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D&D 3E
Clockwork Engineer 
19th-Sep-2007 02:11 pm
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(x-posted for happy, healthy results!) Greetings all!

I am creating a new class for a homebrew game (it's a system roughly based on AD&D but severely edited here and there) and I need some advice. Since D&D gamers have brilliant, fantastic, and amazing imaginations (well, at least, we hope), I figured this would be the best place to ask.

The class is called "Clockwork Engineer" and it basically what you'd conjecture from that title: a class based on creating inventions and constructs. Here's the basic concepts I've got so far and the requests for ideas:

The clockwork engineer is a master of mechanical construction, building fantastic inventions and curious designs from a multitude of seemingly innocuous (though not always so) objects.

The creations of a clockwork engineer are called inventions. Inventions can be as simple as a platform that raises up and down or as complex as a suit of mechanized armor. They are assigned levels that represent the difficulty to construct them and effectively use their capabilities. Inventions are recorded as schematics in a schematic journal, much like a wizard’s spellbook. Without the proper schematic, an invention cannot be created.

The basic building blocks of inventions are called components. Each component is assigned a level which represents its difficulty to construct by itself and how difficult it would be to use it in an invention. Components are considered the most complex parts of each invention, much like an arcane focus, and most inventions also require spare parts, such as bolts and nuts, wiring, casings, etc, much like material components for spellcasting. Components are also recorded in the schematic journal as diagrams and, likewise, without the proper diagram, a component cannot be created.

So, the basic two needs I have are components and inventions. I'm going from extraordinarily simple to extremely complex here, so as many and as much ideas as you can contribute, the better.

For example, one schematic idea is a simple watch.

Wrist-Worn Chronometer
Level One Invention
Components:Gearbox, winding spring

The Wrist-Worn Chronometer is a simple time-keeping invention. A winding spring causes the gearbox to turn a dial on the outside of the chronometer. The device must be wound every day as the spring is designed to reset approximately 24 hours after winding. The chronometer has adjustable markings for sunrise, noon, and sunset, and most engineers set it by winding it the first day at sunrise then setting the other two markers at the appropriate times so that each day (with slight adjustments as time passes), it keeps relatively even time.

I invite you to come up as simple or as complex components and inventions as you can come up with, inventions that have extremely practical uses (the Elevating Lift Platform), inventions that might be worthwhile just once in a lifetime (the Hydraulic Flying Buttress Stabilizer), or practically useless but fun (the Automatic Orcish Eyelash Trimmer), as long as it can be broken down into simple components.

20th-Sep-2007 03:53 am (UTC)
Inventions in a magical world would need to have a magical component, or they would be much too clunky to actually adventure with.

Its like adventuring as an alchemist or a farmer. Your best work is done at home and once it is built/grown, then you can enjoy your labor. In the field of battle, you're worthless and only your inventions take over.

As a DM, you'll have to create SO much for this to work, it may be more of a headache than its worth.

It may be excellent for an NPC though.
20th-Sep-2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Perhaps rather than attempt to define inventions in the same manner as spells, you could consider looking up existing feats and skills as building blocks to enable the clockwork engineer to devise constructs and tools to facilitate adventuring.

Consider the Craft skill, the Knowledge (engineering) skill, and the various Craft item feats as places to start, and then add one other feature that would be the "Construct" equivalent of a druid's animal companion or the sorcerer or wizard's familiar: Craft Construct.

At 1st level, the clockwork engineer can craft a simple 1-HD construct, which, of course, he will have to repair every time it gets stomped by enemy NPCs. He can use the construct in much the same way as druids use animal companions - to help set up flanks. As the clockwork engineer increases in levels, he can construct more poweful constructs, automatons, animated furniture, whatever. Until he gets to the double-digit levels and can construct golems.

Perhaps he needs to learn to cast certain spells to enable his constructs or he has a class feature that bypasses all that. Maybe he gains a Craft Construct class feature that enables him to craft constructs without the need for magic.

These are suggestions based on what I would do if I were designing such a class.

What about the possibility of inventing traps, crafting traps, or creating primitive firearms?
20th-Sep-2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
I'm currently trying out the Technological Device rules from the WoW RPG for the "tinkerers" in my game. They seem okay on paper, but we'll see how it works out once my PC starts actually building stuff (it's a play-by-post game, so it's a little slow).

If it doesn't work out, I'll probably reflavor the Artificer from Eberron so that it feels more technological rather than magical. That could actually work better (maybe infusions are just minor modifications, or gadgets added that break at the end of combat), and basically all the "Craft X" feats become making equivalents (so a gun is mechanically equivalent to a Wand of Magic Missile or whatnot). It means the mechanics are there already (and pretty smooth, even if the artificer is incredibly powerful--some kind of "malfunction" check or quality could help to leviate that), but HEFTY reflavoring is needed all around.
17th-Oct-2007 11:16 pm (UTC) - inventors, tinkers, gnomes?
Wasn't there a gnome tinker class in the dragonlance setting? I recall something like that, with lots of mishaps during the research and development stages.
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