Runequest Thursday #99 - The Braner Estate, a Manuforge, and his Shield-Knights!

Clint Staples

Sorry for being a day late, but it took a little while to get this whole thing together. For your patience, you get three articles for the price of one. In a single post - I give you an extended file of the Braner Estate, inhabited and run by the unique Manuforge, Braner, as well as datafiles for Braner and his Shield-Knights.

The Braner Estate is located at the marked location on the Map I have been using for my Clanking Ruin, the amazing map of Cassadega created by Jonathan Roberts for Kobold Press's terrific sourcebook Sunken Empires. The image I have used for Braner, is by the just-as-amazing dleoblack.

Incidentally, references are made to other Clanking Ruin material I have created, such as Forge-Knights, Forged, Furnace Demons, etc. You can find these by perusing my Runequest Pinterest page, or via D-Infinty.net

 

The Braner Estate, is the term commonly applied to a walled and well–defended compound, housing a designer Manuforge who answers to the name Braner. During the time of the Machine City, Braner catered to the elite in their lust for mechamagic. Since the fall of Zistor, Braner has worked for its own purposes, and on commissions for those who seek out his services.

The Braner manuforge is somewhat unusual, in that Braner, the entity that operates the Manuforge, is incorporated into a massive humanoid body twice the height of a man, rather than inhabiting the mechanisms of the manuforge itself.  No one knows whether this was always the case, and Braner had never spoken on the subject, but it is possible that Braner constructed the body on the manuforge, and incorporated itself within it. If this is the case, it is also possible that a manufacturing scroll for the process may be found somewhere in the Estate.

In any event, the Manuforge cannot be operated except by the hulking humanoid automaton, and Braner will work the manuforge if the right components are available, and the right price paid. Because of an ongoing, and uneasy, alliance with the Ankeshel Enclave, Braner can access any of their manufacturing scrolls, salvaged materials, and even rare components, giving him a very large selection of projects and many raw materials. He must, however, pay the usual exorbitant prices that Ankeshel charges, and Braner is canny enough to pass such expenses along to his customers. If he has all of the pieces, Braner can make weapons, components, even entire automata, of the highest quality, to order.

For defense, Braner has a strong contingent of thirty Forge-Knights (his own special design – see “Braner Estate Forge-Knight”) at his command, and the scrolls and material to make more. The sorcerers of Ankeshel are respectful and deal fairly with Braner, yet consider his estate to be something of their own preserve and resource, controlling and tolling any who hope to engage the Manuforge’s services. They accomplish this by stationing “guards” in the area who purport to keep the region free of manchines and other threats, and charge travelers for this “service”.

Braner’s Forge-Knights are of his own design, but it is rare to find other sorts in the area. Braner has made his to order on more than one occasion, but these are not cheap. His shield-knights maintain a constant vigil around the estate and generally keep explorers, and the “guards” from Ankeshel honest.

Braner is also trying to build something for its own purposes and will often require odd components for this project. Ankeshel supplies him with many raw materials through their trade network in return for custom manuforged items.  But enterprising visitors may be able to offset the costs of getting work done here by providing, or retrieving, components (See below for a list of possible items). The nature of the thing Braner is building is not known and could be anything from creating an automaton companion for itself to forging a new heart for the Machine God Zistor.

Note: Braner’s greatest defense is his unique ability to work the Braner Manuforge. Thus far, no one who has visited the Estate has been willing to fight Braner for fear of destroying it. Ankeshel would also take a dim view of any attack on the estate, and will likely intervene immediately, and with overwhelming resources.

 

Getting to the Braner Estate:

If coming from the Bay to the south, travellers must pass through the Ankeshel Gauntlet of regional guards. These mercenaries are fairly tough, and have orders to fleece anyone hoping to speak to Braner or to explore the deeper Ruin. They are happy to take the fee, 50L per person. But any who resist will be attacked outright. Any who balk at paying and survive the attack, at the very least will not be welcome at Ankeshel thereafter. If they defeat the mercenaries, they may be subject to reprisal from the sorcerers, or they may have escaped detection, in which case the sorcerers may not immediately know who killed their guards (do whichever serves your story best, or roll randomly to determine which).

Braner’s Shield-Knights, if they are nearby, will observe any combat but will not enter into it unless they are themselves attacked. If attacked, they will fight indiscriminately, attacking anything in the area that is not of Braner’s manufacture. Ankeshel accepts this as one of the costs of doing business with Braner and warns its employees to leave the Estate alone. The more canny mercenaries are aware of the Forge-Knights’ lack of discretion.

From other directions, the Ankeshel Gauntlet is less of an issue. However, generally those who approach from these quadrants will already have experienced the hospitality of manchines, forged, or other hostile denizens of the Clanking Ruin.

 

The Braner Estate:

The Estate itself is secure behind one of the few intact walls in the Clanking Ruin. It is apparent that Braner has repaired, and improved, the defenses. Large metal tubes line the interior walls, delivering steam and water wherever required. From atop the thirty foot wall, steam carronades can pour great gouts of superheated steam down on foes. The Shield-Knights patrol the immediate exterior in groups of 5. But there are always at least a ten within the walls. Patrolling the walls on protected battlements.

