View Full Version : Machinations 101: How to eliminate enemies without direct confrontation?

2013-02-20, 11:01 PM
Hi there forumgoers! Something's been percolating in my head for a week or so now, but I really really need your help. This is a cross-system discipline, I think, so any advice/anecdotes you have would be really welcome. In the meantime, here's some framework:


The highest goal in every RPG is to have fun. I've always believed, however, that the second best goal is to be a sneaky Machiavellian bastard.

Fortunately, some GMs/DMs reward creativity and nonlinear thinking. While your standard fare gives the hack-and-slash action we all love, in my humble opinion what separates the cream systems from the crop is how they answer two simple questions: Can you take your enemies down without getting into a fight? If so, in how many ways can you do it?

With this theme of button-pushing intrigue in mind, I've thought of some preliminary but woefully incomplete broad and nonspecific universal guidelines I've always wanted further work on:

List of factoids to ponder (WIP):
What does your opponent stand to gain or lose? In other words, what would they want and what do they already treasure?
What are their strengths, and what are their weaknesses?
Who do they know? Who are their friends, and who are their enemies?
Flip side of the coin - what do you stand to gain or lose, what are your strengths/weaknesses, and who do you know?
What is your offensive purpose? Would you immobilize them, mislead or distract them, trick them into fighting another party... or do something else entirely?

Planning your attack (WIP):
What methods would you use? Blackmail, ransoms, deception, betrayal, or maybe even arson (when all else fails set it on fire!)? Basically, what gambits should you use and how will you set them up?

Also, would you folks happen to have any further resources in mind, and especially any stories if you've done this sort of thing in a particular system? Thanks so much!

2013-02-20, 11:50 PM
Well, one thing to keep in mind, particularly if you are doing this against a PC.

Most PCs... are ignorant of the implications of their own actions.

This means that if you want to be a sneaky bastard who gets others to do you work, there's usually a wealth of effects for you to use. Take my own twisted machinations I launched against a fellow PC as an Evil Party Member (Machinations he deserved by the way).

Do you know why it started? Because he stole a rare and powerful item from me to sacrifice to a ritual. A ritual he only conducted because I did a lesser version of that ritual and he had to One Up my character.

Him being a cocky bastard about it, and stealing from my character is what set him on the road to revenge in a long drawn out scheme.

Keeping the focus is the important thing. Too often you lose track of things as your plans develop, get bogged down on details. While you need to be focused, you need to also be aware of opportunities.

So eventually I used his very real crimes (Though he didn't consider them crimes when he did it) to turn pretty much every NPC we ever ran into against him and forced him into exile as he fled a continent wide manhunt.

Just when you scheme, it's important to remember that slightly altering a truth to appear in a different light is much, MUCH more effective than anything else. If you do it right, his own support structure takes care of the problem for you, without you having to resort to anything as crude as Fire, or hiring Thugs, etc.