War of the Words

Thursday, March 24, 2016

As a GM, one of the things I love about the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is that it allows you to play out any story you can imagine in the fantasy world within. But when those stories have fewer physical combats and more scheming, infiltration, persuasion, and other types of intrigue, the rules don't have your back as solidly as they do for combat, so a GM, like me, who ran lots of those plots had to do a lot of improvisation. In Ultimate Intrigue, we present both subsystems and advice for players and GMs alike to sink their teeth into an intrigue game and all sorts of fun challenges they might find therein.


Looks like Kess is about to put somebody... on ice!
Illustration by Nicholas Gregory

First up, we have two influence systems, one for gaining influence with particular characters at an event to pursue a goal, and another for gaining influence and power within an organization. Next, the Heists section shows you how to build and play a fun heist and get started with some "Ocean's Elven" style action. The leadership section shows how to modify leadership for a variety of types of leader or follower that break the standard assumptions and how to tie leadership into all the other subsystems, as well as presenting an enormous chart of potential monster cohorts from all five Bestiaries, with some adjusted cohort levels that reflect either disruptive abilities or relative lack of options in an intrigue game (for instance, stone giant is much lower now, but the hound archon with its at-will greater teleport is much higher). The nemesis subsystem helps with creating and managing of various nemeses of the PCs, including increasingly drastic options a nemesis might take once she has fixated on the PCs as a thorn in her side. Pursuit offers a long-term version of a chase where the whole group works together to overcome the challenges of the terrain and catch up to an NPC, escape an NPC, or beat an NPC in a race to a crucial site. The research subsystem helps in roleplaying the challenge of discovering hidden lore, based on the system from Mummy's Mask but adding a bunch of fun twists, like monsters or traps tied into the research progress. Spells of intrigue is an advice section on some of the most common spells in an intrigue game and how they fit into the world of intrigue without cracking it wide open (including their limitations, countermeasures, and so on). This section includes advice on adjudicating charms and compulsions, illusions and what counts as interacting, divinations, and more!

The social conflicts section is in some ways a centerpiece for the various subsystems, as it addresses directly how to put together a social conflict with various stakes and contenders like you might see in Game of Thrones (including an example social conflict where fey changelings are instigating a class war between the common folk and the nobility). Verbal duels are battles of wits and words where each duelist chooses various tactics to try to defeat their rival and impress the crowd. For instance, the allegory tactic is a good opening tactic, but telling a story isn't great in the middle of a fast-paced exchange, baiting tries to goad your opponent into responding with a penalty, mockery is great if your opponent is on the ropes with the crowd, and red herring lets you escape a tense situation by starting a whole new argument). Lastly, the skills in conflict section provides a variety of advice for the skills most often used against each other, like the social skills, Perception, and Stealth, filling out some of the skill descriptions from the Core Rulebook with more expansive rulings and advice. We've got advice in here for dealing with situations like:

  • bluffing with a party
  • true lies and implausible truths
  • the aftermath of a bluff
  • bluffing someone who has already been bluffed in a different way
  • requests are not mind control
  • roleplaying and social skills
  • calling for a cease-fire
  • when disguise is opposed
  • seeing through an illusion that augments a disguise
  • two sides each attempting to Intimidate the other
  • explaining negative consequences to someone who doesn't like you without using fear tactics
  • active and automatic Perception
  • precise and imprecise senses
  • cover and concealment for Stealth
  • states of awareness (unaware, aware of presence, aware of location, and observing)
  • hunches with Sense Motive
  • Sense Motive is not mind reading
  • and more!

Ultimate Intrigue is the toolkit that will let you bring all sorts of new styles of adventure to your gaming table, or enrich your games if you were already throwing those kinds of plotlines and adventures at your PCs. I can't wait to hear what sorts of stories of intrigue you tell using this book!

