In this system, every character gains a reputation of one sort or another as his career progresses, expressed as a reputation bonus. While a character might try to take advantage of his reputation from time to time, usually the character’s reputation precedes him—whether he wants it to or not.

Reputation enhances noncombat interaction between characters by providing bonuses to certain skill checks. Those who recognize a character are more likely to help him or to 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.

Metagame Analysis: Who’s Affected By Reputation?

Hard and fast rules for how far a character’s reputation spreads are more trouble than they’re worth; whether reputation applies in any situation is best left up to the GM. But in general, the “radius” of a character’s reputation slowly increases as she attains higher levels.

For example, a low-level character’s reputation score might apply only in her small town and the immediate surrounding countryside. Perhaps, by the time she reaches around 10th level, everyone in the province might have heard of her exploits. When she gets to 15th level or thereabouts, anyone in the country or region might know of her.

But what happens if she then visits the planar city of Glyff? She’s never been to the place before, and most Glyff residents have never been to the Material Plane, so her reputation doesn’t follow her there. But once she accomplishes something (often an adventure) that earns her a measure of fame in Glyff, her reputation “radius” expands to encompass that city. Not only do Glyff residents tell tales of her most recent adventure, some might be curious enough to find out what she accomplished on the Material Plane before coming to the City of Portals.

With the event-based reputation variant, a character who is a newcomer to her location has a reputation score of 0 until she earns at least a ½-point increase by succeeding on an adventure in that location. Once she has done so, she gains the benefit of her full reputation score. (Don’t track a character’s reputation separately for different areas—people have either heard of her, or they haven’t.)

When using level-based reputation increases, a character is entitled to benefit from her full reputation score once she has been in her new location for at least one level’s worth of adventuring, even if the adventures themselves didn’t bring her any reputation increases.

Fame Or Infamy

What a character’s reputation represents lies in the character’s interaction with the NPCs or monsters. Most characters with a high reputation bonus (+4 or higher) are considered well known within their profession or social circle. 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 reputation 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 separately 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 embarrassing the captain of the guard, what better way to do so than by simply removing his mask, hiding his weapons in an oxcart, and departing while in his secret identity of Beppo the Dung-Merchant?

Reputation Checks

Most of the time, a character doesn’t decide to use his reputation. The GM decides when a character’s reputation is relevant to a scene or encounter. At the moment it becomes pertinent, the GM makes a reputation check for an NPC or monster that might be influenced in some fashion due to the character’s notoriety.

A reputation check is equal to 1d20 + the character’s reputation bonus + the NPC or monster’s Int modifier. The GM may substitute a Knowledge skill bonus for the Int modifier if he decides the character’s past activities apply to a particular field. For example, if the character were a cleric, Knowledge (religion) might be appropriate. Additional modifiers that might apply include the following.

Character is famous, known far and wide with either a positive or negative connotation +10
NPC or monster is part of character’s profession or social circle +5
Character has some small amount of fame or notoriety +2

The standard DC of a reputation check is 25. If the NPC or monster succeeds on the reputation check, he or she recognizes the character. That recognition grants a bonus, or penalty, on certain subsequent skill checks, depending on how the NPC or monster reacts to the character.

Skill Checks

When an NPC or monster with an Intelligence score of 5 or higher has a positive opinion of a character’s reputation, the character gains a bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, and Perform checks equal to his reputation bonus.

When an NPC or monster with an Intelligence score of 5 or higher has a negative opinion of a character’s reputation, the character gains a penalty on Bluff and Intimidate checks equal to his reputation bonus.

The bonus or penalty on these skill checks applies only when a character is interacting with an NPC or monster that recognizes the character. Others present in the encounter are unaffected by the character’s reputation.

NPC Reputations

Players decide how their characters act. Sometimes, however, it’s appropriate for a GM to call for a skill check using an interaction skill affected by reputation. For example, an NPC might use Bluff to lie to player characters who, in turn, use Sense Motive to detect the lie. If an NPC tries to intimidate a player character, the GM can use the NPC’s Intimidate check to determine which characters see the NPC as intimidating and which don’t. Similarly, a Diplomacy check can tell the GM which characters find an NPC persuasive and which do not. At other times, players may want to know if their characters recognize a particular NPC or monster. A reputation check can help GMs in these situations.

The reputation check to see if a player character recognizes an NPC or monster is the same as described above. However, the GM should make the skill check privately and keep the actual result secret. Doing this prevents players from using reputation checks as a form of radar for measuring the importance of every NPC they encounter.

Modify the results of NPCs’ and monsters’ interaction skill checks by their reputation bonuses when they interact with characters who recognize them.

Calculating Reputation

Table: Reputation Scores
Level A1 B2 C3 D4
  1. Use column A for commoner levels.
  2. Use column B for barbarian, druid, monk, ranger, rogue, and warrior levels.
  3. Use column C for cleric, fighter, sorcerer, wizard, adept, and expert levels.
  4. Use column D for bard, paladin, and aristocrat levels.
1st +0 +0 +0 +1
2nd +0 +0 +0 +1
3rd +0 +0 +1 +1
4th +0 +1 +1 +1
5th +1 +1 +1 +2
6th +1 +1 +1 +2
7th +1 +1 +2 +2
8th +1 +2 +2 +2
9th +2 +2 +2 +3
10th +2 +2 +2 +3
11th +2 +2 +3 +3
12th +2 +3 +3 +3
13th +3 +3 +3 +4
14th +3 +3 +3 +4
15th +3 +3 +4 +4
16th +3 +4 +4 +4
17th +4 +4 +4 +5
18th +4 +4 +4 +5
19th +4 +4 +5 +5
20th +4 +5 +5 +5

A player character has a reputation score based on his class levels; Table: Reputation Scores, summarizes this information for the standard player character and NPC classes.

A multiclass character has a reputation score according to his class level in each of his classes, regardless of what his character level is. For example, an 8th-level barbarian/6th-level cleric has a reputation score of +3 (+2 from his barbarian levels, +1 from his cleric levels). His score increases to +4 when he reaches 15th level if he takes 7th level in cleric, but not if he takes 9th level in barbarian.

For a class not mentioned on this table, determine the associated reputation score by assigning the class to a column with classes of a similar sort. (For instance, the assassin class probably has the same reputation score as the rogue, and the blackguard would be equivalent to the paladin.)

Reputation-Based Feats

The following feats can modify reputation bonuses.

Low Profile (General)

You are less famous than others of your class and level, or you wish to maintain a less visible presence than others of your station.


Reduce your reputation bonus by 3 points.


You can’t select both the Low Profile feat and the Renown feat. You’re either famous or you’re not.

Renown (General)

You have a better chance of being recognized.


Increase your reputation bonus by 3 points.


You can’t select both the Low Profile feat and the Renown feat. You’re either famous or you’re not.

Event-Based Reputation

Rather than determining reputation increases purely by class levels, the GM can enhance characters’ reputations based on the characters’ actual adventures. At an adventure’s conclusion, he can hand out awards to the characters who were known to have participated, representing how much more famous (or infamous) their recent actions have made them.

This variant doesn’t change much about the game (beyond what the reputation variant does in general). Characters have a slight incentive to choose adventures that earn them more fame, because their later social interactions will be more likely to succeed. But reputation is a double-edged sword in the d20 game, because it can turn into notoriety with a simple twist of the plot. The same peasants who buy the PCs drinks at the tavern one night might try to turn them in for a reward a week later after the sheriff frames the PCs for murder.

If the characters earned public acclaim for ending a threat to the community’s safety, award each PC a 1-point increase in his or her reputation score at the adventure’s conclusion. If the accolades came from a narrower circle of people, such as the merchants of Gilburton or the druids of Deepwood, then each character gets a ½-point increase. (A single ½-point increase has no effect on reputation-related skill checks, but two such increases combine to provide a full 1-point increase.) If what the characters accomplished in the adventure directly affected, or came to the attention of, only a few (or no) other people, the PCs don’t get a reputation boost.