Steam Carronade – A heavy siphon connected to a steam furnace, can project a 15 yard long cone of steam, 5 yards wide at its extent, doing 4d6 heat damage (attack 70%, 12 AP, 12 HP, 20 ENC). Targets must Evade or be struck.  Steam carronades have an integrate routine that allows them to shoot independently once activated. They show a similar indiscrimination of target to that of Braner’s forge-knights, but will not target anything built by Braner. Braner, or one of the forge-knights must give the steam carronades the initial command to shoot. After that, they will shoot until there are no remaining targets.

Those approaching the walls of the estate will be encountered by the shield-knights on patrol, and must state their business. The area around the wall is littered with the remains of unsuccessful applicants for entry. Searchers may find Common Items, but a success on a Spot check at -40% allows a roll of 1d6: 1-3: the ruined body of a manchine); 3-4: a Pommelstone for Frostbite (rank 1d3); 5-6: A manufacturing scroll for an Arcblade enhancement (possibly lost, or stolen, from Braner) on the corpse of an adventurer.

Unless they are known foes of Braner, they will be allowed entrance. However, the forge-knights have strict policy that no more than six outsiders ne allowed in at any given time.

 

Within the Wall:

There are two structures inside the wall.

The larger is the Manuforge complex, used by Braner. It contains a smelter, an actual forge, many manufacturing scrolls in an order scriptorium against one wall, a wealth of raw materials, and various tools that Braner can affix temporarily to itself or the mechanisms to aid in his forging. The complex is housed within a stone walled structure devoid of windows, but crowned by steam carronades at each corner. A damaged shield-knight is sitting motionless in a corner, its sword arm armor hacked away. Portable loot in the form of manufacturing scrolls, raw materials and other materials/items is equal to at least 5d10 thousand Lunars.

Lining the walls, in racks, or on tables or trestles, are a large number of mechanical and mechamagical items. Everything from machine-grade enchanted swords, to mechanisms complex to the point of incomprehensibility can be found here. If inquiry is made, many are reserved or otherwise spoken for (some are still being held for customers centuries dead).

The second building is another smaller flattened cube that houses the maintenance gear for the shield-knights, as well as extra longswords, shields, common fittings and such. A set of steam hoses with nozzles to serve the shield-knights, line the walls. There is nothing in the way of personal effects. Braner’s creations are not sufficiently individual to collect any.

Adjacent to this building is a separate room that has a complex lock (-40%) and a heavy door of iron. It is largely ignored by Braner, but contains the ruined controls for the manuforge. These would require significant work, a number of difficult to find materials, and the use of a manuforge to re-establish. There is however, a manufacturing scroll tucked away (Spot check at -20%) that details the procedure. In a bunker beside this building accessible via a large bronze slab (vs. STR 40 on the Resistance Table to shift) next to an exterior wall, Braner keeps his treasury – fees collected from clients this amounts to 5d10 thousand Lunars in various currencies, at any given moment.

Braner is willing to make things, but requires coin, or the barter of goods or services in exchange. He has a good Bargain skill and is aware of his service’s value in the current marketplace. He is also aware that few will attempt to fight him because they do not want to destroy the thing they seek to employ.

Someone petitioning to Braner, should make a Luck roll to determine how many things they will need to provide to get the item made. POW x5 means they must provide 3 things, POW x3, means 1 thing, POW x 1 means Braner has on hand all the things he needs to construct the desired item, or has one such item “in stock”. Construction takes only an hour or two for most things, but Braner has other work, such that completion is promised in 1d6 days.

If items must be provided, Braner will not begin work until they are all collected and presented to it.

Finally, Braner must be paid. It has a sizable account with Ankeshel, and will take credit with them at full value. it will also accept gold by weight, or Lunar currency. Cost of items is 2000L per point of infusion. He offers what he calls “fair recompense” for salvage – which is wrecked mechanica or metal. The details of this are left to GMs to determine, but should favor the manuforge significantly unless it is out-Bargained.

If a Client asks about Barter, Braner will request one or more of the following items in exchange for reducing the costs by 1d6x5%. If you wish, you can use this list as inspiration for any parts that are required for the manufacture of the desired item as well.

Note: most of the items below are detailed in other Clanking Ruin articles.

Roll 1d12 (see Clanking Ruin articles for details on many of the items below):

  1. 2d10 POW in Machine Grade Crystal
  2. A Manufacturing Scroll of a _______.
  3. Pommelstone Rank 3+.
  4. An Open Port Orb.
  5. The Head of a Reaver
  6. The complete body of a Forge-Knight other than one of Braner’s Shield-knights.
  7. A weapon from the Demon Forge.
  8. A living Forged warrior.
  9. 1d6 Ranks of bound elemental, 1-2 Oil, 3-4 Cog, 5-6 Acid.
  10. A swarm of at least 2d10 servile cogs, intact.
  11. The Head of A Furnace Demon.
  12. A Runic Socket, ideally with an implanted Rune tablet.

Braner will not discuss the use to which it will put the components retrieved other than to say which items it requires. Players however, are likely to draw their own conclusions based on what the manuforge asks for.