These are the true power of the mechanician. They represent the only magical powers, offensive or defensive, that the mechanician possesses. Without his mechanicals, a clockwork mage is next to defenseless. Mechanicals are mundane contraptions with magical abilities built into them. While mechanicals are not innately magical, they will never be found without some sort of spell contained within.

There are several steps that must be completed in the building of a mechanical. The first of these is the gathering of materials, which are used in the creation of the mechanical’s three essential components: the shell, the mechanism, and the vessel.

The shell is the external structure of the mechanical. This structure determines the mechanical’s Armor Class and provides the majority of the mechanical’s hit points. This is the most vital part of the mechanical’s protection.

The second part of the mechanical is the mechanism. This is comprised of a number of different parts that make up a whole. The mechanism is what drives the mechanical and what makes it work. If there is a steam engine within the mechanical, this is included as part of the mechanism as well. The mechanism is almost always made from steel, which is lightweight, durable and can be worked to the fine specifications necessary to design the mechanism. Gold wire, crystal lenses, and other pieces also go into making a mechanism. (These are already considered in the price formula given below.)
Nearly all mechanicals contain some sort of spell, or a number of spells. These spells are held in the vessel, a magical box or vial that is designed to store magic. The vessel is the most expensive part of most mechanicals and, fortunately for the mechanician, does not wear out over time. The vessel can be damaged, though, and is very difficult to repair.

While these descriptions of the various parts of a mechanical work quite well for game purposes, they are actually lacking in detail. Remember that each of the parts of a mechanical can be made up of many others. In particular, the mechanism is built from hundreds of gears, springs, and wires. Any non-mechanicians (save perhaps tinkers or artificers) who try to figure out the complex workings of a mechanical will find themselves at a complete loss. Even the most intelligent wizard will be baffled by the mechanical’s construction.

Building the Shell

As stated above, the first part of a mechanical is the shell. This is also the first part to be built, as the construction of the shell governs the durability of the mechanical as well as the size of the mechanism that can be placed inside it.

The durability of the mechanical is based almost entirely upon the shell within which it is constructed. The harder the material, the better the mechanical’s Armor Class and the higher its hit points. Harder materials are more expensive and more cumbersome, both of which can become limiting factors in the mechanical’s creation. The following table shows the types of materials and the Armor Class and Hit Dice which they confer to the mechanical’s shell, as well as the weight of a shell made from that sort of material.

Material Armor Class Hit Dice Weight (lbs) Cost Proficiency
Adamantine 21 8 1 1900gp Metalworking
Bone 14 3 ½ 900gp Bone Armor
Brass 18 3 1 500gp Metalworking
Bronze 17 3 1 600gp Metalworking
Copper 16 4 2 800gp Metalworking
Crystal 14 2 2 800gp Gem Cutting
Fine Steel 19 5 1 1400gp Blacksmithing
Gems, Hard 18 3 1 1100gp Gem Cutting
Gems, Soft 15 3 1 800gp Gem Cutting
Glass 11 1 3 1000gp Glassblowing
Gold 15 4 4 900gp Metalworking
Iron 18 6 800gp Blacksmithing
Jade 13 3 1 1000gp Gem Cutting
Leather 12 2 ½ 1000gp Leatherworking
Pottery 10 1 1 1100gp Pottery
Silver 16 3 2 900gp Metalworking
Steel 20 6 2 1100gp Blacksmithing
Wood 13 2 1 900gp Carpentry

The prices take into account not only the raw material but also the special preparations that must be performed for each item. These costs reflect that some comparatively soft items (such as leather and glass) require greater preparation than more durable items. These preparations can involve special coatings, glazes, curing, and lacquering, and they can be costly. The shell costs are for relatively small shells, which can hold mechanisms that perform no more than two functions. Shells of this size are roughly 1 cubic foot in volume. The size of the shell can be doubled (2-cubic foot volume) for twice the original cost and will allow a mechanism that can perform up to four functions to fit inside. Further increases in size are possible for equal increases in cost and will allow progressively more functions for the mechanism inside (3-cubic-foot volume, six functions, three times the original cost, etc.).

