As the party continues doing various things throughout the world they will become known for these deeds. Starting out with just small rumors, most wrong, that are traded amongst the small villages when a peddler or merchant comes through to actual facts written down in history books from world changing events. While the party may try to take advantage of their reputation from time to time, usually the party’s reputation precedes them – whether they wants it to or not.
Reputation enhances noncombat interaction between characters by providing bonuses to certain skill checks. This reputation can be positive or negative (or even both at once). Those who recognize a character are more likely to help him or do what he asks, provided the character’s reputation is a positive influence on the NPC or monster that recognizes him. A high reputation bonus makes it difficult for a character to mask his identity, which can be a problem if he’s trying not to be noticed.
Most of the time, the party doesn’t decide to use their reputation. The DM decides when the party’s reputation is relevant to a scene or encounter. At the moment it becomes pertinent, the DM makes a reputation check for an NPC or monster that might be influenced in some fashion due to the party’s notoriety. That recognition grants a bonus, or penalty, on certain subsequent skill checks, depending on how the NPC or monster reacts to the character.
Fame or Infamy
What the party’s reputation represents lies in the party’s interaction with the NPCs or monsters depending on location and/or grouping. With locations/groups with a high reputation bonus (+20 or higher) the party is considered well known with that grouping. Whether this notoriety has a positive or negative effect depends on the point of view of the person who recognizes the character.
Nom de Plumes and Secret Identities
If a character successfully uses the Disguise skill or illusion magic to mask his identity, then what he accomplishes while disguised doesn’t affect his reputatio score for good or ill. A character may adopt a nom de plume (as Robin Hood did) or wear a mask or other costume (as Zorro did) during his adventures. If so, the character tracks reputation seperately for his true identity and his alter ego (much as comic book heroes do). If the Crimson Cavalier needs to sneak out of town after embarassing the captain of the guard, what better way to do so than simply removing his mask, hiding his weapons in an oxcart, and departing while in his secret identity of Beppo the Dung-Merchant?
In the world adventures seek fame as paragons of prowess, be it martial or magical, or of some ideal espoused by their philosophy or school. A wizard might be famed for insightful spell creation, useful item creation, or generosity in accepting indigent pupils. A fighter who frequently competes in tournaments could be revered for good sportsmanship as well as his victories. Face represents how well a adventurer has individually become known to, and respect by, other adventurers.
Face does not necessarily represent a character’s raw power and is only relevant when dealing with other adventurers or those who directly interact with them (smiths, merchants, innkeepers, bartenders are a small example). Each adventurer’s definition of Face is different and it is possible to have multiple versions of Face, each representing a different aspect about them that others have heard about. Versions of Face need not necessarily be true. They are built from what
If an adventurer gains a reputation for wining and dining every adventurer of either sex that they come across, their version of Face would represent that and would influence things such as getting invited to social gatherings and parties, but it’s not going to help during negotiations to buy a sailing ship. An adventurer with a reputation for offering fair treatment to foes who surrender without a fight will find it easier to negotiate the surrender of opposing forces, especially if they also have a reputation for merciless brutality against any who dare stand against them.