Monday, May 2, 2011

Engineer Race

When the Inundation began to flood the caverns of the Underdark and all the races of stone were doomed, the dwarves and gnomes hatched a desperate plan. Combining the metalworking skill of the dwarves with the gnomes’ talents with complex machinery, the two races collaborated to build a fleet of metal submarines before the waters engulfed the world.

Ever since then, the two races have lived in these claustrophobic submarine vessels, as well as a handful of dank cavern cities inside undersea mountains, building and breeding until the two races merged into one. Occasionally there are throwbacks to one race or the other, but for the most part the race has settled into a stable form.

When the Subsidence came, the engineers found some of their claimed territory was now above the waves. Unlike the purely aquatic races, the engineers immediately claimed this land, calling it the Surface Holdings.

Personality: Engineers love to tinker and build above all else. This is important, because only their machines separate them from drowning or starvation.

Physical Description: Because bulk is a detriment in the narrow corridors and claustrophobic spaces of their submarines, engineers look more like gnomes than like dwarves, standing about 3 to 3-1/2 feet tall and weighing 40 to 45 pounds. Centuries of the murky depths of the ocean have paled the skin of the engineers, so their darkest skin tone is about the same as an average human. Their hair can be any shade from fair to black, and their eyes tend towards dark blue. They reach adulthood at the age of 40, and live to an average lifespan of 350, although some can live as long as 500 years. Males are slightly larger than females, and tend to prefer carefully-trimmed yet elaborately styled beards. Female engineers do not have facial hair.

Relations: Engineers tend to keep to themselves. They occasionally trade with humans and elves on the surface and with merfolk, tritons, and locathah in the sea, but they tend to avoid sahuagin and kuo-toa, who in turn are generally content to let the heavily-armored engineer submarines go unmolested.
The engineers have been officially in a state of war against Gus ever since an incident in the Chaotic Plane of Air 20 years ago.
The engineers tend to look on seaforged as property, which has occasionally caused resentment and rebellion among the less well-programmed seaforged, but society is usually stable between the two groups.

Alignment: Engineers tend towards lawful neutral. The small spaces of the submarines require strict adherence to law and social mores, and the dangerous waters of the murky deep leave little room for moral considerations.

Religion: Engineers ostensibly worship both Moradin and Garl Glittergold, as well as the lesser dwarf and gnome deities, but as both of these deities dwell in the distant elemental plane of Earth, their powers are feeble in the mortal realm. As such, most engineers are largely non-religious. Those few Engineer clerics who exist worship the concept of machines as often as they worship any god, and often take the Mechanus domain.

Language: The engineer language is a creole language combining dwarven, gnomish, and common. The word in this language that refers to both the engineers as a race and to the language itself is “dinlun”.

Names: Engineers have the gnomish predilection for multiple names, but these names are often traditional, passed down and reused through the generations. Often, two or more names will be combined, honoring two or more relatives, and of course combining gnomish and dwarven syllables in the manner of the dinlun language. An engineer’s clan name is usually either a traditional dwarf or gnome clan name. Nicknames are unique to each individual, and often prosaically descriptive. Each engineer will also identify himself with the submarine or city he is currently or was most recently affiliated with, which can change – there is extensive swapping and breeding between submarine crews, to stave off inbreeding.

Example Male Names: Boddyndd, Barenock, Broble, Dimttor, Ekin, Einble, Fonsark, Gimkil, Glim, Gerkar, Jeberik, Ruddo, Osbo, Narnlinn, Roondek, Seebon, Takfoodle, Tordar, Traubo, Ulfberk, Veit, Zook.

Example Female Names: Arnottin, Audmip, Blimpgga, Caral, Dagmil, Diewick, Duvarasa, Ellyde, Ellyin, Gunnjobell, Hlmottin, Ilnab, Liftwyn, Looploda, Mardsa, Roynal, Sannmil, Shahild, Tor, Waytin.

Example Clan Names: Balderk, Beren, Dankil, Daergel, Folkor, Garrick, Gorunn, Holderhek, Lodert, Lutgehr, Murnig, Nackle, Ningel, Raulnor, Rumnaheim, Scheppen, Strakeln, Torunn, Turen, Ungart.

