Saturday, January 29, 2022

OSR: Immortal Robot Fire Dwarves

by Ben Weez
The Golem was the height of the Artificers' art, statues of stone or men of metal granted the ability to move and act, obedient to any command yet incredibly powerful.  The only Golems created these days are done with divine help and are extremely rare- all attempts to recreate the ancient magicks the Sorcerer-Kings of Ancient Days used have failed.  Still, that hasn't prevented the people of this current age from trying.

One of the most famous failures in this quest was the Azers. 

You see, as the Sages tell us, every mote of dust and bit of pond scum has a spiritual counter-part, or a soul.  Most of these souls are the spiritual equivalents of insects, plentiful and impossibly varied, but certainly not conscious.  And just like the animals, these spirits increase in size, power and intelligence until we reach the Elementals, Outsiders and more powerful beings.

Most artificers or Sages who attempt to create Constructs use these small, weak spirits or raw mana to create and power their constructs.  These spirits are easily controlled, possessing either no will of their own, or it being simple to bully such small creatures into obeying.  

However, these small spirits were incapable of animating something like a Golem.  So, the legendary Loxodon Magi Yonvi Great-Belly decided to try summoning larger spirits of fire from deep within the Earth and binding them to metal shells, in the hopes that these creatures would be powerful enough.  The crude metal bodies he prepared were mere test models, barely worth the pig iron they were made of.

To his surprise, his wards held and the spirits were successfully bound.  However, he had badly underestimated the intelligence of the spirits he summoned.  The spirits, having realized their predicament, almost immediately broke free of the Magi's control and proceeded to go their own way.

Since then, these spirits, otherwise known as the Azers,  have created their own civilization, one of worker-artisans and scholar-craftsmen.  Since Azers have no need to eat, drink or sleep and receive all the energy they need from the immense heat of the Earth's volcanic activity, they are free to labor endlessly in pursuit of their own goals. 

Azers are semi-immortal craftsmen and artisans.  Because of their nature as spirits of pure flame, they can mold metal with their bare hands, kneading it like bread dough.  AS such, their skill in forging and crafting is second to none, especially when it comes to metal-working.  Only the forges of Heaven and the greatest of the Giants can compete with the Azers' beautiful, yet highly functional designs.

Azers do not limit themselves to metal, however.  They are also known to work with precious metals, creating beautiful jewelry and other works of art; with stone, sculpting it into fantastical shapes on the surface or carving out elaborate structures in cliff-faces or in the depths of the earth.  They are known for building vast, beautiful cities under the Earth for themselves, carving canals to let lava flow through the streets.  When not laboring, Azers splash around in or luxuriate in the lava, gorging themselves on the wild mana of the planet. 

Number Appearing: 1 or 1d4+2
Alignment: Lawful Neutral or any Lawful
Languages: 1d20 languages, most archaic but you have a d10% chance per language of speaking at least one.
Treasure: Their shells are works of masterful craftsmanship, beautiful as art pieces and extremely valuable to other Azers.  Their workshops are also full of masterwork weapons, armor and other wonders that they consider worthless, but others would pay princely sums for.

by Jakub Politzer

HD 3 (spirit-body) / 3 (shell)
AR 4 [Metal Shell]
Atk Varies, see below
Mor 15
Saves 10 or less
Immune to Fire and Fire Damage
Immune to Lightning and Lightning Damage
Immune to Poison and Poison Damage
Resistant to Ice and Ice Damage

Living Fire: Azers are spirits of fire wrapped in steel.  They only need air and mana to continue functioning.  They do not need food or water.  They do not sleep.  They do not feel pain because of damage done to their bodies, only from taking damage to the soul, such as from a source that does psychic, necrotic or radiant damage. 

Heated Body: Azers, when inhabiting their shells, heat them to super-high temperatures.  Metal shells glow red-hot or ripple with heat, while stone bakes.  Azers set flammable items alight by touching them.  Additionally, anyone who gets within 5' of an Azer or touches one takes 1d6 fire damage.  Azers also do an additional +1d6 fire damage when they successfully hit a creature with a metal weapon.

