Mage Vs. Machine – The Sheens

Todd Lockwood - Mech Hunter

Rumors tell of impossible machines, constructs built by the bashers of an exceptionally accursed prime space.  Such a place was long buried deep in the dead book by its own hubris and acceleration, despite the warnings of their Powers.  The barmies kept on going, crafting up one of the most heinous things to pollute the multiverse.  I speak of the Sheens.  Baator-fed buggers seem to self-replicate and thrive, despite attempts to wipe them out.  They’re not just constructs either, but true thinking machines!  They lack souls, but have the mind and bone-box alike to surpass most eggheads.  Needless to say, this place burned down hard.  The Land of Blackmoor was no more!  However, their creation escaped far beyond its Crystal Sphere and beyond.  So, go ahead and kill one, multiple will show up out of no where to take you down!  The Metal berks burnt my tail bad too! – Geber Reynardt, Kitsune Alchemist and Sensate, survivor of The Sheen Invasion of Ignis

Who says sci-fi and fantasy don’t mix?  It’s been a thing for decades, eons, at least a century!  Even in D&D, we’ve had all sorts of strange crossovers.  The aforementioned Blackmoor has been around since the beginning.  That setting was a somewhat dirty and gritty medieval world that contended with a crashed alien space ship.  The result was an AWOL officer starting an uprising with a “frog cult”, as well as the ship thrown into other forms of turmoil.  The end result of the mess caused Blackmoor to experience technological leaps before ultimately blowing itself up.

And in the case of the Sheen, one of my favorite articles from Dragon Magazine (complete with a follow-up), they’re very much science-fantasy too.  The articles tell of the sheen, a strange and mysterious menace.  These constructs were made by a society more advanced in technology and probably magic too.  Their genuine origins are a mystery to most, but their desire to consume and conquer makes them a massive threat.  Plus, they have numerous forms that can adapt to different situations.  And while the sheens tear through organic life, they don’t do so out of malice or hatred, but a survival for their own “machine kind”.  Fortunately, countless defenders have learned enough to fend them off and even reverse engineer some of their own contraptions too.  In a sense, think like Horizon Zero Dawn!

Author’s Note: This one has been a long time coming!  The Sheens are by far one of my favorite obscure D&D monsters (or set of monsters).  Beyond two magazine articles, there hasn’t been too much buzz around them.  Hopefully, I can help to change that!  Here’s the first part of that, with a mix of both articles.  Sure, I’ve made robots already, but I really love these ones too!  Plus, should I find the time, I might be interested in converting the Kits and Spells introduced by the article too… eventually… hopefully.

Hive Mind.  The Sheens serve The Machine Cyst.  They exist to consume, replace and sometimes assimilate.  Only the Machine can persist in a world overrun with organic based prey.  They operate as one and exist as one.

 

 

Walker

Sheen 2

A ground-based drone unit.  While not impressive on their own, this small mobile construct is capable of surveying a wide range.  Plus, they have been known to attack in groups.  Its lumpy shape is supported by hoof-like endings to its two legs.  A series of small sensor “eyes” are at the top of the unit.

Small construct (sheen), neutral

Armor Class 12 (reinforced armor)

Hit Points 13 (2d6 + 6)

Speed 30 ft.

STR 12 (+1) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 9 (-1) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 5 (-3)

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, frightened, poisoned

Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages Sheen

Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Magic Susceptibility.  Sheens suffer one additional point of damage for every die rolled from a damaging spell (that the sheen is not immune to).

Sprinter.  The sheen may take a bonus action to take the Dash action.

Sheen Defensive Field (1/day).  The sheen can use a reaction against an attack to generate a minor force field.  When hit by an attack, the sheen gains 5 (2d4) temporary hit points.  These last for up to 1 hour.

ACTIONS

Multiattack.  The sheen may attack with Sampler Arm twice per round.

Electric Discharge.  Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 6 (2d4 + 1) lightning damage.

Sampler Arm.  Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) bludgeoning damage.

 

 

 

Variant: Strong Walker

An upgraded and larger version of the walker.

  • Medium size
  • Armor Class 13 (reinforced armor)
  • Hit Points 23 (3d8 + 9)
  • STR 15 (+2), DEX 15 (+2)
  • Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)

 

Drifter

Sheen 4

An air-based drone unit.  While weak, like most Walker units, they are still more capable through flight.  As such, they’re more able to cover ground, however their more advanced mechanisms make them harder to repair.  The drifter looks like a misshapen metallic balloon with several dangling and sharp arms.