Example Nicknames: Alespiller, Chickens, Deftfinger, Doc, Greataxe, Happy, Limper, Patchbeard, Purplethumb, Sleepy, Turtle, Yeller.

Example Ship Names: Alseg, Anpin, Arlydd, Baloaen, Baridin, Delgaer, Dolgal, Duerlond, Dwolun, Fallias, Glanydd, Gloriarum, Kilfaer, Marwed, Moribar, Nalarn, Norawynn, Ovuran, Thoraim, Thrawann, Werabere, Whureaus.
Politics: Engineer society runs like a well-oiled machine. Each engineer submarine and settlement answers to the rulership in Garzak, a council of learned elders.

Garzak: In the deep of the ocean’s floor, there is rumoured to be an engineer city built inside a submerged mountain, known as the First Anvil. A sophisticated ventilation system, possibly involving an actual portal to the Plane of Air, keeps all the inhabitants breathing. There are great dry docks where submarines are built and refit, and massive forges where the ore gathered by the submarines is refined and processed. Few other than engineers have ever visited.
Surface Holdings: The engineers have largely exploited their surface empire by setting up massive, polluting factories that are unfeasible in the tight confines of their submarines and undersea cities, where clean air is a precious resource. The continent is managed in Garzak’s name by Ulfdek “Silver” Valmikk.


To come up with racial traits for the engineers, I chopped most of the numbers for each race in half, then added them together.

Ability score adjustments can't be anything other than multiples of 2. Gnomes and Dwarves both have +2 Con, so that's a gimme. Dwarves have -2 Charisma, gnomes have -2 Strength. Rather than choosing between the two, let's give engineers both, and make up for it with a +2 Int to represent the cleverness that engineer society values.

Dwarves, though Medium, are on the Small end of Medium, so crossing them with a Small race will result in a Small race:

Gnomes and dwarves are both humanoid, so that's easy. The rules on what subtypes a half-creature inherits are ill-defined. It seems half-elves have the (Elf) subtype and half-orcs have the (Orc) subtype, but the only subtype the mongrelfolk have is (Human), when by rights they should have all of them. Because the existing rules make no sense or are nonexistent, let's sweep them aside and say that engineers have the (Gnome) and (Dwarf) subtypes.

Gnomes and dwarves both have a land speed of 20. Easy.

Dwarves have darkvision 60, gnomes have low-light vision. Low-light vision is better than darkvision 0 (which would be no darkvision at all). It's probably not technically as good as darkvision 10, but let's use that for lack of better alternatives. (60+10)/2=35. That should at least be a multiple of 10; a multiple of 20 would be better. In D&D, you Always Round Down, but 30 is half of 60, which would be what you get when you breed a darkvision 60 race with a darkvision 0 race, and we already determined the gnomes have better than darkvision 0. So let's round up to 40.

Engineers can have all the weapon familiarities either of their parent races have, because those proficiencies are cultural rather than genetic, and we can assume the two races kept up the use of their racial weapons even as they merged.

Dwarves get stability +4, gnomes get nothing of the sort. Because this is not a very powerful ability, there are a couple +1 bonuses that just drop out of the combined race entirely, and engineers spend their lives on rolling submarines, I judged that engineers should get stability +3.

Dwarves get +2 on saves against poison, spells, and spell-like effects. Gnomes get +2 on saves against illusions. But anything pertaining to illusions is largely cultural, and I don't figure the engineers stuck with that particular cultural trait. So chop the dwarf saves in half and give them to the engineers.

Dwarves and gnomes get various bonuses against kobolds, goblinoids, orcs, and giants. But these are cultural techniques, which the engineers would have no reason to continue teaching, because kobolds, goblinoids, orcs, and giants are all virtually extinct.

Gnomes get a +2 bonus to listen checks, which I dropped because I didn't want to clutter up the engineer with too many +1s.

Gnomes get a bonus to alchemy due to their sensitive noses. Dwarves get a culture-related bonus to appraise and craft dealing with metal or stone. Engineers rarely deal with stone; their schtick is complex machinery. So let's call this a flat +2 to craft and appraise dealing with complex machinery, fine metalwork, and alchemy.