Once the shell has been purchased, it must be formed into a shape that will be suitable for the functions that it will perform. If the mechanician has the proper non-weapon proficiency, he can design and build the shell himself. If he chooses to do so, one proficiency check is required for a standard size of mechanical. Larger mechanicals require an additional proficiency check for each increase in size (2-cubic-foot shell, 2 checks; 3-cubic-foot shell, 3 checks, etc.). Each proficiency check requires a day of work on the shell. A failed proficiency check indicates that the mechanician has botched the job somehow and must begin again, requiring yet another day.

If the clockwork mage doesn’t have the requisite non-weapon proficiency, he must hire the job out. The cost for such specialized work is 50 gp per day and may be more if the mechanician must travel to a distant city in order to get the work properly done. If the mechanician must hire the job out, the DM must decide on the proficiency of the craftsperson. The price quoted above is for a craftsman with a proficiency of 14 in the needed area. For an additional 50 gp per day, a more skilled craftsman may be hired. Each additional 50 gp per day, after the first, will increase the proficiency of the hired craftsman by 1. If the craftsman fails the roll, he must begin again, taking yet another day for the attempt.

Once the shell is complete, the mechanician can move on to the next phase of construction, the design of the mechanism.

The Mechanism

The mechanism is the most difficult portion of the mechanical. It is a mass of wire and gears, all of which must be carefully constructed for it to work. Even mechanicians can be driven to distraction when working on the internal bits of a mechanical. Because the shell is already built, the number of functions that the mechanism will be able to perform is already determined (2 cubic feet, four functions; 3 cubic feet, six functions, etc.). However, this number can be changed by indulging in compression or expansion of the mechanism itself.

It is always easier to build an intricate piece of machinery if you can construct it a bit bigger than it needs to be. This gives you more room to work and makes it easier to build the parts to acceptable tolerances. For every function the mechanician removes from the number of functions a mechanism could normally perform, the difficulty of the proficiency check(s) required to build that mechanism is reduced by one.

Some mechanicians delight in cramming as many functions as possible into a very small area. For every function added to the number normally allowed for a shell of a particular size, the difficulty of all proficiency checks involved in building the mechanism is increased by one. This represents the difficulty in crafting extremely small parts and getting them all to fit together in a more congested space. While building such a mechanism is much more difficult, it does save some on the cost of the shell.

Once the total number of functions is determined, it is time for the mechanician to decide what these functions are going to be. Each of the many functions that a mechanical can perform is described below. The descriptions contain the following elements:

  • Cost: This is the number of gold pieces it will cost to build this function into the mechanism. The cost always includes any exterior appendages or other equipment that must be added onto the shell, or into the mechanism, in order for the function to work.
  • Difficulty: Some of the functions are very difficult to build into a mechanism. This number is the penalty applied to any proficiency check required when building this function into the mechanism.
  • Time Required: This is the time necessary to build the function into the machine.
  • Description: A specific description of the function.


Attack, Melee

  • Cost: There are two levels of damage available. For 1d4/1d3 damage, the cost is 50 gp. The cost for 1d6/1d6 damage is 150 gp.
  • Difficulty: Standard.
  • Time Required: It requires 4+1d4 hours to install a melee attack on a mechanical, regardless of which class of damage the attack causes.
  • Description: A melee attack is performed by the mechanical, usually with a dagger or short sword blade. The blade is attached to a retractable arm that can attack to the front or either side of the mechanical with a 1-foot radius for the standard size of mechanical. Each increase in the size of the mechanical adds 1 foot to the reach of this attack.

Attack, Ranged

  • Cost: Like the melee attack, above, there are two versions of the ranged attack available. The first causes 1d3/1d2 points of damage, has a range of 20 feet, and costs 100 gp. The second causes 1d6/1d4 points of damage with a range of 20 feet and costs 300 gp.
  • Difficulty: 1.
  • Time Required: It requires 10+1d4 hours to install this function on a mechanical.
  • Description: Ranged attacks are difficult to install because not only is a firing port required, but all other pieces of the mechanism must be clear of the line of fire. The attack is generally made with a heavy dart or small bolt driven by a powerful spring. The mechanism can fire only a single shot before it needs to be reloaded, which requires two combat rounds to accomplish. Not just anyone can reload a mechanical; only a mechanician has the skill to cock and reload the ranged attack mechanical.


  • Cost: 500 gp per 4 movement. This cost is doubled for every increase in the size of the mechanical, reflecting the expenditures necessary to equip the mechanical with the tools required for digging.
  • Difficulty: 3.
  • Time Required: 24+1d6 hours.
  • Description: Burrowing mechanicals are equipped with spade-like legs that can dig through normal soil at a rapid pace. Stone or very densely packed earth will either stop the progress or force a detour of the burrowing mechanical.


