Iron Gods Campaign preparation Or How I Cried Wolf at the Heart of the World

I’m not going to say that I’m going to run this campaign. If the last few years have thought me anything is that my campaigns are like Schrödinger’s Cat. Theyre both dead as soon as you open the box. So this is just a little mental game I’m playing with myself (ooh err matron). Let’s keep it hypothetical (which is how the last woman I asked out turned me down). So what is Iron Gods? A sweet rock band? No you’re thinking of Stone Gods. Iron God’s is one of the more recent Adventure Paths from Paizo Publishing for their Pathfinder RPG (it in fact the most recent if you only count completed ones). “Hey wait a second!” I hear you cry. “A few months ago weren’t you working on converting the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, you’re nothing but a big dirty campaign slut aren’t you?” In answer all I can do is giggle coquettishly and roll my d20 on this ominous looking pinball table. I did in fact convert the first two parts of Rise of the Runelords. But the bloom is off that rose for a number of reasons. The major one being that I’m a big dirty campaign slut.

So why has Iron God’s juiced my underoos? Cant say to be honest. I just like the sound and look of it (and what I’ve read of it). It’s set in the main Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion. Specifically a country called Numeria. Well what’s interesting about Numeria? Probably the fact that it can best be described as “Swords and sandals meets super science”. The world of Golarion is, intentionally, pretty kitchen sink so you can run a very wide variety of campaigns and Numeria is certainly on the more gonzo end of this scale. A few millenia ago a giant starship crashed into a country best described as not-Cimmeria. So you have barbarians running around a countryside riddled with ruined scraps of a super advanced starship fighting dinosaurs today and a reactivated killer robot tomorrow. The mash-up sounds really fun to me and honestly this picture largely sold me on it.

Numerian_mecha_scorpion

How can you not love that?

Or course I could just run it in Pathfinder. But to be honest that’s a non-starter for me. I don’t mind complex mechanics but Pathfinder is just too big and there’s too much cruft to wade through. Also my play experiences with its direct predecessor were less than fun. There’s no shortage of systems I could use for it, Savage Worlds, Unisystem and GURPS spring to mind (or FATE or whatever but this feels like it should have some crunch). But what also springs to mind, and what I still really want to try running, is D&D 5th edition. Which is the one I’ve currently, sorry, which is the one that I would hypothetically use if I were to run this adventure path (close shave there). Needless to say this would require a fair amount of conversion. Perhaps more than normal in fact given the large amount of advance tech that will show up in the adventures. Of course this ties in with Pathfinder’s recently released technology guide. D&D 5th on the other hand has a fairly slim body of extant mechanics. Though I think there are rules for guns in the Dungeon Masters Guide.

Prior to my sudden interest in this AP (adventure path) I wasnt familiar with the country of Numeria. One of the more interesting things about it is that the starship ruins that litter it occasionally give “birth” to a robotic race, called (in something of a mis-step I think) androids. Androids aren’t Pathfinder’s lame Warforged analogue, they’re much more Bishop (from Aliens) than (insert appropriate robot character here). I like them, they’re a fairly solid indication that this is fantasy Jim but not as we know it. As I’ll likely be making pre-gens (hypothetically of course) I certainly want to make use of them. So they’re the first for conversion (to the glorious new future).

Of course the first place to start is their official Pathfinder stats and descriptions, like all the pathfinder mechanics its available free online from their SRD. It’s cunningly hidden under Android. Don’t worry I’ll save your aching clicking finger the strain and post the relevant details here:

Androids are superficially identical to humans in many ways, and to the uninformed it can be difficult to differentiate the two. In the right light, though, androids’ alien nature is revealed by the metallic sheen in their eyes and the biological, tattoo-like circuitry that riddles their skin. Their bodies are completely artificial, though made of materials that mimic the flexibility, shape, and density of human flesh and bone. Their organs mirror those of humans so well that only by examining the materials and makeup of these systems—which use sheeny oils and polymer alloys rather than blood and marrow—could one guess that their physiology is alien. Androids are roughly the same size as humans; on average, they are 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds.

