Automaton, Trobriand's

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd EditionCampaign Setting Logo

Automaton, Trobriand's
Frequency:Very rareVery rareVery rare
Activity Cycle:AnyAnyAny
Intelligence:Semi- (2-4)Very (11-12)Non- (0)
No. Appearing:1-612-5
Armor Class:440
Hit Dice:5312
No. of Attacks:2 + special111
Special Attacks:Fire jetNilGas
Special Defenses:Immune to heat,
half damage
from edged weapons,
immune to mind control
Magic Resistance:10%40%25%
Size:M (5-7' long)S (2' long)H (15' long)
Morale:Fanatic (18)Fearless (19)Champion (15)
XP Value:1,4006409,000

In aspiring to make reliable and powerful artificial guardians, the mage Trobriand created a number of different prototypes and models over a number of years, all of which he abandoned with the creation of his scaladar. “Trobriand's automatons” generically refers to the multitude of mechanical creatures originally designed and created by the mage, but discarded. Three major types of Trobriand's automatons are currently functional: the ferragan, a workhorse and mechanic for other automatons; the silversann, the “brains” of the automatons and ersatz wizard; and the thanatar, quite literally the war machine. These three are the primary creatures currently in use. Trobriand created other automatons, but these tend to be little more than randomly constructed mobile scrap heaps used by others for spare parets.


Ferragans apear to be large, crablike creatures with six legs and two manipulative appendages. One of the appendages is a grasping arm with three large, strong fingers that look like a crab's claws. The other is a shaping arm similar to a large hammer or mallet with a large, rounded head for pounding. The small, flat head of this creature contains three eyes set forward in a triangular pattern, and a thin nozzle where the mouth would be on a living creature.

Ferragans are workhorses, their job being to repair other metal creatures and to make simple spare parts for them. They also seek out and store any and all raw materials that can be used for automaton assembly. When they find a source of metal (raw ore, a sword, or a suit of plate armor, for example), they attempt to collect it and bring it home for sorting and storage. They are intelligent enough to follow simple diretions and to learn that certain creatures or objects are not raw materials.

Combat: These constructs attack by grabbing victims with the pincer arm (for 1d3 points of damage) and battering them with the shaping arm (for 1d4+1 points of damage). An opponent can attempt a bend bars/lift gates roll every round to escape the pincer arm. If a target is grasped and successfully held by the pincer, the ferragan attacks with a +2 bonus with the shaping arm in subsequent rounds. Every other round, it can attack with a fire jet from the nozzle on its head. This is a narrow flame similar to a cutting torch, and can be used only against held targets for 2d6 points of damage. This can be used no more than six times a day.

Due to their function, all ferragans are immune to heat damage. Their metal construction results in half damage from edged or piercing weapons. They are immune to all mind controlling attacks as they don't have living minds.

Habitat/Society: When he originally created the ferragans, Trobriand felt that they could take over the manufacture of simple parts for him, freeing him to devote himself to more creative work. However, they were more trouble than they were worth, as they constantly took valuable metal objects (like iron bands of Bilaro) to use for spare material. Rather than improve their intelligence and repeat an earlier failure with the silversann (see below), Trobriand banished all of his ferragans, both working and broken-down models.

Ferragans are mechanics. They create spare parts for any automatons that have been damaged in accidents or battles, and gather raw materials. They do not attack new arrivals to take metal from them, but they defend themselves to the best of their abilities from persons who physically object to having their armor or weapons stolen. They stop fighting when they get the metal they seek, and scurry away to sort and store it for later use. Ferragans do obey the silversanns and carry out any commands to the best of their understanding (admittedly not very great, but they do their best). They can also send out alarm signals to the thanatars for aid in obtaining metals though the thanatars respond to the ferragans' signals only 50% of the time.

Ecology: Ferragans do not eat or drink, though their internal manufacturing processes leave many by-products in their habitats. Smoke and welding fumes are thick in the air around them, and living creatures engaging in strenuous activity (i.e., combat) around them must roll Constitution checks each round or suffer a penalty of -2 on all combat rolls and proficiency checks until they rest for 1 to 8 rounds. This effect ceases after leaving the ferragans' area. Like all of of Trobriand's automatons, ferragans must obey commands from Trobriand's Master Ring.