  • Cost: 250 gp per 4 movement. 300 gp per every 10% increase in percentage chance to climb walls (60 percent base chance). However, a mechanical cannot have this installed if it is any larger than standard size.
  • Difficulty: 2.
  • Time Required: 16+1d12 hours.
  • Description: It is sometimes useful to have a mechanical that can scale walls with relative ease. This function enables the mechanical to climb walls much like a thief, with a base chance for success of 60%. Modifiers that would apply to climbing a wall are added to or subtracted from this chance as for a normal thief. For an added cost (cited above), the mechanician can increase the base chance for the mechanical to successfully climb. Climbing mechanicals are easily identified as such: their legs are tipped with hooks and spikes, which allow them cling to irregularities in the wall.


  • Cost: 100 gp.
  • Difficulty: Standard.
  • Time Required: 8+1d4 hours.
  • Description: A mechanical that can cut can sever ropes or cords with ease. A pair of small blades is attached to a small appendage. The blades are driven by a gear system that allows them to cut through any rope 1 inch thick or less in a single combat round. Mechanicals of this sort are often used aboard ships where they can quickly clip through entangled riggings or where they can be hurled onto an enemy ship to wreak havoc with their sails. At the DM’s discretion, the mechanical may be able to cut through other thin materials as well. It should be noted that the blades used to cut are far too small and unwieldy to be used as an effective attack form against a mobile creature. If used against an immobilized target, the blades will do 1d2 points of damage per attack.


  • Cost: 300 gp per point up to 14; 500 gp per point from 15 to 18.
  • Difficulty: 3 up to 14; 5 from 15 to 18.
  • Time Required: 10 hours per point.
  • Description: Dexterity is important to a mechanical mainly for the missile attack adjustment and the defensive adjustment that an increased Dexterity score imparts. However, regardless of the improved Dexterity and reaction adjustments this function may provide, mechanicals always act on the same initiative step as their masters. All mechanicals begin with a Dexterity of 10. Increases come point by point and do not cost function slots. Dexterity increases simply streamline the mechanism of the mechanical, increasing its overall efficiency and allowing for faster reactions.


  • Cost: 400 gp.
  • Difficulty: 3; reduce the difficulty by 1 for every increase in the size of the mechanical.
  • Time Required: 8+1d4 hours.
  • Description: With a successful attack, the mechanical fires a fine web of sticky tendrils that clings to the target. This web doesn’t completely encompass any character larger than a small size, but it does make that character’s actions considerably more difficult. Entangled characters must make all attack rolls with a -3 penalty. Their AC is reduced 2 points as it becomes very difficult to move with all the sticky stuff binding them up. Wizards may not cast spells with somatic components because of the clinging net. Targets that are small size or less become completely entangled. They may not move, as the web has completely immobilized them. Cutting through the net is easy, requiring only a single round of concerted cutting. However, those characters who have become completely entangled cannot free themselves, but must be freed by others. Most mechanicians with mechanicals capable of entangling also bring along a mechanical that can cut. Cutting mechanicals can cut through an entangle in two rounds.
    The entangle attack has a range of 5 feet and is used only once before it must be reloaded. Reloading is difficult and requires a return to the mechanician’s workshop. A new net must be purchased at a cost of 30 gp, and it will take 1d4 hours to successfully repack the net into the spring-driven launcher.


  • Cost: 300 gp per 20-ft. of leaping range. A maximum of 60-ft. of leaping is possible for the base size mechanical, reduced by 20-ft. for every size increase.
  • Difficulty: 4.
  • Time Required: 12 hours per 20-ft. jump.
  • Description: The jump function allows the mechanical to hurl itself forward across considerable distance. For every 20-ft. of distance, the jump needs 10-ft. of clearance for the arc of the leap. Jumping mechanicals may only carry a very light load, such as a length of rope or a few scrolls. Any additional weight will cause the mechanical to fall short of its target destinations. It is very difficult to install a jump on a mechanical because of the high-tension springs involved. These must be crafted from fine steel and are difficult to safely compress within the body of the mechanical. A device is always constructed to recompress the springs after a successful leap, but this requires time. After every jump, the mechanical must wait three rounds before it can jump again. It may still move and fight as normal but cannot jump until the internal mechanism has had a chance to ready the springs for another jump. A mechanical that jumps to the attack receives a -1 initiative bonus as well as a +2 attack and damage bonus for the increased force of its attack. To successfully execute a jump attack, the mechanical must be within one-half of its total jumping distance. Thus, a mechanical with a jumping range of 40-ft. must be within 20 feet of its target for its jumping attack to be forceful enough to have any real effect.


