The Gnomish Inventions Known as Clockworks in Dungeons & Dragons

The following is a video transcript


Todd Kenreck: Many gnomes are known for making different instruments and inventions, and among the most interesting and amazing of those are the clockworks.

Adam Lee: Clockworks are gnome creations, and gnomes are just endlessly inquisitive about things, and how things work, and the need to tinker and make stuff. And as gnomes sort of are exploring all the different avenues, they create these animal-like creations. You get all these different kinds of clockworks, and in Mordenkainen's, we go over a few of them, possibilities. One is the ... I think it's the iron cobra, and it's like, here's what a gnome tinkerer would ... a gnome tinkerer's take on what a cobra would look like.

So, to create a cool cobra, not only do you have to create the snake body and how it moves, and what it does, but then you would also have to create the venom. So you have like, you know, when one of these cobras strikes, you've got all these different kinds of venoms that could come out and attack you, so it's like the gnomes are even thinking about, "How do we create a realistic venom for this clockwork snake?"

There's the iron bolter, which is sort of an arbalest clockwork that goes around, and it shoots out different kinds of arrows. Some are exploding, and some do different kinds of damage, but again, it's sort of like gnomes would be looking at human beings, and then see a human being with this strange contraption, shooting a crossbow, and they're like, "Ooh. We could make that into something, and why don't we do a living thing?"

Another thing about the clockworks is that you are seeing sort of the successes. Like, these were the successes. There were tons of failures that were just ... You know, gnomish labs were blown to bits, or one of these clockworks went on a rampage, you know, and they were trying to bash it with pots and pans. These things that you're seeing are the successes, so once a gnomish success is made, then they make a blueprint of it, and then they're reproducing it.

There's a clockwork defender in there, that they've probably seen ... Maybe they saw an animated armor or some kind of magical thing, and they were like, "Okay, we want to make a ..." or they Modron, and they were like, "Oh, we want to make something that looks similar to that, or that does the same thing, that defends our little burrow."

So all these sort of clockworks have come out of gnomish curiosity, and how can we make something that looks like that, and does the same kind of stuff, but we've built it out of just pieces and parts? In Mordenkainen's, we give you a couple cool ideas, and then feel free to make your own gnomish clockwork. If you want to run your own clockwork human, or half-orc analog, whatever you want, feel free. Roll it up and try to find your creator.

There are clockwork benefits and malfunctions, so there's these charts that we have there that you can roll on, and it will show you, "Oh, you know, there's a cool way that you can add on some armor class to your clockwork," or, "Here's a cool way to add on some hit points," or if one malfunctions, you can roll on a chart and it'll tell you how spectacularly it blows up, or it falls apart, or goes on a rampage. So there are a few charts we've put in there to sort of enhance that experience of a clockwork, but as far as creating your own clockwork, yeah, that is up to your imagination.



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