Shamans speak of great forges where androids are “born” from metal wombs and are cut from electrified umbilical cords. Even androids can’t refute or verify such stories, since most who emerge from ruins do so naked and without any memories beyond their initial egress into the wide, unfamiliar world. Their complex design is unlike that of any race known, leading many to suspect that they originated from a distant star system or even another galaxy.

What separates androids from golems and other mindless constructs is that androids are living beings and as such possess souls. Similarly, androids don’t live forever, though barring violence or tragedy their bodies never deteriorate. Rather, an android’s cybernetic mind eventually shuts down and self-restarts after about a century, leaving its body vacant for several weeks as the old soul departs for its final reward in the Great Beyond and a fresh, new soul finds its way into the shell.

Racial Traits

Ability Score Racial Traits: Androids have swift reflexes and are very intelligent, but have difficulty relating to others. As a result, androids gain a +2 bonus to Dexterity and Intelligence, but suffer a –2 penalty to Charisma.
Size: Androids are Medium creatures, and they have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Base Speed: Androids have a base speed of 30 feet.
Languages: Androids begin play speaking Common. Androids with high Intelligence can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic). See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.

Feat and Skill Racial Traits

Androids gain a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.
Emotionless: Androids have problems processing emotions properly, and thus take a –4 penalty on Sense Motive checks (-1 RP)

Senses Racial Traits

Exceptional Senses: Androids have darkvision and so can see perfectly in the dark to a range of 60 feet and in addition, they possess low-light vision.

Other Racial Traits
Constructed: For the purposes of effects targeting creatures by type (such as a ranger’s favored enemy and bane weapons), androids count as both humanoids and constructs. Androids gain a +4 racial bonus on all saving throws against mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, and stun effects, are not subject to fatigue or exhaustion, and are immune to disease and sleep effects. Androids can never gain morale bonuses, and are immune to fear effects and all emotion-based effects (2 RP.)
Nanite Surge: An android’s body is infused with nanites. Once per day as an immediate action, an android can cause her nanites to surge, granting a bonus equal to 3 + the android’s character level on any one d20 roll; this ability must be activated before the roll is made. When an android uses this power, her circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch in illumination for 1 round (3 RP.)

 
While androids are pretty different conceptually from Warforged in terms of the nuts and bolts (no pun intended) mechanics they share many similarities. So Warforged seem like a good place to start looking for inspiration on converting them. While there are no rules for Warforged in print we have not one but two sets of semi-official rules for them. The first from Keith Baker’s (the creator of the Eberron setting) blog and the second from Wizards of the Coast’s Unearthed Arcana column.

Mr Baker’s version:

WARFORGED TRAITS

As a warforged, you have the following racial traits.

Ability Score Adjustments: Your Constitution score increases by 2.

Living Construct: Even though you were constructed, you are a humanoid. You are immune to disease. You do not need to breathe, eat or drink, but you can ingest food or drink if you wish.

Unsleeping Sentinel: Warforged don’t need to sleep. Instead, they settle into a resting state, remaining semiconscious for 4 hours each day. While in this rest state, you are fully aware of your surroundings. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Warforged Resilience: You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.

Integrated Armor: When you are not wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier. During a short rest, you can bond a suit of armor you are wearing to your body. When you finish that short rest, the armor you are wearing is bonded to you, and it cannot subsequently be removed from your body until you finish another short rest during which time you remove the bonded armor.

Self-Stabilizing: You have advantage on death saving throws.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common.

Type: Multiple types of warforged are found among the worlds of D&D, including warforged scouts and warforged soldiers. Choose one of these types.

Warforged Scout – Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Size: Small
Speed: 35 feet

Warforged Soldier – Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.

Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
 
And the Unearthed Arcana version:

Warforged
The warforged were made as the ideal soldiers to serve in the devastating Last War. Although they
are constructs, they have much in common with living creatures, including emotions and social
bonds, and perhaps even souls.

Traits
As a warforged, you have the following racial traits.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength and Constitution scores increase by 1.

Size. Warforged are generally broader and heavier than humans. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Composite Plating. Your construction incorporates wood and metal, granting you a +1 bonus to Armor
Class.

