One possible Infernal Machine

I participated in Scott Taylor’s Folio 1E relaunch Kickstarter, and got my hardcopy of the module in the mail a few weeks ago. It’s a nice piece of kit – you can read a more thorough review here. But it didn’t fit into my Dinosaur Island campaign so I handed it off to London. We just finished it, after about a week of playing for an hour or so in the evenings. We’ve also backed the Folio #2 module, which runs for about 2 more weeks – you can still get the first module as part of a higher-level reward package.

One of the things in the dungeon that is deliberately left up to the dungeonmaster is the location and nature of the Infernal Machine, a mysterious device that is apparently responsible for all the monsters infesting the dungeon below Roslof Keep. London was stuck for ideas so we divvied it up this way: I’d write the rules for the Infernal Machine, he’d decide where in the dungeon it would be located. Here’s what I came up with:

Infernal machine

The Infernal Machine

A crystal-powered steampunk device about the size of a phone booth. Covered in gears, levers, capacitors, tubes, bellows, wires, flywheels, and less identifiable bits. Upon close inspection some of the components seem to be biological in nature, and others give the viewer the vertiginous suggestion of landforms viewed from a great height. The machine has been running at some low background rate for weeks or years or maybe forever, pulling monsters from across the world (or multiverse) and depositing them randomly around the dungeon. Once the PCs enter the chamber it cranks into high gear, causing monsters to appear much more often and at closer proximity. Every other turn, a row of multi-colored crystals along the top of the machine flashes, and 1d4 new monsters appear at random locations in the chamber. Roll 1d12 to find out what kind:

  1. delving orc
  2. bugbear
  3. dire rat
  4. lesser salamander
  5. ghoul
  6. giant scorpion
  7. giant spider
  8. hobgoblin
  9. kobold guard
  10. ogre
  11. wight
  12. zombie

The machine has an AC of 16 (being mostly made of metal) and 100 HP. Once it’s down to 10 HP or fewer, the numbers of monster appearing drops to 1d4-1. The machine is immune to damage from magical weapons, and each time it is hit by a magical weapon 1d4 new monsters appear immediately and the 2-turns-between-monster-apparitions clock resets.

infernal machine 2

How it worked

Man, this damn thing nearly killed us. London’s barbarian, Bryn, kept wailing on it with his magical battleaxe, and we almost got overrun with monsters. Our nastiest roll generated 4 ogres, each with 59 HP – this for a party of 4 3rd-level PCs with about half as many HP apiece. A couple of those ogres managed to incapacitate both of my PCs. Fortunately, London went on a hot streak, rolling a string of natural-20 critical hits. Between those crits and a couple of rounds where the monsters (i.e., me, DMing this one room) rolled very poorly, London’s druid, Lia, was able to heal both of my PCs enough to get them back in the fight. London also figured out the Machine’s reaction to magical weapons. We managed to take down the last ogre fast enough to finish off the Machine. It was pretty darned close – none of the PCs had more than 7 hit points by the end, and my two only had 3 apiece.

Here’s what we rolled (no fudges), and killed:

  • 3 hobgoblins
  • 1 ghoul
  • 2 hobgoblins
  • 1 kobold guard
  • 2 ogres
  • 2 kobold guards
  • 4 ogres
  • 3 dire rats
  • 3 zombies
  • 2 giant spiders
  • 1 ogre

I set the XP value of the machine at 1100, equal to a challenge rating of 4 in D&D 5e, on the basis that it very nearly killed a group of 3rd-level characters with decent tactics and wardogs. Obviously you should feel free to modify the XP value of the machine – and everything else about it – if you use a version of it in your own campaign.

If you have alternative ideas for diabolical machines that PCs might run across in their adventures, let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new goodies to spring on PCs.

This entry was posted in actual play reports, D&D, roleplaying, RPG tables. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to One possible Infernal Machine

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    Where did you get the image? It’s very good.

  2. Matt Wedel says:

    I assume you’re talking about the second one. 🙂 It’s from here:

  3. Mike Taylor says:

    Yes, the second one 🙂

    Interesting that this image is all-rights-reserved. Had it been CC By or By-SA or similar, you would no doubt have credited it. But because it’s not, what’s happened isn’t that you’ve abstained from using it, but gone ahead without attribution. (I do the same with sushi pictures on The Reinvigorated Programmer: so this is an observation, not a a criticism.) I’m not sure what to make of it.

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