Shell Body: The body you are speaking to is not the Azer, just a shell it uses to interact with the environment.  Azers are spirits of pure flame and creative drive.  An Azer can, as an action, exit its body in a burst of flame.  An Azer that does so becomes invisible and intangible (as a Ghost).  Azers can always detect each other, even if one is in spirit form.   

Fuel for the Flames: If an Azer is struck by a spell or ability that would do fire damage, the Azer is instead healed for an amout of HP equal to the damage the spell or ability would have dealt.        

Water Damage: Throwing at least a bucketful water on an Azer does 1d6 damage to it and immersing it in water does 3d6 damage a round.  Water or magical damage (see above) is the only way to kill an Azer- destroying their shells only inconveniences them. 

- Avoid fighting, it's an unnecessary distraction
- Rush in fearlessly
- Slap people in long robes or those who look flammable
- Grapple and tackle, use your 'Heated Body' to damage and apply pressure while you negotiate

To customize an Azer, roll on the table below:

What does this Azer's shell look like?


1- A statuesque man whose arms split into dozens of thin, flexible tentacles that each end in tiny, long-fingered hands.
2- A centaur-like creature, low and squat with the lower body of a lobster, six-legged with a powerful tail.  The upper body has hands for fine manipulation.
3- A humanoid torso with eight arms, four coming off the top and four out of the bottom.  Each one ends in a hand.  There are eyes scattered across the body and one on each of the palms.
4- A dog's body with tentacles coming out of the neck instead of a head, a single eye in the center of all the tentacles and a larger human-looking arm coming out of the rump like a scorpion's stinger.
5- A metal centipede that can fold up into a sphere of molten metal to fit through tight spaces.  The centipede has a long tongue made of coiled wire that splits into dozens of appendages for fine manipulation.
6- A mole made of metal with a star-burst like nose, each one tipped in a feeler and the head dotted in eye-slits.  Also has a second pair of arms attached to the back of the body, which are usually folded up. 

How does this Azer fight?


1- A steam-powered cannon that launches sharp metal disks the size of a man's hand.  The Azer can launch 1 every 1d4 rounds, each one doing 3d6 damage, save for half.  It can also blast jets of steam (15' range, 2d6 fire damage, save for half) once per round.
2- Can deploy a rotating saw blade (1d12 damage, requires attack roll) that ignores all non-metal armor including shields.  Also has a stinger that can stab a creature for (1d4 sharp + 1d6 fire) fire damage or fire 3 needles (1d4 sharp each, can target up to three creatures).
3- Fires a barbed grappling hook (1d8+2 sharp, requires attack roll, grapples automatically) to pull creatures toward it.  Has brass knuckles built into the hands of this shell (1d6+3 blunt + 1d6 fire) for close quarters work.
4- It wields a pair of glass blowguns that glass darts full of molten metal (1 damage + 1d6 fire damage a round until cooled with water or ice or scraped off as an action, save to dodge).  It also carries a net of barbed wire which it throws on people (requires attack roll, 1d4 sharp + grappled on a hit).  Fights with hit and run strategies.
5- A big hammer whose head resembles a cage.  On a hit, the hammer's head springs open and traps a limb, head, weapon inside, before snapping shut around it.  It can make 2 attacks that do 1d8+2 damage, and if the head swallows something 2 1d4+2 attacks, while the affected object or creature takes 1d6 fire damage a round. 
6- A masterwork sword (1d6+4).  It can attack twice a round and knows 3 martial maneuvers.  A master swordsman who fights primarily for entertainment.  Honorable, will not kill those who it judges to 'deserve life', but slays the wicked and dishonorable without mercy.  

Does this Azer possess any special powers?


