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Golems. Seeking Novelty from DM-types


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#1 Lastman

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:48 PM

Golem types of the Old School: Clay, Flesh, Iron, Stone. Lots more new ones that aren't canon in my thinking, but I am old fashioned.

Fantasy robots programmed by magic-users and clerics.

They can be employed by good or bad guys but are of Neutral Alignment. And mindless. They have no free will, and will keep doing the same task until long after their creator is dead. This is explored masterfully in Terry Pratchett's excellent book Feet of Clay. They can't die, but can be destroyed, and that's hard to do.

Guardians: Looks like a statue, complete with pigeon litter.
Soldiers: No need to feed, but what happens when the enemy is eradicated?
Laborers: one can work all 3 shifts, forever.
Assistants: The creator would have to be alive, or would he?

What else?

1. There could be a museum where some of the statues are golems.

2. A golem could be at the bottom of a well. Ready to climb out and fight, or hurl rocks up into the room, or execute other programming.

3. A golem could be sealed at the top of a tower, ready to drop stuff, or ready to pull people up. How would his ammo be replenished if his level were sealed from the bottom?

4. The golem could be crafted in the shape of a woman or man. A mindless memorial of some long dead lover. (This one will grab the interest of weirdos.)

5. Pinocchio! No.

6. The golem could be sealed into a wall, to reset some Indiana Jones-style traps.

7. They can go berserk and become uncontrolled. Flesh golem looks like a zombie.

8. Someone using golems for labor might provoke the wrath of local craftsmen.

9. Do they need light to see? Three of the four types don't have fleshy eyeballs--just a carven representation of the outwardly visible parts. They probably "see" with magic. Maybe they can "see" into other dimensions or planes, and serve as supernatural elevator operators, or sentinels to warn of extra-dimensional invaders.

10. Golems might need to be repaired every few decades. Repaired using rare quest items. The creator might open his supply closet to find the party has made off with his loot. He'd want it back, because those weren't just any gems, they were GOLEM EYES! And maybe he could see through them and track the party to the local pawn shop. (Even if they weren't GOLEM EYES he'd still want his gems back. I would.) GOLEM BALLS!

11. A golem created to be an assistant could be in a holding pattern since its creator died, just waiting in the ruins of some long forgotten castle/lab/school/tower to follow a person of the right class, as long as the correct words are spoken. The ruins might be dust-free if cleaning was one of his instructions.

12. What if a golem dug down to the core of the planet? CHINA SYNDROME!

13. What if a golem was commanded to dig a tunnel and it never stopped? Cave-ins would only slow it down, and not every part of the tunnel would collapse. This could be an underground highway to lots of interesting and dangerous places. This could cause sinkholes in towns, into which adventurers could delve. Or fall. Or have their campsites sucked into.

14. What if several golems were commanded to dig tunnels, starting from a hub? If you found a tunnel and followed one way, you'd catch up to the golem. If you followed it the other way, you'd reach the hub. What if things from places through which the golem burrowed gathered at the hub?

This is GOLD! More golden than the mummy topic! Copyright mine mine mine! Where's my genius grant?

More! More!

Let's hear some novel applications for golems. Not new types... any type can be adapted to these efforts.


Edit: Thanks to Buglips for unjamming by topic idea block. "Golems, maybe? I find them underutilized..."

#2 joshuaslater

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:06 PM

A Steely Dan Golem would add spice to any roleplaying game.
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#3 Girot

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:40 PM

I'm thinkin of a Pimp Golem. A stone cold killa who keeps his woofes in line and makes sure they get paid!

Okay seriously I'm thinking one could create Golems to protect (and maintain the purity of) one's harem.

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#4 Matbar

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:51 PM

I loved the ideas based on an endlessly tunneling mindless golem to explain a dungeon setting. A few other things that immediately leapt to mind when I read your post:

6. The golem could be sealed into a wall, to reset some Indiana Jones-style traps.

7. They can go berserk and become uncontrolled. Flesh golem looks like a zombie.


These two combined reminded me of The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe. Check it out, it's a short read and not a bad background for a crazed flesh golem.

Also I think gargoyles on various cathedrals would make an excellent disguise for stone golems.
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#5 Qwyksilver

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 02:25 PM

Some sort of construction/maintenance/cleaning bot that is in contest with s town/city expanding into its sphere.

Golem designed as an autopilot that has taken control of a ship- sea or air or sand.

A looney bin of golems that can't be readily destroyed but were poorly programmed...bad logic etc. If you have seen WallE think of the repair bay. Maybe they were stored in an anti magic field that kept them inert.

In darksun some sort of forge or golem that defiled an area requiring the life force to function. It was inert because its batteries essentially died. It keeps hop skipping closer to a major city as it jumps and destroys each caravan that finds it.


Edited by Qwyksilver, 24 September 2012 - 02:29 PM.

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#6 psyberwolfe1

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 03:14 PM

The Ravenloft Doll Golem. Greatest tool of noble child assassination in D&D. Players deliver the doll golem.

The Shield Guardian is also another great D&D 3.x golem because now you have the control device being the McGuffin. The mayor of the town wears the control device in his sleep and the town's shield guardian goes on a murderous night time rampage.

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Does anybody else find it odd, by the way, that the information age has led to language becoming an oblique and imprecise tool where even the most straightforward phrasing is pored over with chicken entrails and bone tossing to divine the true meaning?


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#7 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 03:16 PM

Being evil, I'd give out the tools to make a golem for a wizard or priest much earlier than they should be able to. Secret formula, etc. Fast track to BIY golems.

And it'd work. For a while. But eventually, well . . . it would start to do bad things. Little things at first. Then worse and worse things. Real slow, like. So maybe the character doesn't catch on real early. And what's it up to while the character is away?

And maybe the golem, made as per the secret formula is a trick. So that whoever wrote the formula can gradually take over the body. And then maybe the character comes back and finds some suspicious things around, but the golem plays dumb. Even though, secretly, he's built himself a hidden lab.

Where he's making more golems, trying to ressurect some of his buddies like he was.

I could go lots of evil places with something like that.
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#8 Nocturne

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 05:40 AM

Dying old lord has all of his gathered wealth melted down and formed into a golem. You can't take it with you but I'll be damned if anyone else can sort of thing. Rather than being left behind to protect his treasure, it is the treasure, iron golems are accepted as a thing and coins are just more metal. several gems embedded for decoration with an acient tapestry for a cloak or robe. Rumours abound amongst locals of his wealth having never been found when he died and any lunatic who's going to build a golem from treasure is going to have all sorts of nasty traps, hidden passages other golems that look like rusting suits of armour hanging around.


Golem Knights, metal golems made to look like questing knights for some old lords amusement, since his death some are locked in an eternal jousting tournament or mindlessly adventuring forth, sent out to find treasure on some quest they can never complete. If their commands were something like "search out building works underground where no one lives and bring back any treasure" people could first come across one raiding the local mausoleums.
Or there's a pile of destroyed Golems all being offed by some simple trap or terrain feature that their instructions don't allow them to handle but they just keep coming every few days, there be could dozens of them constructed all waiting in a queue, the one at the front waits several days, if previous Golem returns start waiting again, otherwise begin quest. