Beret quickly hobbled down the pebbled path, unwilling to stop and look back for even a moment. Behind him, and behind the closed iron doors to his toy forge, he heard a cacophony of whirring, whining, and grinding, the sounds of the Reapervast. His finest creation was thinking for itself now, and it was not pleased. So he hurried on.
In the stables he found several harvester engines loading a wagon for the mill house. “Stop your work,” Beret commanded. “Come and stand ready.”
A small pendant hanging from his neck glowed briefly with each command. The engines dropped their work and lumbered over to Beret. They stood erect and motionless, waiting for his next command. Beret wondered what, if any, spark of life might be present in them. Had the Clockwork Creep infected them as well? He hoped not.
“Follow me,” he commanded. When Beret walked towards his horseless wagon, the harvengines followed.
He climbed aboard among the boxes of children’s toys in the wagon’s bed, “Two crates of Tinglefoot Cubes left!” he squeaked. “Perhaps a few more souls is just the fix for this mess.” He sat down on the wagon’s front bench and took hold of a curiously small wheel set at the end of a long pole. “So many years of hard work ruined!” The two harvesters, motionless beside the wagon, were his only audience.
He looked up the hill at the hidden entrance to his forge and wondered if the Reapervast would still be there when he returned. Only time would tell.
Beret Tinglefoot is a tinkerer, clockmaker, and minor wizard whose obsession with building toys for children has taken him down a dark road. For years, villagers and townsfolk throughout the country thought of him as a harmless traveling old gnome selling small toys to youngsters everywhere. His arrival in town was always met with a small amount of fanfare and celebration. Children loved his creations, and his toys were sturdy enough to withstand years of play and abuse. Not once did anyone suspect Beret’s true nature; at least, not until the clockwork creep appeared wherever he traveled, and spread through the community like a plague after he left.
Beret is now feared and despised. As a merchant he is quickly driven out of any town where his reputation becomes known. After his toys were linked with the deaths of several noble children, the authorities barred him from entering most large cities and issued warnings against the purchase or sale of his toys. Today, Beret travels far and wide looking for new customers: children whose souls he harvests for his work.
This wretched end started decades ago, when an accident in his toy forge led Beret to discover the trigger for clockwork creep. This magical disease draws the life out of its victims, turning them into clockwork abominations.
Though the clockwork creep was Beret’s first discovery, it was by no means his crowning achievement: that honor belongs to the Tinglefoot Cube. By fusing gnomish tinkerological science with arcane rituals, Beret developed the first Tinglefoot Cube. While clockwork creep alters the body, the Cube harvests the souls of those who fall victim to the disease.
His designs worked, and he has since improved them and distributed dozens of these small, sinister puzzles. The Tinglefoot Cubes vanish after their trap is sprung, and reappear in Beret’s hands. He infuses their captured souls into his clockwork creations to give them their own spark of life.
Beret delights in building soul-powered companions and clockwork servants to support his work. Two years ago, he created the first harvester engine: a hulking automaton of steel, steam, and wood. The first proved so reliable and so loyal that many more followed.
The engine’s spark of life took only a fragment of a child’s soul; it lacked a soul of its own. Thus, they never became true companions; merely servants. Beret has since looked further into the dark arts and created something unique — the Reapervast.
The Reapervast is the result of the collective force of 10 souls fused into one. It is a thinking, living machine that built as a life-long companion that would continue Beret’s work even after his inevitable death. But something went wrong. The final fusion of living souls with steam and steel corrupted his Reapervast’s brass heart. An angry typhoon of hate and despair, the Reapervast sees Beret as weak and undeserving of its gratitude or companionship.
Beret Tinglefoot created a monster that was, indeed, more powerful than himself. So he fled his toy forge with what few automatons remained and sought a way to destroy the Reapervast.
Beret Tinglefoot is now a homeless, traveling tinker peddling small trinkets and gadgets. He travels about in his horseless wagon, and he is sometimes spotted with two harvester engines trailing along obediently behind him (he keeps them out of sight in more civilized regions). Though he was driven out of his lair, Beret still obsesses about making “a perfect toy” and is always seeking new mechanical innovations or supernatural oddities. He is desperate to regain control over his toy forge and destroy the Reapervast by any means available. Unfortunately for Beret, there aren’t many means available to homeless tinkers.