Mark Seifter
Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Nicholas Gregory Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Intrigue

Mark, you are making the wait even worse!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quote:
"Ocean’s Elven"

I see what you did there. ;P


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I can't wait to get my hands on that skills in conflict section. Going to buy an extra copy just to slap that chapter in the face of any DM I play with in the future.

Paizo Employee Designer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Joana wrote:
Quote:
"Ocean’s Elven"
I see what you did there. ;P

Sorry, can't help myself. :D


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Question for anyone with the book or with more insight: Does the section on states of awareness cover "surprise" and "completely unaware"? In unaware the same as completely unaware? I remember a bunch of confusion regarding those when the Slayer's Sniper rework was previewed.

Sniper ability spoilered for reference.

Sniper's Deadly Range:
At 2nd level, when the sniper makes an attack against a target who is within his weapon's first range increment and completely unaware of his presence, that attack ignores the 30 foot range limit on ranged sneak attacks, and if it is a sneak attack, he adds his sniper level as a bonus on his sneak attack damage roll. After this first attack, the target is aware of the sniper's presence.

Based on the text of the blog, it sounds like this ability may have been specifically referenced.

Paizo Employee Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

This section will help with sniper, and it calls out unaware of presence vs. aware of presence vs. aware of location vs. observing. Hope it'll help you out if you've got a sniper! :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Xethik wrote:

Question for anyone with the book or with more insight: Does the section on states of awareness cover "surprise" and "completely unaware"? In unaware the same as completely unaware? I remember a bunch of confusion regarding those when the Slayer's Sniper rework was previewed.

Sniper ability spoilered for reference.
** spoiler omitted **

Based on the text of the blog, it sounds like this ability may have been specifically referenced.

There is a section "skills in conflict" Perception and stealth that talks about states of awareness. There are 4 states one is unaware the other 3 are different states of awareness.


Does the library research section discuss the Hypercognition spell? It allows you to complete research checks of a given duration in 1/5 the time unless some sort of exclusion was put in there. I hope there isn't one, it's otherwise not a great spell.


It is going to be interesting to see them pull out the long term chase rules in Pathfinder Society.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Will this help at all with corner cases for Stealth, such as someone with hide in plain sight and/or Hellcat Stealth using Stealth in combat? The main issue is stuff like stealthing, moving, attacking, then stealthing again (which is something one of my characters theoretically could do, but doesn't, since we generally rule using Stealth requires movement). And what happens if you have Spring Attack as well? Do you then get to do the whole Stealth-twice-in-a-turn thing?

Contributor—Canadian Maplecakes

3 people marked this as a favorite.
David Neilson wrote:
It is going to be interesting to see them pull out the long term chase rules in Pathfinder Society.

The plan would be to link them in with mass combat, and package the whole thing as a repeating haunt ALA Groundhog Day. ;)

Owner - Gator Games & Hobby

I swear I was going to skip this book...

Leaving aside what looks like some excellent urban/social crunch, which I might've just culled from the SRDs, I had to throw my money at this level of detailed examination of the corner cases of skills and spells.

Skills in Conflict

So. So Happy


What the hell is Kess fighting anyway?

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
What the hell is Kess fighting anyway?

She's fighting an ice elemental while Aric is desperately trying to convince some nobles that there's some magic going on affecting the weather and leading to some kingdom-wide climate change and potential a global ice age. Predictably, even with the ice elemental right in front of them, the nobles were kind of hedging and denying the threat...and that's when Aric gave Kess the signal to bring the fight into the room! :D


I was able to page through this book at a friend's place last night (he's a subscriber).

It looks even better "in the flesh" than all these tantalizing posts hint at.

The wait is mentally agonizing. Perhaps I'll just sleep all day, every day, until it arrives in stores.

Paizo Employee Designer

TarionsCousin wrote:

I was able to page through this book at a friend's place last night (he's a subscriber).

It looks even better "in the flesh" than all these tantalizing posts hint at.

The wait is mentally agonizing. Perhaps I'll just sleep all day, every day, until it arrives in stores.

