Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"I ought to be thy Adam" - Golemist (Wizard School)

This was a request/challenge by Micah from Nuclear Haruspex. I was all for collaborative work, but my honour was impugned, and thus, a friendly challenge was born! You can find his version here.

Optionally: there are two competing schools of Golemistry engaged in a cold war amongst the hallowed halls of the Foreign Parts. Golemists are uniquely placed in their ability to compete without risking anything other than the material components of their war machines. Consider:

  • Minute golem saboteurs
  • Gigantic mechs stomping about
  • Contracting them as mercenary forces will inevitably result in your opposition receiving a bid as well

These golems are completely different from elven drones. Probably. Maybe. Who's to say?

Credit Henrik Rosenborg

Golemists - smiths, glassblowers, potters, builders, artisans one and all. Warmongers and peacekeepers. Farmers and raiders. Skilled in both mundane craft, and the illustrious art of bringing life and force to base material. Some have likened them to alchemists in their search for life, but their motives are usually far more understandable. They solve problems. Not problems like "what is beauty", because that would fall with the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. These fine men and women solve practical problems. The ones that can be solved with big damn robots.

You are Chartered in Foreign Parts, but an Outsider Around Here. If the priesthood ever infiltrates the ranks of the Golemists, you'll probably end up being Banished.

Perk: You can cast in heavy armour without penalty. If heavily armoured wizard robes are even physically possible, you'll be able to use them. You start at journeyman-level in the skill related to your starting spell (Rank 2).

Restriction: You have disadvantage on checks to learn, alter or communicate with non-Golemist spells. You start with only one spell.

Starting equipment: Depends on first level spell.

(I don't do cantrips. If I did, one of them would be: "If you succeed on an Intelligence check, point to a patch of ground or other suitable location, and begin laughing. Cast your Create Golem spell on the frame you hid there months or years earlier. You can only ever do this once")

Spell List

Create [Material] Golem (spells one to six follow this same basic pattern)
R: touch T: inactive golem frame D: [sum] varies

The target of this spell is a golem frame, a clump of material that probably has at least one limb. It has a "unit", being the amount of time that has been spent creating the frame. Expensive materials will be required in order for a golem to take more work than a day. Magic Dice used to create golems are Invested (only return to you, expended or unexpended, when the spell ends).

Golem stats: [sum] HP, [dice] HD, 10+[dice] Defence, 9+[dice] Strength, 11-[dice] Move, damage based on size. 

Golems take one damage every unit of time that passes while fully active. For example, a golem that took one hour to create takes one damage per hour of combat, heavy lifting, hiking over rough terrain etc. They wouldn't take damage from being propped up in a corner or lying in wait for an ambush, but might take one damage from a full day walking around town.

Maximum size:
1 MD - Human, 1d6 damage
2 MD - Cart, 2d6 damage
3 MD - Building, 2d6 damage
4 MD - Dragon, 3d6 damage

Golems that are larger than a cart (3+ MD) have advantage against attacks that only target a small area i.e. individual swords and arrows.

Optionally: You can patch up to half the HP of a golem with an INT check, another unit of time and sufficient material, but only once per spell-cast (This school has yet to be playtested, implement this rule-change if Golemists feel underpowered)

1. Create Clay Golem
Starting equipment: portable wheel, three slabs of paper-wrapped clay, golem-smashing hammer (1d8+STR, 2-h)

Includes mud, bricks, loam. Clay golems reduce all damage received by [dice], but have other particular strengths or weaknesses. They are the standard by which others golems are compared. If [sum] > 12, clay golems are immune to spells that don't involve moving large amounts of earth.

2. Create Stone Golem
Starting equipment: chisel, crowbar, pickaxe (1d6+STR), lantern and oil

Stone golems gain an additional +4 Defence while upright and on equal footing with their attacker. They take double damage from bludgeoning weapons while prone. Stone golems are relentlessly effective when it comes to smashing other stone articles. Some Golemists chisel the general structure of a golem frame into a stone wall, then allow the newborn golem to carve it's way out. Stone golems with 6+ HP remaining are immune to piercing weapons, but can be tricked into damaging themselves if they twist and turn quickly. Many a stone golem has accidentally ground itself down to so much sand and useless gravel.

