Runequest Thursday #92 - Creature of the Clanking Ruin - the Rattle-Wyrm!

Clint Staples

Well, after a hiatus of a couple of months, we are (hopefully) managing to get a Brightwater Saga game together for this weekend. The heroes of Brightwater are poised to enter the region of the Clanking Ruin, what was once the Machine City of Zistorwal, destroyed centuries ago by those who refused to allow the Machine God apotheosis. The heroes are there for their own reasons: The Praxian Shaman, Ughari, hopes to rejuvenate, or lay to rest, the spirit of an ally - the ghost of a copper dwarf by the name of Aneel Bandir. The sorcerer, Wyrmhere, wishes to rid himself of his demon arm, hoping to replace the scaly limb with and enchanted one of brass and iron. Their companions are curious to see a place of legend, and perhaps hope to discover things which might aid Brightwater, and the River of Cradles, in the struggle against the encroaching Lunar Empire.

When we played last, the Brightwaters sailed their newer, larger boat down the River of Cradles, past the miserable Lunar port town of Corflu (made all the more miserable with the return of the giant delta mosquitos that the Lunar bargain with the Gorakiki trolls had kept under control), and out to sea. From the river delta they sailed westward, hugging the coast of Southern Maniria, under the command of ship's captain Zoe Albright, until they made landfall at the easternmost isles of the archipelago of which Zistorwal was a part. We left our heroes camped on the beach, wondering what the morrow, and their arrival at the Clanking Ruin, would bring.

As I warned in earlier Clanking Ruin posts, the longer I had to prepare, the nastier things would get (OK, not really - it was always going to be nasty). But I have had more than the usual amount of time to create denizens of the Ruin, which I hope to introduce to the Heroes of Brightwater in due course. The most recent, and certainly one of the more terrible, if not the most grotesque, is the mechanical monster dubbed the Rattle-Wyrm by the scavengers and freebooters that ply the waterways and shattered streets of the Clanking Ruin.


The Rattle-Wyrm is a construct of one of the ancient machine cults of the Clanking City – the Cult of Crawling Ruin. Unlike many of the Cults of Zazistor, the Cult of the Crawling Ruin foresaw a different end to the attempt to incarnate the Machine God. They believe that, ultimately, the attempt would fail, and that the Cult of the Crawling Ruin would be survive to resurrect the failed God-Machine.

With this in mind the Cult of the Crawling Ruin crafted the rattle-wyrms as guardians of the Ruin that was the foreseen end of the rise of the God-Machine. Rattle-Wyrms have been scuttling over the remnants of Zazistor ever since. Their original purpose is not known, but they are effective guardians of the Crawling Ruin holy site.

Rattle-wyrms will attack nearly any living thing, but they do not do so for sustenance, for they rely for power on their internal energies, which have yet to run down after centuries of activity. They are fearless, have no susceptibility to morale effects, are covered in thick bronze alloy armor, and take orders from no living thing.

The body of a rattle-wyrm is worth a considerable sum for its bronze and iron alone. In addition, the complex mechanica that make up its limbs and joints are readily salvaged for other purposes. Without a doubt, the most valuable portion of a rattle-wyrm, however, is its large, multifaceted energy matrix power supply, which is composed of an otherwise unknown form of power crystal as far superior to machine grade crystal as Truestone is to a power crystal. The secret of its manufacture is lost to the modern age, but the few that have been scavenged have sold for large sums indeed.

It is rumored in the scavenger settlements surrounding the Clanking City that there are yet survivors of the Cult of the Crawling Ruin, and that they still direct the rattle-wyrms. If so, these supposed cultists have not been discovered, not has their purpose behind the seemingly random actions of the rattle-wyrms that infest portions of the Clanking City.