I'm really glad. Obviously I'm super-excited about the books I worked on, and I know that excitement translates into my blogs, but I'm also always nervous to see what you guys will think, so it makes me happy to hear that it's even better than you expected based on my blogs!


Thurston Hillman wrote:
David Neilson wrote:
It is going to be interesting to see them pull out the long term chase rules in Pathfinder Society.
The plan would be to link them in with mass combat, and package the whole thing as a repeating haunt ALA Groundhog Day. ;)

Well only if you do it with a fire and acid immune swarm in deeper darkness.

Sovereign Court

Oh I've been waiting for this book for SOOOOOOOO long. I love me some skills and RP and social encounters. Give me ALL THE SKILLZ!

--Lucky ShamVrock

Paizo Employee Designer

Thurston Hillman wrote:
David Neilson wrote:
It is going to be interesting to see them pull out the long term chase rules in Pathfinder Society.
The plan would be to link them in with mass combat, and package the whole thing as a repeating haunt ALA Groundhog Day. ;)

Sounds like that kind of scenario might come to be a new staple.


My copy shipped today. Whheee!


I foresee that the Fleshbags who deny my Warforged kin their birthright will be making extensive use of this arcane time. Little do they know that we too are masters of deception and negotiation. One must be adept in all manners of survival to thrive in the Mournlands.


Fey changelings?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
David Neilson wrote:
It is going to be interesting to see them pull out the long term chase rules in Pathfinder Society.

I haven't seen the rules, but it sounds like from the description that they've already been in two scenarios.

Two scenarios with group chase/pursuit mechanics:

5-21: The Merchant's Wake (SWIM THROUGH THE DOOR)
6-14: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 2: Kaava Quarry

But it may not be exactly that. And actually, group chases were well received from what I remember.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Stealth and concealment!
Did expended light/darkness rules make it into the book as well?

Ruyan.

Silver Crusade

Mark Seifter wrote:
so it makes me happy to hear that it's even better than you expected based on my blogs!

At this point, it seems unlikely that it will be better than I expect :-). The blogs and product thread have put my expectations REALLY high :-).

Of course, if it is only 1/2 as good as I now expect it will be a very, very good product and well worth my money.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Mark, this is an excellent blog on what promises to be one of the best books in a long time. I haven't read a major book cover-to-cover in a while, but this will be one of those times. If it's as good as you make it sound, and knowing you a little bit I'm certain that it is, I'll be tracking you down at GenCon for an autograph in my copy.


The leadership section described above alone makes this book sound like a great buy. Do we get any more information on how Leadership works, with, say, the kingdom building rules from Ultimate Campaign? In fact, do we get ANY information in Ultimate Intrigue that expands on the kingdom building rules?

Paizo Employee Designer

Dick Gilbert wrote:
Mark, this is an excellent blog on what promises to be one of the best books in a long time. I haven't read a major book cover-to-cover in a while, but this will be one of those times. If it's as good as you make it sound, and knowing you a little bit I'm certain that it is, I'll be tracking you down at GenCon for an autograph in my copy.

I'll be there. Based on last year, you should likely see me at the booth somewhere near Horror Adventures and Ultimate Intrigue!

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:
The leadership section described above alone makes this book sound like a great buy. Do we get any more information on how Leadership works, with, say, the kingdom building rules from Ultimate Campaign? In fact, do we get ANY information in Ultimate Intrigue that expands on the kingdom building rules?

Yep, it does mention the tie-in to kingdom-building.

Dark Archive

Starfinder Superscriber

Horror is the one I'm really looking for!


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is there ever going to be an official character sheet that incorporates post-CRB features, or are we pretty much exclusively switching to third-party sheets now?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Erich Williams wrote:
Is there ever going to be an official character sheet that incorporates post-CRB features, or are we pretty much exclusively switching to third-party sheets now?

How do you mean?

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