While Alza’um secludes itself in secrecy, the land is still quite populous. While the population is predominantly made of humans, gnomes, dwarves and even ratfolk; it’s still bristling with its own unique vibrancy and charm. Much like the machines that operate on clockwork, so do the denizens. Life is a chaotic schedule balanced under the facade of order. This insular technical revolution is made under the assumption that the outside world isn’t ready, but they’re more than enlightened. Whether this is truth or unaware foolishness hasn’t been determined yet. Either way, strange adventures and even stranger locals await those granted the proper access.
Author’s Note: It’s a pun! But seriously, I felt like I was leaving out a lot of goodies. At some point, I’ll want to flesh this out for say an OGL product or something, once I can get help with maps, layout and artists eventually. In the meantime, here are some underground dwellers of this outlandish city of high magical technologies. Of course, many can be repurposed for more steampunk oriented games.
Background. Alza’um Artificer.
Skill Proficiency. Insight, Investigation
Tool Proficiency. Tinker’s Tools or Alchemist Tools
Languages. One Non-Exotic Language
Background Feature: Knack for Innovation
You have a network of artificers that are friendly to you and your projects. All the same, you are aware of rivals that are eager to steal your blueprints for their own game. You can procure a safe space to work on your craft, while providing shelter for your allies, with greater ease.
- Myth and mystery can be dispelled with a more scientific approach!
- My logic is perfectly sound and normal, it’s not my fault others aren’t on level with me.
- I shall advance the world through my magnificent creations.
- My creations were made for me, sharing with others could be dangerous.
- Can I built it? Is there nothing stopping me? Then yes, I shall build it.
- I try to separate my personal work with my private life, except when it’s needed for adventure.
- I’m so wrapped up in my work that I don’t talk much. However, when I do, I emphasize a verbose prose and a proper grammatical structure.
- A listening ear is all I need to ramble all of the fascinating projects I’m taking part in.
- Survivalism. Crush all others in your way, steal and defame them if you have to! Your artifice is all that should matter, do what you can to become the chosen crafter of the masses. (Evil)
- Completely Mad. Whimsy and curiosity push my craft forward. I’ll deal with the consequences later, and probably not care. (Chaotic)
- Pragmatism. Work slowly and carefully, and always plan your masterpieces beforehand. One mishap in design could be your last. (Lawful)
- Helper. There are those who could benefit from the incredible ideas I brainstorm and formulate. If it betters others, I’ll happily share. (Good)
- Hoarder. My concepts are my own! Sharing them could risk others robbing me of hearth and home! If I live and die with just my creations, so be it. (Neutral)
- Scholar. I’m on an eternal quest to understand all I survey and find deeper meaning in what I take part in. Artifice isn’t just a profession, it’s a philosophy. There is much to life within building! (Any)
- I can never stop learning and finding new ideas.
- My lineage is full of scholars, tinkerers and more.
- Should my valuable information fall into the wrong hands, everything could fall apart!
- I left behind those who proved too ignorant to understand me. It was a hard choice, but lead to a far better life.
- Venturing alone, with all of my potentially valuable goods, is a horrible idea. Trusted groups are comforting.
- Family fortune was used up to privately fund my own projects and now I need more money.
- I can be bought out by the wrong side. Money’s money!
- Those who can’t understand are rightfully doomed to suffer.
- I feel immense guilt over misuse of my ideas or inventions
- My intellect is rivaled by a massive ego.
- Artifice is vastly superior to the magical and supernatural!
- Despite being mentally advanced, I can be clueless and awkward in social situations.
Debtor’s Hell/Hell-Bound Debtor
Creatures of eternal woe and suffering. They were the unfortunate souls who failed to pay off debts in lifetime. Their souls were bound to construct machines, so that they may serve as both an example and a private arm of the law. Driven mad by their desire to earn final rest, these augmented undead take their assignments to a grueling extreme. Even petty crimes are met with utmost hostilities by these beings. In the end, they believe that appeasing their “re-inventors” at an accelerated pace will earn them final rest. Some blame their evil side on the dark magic that created them.
Large undead (construct), lawful evil
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 76 (8d10 + 32)
STR 20 (+5) DEX 14 (+2) CON 18 (+4) INT 10 (+0) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 7 (-2)
Saving Throws Charisma +1
Skills Intimidation +4, Perception +3
Damage Immunities fire, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, poisoned
Senses Blindsight 120ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Infernal
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
Fire and Fury. The Debtor’s Prison radiates a horrific aura of hatred and flames. Any creature that starts its turn within 5 ft. of the debtor’s hell must make a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or take 2 (1d4) fire damage and 2 (1d4) psychic damage.
