Golems are magically created automatons of great power. The construction of
one involves mighty magic and elemental forces.
Background: Golems predate any known literature about their creation. The wizard who
discovered the process, if indeed there was only one, is unknown. Some of the
rediscoverers have written their secrets in various arcane manuals, enchanted to aid
the reader in construction. It is thought that the first golem created was a
flesh golem, possibly an accident of some great wizard experimenting with
reanimating human bodies. Flesh golems are easier to make than any other sort because
they are made of organic material that once lived. Later, the process was
generalized to suit certain earthen materials, which produce much stronger golems.
Theory: Golems are all made from elemental material. So far, the great wizards have
only discovered how to use various earthen materials, such as clay, stone, iron,
and even glass, to make golems. The exceptions, such as the flesh golem, use
organic materials as components. The animating force of the golem is an elemental
spirit from the elemental plane of Earth. Since the spirit is not a natural
part of the body, it is not affected by most spells or even by most weapons (see
individual descriptions). The process of creating the golem binds the unwilling
spirit to the artificial body, and enslaves it to the will of the golem's
creator. The nature of this spirit is unknown, and has so far eluded the grasp of
all researchers. What is known is that it is hostile to all Prime Material plane
life forms, especially toward the spell caster that bound it to the golem.
Carving or assembling the golem's physical body is an exacting task. Most
spell casters end up hiring skilled labor to do it for them, such as a stone mason
or dwarf for stone golems, etc. If the maker has no experience working in that
material, the construction time is doubled. The standard spells for creating
golems specify the size of the creature. Anything bigger or smaller will not
work, although some have investigated spells for other sizes of golems, with
The costs listed include the base physical body and the unusual materials and
spell components that are consumed or become a permanent part of the golem. The
rituals used to animate the golem require as much as a full uninterrupted
month to complete (included in the time below), though some variants such as the
necrophidius and scarecrow reduce that time by employing shortcuts. In all cases
the spells used can come from devices, such as wands or scrolls. If a magical
tome is used to make the golem, no spells are needed, and the level of the spell
caster can be significantly lower.
Golem Creation Table
(Note: W18 = 18th-level wizard, P17 = 17th level priest, etc.)
Combat: All golems share several traits in common. They are all immune to all forms of
poison and cannot be affected by hold, charm, fear, or other mindbased spells, as they have no minds of their own. Certain spells
can harm golems; these are mentioned below.
Most golems are fearless and need never check morale.
The pieces of the golem must be sewn together from the dead bodies of normal
humans that have not decayed significantly. A minimum of 6 different bodies must
be used, one for each limb, one for the torso (with head), and a different one
for the brain. In some cases, more bodies may be necessary to form a complete
golem. The spells needed are wish, polymorph any object, geas, protection from normal missiles, and strength.
Only a lawful good priest can create a clay golem. The body is sculpted from a
single block of clay weighing at least 1000 pounds, which takes about a month.
The vestments, which cost 30,000 gp, are the only materials that are not
consumed and can be reused, reducing the total cost after the first golem. The
spells used are resurrection, animate object, commune, prayer, and bless.
A stone golem's body is chiseled from a single block of hard stone, such as
granite, weighing at least 3000 pounds, which takes 2 months. The rituals to
animate require another month. The materials and spell components alone cost 60,000
gold pieces and the spells used are wish, polymorph any object, geas, and slow.
It takes 5000 pounds of iron,to build the body, which must be done by a
skilled iron smith. The spells used in the ritual are wish, polymorph any object, geas, and cloud kill. Construction of the body requires an ornate sword which is incorporated into
the monster. A magical sword can be used, in which case there is a 50% chance
that it is drained of magic when the golem is animated. The golem can only use
those abilities of the sword that are automatic. Any property that requires a
command word and any sentient ability of the sword is lost. If the sword is ever
removed from the golem, it loses all of its magic.
The first golems were, undoubtedly, all traditional golems. Over the years,
however, various wizards and priests examined the techniques employed by earlier
designers and modified them. As they introduced changes, they documented the
processes they used to create their new constructs. This process of study and
modification is never-ending. Even today, the work of these mysterious scholars is
being studied and revised in magical colleges around the world.
Theory: Like other golems, golem variants depend on the powerful forces of elemental
magic to animate them. They have no lives of their own and are animated by a
spirit from the elemental plane of Earth. In some cases this spirit is tricked,
lured, or forced into animating the body while in other cases it comes willingly.
In the former cases, the stone construct sometimes breaks free of the
influence of its creator and becomes a free-willed entity. Because of the nature of its
physical shell, constructs that break free often become berserk killers,
destroying everything in their paths before being annihilated themselves.
Construction: The actual construction of any golem's physical body is a tiring and demanding
task. Although the steps required to create a variant golem differ depending
on the type, they do have some elements in common. The most important of these
is the degree of detail that is put into the carving of the body. In the case of
the caryatid column, for example, the construct must be lovingly crafted with
great skill. In most cases, the wizard or priest creating a caryatid column
hires a professional sculptor or stone mason to undertake this step of the
Less sophisticated golems, like the stone guardian and the primitive
scarecrow, do not require the artistic perfection of the caryatid column. However, they
are often covered with delicate mystical runes or glyphs that must be perfect
if the creature is to be successfully animated.