Beret believes there are three possible ways to destroy the Reapervast. Each could serve as an adventure hook in an existing campaign.
Mechanical Assassinations: With a sizable cache of wealth hidden away in the mountains, Beret is willing and able to reward a group of adventurers for the creature’s destruction. As proof they would need to bring back the Reapervast’s brass heart, and payment would be no less than 2,000 gp and pair of minor magical items from Beret’s own collection. Beret would not personally help in this endeavor, since he prefers to remain out of sight. Thus far, all adventurers who have attempted this have died.
Raising The Children: Another means of destroying the Reapervast would be to find the clockwork remains of the children whose souls were infused into its brass heart. Beret knows their names, but not where they lived. If their remains were found and raised them from the dead, their souls would be stripped from the Reapervast and restored to the child’s clockwork body. The Reapervast would gradually lose its source of power. Once all the souls were restored, simply stop functioning. Despised by society, Beret has no means to carry out such a plan himself. However, he would gladly reward anyone else willing to undertake the chore.
Collecting the Souls: A few of Beret’s Tinglefoot Cubes are still in circulation. Nonetheless, within his stolen forge is a soul well: a huge brass tank that collects trapped souls in the physical world and prevents their progression to an afterlife. Each of his clockwork automatons has a smaller soul well that serves as its source of power. The harvester engines, for example, have tiny soul well that are capable of only holding a soul’s fragment. The Reapervast has a much larger soul well capable of holding dozens of souls.
Beret has made small modifications to what few cubes he still holds, and he plans to distribute them at the next Midwinter Festival. These new cubes look distinct and do not bear any marks of Beret’s forge. His plan is to sell these cubes to someone with a pure heart, and to trap their soul within it. He will then return to his toy forge and attempt to transduce these pure souls into the heart of the Reapervast. He hopes a fresh infusion of souls from pure hearted men, women and children will cleanse the Reapervast’s corrupted heart.
Beret Tinglefoot Level 14 Solo Controller (Leader)
Small natural humanoid (gnome) XP 5,000
Initiative +10 Senses Perception +17; low-light vision
Static Cloud aura 5; clockwork allies of Beret Tinglefoot gain his resistances.
HP 548; Bloodied 274
AC 29; Fortitude 25; Reflex 30; Will 29
Resist 10 Acid, 10 Cold
Saving Throws +5
Action Points 2
m Clockwork Cudgel (standard; at-will) • Weapon
+19 vs. AC; 2d8 + 6 damage.
r Static Arc (minor; at-will) • Lightning, Implement
Ranged 5; +19 vs. AC; 2d8 + 6 lighting damage.
R Static Force (standard; recharge 5) • Weapon, Arcane, Force
Ranged 5; +18 vs. Fortitude; 4d8 + 6 force damage and the target is pushed 2 squares. Until the end of Beret Tinglefoot’s next turn, whenever any clockwork ally hits the target with a melee attack, that ally pushes the target 1 square.
R Clock’N The Box (standard; recharge 5) • Arcane, Implement, Summoning
Ranged 5; Beret Tinglefoot releases a Clockwork Attendant that serves as an ally until destroyed or until the end of the encounter.
C Tesla Blast (standard; daily) • Lightning, Thunder, Implement
Close blast 5; +18 vs. Reflex; 3d6 + 6 lighting damage plus 1d6 + 6 thunder damage, and the target is knocked prone.
C Don’t Talk to Strangers (standard; daily) • Implement, Charm
Close burst 1; +18 vs. Will; Beret Tinglefoot can not be targeted by any attacks by the target until the end of his next turn.
Formula of Resistance (minor; encounter) • Implement, Arcane
Beret Tinglefoot gains a +1 bonus to all defenses until the end of the encounter. As a free action, he may end this effect and immediately gain 150 temporary hp.
Soul Recapture (immediate reaction, when a clockwork ally within 10 squares is reduced to 0 hp; at-will) • Psychic, Arcane
Beret Tinglefoot gains 25 hp. He must be carrying at least one Tinglefoot Cube or the effect fails.
