NPC build: Emily the Spy


Advice


4 people marked this as a favorite.

A while back, I was messing around with the rakshasa bloodline and I came to realize it's not so great for most PCs. (There are a couple of exceptions. Let that bide, for now.) However, it /is/ very good for certain types of NPC...

Emily is a thirtyish human female who is -- if you catch her in one of the rare moments when she's not playing a role -- rather nondescript. (Her high Cha is a matter of intensity, not good looks.) I think she has a rather unpleasant and unfortunate background; details unclear, but "rakshasa bloodline" doesn't suggest a happy family life to me somehow. If you want to get psychological, you could say that her ghastly childhood has left her somewhat withdrawn, but with a vast talent for deception. Key character traits include "careful, patient and meticulous", "natural chameleon"; "incredibly convincing liar", and "very loyal to her boss".

And who is her boss? Could be anyone, really. Emily doesn't work for herself (and doesn't want to; she's not wired that way). She could be agent of the lawful good king. Or the BBEG. Or the Aspis Consortium, or the Pathfinders. You decide; she's true neutral, so she can work for pretty much anyone. The one thing that should be consistent is that she's a professional.

Building Emily:

Emily
N Female Human Sorceress 6 (Rakshasa bloodline)

Stats:
Spoiler: Hide
Str 10
Con 12
Dex 12
Int 12
Wis 12
Cha 18 (+2 racial +1 level)

-- 15 point build, with fairly even distribution, because a spy can't really afford dump stats. I've made her N, but any nonchaotic alignment could fit this build; season to taste.

Fort +4
Ref +4
Will +8 (includes cloak of resistance)

Init:+1
AC: +4 Mage Armor +1 Bracers of Armor +1 Dex = 16.
HP: 27

-- Emily's low hp and unimpressive AC would make her combat-averse even if she weren't already. She's a spy and a manipulator, not a fighter.

Mvmt: 30 ft
BAB:+3 CMB +3 CMD 14
Weapon: mwk Dagger (+4, d4).

Traits and Feats:

Traits:

Ease of Faith -- You gain a +1 bonus on Diplomacy checks, and Diplomacy is always a class skill for you. (If you want to get deeply into it, you could say that an old priest was the only person who was ever kind to her. An old priest of some god that lies a lot.)

Suspicious -- You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive checks, and Sense Motive is always a class skill for you.

Feats:
(H) Skill Focus (Bluff)
(1) Deceitful
(3) Still Spell
(5) Silent Spell

Skills: So she gets 4 ranks/round, which for a sorceror is pretty good. She divides them as follows:

Full ranks into Bluff
1/2 ranks (i.e., a rank every other level) into Disguise, Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Perception, Stealth, and, ohh, let's say Linguistics -- which not only lets her do forgeries, but also gives her more languages to lie in.

So that gives her +19 Bluff, or +24 when she's using her bloodline power to lie; +12 Disguise (+14 with kit, and she'll usually take 20), +11 Diplomacy, +8 Sense Motive, +7 Perception, +7 Stealth and +7 Linguistics.

Note that Bluff has the rarely used "pass a secret message" aspect. So Emily can talk to person A right in front of person B and, with some carefully chosen allusions and the droop of an eyelid, deliver a very clear message without B ever suspecting a thing.

Bloodline powers and Spells:

Silver Tongue: +5 to Bluff to lie 7 times/day, DC 16 caster level check to force her into honesty with magic

Mind Reader: as Detect Thoughts, once/day, DC 17 Will save

-- Emily's whole career as a spy is built around these nifty bloodline powers. Her Bluff to lie is +24, and with a few moments' preparation she can raise that to an eye-watering +26 or +28. This means she can get a half-plausible lie past pretty much anyone she's likely to encounter.

Spells:

0 level (7) -- Arcane Mark, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Prestidigitation.

-- Nothing special here, but note that she could cast these all even if bound and gagged, thanks to her feats. Message is pretty handy for a spy, Ghost Sound's a good distraction that goes well with a high Bluff, and Prestidigitation... well, Emily strikes me as someone who likes to be neat and pressed at all times.

1st (6 +1 for pearl) Charm Person, Disguise Self, Liberating Command, Mage Armor, Memory Lapse, Sleep

-- Emily casts Mage Armor (6 hours duration) every morning and, if the day doesn't look busy, again through the day so that she's usually covered. Liberating Command is for escaping grapples or bonds, or helping someone else do the same: handy for a spy. Still Silent Memory Lapse lets her reroll a Diplomacy check or an attempt to move with Stealth past a guard, while Still Silent Charm Person is how she says hello to potential problems.

