View Full Version : Tin Soldier's

2010-07-09, 08:30 AM
I've got a basic idea for a magic item (set) that basically consist of a large number of tin or metal soldiers all of which work in unison with each other to accomplish a task.

/extraneous information
Back story behind them.

The area the party is in has a lot of steam/clockwork technology (magic fuel source, think copper piece enchanted w/ permanent heat metal and placed in a boiler) so at the height of the technology those with money to burn would buy mechanical toys and have them fight each other. Mostly because i like the idea that a society with relatively advanced technology still enjoys gladiatorial combat. Adds an interesting human aspect to it.

Most spell casters in the area just pumped out fuel disc mindlessly and let artisans do the rest. This not helped by the fact the the kingdom had plot-armor against spells lv 4 and up, so no one can get creative with high level spells. The only reason any spells can be used at all is that you need divine magic to work in order to cast heal/cure disease etc.

Anyways, one day a skilled wizard got tired of magic being used just to fuel creations, so he creates a platoon of diminutive metal soldiers all animated and with the ability to think. Needless to say things became interesting when all of a sudden the clockwork's where getting whipped by what was previously thought of as a meager fuel source.

I think it would be interesting immersion if they took the loss of one of their own seriously, to a player they just lost a resource but to the soldiers they lost a friend and comrade.

/extraneous information

Should probably limit the size to a platoon (16-50) so the loss feels real. They should have 2-7 sub groups (squads) wich specialize in specific operations, for example you might give one set "Scout" which gives them the ability to sneak into a place and report back.

(a loss would be represented by a numeric lowering in ability, a +5 roll lowers to +0 for a weak after one dies, then each passing weak increases by +1 to a max of +4 to represent their moral , assuming a total of 5 guys to start with, lowering the max to show loss of a skilled member. This will keep homicidal players from using them to set off traps, at least intentionally )

*they would have quarks at the GM' being lazy, and personalities if the GM is playing them for what they are worth.

*They use "group" tactics for any task, they move in a military manner, think modern SWAT/Soldier tactics. Successes and failures can affect future outcomes.

*They would be diminutive MW animated objects that have Int of 7-12, so they can learn, preserve themselves.

My problem is that i can't think of other operational abilities for them to have. Any ideas or variants? Combat abilities are fairly obvious, but i don't want them to be heavily combat oriented. So far its mostly info gathering , which is fine, but how to spice it up?

2010-07-09, 09:34 AM
How about a team of tin engineers who can build objects with Craft skills and repair objects as per the mending or make whole spell? You could have tin sappers who can use the Disable Device skill and the shatter spell. A tin commander could grant bonuses to any unit of tin soldiers he commands, doubling their effectiveness.

2010-07-09, 10:15 AM
I like the idea of intelligent diminutive constructs (3.x or 4e?). I'm giving you 3.5 suggestions because that is what I am most familiar with.

At 1 HD at least with Int of 13 so they qualify for the feat Combat Expertise. If you have them led by a higher ranking soldier, like a Sgt., 3 HD and add Combat Reflexes. They should also have a fairly high charisma (12 or more), especially if you only want them to a decent Gather Information skill. The higher intelligence also works well if they have a bonus to their Disable Device skill.

Because of their size they don't qualify for bonus hit points and they don't have a Con score so they are fairly fragile. A typical 1 HD Diminutive Construct has only 5 hit points.

...when all of a sudden the clockworks were getting whipped by what was previously thought of as a meager fuel source.

You may need to incorporate how that was accomplished. Do they have a Special Ability that causes mechanical devices to fail? It could work with their disable device skill as well.

Haywire spell from D20 Urban Arcana comes to mind as something that would make sense. You could use that as the basis for a Special Ability that only works when there is a minimum number of Tin Soldiers. This would also explain why they take the loss of one of their own so seriously.

See here for the spell: http://www.d20resources.com/arcana.d20.srd/spells/haywire.php


2010-07-09, 11:05 PM
Thank you for the feedback!

I like the idea with sappers, maybe a group that a player could send them in, after the scouts get Intel, to weaken an enemy. Even if its just "sneak into the camp and fray all the bow strings", so in the next battle all enemy's with bows/crossbows weapons have a very high chance to become unusable. It rewards the players for creative thinking.

Sorry for not specifying the edition, i currently use 3.5 , with anything allowed (but anything not in the PhB requires GM approval)

For the mechanical bonuses i think it will be largely skill rank based, with a loss on the "units" ability (Aid another?) during a casualty.

I actuary WANT them to be fragile. they just are "well trained" to avoid direct confrontation.