  • Cost: 300 gp for a crude manipulating appendage, 1,000 gp for a moderately fine manipulator.
  • Difficulty: 2 for a crude manipulator, 5 for a fine manipulator.
  • Time Required: 8 hours for a crude manipulator, 24 for a fine manipulator.
  • Description: The manipulator is an appendage that grasps or uses an object. Crude manipulators are able to lift items that are hard and uniform in shape. The size of the object that can be manipulated is dependent on the number of size increases purchased for the mechanical. Mechanicals of base size can work with 3-inch cubes or smaller, down to objects the size of ½-inch cubes. Maximum size increase is 1 inch and minimum size increase is ½ inch. When the manipulator is increased in size, both the maximum and minimum sizes are increased. For example, a mechanical with three size increases will handle 12-inch cubes, but will not be able to grip a cube of less than 1½ inches on a side. Moderately fine manipulators can handle objects that are fragile without damaging them. They may handle objects up to the size of a 2-inch cube at base size, with a minimum size of 1/16 inch that can be manipulated.
    Crude manipulators can lift objects up to 5 pounds in weight at their base strength. This can be increased by purchasing additional strength for the mechanical. Moderately fine manipulators can handle objects up to 1 pound in weight. They are not normally used for lifting and cannot have their lifting capacity raised by increasing the strength of the mechanical.

Pick Locks

  • Cost: 1,000 gp for a base skill of 25 percent; 300 gp for each skill increase of 5 percent thereafter.
  • Difficulty: 5.
  • Time Required: 24 hours +48 hours for every 5 percent increase in skill.
  • Description: This is the most difficult of all the functions as it gives the mechanical some limited expertise in the art of picking locks. The mechanical is equipped with an arm that is tipped by a number of fine lock-picking instruments, each of which is attached to a complex internal mechanism that carefully judges the quality and type of lock by the pressure placed upon various tools inserted into the lock. Mechanicians who wish to design a mechanical with this particular function must enlist the aid of someone who possesses the pick locks skill before they can begin work. The rogue who helps will instruct the mechanician in the various methods of overcoming a wide variety of locks and this information is built into the mechanical. Thus, the total skill of a mechanical cannot exceed the skill of the assisting rogue, minus 10%. Most rogues do not find this to be revealing “trade secrets” as mechanicals are never as good as a skilled pair of hands. Rogues view the things as interesting trinkets, and some actually use mechanicals to overcome particularly dangerous traps.
    Mechanicals with the pick locks function are notoriously unreliable. At least two hours must be spent after every lockpicking attempt to recalibrate the internal mechanism. This task requires only a few tools but is time consuming and must be performed in a relatively clean area where grit and grime won’t invade the mechanism of the mechanical. If the mechanician doesn’t take the time to recalibrate his mechanical, the mechanical’s pick locks skill will be reduced by 1d20 percent. This reduction lasts until the mechanical is recalibrated but is cumulative. So, if a mechanical picks two locks in a row, without recalibrating, its chances to pick a third lock will be reduced by 1d20+1d20 percent. Such reductions can degrade the quality of a mechanical quite rapidly, making it next to worthless after only a few attempts.

Power Source, Mechanical

  • Cost: 100 gp per minute of activity. Every increase in the mechanical’s size increases the cost per minute by 100 gp.
  • Difficulty: Standard.
  • Time Required: 4 hours per minute of activity.
  • Description: All mechanical’s must have a power source, and most use gear- and spring-driven mechanical devices to run. The mechanical power source is essentially the same as that found in the various wind-up toys that most players are familiar with, though much more sophisticated and reliable. A mechanical power source must be rewound every time it runs down, a task that requires a round of winding for every minute the mechanical can run. It is possible to underwind a mechanical, winding only two minutes worth of a three-minute power supply, for instance. Power supplies may not be overwound to gain extra active time for the mechanical; attempts to do so always result in 1d4 points of damage to the mechanical. When a mechanical’s power source runs down, it immediately stops doing whatever it was doing. Climbing mechanicals will fall from their perch, burrowing mechanicals lay quietly in the dirt, and attack mechanicals suddenly become inert. Until they can be rewound, they are helpless and can be struck by attacks automatically.
    Magical abilities are an exception to this. If a mechanical turned on a magical ability before its power supply ran down, that ability will continue to function for its entire duration. Magical abilities without a set duration will continue to operate until the mechanical can be rewound and instructed to shut the ability down.