2nd (5) Eagle’s Splendor, Invisibility, Retrieve Item, Seducer’s Eyes

-- Eagle's Splendor is her go-to buff. Retrieve Item is situational, but sometimes it's nice to be able to retrieve potions and whatnot from a locked cabinet several hundred feet away as a free action. (Emily has precast this spell on a bunch of useful items, just in case.) Seducer's Eyes is a spell she wrinkles her nose at a bit; at this level, it's a crappier version of Eagle's Splendor. But sometimes you just want to pile buff on buff, and "slinky seductress" is part of a good spy's repertoire -- though given a choice, Emily would rather play the second assistant accountant, standing meekly one step behind the Vizier.

3rd (3) Summon Monster III

Summon Monster is her only real offensive spell: a wolverine, fiendish ape, or d3 small fire elementals, if she absolutely must. But it's also collection of utility spells: dire bat to detect invisible, shark as an emergency flotation device, lantern archon for light and buffing, dretch with stinking cloud to clear a room.

Gear:

4650 gp

Bracers of armor +1; Cloak of resistance +1; Pearl of Power (1st level); 2 doses Elixir of Vision (+10 Perception for one hour); 2 potions of Cure Light Wounds; wand of Silent Image (20 charges); disguise kit; masterwork dagger. This leaves her about 350 gp for miscellaneous odds and ends. If she's staying in a safe place where she doesn't usually go more than 600 feet away (i.e., she lives in the castle and has a locked room), she'll keep some less valuable items there with Retrieve Item precast on them.

Combat:

As noted above, she has people for that. Emily is very good at building roles where she's perceived as harmless and well liked. PCs who attack her should pretty quickly be swarmed by the palace guard, the Thieves Guild, a bunch of enraged cleric-accountants from the Temple of Abadar, or whoever. Emily will feign helplessness, but may quietly pitch in with still silent spells and illusions from her wand. If she ever absolutely has to fight something, and she doesn't have charmed / bluffed friends around to help her, she'll back away, cast a couple of Summon Monsters, then go invisible. If a fiendish ape and 1d3 small elementals can't handle matters, she'll fly away.

Emily is best encountered while she's playing a role, running an infiltration, or disguised as something else. At sixth level she's a suitable minder for a group of low-level PCs, or a recurring nonviolent rival or antagonist for some midlevel ones. Emphasis on nonviolent! Emily's not much of a combatant. Her fantastic Bluff means she's usually got people around who are ready to fight on her behalf... but Emily is, as noted, a professional, and she won't hang around to see who wins. Getting information back to her boss is the first priority, saving herself a close second. Similarly, if the PCs are allies, she'll help them -- until and unless it jeapordizes her main mission, at which point they're on their own.

Thoughts and suggestions welcome. If there's interest I'll try building her out to 10th level; suggestions on build paths welcome too.

cheers,

Doug M.


Hat of disguise. For such a (relatively) cheap item that can more or less look like anything, it is invaluable for an intrigue oriented character.

Trust me, as someone who has screwed up my GM's day far more times than I should have with that one stupid item, I can say with all certainty that it's a must.

(Hell, get the improved version if you're feeling generous.)


It's a nice item! But she's already got +14 on Disguise, giving her a DC 34 if she takes 20 (which she usually will). And while it is indeed a cheapish item, for a sixth level NPC it would eat almost half of her WBL.

If I stat up the 10th level version, then for sure.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

It's a nice item! But she's already got +14 on Disguise, giving her a DC 34 if she takes 20 (which she usually will). And while it is indeed a cheapish item, for a sixth level NPC it would eat almost half of her WBL.

If I stat up the 10th level version, then for sure.

Doug M.

It's only 1,800. The chart says a 6th level character should start out with 16k. And it adds +10 to any disguise, and allows you to change them on the fly.

(Unless you're talking about the greater version, at which point you're right.)


werewolf435 wrote:

[

It's only 1,800. The chart says a 6th level character should start out with 16k.

6th level PC. NPCs, alas, get a lot less.

Doug M.


I really REALLY like this character, amazing work!

One thing worth checking, I didn't think you could take 20 on Disguise ...?

Quote:
The Disguise check is made secretly, so that you can’t be sure how good the result is.

Since the roll is made secretly, you're not supposed to know how you did ... taking 20 would mean you knew how you did. I'm not sure about RAW but RAI seems to be you couldn't...

Also Taking 20:

Quote:
When you have plenty of time, you are faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, you can take 20.

This is kinda tricky to rule on, since at the time you're putting the disguise on you're not threatened, but as soon as it's effects come into play you are (as soon as your disguise has to hold up to scrutiny), and there are definite penalties for failure.

