Automatons (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

Publisher: Trailseeker.

Fantasy is set in the land of the past, but as we move forward, the past moves forward with us. The mechanical wonders of the 18th and 19th century have become fantasy tropes. Here is one component for such a setting, automatons.

An automaton is a purely mechanical creature controlled by a clockwork mechanism that serves as its brain. Automatons differ from clockwork creatures, that are also mechanical but powered by magic. They share the construct type and clockwork subtype, but work quite differently and are generally cheaper and less reliable than their magical cousins.

An automaton has a very limited intelligence, able to act only on specific instructions. The skills used with automatons are Craft (clockwork) to create the machinery and Knowledge (engineering) to control and understand their mechanical logic.

Control Apparatus

Automatons are controlled my a mechanical clockwork "brain". Automatons never have an intelligence score. They are mindless creatures incapable of independent thought or action that only act as their maker instructs them to. An automaton has no survival instinct and must be instructed to defend itself. An automaton can run certain automated routines (called tricks), or it can be instructed in detail how to deal with a certain situation (called pushing). This works much like controlling an animal using Handle Animal.

Tricks: An automaton can be made capable of running various tricks, similar to the tricks animals can be taught using Animal Handling. Automatons are normally made with six tricks, but more primitive control mechanisms are capable of fewer tricks.

Unlike an animal, an automaton that is not activated by a trick will do nothing. Automatons never move around on their own or continue fighting when no target of their attack order is present.

Ordering an automaton to perform a trick it is capable of is a move action that can be made up to 30 ft away, and requires a Knowledge (engineer) check, DC 10.

Pushing: Hands-on instructions from an operator. These instructions are made by operating levers or other control surfaces on the automaton, usually mounted in back. This method of controlling an automaton corresponds roughly to pushing an animal using Handle Animal.

Pushing an automaton is a full-round action performed when adjacent to the automaton, that requires a DC 25 Knowledge (engineering) check. The automaton will continue to carry out its instructions for as long as they remain relevant to the situation.

Automaton Tricks

Automatons generally use the same tricks as the Handle Animal skill, but certain tricks are new or modified. An automaton does not need the stay trick, it never does anything unless it is executing a trick or being pushed.

Attack: The automaton attacks one unique creature pointed out to it. If the attack is to cover several creatures with one command, this trick must be taken two times. An automaton can be ordered to cease attacking by activating any other trick.

Down, Flee, Get Help, Hunt, Seek, Serve, Stay: Automatons cannot perform these tricks.

Mount The automaton has an integral saddle and can carry a rider of any size category smaller than itself. This works like an animal mount.

Hibernate: The automaton is capable of stopping its winding mechanism while waiting for some other trick to activate. It is absolutely still, but senses still function. This allows the automaton to be a guardian, conserving its energy for when it is needed. A hibernating automaton is considered helpless.

Return: The automaton returns to a designated base or winding station when its hit points or winding mechanism is half spent. It follows the same path it took to get to where it is.

Work: This trick also lets the automaton use any skills it has that are not clearly covered by other tricks (see construction abilities). In particular it covers the Craft, Heal, and Profession skills.

Automaton Body

Table:
Crafting Automatons
Size
Category
Hit Dice CP Cost
Tiny 1d10 1
Small 2d10+10 3
Medium 3d10+20 4
Large 4d10+30 7
Huge 7d10+40 10
Gargantuan 10d10+60 13
Colossal 13d10+80 16

Automatons use all the rules for animated objects and also gains the advantages and disadvantages of the clockwork subtype. Unlike an object animated by animate objects, an automaton is purpose-built to be animated, and generally looks like a mechanical version of a living creature.

An animate clockwork is built from construction points. Each animate construct must have a basic frame, that determines its size code and base attributes. Additional construction points can be used to purchase various abilities. There are also construction flaws, that reduces the construction point cost. Except for the additional construction point abilities and flaws listed below, this is the same as the construction points outlined for animated objects in the bestiary.

New Construction Abilities

These new construct abilities and flaws are available to automatons.

Ability Increase (Ex, 1 CP): Increase one attribute by 4 points. This bonus cannot be applied to Int or Con.

Abstract Engine (Ex, 1 CP) A clockwork with an abstract engine can have its tricks exchanged by being inserted with a mechanical information record, such as a punch card. Changing the instructions of the abstract engine takes 1 hour and a Knowledge (engineering) check with a DC equal to the DC of teaching an animal that trick.

Armor (Ex, 1 CP) The construct gains an integral armor bonus of +5. This can be increased to +8 for another construction point. Automatons cannot wear armor.

