City/ Ruin

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Comments: 8
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Rating: 4.1429
Condition: Normal
ID: 5434


December 9, 2008, 8:19 am

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Cheka Man

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"...I’ll be damned if I go within a league of the Girders. Death is there on eight damn legs clicking and chugging away." Ex-salvager Tim McClanny

"I told that bugger we was flyin’ too low, but do ya think that clodhead would f’ing listen? Nah, he has to play the fool and take us within’ spittin’ distance o’ them damn girders.  Then we’s get snagged by one of them damn chains it can throw. Hauled us down it did, like a trout on a line. And all that wit’ the throttle wide open.

Twas a damn struggle tah get down to the ground - I’se the only one to make it that far - at least without taking the fast way down if you follow.  It was huntin’ us the whole damn while, its steam engine chuggin’ away and its damn legs skitter-skattin’.

Now I’ll be damned if I go within a league of the Girders. Death is there on eight damn legs clicking and chugging away."

Full Description

The contraption is a rather large mechanical spider, with slender articulated legs and a mass of exposed machinery, boilers and gears for the head and abdomen.  Two pairs of complex but wicked steel mandibles extend from the head.
Great clouds of steam and black smoke expelled from smokestacks on its abdomen obscure its form from time to time.

Engineering details

The Spider weighs four tons and is mostly bronze-plated iron.  It has a bulbous abdomen which contains three separate boilers and masses complex counter-rotating gear systems.  Its head is fitted with eight strong but slender legs, with independent powerful transmissions and control rods.  The head also houses a complex clockwork brain, and two sets of specialized mandibles.  The mandibles are actuated by heavy hydraulic rams providing sufficient power to clip steel girders.  Four dead-black eyes provide excellent vision and hundreds of fine wires provide a rudimentary hearing to the Spider.

The Spider has two sources of energy.  It’s primary source is a super-efficient Sterling engine heated by an array of Helspar plates. While running in this mode, it is little quieter then a locomotive.

The secondary power source is a condensed high density spring storage device.  When using the secondary power supply, the Spider is much quieter then when running the steam engine, and it does not create huge volumes of steam.  This source provides enough power for about 15 minutes of ‘silent’ running.  The secondary device can also be drawn upon to provide a sudden burst of power which can enable the spider to leap up to 60’ vertically.  This will completely discharge the device and has the possibility of damage to the spider. 

The legs are also fitted with a strong electromagnetic system allowing it to cling to the steel girders of it’s home.

The spider is quite intelligent, though its capabilities are limited to tactical thinking and limited tool use.
It is capable of setting up simple traps and to use large simple tools. It is incapable of conversation but can understand simple verbal commands made by its master.

For ‘fine’ work it is able to use it’s mandibles, but even that has less dexterity then a human wearing boxing gloves. It commonly employs chains as weapons and as parts of traps.


In combat, the spider is able to use up to four of its legs offensively simultaneously - either employing its sharp feet as spears, or by smashing with its legs.  In addition, it can make deadly biting attacks with its mandibles, which as mentioned previously have immense cutting power. If in a situation where missile weapons are required, the spider will throw available objects or in extremis, will use its jump capability to close the distance.


Baleschferd was a famous scientist, perhaps the best of his day.  His nearly unbelievably complex mechanical devices were the darling of the armed forces and he had many friends and allies.  He also had many enemies - fellow scientists jealous of his ability, enemies of his country which feared his contributions to defense, and his lover, Dr. Maus De Varda.

None can tell for sure what De Varda’s motivation was - perhaps too much time spent in the lab, perhaps insanity struck her first.  In any case, her attempt to poison Baleschferd was not completely successful.  It did destroy him - his mind was irreparably shattered by the opiates she used, but he survived.  Her fate is unknown at this time, for she disappeared the night of the poisoning.

Once he had recovered sufficiently from the poison, he left the hospital, assisted by old friends who should have seen what changes had been made to him.  A new purpose had crystallized in his mind, though in his addled state he could not communicate it to anyone.

With the help of recalled favours, his income from royalties and licensing, and not a little subterfuge, he was able to purchase the incomplete Redstone Complex. This structure - planned to be a huge planned city - instead failed under unexplained circumstances.  The incomplete structure was instead a maze of steel girders and concrete pillars.

To assure privacy while he toils on his objective, he has constructed a number of ‘pets’, of which the Archanowerks are perhaps the most dangerous. It is by far the best known to would-be salvagers, to their sorrow.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
December 8, 2008, 12:17
Not a thing to mess with.
Voted Scrasamax
December 9, 2008, 1:22
That there is certainly a good dose of Nightmare Fuel. I dont know that I will look at buildings under construction quite the same way again.
Voted EchoMirage
December 16, 2008, 6:03
Ah, mad scientist, mecha-minions, a classic.
Voted Murometz
December 16, 2008, 11:10
Works for me. Presented at the right moment, this thing is sure to send the PCs a jolt! Spiders never get boring. Nice fluff on top.

4 tons. Dang!
Voted Chaosmark
May 28, 2010, 0:09
This particular submission has re-inspired me. I must thank you for such a good sub (though the history seems like it cut off early, and could've been enhanced more). Long live steampunk and the ideas it spawns!
May 28, 2010, 19:50
Thank you - this sub was inspired by the world described in the amazing youtube video - The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello
Voted Elbin
May 27, 2013, 11:38
Those make me wish I had a group to run in a steampunk setting.
Voted Dossta
May 28, 2013, 17:09
The spiders are very cool, but the Redstone Complex has my interest. I don't know if you ever expanded it into a full dungeon or not, but it seems like it would make a great stomping-grounds for a Steampunk game.

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Young kid from last town has been following the PCs and doing a rather good job at it. PCs weren't expecting to be followed so weren't worried and the boy/girl was careful. Notice the follower a couple days out of town, kid ran out of food and started getting careless. Followed the 'mighty adventurers' to see if he could join them. Father is a wealthy merchant. Bring him home, bring him with, send him off? What do you do with an unwelcomed guest.

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