Again not exactly sure on this one, but I always thought this one was one you couldn't take 20 on.

Edit:

Quote:
Taking 20 takes 20 times as long as making a single check would take
Quote:
Creating a disguise requires 1d3 × 10 minutes of work.

Maybe it's possible, but it's going to take 3-10 hours to take 20 on a disguise check (I think that's balanced to be honest, so I'd allow it)

2nd Edit: I forgot about disguise self spell =P ... I doubt you'd be able to take 20 while casting a spell though


MrCharisma wrote:
I really REALLY like this character, amazing work!

Well, thanks! Feel free to hit the "+" button up there -- that's what it's for. Doesn't have any effect, but it shows that someone liked it...

Quote:
Creating a disguise requires 1d3 × 10 minutes of work.
Maybe it's possible, but it's going to take 3-10 hours to take 20 on a disguise check (I think that's balanced to be honest, so I'd allow it)

I would too -- but I do see this character as usually inhabiting a role, rather than a disguise as such. She shows up with forged papers and some really convincing lies that establish her as an excellent bookkeeper or a nanny with flawless references. Soon everyone trusts her! The disguise is secondary... though if she needs it, yeah, she spends a day taking 20. I would interpret this as shopping for the perfect outfit, researching just what sort of shoelaces Imperial bookkeepers typically wear, getting a copy made of their "busy bee" badge, practicing their trademark distracted air and slightly pigeon-toed walk, and like that.

As noted, there's a 10th level version. Dipping a couple of levels of rogue takes the character in some interesting directions.

Doug M.


I see you have Still and Silent Spell in the featlist.

This alone is not sufficient to cast spells unnoticed. You need Secret Signs for this kind of stunt, which is imho a must-have for this kind of character.

Silent Spell can stil be useful if you are sneaking around and dont want to be heared in the next room when casting a spell.

But for Still Spell i see no real advantage. Normally you dont get grappeled so often, or need to cast while wearing a Fullplate.

Dark Archive

Great NPC! I really like how well she comes together and how even the feats and such blend well into a background for her.

I hope you don't mind if I steal her for the next game I run, I'm sure the PCs will thank you ;)

Guru-Meditation wrote:

I see you have Still and Silent Spell in the featlist.

This alone is not sufficient to cast spells unnoticed. You need Secret Signs for this kind of stunt, which is imho a must-have for this kind of character.

Silent Spell can stil be useful if you are sneaking around and dont want to be heared in the next room when casting a spell.

But for Still Spell i see no real advantage. Normally you dont get grappeled so often, or need to cast while wearing a Fullplate.

Not at all, secret signs is a great way to hide the Somatic component for spells that have one without increasing the spell level required, but with Still and Silent metamagics Emily is able to cast spells without any Somatic or Verbal components, if the spell also lacks Material components then she can literally cast without anyone having a clue she has done so, she just has to use higher level spell slots to do so.


Suthainn wrote:
if the spell also lacks Material components then she can literally cast without anyone having a clue she has done so, she just has to use higher level spell slots to do so.

Sorceresses (and Sorcerers) get Eschew Materials at level 1, so she should be covered there. A quick check of all her spells known shows they don't require any expensive material components, but there are a few with focus components so it might be worth noting those.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
I would too -- but I do see this character as usually inhabiting a role, rather than a disguise as such.

Yeah that seems totally logical to me. Honestly I'm not even sure why I thought you couldn't take 20 ... maybe from another system I played, or a home rule? Maybe I just thought taking 10 hours was too long & I was never going to do it... Either way it seems like a really fun, really solid character to me =)

(PS I went and hit that "+" button for you, you earned it)

Liberty's Edge

Suthainn wrote:
Not at all, secret signs is a great way to hide the Somatic component for spells that have one without increasing the spell level required, but with Still and Silent metamagics Emily is able to cast spells without any Somatic or Verbal components, if the spell also lacks Material components then she can literally cast without anyone having a clue she has done so, she just has to use higher level spell slots to do so.

I might be misinformed, but last I heard there was a ruling that even with no components, and with Still and Silent metamagics, enemies still get a spellcraft check to identify what spell you're casting?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Arcaian wrote:
But for Still Spell i see no real advantage. Normally you dont get grappeled so often, or need to cast while wearing a Fullplate.

Emily is a spy, so she worries about being captured. Being able to cast while bound or in chains is worth a feat in her mind.

Quote:
I might be misinformed, but last I heard there was a ruling that even with no components, and with Still and Silent metamagics, enemies still get a spellcraft check to identify what spell you're casting?