Brass (Ex, 1 CP) A lesser version of the metal construction point ability, the clockwork is made of a soft metal like brass or bronze. It gains Hardness 8 and a +1 increase to its natural armor bonus.

Extra Hit Dice (Ex, 2 CP) The automaton gains three additional Hit Dice, which gives it +16.5 hit points, +3 base attack bonus, and a +1 bonus on all saving throws. It also gains a +2 bonus to natural armor. This ability can be taken several times, with stacking benefits.

Hand (Ex, 1 CP) Turns one slam attack into a fist, that can either strike as a normal slam attack, or be used for fine manipulation such as wielding a weapon. The automaton is considered proficient with all simple melee weapons. For one additional construction point, it can use all martial melee weapons or simple ranged weapons (two points for both). Any additional proficiencies applies to all the automaton's hands.

Pilot (Ex, 1 CP) A subtype of mechanical control apparatus, an automaton can incorporate an interior piloting compartment for a creature at least two size categories smaller than the automaton. A pilot with hands (or an equivalent) can pilot an automaton of any shape; other creatures can only pilot an automaton that mimics its basic shape, such as quadruped or serpentine. It takes a full-round action to enter or leave the cockpit.

A piloted automaton functions just as if it was an intelligent creature. For the automaton to take any actions, the pilot must spend a full-round action each turn piloting.

The pilot cannot interact with the outside world except through the automaton. Mind-affecting effects targeting the automaton may affect the pilot, who gains a +4 bonus on such Will saving throws. When a piloted automaton takes damage, the pilot takes half that damage, Fortitude (DC 10) negates. This does not reduce the damage to the automaton.

It is possible to add up to six passenger seats inside the automaton at the cost of an additional construction point. Passengers work like the pilot except that they cannot run the automaton and are not subject to mind-affecting effects from the outside. It is a full round action to move from a passenger seat to a vacant pilot seat.

Skilled (Ex, 1 CP) The automaton gains a +5 bonus and counts as trained with one specific skill. The automaton has integral limbs and tools that allows it to perform the skill and gains neither bonuses or penalties from tools. Expending additional construction points increases the bonus by +3 each.

Skin (Ex, 1 CP) The automaton is covered with an artificial skin, hair, fur and other material appropriate to disguise it as a specific living creature. It can make noises as the creature it models, but cannot speak. It gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks to imitating this particular creature. This does not stack with the bonus from polymorph spells, disguise kits, and the like.

Shackle (Ex, 1 CP) The automaton gains the grab ability. At the cost of an additional construction point, it can grapple creatures up to two size categories larger than itself.

Voice (Ex, 1 CP) The automaton has an advanced sound maker that can make various sounds and even speak, tough its lack of Intelligence and Charisma limits it to a multitude of per-arranged expressions, appropriate to its skills and tricks.

Construction Flaws

Deaf (Ex, +1 CP) The clockwork lacks an auditory sense. It takes a –4 penalty on initiative checks, automatically fails Perception checks based on sound, and takes a –4 penalty on opposed Perception checks. It can only be ordered to perform tricks by an adjacent creature.

Immobile (Ex, +2 CP) The automaton lacks all movement speeds and must be transported.

Jam Prone (Ex, +1 CP) Whenever the automaton takes damage, it must make a Fortitude save (DC 15) to avoid being staggered for 1 round.

No Control Apparatus (Ex, +2 CP) The automaton cannot be programmed with any tricks.

Poor Sight (Ex, +1 CP) The clockwork lacks both low-light vision and darkvision.

Primitive Mechanism (Ex, +2 CP) The automaton is powered by a primitive winding mechanism. It remains wound for only one minute per Hit Dice it has. Any wrench can be used to wind the automaton; it has no special key.

Simple Control Apparatus (Ex, +1 CP) The automaton can only be programmed with a maximum of three tricks.

Weak Mechanism (Ex, +1 CP) The automaton has a weak power source. After winding, it retains power for only one hour per Hit Dice.

Creating and Maintaining Automatons

An automaton is made using Craft (clockwork) using the normal Craft rules. The base price for an automaton is 50 gp times the number of construction points, squared. The minimum price is 25 gp.

Gosh is an apprentice with Craft (clockwork) +5. He wants to craft a tiny automaton with one construction point plus one more for the cost of the size category. 2 squared is 4, multiplying with 50 gp gives a price of 200 gp. With a Craft DC of 15 and taking 10, Gosh produces 37.5 gp worth of automatons per week using the Craft rules, this automaton takes just over five weeks to build.