Power Source, Steam

  • Cost: 300 gp per minute of activity.
  • Difficulty: 3.
  • Time Required: 16 hours per minute of activity.
  • Description: Steam power sources are used in the largest of mechanicals. They are the only power source that will work in a mechanical with more than four size increases. Steam power sources are extremely rare and difficult to manufacture. They rely on principles that are not well-known and which have a tendency to erupt with rather nasty consequences if not properly applied. If a proficiency check is failed during the installation of the steam power source, it is not always apparent that something has gone wrong. Unlike a mechanical power source that simply won’t function if things aren’t perfectly lined up, the stream power source may work fine——for a while.
    It is recommended that DMs make any rolls involved in the installation of steam power source secretly. If the mechanician fails his roll, make a Reason check for the mechanician. Success indicates that the mechanician has spotted the problem and may make another proficiency check to correct the mistake. If the mechanician doesn’t notice the error, he continues work as normal. If more than three uncorrected mistakes occur, the mechanical simply won’t function and the power source will have to be rebuilt from scratch. If three or less uncorrected mistakes creep in, the mechanical will appear to function as normal. After 1d6 rounds of operation, however, internal steam pressure will rise to an untenable level and the mechanical will explode. Roll 1d20 for every mistake made during the installation of the steam power source. This damage is applied to the mechanical immediately. Any excess is divided equally among all those standing within 10 feet of the mechanical as steam and shrapnel explode from the ruptured device.
    Large mechanicals requiring steam power sources are rarely built. The cost is seldom worth it, and several small mechanicals can often perform the same function as a single large mechanical without the danger of sudden explosion.


  • Cost: 100 gp per point of Strength, up to 10; 200 gp per point of Strength 11 to 18; 500 gp per point of Strength 19 to 25.
  • Difficulty: Standard up to Strength 10; 2 for Strength 11 to 18; 5 for Strength 19 to 25.
  • Time Required: 8 hours per point of Strength.
  • Description: Strength is not normally necessary for mechanicals. Some mechanicals, however, need to have a considerable amount of Strength in order to perform their necessary function. Labor mechanicals are the most commonly enhanced in this way. Combat mechanicals are also enhanced to make them more effective. Strength is relatively easy to enhance but may only be increased a point at a time. The difficulty numbers listed above are for a single point. Unlike other functions, Strength doesn’t take up a full function slot. Instead, up to five points of Strength can be added into a shell at the cost of only a single slot. This is still rather limiting. A mechanical with a Strength increase of 10 will still have to give up 2 slots. While it is possible to build extremely strong mechanicals, they are generally very large. Mechanicians should keep in mind that Strength cannot be compressed.


  • Cost: 50 gp per 20-ft. of movement.
  • Difficulty: Standard.
  • Time Required: 8 hours per 20-ft. of movement.
  • Description: Walk is the basic function of most mechanicals. Without being able to walk, a mechanical is limited to very basic functions, such as guarding a specific location or performing the same function on the same area over and over again. While this is fine for mechanicals that are to be used around the mechanician’’s home and laboratory, it is far too limited to be of practical use in the field. Walking is also the basis for all other movement powers (except for jumping) as they are all constructed over the basic legs of a mechanical. A mechanical cannot have a movement function (other than jumping) that exceeds its walking rate.

The functions listed above are those most commonly used in the creation of mechanicals. By combining these mundane, mechanical functions with more powerful and versatile magical effects, most any type of mechanical can be created. DMs are encouraged to come up with any new functions that fit their fancy, though the functions added to the preceding list must be easily explained as mechanical enhancements. Flight, while possible as a magical ability, is almost impossible to explain as a mechanical ability. Anything that is obviously magical in nature must be added to the mechanical through spells stored in the mechanical’s container. This brings us to the third and final step in creating a mechanical.