Silversanns look like mechanical silverfish with several fine manipulators attached to their bodies at the base of their heads, looking like elongated antennae. They are a flat black color rather than silver, and their black armor does not reflect light. While appearing delicate, the silversann are stronger than they look and can carry 100 to 150 pounds, or drag perhaps two to three times as much.

Silversanns were invented by Trobriand to seek out magic and machinery, ascertain items' functions, and return useful items to him. Despite their simple tasks and bodies suited for said tasks, the silversanns were one of Trobriand's most disappointing failures.

While they possessed the intelligence he had hoped for and the curiosity needed to seek out new items, they also retained quite a bit of free-will and stubbornness within their artificial intellects. This created disturbing tendencies in them to keep objects they found for study and use rather than giving them to Trobriand after discerning their function. They also could lose track of their missions when something piqued their wide-ranging curiosities. While several are still in his service, most of the silversanns were discarded after failing to respond to Trobriand in an sppropriate manner.

Combat: Silversanns are not suited for combat and often flee such situations if given the opportunity to do so. They seldom confront anyone not known to them except when supported by thanatar units. If forced into combat, they strike with their manipulator-tentacles, using them like whips (1-2 points of damage). They are intelligent enough to strike at vulnerable areas, such as eyes, and have a 20% chance with each successful hit to blind an opponent. This is only possible if their opponent's eyes are within their limited reach.

If physically threatened or pressured, the silversanns can “mentally” command any of Trobriand's automatons within 100 feet. This is their primal form of defense, using the ferragans and the thanatars as their enforcers. Under their control, any of Trobriand's automatons will sacrifice itself to protect the silversanns. Any of Trobriand's automatons that are somehow made to attack the silversanns will immediately deactivate for 1-12 rounds upon contact with their commanding silversann. The only mechanical automaton that is immune to their control is Squch, the enhanced scaladar.

Habitat/Society: Silversanns are solitary creatures. They have the ability to detect magic, as befits their task of finding and discerning magical items. They can also duplicate the abilities of a wand of metal and mineral detection, allowing them to detect concentrations of metals and use their intelligence to deternine whether it is useful for their master or not. Both of these abilities operate at all times.

Silversanns exist only for the acquisition of knowledge and will go to great lengths to investigate a new fact. Whenever two or more silversanns meet, they spend one turn exchangng any new discoveries they have made. After this exchange of information, they go their separate ways. Under normal circumtances, this is the only “social” contact they have.

The silversanns rebuild ferragans and thanatars to fulfill their impulse for investigating and fixing mechanisms. If confined to an area, silversanns may become frustrated at their inability to explore and turn to independent research as a way to maintain their function of “seeking magic”. Some may try to recreate themselves with more intelligence in the hopes of creating a magic-using silversann. They hope that a wizard machine can manipulate magical portals, allowing them to explore even more freely.

To this end, they may well question adventurers, trying to find out what quality controls the ability to manipulate magic. They have been unsuccessful so far and may resort to the disiection of magical items (and mages!) to see if there is some internal mechanism or organ that governs this ability. They hope that, if such a thing is discovered, they can duplicate it within their own structures.

Silversanns have the ability to control other types of Trobriand's automatons similar to that granted by a ring of Trobriand. Mechanisms similar to said rings are embedded within their heads, though it would take a character with an Intelligence of 18 and a full knowledge of clockworks to find one. They are unique among Trobriand's creations in that they can sometimes resist such rings themselves. This chance is 50% for the normal rings and 15% for Trobriand's Master Ring. So far, the only silversanns that have resisted the Master Ring have been discarded.

Ecology: Silversanns have little or no effect on their immediate environment. They are not inherently destructive like thanatars or ferragans, and are interested only in seeking new knowledge of a mechanical or magical nature. Any encountered silversann is 35% likely to be carrying a random magical item that it is experimenting with or studying (or returning to Trobriand). Silversanns can function in any normal environment and are small and agile enough to climb stairs and rock piles, as well as being able to function underwater for limited periods of time.


