Last week we covered the Anacite Laborer, the spidery robots that control Aballon. As I mentioned then, anacite is a broad term that refers to just about any machine that’s manufactured on that world, and today we’re covering another creature from the product line: the Anacite Wingbot.
Anacite wingbots are, to put it bluntly, pests. At only a CR 1/2 they’re little more than cannon fodder to even novice adventurers, and at higher levels your players will destroy them as soon as look at them. And there’s nothing wrong with that, everyone loves an encounter where they get to show off how cool they are. The danger lies in the sense of overconfidence that such an encounter fosters. Let them laugh when they encounter a lone wingbot after they decimated the three or four a few rooms back, then see how that amusement peters out when the rest of them swarm into view. One wingbot is easy, two is a piece of cake, but several dozen isn’t something to be taken lightly, as taking them down in one hit is only as good as how many hits you can make in one turn.
This quality also makes them good fodder for boss fights. Your boss monster can be as threatening as you want, but when players only have one enemy to focus on they tend to carve through it pretty fast. Tossing in a swarm of wingbots for a robotic or mechanically proficient boss to draw fire and whittle away resources helps keep the boss alive longer and make sure players can’t just tank the few hits they receive. The bite and laser of the wingbots may not be particularly strong, but when there’s a swarm of them a few are bound to hit every round.
In terms of abilities, wingbots have the standard power set of less than CR 1 enemies, which is to say very little. Their main ability is their Trill (Ex), a 30 foot radius ability that sickens any non-wingbots for a short time if they fail a meager Fortitude save. With the effect only lasting 1d3 rounds, and any target being immune to that wingbot’s trill for 24 hours whether or not they succeed the save, it’s not a powerhouse. But like their weapons, don’t discount the power of sheer numbers. Having to roll for half a dozen Fortitude saves every turn means that sooner or later someone will get a 1. Much like the laborers, wingbots come with Shortwave (Ex), allowing the swarms to coordinate and making wingbots excellent candidates as minions for their smarter cousins. They also have a flight speed, allowing them to harry adventurers from a distance and quickly retreat if necessary. Naturally, all those abilities without drawbacks would make a low CR creature a bit too powerful so they also have the Sunlight Dependency (Ex) of the laborers, inflicting a -2 on attack rolls, melee damage, skill checks, and ability checks. Here’s a few ideas to use these mechanical nuisances in your game:
- To align a series of lenses for a ritual, adventurers must retrieve star charts from a giant’s observatory. The observatory’s master is in fact happy to share his knowledge if he’s paid in equivalent knowledge, but the mechanical creations he builds as a hobby prove a larger barrier. Mechanical simulacrums of animals sized for a giant roam the building, with mosquitos the size of birds and housecats as large as tigers. Adventurers must take care to defend themselves against these threats without damaging the rare tomes and scrolls that fill the shelves, an act which could set their would-be host against them.
- Fissure was an aptly named colony, a nest of buildings and bridges constructed on and over an tangle of canyons. Now a ghost town and a frequent target for scavengers, the security systems set in place by the original founders continue to patrol. The small drones were meant to subdue troublemakers with non-lethal sonic pulses and were only armed with weapons as a last resort. However, the seemingly merciful design is in fact more lethal than any weapon and the cause for the abandonment of the town. The things that live deep in the canyon can’t stand the high pitched noises and will crawl up from the depths with terrifying speed to slay any interlopers and restore the silence they crave.
- A brilliant inventor was killed when once of his creations became unstable and detonated, destroying itself, him, and the lab. His consciousness managed to survive, albeit trapped within a small mechanical drone. Working around the limitation, he used the machine’s shortwave comms device to network with other drones and link them into a single mind. Initially he used this to try and build himself a new body to transfer into, but his new form quickly came to fascinate him. Finding that his intelligence increased with every drone integrated into his mental network he now seeks to spread himself into the data network of the city and become a mind beyond any organic being. What had been his planned body now serves as his “face” and representative to those he’s formed alliances with, as well as a decoy. After all, who would suspect the small robots swarming around the robot talking to you are in fact the true intelligence behind the scheme?