Shadow World Speculation: What are Clycallah War Machines?

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One of the enjoyments of reading Terry’s Shadow World books, is finding a interesting but vague tidbit that just cries out for more detail. I previously blogged about one such nugget, the Mazatlak Pillar City, and today I wanted to speculate on the Clycallah War Machines.

There are only a 3 mentions of mentioning or relating to these War Machines in the Master Atlas:

5977: Gaalt: [Clycallah archeologists discover a
Wôrim underground vault containing strange
vehicles.]

5983: The Raven Queen’s armies first encounter
the Clycallah war machines, rebuilt from ancient Wôrim designs. They are routed by the huge walking mechanical terrors. Later encounters are inconclusive

Gaalt: The Raven Queen launches a new assault,
this time led by land and air drakes, each
with a Quaidu rider. They prove an even match
against the Clycallah war machines.

That’s not much to go on, but it definitely sparks the imagination. From these few points we can conclude that:

  1. These are mechanical not magical–they are not Constructs but “technology” of some sort.
  2. They move by walking rather than wheels or tracks.
  3. They are “huge”.
  4. They are built using Wôrim designs. This implies that they Clycallah had the technological capacity to build these machines, but it also hints that they are “rebuilt” so perhaps they fixed older inoperable machines.

Where is Clycallah? Per the Master Atlas, it is in Gaalt:

G. Clycallah: [Cool Temperate/Seasonal–Wet &
Dry] Laan (Mixed economies/Republic (TL:6-7).
This little realm would have fallen long ago to
Gaalt but for two things: the powerful Mages
among the Laan, and their machines. The
Clycallah’s war machines (based on Wôrim
technology) strike terror into even the Raven
Queen’s elite forces, and they are powerful
enough to defeat her Troll warriors.

Who are the Wôrim? Again we are left with only a few references that they were a vanished, technologically advanced race during the Interregnum:

c.-30,000 – -20,000: The Wôrim empire, centered
in Gaalt, is founded and expands rapidly
and is soon at odds with the Jinteni and Elven
populations.

What else do we know? Per the Master Atlas we also have some possible conflicting info that:

The Lydians might be descendants of the Wôrim

Trogli might be descendants of the Wôrim

The Wôrim might be the pre-cursors to the Laan.

Other than that, there is little, if any, real data on the Wôrim. Unlike the Jinteni which were fleshed out quite a bit in Emer III, we only have a few more hints on the Wôrim found in the Haalkitaine book:

Corridors: Most of the tunnels correspond to the usual
Wôrim trapezoidal profile with periodic buttresses of a
grey stone. Some sections were cut from solid granite,
but where there was only earth the halls were faced with
granite slabs. It is these areas — mostly to the west —
that have deteriorated the most. There are many caveins
caused by water seepage from the sewers; some have
opened cracks between the two networks while some
have shifted or even completely blocked corridors.
Also typical of the Wôrim, there is little decoration or
engraved writing; the stone cutting is precise and starkly
angular.
The only apparent written records are etched on
the oval metal canisters which hold the bodies — and those
are the as-yet undeciphered dot patterns believed to be
the Wôrim written language
.

Anyway, circling back to the Clycallah War Machines, we are left wondering about it’s abilities. Clearly it must have some offensive capacity–it is called a “War Machine” and they can battle with Dragons! Chemical reactions are not reliable on Kulthea, so traditional explosive weaponry seems unlikely. The Jinteni had energy weapons–perhaps these War Machines were armed with laser guns!

What are your thoughts? Have you ever introduced Clycallah War Machines in your campaign? What do you think they look like? What type of weapons could you imagine they have?

4 thoughts on “Shadow World Speculation: What are Clycallah War Machines?”

  1. We were about to go into that territory for our campaign, then the players decided to teleport to Folenn and freeze any plans I might have had for Wôrim tech.

    I don’t have anything on the War Machines, but in “The Haunted Village” PDF (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/288169/Shadow-World-The-Haunted-Village) you get a very detailed description of a Construct of Wôrim origin. You are discarding the idea of magical constructs but I wouldn’t go that far. They could be mostly mechanical but have some simple intelligence to guide the indications of the user.

    I ruled that these weaponized armor giants would work by interpreting verbal commands, like the Mana Molder creations.

    It’s said somewhere that Wôrim tech differed from Jinteni in that they were much more war-like, something like a typical Orc/Lugrok attitude where most developments would be focused on gaining battles by force. During a vision in a previous campaigned, I hinted that Wôrim had hovering tanks, maybe with fire/laser beams, and probably something based on mechanical horses. Thinking about it, they could be made to connect with Steel Rain techniques.

    1. Ok, good point about “The Haunted Village”–I had overlooked that but felt that this mini-adventure was more a homage to the Destroyer scene in Thor (which was itself a nod to Gort) than filling in SW back history.

      Constructs were already established in SW and C&T literature, so it would have been easy for Terry to refer to the Worim War Machines as giant constructs; but he didn’t. Also, I would like to assume that a technically advanced culture wouldn’t revert to a medieval fantasy form factor like a mechanical suit of armor. I was imagining something more steampunk at the least, but in my own notes I have Worim tech utilizing hydraulics. Not sure where that idea gestated with me, but Terry does mention hydraulic fluid (re: construct) in the Haunted Village.

      The Worim are interesting, so it was frustrating to see their culture rubber stamped using traditional RM professions found in Haalkitaine. I think there is an argument that they need a more unique cultural and technological backstory than what they have. The Jinteni got theirs and the Taranians seem templated on a traditional SF spacefaring culture.

      I introduced a Worim tunneling machine and more on the Steel Rain in Priest-King, and much more on the Steel Rain in “Empire of the Black Dragon” which I’m trying to polish up and upload. (It’s unlikely that it will ever get officially published). So happy to hear your thoughts on the Steel Rain.

  2. I wish I was more familiar with Shadow World simply so I could respond to these lore-specific posts better. Something though that intrigues me with this one is the presence of Mechs. They’ve always been a bit of a fascination for me — I love reading the lore from the BattleMech universe with its Clans and future-feudal society… I digress…

    I generally don’t like to mix my fantasy with my sci-fi, which is part of my hesitation with Shadow World, but some of these mech concepts lend themselves to great plot hooks. In a way, I think that this type of tech in any campaign of mine would better be treated and something out of the PC’s hands, but something they could dip their toes into. Maybe stopping their use so that some faction doesn’t gain some massive tactical advantage? Again, my hesitation is always how to blend the fantastic and medieval with futuristic elements.

    1. As Vorig points out, Constructs are standard RM creatures and can be either tech, magical or a combo. For “mechs” just make them larger and you can even have an operator or pilot compartment. That’s certainly one way to introduce quasi sci-fi to your campaign.

      In the end, popular sci-fi and fantasy or so interrelated I’m not sure it’s a distinction with a difference anymore.

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