Ah, the tyranny of alphabetical order. It always stinks when I have to introduce a new monster category with one of that genus’s biggest brutes right off the bat. There’s just no sense of building to a climax. But I’m certainly not going to be the one to tell a CR 16 clockwork dragon to wait in line.
By the way, clockwork creatures are great, aren't they? We know golems are magic. We know robots are science. But clockwork creatures are that perfect union of both. And as such, they fit into almost any campaign, genre, or historical era. (After all, the Antikythera mechanism dates back to around 100 BC.) Whether your players want to rob Leonardo da Vinci, fight the spider-thing from Wild Wild West, captain steampunk dirigibles, hang out with the Doctor in a fireplace, or sail the stars, you always have the option of throwing clockwork creatures at them. Just look at the published Adventure Paths, where you’ll find clockwork creature stats being used for ancient tomb guardians and fresh-from-the-crèche robots alike.
Clockwork dragons first appeared in Pathfinder Adventure Path #66: The Dead Heart of Xin. That model seems to have slightly different stats—I notice a different initiative bonus and several skymetal components. The Bestiary 4 variety, meanwhile, has seven variants to choose from, including a stealth version (the infiltrator) just begging to be used by some ninja clan or shae warlord.
Just remember though—no matter how monstrous the clockwork dragon is, it is still only clockwork. Which means someone out there wound it up in the first place…
The key to destroying a rampaging clockwork dragon is to fight it with another clockwork dragon. But finding the key to set that second dragon’s gears a-whirring will take some detective work. Rumor places the key in the hands of a kolyarut who uses it as a warhammer, in the heart of an android crèche’s circuitry, and stitched into the corset of a handmaiden devil.
When the green dragon Vyshantium was shot down by aerial robots and hauled into the Machine Mother’s rendering vats, she never realized the cybercyst would immortalize her in clockwork form. Now the Machine Mother has birthed no less than three clockwork dragons, each bearing a metallic facsimile of a green dragon’s horned snout…outfitted with lasers, of course.
The World-City of Cognomon is a blend of geography and machinery on a truly epic scale, where humanity and its allies vie for territory with serpentfolk, skum, and the strange clockwork creations of Cognomon itself. In times of great emergency, the semi-sentient city has been known to run the protocols that activate its most powerful defenders: clockwork dragon destroyers. These living bombards have repelled airships, juggernauts, great cyclopes, and even nightshades. But many more clockwork dragons have been lost to time, overgrown with moss or left shattered in some crevasse. At least one veiled master has managed to reprogram a forgotten clockwork dragon, and he intends to send the acid-breathing construct against the human settlement of Terrace.
—Pathfinder Adventure Path #66 86–87 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 30–31
The spelling of the World-City’s name is intentional. (Think sundials.)
While we’re on the subject of clockwork dragons, I should also give a nod to the Magic card and the classic(?) Clockwork Dragon of Mai-Faddah from The Book of Wondrous Inventions.
Speaking of clockwork, we haven't talked about how awesome Pathfinder Adventure Path #85: Fires of Creation was! The first book in the Iron Gods Adventure Path really was worth the wait: just the right mix of fantasy and sci-fi encounters, appropriately wonky and malfunctioning machinery, memorable NPCs, android ecology, alien familiars…the works. It also makes Numeria come alive at the granular, community level. If your budget is tight, trust me: This book goes in the “Buy” column.
In other news, today I got a box of RPG stuff in the mail that just might be the most diverse—and potentially most rewarding—I’ve ever received at once.
From Paizo—in addition to Occult Mysteries, which I waited for all spring yet cluelessly forgot to put in my last order—I got the second Iron Gods installment, the Technology Guide, Champions of Corruption, and the Advanced Class Guide hardcover. I also picked up the old Monster Ecologies anthology (kind of a silly purchase, since I had all the original Dragon articles, but I’m a completist and the $2 price tag was too small to pass up), Gygax Magazine #4 (even though I haven’t had time to read issues #1–3), and AAW’s hefty and pretty gorgeous Rise of the Drow hardcover.
Lord knows when I’ll get to read all of them, but if they inspire any posts, reviews, or adventure seeds you’ll be the first to know.