Fade Away (immediate reaction, when Beret Tinglefoot takes damage; encounter) • Illusion
Beret Tinglefoot turns invisible until he attacks or until the end of his next turn.
Alignment Evil Languages Common, Deep Speech
Str 17 (+10) Dex 17 (+10) Wis 20 (+12)
Con 17 (+10) Int 23 (+13) Cha 20 (+12)
Equipment wand, clockwork cudgel
Beret Tinglefoot avoids melee combat, prefering that his Clockwork Attendants or Harvester Engines do his dirty work. He activates his Formula of Resistance at the beginning of combat, then summons a Clockwork Attendant from his Clock’N A Box.
He then moves behind his allies and deploys Static Arc against other ranged spell casters, while saving Static Force for melee opponents who reach him. Beret’s favorite tactic is to save his action point to use Tesla Blast and Don’t Talk to Strangers together to ensure a safe retreat if he feels seriously threatened.
Clockwork Attendant Level 13 Minion Brute
Medium aberrant animate (clockwork) XP 200
Initiative +10 Senses Perception +5; low-light vision
HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion.
AC 25; Fortitude 27; Reflex 25; Will 24
m Crushing Piston (standard; at-will) • Weapon
+16 vs. AC; 8 damage, and the target is stunned (save ends).
R Hail of Nails (standard; at-will) • Weapon
Ranged 10; +14 vs. Reflex; 6 damage.
Alignment Unaligned Languages —
Str 22 (+12) Dex 19 (+10) Wis 8 (+5)
Con 18 (+10) Int 2 (+2) Cha 16 (+9)
The clockwork attendants always act to defend their creator, and they engage enemies threatening their creator with melee attacks first.
In addition, clockwork attendants never stray more than 3 squares from their creator. They launch their Hail of Nails against distant opponents who refuse to come closer.
TINGLEFOOT’S MAGNIFICENT WHEELHORSE
Tinglefoot’s Magnificent Wheelhorse resembles a very large horse-drawn cargo wagon, but in the place of horses are a complex jumble of levers, gears, switches and wheels, all within arms reach of anyone sitting in the front most bench. The wagon’s method of propulsion, according to Beret Tinglefoot, a family secret.
Tinglefoot’s Magnificent Wheelhorse
HP 250 Space 2 squares by 3 squares Cost n/a (unique)
AC 8; Fortitude 16, Reflex 4
Speed 6, swim 2
The driver must sit in the foremost bench to properly reach all the levers and switches which control Tinglefoot’s Magnificent Wheelhorse. Both hands and feet of the driver are fully occupied while in motion.
Tinglefoot’s Magnificent Wheelhorse can be prepared for underwater travel with 20 minutes of adjustments. Once readied, it can sustain up to 8 medium creatures inside the sealed, watertight carriage box for up to 6 hours. A small hose and facemask attached to the carriage box provide the driver with a source of air.
Two Medium creatures can sit on the front bench (one of which is the driver). Two additional medium creatures may sit on the top bench above the carriage box. The carriage box can hold up to 8 medium creatures or 6 tons of cargo.
Out of Control
If Tinglefoot’s Magnificent Wheelhorse goes out of control, it drives on its own, following a reasonable course until it hits an impassable object. This behavior is by design, and is the main reason Beret Tinglefoot can travel while sleeping.
Riders on the front or top benches do not have any cover. Riders inside the carriage box have superior cover.
On a successful Streetwise check, the PCs may learn the following information:
DC 15: Beret Tinglefoot is a mad tinkerer who kidnaps children and uses them for horrible experiments. The king of a neighboring land lost his youngest son to a Tinglefoot Cube and has been offering a reward for Beret’s head ever since.
DC 20: Beret has a secret laboratory high up along the mountainous frontier.
DC 25: Clockwork abominations have been roaming the countryside; they bear the markings of the Tinglefoot forge. They roam about aimlessly looking for vengeance on anything that crosses their path and have been reported to mutter curses about Beret himself. This suggests that Beret has abandoned his lab, leaving it open to be plundered by the first brave souls willing to find it.
This the first installment of a series of articles by the collaborative designers at Nevermet Press. Did you like it? What else would you like to see from them? Let us know in comments!
Art by Matt Lichtenwalner