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Simmering Stratagems

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 137
These stratagems tend to be simple, as well as less costly and vicious. They are perfect for fledgling nemeses who simply don’t yet have enough reason to expend vast resources against PCs or to make things extremely personal.

Affluence

XP Reward low

The nemesis uses extra resources against the PCs. In either a combat with the nemesis or against a group the nemesis supports, the nemesis or group receives a 25% increase in their wealth per level, typically applied to consumable gear that the opposition uses before the fight to bolster their abilities. In a noncombat encounter, the affluence stratagem grants the nemesis or a group the nemesis supports a modest advantage at a task in which they are competing against the PCs. For example, if a PC and the nemesis are engaged in a verbal duel, the nemesis gains 3 edges (representing access to better training, ringers in the audience, or bribes).

Opportunities

The nemesis accidently reveals something personal about his background, where his wealth comes from, who manages his money, or that it comes from an illicit source.

Counterfeit Goods

XP Reward low

The nemesis plants a counterfeit magic item at a shop he anticipates the PCs will patronize. The item the PCs purchase is actually cursed. It appears to function normally according to all tests, and the GM can either select a curse or roll on Table 15–27: Common Item Curses.

Opportunities

Tracing the cursed item back to a shop reveals someone who works with or who was bought off by the nemesis. It might also reveal a trove of other magic items (cursed or otherwise).

False Witness

XP Reward low

The nemesis accuses the PCs of some minor crime or other misdeed, either directly or by way of a proxy he manipulated to provide false witness. The PCs must either avoid the authorities or spend time proving their innocence, often through some form of social challenge, and maybe by engaging in a verbal duel during some form of legal proceeding. Avoiding the authorities or failing to clear their names may have more drastic consequences, such as harsh fines, imprisonment, a decrease in influence, or even some form of corporal punishment.

Opportunities

The nemesis’s witness can’t keep her story straight or proves that she knows something she shouldn’t. This not only undermines her lies, but also likely implicates the nemesis in some wrongdoing.

Refusal of Service

XP Reward low

The nemesis uses coercion to force a group of other NPCs to no longer associate with or conduct business with the PCs (since PCs often exchange vast quantities of wealth, merchants are a particularly effective group to pick for this stratagem). Members of that group of NPCs refuse to assist or discuss anything with the PCs unless the PCs succeed at a Diplomacy or Intimidate check. The DC is equal to 20 + the group’s APL.

Opportunities

Once the nemesis’s scheme is revealed, the coerced group proves that it doesn’t appreciate being bullied. Perhaps they deny the nemesis future aid or give the PCs a 10% discount on their services.

Scandalous Subversion

XP Reward low

The nemesis engages in a campaign to spread rumors that impugn the PCs’ reputation. These rumors aren’t ubiquitous, but they are just believable enough to cause others to have doubts about the PCs. This stratagem decreases the characters’ Leadership score, contact trust, Fame, honor points, and total influence points with organizations by 1. Alternatively, the nemesis can target a single character and double the decrease.

Opportunities

Tracing the rumors back to the nemesis counters the lies and potentially negates the losses the PCs suffered. Going forward, members of the community in which the nemesis spread his lies are less likely to believe his claims.

Tail

XP Reward low

The nemesis sends an agent to follow the PCs from a distance. This tail is an NPC or creature (typically one whose CR is equal to the group’s APL –3). While they have a tail, the tail relays the PCs’ activities and general plans to the nemesis. The tail follows the PCs in urban and wilderness areas, but will not enter dangerous locations (such as a dungeon or tomb). The tail makes daily reports on the PCs’ activities. If the PCs split up, the tail follows one PC—either the one who seems to be doing something interesting or who’s easiest to follow. The tail uses its own Perception and Stealth skills but attempts to remain hidden, using cover and crowds to hide its presence and staying at a distance to increase the Perception DC to notice it. The tail always attempts to flee if discovered or engaged.

Opportunities

If the PCs discover the tail, they might trick it into reporting false information to the nemesis. Alternatively, they might capture or have their tracker arrested, denying their enemy a useful ally.