Clockpunk Covenant Ideas? (Special: Chain Swords?)

So as I've talked about occasionally, my players and I had a prequel saga, and we're currently going over what would happen in the time skip so that the world is fully fleshed out for their new characters. One of their magi, who went down a home brewed immortality path, wanted his character to spend the time skip designing a covenant, effectively a clock punk city. I like this even if it's a little more Renaissance than medieval. A lot of it is pretty easy to conceptualize within the rules; he's pretty darn good at Automata crafting (albeit through Virtue rather than Mystery; he's not as good as an equivalent Verditius magus would be, but he's got the skill levels to make up for it) so that can cover functional creatures such as mounts, there's that engineering Boon to hand wave the buildings and fortifications, and the magus himself or a crafter with Touched by Magic can make some other basic clock punkesque devices mostly as a matter of aesthetics.

So this thread is two things. One, sort of an open-ended suggestion thread for ideas for cool little clock punk-y things. Two, recommendations on how the clock punk-y bits that aren't just standard magic items with aesthetic differences can be represented in the rules. Like, I can think of all sorts of ways for clockpunk tech to improve the soldiers manning the walls and give them more ways to move themselves and their supplies around, but I can't actually think of any ways this tech might improve the fortifications, other than, like, maybe making portcullises work better? Ideas on that would be much appreciated.

And the special question, a specific subquestion from number 2: My player wanted to have the city man a group of special knights wielding unique swords unlike anything seen in Mythic Europe, using stored up energy from winding to rotate a bladed chain across the sword's edge... In other words, a lower-tech chainsaw-sword. This is far enough outside what would be normal in Mythic Europe to still be devised as an enchanted item despite its technological origin, but even with that freedom, I don't really know how it would work in the rules. Would it just be a much stronger version of Edge of the Razor with Concentration duration and Maintain Concentration, with the effect's manifestation being a cosmetic thing? What magnitude-per-damage-bonus ratio is appropriate here if so... Or if not, how else might I cover this?

Thanks in advance for responses, folks!

  1. Replace the outer wall with an angled surface of metal backed by a giant spring mechanism designed to repel all stones hurled at approximately the same angle and speed as they came in. Also might be able to "pop" forward to knock over ladders/siege equipment.
  2. Remote controlled extra moats; with the pull of a lever, further segments of ground fall open around the fortifications (possibly under the attacking army) and are quickly filled with water/quicksand/vitriol/carnivorous beetles (pick one).
  3. With some higher-level mystery virtues, an entire walled area (start with a building -- move on to a city) can reconfigure itself to a more defensible mode. Your covenant is a standard manor house and grounds, until the trigger is tripped, the crenellations pop from the ground, the moat drops, the covenant library and sancta descend deep into the bedrock below a giant tower (with magically-aimed crossbows at every arrow-loop) capped by the old manor house, now sheathed in extra armor.

Happily plundering the wonderful, masterpiece that is Van Helsing (the movie, with Hugh Jackman), you can find some ideas:

  • repeating crossbow, with high speed shooting (you can handle that as a shooting weapon, without idle time for reloading and relatively high damage due to the shear number of bolts being shot at instead of one single bolt at a time);
  • some form of electric gun or hand weapon based on amber storing electric charges (you have in the pomel of your hand weapon certain numbers of charged ambers that are used each time you strike). It increases damage but is not magical in nature;
  • any acid-based pistol

Of course, these weapons cannot compete with their magical counterpart, however... they bypass magical resistance.

You can also mimic the "Hellboy: the Golden Army", with self regenerating automata. They might not be very skilled, but they keep repairing themselves unless a deadly blow outright destroyed them. You can expand that to a form of ablative armor or shield: when the armor/shield is hit, it takes wound instead of the grog protecting it, pieces fall on the floor, exposing cogwheels and chains. Next round, tiny mechanical arms, chains and other contraption crawl back in place, ready to take another hit.
One round to heal a light wound, two for a Serious one, and so on. So unless the attackers are ganging up on one target to clear the armour and hit before the armor is sealed again, it is unwinnable. Up to you to decide how much wounds needs to be inflicted to the armour before it reaches the human body behind it.

