Thursday, February 7, 2008

Creatures: Animantic Constructs

Common on Aarn, especially in Cerenbaun society, constructs are magical creations made of clockwork gears and springs. They are created by animancers, the kanna-channeleing counterpart to biomancers and necromancers. Creating a construct is in fact not so different from creating an undead - the materials are simply different. Constructs can and often do have magical powers beyond their mechanical nature. Thematically, light-based attacks are common, though these require ammunition - because kanna cannot create light effects, constructs that use lasers need to cast wizardry spells themselves, using material components in the process.

Animancy is not the only possible method of enchanting - wizards who are not animancers can learn runecrafting and enchant objects with said runes. Divine magic users can also imbue items with divine effects. Animancy, however, is the most efficient, adaptable and least expensive way to create intricate, mobile, creature-like objects.

Constructs can take advantage of soul cores just as easily as undead. A construct with a soul core can obey commands without being directly controlled by its animancer and do tasks autonomously, freeing its animancer to create new constructs. Otherwise, when a construct's animancer "sets it free" the construct ceases to function and loses all magical enhancements. Even constructs with soul cores however will cease to function when its owner dies, though an animancer can attune a soul core to a customer, tying the construct to the customer's life force regardless of his or her skills with magic. In fact, this method of attuning soul cores to a custmer is essential if the customer wishes to give the construct orders. Also, using this process to create clockwork prosthetic limbs is quite common for those who can afford it.

Acrobatic Guardian - Lithe and agile, acrobatic guardians are known for their spindly limbs, square torsos, and large heads that resemble wide-brimmed hats. The typical design has a single gem in the front of their head that can fire magical lasers when given correct material components. They also have twin blades that swing freely from their wrists parallel with their forearms which can spin around in a whirling blade pattern, or hold rigid and still and be used as swords or tonfa blades.

Animantic siege Engine - While normal seige engines, such as siege towers, ballistas, trebuchets, catapults, and various infantry-protecting covered carts exist in the world of Aarn, animantic versions exist as well, which are normally far more effective than their powered-by-animal-and-godtouched-muscle versions. An animantic siege engine is simply a siege engine with a soul core, normally soul-bonded to a driver or to a non-expendable animancer officer. It can operate autonomously, and many of the weapons are auto-loading, making them invaluable on the battlefield.

Companion Doll - Even in the world of Aarn, there are socially obtuse people who simply have a difficult time getting along with other people. A companion doll is a construct created specifically to look like, move like, and act like a human being or other godtouched, but will never react poorly to bad treatment or rude behavior (unless you wish it to.) They are not quite sentient, however they can respond to quite complex verbal commands, have limited decision-making capabilities and can communicate their needs or observations verbally. The amount of effort required to give them their personalities and near-sentience is quite extensive and expensive, and requires months or even years of preparation and magical work. Companion dolls are usually used as servants, maids, butlers, or even slaves by the more rich and affluent eccentrics of Cerenbaun society.

Cybermancer - When an animancer has learned to split his soul effectively amongst many construct creations, his attachment to his own body can often become tenuous. A magical spell here, a rigorous meditation session there, and the animancer can leave his biological body behind forever - transferring his soul's affinity directly to one of his constructs. Most view this as a desperate or insane tactic, and the practice is frowned upon in society - though those who have the power to do it to themselves normally are above such criticism. Powerful cybermancers can transfer their soul into any of their currently-active creations, though they normally have a "favorite" body of much intricacy and hidden capability. Considering how wizards often lust after immortality, it's somewhat surprising that there are actually animancers who don't eventually do this to themselves.

There are some who, philosophically, consider cybermancers to be a type of undead - a spirit that is simply possessing a construct body. Further, attempts by necromancers to repeat this process themselves using their own creations have all failed. It seems that because their elemental affinity is quite literally "death," their creations are too "slippery" for their souls to latch onto. Granted, necromancers who exercise their death channeling powers can usually become quasi-immortal anyway, their bodies dead-but-not-dying, in the exact same way a cybermancer's body is non-living-but-not-dying.

Demon Construct - While demon constructs fall under the same general range of abilities as other constructs, they are not animantic. Demon constructs are made of metal, power cores, wires, circuits and electromagnetic servos - all technologies that none on the world of Aarn fully understand. And why should they? Their own science of magic is perfectly adequate at creating the same effects with comparable weaknesses in design. However, it does make encountering a demon "robot" quite jarring for most adventurers, and especially animancers. It is something completely non-magical, immune to anti-magic effects, that yet, acts like a magical construct - and most importantly, doesn't cease to function with the death of its creator.

Flitterwheel - Spies, guards and surveillance equipment, flitterwheels are intricate flying boxes about 2 feet in length, with twin spinning rotors that help to steer it as its near-permanent levitation spell keeps it aloft. Most flitterwheels are fitted with a scrying globe that allows its owner to see what it sees, though occasionally one has been equipped with offensive magical weapons such as light-focusing crystals or an air-blade manifester. One famous flitterwheel was even fitted with a gravitic enchantment that made everything but itself too heavy to move within a certain area.

