a direct infiltration with a single, set goal (similar to a heist) and long-term espionage that requires living a double life and has a less specific goal. Infiltration ranges from breaking and entering to using social skills to get inside a location. Infiltration usually requires the Stealth and Disguise skills, and often social skills and Sleight of Hand as well.

Alternate Goals

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 128
An infiltration might have one of the same goals as a normal heist, or it could aim at one of the following goals instead. Because it is less complicated than a heist, an infiltration is typically suited to smaller and more immediate goals rather than campaign-changing ones.

Assassinate or Kidnap a Creature: The object of this infiltration is to kill or capture one or a small number of targets. It’s natural for a creature to let its guard down in the safety of its home or base, allowing you to catch it at its weakest. In many cases, striking at the leader will cause followers to flee or fall into infighting, thus removing the threat they present without direct conflict.

Spreading Propaganda: In this infiltration, the PC blends in with a population in order to spread misinformation. This sort of infiltration is particularly dangerous because, although the PC is in disguise, she needs to actively engage with people, often in public places. Usually this is done on behalf of a rival nation or organization in order to reduce morale and turn the populace against their leaders in preparation for a political or military takeover. Alternatively, the PC might act as an agent provocateur, urging the populace to rise up against their leaders, or inciting the leaders to attack another group. Spreading propaganda could involve placing posters, making graffiti, or otherwise conveying the propagandist’s message through art rather than interaction. This requires applying an appropriate Craft skill. To be truly effective, artistic propaganda still requires the infiltrator to interact with other people—though creating a massive work of propagandist art that requires multiple people to carry out could do the trick.

Perform Reconnaissance: The infiltrator is attempting to gather information about a location and its inhabitants. Details of the location’s defenses and defenders, as well as its strategic targets, allow her and her allies to be prepared for subsequent assaults, heists, or investigations against that location. Eavesdropping on a suspected criminal could allow the PC to catch him red-handed at his next crime or reveal the identities of others involved in the criminal operation. A less scrupulous character might use reconnaissance to blackmail a target by threatening to exploit or expose the secrets she discovers.

Scope

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 128
An infiltration has a scope just like a heist, though it functions a little differently. The GM is typically dealing with a smaller number of characters at a time and doesn’t need to provide as many obstacles. In addition, an infiltration always has a specific scope. There are two possible scopes for infiltration: fast or long-term.

Fast: The PC or PCs need to get in quickly and take care of their task. The infiltration usually takes no more than a few hours in game time and 10–15 minutes or so at the game table. This requires one to three obstacles for a single PC or one obstacle per PC if multiple PCs are involved. If you find yourself needing more than three obstacles, use a heist instead so all the characters get involved.

Long-Term: This covers long-term espionage, and requires the PC to create a cover story or alternate identity. It plays out over the course of several sessions, but usually takes up 10 minutes or less per session. Rather than having a set number of obstacles to obtain a single goal, put two obstacles in front of the PC as she tries to infiltrate the organization or befriend the target. Then provide a single obstacle or two each session in which the PC attempts to get something out of the infiltration. Provide a minor piece of useful information for each obstacle overcome, or a more important piece at certain intervals (typically after the PC has overcome four or five obstacles). Structure the secrets of the organization in layers from the least secret to the most secret, so the PC gets closer and closer to the innermost levels of the organization. People from the organization the PC is infiltrating might encounter the PC elsewhere, in which case she might need to quickly adopt her cover or avoid being noticed. Long-term espionage can go on indefinitely, but each time the PC fails to overcome an obstacle, the organization or target becomes more suspicious of her true agenda. After three failures (or one egregious failure), the interloping character’s motivation is revealed unless she takes extraordinary steps to repair her reputation.

Covers and Personas

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 128
During a heist, and especially in an infiltration, a character might need to assume a cover: a false identity. This identity needs only a few details, like the person’s name, profession, and recent history. The most important aspect of a cover is consistency—the PC needs to keep any details straight so she doesn’t contradict herself later. A cover identity might involve an accent, mannerisms, a style of dress, and other quirks.

Much more involved than a cover, a persona is a fully fleshed-out identity crafted over months or years. The infiltrator needs to know every single detail about the persona, and might live as that persona for weeks at a time in order to keep up the charade. A long-term infiltration might require a persona rather than a cover.

A persona is thematically similar to a vigilante’s multiple identities, and the player of an infiltrator attempting long-term espionage should put as much effort into the details of the persona as she does into the backstory of her actual character. Though a character adopting a cover identity likely uses Bluff to fake any areas of expertise her cover identity is supposed to know, a character living as a persona picks up actual skills related to that persona over time, and might spend skill ranks in Craft, Knowledge, and Profession skills appropriate to her persona.

Quick Covers: The following list gives some examples of covers that characters might adopt and pretenses for why they’re entering the location they’re infiltrating. If a player is having trouble coming up with a cover identity on short notice, you can use the following suggestions directly or as inspiration. They are broken out by their social role, but many cover identities apply to multiple roles.

Average Person: Beggar, looking for a place to find shelter; chambermaid, coming to sweep the halls; rat catcher, hired after someone heard squeaking; shopkeeper, delivering an urgent order; herbalist, selling poultices and tinctures door to door.

Entertainer: Bard-for-hire, come to perform a song at the bidding of a secret admirer; jester, looking for a noble in need of her antics; painter, in need of a patron and a location to create beautiful murals; big-city theatrical producer, searching for the next big star.

Holy Visitor: Traveling priest, spreading the good word; soothsayer, come to deliver a dire warning; religious scholar, arriving to do research in the library.

Important Noble: Child of a prominent duchess, in town to attend a falconry competition; veteran knight, visiting the countryside after a hard-won victory in a jousting competition; advisor to a desert prince, traveling to find new trading partners; herald, bringing news of the imminent arrival of his lord.

Officer of the Law: Constable, coming to search for an escaped prisoner; barrister, investigating one of the property owner’s business rivals; tax collector, assessing the value of the establishment.

Wealthy Visitor: Self-made merchant, seeking employees to buy and sell goods for her; hedonistic socialite, looking to hire locals to throw a big party; vacuous heir, looking for property to buy; gambler, trying to find players for a high-stakes game.

Maintaining the Charade

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 129
When carrying out a long-term infiltration, characters should strive to keep their personas as easy to maintain as possible, and shouldn’t rely on disguises or magic to alter their appearance, instead using relative anonymity to avoid recognition. An infamous face might eliminate this option, however, and necessitate a long-term disguise. Adjusting mannerisms, modes of dress, and speech are all easier than maintaining physical disguises. Using spells to maintain a persona is particularly risky—longlasting spells are generally needed, and the longer the charade goes on, the more likely a spy is to encounter someone who can see through an illusion or detect the magical effect.