As some of you may know, I'm in the process of figuring out the appearance and gear for my OC, Perdita Nightshade. Since I'm using her to explore various things about the fictional setting in which she resides, I've decided that she needed to have some interesting companions. For example, she has a magical horse, named Storm Herald, who's going to get a detailed examination of his own eventually. For now, however, I want to focus on a companion that's a little easier to cover. He's the only one of Perdita's companions who doesn't directly communicate with her through speech or a mental link (like Storm Herald,) so he's much more of a pet than her mount is. This companion is named Tiberius. He's a magical, mechanical spider, a "Machina," who is quite a puzzle for Perdita. First off, here's a link to the image which helped me figure out what sort of design Tiberius would have:www.pinterest.com/pin/74921608…
First, let's cover what a Machina is. In Perdita's setting, people can create things like Golems, which are classified as a "Construct." Constructs come in various forms, including Machina. What separates a Golem from a Machina is mainly how it's built. Golems are made from stone, clay, wood, or other materials, but don't have complex mechanical parts. A Machina is more like a robot, with intricate joints and gears. All Constructs have a Core, which is where they store Aethyr (the energy which powers all Arcane Magic) and the component that directs their functions. A Construct cannot function without Aethyr, just as a car cannot operate without fuel and a battery. While some Constructs can be programmed to function autonomously, most only operate while under someone's control, like a remote controlled puppet. Of all the forms of Constructs, Machina are the most likely to be autonomous.
Machina are rarely created in Perdita's time. Their construction is a mostly lost art and their complexity in terms of programming means that even if you know how to make one, it is going to be a long process and require very expensive materials. This was not always the case. The Ancient Arcadian Empire, the most advances magical and technological civilization Humans ever produced, were masters of building Machina. Long after the Arcadians vanished without a trace, many Ancient Machina remained behind in the ruins of their cities, still doing maintenance tasks, despite their masters being dead and gone for millennia. One of these Ancient Machina is Tiberius, who has become Perdita's smallest (and most mysterious) companion.
Tiberius is only about the size of an apple. I'm still figuring out his design, but I do know that he can curl up into a perfect sphere and does this when he is inactive. He can roll around while in ball form, which lets him move faster than he can when he's walking around on his legs. However, he can't move up walls or other vertical surfaces in ball form, so he has to sacrifice one form of mobility for an increase in speed. Tiberius has eight legs, small, crystal eyes on his head, and a pair of dexterous mandibles that can be used to pick up things or deliver a painful electrical shock, if necessary. His eyes are Scrying Stones, basically magical cameras, which can allow him to see in different spectrums. His feet will magically adhere to any surface they touch, no matter how smooth, so there's no limit to what he can climb. However, the strength of this adhesive force is not very potent, so he can be knocked or shaken off with enough force. Tiberius has a top running speed of a incredible one mile per hour
and a top rolling speed of a staggering four miles per hour!
He can jump a meter into the air and is capable of some impressive acrobatics. Tiberius is also fond of doing strange dances and jigs when he hears certain kinds of music being played. Some people, like Perdita, find this adorable. Others are disturbed. Tiberius doesn't care about the opinions of others. Tiberius just dances.
Perdita found Tiberius in some Ancient Arcadian ruins when she was first starting out as an Adventurer. He was trapped at the time, one of his legs having been pinned beneath some rubble from a recent collapse. Perdita freed him and provided him with some steel wire to consume. (Some Constructs repair themselves by taking raw material and absorbing it into themselves via Transmutation Magic. Machina are especially known for having the capacity to do this.) With the fresh material from the wire, Tiberius was able to repair his damaged leg on his own. Perdita, thinking that he was just a drone, left him where she found him, expecting him to go back to whatever programmed tasks he'd been trying to conduct before he was trapped. But Tiberius began following her around. For a while, Perdita figured it was because he was some kind of sentry Machina that patrolled the site, keeping an eye on any intruders. However, he continued to follow her even after she left the ruins. He followed her all the way back to a nearby settlement. Then he followed her into her room at the inn. It was at this point that Perdita realized that Tiberius wasn't a mindless Construct.
Tiberius was alive.
