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D&D 3E
Goblin War Machines 
24th-Mar-2007 10:01 pm
So I'm still working on my own setting, and it's coming along nicely, but I realized that--much against my mission statement--I'm not doing too much different with goblinoids in general, particularly poor little goblins. I've made them character races, balanced with normal PHB fare, but there's a lack of flavor.

Now I'm thinking, wouldn't it be cool if goblins were what tinker gnomes are to other worlds? It would make sense that a relatively frail race with a decent mental capacity would learn to compensate. So kobolds make traps, why not have goblin artificers? I'm going to make it their favored class, and I'm trying to make up new signature items for them. With that in mind, I took a look at the mecha system in d20 future, and have set about to work on converting it for use in regular D&D.

Ok, so the way I figure, a mecha type thing would be a specialized construct, so the Craft Construct feat will be necessary. The difference here being that the spirit animating the suit isn't in control, per se. Since D&D suits wouldn't have the inner display that a mecha would, the pilot will control the machine by a helmet-type item (so I suppose no more helmet slot for the mecha, perhaps, or cranium slot for larger ones), with an opposed check not unlike the Eberron rules for controlling an elemental vehicle. The back and torso slots will be cockpit, as usual for mecha, and magical items can be integrated into the other slots like worforged components.

Now, a few things. One, do I need to require a feat to operate them? If so, what about one for weapons? Because I don't think I necessarily need either. The way I see it, the helmet slot item would essentially be a direct mental uplink type of thing, and weapon proficiencies would be the same as the pilot's. Would that be balanced?

Also, I've got problems figuring out how to make the materials work. Superstructure is easy, just hardness as DR. But the armor plating is what's getting me. Should I just use AC the boni and check penalties used for warforged body feats, or is there some obscure way to derive numbers I just can't find?

Attached component suggestions would be cool, too, if you can think of any.

Obviously, the cost of such suits is huge, and it's not as if you'd find an army of goblins all suited up. However, at higher levels, these could easily become a game focus or a huge foe. I'm not entirely sure how I'll calculate CR on these, though an addition on top of the pilot's CR makes sense (I think?). I'm also thinking of altering the mecha jockey prestige class appropriately to reflect the changes, as well as writing up a new one to help build the suit itself (good way to make it balance instead of being a hugely expensive and unbalancing magical item, I think).

So, um, suggestions? Thoughts? My players here don't have the depth of knowledge to say anything other than "Oooo! Can we get some?!" and the guy I normally bounce ideas off of is out of the country for a bit. Help?
25th-Mar-2007 04:44 am (UTC)
This drags up so many memories of Magic: the Gathering cards that it brings a tear to my eye, and I love it.

Anyway, to address: I would take my cue from the Apparatus of Kwalish. It's essentially a precursor to what you're suggesting here (and if there's such an upgrade, I can only imagine the cost; or maybe lessen the cost of the Apparatus and make it more commonplace :] ) and is a good starting point.

Since the Apparatus is essentially just a piece of equipment, it doesn't technically raise CR, it's just another tool for whatever creature is within it to operate, and I feel that's better than considering it a boost to CR.

Another idea is to treat it as a Legacy item (Weapons of Legacy FTW) and have it not only function as a [essentially] a suit of armor, but have its abilities scale up as the user gains in levels (or HD, in the case of enemies with racial HD and no class levels) as WELL as giving a set scale for adding to the CR of the creature using it.

I'll admit that it's a bit hard to do, but with the proper effort it can be carried off beautifully.
25th-Mar-2007 05:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, the Magic cards were a part of it, as was the giant golem gate thing in Labyrinth. I mean, really, goblins can build things in other places, why not D&D?

But yeah, the AoK always did intrigue me, and I wrote a version that was more like a bipedal mecha type thing. My only thing about that is that I like the customizability of the mecha system; adapted right, you could customize a mecha just like a warforged, with components and other fun magical bits attached right onto the machine. What I could do, though, would be make a new version of the AoK, perhaps as a cheaper, standardized version of a mecha. It is less expensive than the ones I'm working on would be, and is a lot simpler, so it would make sense for mid-level warriors or important people in a goblin war party.

I still haven't looked through Weapons of Legacy, but from what I hear, it's awesome. Perhaps I could make a legacy war machine that goes up with the pilot's level, unlocking new abilities and improving certain stats on it.
25th-Mar-2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of goblins being the tinkerers. They may not be intellectual giants, but they have a knack for engineering.

Bastion press released a supplement called Doom Striders a few years ago. It was a decent supplement. The book had how to construct them, what it took to power them, what it took to pilot them, etc. They had everything from small size (basically armor size) to colossal size. While they had AC and armor, they also had Hit Points. Rather than the machine having its own HP, it magnified the wearer's HP. It was an interesting concept, but hurt the mages that wanted to use them a bit.
25th-Mar-2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, awesome. I'll go see if they have it at my local shop and take a look.

Yeah, that's basically how the mecha system seems to work. It just enhances the pilot, adding to his strength and HP. I'm not entirely sure how it would work for casters, though. I would think that since I'm basing the armor on D&D materials and using warforged body feats as a rough base, you could have a mithral war machine enhanced with an upgrade like mithral fluidity to allow for easier use. Man, clerics would kill in them, though, as heavy armor has never been a problem for them anyway. Yikes.

I can just imagine a goblin cleric in an adamantine mecha, surrounded by lesser mecha with fighters. YIKES!
25th-Mar-2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
The question would remain in the visibility. If they can see through a visored helmet, you might count it as the same line of effect you could get through an arrow slit. If they are granted some type of clairvoyant display within the mech, then they could have full cover, but lose line of effect. For medium creatures a size large mecha might still be difficult to move the hands in for somatic spells, but I don't see this as a problem for gobbos.
26th-Mar-2007 04:09 am (UTC)
I was thinking that the helmet would act as more of a clairvoyant type of thing, but the more I think about it, the more it would make sense to have that merely as a component and reduce the overall cost of the machine. Still, none to sure which way is best, but I will when I get some playtesting done.

Spellcasting is indeed a problem. I think it would make sense to impose a penalty similar to being (really) heavily armored, and definitely make a feat to compensate. As far as line of effect goes, I think it would work to make a component that takes up one equivalent item slot on the machine and allows spells to be channeled through the machine, so that line of effect is determined from the armor itself and not the caster inside.

Anyway, I'm going to post the numbers I have so far in my journal, see if anyone bites.
26th-Mar-2007 08:01 am (UTC)
Sounds like a great fix
27th-Mar-2007 05:18 am (UTC)
have you ever checked out any of the iron kingdoms stuff? they modified the goblins a good bit gave em chamoflage skin and there favored class is bodger(they jury rig mecha) its probably the only thing i really loved about iron kingdoms the goblins were really cool and it would be an easy variant to the artificer.they also use steamjack suits more steam punk then mecha a mix between victorian steam engines and majick. plus some of the bodger abilitys were great like "throw a wrench at it" which was literally what it sounds like to make items work
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