The body of a bone golem is assembled wholly from the bones of animated
skeletons who have been defeated in combat. Any type of skeletal undead will do, but
all must have been created and slain in the Demiplane of Dread. Only 10% of the
bones from any given skeleton can be used, so the final product is the
compilation of bones from many creatures. Often, there will be animal, monster, and
human bones in the same golem, giving the creature a nightmarish appearance. The
spells woven over the body must include animate dead, symbol of fear, binding, and wish.
The caryatid column can be created by a priest or wizard using a special
version of the manual of golems. Whenever such a tome is discovered, there is a 20%
chance that it describes a caryatid column.
These creatures resemble a child's toy -- often a baby doll or stuffed animal.
Doll golems can serve as either the guardians of children or as murdering
things too foul to contemplate.
The spells needed to complete the animation are imbue with spell ability, Tasha's uncontrollable hideous laughter, (un)holy
word, bless, and prayer. The first known examples of this type of golem turned up on the Demiplane of
Dread in the land of Sanguinia.
This creature is fashioned in the image of a real gargoyle and is often placed
as a warden atop buildings, cathedrals, or tombs. It is most similar to the
stone golem; the body must be carved from a single slab of granite (weighing
3,000 pounds) and prepared with expensive components. Only the vestments created
for the process are reusable (saving 15,000 gp on the cost of additional gargoyle
golems). The spells required to complete the process are bless, exaction, (un)holy word, stone shape, conjure earth elemental, and prayer.
The glass golem is composed entirely of stained glass. Perhaps the most
artistic of all golems, its creation requires the following spells: glassteel, animate object, prismatic spray, rainbow, and wish. Because of the mixture of spells, this type of golem is usually built by
multi- or dual-classed characters or with the aid of a powerful assistant.
The first appearance of glass golems is not recorded with certainty. It is
believed that they were created by a spell-caster who fancied himself an artist
(hence their eerie beauty), but no one knows.
Juggernauts that can alter their form require an extra step in their creation,
which normally resembles the process to make a stone golem. Prior to animating
a juggernaut, the wizard must use the mimic blood as a material component in
the final spells woven over the body. This addition gives this golem variant
intelligence and an alignment.
A necrophidius may be created in one of three ways. The first is a special
form of manual of golems that provides secrets of its construction. The Necrophidicon, as it is called, must be burnt to ashes that provide the monster's animating
force. The other two arcane and priestly processes are long and complex. A
wizard must cast limited wish, geas, and charm person spells. A priest requires the spells quest, neutralize poison, prayer, silence, and snake charm. Whichever method is used, the monster requires a complete giant snake
skeleton (either poisonous or constrictor), slain within 24 hours of the
enchantment's commencement. Each necrophidius is built for a single specific purpose (which
must be in the spellcaster's mind when he creates it), such as "Kill Ragnar
the Bold." The necrophidius never seeks to twist the intent of its maker, but its
enchantments fade when its task is done or cannot be completed; for example,
when it kills Ragnar.
The maker must want the necrophidius to serve its purpose. He could not, for
example, build a death worm to "Sneak into the druid's hut and steal his staff,"
if he really intended for the necrophidius to merely provide a distraction. He
could not build more than one death worm and assign both to kill Ragnar, since
he could not imbue the second death worm with a task that he intended the
first one to complete. For this reason, necrophidii almost never work as a team.
Rumors claim that there were once methods to make a necrophidius gain 1 Hit
Die every century it was pursuing its purpose.
Scarecrows can only be created either by using a special manual or by a god
answering the plea of a priest employing the following spells: animate object, prayer, command, and quest. The final step of the process, casting the quest spell, is done during a new moon.
Scarecrows can be constructed to kill a specific person. To do so, the clothes
worn by the scarecrow must come from the intended victim. Once the scarecrow
is animated, the priest need only utter a single word -- "Quest". The scarecrow
then moves in a direct line toward the victim. When it reaches the victim, the
scarecrow disregards all other beings and concentrates its gaze and attacks
entirely on the person it has been created to kill. After slaying its victim, a
quested scarecrow's magic dissipates and it collapses into dust.
A stone guardian is very similar to a traditional stone golem, but it has some
unique abilities its ancestor does not. In physical appearance, the two
constructs are quite similar, but the stone guardian is usually decorated with runes
and magical glyphs.
A stone guardian is created with the following spells: enchant an item, transmute mud to rock, magic mouth, and limited wish or wish. In addition, the wizard creating the guardian may cast a detect invisible spell to give the creature that power.
The initial material of the body is mud around a heart of polished stone. As
the various spells are woven into the body, a spirit from the elemental plane of
Earth is forced to enter the body and animate it. Because the spirit is there
against its will, there is a 20% chance that the golem goes berserk each time
it is activated.
A special ring of protection can be created when the stone guardian is animated; this prevents the
guardian from striking at anyone wearing it. In addition, all those within 10 feet of
the ring wearer are also immune to attack. Rings of this type function only
against the guardian they were made with and provide no protection from any other
(See also Wizard Spells and Priest Spells, Player’s Handbook)
|Type of Golem