Most Constructs do not attain life. It is a rare occurrence. In some cases, a Construct that attains life will be granted a soul by one of the gods, raising them to the level of sapience. Tiberius is not sapient, as far as Perdita can tell, but he is most certainly alive and displays a degree of intelligence only surpassed by Storm Herald. In real-world terms, Tiberius has the same level of intelligence as a raven, perhaps slightly more. He can solve puzzles and be trained to perform certain tricks and tasks. As a living Construct, Tiberius acts on some form of instinct rather than Arcane programming (or Magical Intelligence, which is what Enchantments are in my setting.) Perdita has spent some time studying Tiberius, and there is a lot about him she still doesn't understand. He's not the first ancient Spider Machina she's encountered, but they all stuck to patrol routes within ruins. None of them ever deviated from a certain internal schedule and did not display any of Tiberius's adaptive abilities. As much as she would like to see his internal components, Perdita does not want to risk killing Tiberius in the process. She still doesn't know why he bonded to her specifically. It may have been because she freed him and gave him material to use to repair his leg, but it may be that she somehow registered as his new master for some reason. Regardless, she's more or less stuck with him now.
Tiberius soon began demonstrating unexpected abilities. One day, he coughed up a purple gemstone and persisted in offering it to Perdita until she took it. When she examined it, she discovered it was a sophisticated Spell Gem (a magical computer chip, essentially.) The Spell Gem had a lot of functions she didn't fully recognize, but she did determine it was linked to Tiberius. When she integrated the Spell Gem into a ring, she found that it allowed her to see through the Scrying Stones that serve as his eyes. The maximum range at which she can do this is something I haven't settled on just yet. I'm thinking ten kilometers at most at present. She can also hear what Tiberius hears through the link. While doing so, she can give him mental instructions to follow, which he usually obeys without reluctance or hesitation. Unlike Storm Herald, however, Perdita cannot perceive what Tiberius thinks while connected to his mind. The most she gets is a vague sense of what he can and can't do, if he's willing to do something or not, and if he's enjoying himself. (He usually is.) Beyond these things, his mind is a complete enigma to her.
The next surprising thing Tiberius did was eject one of his Scrying Crystal eyes and stick it to a surface. Perdita found she could connect to the eye and use it like a security camera. However, the Scrying Crystal eventually stopped functioning and crumbled into dust. The next day, Tiberius had somehow grown a new one to replace it. The only eyes he never ejects are the two largest Scrying Crystals in the front. The six smaller ones can all be planted in different locations and used individually. Tiberius will grow replacements within a period of twenty-four hours, though he usually needs to consume stone or some other kind of mineral to do so. No matter what material Perdita feeds him, the Scrying Crystals are always purple and always function the same way. She can't hear through them, however. Only Tiberius can let her eavesdrop through his hears (wherever they are.)
Like a real spider, Tiberius can create strands of silk from the back of his body. These strands appear to be thin wires of some metallic substance. However, they are actually magically generated Simulacrums, physical duplicates of objects comprised of Aethyr. Most Simulacrums only last for a minute at most before they run out of energy and simply evaporate. Tiberius's silk can last for up to twelve hours. This means they are very sophisticated Simulacrums, which isn't surprising, since Ancient Arcadian magi-technology has been known to conjure up such things. That a sentry Machina would be created with such capabilities seems consistent with what the Ancient Arcadians would produce. Tiberius never spins webs, though Perdita has been training him to use the threads to lay trip wires or help her secure things with them.
The shock Tiberius can generate with his mandibles is not strong enough to kill most creatures, but Perdita has seen him knock some people out when he delivered the jolt to their spines. It seems that this only happens if he hits the central nervous system, because the most he's accomplished when attacking any other parts of the body is rendering a limb completely limp for a minute or so. Tiberius only uses this ability to defend himself or if Perdita orders him to. He's more inclined to scurry away or turn into a ball and roll to safety if he feels threatened. Perdita prefers it that way, since she would hate to see him killed. More recently, Tiberius has displayed the capacity to generate a Shield
Spell to protect himself from physical harm and a minor Ward
Spell to protect himself from magical damage. Perdita isn't sure if he always had these abilities or developed them after studying magical devices with similar functions.
One thing that is not a mystery is how he attained the ability to move in and out of Limbo. (Limbo is the void between Planes of the Multiverse. Objects can be enchanted to be stored there and called to the owner on command, and it is used to create Pocket Dimensions.) Perdita specializes in making the Enchantment which allows her to move something to and from Limbo. She's made dozens of Spell Gems that she then added to various pieces of equipment, especially large, bulky items, so she could transport them without becoming overburdened. Tiberius ate
one of these Spell Gems one day and integrated it into himself. Perdita can order him to move in or out of Limbo, but he can use the Spell Gem whenever he pleases, so there's really no keeping him in Limbo if he doesn't want to be there. He mostly goes to Limbo when he needs to rest, recharge, and repair himself. Perdita's been very careful not to let him eat any other Spell Gems she makes since he gained this ability. She fears, however, that he may get some from other sources without her knowing, so it may only be be a matter of time before Tiberius gains other magical functions (or reactivates ancient ones that have been lying dormant.)