This determination is obviously a judgment call. For guidance, the GM can consult Table: Event-Based Reputation, organized according to how much effect the successful completion of the adventure would have on the PCs’ reputation scores. If the adventure situation in your game is similar to a particular idea in the table, then the possible reputation award should be similar as well. (To generate an adventure idea randomly, roll d% and consult Table: Event-Based Reputation.)

From Table: Event-Based Reputation, it’s clear that site-based adventures in which the PCs function as explorers don’t usually earn reputation awards. Few people care that four brave people cleared a grown-over ziggurat full of monsters, because they probably didn’t know about the ziggurat out in the wilderness to begin with, much less that it was full of monsters.

Adventures that affect only a few people likewise don’t earn reputation awards, unless the people in question are themselves celebrities. But adventures that affect an entire town or small region are worth ½ point, and adventures that affect a large city or nation are worth a full 1 point.

The nature of the danger that is overcome is important, too. Merely annoying or mysterious dangers, such as green smoke coming from a cave (entry 77 on Table: Event-Based Reputation) or a series of sabotaged wagons (entry 87), don’t enhance PC reputations as much as dangers that create widespread panic and mayhem.

Also, regardless of the severity of the danger, if those who benefited from the PCs’ success weren’t aware of the peril from which the PCs saved them, then the characters’ reputation award is ½ point apiece at best.

