Of Kings and Dragons
The people of the Linnorm Kingdoms value their reputations as much as they do their strength, power, and accomplishments. Living well is important, but more important is living right. One’s reputation works as more than just a shortcut during introductions—it can be a key that opens doors. Reputation is a merchant’s livelihood. It’s a hero’s free room and board. It’s a warlord’s triumph even before a battle begins. And most of all, it’s the birthright all citizens leave to their children, an unseen social currency of the land. Without a good reputation, one may as well live as a churl in the slums or scrub floors as a thrall.
Games set in the Linnorm Kingdoms can work fine with reputation functioning as a largely unseen story component of a campaign, but if you want to include reputation in your game as a mechanic—as points that can be gained, lost, and spent—use the following system. While the rules governing reputation are relatively simple, even minor rules additions can overcomplicate the game for some. Before introducing the following rule system for reputation into your game, make sure everyone in the group agrees and wants the addition.
A character’s reputation is represented by points, with a possible range of 0 to 100; a score of 0 represents a hermit who lives in a cave in the wilds, while a score of 100 represents a well-known and well-loved (or perhaps well-feared) ruler of a nation. Most Linnorm Kings have 90 or more reputation points, while most thralls or slaves have fewer than 10. Your reputation does not reflect whether you are cruel or kind, merely how well known you are—you can be a Linnorm King infamous for your sadism with 100 reputation points or a saintly thrall with 0. A character cannot have more than 100 reputation points or fewer than 0.
Reputation is handled somewhat differently for PCs and NPCs, since it’s unlikely for an NPC’s reputation to change during the course of a game (barring influence by a PC), but a PC’s reputation may change often, improving or worsening in response to the choices he makes and the success or failure of his plans.
NPCs’ Base Reputation Points: An NPC’s base number of reputation points is generally equal to his CR × 5, modified by whatever modifiers from the Building and Losing Reputation table you as the GM wish to apply. Since an NPC’s reputation points do little more than help adjust that NPC’s weregild calculations, you don’t have to worry too much about being exact about an NPC’s reputation score.
PCs’ Base Reputation Points: At 1st level, a PC starts with a number of reputation points equal to her Charisma score (not her Charisma modifier) + 1 (for her 1st level). Whenever a PC’s experience level or Charisma score increases or decreases, her total number of reputation points increases or decreases by the same amount. A PC can gain or lose reputation points during play as well, as detailed below.
Gaining and Losing Reputation Points
As a campaign progresses, PCs gain reputation points by gaining levels and increasing their Charisma scores. In addition, a number of in-game events can alter a PC’s reputation. When one of these events occurs, it modifies the reputation of every PC who was directly involved in the event—for example, defeating a powerful monster would boost the reputation points of every member of the party, but earning a noble title would affect only the newly ennobled PC. Many of these encounters require the events in question to be performed “in public”—in order for the reputation point adjustment to occur, there must be surviving witnesses who can spread the news of the event in the days to come. You can delay applying reputation adjustments until 1d6 days or so after the event occurs if you wish to represent the time it takes for witnesses to spread word of the event.
It’s possible to earn multiple reputation adjustments with a single act. For example, a group with an APL (Average Party Level) of 15 that defeats an ice linnorm would earn 1 reputation point for each character for defeating a creature of a CR that is at least 3 points above the group’s APL and 3 reputation points each for defeating a linnorm and bringing its head back as a trophy.
The following reputation modifiers do not represent all possible adjustments—if a PC does something you think deserves a reputation point adjustment, consult the list of modifiers on the table below and identify an event whose difficulty is comparable to determine how much that PC’s reputation points should be adjusted.
Building and Losing Reputation
|Party is publicly defeated in an encounter of a CR lower than APL||-5|
|Party publicly flees an encounter of a CR lower than APL||-3|
|Party publicly defeats a monster of a CR that is 3 or higher than APL||+1|
|Defeat a linnorm and returning to civilization with its head as a trophy||+3|
|Play a key role in the defense of a settlement||+1|
|Up to once per month, achieve a result of 30 or higher on a public Perform check or art-related Craft check*||+2|
|Challenge and defeat in combat a person who has publicly defamed you||+3|
|Up to once per month, achieve a result of 30 or higher on a public Diplomacy or Intimidate check||+2|
|Earn a noble title||+3|
|Steal treasure from a noteworthy foe||+1|
|Craft a magic item worth at least 40,000 gp||+1/40,000 gp|
|Find and wield a legendary weapon worth at least 40,000 gp||+1/40,000 gp|
|Abandon the use of a legendary weapon for a replacement weapon||-2/40,000 gp|
|Successfully complete a standard adventure||+1|
|Successfully complete an Adventure Path||+10|
|Make a significant discovery while exploring an unknown region||+1|
|Take part in a successful sea raid||+1|
|Captain a ship in a successful sea raid||+3|
|Take part in an unsuccessful sea raid||-2|
|Captain a ship in an unsuccessful sea raid||-6|
|Start a feud over a trivial slight||-2|
|Sire or birth a child||+1|
|One of your children dies||-3|
|You are directly responsible for your spouse’s or child’s death||-10|
|You are captured by enemies||-1|
|You are ransomed||-4|
|Defeat a Linnorm King in battle||+20|
|Become a Linnorm King||+90|
*If this performance or work of art recounts the heroic accomplishments of another character via the Craft (any visible work of art like painting or sculpture) or Perform (act, comedy, oratory, or sing) skill, the +2 bonus also applies to the target of the performance or work of art. If the performance or work of art mocks and defames another character, the performer or artist gains 2 reputation points and the target loses 2 reputation points. Every additional character the performer or artist attempts to honor or defame imparts a cumulative –5 penalty on the Craft or Perform check made.
Spending Reputation Points
Reputation can be used in several ways, most often by “cashing in” reputation points to gain favors. Spending reputation points in this manner can get you aid in court, help you avoid an unwanted arrest, or even secure gifts and loans, but doing so costs a random number of reputation points. You may spend reputation points in this manner up to once per game session. If you attempt to spend reputation points and you do not have enough to pay for the boon you seek, your reputation points are reduced to 0 and you do not gain the boon.
Diplomacy/Intimidate Boost: You gain a +5 circumstance bonus on either Diplomacy or Intimidate checks for the remainder of the game session. Cost: 1d6 reputation points.
Favor: You gain a favor from an NPC ally. Cost: From 1d6 to 5d6 reputation points, depending on the GM’s whim and the difficulty of the favor.
Gift or Loan: An NPC ally grants you a gift or a loan. The gift or loan in question must be one that the NPC could actually grant (subject to the GM’s approval—requests for particularly expensive gifts or loans beyond what a character of your level could or should be able to earn through adventuring should generally be refused). The gift or loan can be in the form of wealth (in gp), or it could be a single item. A gift is permanent, but a loan lasts only for the game session in which it is granted. Cost: 1d6 reputation points per 2,000 gp value of the gift. For a loan, this reputation point cost is halved, but at the start of each subsequent game session, if the loan has not already been returned or repaid, the halved cost must be paid again to extend the loan for that game session—this counts as your use of reputation for that session.
Weregild Payment: Allies back home pay for your weregild and save you from being a hostage. Cost: a number of reputation points equal to your character level + 1d6.
Consequences of Reputation Point Loss
Beyond the shame of a diminished reputation, dropping to 0 reputation points is particularly demoralizing. As long as a character has 0 reputation points, she takes a –2 penalty on all Will saving throws and on all Charisma-based checks.