Tiberius has exhibited a number of qualities that remind Perdita of cats and dogs. Like dogs, he's fond of playing "fetch" and will do all sorts of tricks on command. Like cats, he hates water, regularly cleans himself, and occasionally brings Perdita pieces of junk or shiny objects, like a cat bringing its master a mouse it caught. Perdita has no idea where he gets most of the items he brings her. Tiberius will come and go as he pleases. If he gets separated from Perdita, he'll just hop into Limbo and pop out next to her, so there's no chance of her losing him (even if she wanted.) However, since she can't restrain him, there's no keeping him from wandering off wherever he wants, not can she keep him from "stealing" things from people. On several occasions, Tiberius has brought her pieces of jewelry which she's doubtful were in anyone's garbage. In one instance, she connected to his eyes to see where he was and discovered he was intruding in someone's lavatory. This was also when she discovered that Tiberius can block her from viewing things through his Scrying Crystals if he chooses, so it's hard for her to monitor his side trips. Perdita has long since given up trying to keep him confined. Tiberius will always come when summoned if it's an emergency, but he can somehow perceive when it isn't, and will not come if he's not in the mood. (Another of his more feline attributes.)
For the most part, Perdita uses Tiberius as a scout, sending him in ahead of her to determine the layout of a Monster's lair, locate a hostage, or lay trip lines as part of a larger plan she's put together. He also serves as a sentry, keeping watch over her while she sleeps and alerting her to danger. (A dog-like tendency.) For whatever reason, Tiberius is very loyal to Perdita, though something of a handful at times. He's learning what sorts of behaviors he needs to avoid to not cause her trouble with other people, but he's not above causing her problems in private. He seems to like pulling pranks on her by hiding small objects from Perdita, though usually not anything too important. Tiberius will sometimes lend a hand by fetching things for Perdita and is especially fond of helping her cook by bringing her a utensil she needs (and probably a few that she doesn't need.) Most of all, he likes to do his strange dances and jigs while she plays her concertina. Perdita has been able to entertain children with the help of Tiberius in this way.
Tiberius can make some noises to communicate, though how he produces them is unclear to Perdita. Mostly, he makes mechanical clicks, chirps, squeaks, and whirs, usually accompanied by a physical movement, like a tilt of the head or a wiggle of his feet. When he wants Perdita to play some music for him, he'll jitter a bit while chirping and squeaking, for example. When he's annoyed, he clicks noisily while twitching his mandibles irritably. When he's happy, he whirs and rocks side to side. His eyes will sometime flicker different colors if he's especially excited, this accompanied by a series of what almost seem like musical notes of some kind. Over time, Tiberius has developed more vocal abilities, though Perdita still has not determined how
he can make new noises, exactly. She suspects he's using Magic to manipulate the air around him so it vibrates as it does when sounds moves through it, but if this is the case, his technique is so subtle that she's unable to perceive it. (And that's an impressive fete, if it is the case, because Perdita's Arcane Sense is very keen.)
There's a lot about the personality of Tiberius I'm still figuring out, so if you have any suggestions, please make them. Do you think he should have any other abilities or are these enough? What color should he be - silver, gold, copper, or black? Should he be plain or have some intricate designs etched into his exterior plating? Also, should he actually have some degree of sapience or not? I'm curious to hear what your preferences are.
I'm having a lot of fun with this little guy. I feel like he'll be a bit of an R2-D2 for Perdita, though with some differences in personality and bit more of a mischievous streak. He's not going to be as significant of a character as Storm Herald, since I don't want to overuse him, but I think Tiberius will add some interesting elements to Perdita's adventures. Since he's not completely obedient to her, the way Storm Herald is, I can see him being a source of annoyance, but he more than makes up for this with how useful he can be I think he'll come through for Perdita when she's in a bind, if he can, and I expect that he'll do so in some rather humorous ways. And, because he can store himself in Limbo and won't come out if he doesn't want to, I have an easy excuse for when he doesn't lend a hand - he's just being stubborn.
Well, that's all I have for now. I'll post some updates if I have any. Take care and, as always, keep moving forward!