Need some help with a device (Solved)

Jd Smith1

Explorer
My 5e campaign has 23 sessions in, and its time to hit the PCs with a drag on their finances concealed in the guise of something useful. I'm going to let them acquire what I call a Dwarven Tribute Wagon:

View attachment Tribute Wagon.png

Basically, it has a permanent Levitate spell on its frame which offsets a lot of the wagon's weight (to keep it from bogging down).

Now, what I need is 1) a power to turn the wheels. I figure it can't be a steampunk device because the drawing doesn't show or leave room for such a device, so I figure it has to be magical.

2) A steady expense which won't appear like a lot at first. I'm figuring some sort of easily-obtained 'fuel' for the motive method.

I'm completely stumped as to 1 and 2. Anyone have an idea?
 
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dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Since it is dwarven, I would have it powered by something metal or mineral. For gold expense, mithral, adamantine, mercury, etc. or diamond dust spring to mind. If you want it to be very easy to acquire, even iron ore or coal could work for something so large!

Now, the trick IMO is to make the expense constant and depend on the weight they are transporting. Since it is dependent on weight (the greater the weight, the more energy or fuel is needed), the cost can be as great as you need it to be.

When they first encounter it, it is completely empty and thus the fuel cost is low. But later on, they learn that the more stuff they have on it, the fuel cost jumps up considerably. But, it is too late, they own it now. ;)
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
Since it is dwarven, I would have it powered by something metal or mineral. For gold expense, mithral, adamantine, mercury, etc. or diamond dust spring to mind. If you want it to be very easy to acquire, even iron ore or coal could work for something so large!

Now, the trick IMO is to make the expense constant and depend on the weight they are transporting. Since it is dependent on weight (the greater the weight, the more energy or fuel is needed), the cost can be as great as you need it to be.

When they first encounter it, it is completely empty and thus the fuel cost is low. But later on, they learn that the more stuff they have on it, the fuel cost jumps up considerably. But, it is too late, they own it now. ;)
That's exactly the plan. I'm planning a miles-per-fuel type rating. They just found a 10' keg that refills itself with ale every dawn. Forget that its weight is literally impossible to move, and that they can afford enough ale to get blitzed out of their skulls every day of the year, they are bound and determined to figure out a way to get it home. They'll load this thing down with all the furniture and fitting they regular fall in love with on dungeon crawls, and they'll have to hire guards because you can't leave a wagon loaded with cool stuff unguarded while they are in a dungeon. Quite possible that wives and kids will come along to do the cooking a cleaning. Expense after expense.

OK, I like the iron idea. We'll make it iron filings to raise the price a bit. But what is the motive power? It has to be small due to the image.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
There is a bound Earth Elemental who turns a crank. You feed it iron.

The round thing sticking out the front is a massive oak beam that is turned by the Earth Elemental (via the crank). It is connected to the wheels via gears, and to the earth elemental as well.

See how the back of the wagon is half elevated? The Earth Elemental is down there. There is a feeding hole, but you cannot see the Earth Elemental from where you deposit the iron filings. Or maybe iron balls, so they can be poured into it.

So the players don't know how it works to start, and don't need to know. Unless something goes wrong, like they forget to feed the Earth Elemental. Or a circle of protection against elementals. Or whatever.

There can be a tube you pour the balls into with a window on the side so you can see the current level. A line on the tube says "FILL TO HERE" in dwarven. A lower line says "MIN FILL LINE". A line even lower says the name of an ancient dwarven mythological figure who dug too deep and doomed his clan (translation: "DO NOT GO UNDER THIS LINE", but that is two steps away for non-dwarf, and a step away for a dwarf from a different clan who doesn't know that myth). The equivalent of marking something "Icarus", but for dwarves the legend is (a) upside down, and (b) a clan disaster not a personal one.

This is the top of, well, you know those hamster water bottles? But iron, and an elemental.
 
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Jd Smith1

Explorer
There is a bound Earth Elemental who turns a crank. You feed it iron.

The round thing sticking out the front is a massive oak beam that is turned by the Earth Elemental (via the crank). It is connected to the wheels via gears, and to the earth elemental as well.

See how the back of the wagon is half elevated? The Earth Elemental is down there. There is a feeding hole, but you cannot see the Earth Elemental from where you deposit the iron filings. Or maybe iron balls, so they can be poured into it.
Iron balls would be good, more expensive than ingots. I've never used elementals before; according to the stats, they're not too bright. Would an elemental take a task like this? Obviously forged iron isn't something it can get by just burrowing?

I don't know if my players have gamed in campaigns that use elementals, so I don't weant to get caught out on a point of order.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
Iron balls would be good, more expensive than ingots. I've never used elementals before; according to the stats, they're not too bright. Would an elemental take a task like this? Obviously forged iron isn't something it can get by just burrowing?

I don't know if my players have gamed in campaigns that use elementals, so I don't weant to get caught out on a point of order.
Well, the idea is that they found the elemental, then did a planar binding. Planar binding can compel an elemental to do something for a period of time.

The Dwarves used this to train the elemental.

By offering it a good deal, where turning the crank provides it with iron balls, the elemental ... just keeps doing it. It is, as mentioned, dumb. And it is fat and happy.

How long this took? Dwarves are patient.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
Well, the idea is that they found the elemental, then did a planar binding. Planar binding can compel an elemental to do something for a period of time.

The dwarves used this to train the elemental.

By offering it a good deal, where turning the crank provides it with iron balls, the elemental ... just keeps doing it. It is, as mentioned, dumb. And it is fat and happy.
Aha! Excellent! Thank you!
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I like the elemental idea! An earth elemental could easily get raw iron, but not forged/purified. Perhaps "clean" iron is a delicacy to earth elementals? Who knew, right? :)

If they fall below the minimum line, the wagon could rock back and forth, go in a direction not intended, etc. as the elemental is annoyed.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
Oh! And the instruction manual can say things like "use 1 part mithril to 97214 parts iron, 1 part gold to 7282 parts iron, 1 part bronze to 1337 parts iron". Random tasty treats mixed in.

This manual is written in Dwarvish, of course. Failing to do this results in the elemental getting grumpy over time.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
I like the elemental idea! An earth elemental could easily get raw iron, but not forged/purified. Perhaps "clean" iron is a delicacy to earth elementals? Who knew, right? :)

If they fall below the minimum line, the wagon could rock back and forth, go in a direction not intended, etc. as the elemental is annoyed.
Excellent. And perhaps it wants some copper every now and then....
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Excellent. And perhaps it wants some copper every now and then....
You could even still incorporate other things, like a salad for it. This of iron as gasoline, but diamond dust as oil, and fluid oil as lubricant. The elemental devours all these things, but they might believe it is keeping the machine functioning, not knowing an elemental lurks below.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
You could even still incorporate other things, like a salad for it. This of iron as gasoline, but diamond dust as oil, and fluid oil as lubricant. The elemental devours all these things, but they might believe it is keeping the machine functioning, not knowing an elemental lurks below.
I'm planning on a Dwarf to be rescued with the wagon who will run it for them....for a salary. But you make good points.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
OK, I have it written up; in stead of a Dwarf NPC, I decided to have the PCs capture the notes of the bugbear shaman who was figuring the thing out, so many of your posts became the actual document. Thanks again for the help!

They'll probably get it next week or the week after.
 

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