Friday 15 July 2016

Clockwork Monkeys and Other Mechanical Devices

More clockpunk tech for ATWC. Most of the stuff I've written so far has been pretty utilitarian: these are a bit more eccentric, the sort of thing you might find in the workshop of an imaginative engineer with too much time on her hands. Is it really worth building a clockwork monkey to carry your messages for you when you could just send a man on a horse instead? Probably not; but if you're the kind of person who just really loves building clockwork monkeys, that might be rather besides the point...

Clockwork monkey miniatures by Westfalia Miniatures. I love these guys.

Mechanical Messenger Monkey: A 1' high mechanical monkey, designed for use in carrying messages from place to place. A rolled-up message is placed inside its mouth, and it is then assigned a direction, a distance, and - optionally - a landmark to look out for (e.g. 'a tower 20 miles to the north-west') by turning control keys in keyholes set into the sides of its head. As soon as its objective is locked in, the monkey immediately sets off in the assigned direction at a run, scampering, climbing, or swinging over anything in its way, and nimbly dodging (Dex 18) anyone who tries to stop it; it stops for nothing until it has covered the assigned distance, at which point it stops dead and its jaw springs open to reveal the message inside. (If the message needs to be kept secure, then its jaw can be locked instead, opening only to someone who possesses the appropriate combination or key: after three failed unlocking attempts, the monkey 'eats' the message by shredding it with its internal gears.) Fully winding a messenger monkey (by hand or autowinder) takes four hours, and allows it to run for up to fifty miles at a speed of five miles per hour. It has AC 17, 3 HP, and no attacks. Tech difficulty: O1 M3 R4 C5.

Chattersword: Basically a large wind-up chainsaw. (It has to be big, due to the bulkiness of the mechanism.) An hour's winding (by hand or autowinder) will allow it to run for ten minutes: the mainspring unwinds very quickly, causing the gears within to spin rapidly and setting the jagged metal teeth around the edge of the blade whirring with great speed. Can be used to carve through wooden obstacles, or used in combat as a (clumsy) two-handed melee weapon; it inflicts 2d6 damage, but whenever its wielder makes an unsuccessful attack against a target wearing metal armour the chattersword teeth have a 1-in-3 chance of snagging, snapping, or otherwise becoming unusable until repaired. Tech difficulty: O1 M2 R2 C2.

Harpoon gun: Like a one-shot, but much bigger, this is basically just a 5' sturdy metal tube with a very powerful spring coiled up inside it. Winding the spring, by hand or by autowinder, takes ten minutes; you then drop something down the shaft (usually a harpoon, but it could also be used to launch a fist-sized stone, a sturdy jar full of oil or acid, or anything else which is small enough to fit down the tube and strong enough to survive being launched out of it) , point it at your target, and pull the lever on the side to launch the projectile. If used as a weapon, it inflicts 2d8 damage and ignores 2 points of physical AC (the harpoon just punches straight through it), but it's so clumsy that attacks on man-sized targets suffer a -2 penalty to hit. It can also be used as a kind of 'grapple gun': tie one end of your rope around the top of the harpoon, fire it into a tree, a wall, etc, and then swing across. The harpoon gun must be fully rewound before it can be used again. Tech difficulty: O0 M0 R1 C2.

Small Submarine: A fish-shaped submersible made from wood, metal, and glass, capable of carrying two crewmen, who propel themselves through the water by operating a pedal-powered treadmill; clockwork-powered propellers, which are wound up before entering the water, provide additional thrust when more speed is required. The biggest limitation is the air supply; the sub only contains about twelve man-hours worth of breathable air, so a two-person crew would be unwise to stay underwater for more than six hours at a stretch. The sub is quite sturdy (AC 18), but almost any damage that does breach its hull will make it flood rapidly. Cautious submariners may wish to attach racks of harpoon guns to the sides of their vehicle in case of encountering underwater trouble. Tech difficulty: O2 M3 R4 C4

Large Submarine: Like the small sub, but capable of carrying six people, at least four of whom will need to pedal constantly to keep it in motion. It also has a thicker hull, giving it AC 20. Contains 36 man-hour o breathable air. Tech difficulty: O3 M3 R4 C5

Steel Spider: An experiment in non-humanoid mech design, the steel spider consists of a spherical 5' command module (within which the pilot sits) which travels on eight sturdy 6' metal legs, usually with a swivel gun mounted on the front. It's much better able to handle difficult terrain than a tank, and much harder to trip than a normal mech, but its lack of hands means that its pilot can only interact with the world by climbing over things and/or shooting them. Controlling all those legs is also far trickier than the much more intuitive task of operating a mech's legs with your own, and the lightly-armoured spider is much more fragile than a regular mech, with AC 18 and 20 HP. Steel crabs, which swap out the front two legs for claws capable of crude manipulation, are also possible. Tech difficulty: O1 M3 R4 C5.

Cogworm: The clockpunk equivalent of stealing electricity by hooking a power line, a cogworm is a flexible three-foot snake made of gears. One end is attached to the exposed machinery of any large clockwork device, such as a bronze horse or yaga, and the other end is attached to a smaller device's winding key; every turn of the cogs in the first device turns all the gears in the cogworm, which winds up the second device, draining power from the former to the latter. (Treat this as an autowinder, except it requires no fuel; all the power is provided by the first device, which loses power at the same rate as the second one gains it.) Given that the total amount of energy committed to the two devices remains the same as if you'd just charged them both up individually, there are only two reasons to use a cogworm: laziness (you can just throw a bunch of fuel into the furnace of your yaga and then let it power all the rest of your devices via cogworms, rather than having to feed fuel into them all individually), or theft (stealing someone else's power means never having to buy your own fuel again - at least until you get caught). The ingenious but perpetually impoverished apprentice clockworkers of the Wicked City are infamous for the use of cogworms in the latter fashion, and are quite expert at surreptitiously opening up large machines and attaching cogworms to their internal workings in order to leech off their power for their own purposes. Tech difficulty: O1 M3 R4 C5.

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