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Falkenstein Friday: Playing Automatons


Over the years, we have heard from many Players of Castle Falkenstein who have appreciated the opportunity to play Faeries, Dwarfs, and even Dragons! Occasionally, though, we hear a cry begging us to create rules for playing Automatons, the children of invention who are constructed instead of born.

Friends, we have heard your plea!

Below, you will find rules for creating an Automaton Dramatic Character in Castle Falkenstein. Specifically, for creating one constructed from clockwork such as Mr. Baum’s Tik-Tok or Lady Cecily, the Clockwork woman in Like Clockwork, the Adventure Entertainment from the core rulebook.


Should you be seeking an opportunity to play an Automaton more akin to the Steam Man of the Prairie (a Steam-powered Automaton), Frankenstein’s Monster (an Automaton of the Flesh), or Pinnochio (a Magickal Automaton), you will find rules for all four varieties (including the Clockwork Automaton found below) added to Variations of the Great Game, a collection of alternative and expanded rules which allow you to customize Castle Falkenstein to your liking. Should you already have received the book through our recent Bundle of Holding venture, you need only to download it once more to have the additional content. If not, now is the perfect time to purchase it!

And without further ado, may we present the rules for creating Clockwork Automaton Dramatic Characters!

Creating a Clockwork Automaton

Players and Hosts can use the following rules to create Clockwork Automaton Characters for play in the Great Game. Any Player seeking to play an Automaton should answer their Diary questions as usual to create their Dramatic Character’s motivations and history, but when it comes time to sort out the more mechanical aspects, they should answer the following additional questions.

What Are Your Abilities?

Next, Abilities should be chosen and assigned Ranks. Clockwork Automatons have a starting Template, with Abilities and Ranks already assigned. These Abilities and Ranks are inherent to the kind of Automaton and cannot be changed during creation, although they can be improved through play just as with any other Dramatic Character. Beneath the base Abilities list for each type of Automaton are unassigned Ability Ranks. The Ranks listed there can and should be assigned to any Ability not already part of the Template. Abilities unique to a type of Dramatic Character, such as Faerie Etherealness, cannot be chosen.

What are Your Fortunate and Unfortunate Circumstances?

Automatons are not the same as organic beings and, thus, have unusual qualities not available to other Characters. The Fortunate and Unfortunate Circumstances for Clockwork Automatons are noted in their listing. The first two Fortunate Circumstances are set. The third is multiple choice, allowing you to choose from several different options.

Finishing your Automaton

Once the Automaton’s health has been calculated by cross-referencing their Courage Ability and Physique Ability as indicated on page 188 of Castle Falkenstein, the mechanical portion of creating your artificial Dramatic Character has ended.

About Clockwork Automatons

Automatons powered by complex clockwork mechanisms have existed for centuries, and examples have drawn crowds throughout New Europa. More recently, the work of Master Elrich Clocktinker has elevated Clockwork Automatons from mere spectacle to productive tools capable of bettering society. Master Clocktinker has not only perfected the delicate balance of mechanisms needed to allow these fantastic Automatons to perform strenuous labor, he has developed a miniature “Babbage Brain,” which enables owners to program each Automaton with instructions for specific tasks depending upon the needs of their owner! Of course, as is always the case with engineering and science, other inventors throughout the world have seen Master Clocktinker’s work and now seek to improve upon it. Rumors have begun spreading of Clockwork Automatons that can not only perform labors but who can even think for themselves!

Your Base Abilities are

Athletics [GD] • Courage [GR] • Perception [GD] • Sorcery [PR]

Your Additional Abilities are

Choose one additional Good Ability.

You are Powered by

Clockwork: You are powered by a series of coiled springs that must be wound daily or risk entering Dormancy, during which you are incapable of action and unaware of your surroundings. Your winding requires a properly fitted key. Should the key be misplaced or lost, you cannot be wound until it is found or a replacement fashioned.

Your Fortunate Circumstances are

  • Babbage Brain: Your Babbage Engine mind can be programmed to perform specific feats using specialized punch cards. In addition to the Abilities noted above, you begin play with one additional Good Ability which remains unassigned, known as your Babbage Engine Ability. By spending ten minutes to reprogram the punch cards, you or an ally can switch out the current Babbage Engine Ability for any Ability governed by Clubs or Diamonds so long as it is one in which you currently possess an Average Rank. The newly chosen Ability rises in Rank to Good and is now designated as the Babbage Engine Ability while the former Babbage Engine Ability, if there is one, descends to Average. A Good Sorcery achieved using this Circumstance gives you knowledge of Magick but not the aptitude to cast Spells.
  • Clockwork Fortitude: As a mechanical entity, you possess immunity to disease and poison and cannot die due to a lack of oxygen or sustenance. You do not heal naturally, nor do you gain benefit from medicine or restorative Magick. Instead, you require repair. Doing so requires one hour’s time and access to appropriate tools and materials. The Character performing the repairs must succeed at a Tinkering Feat with a Requirement of Great. Success means you heal a number of Health Points equal to the value of the Tinkering Ability being used.
  • You possess one additional Fortunate Circumstance, chosen from the following:
    • Clockwork Heart: Perhaps due to your internal workings, you possess an intuitive understanding of mechanical devices. Once per session, you can convert any card in your hand into a Diamond before playing it on a Tinkering Feat.
    • Excellent Engineering: Clever constructions allows you to continue functioning no matter the conditions. Consider your Physique to be Ranked at Extraordinary when withstanding the effects of extreme temperature, pressure as one might find deep underwater, or other intense environmental conditions.
    • Gadgetech: Your body can be further modified. Consider it to be a container with a number of spaces based on your size for the purposes of installing gadgetech. If you are small, perhaps in the form of a clockwork Pixie, you possess 4 spaces. If you so choose, you can use 2 of them to fit clockwork wings, allowing you to fly. If you are larger, in the form of a Dwarf or human, for example, you possess 8 spaces but cannot benefit from clockwork wings. Your gadgetech spaces can also be used to reinforce your chassis by sacrificing half the spaces to install 1 point of Armor (Light Armor). This armor does not stack with worn armor. You should use whichever is higher when injured.
    • Precise Timing: As a being of clockwork, you always know the current time. Moreover, your aptitude for precision timing gives you an advantage when it comes to matters of finesse. Once per session, you can convert any card in your hand into a Club before playing it on an Athletics Feat.

Your Unfortunate Circumstance is

  • Delicate: You are particularly delicate as your complex assembly of inner gears can easily be knocked out of alignment. As a result, a High Success on an attack against you not only causes damage but creates a malfunction. Reduce the Rank of all your Abilities by one. Further reductions are cumulative, although no Ability can be reduced below the Rank of Poor. These penalties remain in place until your clockwork is realigned, which is a Tinkering Feat with a Requirement of Great and requires one hour’s work.

With that, we bid you good day! Please stay safe during these uncertain times.

2 thoughts on “Falkenstein Friday: Playing Automatons Leave a comment

  1. While I’m happy for the creation of new rules, I already own a printed copy of Variations on the Great Game. Will there be an updated version of the PDF, and will a version of these rules be included in the eventual CF2e?

    • The updated version of the PDF is up now, actually. Unfortunately, the previous edition, published by Fat Goblin Games was not updated. Only the current edition published by R. Talsorian Games. And it is too early to tell about a 2nd edition of Falkenstein.

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