Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dungeons & Dragonauts? [Wastelands Dragons]

Dragons don't exist in my Wastelands of Kreth setting.


OK, they actually do. But in the Wastelands our favorite D&D monsters are known as dragonauts—vile, machine-like horrors who wield magnetism and magic as weapons, in addition to their razor-sharp extremities and devastating breath. And they lust after treasure, of course. Otherwise, well ... who the frig cares about dragons in any form but for their gleaming, bountiful treasure hoards.

You can thank the dwarves for that.

You see, Wastelands dwarves believe that the multiverse was created by a tightly-ratcheted group of deities. Both the gods and the multiverse are known as the Mechanoid Construct, and they are one and the same—indivisible, unbreakable and perfectly ordered to function for eternity. So long as no one throws a wrench in the gearworks.

Prime deity of the Mechanoid Construct is Synculon the Articulator, who first created and gave precise timing, expression and substance to the multiverse. Allied with him are Justicron, warrior and protector of the multiverse; Oculus, visionary, magician and revealer of the multiverse’s secrets; Regulus, loremaster and organizer of the multiverse and establisher of systems and laws; and Technus, the forger of elements and stars and worlds, and inspiration for the construction and crafting of all things, including the dwarves. 

Now the wrench. Opposing Synculon's instrumental cabal is Chaositron, the dark god, destroyer and saboteur of the multiverse. Chaositron’s driving purpose is to undo the perfect machinations of the Mechanoid Construct. To aid this goal, Chaositron created the perfect tool—dragonauts. And dragonauts love nothing more than tormenting, eating and slaying dwarves. And taking their treasure, of course.

So, it's all the dwarves' fault.

How do we make a dragonaut to punish ... er, entertain your players at your next game session?

Simply re-skin one of the existing dragons. Using the red dragon as a baseline, I made numerous adjustments to the stats. Dragonauts in my game have poison breath, for example, and they are vulnerable to lightning damage. Dragonauts tend to be a bit less cunning than standard dragons, so I've lowered their Int and Wis scores. However, they're still smarter than white dragons. I've also divided the dragonauts into "ages" of a sort, but renamed them mechaling, mecha, mega and ultra.

Here are my stats for the Dragonaut mechaling (or "wyrmling") to illustrate.

Medium dragonaut, chaotic evil
AC 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 68 (9d8+27)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
18 (+4)
10 (+0)
16 (+3)
10 (+0)
8 (-1)
11 (+0)
Saving Throws Dex +2, Con +5, Wis +1, Cha +2 
Skills Perception +1, Stealth +2 
Damage Vulnerabilities lightning 
Damage Immunities poison; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagical weapons 
Condition Immunities poisoned 
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11 
Languages Mechanoid 
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP) 
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit; reach 5 ft.; one target. Hit: 9 (1d10+4) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) poison damage. 
Poison Breath (Recharge 5-6). Dragonaut breathes poison in a 15-foot cone. Targets in area make DC 14 Dex save or take 21 (6d6) poison damage; half-damage on a successful save.

Lastly, we'll have to consider the lair actions and regional effects of the mega and ultra dragonauts (the "adults" and "ancients.") The following are some options I've come up with to cover these.

  • Cacophony. The dragonaut shakes and writhes its articulated metal body creating a painful cacophony in a 60-foot radius around it. Each creature in the area (other than the dragonaut) must make a DC 15 Con save or take 21 (6d6) thunder damage; half-damage on a successful save.
  • Magnetic Field. A field of magnetic energy engulfs a 20-foot radius centered on any point the dragonaut can see within 120 feet. The field lasts until initiative count 20 on the next round. Each creature wearing metallic armor that starts its turn in the field must succeed at a DC 13 Con save or be paralyzed until the end of its turn.
  • Metallic ruins dot the landscape within several miles of the dragonaut’s lair. These might be the crumbled shards of skyscrapers from an ancient city, the rusted hulls of abandoned ocean vessels beached in a long-desiccated silt sea, or the half-buried debris fields from a crashed starship. Regardless, rust monsters are naturally attracted to the region (but stay well clear of the dragonaut’s actual lair from deadly experience) and the chances of encountering them are increased manifold.
  • Metallic objects occasionally thrum and lightly attract each other due to strange magnetic forces within 1 mile of the dragonaut’s lair.
  • Magnetically-charged aetherstorms frequently disrupt magic use within 1 mile of the dragonaut’s lair. When a storm gathers, treat this region as a wild magic zone. Roll on the Wild Magic Surge table (p.104 of the PHB) whenever a spell is cast, or improvise a strange magical effect that occurs because of the spell.