3. Create Metallic Golem
Starting equipment: portable anvil, hammer and pliers, sword (1d6+STR), shield or helmet

Metallic golem frames require, at a bare minimum, at least a day of work to create. They have +[dice] to Defence (again), and regular maintenance can negate the damage caused by daily wear and tear. Metallic golems are more precise and can be specialised to gain one of the following benefits:

  • Defence (a third time)
  • Attack and damage
  • +2x[dice] to specific tasks like mining, woodcutting, hauling etc.

4. Create Flesh Golem
Starting equipment: bonesaw (1d6+STR), scalpel (1d6), three bags of limbs

Fleshcrafting isn't necromancy. Probably. Mostly. It's almost exactly as illegal and immoral though. Flesh golems are incredibly quick, having 11+[dice] Move instead of 11-[dice]. They also have [dice] properties of the bodies parts used to create them. Some properties, like flight or spellcasting, require two "slots" in terms of [dice]. They also rot quite easily, taking a minimum of 1 damage per day.

5. Create Wood Golem
Starting equipment: hatchet (1d6+STR), saw (1d6), chisel and plane

A peaceful and practical art, houses in Foreign Parts are occasionally built from purpose-created wood golems that move themselves into place, lock joints, and quietly die. Wood golems take half damage from bludgeoning and piercing attacks, but double damage from slashing and fire.

6. Create [Weird] Golem
Not actually a spell. Roll or pick one of the following materials. There are even stranger golems out there, like the impossibly dangerous cursed metal golem.

Glass Golem
Starting equipment: miniature kiln, glassblowing pipe, bag of sand

Golems made from glass must save vs. shattering every time they take bludgeoning damage. However, the resultant explosion of semi-animate shrapnel deals [dice]d6 damage to anything within [dice]x10ft.

Wire Golem
Starting equipment: wizard robes (+1 MD, -1 Def), 100ft of "wire"

Sometimes incorrectly called an "air golem", wire golems can be made from silk, twine, blood vessels etc. laid out in precise ley-line patterns. They take twice as long to create as other golems (so, divide the time taken to create in half to find the given "unit"), but are just as durable and strong as golems made from seemingly sturdier materials, and can be repaired twice as quickly. They are also really freaky.

Wax Golem
Starting equipment: three bags of tallow, 30ft of wicking, fire-lighter

Very similar to clay golems, taking -[dice] damage from attacks, wax golems always possess a wick out of the top of their head equivalent. While burning, wax golems go into a frenzy, gaining an additional attack per round, but take 1 damage. They also do not have any damage reduction against fire.

From Hearthstone

Fire Golem
Starting equipment: Three flasks of napalm, pouch of matches, fire-proof gloves

It's not possibly to spend more than a minute creating a fire golem, unless you have access to rarer types of fire. While they may appear similar to fire elementals, fire golems cannot spread by simply burning more material. However, they don't need fuel the same way a fire elemental does.

Water Golem
Starting equipment: shovel (1d4+STR), bucket, serene patience

Likewise, golems made from water are not the same as water elementals. Their structure is determined by a mould (usually dug into the mud by the side of a lake) that is carefully allowed to fill with water. They can only form this one shape, any deviations causes the water to bleed and fall away.

7. Swarm
R: touch T: object, golem, or creature D: [sum] rounds for creatures, otherwise permanent

Target multiplies into [sum] copies, each 1/[sum] the size of the original, with 1/[sum] HP. Unwilling targets can save to negate, automatically save in [sum] rounds so long as all of the copies are within 5ft.

8. Animate Object
R: 30ft T: [dice] objects D: [sum] rounds of strenuous activity, [sum] minutes otherwise

Target object comes to partial life. It will attempt to obey any command that you specifically give it, though it may have limitations. Books always try to fly, but have some difficulty with the power-to-weight ratio. Objects have a [dice]-in-8 chance of being particularly loyal, this is only rolled the first time you cast the spell on a particular target, it is retained if you cast it again no matter the result. credit Jacob for the last bit

9. Dispel Enchantment
R: 50ft T: spell D: investment

Reduce the duration, damage or number of targets of a spell or enchanted object by [sum] or [dice], whichever is more applicable. Gain +2 to [sum] if you are touching the target. If you reduce the effectiveness of the spell to 0, then you can end it permanently by making an opposed Intelligence check.