+1 on DeficientIntellego's "active wall" suggestions. A few more:

  • hidden hatches near the base of the walls, that allow a mechanism to do any of several nasties to the bases of the ladders (and then retract again, before the soldiers have time to jam the mechanism)

  • automated version of the traditional medieval anti-ladder mechanism: a pole that just pushes the ladder away, further and further 'til the ladder overbalances and topples backwards. Equip the pole with a trident-on-steroids (hexadent?) or other multiple-stabby-bit (in case an actual PERSON is there), but one with an open/branched structure to catch any piec of ladder, to push on...

  • All sorts of mayhem can be installed on runners/tracks/etc to sweep mechanical mayhem across the top of the wall on a fixed path & schedule.

  • Randomly scattered across the face of the rock wall, there are actually movable blocks: they have massive hydraulic pistons behind them, and can be triggered to suddenly punch outward (hard enough to kill whoever's in front, push away (or just smash to smithereens) ladders, etc). The wall is subtly built so that the structure doesn't rely upon these blocks, and when retracted they are (except for where the piston attaches) flush against backup rocks, so unaffected by battering-rams / etc.

Some automated mayhem-makers:

  • scale-down a windmill & replace the vanes with battle-axes; an oversized shield protects all the wooden hafts. Ginormous buzz-saw! Up to you whether or not to allow the "inventor" to just replace blades/hafts with a big metal disk with blades along the circumference... personally, I prefer the less-modern / more bits&pieces-of-medievalism approach!

  • Also on the "circular" principle: DoubleDireFlail -- two 50-lb balls of steel, covered in spikes, attached on opposite sides of a pole by 5-foot-long rigid poles (nb knightly "jousting targets" were built along these lines). A more modern simile would be a dual-"tetherball," but with rigid connector instead of cord, because you'll be driving those ouchy-parts REALLY HARD!

Personally, I find the "chainsword" just breaks my suspension of disbelief too much: the "chainsaw" principle relies upon the material being cut being MUCH SOFTER than the blade (wood vs. modern steel). First chainmail'ed target you hit... sure, the target gets a nasty wound, but your sword is jammed (& likely broken) by all the bits of mail wedged into the links of your chainsword... :stuck_out_tongue: OTOH, if you expect unarmored (or only-leather) foes... yeah, you're serving a VERY bloody defeat to those poor saps...

In general, power-tool-vs-armor just isn't (IMHO) a winning bet. Even a diamond-tipped drill -- the power-tool best adapted for going through armor -- needs sustained heavy pressure to penetrate.

YMMobviouslyV !

If I'm being perfectly honest I wasn't a fan of the chain sword idea either, but we haven't had much luck thinking of other clockpunk melee weapons. Ranged ones, but no good ideas for melee. Oh, maybe a segmented hammer with a propulsion mechanism and springs? Like you swing it and it senses the moment before or the moment of contact with the target and shoots the facing part of the hammer towards them to amplify the momentum of the strike... Nah, that probably wouldn't fit paradigm physics... Hm.

Thanks much for all the ideas so far everyone!

Hrm... OK, how about:

  • spring-loaded spears -- Think underwater-speargun, sized up a bit. Internal trigger senses a sharp tip-first blow, and BAMgoes the spring, forcing the spearhead forward an extra foot.

  • Gear-headed hammer -- a big mechanism instead of a flat hammer-head; when it hits, it latches-on, and begins an inevitable clockwork grinding-closed motion as the gears mesh ever-tighter (with the weapon, shield, or limb caught inside them... eventually, breaking).

  • Ratcheting pick -- Looks like a normal pick, but has some sort of evident mechanical bit on the backside. When it penetrates armor, an edge swings out of the tip -- INSIDE the armor -- and begins ratcheting back toward the haft. This edge catches on the armor and pulls the entire pick-head deeper and deeper.

That's all off the top of my head. If I think of anything else, I'll add it. Let me know if any of these seem too out-of-paradigm for you, and if so "how"!