1- 1/Day, it can throw a 3d6 fireball that hits a 30' diameter circle, save for half.
2- It can cast 'Heat Metal' as an at-will spell.
3- It can vomit a sludge of molten metal.  This does 2d6 damage to any creature hit, plus an additional 1d6 fire damage until it cools in 1d4+2 rounds or is cooled off with water or ice.  The metal also forms a physical barrier to anyone who gets close or tries to approach it. 
4- 1/Day, it can create 1d4 spheres of ball lightning that float around the battle, doing 1d8 damage to a random creature.  These spheres disappear once it damages a creature. 
5- 1/Day, the Azer can exit it's shell and attack as a pillar of living fire.  During this form it takes double damage from sources that deal water or cold damage, but can only be hurt by them and other things that could hurt a column of fire.  It can remain in this form for up to 1 minute or until it chooses to return to it's shell. 
6- 1/Day, it can teleport into another metal shell, leaving this current one empty and inanimate.   

Treasures of the Azer's Workshop:


1- 1d8 Masterwork weapons.  These weapons do +1 damage on a hit and are each worthy of royalty, as well as the prices royals would ordinarily pay. 
2- 1d4 suits of Masterwork armor.  Grant protection as fullplate +1, and extremely valuable as either armor or as art pieces.
3- The Flame of Ignikar (1d6+Atk damage), a golden sword with a crystal hilt.  The sword can 3/Day, absorb fire damage taken by the wearer and redirect it at another target besides the one it originated from.
4- The Cuirass of Fortitude, a masterwork chestplate that acts as a +1 armor piece and grants the user 3/Day the ability to gain advantage on any save against poison, disease or a harmful magical effect.  This ability can be used after seeing the initial d20 roll.
5- The Manual of Golems.  A huge metal book with pages of nickel and a cover of steel, studded with jewels.  Pressing the ruby in the center causes the book to transform into a 5 HD Golem under the control of the Book's last owner. 
6- A ring of twisted gold chains with an opal set in the center.  This ring can be used to Scry like a crystal ball. 
7- A pair of gold and glass wings that grant the user the ability to fly for up to 1 hour per day.  The user can also hover during that time.  The only problem is that the wings are extremely bright and flashy, reflecting light and casting rainbows whenever they are used. 
8- A pair of ruby slippers.  Tapping them together can teleport the user up to 100' as a free action.  This ability can be used 3/Day.
9- A rapid fire crossbow that shoots bolts that do 1d6+1 damage on a hit, but allows the user to fire more than one bolt by turning the crank.  This causes the attack to do +1 damage per bolt, up to a maximum of +5 (counting the first +1).  If the user rolls a damage result greater than or equal to 7, then he must spend an action reloading the crossbow before he uses it again.
10- A clay doll, dressed in a suit of metal clothing that resembles servant's livery, but made of gold and brass.  Pushing the tiny gem inlaid in the doll's forehead causes it to grow to the size of a Medium humanoid and perform any task a highly skilled human servant could perform.  After this task is complete, the doll returns to it's ordinary doll form.  The doll can be ordered to perform a task 3/Day.

artist unknown

Azers usually live together in collectives or more rarely, as individuals.  The only thing other creatures grant them is an audience or assistants, and so are not always necessary.  However, even they get lonely.  And few creatures besides other Azers can understand them.  Azers no do not reproduce in the traditional way- it is said that the amount of Azers has not changed since they were first accidentally created, though this is doubtful.

What is true is that Azers don't care about their bodies.  An Azer's body is just a shell, a tool that it uses.  In the early days, Azers housed themselves in crude shells of stone or metal.  But now it is common for an Azer to customize his shells, keeping one for speaking to clients, one for working, one for appearing before other Azers, etc.  Some Azers compete with each other to create the most elaborate shells, competing against each other in combination paegants/gladiatorial matches. 

Azers are patient creatures, working on the time-span of ageless beings.  An Azer will work on a project until it is perfect, or at least, as close to perfect as possible.  If this requires scrapping the project multiple times and starting over, so be it.  It can take weeks or months for an Azer to finish a single sword, and even longer for elaborate projects. 

