Michael Alves (The Sage)
Courtier Archetype and 7 New Social Feats - PF2E Compatible
Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Heroes and adventures comes from many backgrounds, from farmers to nobles, and when not adventuring they also live very different lives. Some of them are in fact aristocrats, courtiers, diplomats or members of the govern, high society members that for different reasons took the path of adventuring.
Those that have experience in the dealings of high society learn the importance of the words and of politics. They know that many smiles are fake and real motivations should be kept hidden to better sail into the turbulent waters of the high-society power struggle.
With that experience, they learn how to best deal with high-class people, both to better persuade them and to better avoid being manipulated by them. With practice those skills improve into abilities of leadership, enabling one to intimidate their foes or incite their allies with their words. Some kings, Master Diplomats and Dukes reach such a mastery of this trade that their powerful words can even make enemies kneel at their command.
In this article, The Gamer Sage presents the Cortier Archetype, and 7 new skill feats all compatible with Pathfinder 2E.
The courtier is a member of high society, accustomed to dealing in politics, diplomacy, and intrigue. Note: This archetype requires the character to be part of the high-society and have an official ranking in a bureaucratic institution, or a nobility ranking of some sort. Consult your DM to see if this archetype is available for your character and how to best fit it into his world.
Cortier Dedication - FEAT 2
Prerequisite(s): Member of a high class in society or part of a bureaucratic or diplomatic institution of a govern or similar organization, trained in Diplomacy;
Your training in the graceful manners of the high society and the power play of the politics instilled you with surprising cleverness and a wide perspective on the motivations, fears, and emotions of those around you. You become trained in your choice of Deception or Society and in Court Lore; if you were already trained, you become an expert instead. Your good manners and social status give you a +1 circumstance bonus on all social tests when interacting with nobles, members of a government, courtiers, aristocrats, and other high-society people.
Special: You cannot select another dedication feat until you have gained two other feats from the Courtier Archetype.
High-Society Income - FEAT 4
Prerequisite(s): Courtier Dedication
You earned a stable position which provides you enough income to sustain your lifestyle, enabling you to hire assistants and frequent places destined to people of prestige.
When on downtime, you can dedicate yourself to your duties of diplomacy and receive enough income to maintain a Fine Standard of Living for you and possibly your close family, and a Comfortable Standard of Living for up to 5 assistants that will need to work helping you. No test is necessary to use this feat.
You cannot choose to live a more modest life to amass the gold for other purposes because the places you are expected to frequent, the kinds of clothing and even your place of lodgment can affect your prestige and risks reducing your position and your income.
While using this feat during your downtime you cannot do other downtime activities, and neither can any other person you are providing for.
Most of your time will be dedicated to bureaucratic or diplomatic work, creating connections, making deals, drinking fancy wines and visiting noble states for balls and other festivities. A charming lifestyle for many.
When you reach Master in Diplomacy, you can at GM discretion, live on a Fine Standard of Living even during adventures. This means having access to comfortable carriages, good accommodations on ships, the finest rooms available on lodgings, better quality of food and beverages, without needing to pay extra from your personal wealth. The number of assistants and hirelings you can maintain also increase to 10.
If you reach Legendary in Diplomacy instead of having a Fine Standard of Living, you live in an Extravagant Standard of Living. Also, your number of hirelings and assistants increase to up to 100, with up to 10 of those being able to live a Fine Standard of Living themselves.
Clever-Minded - FEAT 6
Prerequisite(s): Courtier Dedication
Your experience in the power plays of the courts gave you deeper understanding of the tactics of intimidation, coercion, and manipulation, be they magical or not.
You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to saves against all emotion effects, and all effects that try to change your attitude, dominate your mind or control your actions, as well to your Will DC against someone trying to Coercing you, Demoralizing you, Making an Impression on you, or Making a Request of you.
Harsh Words [one-action] - FEAT 8
Prerequisite(s): Courtier Dedication, Master in Diplomacy, at least one other Courtier feat.
