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April 19, 2007, 7:12 pm

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Relics of the Trench Dwellers


Few have ever seen the incomprehensible entities known as Trench Dwellers, but their lethal biomechanical machines remain, guardians of a long-forgotten empire.

In the deepest parts of the ocean, ancient cities can be found, relics of the Tsithca’ca’dss, the race known as the Trench Dwellers.  While few of this ancient species remain, many of their superbly-crafted devices remain, nearly as enigmatic as their reclusive masters.

Trench Dwellers crafted items using technologies uniquely shaped for the lightless depths of the sea.  Unable to work metal in large quantities, they developed strange composites crafted of metal fibers, ceramics never discovered by other species, and complex organic components.  Their completed devices were constructs possessed of incredible resilience and endurance, possessed of blasphemous life.  Some constructs were even designed to reproduce themselves, and remain in vast numbers to this day, silently conducting the business of their long-dead masters, hidden beneath the ocean’s blackness.

Acanthids, Defenders of the Tsithca’ca’dss
These murderous biomechanisms patrol the cities of the Tsithca’ca’dss, protecting areas from other creatures that might hurt their creators or damage their ancient lairs.  Swift and lethal, they vaguely resemble spiny lobsters with a broad, articulated tail and numerous small legs, each covered with numerous intersecting blades.  A set of forelegs bears savage spines, which can impale and pin enemies.  These deadly tools shear across each other, potentially tearing into several enemies at the same time.  Trespassers and other opponents will be pierced by the spines and held for the other blades to shred.  Even more challenging to opponents dependent on sight, they tend to vent out clouds of inky black liquid when they are engaged in combat.  This opaque liquid has a disturbing stench to any water-breathing species and acts as a potent stimulant to the Tsithca’ca’dss.  Several different types of Acanthids exist, ranging in size from small and maneuverable devices only 3 or 4 feet long, to legendary behemoths hundreds of fathoms in length.  These devices incorporate both mechanical and biological components, with external armor of a rigid ceramic substance covering a rubbery organic substrate.  Their bladed limbs are crafted of a bronze-like alloy.  The jagged blades and wickedly-barbed spines covering the exterior shell often become encrusted with barnacles and other undersea life, lending them a ragged, overgrown appearance.

Not overly bright, Acanthids can often be fooled or confused, but they are particularly stubborn constructs, and will often pursue foes with machine-like patience.

Calcifers, The City Builders
These sensitive biomechanical organisms appear to be massive worm-like creatures with dozens of devouring maws and clusters of sensitive tendrils.  Unable to function well without direct supervision from the various builder-castes of the Trench Dwellers, Calcifers are powerful construction tools.  Efficient excavators, they are able to regurgitate a portion of the excavated stone as a gravelly, concrete-like paste:  This substance makes up most of the upper portions of the Trench Dwellers’ cities.  Under the direction of their Trench Dweller handlers, they are able to give the secreted material a wide variety of textures and properties.  

Strangely, Calcifers are able to reproduce, after a fashion.  When provided with the numerous metallic parts that make up their “chewing” and “digesting” apparatus, worn Calcifers will divide into two smaller constructs.  The devices will then spend some months ingesting the materials needed for their biological components, eventually becoming two “fully grown” Calcifers.

Colerids, The Vent Harvesters
In the heyday of the Trench Dweller civilization, they would surround volcanic heat sources with Khiop’rj v’no, vast arrays of strange organic mechanisms known to the merfolk as “Colerids”.  Resembling nothing so much as clusters of massive pipe coral, these bizarre devices ambled slowly across the sea floor on small, clawed limbs that projected from their bases.  They gathered the precious minerals released by the vents and excreted them in forms useful to their masters.  An integral part of their civilization, these strange biomechanical organisms were carefully guarded as treasures of the Tsithca’ca’dss.

Colerids, like Calcifers, are able to reproduce.  In their case, this involved “budding” off a smaller Colerid, which would shamble along in the path of the senior until it had gathered enough materials to function on its own.

