Arcane Mechanist (5e Subclass)

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This content deviates from 5th Edition standards. Its use could dramatically alter campaigns, take extreme care. DesignDisclaimer.png
Caution - Here there be monsters!
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This content intends to provide a different experience, or goes beyond the scope of the anticipated subjects and situations, than the 5th Edition rules were intended to handle. Some portions of the content below may not be what you expect from traditional game content. When implementing this content, DMs and Players should read over all the information carefully, and consider the following specific notes of interest:
Warning! This subclass is highly DM and player involved. It is advised to have a fair DM who is knowledgeable about the system and willing to shoulder such a difficult task. It is also advised that the player is able to make clear, honest agreements with the DM, and be able to handle the complexity of the class. This subclass will also usually have automaton minions which can effectively be additional player characters affecting action economy. In addition, like artificers and wizards this class needs down time while other characters may not have much to do and this will affect adventure pacing.


Arcane Mechanist[edit]

Artificer Subclass, Cleric Subclass, Fighter Subclass, Rogue Subclass, Sorcerer Subclass, Wizard Subclass

An arcane mechanist is a subclass of just about any simple class, for a player that wants to build automatons and other devices without having to use the Artificer rules. The up side is that the mechanist can build cool stuff. The down side is that the mechanist misses out on all the standard subclasses of their class. Mechanists do not exactly fit into the standard adventuring mold, because they end up having to spend significant amounts of time building devices. An arcane mechanist has 24 build points (BP) per level to build automatons and other devices.

Running an Automaton[edit]

The automaton sheet below covers the basic rules, and doubles as a sheet for building and playing automatons. Copy the following image as the automaton sheet and print a copy for each automaton in play:

Homebrew - Arcane Mechanist.png
By Jon Grover, no rights reserved

This is a very complex diagram and is designed to be used more like a blueprint than like a presentation display. If you can handle using the diagram, then you can handle running a mechanist.

Building an Automaton[edit]

The sheet above covers most of the rules, but they may be easier to understand with details. The rules details are below:

Build Points (BP)
A mechanist may spend up to 12 build points per day building an automaton or other device.
  • Mechanist level indicates the maximum number of build points a mechanist can spend on one device. Mechanists can spend up to 24 build points per level building a device.
  • A second mechanist can help by adding as many as 6 build points per level, at a rate of 1 build point every three hours.
  • Any additional mechanists can help by adding 2 build points per level, at a rate of 1 build point per day (12 hours work).
Elements
An automaton has up to 45 elements. Each element indicates something an automaton might be able to do and/or some way an automaton can think.
  • The more primitive elements to the left in the diagram have to do with building the core mind of the automaton and cover simple concepts that an automaton will need in order to understand more complex concepts and do complex things later.
  • The more advanced elements to the right in the diagram have to do with what an automaton can do in the real world.
Investment
A mechanist can 'invest' one or more build points in an element, starting with the left element and building up the structure to the right.
  • An Active Element is an element into which a mechanist has invested one or more build points.
  • The maximum number of build points that can be invested in one element is 20.
  • Each element has a rank from 1 to 9 indicating how advanced it is.
  • There us an oval on the sheet below each element where you can write how many build points you have invested there.
  • Some elements are greyed out. The diagram 'wraps' and these are only there to show more element dependencies.
Element Structure
More advanced elements (to the right) are always based on more primitive elements (to their left) as shown by arrows. The immediate more primitive elements are the foundation for the higher rank element.
  • You may not invest more build points in any element than are in the second lowest more primitive element leading to it.
  • You may not invest any build points in an element that does not have all of its more primitive foundation element active (at least 1 build point)
  • You may directly invest up to 20 build points in the value element because it is the most primitive element.
  • You may not invest more build points in the quality and quantity elements than are in the value element.
Ranks
Rank indicates how advanced an element is.
  • Ranks 1-5 show low level functionality involved in building an automaton's mind. The 15 element in ranks 1 to 5 comprise the mental foundation that makes it possible to build functionality for an automaton to interact with the world.
    • Ranks 1-4 are a structure of abstract concepts, and rank 5 sparks consciousness.
    • Once all 15 in rank 1-5 are active, every ability of the automaton will be 2.
  • Rank 6 covers an automaton's abilities above 2. Every build point placed in one of the elements in rank 6 raises one of the 6 abilities of an automaton. For example, every build point invested in memory raises an automaton's intelligence by 1 point (to a maximum intelligence of 22). Rank 6 also tends to be the automaton's sensory rank.
  • Rank 7 covers some real basics on being in the world. The automaton gets a body and hands. It can move and understand where it is. It can understand goals, dangers, and motivation. And it can read.
  • Rank 8 covers various simple useful operations such as following directions, doing work, exploring, defending itself, speaking, writing and so on.
  • Rank 9 covers all the serious things an automaton can do in the real world, almost as if it were a creature or character.
  • Rank 10 is not covered by these rules. What is available at rank 10 is up to the dungeon master, determined by the nature of their campaign. So if you want to build an automaton that is a wizard, this is where you would work with the dungeon master to find out if this possibility makes sense in their campaign and what you need to do to make this happen.
    • An automaton generally has either zero or one tenth ranked element.
Calculating Scores
There is an oval on the sheet below each element where you can write how many build points you have invested there. Some ovals have a line down the center dividing them into two parts. The left half contains the build points invested, and the right half is a calculated value to be used in the game.
  • The ovals at rank 6 are used to calculate the automaton's abilities. Place the invested points in the left side and the calculated ability in the right side. Calculated abilities are all 2 plus the number of points invested.
  • For the 'movement' element, movement speed = 5 feet per round per build point invested.
  • For the 'body' element, hit points = 1d6 per build point invested. The minimum hit points for an automaton or device is 1 Hit Point.
    • The weight of a automaton = the automaton's hit point squared, so for example, an automaton with 20 hit points weights 400 lbs.
  • For the 'defense' element, armor class = 8 + 1 per build point invested.
  • For the 'ranged' element, distance for a ranged attack = 10 feet per build point invested.
    • Long range is double that.
  • For the 'escape' element, disengage distance = up to 5 feet per build point invested.
Skills
Automatons can have skills if they have build points in the Argument and Art elements.
  • Argument skills are those skills that are based on wisdom and charisma: Animal Handling, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Survival.
  • Art skills are those skills that are based on strength, dexterity, and intelligence: Acrobatics, Athletics, Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, Religion, Sleight of Hand, Stealth.
Other Fields
The automaton sheet has 5 other fields:
  • The name field indicates the name of the automaton if any.
  • The shape field indicates the shape of the automaton. For example: humanoid, bug, centauroid, cart etc.
  • The gender field shows the automaton's sex or gender if any. Frequently the sex is neutral and the gender is female or male. For example, indicate this as 'NF' or 'NM'.
  • The color field shows the main color of the automaton. Default is silvery grey.
Special Build Features
  • Claws do +1d6 damage in addition to the damage an automaton might do with hands holding melee weapons.
  • Internal missile launchers do +1d6 damage in addition to the damage an automaton might do with hands holding missile weapons.
  • Wheels quadruple speed on very flat surfaces or rails, but halve speed on other surfaces. Halve speed again if the surface is considered rough terrain to other creatures.
  • Flying automatons need wings or rotors.
    • If an automaton has wings, cut its ground speed in half, and do not allow it to fly unless its ground speed on the previous turn was its maximum ground speed. An automaton with wings can not remain airborne unless it is moving at at least half its speed rounded down.
    • If an automaton has rotors, it can hover, but cut its flying and its ground speed in half rounded up to the nearest 5 ft per turn.

Building Another Device[edit]

Other Devices
Arcane Mechanists can build other devices besides automatons. Generally these devices are built as 'partial' automatons.