Multiattack. The Debtor’s Hell can attack with Fist of Fire twice per round
Bathe in Flames! All creatures within a 20 ft. line are engulfed in a jet of flames. The target creatures must make a DC 18 Dexterity saving throw or take 16 (3d10) fire damage. A successful save halves damage
Fist of Fire! Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage plus 7 (3d4) fire damage
Infernal Cannon. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 60ft., one target. Hit: 16 (4d6 + 2) piercing damage
Your death frees me! Upon dropping to 0 hit points, the creature’s reactor explodes in a dazzling display. All creatures within 10ft. must make a DC 18 Dexterity saving throw or take 7 (2d6) piercing damage and 7 (2d6) fire damage.
Mechanical knights, designed from the various mixture of cultures that helped to build such a city in the first place. No matter the origin, these creatures were conceived as a paragon of virtue and civility within the city. Even if the residents fail to obtain a status of just and orderly behavior, these beings do their best to exist as role models for the ideal citizen. However, while good as a security force, they weren’t made with lethal force in mind. That isn’t to say that they’re incapable though, as they often travel in multiples.
Medium construct, lawful good
Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 45 (6d8 + 18)
Speed 30ft., Climb 30ft.
STR 17 (+3) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 11 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 17 (+3)
Skills Athletics +6, Insight +3, Perception +6
Damage Resistances cold, psychic, radiant
Damage Immunities poison; bludgeoning/piercing/slashing from non-magical weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 16
Languages understands Common and one language spoken by its creator
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Electrical Malfunction. When hit with lightning damage, the construct must make a (DC 10) Constitution saving throw. Upon failure, it makes attacks at disadvantage and has its speed halved for until the start of its next turn.
Machine Form. Specialized constructs are immune to diseases and any spell or effect that would alter its form.
Sturdy Build. The Protector has advantage on saving throws against spells and effects that would forcefully move or known down the creature.
Multiattack. The protector may attack twice per round.
Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit 10 (2d6 + 3) slashing damage.
Stun Rod. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10ft., one target. Hit 6 (1d6 + 3) force damage. The target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become incapacitated and have their speed reduced to 0 until the start of their next turn.
Upright rat creatures roughly shorter than dwarves. Survival in tight spaces and communal warren life carried over from their feral ancestors, but they are far from unintelligent. Many have taken to levels of weird science only dreamed of by other humanoids. This is even more so true, due to their tolerance of wicked poisons and deadly disease.
Small humanoid (ratfolk), any alignment
Hit Points 27 (5d6 + 10)
Armor Class 14 (leather armor)
Speed 25ft.; Climb 20 ft., Swim 20 ft.
STR 12 (+1) DEX 16 (+3) CON 14 (+2) INT 10 (+0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 10 (+0)
Saving Throws Constitution +4
Skills Perception +4, Survival +4
Damage Resistance poison
Senses Darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Rat Speak
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
Poison Resistance. Ratfolk gain advantage on saving throws vs. becoming poisoned.
Retreat! Ratfolk may use a bonus action to dash or disengage.
Strong Smell. Ratfolk gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks using smell.
Tight Squeeze. Ratfolk may maneuver in extremely cramped surfaces, as if they were tiny creatures.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage.
Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8+1) bludgeoning damage.
Variant. Ratfolk. Shaman
Eerie mystics driven by a sense of tradition, spiritualism and faint revenge. These channelers of distant power usually seclude themselves to distant pockets of the warrens. Some take a more active role, such as plotting sabotage against the machinery above them.
Modify the monster with the following:
- Increase Wisdom score to 18 (+4)
- Increase Constitution score to 15 (+2)
- Increase hit points to 50 (9d6 + 18)
- Gain Innate Magic:
- At-will: Absorb Elements, Ashen Skin (Barkskin), Create Bonfire, Poison Spray
- 1/day each: Create or Destroy Water, Dust Devil, Goodberry, Thunderwave
- 1/day: Erupting Earth
- Gain Curse of the Earth. As a bonus action, the Ratfolk Shaman may enchant one ally within 30ft. When the ally uses a melee attack, they inflict an additional 5 (2d4) damage on a hit. This damage may be either acid, bludgeoning damage (counts as magical) or poison. This effect goes away at the end of the enchanted ally’s turn or when they make a melee attack.
- Gain Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saving throw proficiency
- Challenge. Increase to 4 (1,100 XP)
Variant Ratfolk. Artificer
Apply Ratfolk traits over the Chymist or Mechanist NPCs.
Radical activists moving against the state and the corporate machine, so to speak. Many just care about freedom from a restrictive way of life, while others revel in sparking chaos. Many sport intentionally intimidating garb.
Medium humanoid, any chaotic-alignment
Armor Class 15 (studded leather)
Hit Points 23 (5d8)
STR 12 (+1) DEX 16 (+3) CON 11 (+0) INT 13 (+1) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 14 (+2)
Skills Deception +6, Intimidation +4, Perception +3, Stealth +6
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Common, up to two other languages
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Double Life. The anarchist has a “public persona”, while they plan their actions. Treat this like the Charlatan’s False Identity ability, as described in the Player’s Handbook.