NEW DAY, NEW IDEA (actually, from late last night):

  • Not Your Grandma's Chainmail! - The "armor" here is really a layer of clockwork over the body, to move chains. The chains themselves are pretty heavyweight -- not "mail" but 5' lengths of heavyweight links, with moderate weights on the ends. The user actually wields the chains, aiming to whip them around the weapons/limbs of their foe. Entangle, and drop (add a mechanism on each chain so it grabs its tail-end). Every time the wearer of NYGC drops a chain, the clockwork feeds another one up the body and down the arm. Even if you don't do major damage to the foe, they end up so entangled and encumbered that they are easy pickings for your "ordinary" weapons, or those of your allies...

Cant go wrong with classics, spikes stabbing out, blades cutting through confined spaces, auto reloading arrow-shooters covering every possible route to the fortifications, extensive use of drawbridges combined with a multi-level defense in depth(and if control of lower levels can be denied an enemy, any defenses in them could keep enemies really on their toes there, rather than being able to focus on advancing on the next level).

Walls outer layer that can tip over and smash down(ooh squishy!), and then right themself back up again fast enough that they can´t be used by the enemy.
Hidden moats that can be near instantly filled at wish, and not necessarily with water...

Ground areas that if triggered throws everything on them several meters in the air(away from the walls), possibly into a pit with stakes, operated with springs, steam, gunpowder, weights and levers, anything that can provide lots of rapid pressure.

In anything tunnellike, you can have wall sections that move out to force zig-zag movement, with the wall sections there to really minimize line of sight between advancing attackers, with rapidly opening and closing pits in the floor, in pre-set sequences, so soldiers run forward, next time they turn around a corner whoever was ahead of him before the corner is gone, yet he never saw what happened or if the ones in front just got around the next corner already...
A long line of soldiers run in, noone comes out, and noone outside has any clue what happened.

Steeply sloped walls can on demand have their surfaces automatically coated with something slippery, causing anyone trying to go up, slide down, preferably into some nasty place.

Massed numbers of auto reloading ballista(firing maybe 1-3kg arrows, at potentially VERY long ranges) with a fixed number of positions for each, remotely controlled.

Have a well defined and sloped course for a giant ball of stone, with the end point in a deep part of a moat(to make it stop "nicely"), and a mechanism that picks it up from there and returns it to its starting point up high. Have a dozen or two balls at start, and let em roll whenever too many enemies are on its course.

The classic maze defense with moving walls is of course also an option.

Don´t worry about that, just about everything done in renaissance times were ideas or developed in or even before medieval times anyway.

A sword with a special front, when you hit something with it(or activate it manually), it ignites a cartridge with nasty burning stuff, then next time you swing it, reloads itself using the centrifugal force. Activate it while the sword is inside a wound and, ouchy, a bad wound changes to lethal and a light wound becomes crippling.

For the hammer, make it a thin springloaded spike instead and there´s no reason it shouldn´t work. First crushing impact, then the spike pokes forward with enough force to go through most armour and then retract again. Or you can make it so that the spike is pushed forward by the head of the hammer hitting something, using that force, or even a combination to make the force applied on the extreme side.

Any kind of swinging weapon, add a weight whose position along the length of the weapon can be controlled easily, so if you swing the weapon to attack, you have it as far forward as possible to maximize impact, then have it move close to your hold to allow it to be moved as quickly as possible.

Large clockwork ants, especially if you can somehow create a clockwork "queen" to partially automate the creation and/or control processes of the rank and file ants? They can mine for material (for more ants or other uses) and more space, potentially act offensively, maybe combine to form useful structures, etc.

Telescoping quarterstaffs that store small, and double as battering rams and wall vaulting devices? If they can add a spike to one end you add instant pikes/spears and such. If you can combine some more little tools in you get a Swiss army staff?

Some clockwork device that controls all those other clockwork devices listed in previous posts in various sequences with some variation of a punch card? You feed it into the control device and it activates what it's told to over the next x rounds in order.

Go! Aquarian!

if you go spider then you have dnds clockwork horrors!