Here are some examples:

  • Alarm: An alarm will need all elements up to rank 5, all elements at rank 6 besides 'memory' and 'sight', and the 'danger' element at rank7. If the alarm needs to see something in order to respond, it will also need 'sight' at rank 6.
  • Mining Cart: An automated mining cart will need All all elements up to rank 5, all elements at rank 6 besides 'hearing' and 'concequence', and the 'movement' element at rank 7.

Directing an Automaton[edit]

An artificer, mechanist, or automaton owner may give an automaton directions before or during combat.

  • Directing an automaton requires an action.
  • If the 'directions' element is active, then complex directions may be given. Before combat, one contingency direction may be given for each build point invested in the 'directions' element.
  • Bonus action directions may be given to some advanced automatons:
    • If the 'defense' element is active, automaton dodge action directions are a bonus action.
    • If the 'creativity' element is active, the automaton may be directed to use tools, use an 'art' skill, disengage, attack, fire a missile weapon as a bonus action. The automaton is creative enough not to need highly detailed instructions, for which ever of these elements is active.

Damaging an Automaton[edit]

Damage Rules in More Detail
Automatons can take two kinds of damage: hit point damage to hit points, and build point damage to elements.
Hit Point Damage
Hit point damage reduces the hit points that arise from build points invested in the 'body' element.
  • Damage to an automaton is permanent until repaired by an arcane mechanist or an artificer.
  • If the automaton has a Constitution of 22 (the maximum), the automaton can self repair hit points at 1 HP per hour (24 HP per day).
Element Damage
Once the automaton loses all its hit points, it is vulnerable to element damage that will permanently take away its build points. This causes Malfunctions.
  • Automatons lose build points to one or more random elements when they take build point damage (see below on how to roll a random element).
  • Automatons lose build points at a rate of one build point per hit point damage done.
  • Lost build points can only be repaired only by an arcane mechanist. They are repaired at the same rate as mechanists build automatons: 1 build point per hour or 12 build points per day.
  • As automatons lose build points due to damage they also loses functionality. For example if an automaton loses all of its Sight build points it can not longer see, and it can no longer use any higher ranked functionality based on sight such as Movement, Reading, Exploration etc.
  • Build point damage to specific elements causes various effects. Most of them are sort of logical and obvious by looking at the diagram, so this list is mainly here to make things easier if this works for you:
How To Roll a Random Element
  • Roll on the Malfunctions table to indicate which element was damaged.
  • If the automaton or other device had no build points to start with invested in an element, and that element is damaged, the automaton is undamaged.

Malfunctions[edit]

The dungeon master can come up with their own interpretations of the effects of damage to particular elements, or they can use the following table as a guide. Alternately, the player can handle all of the malfunction details.

