It's hard to be sentimental toward something keeps trying to put the dog in the flatware cupboard and carries on long conversations with the teapot during the dead of night.
If there’s an actual name for them, it’s lost to time like everything belonging to the gnomish people. The very existence of these mechanical beings wasn’t largely known of until the final days of the Gnomish empire of Carda. The Gnomes were preparing for a desperate last-stand against the combined might of the Shadow Court and the ravenous Sahuagin . However; the coming battle was not the only thing that weighed heavily upon the hearts of the gnomes. They were holding the line so that their children could reach safety; but to navigate the way to that safety, proper guides would be needed.
The oldest clankers functioning today are the last of those guides. These beings were originally built to be construction workers, factory hands, or even household servants, never soldiers. Their makers, in a frantic haste, rebuilt these simple automatons into conscious beings capable of defending the gnomish children. For these last few original constructs, their self-awareness began the moment they were rebuilt and stretches across the centuries to today. For most however; their depth of memory is a much shallower reservoir.
Only fragments of text remain on the science behind creating more of these beings. While most efforts that attempt to replicate the machines of old end in failure, on rare occasions an actual spark of life kindled. Often one that rattles, squeaks, fumes, and clanks - hence the name that was chosen for these living constructs… the clankers.
Today, it’s a rare thing to see a clanker rattling about outside of the new Gnomish stronghold of Homestead. Whether among the gnomes or in Tairos at large they chug along, going about their businesses as best as their fragile cogitors and logic crystals will allow. Clankers are an imperfect creation, made from handed-down and half understood techno-arcana belonging to their ancestors. These circumstances are what have led clankers to have a reputation for wildly inconsistent personalities. The goal is for their thought processes to be deeply analytical and task-orientated. In practice, they are often scatterbrained with a touch of either whimsy or volatility.
Physically, no two clankers will look exactly alike. They are cast from whatever metal their makers could get their hands on and designed with specific functions in mind. Some are bipedal, others wheeled or tracked. Some have multiple sets of gangly arms, others only a single pair. There are really only two consistencies shared by clankers. First, is a central core - a roughly spherical containment unit that holds their most vital gears, cogs, processing crystals, and power sources. Second, they’re almost universally a great big mess. Some will be belching smoke from their power source, others leaking fluids or casting off sparks. They are very difficult to miss no matter how busy a room the clanker may find itself in.
Whatever malfunctions or erratic behaviors a Clanker may be prone to, they are cherished among the gnomes and a deep curiosity to all others.
While their shapes can vary from unit to unit, and from repair to repair, there are some commonalities that all clankers share. Their central core tends to be a large spherical unit where their metallic shell is thickest. This shell houses their cogitor, a piece of techno-arcana that contains their "living essence". Cogitors exist to process emotions (to the degree that any individual unit possesses them), channel magic if they are trained to do so, and house their personalities. Connected to the cogitor will be the logic crystals. These crystals are imprinted with the various skills that the clanker is programmed to be proficient in. Lastly, a large central ocular device acts as the clanker's eye, which often glows with the same energy that powers them. Some clankers can have additional eyes but they will always have at least this one ocular device- it allows the central core to be somewhat modular should it need to be installed in a new body.
Genetics and Reproduction
Clankers are not capable of reproduction. The only means of increasing their number is via construction or activating dormant units.
Growth Rate & Stages
Clankers don't grow or go through traditional life cycles. They often are customized or "evolve" as their functions change. The older the unit is, the more prone it is to break down or accumulate mental quirks.
Ecology and Habitats
Clankers are built to function in whatever environment their creator fashioned them for
Dietary Needs and Habits
While clankers don't eat they require fuel and other necessary materials to function. The oldest clankers were made to run off of fuel sources like electricity, a power source that the old gnomish empire had some mastery of. However; clankers still operating today have been built or modified to process all manner of materials such as coal, oil, animal fat, or even crude batteries. Most clankers, regardless of their designed fuel requirements, can operate off of Manacite as well with a few tweaks to their intake manifold.
Clankers do not have any biological cycles but they do require periods of inactivity to recharge their systems and defragment their scattered minds. This is comparable to sleep for living species.
What little information still exists regarding the gnome empire of Carda speaks about these intelligent, thinking, and feeling machines who assisted their creators with all manner of complicated tasks. That is not the case today. The oldest clankers have cogitors that barely function while the newer members of this mechanical species are built using faulty science and substandard parts. This results in clankers who are rife with personality quirks, strange habits, and unreliable logic crystals. Most clankers have personalities that range between eccentric, odd, and goofy, however; there are tales of clankers that have gone fully mad and embarked on bloody killing sprees.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Clankers are certainly made from a number of valuable parts, metals, and exotic devices. Their kind can be preyed upon by those looking to profit off of their valuable parts. Worse still, many don't see clankers as sentient at all and see them as ideal servants or slaves.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Almost all clankers can be found in and around Homestead. Others can be found traveling Tairos with their gnomish companions. There are more than a few clankers buried in the muck and ruins of old Carda, slowly moldering away as they await someone to come along and activate them
Clanker intelligence varies from individual to individual. They are certainly capable of being intelligent but that is not always the case. Degraded parts, lack of maintenance, and faulty logic crystals are just some of the reasons an intelligent clanker's mind may be less than sharp.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Unless modified, clanker vision is comparable to that of a human
Civilization and Culture
Clankers are generally named by their creators or inheritors; as such their names are entirely dependent on the whims of others
Clankers do not possess any biological sex when they are created. They are free to assume any gender they like and switch among them as they choose. Others prefer to embrace a genderless existence.
There are very few clankers left in Tairos and the technology to make more is unreliable in the best of circumstances. Generally, efforts to create a new clanker result in a hollow automaton with no sentience of its own, or something with little more utility than a kitchen appliance crossed with a paper weight. Despite the idiosyncrasies and quirks of each clanker, they are precious to the gnomish people.
Varies though clankers usually have heights that range between that of the average gnome to the average dwarf
They can be fairly hefty. Even the smallest of clankers will weigh around 90 to 100 pounds. The more modifications and add-ons installed the heavier the individual can be