The Machiavellian Review
No month dedicated to social characters would be complete without a look at the homebrew class known as the Machiavellian by the ever talented Amechra. The Machiavellian is an amazing class that takes the idea of a social character and full on weaponizes it. It allows you to play a masterful scheming manipulator whose true power is limited only by your own ingenuity. This class is absolutely precious and truly unique, so without further aggrandizement let's take a look.
The basic framework of this class looks a lot like a wizard but with 4+int skills. Thats exactly where it should be. A strong willpower and no real combat experience to speak of, it simply does not need more skills or other high saves. The biggest weakness of this class is a complete lack of physical combat skill, but that's clearly a very intentional descision. With only light armor and simple weapons and the lowest attack bonus this class is meant to lean entirely on it's numerous exciting abilities, and they will definitely not dissapoint.
So what does this class do? It talks. Thats it. It uses the power of words to acheive it's goals in the most awesome ways possible. Anyone who has seen silence of the lambs, or read some of the best comics featuring lex luthor, or heck, anyone who has just had their feelings hurt can relate to the power of words. In essence the Machiavellian has two maint types of abilities. The class is about a 50/50 mix of mind control, emotional trauma and debuffs, and providing excellent morale boosts to the party in the form of bonuses to just about anyhting they might need. Their trademark ability, availible immediately at level one, allows them to talk to a target for a few minutes and then implant a suggestion and a trigger. When the subject experiences the trigger they carry out the suggestion. This already opens up a plethora of possibilities. This sole ability is enough to base dozens of plots and characters around, and you get it right out of the gate. This amazing ability gets better as you level up, allowing you to chain multiple stimuli and triggers togather in more and more complicated ways, turning every sentient creature you can speak with into a living peice of a Machiavellian Rube Goldberg machine.
The other ability gained right away is the power to harm someone with your words. Now this ability is perfectly functional, it's balanced and has ome interesting mechanics, but I'll admit it's kind of strange. It allows you to demoralize and demean someone, breaking their will to fight, thus dealing nonlethal, or sometimes even lethal, damage using the power of words. I can get behind that, there are plenty of stranger ideas out there. But the fact that it is resolved as a ranged touch attack is rather unusual. It's hard to comprehend how it works, but as a mechanic it functions great, it gives them something combat related to do with a standard action and let's them resolve it through a traditional simple mechanic. The ability also allows you to trade off damage dealt for penalties to the foes stats, which means even if you use the ability ten times in a row, you can accomplish a whole host of effects, which is very neat and lends a lot of flexbility to the class' combat options.
From there on out every single ability is a one-two punch of interesting mechanics and flavour. Each power you get opens up more and more options and gives you another tool to use creatively, and many of them are mechanics you don't often see. One power let's you notice when you're being scryed on, which allows you to keep up appearances even against wizards and clerics. Another power convinces targets of your abilities that they were not magically influenced, it forces them to rationalize any action you make them take. Every single power is fun and interesting and as the class levels up you gain more and more abilities thta help protect you from traditional casters and their spells, without quite becoming as overtly powerful as them. It fits nicely into the power curve of being less powerful than a spellcaster, without being totally unable to go against them.
There is no level where I would not love to play this class, anywhere from 1 to 20 it always manages to stay fun and relevant, and that is hard to do. The flavour of this class is spot on and there's a number of ways you can run with it. Any alignment, any background, any end goal can fit well into this class. It makes for a great PC and an even better villain and everything about it grabs my attention and doesn't let go. The Machiavellian easily makes my bucket list of classes I have to play in a long running game and I can't reccomend it enough.