You know how to use the right words to censure those that displease you. Use the Demoralize action from Intimidation, but using your Diplomacy instead of your Intimidation skill. This use of Demoralize requires the target to hear you and understand your language, and will automatically fail if he can’t hear or can’t understand you.
On a success, the target becomes frightened 2.
On a critical success, the target becomes frightened 3.
In all other aspects, it works like the use of Demoralize action.
Motivating Words [one-action] - FEAT 10
Prerequisite(s): Courtier Dedication, at least two other Courtier feats.
Requirements: You are not confused, fleeing, frightened or stupefied.
Frequency: Once per Round.
You use your expertise in positions of power and leadership, and your understanding of how to manipulate emotions, to motivate your allies into action.
You and all allies that can hear your confident words, in a 20-foot emanation, gain +1 status bonus to attacks, AC, and to the Will save until the beginning of your next turn. This also reduces the frightened condition on your allies by 1, and enable them to immediately make one save against a mind effect that is causing the confused condition.
Imposing Figure - FEAT 12
Prerequisite(s): Courtier Dedication, Master in Diplomacy
Your movements, your vests and your voice all mix into a figure of power and respect, to be feared by enemies and followed by allies. Enemy's strength falters when attacking you, and your allies show great diligence when fighting at your side.
You have Resistance 3 against all damage caused on you by enemies in a 20-foot emanation. And when an enemy inside the emanation cause damage to you, your allies in the area gain +1 circumstance bonus on their attacks against that enemy until the end of the enemy's next turn.
Demanding Word [two-action] - FEAT 14
Prerequisite(s): Courtier Dedication, Mater at Diplomacy, Trained in Intimidation.
Frequency: Once per 10 minutes
You issue a clear order to someone. It works like the suggestion spell, heightened to a level equals to half your level, but is not a magical effect and only requires a verbal component.
If used outside of combat and against a target that is at least indifferent or better from you, the target takes a -2 penalty to its saving throw.
Because it is not a magical effect, it cannot be dispelled, and does not register as anything supernatural. Others that see you using this ability will not perceive it as anything more than a very compelling demand. It might sound arrogant or normal depending on the difference from your status to the targets.
If the target is successful in its save, it also can’t be affected by your Demanding Word for one week.
If the target critically succeeds against you, it will not see it as a supernatural effect, but they will be deeply offended by the way you spoke and their attitude will change at DM discretion.
NEW SKILL FEATS
The ability to deal with social situations is necessary even to adventurers whose lifestyles are far from the fine wines and and great festivities of the court. Here are seven new skill feats for Courtiers and non-courtiers to further their social abilities:
Eavesdropper - FEAT 2
Prerequisites: trained in Stealth, trained in either Diplomacy or Deception
When in a party, tavern, ball or any other festivity or crowded social place, you can make use of your ability to be unnoticed to get closer to the right conversations and hear the gossips and secrets being traded.
When making gather information in such situations you gain a +1 circumstance bonus, and in case you are successful, you also learn one extra useful information that you were not specifically looking for, at DM discretion. It is generally a new gossip of the town, or sometimes even a secret that slipped out in a drunken haze.
High Society Pathfinder - FEAT 2
Prerequisites: Trained in Diplomacy
You are accustomed to dealing with the high society, be them politicians, nobles or powerful merchants, and you know how to get invited to the right parties and events.
When you reach a new settlement, you can roll a Diplomacy check to mix into the high society and get new contacts. If you are successful you gain access to parties and events of the local high-society, and receives a +2 circumstance bonus on Gather Information rolls that involves individuals of the High Society or information about matters of business or the government, or other topics that the DM sees as fitting, until you leave that specific settlement.
The DC of the test is decided by the DM based on the size of the settlement and the importance and closure of the local high society.
Inextricable Arcane Rhetoric - FEAT 7
Prerequisites: Expert in Arcana
Your knowledge about the intricate aspects of reality is deep and you learned how to make use of the complex theories about the workings of the arcane to convince others that you are correct in your arguments, as they can't even grasp the complexity of your logic.