The total number of construction points and halve this number (round all fractions down, as usual); this is the challenge rating of the clockwork creature.

Damage and Repair An automaton body can be repaired with abilities that repair constructs or using Craft (clockwork) at DC 10. A full repair costs 25% of the cost of the automaton, partial repairs proportionally less. Automatons are disabled at zero hit points and destroyed (irreparable) at negative hit points equal to its regular hit points.

Winding The mechanism that powers an automaton must be recharged periodically, a process known as winding. This is a physically demanding process; winding an automaton requires as much Strength as the automaton has, and takes one minute for each Hit Dice of automaton. It is possible to use a winch to wind, but this takes an equal number of hours. It is common to see capstans, water wheels, or even magical devices set up to wind big automatons.

Example Automatons

These are practical examples of what can be done with the automaton rules. Each automaton has a number of tricks, construction points, and a gold piece cost.

Blackbird Automaton


This perched black songbird looks enameled and has metallic notes in its repertoire.

Tiny automaton. Tricks: defend, entertain, hibernate. CP: 2. Body (1), ability increase (Charisma) (2), primitive mechanism (-2), skilled (Perform: sing) (2), simple control apparatus (-1). Cost 200 gp.

Blackbird Automaton CR 1
XP 200
N Tiny construct (clockwork)
Init +6 Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception -5


DEFENSE


AC 20 touch 18, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +2 dodge, +4 natural, +2 size)
hp 5 (1d10)
Fort +0, Ref +6, Will -5
Defensive Abilities hardness 5, Immune Construct Traits


OFFENSE


Speed 15 ft.
Melee slam +1 (1d2-2)


STATISTICS


Str 6, Dex 14, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 7
Base Atk +1 CMB +1 CMD 9
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes.
Skills Perform +6.


SPECIAL ABILITIES


Swift Reactions (Ex) Clockwork react much more swiftly than other constructs. They gain Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, and gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC.


WEAKNESS


Vulnerable to Electricity (Ex) Clockwork constructs take 150% as much damage as normal from electricity attacks.

Simple Control Apparatus (Ex) The automaton can only be programmed with a maximum of three tricks.

Weak Mechanism (Ex) The blackbird automaton has a weak power source. After winding, it retains power for only an hour.

Lock Monkey


This tiny wooden monkey is climbing towards the lock, heedless of danger.

Tiny automaton. Tricks: search, stealth, work. CP: 2. Body (1), ability increase (Dexterity) (1), additional movement (climb) (1), primitive mechanism (-2), simple control apparatus (-1), skilled (Disable Device) (1), skilled (Perception) (1). Cost 200 gp.

Lock Monkey CR 1
XP 200
N Tiny construct (clockwork)
Init +8 Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception +0


DEFENSE


AC 22 touch 18, flat-footed 18 (+4 Dex, +2 dodge, +4 natural, +2 size)
hp 5 (1d10)
Fort +0, Ref +6, Will -5
Defensive Abilities hardness 5, Immune Construct Traits


OFFENSE


Speed 15 ft.
Melee slam +1 (1d2-2)


STATISTICS


Str 6, Dex 18, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +1 CMB +3 CMD 13
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes
Skills Climb +12, Disable Device +7, Stealth +12.


SPECIAL ABILITIES


Swift Reactions (Ex) Clockwork constructs react much more swiftly than other constructs. They gain Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, and gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC.


WEAKNESS


Primitive mechanism (Ex) The clockwork is powered by a primitive mechanism. It remains wound for only one minute. Any wrench can be used to wind the clockwork; it has no special key.

Simple Control Apparatus (Ex) The automaton can only be programmed with a maximum of three tricks.

Vulnerable to Electricity (Ex): Clockwork constructs take 150% as much damage as normal from electricity attacks.

The lock monkey is usually carried into position, then winded and instructed to unlock or disable a known mechanism. It is capable of moving under cover to where it should work, and can look for traps but has poor perception. It cannot disable magical traps.

Clockwork Sentry


This wooden gnome crossbowman keeps watch, eyes scanning mechanically for foes.

Small automaton. Tricks: down, guard, hibernate. CP: 2. Body (3), ability increase (Dexterity) (1), additional attack (1), 2 hands (simple ranged weapons) (3), brittle (-1), flammable (-1), skilled (Perception) (1), immobile (-2), primitive mechanism (-2), simple control apparatus (-1). Cost 237 gp (37 gp in equipment).