10. Transmute
R: 30ft T: depends D: [sum] minutes

Transmute one material to another. The quantity is limited by [dice]: 1 - bucketful, 2 - tubful, 3 - wagonful, 4 - way too much.

The traditional list of materials is:
  1. Stone
  2. Mud
  3. Fire
  4. Blood
  5. Metal
  6. Wood
  7. Slime
  8. Light
  9. Water
  10. Flesh
Roll twice, once for the input (target) and once for the output (material produced) There is a much larger list here, and a generator here (bottom of the list at time of writing). As a Golemist, when you learn this spell, you can choose to tweak either the input or output of this spell to match the material used in your Create Golem spell (50% chance of each).

Emblem Spells

11. Mass Golemification A.K.A. Clay Goo
R: 50ft T: creature D: save ends

If the target fails a save, they take [sum] damage as their body twists into dozens of tiny proto-golems. Which, in turn, begin to rip and tear at the body and convert yet more of their flesh into tiny golems, dealing [dice]d6+[rounds] damage every round they fail a save. The spell is locked to the target, so an ally can assist by removing/destroying the golems to grant a bonus to the save. To be clear, this doesn't end the world, only the specified target is ever effected. There is a safeguard in place. Just the one. Don't remove it.

The whole process is quite horrifying to witness, hirelings may be required to roll a morale check. Golems, naturally, are not required to make such a morale check and may instead coo over the miracle of birth.

12. Animate City
R: touch T: inhabited settlement D: [sum] minutes

This is a rebuilt and partially restrained apocalyptic spell. Material component: the key to the city, a formal writ of authority, a firm royal handshake or any other signifier of equivalent merit. If you don't have this component and roll any Mishap, you are instead dragged into the foundations of the city, and entombed therein.

Animate [dice] of the following for [sum] minutes:
  • The roads
  • The houses
  • The walls
  • Any emplaced defences
  • Tunnels, basements, sewers, water sources

You know you want to try it. Credit Katarina Geffertova

  1. +1 Trauma
  2. 1d6 damage
  3. Mutation for 1d6 rounds, save or permanent
  4. 1d4 limbs rendered useless for [sum] minutes
  5. Spell gets loose, inhabiting a random nearby object or person, if left alone it'll return after a day
  6. Terrible accident, deal [dice]d6 damage to a random ally

  1. The golem becomes sentient, gains free will, and will likely escape. All golems you create from now on will also be sentient.
  2. A random ally or NPC is replaced with a seamless and identical golem.
  3. Your mind, and the mind of the golem created or target of this spell switch places permanently.
The Dooms of the Golemist are comparatively mild, potentially even beneficial, but are also unavoidable.

... Wait... What's this? A third emblem spell? Oh...

13. Create Occultum Golem
R: oh no T: oh god D: save me

It's here. She's here.

13. Create Occultum Golem
R: touch T: an empires worth of occultum, carved into an impossible shape D: eternal

Requires 4 MD to be permanently expended in the casting. Reduces the lifespan of the caster by [sum]x10 years. At this point, the mindless golem frame will be able to slowly move, and occasionally follow directions. In order to complete the spell, three impossible things must be achieved. Examples include: collect the colour blue and mix it with the ennui of visiting a home you no longer live at, bring the golem frame at the top of an infinitely tall tower, kill your grandparents before you were born. For each impossible task you achieve, the golem frame will be able to do one of the following:

- Think and talk, gaining 10 years of wisdom for every day that passes
- Move with the grace of a ballet dancer and the force of a river
- Cast any spell it has ever observed

Upon completing all three tasks, the Occultum Dragon will be born.


  1. Nice post! Glad i impugned your honor

  2. Animate City is awesome! The Occultum Golem is absolutely terrifying. I like some of the ideas about the Golem. The Shem written on the Golem as Haruspex does is so very fascinating to me. What about a name imbues life? What names could be given? Could you kill someone and inscribe their name on a golem, and dress it in their skin? Would their name allow the golem to simulate them and access their memory?

    Maybe I also need to write a post about golems...

    1. Do it. The boundary between life and sentience is really interesting to think about. What are we but golems made of flesh that believe we are alive?


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