When trying to convince someone that your course of action or argument about something is the correct one you can make an Arcana check against the DC of the highest Arcana of the people listening to you. If you are successful you can use your Arcana instead of any other skill on checks to convince them of your position.
If you critically fail on your initial Arcane check your credibility will be put into question, and you will have a -4 penalty to any check to convince those persons of your arguments for 1 week. If you instead critically succeed, all your Arcane Rolls to convince that specific group of people are rolled with a +2 circumstance bonus until the next day.
Legendary Conspirator - FEAT 15
Prerequisites: Legendary in Deception
Your conspiracies and plans are so intricate that all divination spells made to uncover information about your plans and lies provide so entangled information that no useful hints or advice can be taken out of them.
Also, all attempts of using gather information, or other indirect ways that the DM deems appropriate, that try to uncover your name or associate you as part of political plots or conspirations are at a rolled with a -10 penalty.
Military Background - FEAT 2
Prerequisites: Trained in Warfare Lore, Been part of a military organization in the present or in the past.
Your background on the military earns you prestige and gives you a good reputation around nobles and people of influence.
When dealing with nobles and members of high society that, at DM discretion, have a positive view of the military organization you are or was part of, the initial attitude of those NPC’s will be Friendly with you instead of Indifferent. You will be treated with respect by them even if you lack the manners, vests and ways of talking appropriated to the place you are.
It is possible that your organization is hated in some places or by some people, at DM discretion, and in this case, the attitude of those NPC’s might start at unfriendly, or even hostile in some cases.
Theocratic Adept - FEAT 7
Prerequisites: Trained in Religion and either in Diplomacy or Society
You have studied the politics of religion and how your faith is involved in the matters of the state and the business in its areas of influence, and you can use your knowledge and the importance of your religion to exert diplomatic pressure.
When rolling Diplomacy while dealing with High Society, Politics and Nobles, you can use Religion instead of Diplomacy on your roll. You can use Religion to Make an Impression or to Request when dealing with those groups.
When dealing with particularly religious members of high society that are adepts of the same faith, patron deity or an allied deity, you receive a +1 circumstance bonus on all check of social interaction.
Well-connected - FEAT 7
Prerequisites: Expert in Society, Connections
You are well known in the society, and many people owe you favors. When you use your Connection Feat, you can instead try to find an individual with a specific ability or skill, that is in debt with you, to do one job that you need. It works in the same way of Connection Feat, but they will not ask for anything in return as that person is already indebted to you.
It most often not a figure of power or influence, most often being commoner skilled in a trade or profession, be it a blacksmith, a sailor or a thief. In case of a Critical Success on your Society roll, the DM can provide a specially talented contact, or even a powerful and influential one, that owes you a favor.
In addition, if you are attempting to use the basic use of the Connection Feat, if you pass the DC specified by the DM by 10, on the Society roll, the person you end up finding is already in debt with you and will not ask for any payment or exchange if the favor you need is within the realm of possibility for them.
In both cases, the DM decides the limits of what you can ask of your contacts.
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23/10/2019 - Changes to the Courtier Archetype:
Imposing Figure now gives damage resistance instead of AC bonus, emanation range reduced to 20-foot.
Motivating Words emanation range reduced to 20-foot.
Harsh Words now requires only 1 other Courtier Feat to be acquired.
Commentaries on the changes: By studying feedback, and looking at similar abilities from other classes and archetypes I reached the conclusion that these changes were necessary. Imposing Figure was giving a flat bonus, something that Paizo is avoiding doing on PF2E classes and archetypes currently.
Harsh Words now require one less courtier feat to be acquired so that you can now skip one of the previous feats of your choice, which enables the creating of economically broken nobles, which was not possible in the previous version of the class as you could not skip High-Society Income and still reach Motivating Words.
Motivating Words and Imposing Figure area size were both reduced to better differentiate those abilities from similar effects from other classes, and to keep a consistent range for the abilities of the archetype.
Motivating Words was not further nerfed because it was found to be balanced on the current state with the reduced area of effect. Comparisons with Inspire Courage are not correct, as better comparisons can be made with Dirge of Doom and Inspire Defence.
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