[Automaton] The Portable Lightning Catapult!

Thomas Weigel’s Artificer class got me looking at the Automaton rules again, so I tried my hand at designing something artificer-like.

I present to you, the astounding Portable Lightning Catapult, which shall revolutionize life as we know it! War shall be too terrible to consider, ushering in an era of world peace!

Portable Lightning Catapult

4 HD Automaton (Requires Level 6 Artificer/Machinist)

2d6 Damage
Lightning Breath Weapon (5’x120’ line) (+1 special ability)
Ranged Attack (120ft) (+1 special ability)
Halved Weight x 6 (160: 80, 40, 20, 10, 5, 2.5 stone) (+6 special abilities)

Requires operator. (-1 special ability)
Cannot move under own power. (-1 special ability)

Total = 4 HD + 6 Special Abilities

38,000gp to design (+7 to design throw target)

38,000gp to build (+7 to building throw target)


  1. No reloading.
  2. No attack roll needed (save vs Breath for half damage)


  1. Heavy item!
  2. Expensive and hard to design/build.

I imagine this thing taking the form of a backpack battery/mechanism (with some kind of electric arc being generated from the top) with an attached pistol (flamethrower-style), or alternately of an unwieldy steam punk arquebus with little van de Graaff generators sticking out of the barrel. :slight_smile:

Speaking of flamethrowers, this could just as easily deal fire damage…

shane wrote: Lightning Breath Weapon (5'x120' line) (+1 special ability) Ranged Attack (120ft) (+1 special ability)
I think the lightning breath weapon would need to be balanced as a special ability - i.e., one of:

a) Built similar to other breath weapons, and limited to three times per day.
b) Built as a spell-like custom power for lightning bolt, and usable once per day.

Another possibility which would change it a bit would be: the range is 120 feet, and it deals 1 damage to 2d6 randomly determined targets within 10 feet of the targeted spot (a target can be hit more than once if there is only one target).

Given that it is battery- or fuel-driven, I would be inclined to (b), myself.

Huh, I totally overlooked the breath weapon use limitations. Thanks for that!

2.5 stone is quite a bit of weight compared to a scroll of lightning bolt, so I don’t know if I’d build this before hiring a level 5 mage henchman, if I could only use it once a day. :slight_smile:

3x/day like a breath weapon seems good to me, but…

Originally I wrote it up as “Lightning Damage Type” as the special ability, since the automaton creation rules seem to imply that you get unlimited attacks, doing up to 3 x HD damage each.

I figured the PLC would then attack at a 6+, befitting its HD.

Do you think requiring an attack throw balances 2d6 damage as well as limiting its daily uses?

I’m kind attached to the high volume of fire. I assume the thing could cleave a few times as well (4?)… I’m trying to build a sci-fi ray-gun here, you see. zapzapzapzap* :wink:

The design text implied an area of effect lightning - all creatures in a line 120 feet long and 5 feet wide.

If it is only dealing 2d6 damage per attack to a single creature (zap gun style), then making it unlimited seems fine to me, and perfectly in the spirit of the automaton attack routine rules as I understand them.

Ahhh, area of effect was what I was not seeing here. You can cram a lot of creatures into a line that size, and that raises its total damage by a lot. Thanks!

Now I think I will definitely make a “flamethrower option” that uses the breath weapon cone and 3x/day limitation. :slight_smile:

I really like the idea of a backpack sized Tesla coil that arcs to a different target within range each round for 2d6 damage (may or may not be targetable! :D)

“Hokey religions and ancient dwarven lightning weapons are no matc-” BZORT
May have to steal this.

Steal away! A closer look a this rules has got me wanting to introduce Arcanum-like elements into my game now. :slight_smile: