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Persona


Most player characters are exceptional people distinguished by extraordinary deeds. When it comes to bringing about lasting social change, however, PCs must rally others to their cause. The rules system presented below provides a framework for PCs to cultivate their public personas, gather loyal agents, and send those agents on missions on their behalf.

PCs often have opportunities to build their burgeoning reputations and use that influence to further their goals. This system can be used in any campaign, especially ones that focus on intrigue and status; guidance for such use is provided in the following pages.

Facets of Persona

A wide variety of traits can inspire people to follow a budding leader, so instead of representing a PC’s reputation as a single statistic, this system divides her public persona into six different facets: Charm, Genius, Heroism, Sacrifice, Sagacity, and Subterfuge. For each facet, a PC has a number of Facet Ranks ranging from 0 to 10, where 0 means the character is generally believed to lack that quality, and 10 means the character is seen as a paragon of it. The term Facet Rank is sometimes shortened to Rank, except in situations where it could be confused with skill rank. The meaning of each facet and its general effects on play are summarized below.

Charm: Charm represents a character’s personal magnetism and force of personality. A character with a reputation for being charming has an easier time than most gaining access to social events, whether they’re artistic performances or high-society balls. Charming characters have an easier time winning strangers’ trust.

Genius: Genius represents a character’s reputation for brilliance, whether measured in terms of knowledge or strategic vision. Characters with a reputation for genius have an easier time convincing others to follow their plans and trust them as intellectual authorities.

Heroism: Heroism represents a character’s reputation for bravery and perseverance. It also captures the effectiveness with which a character earns admiration for her most exceptional deeds. Characters with a reputation for heroism are more likely to be asked to fight monsters or face seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Sacrifice: Sacrifice represents a character’s reputation as an upstanding member of society who gives of herself to improve the lives of others and who is capable of persevering through great hardships. Characters with a reputation for sacrifice have an easier time convincing others of their righteousness and inspiring others to make sacrifices of their own.

Sagacity: Sagacity represents a character’s reputation for having good judgment. Characters known for their sagacity are more likely to be sought out for advice in complex matters, ranging from tangled interpersonal disputes to questions of morality, philosophy, or religion.

Subterfuge: Subterfuge represents a character’s ability to operate effectively in the shadows, whether as a sly politician skilled in backroom dealings or a shrewd investigator who digs up dirt on her enemies. A character’s skill at subterfuge is likely to be less widely known than the other facets of her persona, but it still helps her cultivate contacts in just the right places.

These six facets do not represent an exhaustive list of metrics that PCs can leverage to rally supporters. With small adjustments, a GM can replace any of these facets with other options to suit a particular campaign.

Starting Rank

Before a character can become a true agent of change, she must build some personal clout. Generally, a character has the individual prowess to begin actively building up her persona upon reaching 4th level. However, a PC’s persona does not necessarily begin as a blank slate at this point in time. Characters can begin using this rules system when they have 1 Rank in various facets based on their existing abilities or prior deeds. Characters whose mental ability scores are 14 or higher begin with 1 Rank in certain facets: a high Intelligence score grants 1 Rank in Genius, a high Wisdom score grants 1 Rank in Sagacity, and a high Charisma score grants 1 Rank in Charm. The GM can also assign a starting Rank of 1 in one or more of the other three facets based on a character’s prior actions. For example, a PC who unflinchingly faced great challenges earns 1 Rank in Heroism. Meanwhile, a PC who engaged in charity or self-denial demonstrates her willingness to sacrifice and begins with 1 Rank in Sacrifice. Finally, a PC who acted outside the rules of law or society with cleverness and subtlety begins with 1 Rank in Subterfuge.

Persona Phase

PCs leverage their influence in periods called persona phases, which are abstract representations of time spent building up their reputations or directing their agents to complete missions on their behalf. These phases take place separately from normal gameplay; a player typically makes all related decisions at the start of each persona phase, and those decisions stay in effect until the start of the next persona phase.

As a general guideline, PCs should experience about four persona phases per level. If you are running the War for the Crown Adventure Path, each persona phase is called out in the text of the adventure. On the other hand, if you are running a campaign in which leveling up is infrequent, or if you wish to condense persona-building into a limited portion of your campaign, consider increasing the number of opportunities the PCs receive.

At the beginning of a persona phase, each PC chooses from one of two actions: developing her persona (see below) or launching an operation. The phase ends when the PC has chosen her action and made the associated decisions and actions (such as an Operation check).

As the PC increases her Facet Ranks, she unlocks several benefits. Unless otherwise specified, each benefit can be used only once per persona phase.

Developing Persona

A PC might decide to spend her persona phase publicly demonstrating her prowess and character, giving her the chance to increase the Rank of one of her persona’s facets by 1.

To do so, the PC first selects one of the tasks from the list below (with the associated facet noted in parentheses), or she can work with the GM to create another appropriate task. Then she attempts a skill check associated with that task, with a DC equal to 15 + twice the Rank she is trying to achieve. If she succeeds at the check, her Rank in that facet increases by 1. Consider allowing PCs to attempt relevant Craft, Perform, or Profession checks in place of the listed skill checks.

The scope of a PC’s persona is limited by her character level. Her Facet Ranks for a facet can’t exceed her character level, and she can have a total number of Facet Ranks equal to no more than twice her character level.

Checks to increase a PC’s Facet Ranks represent placing the PC’s skills squarely in the spotlight. As a result, PCs can’t take 10 on these checks or receive direct assistance in the moment, such as aid another from other characters. Effects that boost PCs’ skills and abilities apply only if their duration is at least 24 hours.

Arrange Secret Meeting (Charm or Subterfuge)

You arrange a clandestine meeting between individuals who can’t or won’t speak openly.

Associated Skill: Bluff (Charm); Disguise or Escape Artist (Subterfuge).

Bask in Glory (Heroism)

You make sure that everyone knows about your own personal achievements.

Associated Skill: Perform.

Demonstrate Might (Heroism)

You show off your strength to impressed onlookers.

Associated Skill: Strength-based skill check.

Drive Legislation (Charm, Genius, or Sagacity)

You take a prominent role in drafting or promoting legislation or another form of governmental policy.

Associated Skill(s): Perform (Charm), Linguistics (Genius), or Sense Motive (Sagacity).

Give Lecture (Genius or Sagacity)

Whether you’re delivering an academic lecture or a religious sermon, you draw a crowd to listen as you share your expertise.

Associated Skill(s): Knowledge check relevant to the lecture’s topic.

Organize Party (Charm)

You put together a popular social event that is the talk of the town.

Associated Skill(s): Diplomacy.

Organize Protest (Heroism or Sacrifice)

You gather people to protest loathsome policies, either through rhetoric or doggedness.

Associated Skill(s): Fortitude save (DC = 15 + desired Rank), or Diplomacy or Perform check.

Perform Charitable Acts (Sacrifice)

You spend your time or money tending to those most in need of aid.

Associated Skill(s): Heal.

Sabotage Opponent (Genius or Subterfuge)

You cunningly set one of your opponents up for a fall, perhaps causing one of his shameful secrets to go public.

Associated Skill(s): Knowledge (local or nobility), as appropriate to the opponent (Genius); Sleight of Hand or Stealth (Subterfuge).

Diminishing Persona

At the GM’s discretion, PCs can lose Facet Ranks for public acts that go strongly against one of the facets. For example, a PC who engages in cowardly behavior could lose a Rank in Heroism. Losing Facet Ranks should not be common, and a PC’s Rank in a facet can’t fall below 0.

Persona Benefits

As the PCs gain more Facet Ranks, they gain the following benefits, summarized in the table below.

Persona Benefits By Rank

Facet Ranks Benefits

1 Agents

2 Basic operations

3 Skill bonus (+2)

4 Admirers (indifferent)

5 Bonus feat

6 Advanced operations

7 Skill bonus (+4)

8 Admirers (unfriendly)

9 Friend in high places

10 Master of operations

Agents: When she first gains access to the persona rules, a PC gains a number of agents equal to twice her total starting number of Facet Ranks, reflecting her newfound renown. Each time a PC increases her Facet Ranks in a facet, she rallies two additional agents to her cause. These agents represent people who flock to the PC for a variety of reasons, whether they are ardent admirers of the PC’s cause, members of the PC’s staff, or even people the PC has blackmailed into assisting her. Agents are generally much less capable than the PCs and not strong enough to accompany the PCs on adventures. However, as a PC increases her Facet Ranks, she unlocks the ability to direct these agents to perform operations on her behalf (see below). Particularly dangerous operations can cause the PC to lose agents, which she can replace through the recover agents operation.