It is said that millennia ago, maybe even all the way back to the Age of the Gods, when the great legends were first written and man lived in communion with his divine care-takers, the first of the Efreet contacted the Azers just several decades after they had first achieved their independence and asked them to build a city for them- the most beautiful city in the world.  The Azers accepted the contract and began building the city.  To this day, they are still building the city, having completed roughly half of it.  Despite the fact that some Efreeti launch raids against the Azers and try to enslave them, the work on the City continues, with Azer work-crews traveling in military formations into the City.  The work has been slowed down even more by the fact that Azers occasionally have to interrupt their work to fight, which has been a perpetual source of annoyance to them.  

The only time Azers ever hurry is when they are working on a deadline.  Azers are often hired by other, wealthier creatures to help them with a project or to build something for the client. Azers do charge for their services, but prefer to be paid in whatever raw materials they need for some other, future project.  However, they are known to accept gold or jewels, as they can use those to bargain with non-Azers or to hire workers to help them with parts of a project that involve flammable materials, such as wood or cloth.   

Azers can also be summoned like other spirits, though they are closer to Elementals than other spirits.  A shell must be provided for the Azer to inhabit once it arrives.  When it does, the Azer will negotiate with the summoner and if an agreement can be reached, the Azer will labor on behalf of that person, building whatever that creature desires.  Azers do not care about the morality of one who hires them, to an Azer, a contract is a contract.  And like most Spirits, once an Azer swears to do something, it will abide by that oath, no matter what.  "Azer's Oath" is an expression that means something is guaranteed and can also be used as an oath to express frustration or anger, comparable to "Good grief" in this context.

Finally, a note on their morality.  Azers do not abide by ethical systems, or at least, not one you're likely familiar with.  To an Azer, creation is good and destruction is bad, though it is sometimes necessary.  The squabbles of mortals and their debates are largely inconsequential in their eyes.  Azers do not really see individuals, but only collectives.  Only immortal creatures such as other Spirits are acknowledged on an individual level, other creatures are thought of as single entities with many small components, like living clocks or ant colonies, albeit ones much more sophisticated than anything else.  As such, if one mortal dies, it can be inconvenient, but is not necessarily a problem in the eyes of the Azer.      

Azer Plot Hooks:


1- An Azer wants to create an ice sculpture, but the ice keeps melting under it's steel fingers.  If you find some way for it to sculpt ice, it will reward you.
2- An Azer has been hired by a cult to build some kind of horrible weapon.  Prevent the Azer from completing the work by any means necessary. 
3- An Azer has decided to test it's latest body by transforming it into a Construct and releasing it on the countryside, in the hopes that something will come and destroy it, thus providing valuable data.  Destroy the machine before it does anymore damage and find out where these killer automatons are coming from.
4- An Azer has become interested in working with livestock, so it has started kidnapping mortals and trying to selectively breed them.  Go rescue them.  Also, not all the mortals are actually as upset about this as they should be. 
5- An Azer is building a device powered by Arcane energy, but it has not the necessary experience.  The only person who could help it is a Magi in the neighboring kingdom, who is also on the run from the Law and that nation's God.  Go find him and escort him to the Azer, without getting caught. 
6- Millennia ago, a group of Azers constructed a giant clock that is said to determine the time left for the world.  When the clock stops, that will trigger the End of the Age and a massive catastrophe that will usher in a new Age.  Since that time, a religion has grown up around the clock.  The High Priest has just contacted you with a dire request- find an Azer to repair the Clock, as it is breaking down and is dangerously close to stopping. 
7- The party have recovered all the pieces of an ancient artifact that was split into numerous pieces.  They now need to find an Azer and convince it to reforge the artifact out of these shattered pieces. 
8- The player's enemy wields an incredible magical weapon that makes them nigh-unbeatable.  But rumors say that the weapon has a specific weakness, known only by the smith who originally created it.  Unfortunately, that smith, an Azer, is never allowed out of the sight of the player's enemy or is imprisoned at the bottom of a horrible dungeon. 

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