Medium construct (sheen), neutral

Armor Class 13 (reinforced armor)

Hit Points 23 (3d8 + 9)

Speed 0 ft., fly 30 ft.

STR 10 (+0) DEX 15 (+2) CON 17 (+3) INT 9 (-1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 5 (-3)

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned

Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages Sheen

Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Magic Susceptibility.  Sheens suffer one additional point of damage for every die rolled from a damaging spell (that the sheen is not immune to).

Sheen Defensive Field (1/day).  The sheen can use a reaction against an attack to generate a minor force field.  When hit by an attack, the sheen gains 10 (4d4) temporary hit points.  These last for up to 1 hour.

ACTIONS

Electric Bolt.  Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 30 ft., one target.  Hit: 12 (3d6 + 2) lightning damage.

Electric Discharge (3/day).  Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 16 (4d6 + 2) lightning damage.

Slam.  Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 9 (2d8) bludgeoning damage.

 

Variant Floater: Flyer

This Floater is more blimp-shaped and far more weaponized.  Due to the resources need to craft them, they are quite rare.

  • Large size
  • Armor Class 16 (reinforced armor)
  • Hit Points 48 (5d10 + 20)
  • Speed fly 40 ft.
  • STR 14 (+2) DEX 20 (+5) CON 18 (+4)
  • Sheen Defensive Field (1/day).  21 (6d6)
  • Challenge 3 (700 XP)
    • Electric Bolt: +7 to hit, 15 (3d6 + 5) damage
    • Electric Discharge: +7 to hit, 19 (4d6 + 5) damage
    • Slam + 4 to hit, 20 (4d8 + 2) damage

 

Dasher

Sheen 5

A nightmarish parody of a mantis-like creature, with a primary function of always being mobile.  It is speculated that these constructs are for transporting useful materials at an expedited pace.  However, only the sheens themselves know how to deactivate the Dasher without it self-destructing.  This isn’t to say that the dasher is defenseless, quite far from it.

Medium construct (sheen), neutral

Armor Class 17 (reinforced armor); 20 (super speed)

Hit Points 38 (5d8 + 15)

Speed 80 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 20 (+5) CON 16 (+3) INT 9 (-1) WIS 15 (+2) CHA 5 (-3)

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned

Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages Sheen

Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Magic Susceptibility.  Sheens suffer one additional point of damage for every die rolled from a damaging spell (that the sheen is not immune to).

Meltdown.  A powerful energy keeps the sheen going.  Should it be damaged or build up for too long, a meltdown will occur.  If immobilized or sustaining enough damage to bring it to 0 HP or less, the sheen will meltdown.  All creatures within 20 ft. of it must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 9 (2d8) fire damage.  Successful saves halve the damage.  The sheen is completely destroyed.

Super Speed.  Its greatest strength and its greatest weakness, the sheen runs at impeccable speed at all times.  The sheen is affected by the following:

  • In addition to its armor, its super speed modifies its armor class while it is running.
  • It is impossible for the sheen to turn or corner at any major angles.
  • Should enemy creatures hide behind a wall or fall prone, they gain advantage on saving throws on Sonic Boom.
  • Due to the constant movement of the sheen, its attacks against prone targets ironically suffer disadvantage while attacks against standing targets gain advantage.
  • If kept from running for more than 3 rounds, the sheen will experience Meltdown unless deactivated with a DC 25 Intelligence check.  Tinker tools may be used for this check.  Other sheens automatically succeed this check.

Zoom By.  The sheen does not provoke attacks of opportunity when it moves past creatures, out of their reach.

ACTIONS

Charging Chomp.  Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) piercing damage.  The target must also make a DC 13 Strength saving throw or fall prone.

Sonic Boom (1/day).  A blast of sound is launched in all directions.  All creatures within 100 ft. of the sheen must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw.  Failure results in becoming deafened for up to 1 minute and taking 7 (2d6) thunder damage.  Success causes half damage.  Creatures immune to the deafened condition take no damage.

 

Roller

Sheen 3

Hell on wheels.  This sheen is composed of two segments.  The first is a series of barrel-like wheels connected to a long tube-like chassis.  The uppet part of the body is a bug-like abdomen shape with two jutting arms.  Each arm is equipped with a spiked spade.  While primarily for excavation and construction, the roller can easily defend itself.

Large construct (sheen), neutral

Armor Class 17 (reinforced armor)

Hit Points 63 (6d10 + 30)

Speed 40 ft.

