Vigilantes take naturally to establishing masked personas distinct from their day-to-day lives, but other adventurers, scoundrels, and troublemakers can also use this strategy to avoid the consequences of their actions. Despite the name, a masked persona does not strictly require a literal mask. Any alternate identities or disguises that characters use consistently while performing their heroic (or villainous) deeds can be considered “masked personas”. Masked identities provide a variety of potential advantages.
A masked persona functions much like the vigilante’s dual identity class feature, but requires more time to cultivate and provides fewer benefits in terms of game mechanics. It is, however, an option available to all classes to add excitement and intrigue to campaigns, allowing adventuring parties to battle corrupt governments or entrenched crime organizations without having to flee their base of operations or permanently go into hiding.
At any point, any character can don a disguise to confront foes or conduct affairs. What makes a full masked persona stand apart from a simple disguise is consistency and obfuscation. A character must adopt the same or similar mask, clothing, or iconic equipment as part of her disguise repeatedly when she adventures in the public eye or is seen by survivors of her deeds, slowly giving her masked identity a seeming life of its own. A character wishing to cultivate a masked persona must also endeavor to keep others from linking her true name to the costumed identity, ensuring that her disguise conceals her face or otherwise changes her features enough to seem like a distinct individual.
Adopting a masked persona relies on the Disguise skill to fool onlookers, and generally counts as changing only minor details. An adventurer more determined to conceal her identity can augment her costumed identity to conceal her race or change her gender or apparent age. The final result of a character’s Disguise check determines the difficulty of onlookers’ Perception checks to recognize her through the disguise. In general, only characters familiar with the masked persona’s normal identity are allowed Perception checks to try to recognize her through the disguise. GMs may wish to always have a character take 10 on masked persona Disguise checks, setting a default DC for that character. A character who adventures both in and out of her costumed identity, and uses similar abilities in both guises, takes a –5 circumstance penalty on attempts to conceal her true identity with the Disguise check. Adopting a masked disguise is faster and easier than adopting a normal disguise, requiring only 5 minutes.
Secrecy is paramount to maintaining a masked persona, and rumors fly quickly about something as exciting as clandestine adventures. A character can generally trust one individual per class level (beyond her adventuring party) with her secret identity—including enemies who learn her identity, trusted cohorts, or loved ones—before her masked persona is compromised.
A compromised masked persona no longer protects a character from divination magic (see below), but may still offer some protection to a character’s reputation at the GM’s discretion. A masked persona’s anonymity can be restored by reducing the number of people who connect the masked persona with her real identity, either by killing those who know, modifying their memories, or using clever trickery to reject that truth.
After conducting her affairs in disguise long enough to gain a full level, the character’s masked persona becomes established and begins providing a character with tangible benefits, granting her abilities similar to the vigilante’s dual identity class feature. A masked persona’s alignment still registers as the character’s true alignment for spells such as detect evil, but the persona otherwise stands out as a separate individual for the purposes of divination spells such as locate creature and scrying. Characters who know the masked persona’s true identity or see through her disguise with a successful Perception check can still target her with divination spells.
A masked persona also shields a character from social and legal repercussions, generally allowing her to go about her daily life without fear of those her masked persona has thwarted or threatened. Attempts to gather information and rumors using skill checks never connect this identity to the character’s true self.
The following feats help a character maintain or gain additional benefits from her masked persona. A character must be have an established, uncompromised masked persona to gain the benefits of the feats listed below (excluding Convincing Persona), and loses access to the feats’ benefits if her identity is compromised.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Intrigue © 2016, Paizo Inc.; Authors: David N. Ross, with Ross Byers.