Basic Operations: A PC who has at least 2 Ranks in a facet can send her agents on basic operations related to that facet. Basic operations are relatively safe and straightforward, requiring few agents to complete.

Skill Bonus: A PC can sometimes leverage her persona to gain a bonus on a skill check. Once per persona phase, a PC can apply a skill bonus to a single check for one of the facets in which she has at least 3 Ranks. She can apply this bonus after rolling her skill check, but before the results are announced. The exact skills to which this bonus can be applied depend upon the facet (see below). The skill bonus begins at +2 and increases to +4 when she has 7 Ranks in the appropriate facet. For example, a PC with 7 Ranks in Heroism and 3 Ranks in Subterfuge can grant herself either a +4 bonus on an Intimidate or Perform check or a +2 bonus on a Disable Device or Stealth check, but she can still gain only one bonus per phase.

Charm: Bluff, Diplomacy; Genius: Knowledge (any); Heroism: Intimidate, Perform (any); Sacrifice: Heal, Survival; Sagacity: Perception, Sense Motive; Subterfuge: Disable Device, Stealth.

Admirers: The PC’s persona has earned her fans and sympathetic souls. Once per persona phase, she can leverage her reputation to improve the starting attitude of one NPC with an attitude of indifferent or friendly. She can increase the NPC’s attitude by one step as long as she has at least 4 Ranks in a facet related to that NPC (see below). When she has 8 Ranks in a facet, she can also use this ability to improve the attitude of NPCs whose starting attitude is unfriendly. The following list is incomplete; other categories of NPCs can be related to various facets at the GM’s discretion.

Charm: Artists, merchants, nobles; Genius: Academics, arcane spellcasters, instructors; Heroism: Athletes, guards, soldiers; Sacrifice: Clergy of good deities, healers, philanthropists; Sagacity: Clergy, druids, philosophers; Subterfuge: Criminals, politicians.

Bonus Feat: Once a PC has 5 Ranks in a single facet, she gains the bonus feat associated with that facet in the list below, ignoring the feat’s prerequisites. If a PC has 5 Ranks in more than one facet, she can select one feat from among the feats she has unlocked, and can change her choice at the beginning of each persona phase; she can benefit from only one of these bonus feats at a time.

Charm: Persuasive; Genius: Brilliant Planner; Heroism: Dazzling Display; Sagacity: Insightful Advice; Sacrifice: Diehard; Subterfuge: Stealthy.

Advanced Operations: A PC who has at least 6 Ranks in a facet can send her agents on advanced operations related to that facet. Advanced operations can be far more complex and dangerous than basic operations.

Friend in High Places: Once a PC has 9 Ranks in one of her facets, her network of contacts has grown to include a highly placed individual. The PC leverages this alliance to gain access to spellcasting services. If the PC succeeds at an Operation check (DC = 15 + spell level), she can arrange for up to 750 gp worth of spellcasting services to be used at any time before the beginning of the next persona phase as long as she would reasonably have access to an NPC spellcaster, even to cast raise dead (in this case, it is assumed the PC’s agents arrange for her resurrection on her behalf ). The PC must pay for any focuses or expensive material components used.

Master of Operations: A PC who has 10 Ranks in at least one facet can perform one additional operation per phase related to one of the facets in which she has 10 Ranks, so long as she has enough agents to do so and even if she has already performed an operation in that phase.

Operations

Instead of using her persona phase to develop her persona, a PC can send her agents to perform an operation on her behalf. A PC gains access to basic operations for a given facet when she has 2 Ranks in that facet, and she gains access to advanced operations when she has 6 Ranks in that facet.

A PC can initiate only one operation per phase. She must decide which operation she intends to perform at the start of the persona phase. To determine the outcome of the operation, the PC rolls an Operation check. An Operation check is a d20 roll with a bonus equal to the number of agents the PC sends on the mission, and its DC is set by the specific operation. A PC must choose how many agents to send before the roll, up to a maximum of the number of Facet Ranks she has in the relevant facet. Operations always fail on a roll of 1 on the die and always succeed on a natural 20.