Sentry Automaton CR 2
XP 600
N Small construct (clockwork)
Init +7 Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception +1


DEFENSE


AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +2 dodge, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 21 (2d10+10)
Fort +0, Ref +6, Will -5
Defensive Abilities hardness 5, Immune Construct Traits


OFFENSE


Speed 0 ft.
Melee 2 slams +3 (1d3)
Ranged Light crossbow +6 (1d6)


STATISTICS


Str 10, Dex 16, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +2 CMB +1 CMD 18
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes
Gear Light crossbow, quiver of 20 bolts


SPECIAL ABILITIES


Swift Reactions (Ex) Clockwork react much more swiftly than other constructs. They gain Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, and gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC.


WEAKNESS


Primitive mechanism (Ex) The clockwork is powered by a primitive mechanism. It remains wound for two minutes. Any wrench can be used to wind the clockwork; it has no special key.

Simple Control Apparatus (Ex) The automaton can only be programmed with a maximum of three tricks.

Vulnerable to Cold, Electricity, and Fire (Ex) The sentry automaton takes 150% as much damage as normal from cold, electricity, and fire attacks.

The sentry automaton is positioned to guard a strategic location. It's down command is tied to a simple trigger, like "do not attack those wearing the Ito crest". It will fire its light crossbow until engaged in melee, then drop it and switch to slam attacks.

Squire Automaton


This soldier walks stiffly and appears to be made of wood.

Medium automaton. Tricks: attack, come, defend, heel, flank, watch . CP: 6. Body (4), ability increase (Strength) (1), additional attack (1), armored (1), weak mechanism (-1). Cost 1800 gp.

Squire Automaton CR 3
XP 800
N Medium construct (clockwork)
Init +4 Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception -5


DEFENSE


AC 20, touch 12, flat-footed 18 (+4 armor, +2 dodge, +4 natural)
hp 36 (3d10+20)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will -4
Defensive Abilities hardness 5, Immune Construct Traits


OFFENSE


Speed 30 ft.,
Melee 2 slams +7 (1d6 +5)


STATISTICS


Str 18, Dex 10, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +3 CMB +7 CMD 19
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes


SPECIAL ABILITIES


Swift Reactions (Ex) Clockwork react much more swiftly than other constructs. They gain Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, and gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC.


WEAKNESS


Vulnerable to Electricity (Ex) Clockwork constructs take 150% as much damage as normal from electricity attacks.

Weak Mechanism (Ex) The clockwork has a weak power source. After winding, it retains power for only three hours.

The squire automaton is made to assist a soldier in battle, and has a complex control mechanism allowing it to perform many tasks.

Automated Mount


This horse is made of jointed metal parts and moves with stiff precision.

Medium automaton. Tricks: attack, come, defend, down, guard, and mount. CP: 13. Body (7), armored (2), faster (2), metal (2). Cost 8450 gp.

Automated Mount CR 7
XP 2,400
N Large construct (clockwork)
Init +3 Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception -5


DEFENSE


AC 26, touch 12, flat-footed 18 (-1 Dex, +2 dodge, +8 armor, +8 natural, -1 size)
hp 52 (4d10+30 size)
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will -4
Defensive Abilities hardness 10, Immune Construct Traits


OFFENSE


Speed 50 ft.,
Melee slam +9 (1d6+9)


STATISTICS


Str 22, Dex 8, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +4 CMB +11 CMD 20
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes


SPECIAL ABILITIES


Swift Reactions (Ex) Clockwork react much more swiftly than other constructs. They gain Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, and gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC.


WEAKNESS


Vulnerable to Electricity (Ex) Automated mounts take 150% as much damage as normal from electricity attacks.

Winding (Ex) Automated mounts must be wound with special keys in order to function. A fully wound automated mount can remain active for 4 days.

The automated mount is made for a Medium rider and to weather the hardships of intense combat.

Automated Dreadnought


This metallic siege engine advances with a loud clanking sound.

Huge automaton. Tricks: none. CP: 13. Body (10), armored (2), extra attack (1), metal (2), no control apparatus (-2), pilot (1), weak mechanism (-1). Cost 8,450 gp.

Automated Dreadnought CR 6
XP 3,200
N Huge construct (clockwork)
Init +2 Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception -5


DEFENSE


AC 25, touch 6, flat-footed 15 (-2 Dex, +8 armor, +11 natural, -2 size)
hp 78 (7d10+40 size)
Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -3
Defensive Abilities hardness 10, Immune Construct Traits


OFFENSE


Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 slams +15 (1d8+15)


STATISTICS


Str 30, Dex 6, Con -, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +2 CMB +19 CMD 27
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes

SPECIAL ABILITIES


Pilot (Ex) An interior piloting compartment for a creature of Medium size or smaller. Any creature with hands can pilot a dreadnought. A piloted automaton functions just as if it was an intelligent creature. The pilot spends a full-round action each turn to pilot the automaton. When a piloted automaton takes damage, the pilot takes half that damage, Fortitude (DC 10) negates. This does not reduce the damage to the automaton. Mind-affecting effects targeting the automaton may affect the pilot, who gains a +4 bonus on such Will saving throws.

