So, I just now joined in the mixed-school D&D campaign that the guys have been working on since last fall. Basically, they needed a bit of new blood in it, and I could do with some creative exercise. The campaign is set in a heavily D&Dified 15th century Prussia.
Everything went wrong when I saw the train toys my brother got for his boy as a Christmas present.
My character, he/she/it is a conscious steam locomotive (think Thomas the Tank Engine) created 400 years ago in a Byzantine workshop, intended for mining work. As a Large creature Iron Thomas (as it is known in Prussian lands) cannot fit in the smallest of dungeon corridors, and it is obviously very slow in untracked terrain, but what it lacks in means (say arms, feet, equipment slots in general), it makes up in spirit.
Infernal spirit, to be exact: Thomas is a 1st level Warlock of the Broken God
, found whispering at night about his "Creator". It does not speak, yet communicates telepathically with anybody within 30 feet. Thomas spits flaming coals to 15 feet straight ahead, scalds whomever he pleases within 10 feet with boiling water and Charms the minds of weaker men; his chief mechanic, Renfield, speaks for him where human interaction is required. His top speed on rails is over 200 feet per round, and obviously no one would survive a direct hit. Thomas mends minor equipment by eating it and spitting it whole out of its internal forge.
Thomas, however, has certain serious weaknesses aside from an inability to wield a weapon or fit through a door: it cannot move over soft ground unaided, its top speed without rails is at best 10 feet per round, iron rails cost something like 30 gp per five feet, and wooden rails (5 gp a square) can only be used for the most delicate purposes. It goes without saying that while Thomas can, indeed, consume coal and drink water independently, he cannot build rail or perform basic maintenance. Standing up, should he topple over, would presumably take many agonizing hours for this eldritch abomination.
In the past centuries Thomas used to work hard ferrying barges up the Danube river. As the first session opens, Thomas is found in slavery to a Jewish money-lender in Danzig, unable to maintain its accustomed style (coal, water, occupation, etc.) independently in the tumultous world of Reformation Germany. The influential owner sends Thomas out as a support vehicle for adventurers hired to secure an abandoned castle and transport any movable valuables (furniture, etc.) back to Danzig.
In practice I spent the first session managing a rail-building operation from Danzig to the adventuring location 15 miles away. Meanwhile, the adventuring party went ahead to pack the castle up and make sure everything was ready for transportation back to Danzig. I should get to location only 3-4 days after the adventurers, which surely will easily suffice for the packing, assuming they don't get their fool asses killed by the land pirates or whatever lurking in the castle. Quite hilarious.
A few long-term goals:*
Thomas wants to get out of serfdom and become an independent locomotive. For this he needs loyal support personnel, an useful rail network (in a world with nothing of the sort, to be clear) and a steady source of coal (burning wood makes me weak!).*
If Thomas should achieve a fortune of say 100,000 gp at some point, he'd likely start dreaming of a Carpathian Rail deep into Hungary, as somewhere in there lies the Scholomance Technicum (the vocational technical branch of the infamous Scholomance, you know) where others of his kind may yet toil in servitude.*
Give me a paddlewheel and I shall rule the waves! The campaign is supposedly set in the Baltic theater, implying seafaring derring-do. Good luck with that, little locomotive!