D100 Rank Element Partial Damage to Element (some BP lost) Fully Damaged Element (all BP lost)
01-02 1 Value All functionality halved Complete shutdown
03-06 2 Quality All functionality halved The automaton can no longer tell things apart.
07-10 2 Quantity All functionality halved The automaton can no longer deal with anything if there is more than one.
11-14 3 One All functionality halved The automaton can no longer deal with anything if there is only one of them.
15-18 3 Many All functionality halved The automaton can no longer focus on one item or individual in a group.
19-22 3 Much All functionality halved The automaton can no longer distinguish different materials or whether something is alive or not.
23-25 4 Entity All functionality halved The automaton will no longer notice the different between things in the world and the world itself.
26-28 4 Difference All functionality halved The automaton will do random things it is able to do. Roll for random elements to see what it does each turn.
29-31 4 Sequence All functionality halved The automaton will follow directions in a random order, or perform random contingent actions.
32-34 4 Existence All functionality halved The automaton will no longer believe that the world exists, and will idle, not event defending itself.
35-37 5 Other Downstream functions halved The automaton stops interacting with other entities.
38-40 5 Self Downstream functions halved The automaton believes it has no agency and stops interacting with anything else.
41-43 5 Events Downstream functions halved The automaton will do the last thing it did over and over, not believing there were any results.
44-46 5 Time Downstream functions halved The automaton's ability to do anything will recharge (5,6).
47-49 5 Space Downstream functions halved The automaton will face randomly and move randomly 5 feet per turn if it has an active 'movement' element.
50-51 6 Touch Strength reduced 1 pt for every point damage Strength is 2 and the automaton can no longer feel things with its body/hands/skin. Downsteam functions fail.
52-53 6 Hearing Constitution reduced 1 pt for every point damage Constitution is 2 and the automaton can no longer hear. Downsteam functions fail.
54-55 6 Consequence Wisdom reduced 1 pt for every point damage Wisdom is 2 and the automaton can no longer feel things with its mind/emotions. Downsteam functions fail.
56-57 6 Sight Charisma reduced 1 pt for every point damage Charisma is 2 and the automaton can no longer see. Downsteam functions fail.
58-59 6 Memory Intelligence reduced 1 pt for every point damage Intelligence is 2 and the automaton can no longer remember or access memory. Downsteam functions fail.
60-61 6 Balance Dexterity reduced 1 pt for every point damage Dexterity is 2 and the automaton falls over and can not stand up. Downsteam functions fail.
62-63 7 Hands 50% chance per turn it drops what it's holding The automaton can only ask questions, speak, take direction or explore. It can do nothing with its hands.
62-65 7 Danger Automaton confused, actions on recharge (5,6) The automaton can only explore, use tools, accept directions, or do labor but has no sense of self preservation or danger to others.
66-67 7 Reading 50% chance automaton misunderstands directions The automaton can only continue art, labor, or exploration. It cannot accept new directions.
68-69 7 Purpose On all downstream actions recharge (5,6) The automaton can only continue to defend itself, explore, and engage in mindless melee. It cannot accept new directions.
70-71 7 Location The automaton can only see within 60 feet The automaton does not know where it is and can only take 1 action per minute.
72-73 7 Movement Automaton movement speed reduced The automaton can no longer move or change facing. Hands and arms if any can still move.
74-75 7 Body Automaton stunned for this round, does nothing The automaton can not be repaired, it must be rebuilt. All elements destroyed beyond repair.
76-77 8 Defense AC drops 1pt per damage point The automaton can no longer dodge, defend itself, escape, or engage in combat or argument, or use 'argument' skills.
78-79 8 Numbers Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer engage in combat, argument, or commerce, or use 'argument' skills.
80-81 8 Writing Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer lead, write, argue, or engage in ranged combat or commerce, or use 'argument' skills.
82-83 8 Speaking Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer speak, lead, argue, investigate, ask questions, or engage in commerce, or use 'argument' skills.
84-85 8 Directions Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer accept new directions, lead, investigate, ask questions, argue, or engage in commerce.
86-87 8 Labor Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer work, lead, investigate, ask questions, use tools or create art, or use 'art' skills.
88-89 8 Exploration Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer escape, use tools, investigate, ask questions, explore, create art, or use 'art' skills.
90-91 8 Creativity Downstream functions halved The automaton can no longer escape, engage in melee, use tools, create art or use 'art' skills.
92 9 Melee Disadvantage on melee attacks and defense Automaton can not longer fight in melee.
93 9 Ranged Disadvantage on ranged attacks Automaton can not longer fire ranged weapons.
94 9 Argument Disadvantage on all 'argument' skills Automaton can not longer argue or use 'argument' skills.
95 9 Commerce Automaton makes less money Automaton can not longer buy or sell.
96 9 Leading Disadvantage on persuasion Automaton can not longer lead other automatons or NPCs.
97 9 Inquiry Disadvantage on investigation Automaton can not longer ask questions or investigate.
98 9 Tools Disadvantage on tool use checks Automaton can not longer use tools.
99 9 Art Disadvantage on all 'art' skills Automaton can not longer create art or use 'art' skills;
100 9 Escape No disengage, disadvantage on others' opportunity attacks Automaton can not longer escape or disengage.

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