Swift Reactions (Ex) Clockwork react much more swiftly than other constructs. They gain Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes as bonus feats, and gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC.


WEAKNESS


No Control Apparatus (Ex) The automaton cannot be programmed with any tricks.

Vulnerable to Electricity (Ex) Clockwork take 150% as much damage as normal from electricity attacks.

Weak Mechanism (Ex) The automated dreadnought has a weak power source. After winding, it retains power for only seven hours.

The automated dreadnought is made for a Medium pilot to wreak havoc!

Automatons as Familiars

A character with the ability to summon a familiar can instead have an automaton familiar. This replaces the control apparatus with a magical spirit. Anyone with the ability to summon a familiar can link to an automaton, it does not require the Improved Familiar feat.

The familiar is not summoned; instead the cost of 200 gp times the master's level to gain a new familiar represents the manufacture of the familiar's body and the increasingly sophisticated magical apparatus required to jump-start the familiar at the power level of its master. A character that starts the game with an automaton familiar need not pay this cost. When calculating the cost of repairs, an automaton familiar is assumed to have a cost of 200 gp per class level.

Automaton familiars are relatively simple devices based on Tiny animated objects and have a single construction point. They can take construction flaws to gain additional construction points, but no more than one additional construction point per two hit dice of the master. Because it is animated by a spirit, the automaton familiar's Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma score are all equal to the Intelligence score given by the character's level in the table Familiar Ability Descriptions. An automaton familiar is not mindless and not immune to mind-affecting effects. It has no control apparatus (and cannot take flaws relating to its control apparatus), but it does have a winding mechanism. It cannot speak or use command words, at 5th level it communicates with its masters using signs and mechanical noises.

An automaton familiar can have additional construction points added at a cost of 1,000 gp for the first additional construction point, 2,000 gp for the second construction point, 3,000 for the third, and so on.

Automatons as Companions

Certain characters can have automaton companions instead of animal companions. Automaton companions work like animal companions, except as noted.

  • Automaton companions follow the same rules as animal companions, advancing their Hit Dice and other abilities per Table: Animal Companion Base Statistics.
  • An automaton companion has a price of 50 gp times the master's effective druid level for the animal companion ability, squared. This price is only used to calculate the cost of repairs. The master is assumed to be able to gain a replacement automaton companion in the same way he gained his first one, and to be continually updating it as he advances in level at no cost in money or time.
  • Automaton companions gain additional hit points based on their size, as all constructs do. This is included in the base profile below. As creatures of the construct type, automatons have d10 Hit Dice. Thus automaton companions gain one additional hit point per Hit Dice compared to animal companions, like an animal companion with a Constitution of 12.
  • Construct have a better base attack progression than animals. An automaton companion gains an additional point of base attack bonus when its master gains level 1, 5, 13, and 20.
  • Mindless: Automaton companions have no Intelligence score and possess the mindless trait. An automaton companion cannot use an ability score increase (at 4 Hit Dice, 8 Hit Dice, and so on) to increase Constitution or Intelligence. Automaton companions have no skill points, class skills, or feats.
  • Automaton companions use tricks as other automatons do, and gain additional tricks as the level of their master increases as animal companions do. An automation companion with the no control mechanism flaw gains no tricks.
  • Automaton companions gain an additional construction point for every six hit dice. An automaton familiar can have additional construction points added at a cost of 1,000 gp for the first additional construction point, 2,000 gp for the second construction point, 3,000 for the third, and so on.
  • Automaton companions do not gain the link or devotion abilities.

Automaton Companion

Instead of taking the listed benefit at 4th level, you can instead choose to increase the companion's Strength and construction points by 2.

Starting Statistics


Size Medium, Speed 30 ft.; AC +4 natural armor; Attack slam (1d6); Ability Scores Str 14, Dex 12, Con —, Int —, Wis 1, Cha 1; Special Qualities construct immunities, construction points (4), darkvision 60 ft, hardness 5, hit-point bonus +20, low-light vision, mindless.

4th-Level Advancement


Size Large; AC +2 natural armor; Attack slam(1d8); Ability Scores Str +8, Dex –2; Special Qualities hit-point bonus +30.

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