Gear Hound - Excellent guards, pursuit units and expendible lackeys, gear hounds are easy to manufacture and quick to replace. They have physical abilities comparable to a living guard dog, they never need sleep or food, and only require the occasional bit of oil or tune-up. While a pack of three can be somewhat expensive for an animancer to maintain - either through limiting how many other creations the animancer can maintain at once, or through requiring soul cores - three of them can effectively secure a large compound, working in a pack and tearing any would-be intruders to ribbons.

Golem - The most basic, and perhaps most magical kind of construct, golems are inexpensive to build, but require great skill to animate. Golems are made of a single solid piece of material, usually earth, metal, wood or stone, and are given no natural joints or moving parts. There in fact is very little difference between a golem and an elemental, though elementals tend to be loose collections of material bound together by magic, and not single solid chunks like golems. What allows the golem to move - shaping spells that change key parts of themselves into malleable material - also makes them extremely resistant to physical damage. They can repair themselves quite easily, shrug off damage, and in some cases even allow a weapon to pass through themselves completely without harm befalling them. A golem in battle is fearsome to behold, and can only be stopped by the most epic of heroic feats.

Golemnoth - When an animancer or his client decides that expense is not an issue, a golemnoth is usually what results. Huge, unwieldy, and very difficult to destroy, a golemnoth is usually created from a central, 20 foot tall humanoid shell. This shell is typically made of solid metal, and animated in the same method as a golem. This gives them a great deal of strength and resilience. Beyond the central core, golemnoths have several hard points where optional units can be installed, depending on the tactical situation where the golemnoth will be used. Optional equipment includes artifacts that fling spells, generate gravitic effects to paralyze foes, effects that serve as a rallying point in battle, over-sized versions of melee weapons, siege engine components, and in some cases even huge tanks of water for city maintenance, firefighting, and water-tendril effects.

Gremlin - Like all worlds, Aarn has its own folklore that doesn't exactly correspond to real creatures. Gremlins are an example of this. Believed to possibly be fey, extensive research eventually proved that they either didn't exist, or their activities were actually being done by mischievous fairies. The accomplished animancer, Archibald Crossduke, decided to name his most popular creation after the gremlin myth, once he was assured that gremlins in fact did not exist, of course.

Inspired by the biomancers' imps, Archibald's gremlin is a foot tall humanoid construct with an intricate, agile body. It has child-like proportions to make it more astheticly pleasing, and also to give enough room for a potential soul core in its chest or head. While it cannot fly like imps, its thin and dextrous hands allow it to easily do finesse work with mechanical precision. Gremlins make excellent lab assistants, and their small size also makes them excellent spies, or even saboteures like their fictional namesakes. When an animancer wishes to sabotage the project of a rival, most will send in well-crafted gremlin.

Jeobardi Flyer - Jeobardi Flyers were invented by Marcello Jeobardi, an animancer who was inspired by pterodactyls during a safari. They typically have wingspans of 20 to 30 feet, and can carry up to 3 passengers, including half a ton of cargo. They make excellent scouts, carriers of mail in times of peace, flitterwheels in times of war, or important express cargo regardless of the times. Usually, the driver and passengers of a flyer will ride on its back, though more efficient (and expensive) models have canopies made of glass that passengers ride inside.

Flying constructs developed before the Jeobardi flyer had wings based on rocs or dragons. These wings were intricate and fragile - not very good for durability in combat. In contrast, the wings of the Jeobardi flyer are smooth, rigid and aerodynamically shaped - quite similar to the smooth and practically featureless wings of the pterodactyl. The flyer's head acts as a rudder as well, giving it extra maneuverability. The aerodynamic features of the flyer allow it to use less power in its levitation spell in order to keep aloft. This frees up more magical energy to be directed towards speed. Jeobardi flyers are easily twice as fast as comparative wingless hoverplatforms, and in recent times, Jeobardi Flyers and derivative models have become the transportation of choice for animancers and their clients.

Living Armor - The simple designs are sometimes the most effective. While plate-mail has long since gone out of style as a common armor of choice for adventurers, it is still widely used for honor guards, and in some cases, decorations in mansions, castles and buildings of public office. Using a suit of armor as a base for a construct is often cost-effective, and can occasionally hide the true nature of the creation. A suit of armor that suddenly springs to life can be quite jarring for an intruder, and simultaneously, a closed suit of armor can, at least briefly, impersonate a living human soldier. Living armors can be quite effective in combat. While they are usually no more agile than those who might be otherwise wearing the armor, they don't suffer from the weakness of having fleshy bits inside of them that can tire or impede their function if damaged.

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