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D&D 5E Need help with a Clockwork sidequest


I have a group adventuring on the Sword Coast.

For some of the wierd-ash roleplay we've got going on, one of the PC's has a buring desire to buy, steal, or kill for a clockwork creature's powersource. The more powerful he can get the better. This would take place somewhere around level 12 or so. It has not yet been determined if he will try to do this on his own or if he will try to get the whole group to help him.

I'm looking for ideas. I literally know very nearly nothing about clockwork creatures in 5E.
Best would be if someone already has something written that I could just pop into my campaign, Failing that: Ideas on where it clockworks would be most likely to occur? What might be challenging enough? How they could be encountered and with whom. Etc...

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Magic Wordsmith
You could basically take any monster and file off the serial number and reflavor the attacks and traits to make it a clockwork creature. Make it a construct with the standard immunities and whatnot. Consider some nifty time or milestone-based features. For example, the clockwork creature has a face like a clock and hands that advance to 15, 30, and 45 minutes when it is at 75%, 50%, and 25% of its hit points. When it hits those "times," it triggers a toll the dead spell (cast at 11th level) on all creatures within 60 feet. When the clock strikes midnight (0 hit points), something worse happens.

Extracting the heart intact or otherwise in a way that is necessary to complete the PC's goals might be an exploration challenge where ability checks and tool proficencies may come into play.

As well, when I think "clockwork," my mind goes to the Plane of Mechanus from which the modrons hail. Take a look at that to see if it sparks inspiration. A portal to some side trek in Mechanus and back would make for a nice change of pace no doubt.


CR 1/8
Iserith beat me to it, and pretty much covers my own thoughts....

Clockworks are often associated with gnome tinkerers; modrons / denizens of Mechanus; or maybe just mages who specialize in constructs. For something big for a level 12 party, that could be some sort of siege engine, or maybe just a strange tinkerer's experiment gone awry, or a remnant of a lost civilization or crashed spaceship.

A super-simple approach would be to just take an existing creature of the appropriate level, but give it thematic attacks (buzzsaws, grinding gears, toxic or corrosive aura, or whatnot), a handful of construct traits, the usual damage and condition immunities. Perhaps some sort of lightning susceptibility that introduces brief "glitches" that make the encounter more erratic with accidental heals, speedups, explosions, equipment rusting, etc? MMotM has some oddball (gnome inspired) features that might attach clockworks.

As an encounter, it could also be presented in stages as a tiny dungeon. For example, in Phase 1 a rusty clockwork dragonturtle that first must be defeated. Then Phase 2, the party enters it and make their way inward, confronting various defensive systems traps or clockwork "antibody swarms". Finally Phase 3, to find and neutralize the power core, and extract it as some sort of series of skill challenges, maybe as a complex trap.
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If you're willing to go a bit out there, you could design an adventure pitting the party against a bunch of warforged refluffed as clockwork creatures - from a narrative perspective, perhaps the Mourning in Eberron catapulted several Cyrans and warforged into the FR, and centuries later, their descendants have survived in a small "long-lost" enclave of wizards and artificers that now specialize in clockwork creatures, having lost the ability and knowledge to create actual warforged.
Using refluffed warforged along with iserith's ideas of modrons should give you a lot of good groundwork to start from.


It would be easiest to re-flavor animated objects and golems to clockwork. Just give it more gears and gismos like steampunk and come up with a power source. Steal from Eberron and take the elemental angle where the power is stored in a 'battery' like a caged animal. This gives you another angle in that some groups might want to free the elemental while others want it to join with the others they have to make a world destroying bomb or such.

You can upcharge a large creature like a dragon or dinosaur to clockwork and give it golem abilities like lightning absorption to increase its power. It could have 2 brains or power sources- allowing one to explode when it dies.


Dusty Dragon
Yoon-Suin (a setting) had clockwork golems, and so did the Iron Council (novel). The autognome would be another option from spelljammer


So does anyone know of a short-ish module or adventure featuring golems or warforged that I can refluff as clockwork? Preferably one already in Roll20?

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