Modulan Crawlers
These devices, perhaps the strangest of the Trench Dwellers’ creations, look like shambling heaps of debris.  Closer examination reveals the strange truth, however:  These things ingest raw metals gathered by the Colerids and reshape the metal into complex metal shapes.  When required to produce unusually large items, sometimes the Modulan would burst open once the item was completed.  These things were generally controlled by a team of Trench Dweller handlers, as they tended to self-destruct when left unattended, deciding to create strange and wonderful items of alien sculpture far too large for them to survive creating.

Morderers, the Crop Tenders
Resembling metallic crabs with dozens of sharply-clawed limbs, these devices were responsible for tending the strange fungal or plant crops that fed their ancient cities.  More intelligent than their other strange constructs, they ranged in size wildly, depending on their expected duties.  Many of these extremely durable constructs remain, still tending crops for nonexistent masters. 

In some areas, a variation on these devices was adopted as a defensive construct.  These mechanisms, covered with barbed spines that grow from small orifices in their shells, are able to load them into launching devices built into their limbs.  Generally carried into battle on one of the larger Acanthids, they would fire these vicious weapons at their opponents.

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Comments ( 7 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Scrasamax
January 17, 2007, 3:28
Nice and evocative of the Trench Dwellers, showing an alien thought process to normal human industry. I would have made it an equipment listing myself.
Voted manfred
January 17, 2007, 4:59
Pretty interesting, and they are lifeforms in a way, more than just a kind of equipment.
Voted valadaar
January 17, 2007, 8:19
I like them - Acanthids being the best described and my favourite.
Voted Cheka Man
January 17, 2007, 10:49
I like them a lot as well-I wish I had one of them.
Voted Murometz
January 17, 2007, 11:10
Deviously interesting campaign world you've created here. I know I will be in the minority on this one, but I kinda liked the Trench Dwellers a bit more before you began to unravel their mysteries. But still, this is bizarre, original stuff!
Voted MoonHunter
January 17, 2007, 17:39
Makes me want to run Blue Planet again. It might be something to throw into a BP game

Again, in most cases this lovely work would be lost on the PCs, as they would have no way to getting access to it.

Still lovely posts with nice details and a good twist.
Voted CaptainPenguin
January 17, 2007, 20:23
Only voted

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Castoria, Land of Shattered Stars

       By: Veretrix

Castoria was once a thriving and prosperous nation, a rich trade center for the surrounding lands. This all changed when, on one fateful night nearly a century ago, the Mist of Eternity rolled in and surrounded the land, obscuring more of the outside world as days and nights passed.

By the time the Mist blocked out the sun, a new light shone during what was assumed to be daytime: The Starpoint Spire, a mysterious place atop Castoria's highest peak in the northern-central region. Some say that there is some sort of building atop the mountain shining the dim "sunlight" onto the land, but it is only ever too bright or too dark to fully make out any structure, not to mention the mountain's immense height.

Not a month after the Spire's light lit up, the stars fell. Flaming rocks and debris from far-flung edges of space plummeted downward onto the eastern region of Castoria. Once the shower subsided, a strange energy from within the fallen stars transformed the eastern lands in what are now known as The Voidwastes, a barren gray land littered with craters and strange alien creatures (these can vary, but I had Pathfinder's Akatas in mind).

To the south, strange mechanism of eldritch origin are again at work after aeons of rest in the Ruins of Kchuthngnl, an ancient city of non-human creation that is estimated by scholars to be no less that five millennia old.

To the west, the once peaceful and serene forest, now known as The Plagued Woods, has been experiencing corruptions of the wildlife and humanoids living there. Some humans have reported creatures that appear not unlike a halfling, except that they can open their mouths to massive proportions to swallow creatures the size of an ogre.

When adventurers and citizens alike try to make an escape from Castoria, they are never seen again, and it is utterly unknown whether they found hopeful sanctuary or agonizing death withing the Mist's depths.

What is unknown to all residents of Castoria is that all of these events occurred because of the actions of a secret but powerful cult loyal to the Elder Gods who call the space between the planes their abhorrent home. The cult still lives on, larger than ever, and their plan is for the alien horrors to incubate and thrive within the dome of mist that now envelops Castoria, so that when the Elder Gods return as the cult's prophecy foretells, they will have an army of blasphemous creation at their disposal that they will use to make war with and enslave the denizens of the Material Plane.

Ideas  ( Locations ) | August 4, 2015 | View | UpVote 4xp

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