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Influence and Magic

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 103
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.