The thanatar is one of Trobriand's attempts to improve a mechanical guardian called the scaladar. Resembling a scaladar in shape (a large metallic scorpion), the thanatar is not meant to be used as a security force, but as a powerful weapon of war. A thanatar has two huge front pincers and a heavy dudgeon on the tail in place of a stinger. It also has a large, wide nozzle for emitting gas at the front of its haad between decorative metal mandibles.

Combat: A thanatar, like a scaladar, has no intelligence but is aware enough to carry out fairly complex orders in combat. It can also improvise if necessary. It attacks with the large tail bludgeon (1d12 points of damage) and two large pincers (1d20 points of crushing damage each). An opponent hit with a pincer can try to escape with a bend bars/lift gates roll. Failure means the creature is subject to automatic damage each round and cannot escape until otherwise freed. If both pincers hit, the thanatar can hold an opponent and project a sleep gas from the nozzle on its head (save vs. poison or fall unconscious for 2-8 hours).

Thanatars are immune to nonmagical edged weapons, and they suffer only half damage from nonmagical blunt and magical edged weapons. They are immune to acid damage and take half damage from fire or heat based attacks. They are immune to mind controlling attacks, being of artificial construction, and are likewise immune to illusions.

Though they have no innate intelligence, thanatars are built and programmed with a basic knowledge of tactics and strategy. They will coordinate their attacks to the best effect and will often cooperate to eliminate the most dangerous opponents before pursuing or attacking less powerful ones. They are also cognizant enough to recognize when they are outmatched and to retreat for new instructions from their commander, or to regroup and attack under more advantageous circumstances. They are not afraid to sacrifice themselves to carry out their orders, but they will not destroy themselves foolishly unless actively under orders from Trobriand's Master Ring.

Habitat/Society: Thanatars form no natural social groupings, being little more than automated war machines, but they will naturally cooperate when several of them are working together. They do not operate with any one thanatar in command unless commanded to do so, but tend to respond to their orders with a group mentality, all thanatars within a group acting on one impulse and one objective. Thanatars do not fight each other unless actively given conflicting orders, like “Protect the mage at all costs!” and “Kill that mage!” If two or more thanatars within a group are given conflicting orders, they will always see the other thanatars as the greatest threat, and they will attack each other until only one is left functioning.

In some areas, thanatars act as the guards and respond to commands from silversanns and ferragans, though their responses to ferragans are limited. They are called upon when any other units encounter intruders that they cannot handle alone. Most often, this entails confronting parties of adventurers who are reluctant to give up their metal and magical items. More rarely, they are also called upon to control or subdue newly rejected experimental automatons until they can be assimilated into the community.

Thanatars are subject to orders from the enhanced scaladar and the silversanns, actively pursuing their tasks as assigned, except when imperative distress calls from other units interrupt them. If they are currently performing a noncombat task, they are 20% more likely to respond to an alarm for combat (boosting the response to ferragan alarms to 70%). The thanatars are, of course, subject to control by Trobriand's Master Ring.

Ecology: Since few thanatars have as yet been let loose on the outside world, there is no data available on their effect on a natural ecology. However, it is certain that a large force of thanatars on the move could have a devastating effect on their surroundings if not ordered to restrict the damage to a particular area.

Trobriand's Minor Automatons

These are the multitude of unique rejects and failures that Trobriand has discarded. Unlike the other specialized types of creations here, few of these automatons were functional when dumped. Most abandoned automatons are scavenged by ferragans as scrap metal, though some maintain minimal mobility and function. These creatures were then “fixed” by the ferragans (or by the silversanns' experiments) and now are significantly altered from any one particular form.

These minor automatons have a multitude of differing shapes, sizes, and capabilities. Given Trobriand's affection for scorpions and other creatures of that type, that is the primary shape found, though it is often altered and mixed (a metal scorpion with a claw on its tail, a lobster-like automaton with tentacles instead of claws, etc.) Despite the preponderance of this phenotype, Trobriand's automatons span the range of animals and beyond, producing remarkable metallic representations of nearly any monster or animal known.