Rebel-rouser. Add a d6 to a skill or ability check roll pertaining to anarchist activity (culture jamming, subversive tactics, spreading chaos, promoting rebellion)
Sneaky Moves. An Anarchist can use a bonus action to take the Dodge action or to take the Hide action.
Bomb. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 10/40ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d4 + 3) fire damage. All creatures within 5ft. of the bomb must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or take 4 (1d8) fire damage.
Unarmed Strike. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) bludgeoning damage.
Variant Mage. Chymist
Either a member of a local alchemist guild or a simple creator in traditional magical arts. They believe that dependence on technology is an ultimate downfall. That’s not to say they’re afraid of it, but they’d rather use it when necessary, turning to their own magical studies instead.
Use the Mage NPC stats, found in the Monster Manual, with the following changes:
Master of Alchemy. The chymist can create a common or uncommon potion, provided they have the amount of money, resources and work station to create it. The amount of time needed to work on this potion is cut by 1/4 of the total time. The minimum time must be at least 8 hours long though.
Spellcasting. Replace the spells with the following:
- Cantrips (at will): acid splash, fire bolt, poison spray, ray of frost
- 1st level (4 slots): grease, mage armor, magic missile, sleep
- 2nd level (3 slots): alter self, scorching ray
- 3rd level (3 slots): haste, protection from energy, stinking cloud
- 4th level (3 slots): fabricate, stone shape
- 5th level (1 slot): cloudkill
Explosive Alchemy (Recharge 4 – 6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 20/60, one target. Hit: 13 (4d4 + 3) damage. The damage is determined by the following d6 roll:
While not true artificers, these metal craftsmen are still impressive in their abilities. Forging, welding and constructing all sorts of metal work; they’re accustomed to scalding steam and blistering heat. Their gear is bulky and protective, but has a habit of weighing workers down. While ill-readied for battle, they’re still capable of self-defense.
Medium humanoid (any race), any alignment
Armor Class 16 (forge armor)
Hit Points 33 (6d8 + 6)
Speed 25 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 11 (+0) CON 13 (+1) INT 14 (+2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 10 (+0)
Saving Throw Constitution +3
Skills Acrobatics +4, Athletics +5, Perception +3
Damage Resistance fire
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Common, up to two other languages of choice
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Fire Resistant. In addition to resisting fire damage, the metallurgist dispels any flames that may affect it almost immediately. Items on the metallurgist cannot catch on fire. In addition, the metallurgist can be acclimated to hot environments, as described in Chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Booming Hammer. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) thunder damage.
Burning Tongs. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) fire damage.
An artificer who has specialized in techno-magical tinkering. They believe that the best way to utilize arcana is to harness it for innovation. They’re masters of new and incredible devices. Some blame them for the rise of “fire arm” proliferation among various trade markets, as they feel these new devices will revolutionize fights to be quicker and less brutal, cutting down on the barbarity of war.
Medium humanoid (any race), any alignment
Armor Class 16 (armor plating)
Hit Points 60 (9d8 + 27)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 17 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 17 (+3) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 14 (+2)
Skills Arcana +6, Athletics +7, Investigation +7
Damage Resistances fire, thunder
Senses Darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common, up to two more languages
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)
Drone Companion. A Mechanist is accompanied by a drone. Should the companion be filled, the mechanist can take a day of downtime to either repair it or assemble a new one.
Infused Attack (3/Day). The Mechanist can use a bonus action to increase the potency of an attack through strange artifice. When activated, a weapon of choice is imbued with 7 (2d6) damage of the following: fire, force, radiant, or thunder. This extra damage only goes off if the attack is successful and the effect ends.
Magic Resistance. The Mechanist has advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects.
Master Craftsman. The Mechanist may use tinker’s tools with doubled proficiency. Furthermore, creations of a more mechanical or technological nature have their total crafting time cut to 1/4.
Multiattack. The Mechanist may attack with pipe wrench twice per round.
Pipe Wrench. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) piercing damage
Fire Brand. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 60/120ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) piercing damage.
Force Field (1/Day). When the Mechanist is damaged, they may use a reaction to activate their force field, granting them 10 temporary hit points. As long as the Temp HP is active, any creature within 30ft. that attacks the mechanist takes 10 force damage
Tiny construct, unaligned
Armor Class 14 (armor plating)
Hit Points 9 (2d4 + 4)
Speed 0 ft., Fly 30 ft.
STR 3 (-4) DEX 17 (+3) CON 15 (+2) INT 8 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 5 (-3)
Damage Resistances psychic
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 10
Languages understand Common
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
Alarm. If the drone detects any sort of distress, it can use a bonus action to sound alarm. This audible alarm can be heard for up to 100 feet in normal conditions. This alarm persists until the drone ends it or is destroyed.
Observant. The drone has advantage on perception checks.
Dart Gun. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 40ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage
IMAGE SOURCE: Victorian Machinery – TheSchoolRun; Fireman Drawing – Scumandvillainy; Leonardo’s Robot – da Vinci Society; Skaven – Warhammer Vermintide 2; Artificer – James Zhang