The way they would have brought the other constructs id imagine is that they would use ropes to cut down its maneuverability, then attack components, such as springs, or pulley wires, to make it unable to move, they they would take off the "cap" for the boiler so no pressure can be built up rendering it unable. . They use teamwork and playing off the weakest point for combat tactics. Nine out of ten times they will go for the Achilles tendon rather than the leg itself.

maybe having a number of them specialize i think, for example.
Lets say you want them to go to the top floor of a wizard tower and see if the wizard is home. Most of them would only be tolerable at climbing, but one may be specialized and have a substantial bonus so he would climb up and lower a wire/rope down for the rest to follow up. These "specialist" would provide the group a bonus ability to any task you send them on, but a failed check means they can be destroyed so you don't want to send all specialist troupes.

It would be interesting to give them a "medic" which can somehow repair the others (limit to this of course)

One thing id like to be sure is that the number of them DOES diminish over the course of the adventure, and it will take a side-quest to replenish the ranks, or maybe even give more.

2010-07-10, 05:29 PM
Tin scouts, yeah! At their size, they have a considerable Size bonus to Hide, so with a few ranks in Hide and Move Silently they could be effective scouts against creatures that don't have many ranks in Listen.

A tin medic might be able to use repair light damage as an at-will spell-like ability (or maybe just a few times per day).

2010-07-10, 10:59 PM
This is an awesome idea and it works well in the Ishka Campaign setting linked below. Do you mind if I link this to the Ishka thread

2010-07-11, 12:22 AM
I love the idea of various sized armies/groups of Fine or Diminutive Constructs with specialized individuals and groups within.

Healers, Scouts, Melee units and Ranged units are obvious musts. Units that specialize in Tripping or Grappling as a group would be interesting.

I like your ideas about groups granting larger bonuses and losing "men" reducing the maximum bonus a group can provide.

I think Healers should be able to both repair "injured" units and to build a new unit out of 2 "dead" units of the same type. The more Healers working on the same unit the faster this happens.

2010-07-11, 03:11 PM
Basically any skill except perhaps the "Knowledge _______" skills can probably be given to a specialist unit.

2010-07-11, 04:38 PM
Gather Information would not be something I would see as these guys schtick I think you got confused with scouting, which is based on spot and listen primarily, and secondarily on hide and move silently. (sorry, I just have a mutually beneficial antagonistic relationship with Debi)

2010-07-12, 04:41 AM
Gather information is a social skill, i was thinking they subvert it via, Hide/move silently (being diminutive helps a lot!) along with a few key listen/spot checks. Servants talk and what not.

Maybe they would break into the guy who the party thinks is running a cult and check his notes for the past 3 months. I think the grapples would be something along the line of Gulliver travels, using ropes and hooks as well as leverage to topple larger foes.

For melee i cant see them doing much damage unless they rush en-mass. It might be interesting if they shoot barbed arrows, maybe instead of doing direct combat damage (a thorn in your leg is uncomfortable but is rarely lethal) they do "irritant Damage, so maybe they lower the max Dex by one, or they can use a trip attack by attaching thin wires to their needle/arrows, and pulling all at once. Or just reducing target speed by 5ft.

Also them rushing a target to tie them up seems like it would be funny. The party kills 20 Orc's, and they turn around a corner to find that the one that went to warn the 40 more deeper in the cave has been anchored to the dungeon floor, and the tin soldiers have "set up camp" next to the furious Orc's struggling body. The combat report the "commander" gives to their controller could be quite fun.

I think Knowledge (Engineering) would be appropriate , at least to justify their intuitive use of leverage, and problem solving. If they had to cross a river (lets assume its too fast to just walk across the bottom.) they could create a tiny temporary boat, or a bridge if they have to carry something bulky across.

A a side note; I wouldn't have them use Poisons, even if order's too, they are Soldiers and would refuse to do something so dishonorable (and i don't want players dipping them in contact poisons and having them give monsters hugs while they sleep. Funny, yes. But can be game-breaking with deadly enough poisons. Not to mention the character avoids the main risk of poisons without picking up the appropriate classes, as they can have immune constructs do all the handling and applying for them.)

One neat Party Use is to have them set up a parameter around the camp so they party doesn't have to take watches. (I would have it to where the soldiers do need downtime of some sort, the mage would make them "as realistic as is still beneficial" as they ARE technically a fancy toy. Most likely i would not have them need to eat, but would have them enjoy pretending. How aware they are of their construct state would be questionable, was thinking of them being semi-aware. They know they are constructs they just pointedly ignore it whenever possible, and will find discussing it extremely uncomfortable or offensive.

For weapons i think id have them have Heavy Crossbows+Sword bayonet (It is in ether complete scoundrel, C. adventurer, or dungeonscape).
Other equipment they might need is a light backpack to carry various tools, A source of light (tiny lanterns? Don't remember the construct rules for seeing in the dark, but I'd think of them as downgraded constructs, they lost abilities when they where made in bulk, or something.). wire/twine and pully's. perhaps barbed grappling hooks. Most likely other things would fit as well.