Constructing the Vessel

Vessels are where the magic is stored in a mechanical. All mechanicals have a vessel, because vessels also serve to tie a mechanical to its creator. Through the magical bond created when the vessel is installed within the mechanical, the clockwork mage is able to give his mechanical instructions. Clockwork mages should give careful thought to exactly what sort of vessel they wish to install within their mechanical. While low-level vessels are very limited as to the number of orders they can interpret and the spells they can store, they are also easier to install. At higher levels, the vessels are capable of interpreting numerous commands and of containing a wide variety of spells, but are incredibly difficult to install. There is also significant risk in stretching one’s abilities too far: failure when installing a vessel destroys the entire mechanical.

There are essentially two types of vessels: command and storage. Command vessels are geared toward acting as a parser between the mechanician and his mechanical. Command vessels can interpret more commands and act on them more quickly than a storage vessel of the same level. Command vessels are normally installed in mechanicals that are capable of a number of functions or in mechanicals that must be ready to respond instantly to commands.

Storage vessels are powerful containers geared toward holding spells and are not as adept at interpreting commands from the clockwork mage to his mechanical, causing a slight delay in the implementation of those commands. But, for containment of magical energy, storage vessels are the surest, safest bet. Many more spells may be held in a storage vessel than in a command vessel of the same level. Storage vessels are installed in mechanicals that use a large number of magical abilities.

Command vessels are only slightly more expensive because they contain fewer spells and can only process a few commands more per round than can spell vessels, Still, that extra command or two may just make the difference between getting out of a fight and getting killed. (If a wizard could cast two fireball spells a round, instead of one, he would certainly try to do so?)

Command Vessels

Level Commands Spells Difficulty Cost
1 1 1 1 600gp
2 1 1 2 700gp
3 1 2 2 900gp
4 2 2 3 1200gp
5 2 3 3 1400gp
6 2 3 4 1500gp
7 3 4 4 1900gp
8 3 4 5 2000gp
9 4 5 6 2400gp

Storage Vessels

Level Commands Spells Difficulty Cost
1 1 1 Standard 400gp
2 1 2 Standard 600gp
3 1 3 1 800gp
4 1 4 1 1000gp
5 2 5 2 1200gp
6 2 6 2 1600gp
7 2 7 3 1800gp
8 3 8 3 2200gp
9 3 9 4 2400gp

Installing a storage vessel requires a number of hours equal to double the level of the vessel. Command vessels are more time consuming, requiring three times the level in hours to install. Installation is crucial to the creation of a mechanical. Any failure at all will result in the ruination of the mechanical currently under construction. The vessel is attached to the most intricate portions of the mechanism, with wires and levers stuck deep within the gears and springs that make up the guts of every mechanical. If something should go wrong during this process, the results are disastrous.

If a mechanical is ruined because of a failed vessel installation, the only salvageable portion is the shell. The mechanism is destroyed by the botched vessel attachment, and the vessel itself is irreparably damaged. Both must be rebuilt from scratch, though the clockwork mage can save 20% of the cost from the next mechanical he builds by using the undamaged parts and raw materials from the broken mechanical.

If a clockwork mage fails to connect the vessel to a mechanical that contains compressed functions (see above), the damage to the mechanical is much more severe. The tightly wound springs and stressed metals explode from the shell, destroying it, the mechanism, and the vessel that was being installed. Nothing is salvageable from a mechanical of this sort.

If a mechanical has all of its functions expanded, there is a very good chance that considerably more than 20 percent of the raw materials and unbroken parts may be recovered. Roll 2d20+20 to determine the percentage of cost that may be saved on the next mechanical that the clockwork mage builds. The only restriction to this is that the mechanical that receives the cost reduction must have all of its functions expanded as well. Otherwise it won’t be able to use the spare parts from the recently destroyed mechanical.

All of this is something that beginning clockwork mages should take into consideration. Beginners should stick to the easiest possible mechanicals lest they waste time and money working on a mechanical that could be destroyed by a stroke of bad luck when installing the vessel.

Loading Spells

Once a vessel has been successfully installed and the mechanical complete, the clockwork mage can begin the process of loading spells into the vessel. A mechanician can only load spells that he or she would be able to cast normally. If a spell would not be available to a wizard of the mechanician’s level, the mechanician may not load that spell into the mechanical. While the mechanician doesn’t actually have to cast the spell, he must still focus the magical energies into the vessel for containment.