Living Construct. Even though you were constructed, you are a living creature. You are immune to
disease. You do not need to eat or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish. Instead of sleeping, you enter an inactive state for 4 hours each day. You do not dream in this
state; you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as
normal.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

As you can see the two versions of Warforged are similar but not identical, they also share some common traits with the Pathfinder’s Android race. So best to get those easy things out of the way first:

Android (D&D 5th edition version Model M)

Might change their name to Starborn.

Traits

Size. Androids are generally similar in size and weight to humans. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Androids are actually quite similar to Elves, smart, fast, keen senses, don’t sleep, secretly plan human genocide. So the High Elves ability score increases seem like a good one to copy as do some of their traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Darkvision. Your artificial eyes give you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet o f you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Keen Senses. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.

Fey Ancestry. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.

Well Fey obviously needs to be changed and calling it Android ancestry implies you’re no longer an Android. So Ferric Ancestry perhaps? It’s not clear if Androids sleep, I could give them the Elves “Trance” ability but I’m just going to say they don’t sleep instead. Or am I, on the one hand it seems sort of cool, on the other it seems sort of naff if they’re meant to be mentally similar to humans. Fuck it.

Trance (aka Defrag). Androids don’t need to sleep. Instead, once a day they enter a semiconscious state for 4 hours a day while their mind catalogues recent events and runs basic maintenance. (The Common word for such meditation is “trance.”) While meditating, Androids can dream (of electric sheep) after a
fashion; such dreams are actually procedurally generated based on the Android’s experiences. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep. 5th edition has largely move away from negative racial traits. But I actually like the emotionless thing, none of these fuckers are passing the Voight-Kampff test.

Emotionless. Androids have problems processing emotions properly. You have Disadvantage on Insight checks.

So that just leaves us the Nanite Surge and the Constructed traits to deal with. Constructed is easy enough, just steal it from the Warfroged descriptions (which I now realise also had the whole no sleeping thing covered).

Living Construct. Even though you were constructed, you are a humanoid. You are immune to disease. You do not need to breathe, eat or drink, but you can ingest food or drink if you wish.

So that just leaves Nanite Surge. Which seems fairly emblematic of the race, plus I like that it makes their creases glow. At first I was considering modeling it on the Hero Point mechanic found in the Dungeon Masters Guide. But I think I’m probably going to (I mean I would) use Hero Points as a campaign mechanic. While casting about for inspiration I came across this excellent blog where some kind soul is publishing his own Iron Gods -> 5th edition conversion. With not even the slightest trace of guilt I decided to use his proposed system for Nanite Surge:

Nanite Surge. Once per day, you can use a bonus action to add your Proficiency bonus to the result of one d20 roll. This can be done before or after making the d20 roll. When you use this ability, your circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch until the start of your next turn.

It’s interesting to note how close our two versions were, and how close our reasoning was. Though I suppose its not that surprising, the ability bonuses point you towards Elves and from there the connection is clear. Thinking on it further I think I’ll use the “borrowed” version of Nanite Surge if I dont implement Hero Points. But if I do I’ll use this version instead.

Nanite Surge. When you use your last Hero Point you automatically regenerate Hero Points equal to your level divided by 5 (round-up). This regeneration only occurs once per level. When you use the hero points generated by this ability, your circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch until the start of your next turn.

Or maybe it upgrades the Hero Point dice from a d6 to a d8? That might be too potent given 5th editions bounded accuracy. Perhaps a flat bonus to action points results? +1 at levels 1-10, +2 from 10-20?

As I mentioned above Androids don’t share much in common with Warforged apart from being living constructs, they lack the Warforged’s resilience (well they have a lot of immunities in Pathfinder but that would be over-powered in 5th edition). Theyre a lot more like Elves as it turns out. Though I think you could easily introduce subraces, Android Alphas who have +2 Str or maybe +2 Con instead of Dex and Android Beta’s who are like the ones outlined above. Alphas could possibly even swap out the Nanite Surge ability for a combination of the enhanced toughness and resilience of the two 5th edition Warforged implementations. In fact making Alphas look like Warforged would solve an issue campaign prep has brought up, there’s not a lot of art for Android NPC’s (or pre-gens). I generally like to have a nice selection of art for quickly identifying an NPC or using for a pre-gen, either as their appearance or for inspiration.

I suppose at this point I need to read the rest of the adventure before getting to grips with the more meaty conversion issues.

Vent your spleen

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