Eclipse d20 – The Ironclad Racial Template

Cygnaran Ironclad

Look, I’m sorry, but it’s management policy! We don’t admit hulking death machines! Please don’t kill me!

The concept is an old one. Things are raised up to send to war in their creator’s place.

Some are drawn from the depths, whether of the mind or of horrific realms. Sometimes it is the dead, whether in spirit or mindless flesh. Sometimes they are things of magic, sometimes machines of war. Sometimes – in a reflection of cruel reality – they are children, whether human children reforged into cold and terrible weapons or intelligences newborn in the heart of ever-more sophisticated military constructs.

Regardless… when such constructs become sophisticated enough to awaken and live – whether that is a recovery of lost humanity or an evolved intelligence – then their creators are faced with the question of what they have done and what their creations have become.

Those creations… rarely care.

The battlefields of the war were becoming unendurable. Flesh-twisting spells, planar poisons, pockets of horrible diseases, places where massed death had opened rifts to the negative planes – either spawning undead or draining everything that approached – slimes, traps, and toxic plants, all combined to make the land impassible, confining the survivors ever more closely into their sheltered cities and the cores of their realms.

In desperation, forbidden tomes were opened, and terrible arts explored. A spark of life was breathed into the armor that there were no longer enough men to wear – and the first Ironclads rose to war. Sapient constructs.

Whatever their secret – whether it was mass sacrifice, the release of spirits that should have remained forever locked away, or the plundering of life yet unborn – it proved impossible to keep it from being stolen. Soon, in the wake of the first, all of the surviving kingdoms began the mass production of Ironclads. Untouched by emotion or conscience, unaffected by the toxins, diseases, and other horrors that saturated the battlefields, “born” armed and ready for war, the Ironclads stood posed to grind the world into dust.

And then… peace broke out. Some ascribe it to some clever diplomat who foresaw an apocalyptic vision of the Ironclads battling over a sterile wasteland, others say that the world was simply tired of war – and some whisper that the Ironclads, with their ever-increasing intelligence and tactical skills concluded that the war was both never-ending and futile, and decreed peace by simply ceasing to fight.

Regardless… in the ensuing centuries many Ironclads have continued to serve in wars or as peacekeepers. Others labor at inscrutable projects – and still others have joined the bands of adventurers who are attempting to probe the ancient battlefields and the ruins of cities lost to the great war – places that even now are filled with terrible dangers.

Ironclads are hulking suits of armor, filled with strange crystals, twisted masses of fiber, gears and parts, leathery strips, belts and pulleys, vessels of strange fluids, and exotic enchantments. They are sexless and, perhaps fortunately, can only “reproduce” individually through the use of mighty rituals. The secrets of mass-producing Ironclads are long lost – although who knows? If an intact factory-forge can be found, or if the ancient secrets of their creation are rediscovered, an army of Ironclads may march once more. They are renowned for their tenacity and – not at all surprisingly – for their prowess in combat.

The basic traits of an Ironclad are…

  • Immunity/Metabolic Effects: an Ironclad does not suffer further damage for being at zero or negative hit point totals regardless of activity, need not sleep, eat, or breathe, does not age, and is immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, disease, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, sickening effects, and energy drain. That’s (Very Common, Major, Great), Specialized and Corrupted/Ironclads do not heal naturally, can be affected by spells that target constructs, metal, or wood, gain only half effect from magical and psionic healing effects, cannot use beneficial drugs (alchemical bonuses), and – even if they do not need to sleep – must rest at least four hours a night and for eight hours to regain spells and such as usual (10 CP). They are, however, “alive”, do have constitution scores, and are entirely vulnerable to unlisted effects as any other character would be.
  • +2 Constitution, -2 to Charisma (Attribute Shift, 6 CP). Ironclads are tough, but have serious problems relating to other people.
  • Innate Enchantment (Variant): An Ironclad comes with up to 5000 GP worth of built-in gear – although it must pay for it’s armor/body out of that allotment. Improvements can be purchased with additional CP as usual for Innate Enchantment (6 CP).
  • Immunity/any need to purchase proficiency with built-in gear. This does not provide proficiency with external gear of the same type (Common, Minor, Minor, 4 CP).
  • Imbuement (Armor), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only their built-in armor (as per Imbuement/Unarmed Attacks), the first five bonus points must be invested in Fortification (6 CP).
  • Anime Master: An Ironclad – being on the upper end of medium size and being constructed of far heavier materials than a normal creature can grapple, overbear, and wield weapons as if it was a Large creature (note that this gives their fists/gauntlets a base damage of 1d4). Sadly, this also means that they cannot swim, tend to collapse furniture, weigh three to four hundred pounds (and are thus rather difficult to haul to safety or up cliffs), and suffer all the problems that entails (4 CP).
  • Pre-programmed: An Ironclad was created programmed for war, and with many standardized attributes. Thus they do not get a first level bonus feat (- 6 CP).

That comes to a total of 30 CP – a +0 ECL race.

Ironclads are quite formidable, if conspicuous, frightening, and more than a bit suspect. Similarly, their list of immunities is formidable – but drastically limits them in other ways. 

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2 Responses

  1. Here’s a question about how to read the Immunity/Metabolic Effects. Does this mean an Ironclad can basically be put back together an indefinite period after their “death”, and then be reanimated with fairly low-level spell? Hence they’re quite possibly going to be kicking around for centuries or eons later (and hence can have any kind of ancient technology/spell/magic item/knowledge convenient for the plot?

    Obviously, it might depend on the world. But they do count as alive and hence can use Raise Dead & etc to come back… and the only two major restrictions on those spells are that the recipients must be “alive” and must have died of something other than “old age”. Which would make these really, really good soldiers indeed: if one breaks down/gets blown up/smashed to pieces/whatever/you can pretty much hammer it back into shape, throw a Raise Dead and it’ll be back to fighting shape with a few days of rest even if you somehow can’t afford more healing spells. Which would explain why the warring stopped: at some point, the armies are too large to really destroy, and the constructs themselves will just fix each other up until doomsday.

    • Well, the body wouldn’t degrade, and you can read that as the limitation on “Raise Dead” given that preservative spells sometimes mention the ability to extend the time limit. It would be a world thing, but it might well work.

      Now, if you buy a hit die or two on the cheap with the limitation that once you start dipping into those hit points you’re going to start losing capabilities and body parts… now they could be smashed to pieces without even necessarily being below zero hit points. Given that kind of build, it would allow them to be reassembled after being battered to pieces with considerable ease.

      That might well be why the warring stopped, but – at least unless we enlarge on the setting a bit – it’s hard to say.

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