STR 15 (+2) DEX 9 (-1) CON 20 (+5) INT 9 (-1) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Strength +4, Dexterity +3

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, frightened, poisoned

Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages Sheen

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Death Grip.  If the sheen hits a single target with both attacks, the target is also grabbed and must take the escape action with a DC 12.  On the sheen’s next turn, it can choose to use its attack action to inflict 20 bludgeoning damage plus 16 piercing damage on its held target, as it tries to pull the subject in two.

Magic Susceptibility.  Sheens suffer one additional point of damage for every die rolled from a damaging spell (that the sheen is not immune to).

Sheen Defensive Field (1/day).  The sheen can use a reaction against an attack to generate a minor force field.  When hit by an attack, the sheen gains 33 (6d10) temporary hit points.  These last for up to 1 hour.

ACTIONS

Multiattack.  The sheen may attack up to twice times with its Spiked Spade, once with each arm.

Spiked Spade.  Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.  Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage plus 5 (2d4) piercing damage.

 

Variant Roller: Big Roller

A massive incarnation of the Roller.  This version of the Sheen is often seen for far more elaborate and deadly projects, calling for something more heavy duty.

  • Huge size
  • Armor Class 20 (reinforced armor)
  • Hit Points 207 (18d12 + 90)
  • Speed 60 ft.
  • Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
  • Death Grip.  Escape DC 21, 27 bludgeoning plus 20 piercing damage.
  • Sheen Defensive Field (1/day). 52 (8d12) temporary hit points.
  • STR 25 (+7)
  • Spiked Spade.  +7 to hit, reach 20 ft., hit: 18 (2d10 + 7) bludgeoning damage plus 11 (2d10) piercing damage.

 

Propagator

Sheen 1

“Why can’t I Turn this Undead Horror!?” – a very doomed Cleric

A mottled mess of construct bits vaguely forms into something animalistic or humanoid, albeit a distorted mockery of it.  More disturbingly, rotten pieces of skin and muscle cling to bits of the machine like macabre trophies.  It’s more than likely that this sheen was assembled from pieces of previously infected, for efficient means of spreading its machine plague.

Medium construct (sheen), neutral

Armor Class 13 (reinforced armor)

Hit Points 67 (7d8 + 35)

Speed 30 ft.

STR 15 (+2) DEX 13 (+1) CON 20 (+5) INT 9 (-1) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 5 (-3)

Damage Immunities poison, psychic

Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, frightened, poisoned

Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages Sheen

Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Magic Susceptibility.  Sheens suffer one additional point of damage for every die rolled from a damaging spell (that the sheen is not immune to).

Super Fluid Repair Module.  The sheen regenerates 3 hit points per round, at the start of its turn.  If hit with acid damage, this stops until the end of the sheen’s next turn.

ACTIONS

Electric Bolt.  Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 30 ft., one target.  Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) lightning damage.

Flailing Strike.  Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 8 (1d12 + 2) bludgeoning damage.

Parasitic Touch.  The Propagator latches onto a target creature, trying to burrow and start its process.  The target must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to try to shake off the creature.  Failure results in the sheen injecting the target with a self-replicating micro machine, causing 7 (2d6) piercing damage and leaving a glassy rash where they were infected.  Once every 24 hours, the target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw.  Upon failure, they take 1 level of exhaustion, which remains while the creature is infected.  This exhaustion cannot be healed by rest, it requires a Greater Restoration or stronger equivalent spell to remove a single level at a time.

    • SIDEBAR: INFECTION. As the infection worsens, more glassy plates form and burst from the skin, knit together by strange metallic tethering.  Worse yet, the body is being prepared for conversion.  Should the target die from the propagator or while affected by it, the creature becomes a Propagator Construct NPC; in which the sheen slowly builds around and replaces its host’s corpse.

 

Template: Propagator Construct

This is far worse than a zombie.

  • Alignment becomes neutral
  • The creature’s type becomes Construct (sheen)
  • INT 9 (-1), CHA 5 (-3)
  • Damage Immunities poison, psychic
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned
  • Cyborg Zombie.  This creature was once organic.  Now, its decomposing body is being replaced by machine parts.  In some cases, flesh drapes over a robotic body like a sick mask.
  • Parasitic Touch.  Using the creature’s Constitution modifier and proficiency bonus for DC, the new sheen also gains Parasitic Touch.  See Above.

 

IMAGE CREDITS.  Tood Lockwood – Mage vs. Machine/Various Sheens; Mike Nelson – Various Sheens; Mlappas – cyborg zombie soldier

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s