Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Brachiosaur Artillery Crew

Dominic Matte
In one of the D&D games I'm running, The Long Game, there's a country - Aurum - whose military makes heavy use of the large exotic animals and monsters that exist in a fantasy world. Since it's my game and I do what I want, Aurum's artillery units are armoured brachiosaurs with massive cannons strapped to their sides.

I've been meaning to sketch one of these artillery brachiosaurs for some time, and finally got around to it today. But as I was drawing I started thinking about exactly how these things would work in combat, so I ended up writing stat blocks for the brachiosaur and its crew.
click to embiggen
A brachiosaurus is a 30-foot-tall dinosaur estimated to weigh about 30 tons, so this artillery unit can defend itself quite a bit better than a line of trebuchets - the dinosaur can just stomp on attackers. Its guns are devastating, but dinosaurs aren't known for their skill with firearms - the attack bonus is quite low for its level (4 lower than average).
Even a giant armoured dinosaur has its vulnerabilities. While it's tall enough to tower over standard ground troops (and therefore occupy their spaces), a clever enemy might try to climb the many straps holding the armour and cannons in place, and attack the brachiosaur where it can't strike back. All it can do is try to shake off the climber.

With this vulnerability in mind, and since a quadrupedal dinosaur can't operate cannons on its own - someone needs to aim and reload the guns, so the brachiosaur needs a crew and a spotter.

The artillery captain is an experienced commander who can provide some big bonuses to the crew. While not an exceptional fighter, when the commander focuses on aiming those guns, he or she can pump the accuracy up by 7, raising the total attack score to 3 above average. The captain is also a knowledgeable battlefield commander, able to boost the crew's reload efficiency or fire both guns at once.

The captain and the crew are packing arrows with shaped gunpowder charges attached. Damage is unexceptional, but the force of the blast pushes the target back - perfect for knocking enemy saboteurs off the brachiosaur's back, or pushing an enemy into safe firing range.

An artillery crew consisting of one brachiosaur, one captain, and five crew adds up to an even 5,000 XP - a standard level 14 encounter for a full party, or a tough encounter for a slightly smaller or lower level party.

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