Persistent Operations: While most operations conclude at the end of a persona phase, persistent operations begin the first time the PC succeeds at the DC 17 Operation check for that operation and continue until the PC calls back her agents. A PC can maintain only one type of persistent operation at a time, and she must send at least five agents; these agents are not available for other operations until the persistent operation ends. Persistent operations must generally be focused on one location (at the GM’s discretion, though generally limited to one town or a large neighborhood in a city); a PC can maintain the same persistent operation in as many locations as she has enough agents to support.

Risky Operations: Some operations are dangerous to agents’ safety or morale. If a PC fails a risky operation’s check by 5 or more, or if she rolls a natural 1 on the check, she loses all of the agents she sent on the mission. These losses could represent the agents’ imprisonment, their death, or their abandonment of the PC’s cause.

Basic Operations

PCs gain access to basic operations when they have 2 Ranks in a facet.

Filter Rumors (Sagacity): Under your direction, your agents are skilled at separating fact from fiction. Once before the next persona phase, after you or another PC receives the results of a Diplomacy check to gather information, you can ask the GM to roll a secret Operation check, using the number of agents you sent on this operation for its bonus. If the check results in a success, the GM tells you whether the information gathered is mostly true, has elements of truth, or is mostly false. If the check fails, the GM tells you that the information gathered is mostly true (regardless of its actual veracity). The Operation check DC is generally 15, but if someone is actively spreading false information, the DC increases to 10 + the CR of the rumormonger (maximum 20).

Gather Information (Charm): Your agents listen to the local gossip and ask pointed questions. Once before the next persona phase, you can use the result of your Operation check in place of the normal Diplomacy check when gathering information. You don’t need to spend time to attempt this check, and there is no risk that you will be associated with your agents.

Last-Ditch Effort (Any Facet, Persistent): When you perform a risky operation while this persistent operation is in effect, you can gain a +2 bonus on the Operation check. If you do, you lose at least half of the agents you sent on the risky operation, even if it is successful. Beginning this operation requires a successful DC 17 Operation check.

Manufacturing (Any Facet): You can call on your agents’ practical expertise to manufacture items on your behalf, allowing you to use the result of your Operation check in place of a Craft skill check to create mundane items. You do not have to expend the time crafting, but your agents do, and you must still pay the raw materials cost for any items your agents manufacture.

Provide Distraction (Heroism, Risky): Your agents may not be individually strong, but your example has inspired them, and they’d risk anything to help you, even in dangerous circumstances. At the beginning of combat near a populated area, roll an Operation check against a DC equal to 10 + the CR of the most challenging creature in the fight (maximum DC 25). On a success, each PC gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls or to Armor Class as if benefiting from the aid another action for the first round of combat.

Recover Agents (Any Facet): If a risky operation goes awry, a PC may lose the agents she sent on the operation. A PC who has fewer than the maximum number of agents her Facet Ranks would allow—that is, fewer than twice her total number of Facet Ranks—can launch an operation to rescue lost agents (or recruit new ones, if that flavor is preferred). To do so, she must attempt a DC 10 Operation check, using the facet of her choice. On a failed check, she recovers one agent. On a successful check, she recovers two agents, plus one additional agent for every 5 by which the result exceeds the Operation check’s DC.

Research (Genius): Under your direction, your agents scour libraries for relevant information. You can use the result of your Operation check in place of a single Research check. Your agents must spend the required time, but this research takes none of your time.

Smuggle (Subterfuge, Risky): Your agents smuggle a relatively small or innocuous object (such as a dagger or evidence to be used for blackmail) into a hiding place on someone else’s property. The DC of the Operation check is equal to 10 + the CR of the captain or leader of any guards present.

Tend Wounds (Sacrifice, Persistent): Your agents help you tend to the injured, including you. If you succeed at a DC 17 Operation check, you receive one of the following benefits for the duration of the operation: either everyone in the tended community gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves against disease, or you receive the benefits of long-term care whenever you rest for at least 8 hours in the area in which the operation is in effect.

Advanced Operations

PCs gain access to a facet’s advanced operations when they have 6 Ranks in that facet.

Bad Advice (Genius or Sagacity, Risky): You place agents among a target’s advisors or messengers to feed him the information that will lead him to make wrong choices. At some point in this persona phase when your target must decide between two options, he must succeed at a Sense Motive check opposed by your Operation check result or choose the option you favor or that benefits you.

Bolster Courage (Heroism, Persistent): You send your agents to tell tales of your bravery, bolstering your own courage. If you succeed at a DC 17 Operation check, you receive a +2 morale bonus on saves against fear.

Guards (Sacrifice, Risky): You are accompanied by a guard who watches your back, and agents in the field listen carefully for any potential dangers. If an opponent tries to ambush or sneak up on you, that character’s Stealth check result must exceed both your Perception check result and the result of your Operation check to catch you unawares. On a failed Operation check, your enemies eliminate your guards before engaging you.

Invention (Genius): Your agents help you create magic items and research spells. Select one spell or magic item. If you succeed at an Operation check, your agents find or create the chosen spell or item, and you can then purchase it for the standard cost. The DC of the Operation check is equal to 10 + caster level for a magic item, or 10 + twice the spell level for a spell.

Poison (Subterfuge, Risky): Your agents slip a dose of poison or a potion (which you must pay for) into an NPC’s food as it is being prepared and delivered. Attempt an Operation check with a DC equal to the CR of the target NPC. On a success, your agents deliver the substance without detection. The NPC attempts Fortitude saves against the poison as normal.

Rumormonger (Any Facet, Persistent): Your agents improve your cover by spreading false rumors, destroying evidence, and intimidating anyone who asks too many questions. If you succeed at a DC 17 Operation check, anyone trying to see through a disguise or false identity you’ve assumed takes a –2 penalty on Perception and Sense Motive skills checks to do so.

Safe Haven (Heroism or Sacrifice): Your agents find you a quiet place to rest in safe anonymity, usually somewhere out of the way such as a barn or cavern. Anyone trying to locate you must first succeed at a Diplomacy or Survival check opposed by your Operation check.

Sermonize (Sagacity, Persistent): Your agents spread your philosophical or religious beliefs. If you succeed at a DC 17 Operation check, you gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks against people who share your religion or philosophy, or who follow closely aligned practices, at the GM’s discretion.

Spread Propaganda (Charm or Subterfuge, Persistent): Your agents spread propaganda on your behalf. If you succeed at a DC 17 Operation check, you gain a +2 bonus on Bluff and Disguise checks to either reinforce this same disinformation or deceive someone relying on it.

They’re with Me (Charm or Subterfuge, Risky): You place agents inside an enemy’s forces. Once before your next persona phase, when you encounter a group of low-level, unnamed enemy agents, the total number of which can’t exceed the number of agents you sent on this operation, compare the result of your Operation check against a DC of 15 or a DC of 10 + the Sense Motive modifier of the agents’ commander (whichever is higher). If you succeed, this “enemy” force is instead composed of the agents you placed earlier, allowing you to avoid combat and potentially resupply or rest. You can’t use this operation to replace named NPCs.

Variant Leadership

In campaigns where gathering social clout is a central feature, players are likely to gravitate toward the Leadership feat (or toward archetypes that grant the feat).

Consider replacing Leadership with the following feat, which is designed to interact smoothly with this system.

Coalition Leader

You have a knack for attracting others to your cause.

Prerequisite(s): Character level 7th.

Benefit(s): You gain a cohort as described in the Leadership feat. Determine your leadership score as described in the feat’s text but with the following exceptions: Instead of adding your Charisma modifier to your character’s level to determine your base leadership score, you can add the Rank of any facet of your persona.

Additionally, you can direct your cohort to send agents on an operation, instead of accompanying you. If you do so, you gain a +2 bonus on your Operation check, but your cohort is unavailable until the beginning of the next persona phase. Finally, you do not gain followers as listed in the Leadership feat. Instead, you can perform the recover agent operation once per persona phase; this does not count as an operation.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Adventure Path #128: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Crystal Frasier and Richard Pett, with Tim Akers, Logan Bonner, Brian Duckwitz, Amanda Hamon Kunz, Troy Lavallee, Patchen Mortimer, and Linda Zayas-Palmer.