I believe you are correct -- even a Still Silent spell can still be identified with Spellcraft. Note, though, that (1) pretty much nobody uses Spellcraft except arcane casters, so she just has to keep an eye out for those, and (2) the Bloodline Arcana for the Rakshasa Bloodline: Add half your sorcerer level to the Spellcraft DC for others to identify spells you cast. So, anyone trying to spot Emily's spellcasting is effectively at -3 on the roll.

Also, her high Bluff skill can sometimes cover for spellcasting. (Really, under RAW, a sufficiently high Bluff is like a reality-warping field.) So, e.g., target: "Did you just try Charm me?" Emily: [Outlandish lie at +14] Target: "Oh... okay."

Doug M.


Suthainn wrote:
... with Still and Silent metamagics Emily is able to cast spells without any Somatic or Verbal components, if the spell also lacks Material components then she can literally cast without anyone having a clue she has done so, she just has to use higher level spell slots to do so.

No, sadly not.

There are still the visual side-effect of casting a spell, who are not based on any components of the spell itself, but purely on the workings of magic itself.

You can see these light effects in the official artwork.

They do not go away, even if you stand still and dont speak. The magical energies fluttering around you still make the spell identifiable by those with Spellcraft, and those without the skill still know that you are casting *some kind* of magic, even if they cant tell the difference between a Dominate Person to make the trader hand over all his merchandise for free and a Mage Hand to fetch that beer from the bar without having to walk there. Which also neatly explains the distrust that commoners have against spellcasters. "You never know with them Spellslinger types, i tell you!"

To archive the "cast without anyone having a clue she has done so"-effect you need Secret Signs, or Spellsong if you are a Bard/Skald.

There was a longer thread about that, until a dev clarified it.


Guru-Meditation wrote:


There are still the visual side-effect of casting a spell, who are not based on any components of the spell itself, but purely on the workings of magic itself.

You can see these light effects in the official artwork.

Note that she can still use her respectable +7 Stealth to go unnoticed (subject to the usual caveats about hiding in plain sight, etc.), and then cast.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Guru-Meditation wrote:


There are still the visual side-effect of casting a spell, who are not based on any components of the spell itself, but purely on the workings of magic itself.

You can see these light effects in the official artwork.

Note that she can still use her respectable +7 Stealth to go unnoticed (subject to the usual caveats about hiding in plain sight, etc.), and then cast.

Doug M.

I don't know if it's strick RAW, but I'd allow a stealth/bluff roll to cast secretly even if people can see you ... Something like the Feign Harmlessness section in bluff would work.

Eh, if you prefer secret signs you can swap it out when you use the character.


MrCharisma wrote:
Eh, if you prefer secret signs you can swap it out when you use the character.

If we're going that route, the best feat is probably Cunning Caster. It gets overlooked, I think, because most PCs can't deal with the stacking Bluff penalties -- but it really wouldn't be a problem for Emily.

Doug M.

Scarab Sages

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
A while back, I was messing around with the rakshasa bloodline and I came to realize it's not so great for most PCs. (There are a couple of exceptions. Let that bide, for now.)

Love the Rakshasa Bloodline. Agree, difficult for a PC to capitalize on.

I'd note that UM added the "Spell Bluff" feat, which adds a further +4 to the spellcraft DC when trying to identify the spell that the Sorcerer casts. Since PCs will likely assume that the spellcraft DC is related to the spell's level, this feat has applications in making the PCs overreact to lesser spells.

My favorite (theoretical) application is to have a character that alternates between Summon Monster and Illusions of Summoned Monsters. Rakshasa bloodline ability to disguise one as the other.

Silent image, in particular, would be a solid one to attempt to get PCs to waste spells that they'd logically use against summoned monsters.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:
Eh, if you prefer secret signs you can swap it out when you use the character.

If we're going that route, the best feat is probably Cunning Caster. It gets overlooked, I think, because most PCs can't deal with the stacking Bluff penalties -- but it really wouldn't be a problem for Emily.

Doug M.

Yeah great feat. I'd probably make that her next feet anyway. She's a sorceress (no material components) and can use still/silent spell on the fly, & she pretty much exclusively uses spells without a *visible effect. It's only really the spells with a focus component that will take a penalty on, so for this kind of build it's all bonus and no penalty.\

*GM discretion obviously, but that seems to be the whole point of the character.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

By the way: the Pearl of Power is of absolutely no use to a sorcerer. It only lets you recall a prepared spell that you just cast -- and sorcerers do not prepare their spells.


Any relation to Harriet?

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / NPC build: Emily the Spy All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.