Machinate (sage ability)

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To machinate is to engage in plots and intrigues, building carefully crafted schemes or plots in order to obtain a sinister goal. Whatever this goal, the sage ability to machinate enables the character, or "schemer," to induce an allied non-player character to participate in the overall plan.


The schemer determines that for the plan to work, it requires a person of some specific profession or skill to help carry it out. Possibly, the person may have access to a place the schemer cannot go. It would be best if this person, or candidate, were already an ally, but if not, the schemer might schmooze the right person. Once the candidate has been made into an ally, the schemer explains the candidate's part, and what the candidate should do.

Normally, this would require a bravery check on the candidate's part. However, if the candidate is given no expectation of personal danger, then a bravery check is not required. The candidate will simply agree with the schemer, who uses their machinate skill to induce the NPC to act.

On the other hand, if the candidate's part is clearly dangerous, with a likelihood of arrest or bodily harm, then the machinate skill grants a +3 to the candidate's bravery check, to see if they will accept their role. If this bravery check fails, then the schemer must turn to some other means of inducement, such as bribery or extortion.


Properly managed, the schemer can make arrangements to have dozens of NPCs act in a manner that will appear to each one as perfectly safe and unthreatening, which will dismiss the need for checks. This depends on the schemer's ability to explain each role to the DM, who should give the greatest possible latitude to the schemer. The more complex the plan, the more likely it will be that innocents can be brought in to act in small, incremental ways that will produce a grand, desirable result. The onus should be on the player to scheme, calculate and devise the result wanted, and then explain it to the DM as they might to the hapless NPC, who wouldn't really know what was going on.

The sage ability is necessarily nebulous, for conspiracies and mechinations must defy codification by the rules. A wise and clever player, with few scruples, ought to be able to invent a scheme that could make use of a team of ordinary, common persons, stealing a paper here, passing a message along there, hiding a package, acting as a witness or an alibi, or otherwise helping the character to commit schemes of fiendish design. The sage ability merely encourages the player to believe that if the matter is put to the NPC in a certain way, there will be no die roll required to convince the candidate to join in.

This does not mean that the candidate will succeed at their task; but that should be a simple, reasonable ability check, to be made when the time comes. It depends on what is asked for; if a chef is asked to create a dish to be served, then obviously no roll would need to be made. If the schemer then arranged for the dish to be placed in reach, when no one else was present, so that it could be dosed, then again, there would be no need for anyone to make a roll. It is all a matter of how circumstances were arranged.

There might be a tiny chance that a guard assigned to carry a small package might be searched — perhaps 1 in 20, or even 1 in 100. The DM should definitely not give a likely chance to something like this failing, since the guard would know how and when to act; these things should fail only because they are done often, so that a 1 in 100 chance is sure to come up eventually.

The DM should measure such risks fairly!

See Politics