Thursday, October 15, 2009

[Thundarr Thursday] Ancient Armory: War Machines

War Machines are the gargantuan, death-dealing transports of evil wizards. (For more on wizards and their mindset, please read this earlier Thundarr Thursday post.) They are monstrously huge and bristling with highly destructive weapons. A wizard often uses a War Machines in one of three ways: as an impressive and intimidating show of his power; to utterly decimate a village or town with minimal effort; or to attack another wizard. In the cartoon, War Machines have been wildly varied with respect to size, armament, weaponry, and crew. But all War Machines have one thing in common – they are pretty much unstoppable short of the interference of another, larger War Machine.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for the Mutant Lord to come up with statistics for a War Machine since the device’s size itself is staggering. They can be as small as a skyscraper, or as big as a several city blocks. As an example, one of Mindok’s War Machines – seen above – dwarfed the multilevel building complex it was parked next to.

War Machines also have a wizard’s most powerful weapons. Entire Ancient buildings have crumbled into dust with only one shot of a disintegrator beam. It could have a huge set of robotic claws that can pick up and thrown buildings. It could be covered with lasers that fire out simultaneously in a multitude of directions. If the Mutant Lord can imagine it, a War Machine could be armed with it.

War Machines are also versatile as far as to where they can go. They have been shown traveling underwater, trundling across the wastelands, and flying through the skies and even into space. They’ve been seen running on huge tires, tank treads, hover jets, rocket engines, or other modes of transport. War Machines are often crewed and defended by either a robot army or a wizard’s mutant minions (see Groundlings, Carrocs, or Feloids from previous Thundarr Thursday posts). However, some War Machines are fully automated, either being run by the wizard himself on the bridge or remotely from a distance.

Once a War Machine is underway, nothing short of a tactical nuke will slow it down. So how are the PCs supposed to go up against a fortress on wheels? Well, if a War Machine has a weakness, it would be its size. They are not able to move very quickly; a fast horse can keep up with one. In addition, due its size, they are very difficult to defend from intruders and boarders. A wizard may be watching for a massive army to attack, but is not prepared for one mutant with a crowbar to open up a hatch to gain entrance. Once access is gained to the inside, the Mutant Lord could run the exploration as a kind of mobile “dungeon crawl” with the War Machine taking on the qualities of a large building or even town.

If the War Machine is headed toward that small village a few miles away, the PCs will need to find out how to stop it in time. There are several ways to stop a War Machine (left to the Mutant Lord’s discretion):

  • The War Machine’s power source could be removed or destroyed.
  • If access is gained to the control room, the War Machine could be steered off a cliff, into the ocean, or – if it flies – crashed into the ground or into the depths of space.
  • The War Machine may be heavily armored on the outside, but the interior is not. Enough damage to the controls and mechanics will cause it to grind to a halt.
  • One of the minions operating the controls could be “convinced” to share the self-destruct codes.
  • The PCs may be able to defeat the wizard, convincing him to stop the War Machine in exchange for his life.
Bringing a War Machine into a Mutant Future campaign should not be done lightly since the power of one is potentially campaign-breaking. (You're introducing an unstoppable machine with unimaginable weapons into your game. What happens if the PCs take control of it?) A War Machine should be introduced as something akin to a force of nature - and one that must be utterly destroyed before it completes its mission of doom.


  1. I just watched the episode with the first 2 pics last week! :)

  2. "Mindok the Mind Menace." One of the cooler and more evil wizards. ;)