To load a spell, the wizard simply recites it from a scroll or goes through the same motions as if he were casting the spell. Rather than having the spell go off, however, the loading process moves the spell into the vessel of the mechanical. There the spell’s energy and processes are stored, awaiting release at the command of the mechanical or its master. Note that mechanicians must learn spells just as other wizards do and can only load those spells that they have successfully learned. The exception to this is scrolls——a mechanician can store a spell directly from a scroll without having to learn it.

Under certain circumstances, a clockwork mage may attempt to load more spells into his mechanical than the vessel would normally allow. This is called cramming and is not without risk. To cram, a mechanician simply follows the process as above, but when the vessel is full, he tries to add just a bit more. For every spell level above the maximum that the vessel can normally contain, the mechanician must roll 1d6. The attempt to cram more spell levels into the vessel fails if a 6 is rolled. The spell that was being loaded at the time of the failure doesn’t go off, but all those contained within the mechanical do. Spells that require a target focus on the mechanician, while area affect spells have their detonation centered on the mechanical.

Last Touches

Now that the mechanical has been constructed, its total Hit Dice need to be calculated and hit points rolled. All mechanicals gain a number of Hit Dice as determined by their shell (see “Building the Shell,” above). They also receive an additional Hit Die for every two functions that are installed in them. Be sure to keep these “mechanism Hit Dice” separate from the mechanical’s shell Hit Dice. This is important for figuring repair cost.

Once hit points are rolled, the mechanical gains an additional hit point for every level of the vessel installed in them. These hit points are the “core” of the mechanical and should be recorded separately from both shell Hit Dice and mechanism Hit Dice. If they are lost, the mechanical is completely destroyed and may not be repaired. Its vital essence has been destroyed and the link to its creator severed. In this case, the mechanician must begin anew with an entirely different shell and attempt to duplicate his results with a new mechanical.

If the mechanical is reduced to just these core points (or possibly the core points minus a few), it immediately becomes non-functional until it can be repaired.

Repairing the Mechanical

Most every mechanical will find itself in danger at some point. Mechanicals are a clockwork mage’s first line of defense. They may be thrown into combat, exposed to harsh elements, or otherwise put into situations where damage is not only likely but unavoidable. The shell of a mechanical is going to be the most severely damaged of all its parts. It is rarely worth the cost of repairing a shell, with replacement often cheaper than repair. Repairs to the shell cost 15 sp per point of damage; no roll is required to repair a shell, only the expenditure of the proper amount of money.

Repairing the mechanism of a mechanical is a little more expensive and considerably more difficult than repairing the shell. The cost to repair a mechanism is 3 gp per point of damage to be repaired, +1 gp per point if the mechanism contains any compressed functions. Functions that are built larger than necessary do not receive any discount on repairs. Though they are somewhat easier to work on, it still costs the same for materials and parts. Mechanism repairs require a proficiency check. The first check made for a repair is a standard roll. Success indicates that 1d8 points of damage are repaired. The time required for this roll is eight hours. Failure on this or any subsequent roll doesn’t result in any additional damage, but indicates the damage will require more time to repair. Every failed roll consumes an additional eight hours.

If the mechanism is fully repaired by this success, no further rolls need to be made. Should there still be damage to the mechanism, another proficiency check must be made with a penalty of -1. Success at this check indicates a further 1d6 points of damage are repaired. If damage remains, more proficiency checks must be made, each with a cumulative -1 penalty. After the second roll, each successful proficiency check repairs 1d4 points of damage.

Vessel repairs are the most difficult and the most expensive. It costs 100 gp and eight hours of time to repair a single point of vessel damage. A proficiency check is also required, with a -1 modifier, for every point to be repaired. The penalty to the proficiency check is cumulative, so if three points of vessel damage were being repaired, the first check would be at -1, the second at -2, and the third at -3. Failure on any of these rolls doesn’t result in any additional damage to the mechanical unless the vessel still contains magical energies.

If a vessel holding spells is being repaired, and the mechanician fails a proficiency check, the vessel sustains an additional point of damage and “bleeds” out the magic it contains. The mechanician performing the repairs suffers 1d4 points of damage for every level of spells contained in the vessel when it “bleeds.” Mechanicians are advised to release as much of the magic in a vessel as they can before attempting to repair it.