Gnomes can speak with burrowing mammals. Even if they retain this ability genetically, how would they know? Most of them are never going to meet a burrowing mammal in their life. So let's drop that out.

Engineers can, of course, speak their native tongue, Dinlun, a creole of dwarvish and gnomish. They can also speak Common, because everybody can speak Common. They might also learn dwarvish and gnomish, though they don't by default. Aquan is a bonus language for everybody now, it is to the sea races what Common is to the surface races and Undercommon is to the Underdark races. The engineers are unlikely to learn dead languages like orcish and giant, so in addition to Aquan, let's give the engineers as bonus languages everything their parent races have that isn't a dead language.

The engineer's schtick is steampunkery, and the most steampunky class is the Artificer, so that's their Favored Class.

And, of course, level adjustment remains the same.

So, the final product:

Engineer Racial Traits
+2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma: Engineers have the small size and attendant weakness of gnomes and the gruffness of dwarves, but they are tough like both races, and tend to be cleverer than either.

Small: As a Small creature, an engineer gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but he uses smaller weapons than humans use, and his lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters those of a Medium character.

Type: Humanoid. Engineers have the Dwarf and Gnome subtypes, and as such qualify for any feats, classes, and other options that dwarves or gnomes qualify for.

Engineer base land speed is 20 feet.

Darkvision: Engineers can see in the dark up to 40 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight and engineers can function just fine with no light at all.

Weapon Familiarity: Engineers may treat dwarven waraxes, dwarven urgroshes, and gnome hooked hammers as martial weapons, rather than exotic weapons.

Stability: Engineers are exceptionally stable on their feet. An engineer gains a +3 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).

+1 racial bonus on saving throws against spells, spell-like effects, and poison. Engineers are hardy and resistant to toxins, and have an innate resistance to magic spells.

+2 racial bonus on Use Magic Device checks. Engineers are familiar with magical items of all kinds.

+2 racial bonus to Craft and Appraise checks pertaining to complex machinery, fine metalwork, or alchemy. Engineers are especially capable in these areas.

Automatic Languages: Common and Dinlun. Bonus languages: dwarven, gnome, aquan, terran, undercommon, draconic, elven. Engineers learn the languages of their ancestors and their allies and enemies under the sea and on the surface.

Favored Class: Artificer (from the Eberron Campaign Setting). A multiclass engineer’s artificer class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

Level Adjustment +0.


In addition to dwarf-only and gnome-only feats, engineers also qualify for two engineer-only feats:

Enginesoul [Racial]
You have spent so much time in the engine rooms of submarines that repairing them is second nature to you.
Prerequisite: Engineer race
Benefit: An innate talent for magic grants you the following spell-like abilities as a 1st-level caster: 1/day – mending, repair minor damage, repair light damage.
Special: You may select this feat multiple times. Each time you do, you may use each spell-like ability one additional time per day.

Grounded [Racial]
Due to their dwarf heritage, engineers have a natural resistance to spells and spell-like abilities, as indicated by their racial bonus to saves. Occasionally, some fluke of engineer genetics causes this magic resistance to be more powerful than usual.
Prerequisite: Engineer race, base Fortitude save +5
Benefit: You gain spell resistance equal to 5 + your total hit dice.
If you already have spell resistance from some other source, your existing spell resistance increases by +2.


I'm sure some of you are saying right now, "But Ludus Carcerum, don't all the objections you made to the standard mongrelfolk also apply to the engineers? Not particularly powerful, not particularly interesting?" Well... yes, I suppose so. They do get the nice (and rare at LA+0) +2 to Intelligence, and they do qualify for anything a gnome or dwarf qualifies for, and they do have steampunk built into their race in a way that gnomes and dwarves do not (with the possible exception of tinker gnomes). They also make good wizards, for the obvious +2 Int reasons, as well as the +2 Con and +1 AC that will make them marginally less squishy than your standard wizard (even better than gray elves, who pair a +2 Int and +2 Dex with a -2 Con), but "they make good wizards" shouldn't be considered a positive trait - wizards don't need any more power.

But the steampunk bit is probably best. If you want to play a steampunk character, you should play an engineer, hands down. Maybe we should consider also allowing them to qualify for the Graft Flesh (Maug) feat or something like it, just to play that up even more.

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