Such automatons can have a wide number of variations across a wide number of characteristics. When a DM wishes to create a new minor automaton, always keep in mind that the automatons were rejected, abandoned, or damaged and their quirky construction should reflect that. The checklist given can help DMs determine the general physical characteristics of a minor automaton.

  • Size: 1-20 feet in overall length or diameter
  • Intelligence: Non- (0) to Semi (2-4)
  • Hit Dice: 1-8
  • Body Type: Scorpion, crab, silverfish, spider, lobster; any other legged monster or animal
  • Appendages/Limbs: 2-8;
  • Forms: pincers. claws, hooks, tentacles, clubs, whips, blades, etc.
  • Resistances: All are immune to mental control spells and illusions due to their artificial construction (unless DMs wish to create a new artificial sentient). Standards are ½ damage from fire, acid, edged weapons, and cold. Specials include magic missile or electrical absorption and healing or magic resistance of 5-75% effectiveness
  • Disadvantages: Double damage from specific attacks (like acid), limited sensors (infravision only, sonar only, malfunctioning eyes), cracked or missing armor, or mobility problems (broken limbs, rusting etc.)

Automatons are usually assigned duties usually having nothing to do with player character interaction and, as such, will only attack it prevented from performing their function or in self-defense. The primary automatons encountered, other than the ferragans, scaladar, silversanns, and thanatars, are minor automatons, which are all assigned the task of drilling passageways for the silversanns.

Habitat/Society: These creatures are rarely found outside of Trobriand's vicinity; more specifically, they are only found within one of Trobriand's workshop or in a dumping ground for failed machines.

Minor automatons are at the bottom of the social ladder. They are given tasks such as hauling waste from ferragan working areas or mining to expand the dwelling areas and to search for raw materials. Digging causes a great deal of wear and tear on the machines and this causes the ferragans to frequently have to replace limbs on the minor automatons. The strain of trying to operate with a body that no longer meets its original specifications causes many a minor automaton to go berserk. When this happens, the thanatars destroy the offending machine and its components are melted down by the ferragans and completely reworked into new parts.

Silversanns often commandeer the minor automatons for their experiments into expanded intelligence. As most of the internal mechanisms for their artificial intelligences are located in their heads, early subjects were simply decapitated and their heads were replaced with other, larger heads. The subjects of these experiments were seldom good for anything but spare parts after this. A rare few, however, do survive the experiments and show some improvements in mental capacity. The silversanns have not yet learned anything of real value.

Automatons can be a source of information for adventurers. Since they usually have no orders concerning outsiders, they will speak with them if it does not interfere with their jobs. Strangely enough, the minor automatons tend to form real societies over time. They help each other whenever doing so Aoes not interfere with their individual tasks at hand. They ilso exchange information on a regular basis and know more ibout what is going on with the various parts of their area &an do the other units. This is the only advantage they have in their struggle to avoid the scrap heap.

Ecology: Minor automatons do not eat and drink. They have little or no direct effect on their environment other than such tasks as mining. They do remove raw materials from the surrounding stone, but not in a random or destructive manner.

Rings of Trobriand

These magical rings are the creation of Trobriand, creator of various mechanical monsters. The rings allow mental contact and command of any of Trobriand's automatons, including ferragans, scaladars, silversanns, and thanatars, within 100 feet. The rings of Trobriand also protect the wearer from attacks; the ring shuts down any automaton for 1d12 turns upon contact with the wearer.

The only exceptions to these effects are those automatons under the command of Trobriand's Master Ring. Trobriand's ring can override any other ring-wearer's orders and issue new commands to automatons from a distance of 500 feet. The Master Ring temporarily locks out all other orders as the automatons pursue the objectives given by Trobriand and also cancels out the shut-down effects of the other minor rings. Trobriand has eliminated many hated ex-apprentices and rivals in this manner, lulling them into overconfidence and then attacking them with their own automaton forces.