Mechanicals in Action

Mechanicals normally operate in one of two modes: guided or automatic.

Guided mechanicals are those directly under the control of the mechanician who created them, receiving magical instructions from their master as long as they remain in his line of sight. They obey commands to the best of their ability, until their power source runs down. However, they can only handle so many commands at once. Each vessel has a number of commands that it can receive and act upon in one round. If they receive more commands than they can act upon, they store the commands until the following round. DMs are encouraged to use this to confound mechanicians that try to issue more commands than their mechanical can successfully comply with. It can be quite amusing to have a mechanical fire a missile weapon at a target that is no longer in range, or run off under a command to charge after the combat is over. Fortunately, a mechanical cannot store more commands than it can act on in a given round. Thus, a mechanical with the ability to act upon four commands in a round could store up to four commands in addition to those it would act upon.

A mechanician can guide a number of mechanicals equal to his or her level divided by five (round up). Mechanicals that operate on automatic are given their commands when they are activated. They act on these commands to the best of their ability, but have no power to evaluate a command if situations change. Thus, a mechanical given the command to advance to a certain position and fire its missile attack at a group of orcs in a specific location would be unable to attack the orcs if they moved more than a few yards from the position the mechanical was told they would be in. Mechanicians must write down the commands they give their mechanical if they choose to send it out in automatic mode.

The advantage of automatic mode is that a nearly unlimited number of mechanicals can be running at once without requiring the presence of the mechanician. Another benefit is that automatically running mechanicals do not need to remain in the line of sight of their mechanician as do those being guided. A mechanical could be set on automatic and sent into a room to set off a pressure trap, thus saving the party from damage from that trap.

Each mechanician will have to decide what mode a mechanical will operate in when that mechanical is activated. Mechanicals cannot switch operation modes until their power source runs down and they are reactivated.

Mechanicals in Combat

Mechanicals can engage in combat just like any other sort of monster. They have an AC as determined by their shell and, if applicable, any spells that they have cast upon them. The attack bonus of a mechanical is determined by the number of Hit Dice it has in its mechanism (see “_Last Touches_ above). While those Hit Dice due to the shell help the mechanical to absorb damage, it is the mechanism that gives the mechanical its ability to act and attack in combat.

Mechanicals save against mundane attacks as per the material of their shell (see the Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 39). Against magical attacks of any sort, the mechanical receives the same savings throws as its creator.

Mechanicals have their initiative rolled separately from that of the mechanician. Each mechanical adds in any modifiers for Dexterity to determine their initiative.

Mechanicals have very crude senses. They cannot hear, nor can they smell or taste. Their primary sense is touch, as their sight is limited to the infrared spectrum. Though they can see the “heat” images of creatures, their vision is limited to a range of 20 feet or so. Their sense of touch is far more accurate, allowing them to sense the vibrations of creatures within 50 feet. This ability also allows them to “feel” the surface of the ground they walk on, so that they can detect terrain differences out to 100 feet or more. This ability allows them to “see” in the dark as well as in the light, though they cannot confer this ability to their masters. Mechanicals have senses that combine to give them slightly below average “sight” as compared to humans.

The Mechanical’s Spells

Most mechanicals will have at least one spell stored in its vessel. These spells can be activated in several ways. First, the mechanical itself can activate the spell in compliance with orders given to it by its mechanician. This is the most common way for these spells to be activated. Second, the mechanician can activate the spell. This can only be done if the mechanician is in physical contact with the mechanical and has spent the previous round concentrating.

The third and last way that a spell can be activated is the most rare and is caused by the destruction of the mechanical. Destroyed mechanicals release all of their contained spells in a single round. Ranged spells launch themselves in a random direction, other spells go off in an area centered on the mechanical itself. This is generally an accident, but desperate mechanicians have been known to send a mechanical into a large group of enemies in the hope that they will destroy it and be destroyed in the explosion of magic.

Regardless of how a spell is released, it is considered to have been cast at the current level of the mechanician, unless the mechanician specifically stated (at the time the spell was being stored) that he wanted it cast at a lower level. Once released, the energy that made up the spell dissipates. It must be stored within a vessel before it can be cast again.

The majority of spells which are contained within a mechanical are used to augment the mechanical itself. If told to cast a certain spell, the mechanical will always cast that spell on itself. For a spell to be cast upon another, the mechanician will have to release the spell himself.


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