Table: Event-Based Reputation
d% Adventure Idea
1 Reputation Point if Handled Successfully
01 Thieves steal the crown jewels.
02 A wizard’s guild challenges the ruling council.
03 Racial tensions rise between humans and elves.
04 Two orc tribes wage a bloody war.
05 A nearby kingdom launches an invasion.
06 A prophecy foretells of coming doom unless an artifact is recovered.
07 Sahuagin are being driven out of the sea to attack coastal villages.
08 An antidote to a magic poison must be found before the duke dies.
09 A recently recovered artifact causes arcane spellcasters’ powers to go awry.
10 An evil tyrant outlaws nonofficially sanctioned magic use.
11 All the dwarves in an underground city have disappeared.
12 A kingdom known for its wizards prepares for war.
13 At the eye of the storm that tears across the land a massive citadel floats.
14 A major city faces a siege by a force of humans, duergar, and gnolls.
½ Reputation Point if Handled Successfully
15 A dragon flies into a town and demands tribute.
16 Wealthy merchants are being killed in their homes.
17 The statue in the town square is found to be a petrified paladin.
18 Cultists are kidnapping potential sacrifices.
19 Goblins riding spider eaters have been attacking the outskirts of a town.
20 Local bandits joined forces with a tribe of bugbears.
21 A blackguard organizes monsters in an area.
22 Miners have accidentally released something awful that once was buried deep.
23 A mysterious fog brings ghosts into town.
24 Slavers continue to raid a local community.
25 A fire elemental escapes from a wizard’s lab.
26 Bugbears demand a toll on a well-traveled bridge.
27 Two well-known heroes fight a duel.
28 An ancient sword must be recovered to defeat a ravaging monster.
29 Ogres kidnap the mayor’s daughter.
30 A shapechanged aboleth is gathering mentally controlled servitors.
31 A plague brought by wererats threatens a community.
32 Gravediggers discover a huge, ghoul-filled catacomb under the cemetery.
33 Various monsters have long preyed upon people from within the sewers of a major city.
34 Vampires prey upon a small town.
35 Barbarians begin tearing up a village in a violent rage.
36 Giants steal cattle from local farmers.
37 Unexplained snowstorms bring winter wolves into an otherwise peaceful area.
38 Evil mercenaries begin constructing a fortress not far from a community.
39 An ancient curse turns innocent people into evil murderers.
40 Mysterious merchants sell faulty magic items in town and then attempt to slink away.
41 An evil noble puts a price on a good noble’s head.
42 Colossal vermin stray out of the desert to attack settlements.
43 A community of gnomes builds a flying ship.
44 Thieves steal a great treasure and flee into mage’s magnificent mansion.
45 The high priest is an illusion.
46 A bulette is tearing apart viable farmland.
47 A infestation of stirges drives grimlocks closer to civilized lands.
48 A huge fire of mysterious origin threatens treants in the woods.
49 Evil nobles create an adventurers’ guild to monitor and control adventurers.
50 Suddenly, all the doors in the king’s castle are warded with arcane lock and fire trap.
51 A certain type of frog, found only in an isolated valley, fall like rain on a major city.
52 Barge pirates make a deal with a covey of hags and exact a high toll to use the river.
0 Reputation Points if Handled Successfully
53 The tomb of an old wizard has been discovered.
54 A caravan of important goods is about to leave for a trip through a dangerous area.
55 A gate to the Lower Planes threatens to bring more demons to the world.
56 The holy symbol of a high priest is missing.
57 An evil wizard has developed a new type of golem.
58 Someone in town is a werewolf.
59 A mirror of opposition created an evil duplicate of a hero.
60 New construction reveals a previously unknown underground tomb.
61 A wizard is buried in a trap-filled tomb with her powerful magic items.
62 An enchanter compels others to steal for him.
63 The keys to disarming all the magic traps in a wizard’s tower disappeared.
64 A wizard needs a particularly rare spell component found only in the deep jungle.
65 A map showing the location of an ancient magic forge is discovered.
66 An emissary going into a hostile kingdom needs an escort.
67 A haunted tower is reputed to be filled with treasure.
68 A lonely mountain pass is guarded by a powerful sphinx denying all passage.
69 A druid needs help defending her grove against goblins.
70 Gargoyles are killing giant eagles in the mountains.
71 Adventurers exploring a dungeon have not returned in a week.
72 The funeral for a good fighter is disrupted by enemies he made while alive.
73 A huge dire wolf, apparently immune to magic, organizes the wolves in the wood.
74 An island at the center of the lake is actually the top of a strange, submerged fortress.
75 Buried below the Tree of the World lies the Master Clock of Time.
76 A child wanders into a vast necropolis, and dusk nears.
77 A strange green smoke billows out of a cave near a mysterious ruin.
78 Mysterious groaning sounds come from a haunted wood at night.
79 A sorcerer attempts to travel ethereally but disappears completely in the process.
80 A paladin’s quest for atonement leads her to a troll lair too well defended for her to tackle alone.
81 A new noble seeks to clear a patch of wilderness of all monsters.
82 Clerics resurrect a long-dead hero only to discover she’s not what they thought.
83 A sorrowful bard tells a tavern tale of his imprisoned companions.
84 A halfling caravan must pass through an ankheginfested wilderness.
85 An innocent man, about to be hanged, pleads for someone to help him.
86 The tomb of a powerful wizard, filled with magic items, has sunk into the swamp.
87 Someone is sabotaging wagons and carts to come apart when they travel at high speed.
88 A jealous rival threatens to stop a well-attended wedding.
89 A woman who mysteriously vanished years ago is seen walking on the surface of a lake.
90 An earthquake uncovers a previously unknown dungeon.
91 A wronged half-elf needs a champion to fight for her in a gladiatorial trial.
92 People grow suspicious of half-orc merchants peddling gold dragon parts in the market.
93 Undead shadows vex a large library, especially an old storeroom long left undisturbed.
94 An absentminded wizard lets her rod of wonder fall into the wrong hands.
95 The door into an abandoned house in the middle of town turns out to be a magic portal.
96 Two parts of a magic item are in the hands of bitter enemies; the third piece is lost.
97 A clutch of wyverns preys upon shepherds as well as sheep.
98 Evil clerics gather in secret to summon a monstrous god to the world.
99 A huge gemstone supposedly lies within an ancient ruined monastery.
100 Lizardfolk riding dragon turtles sell their services as mercenaries to the highest bidder.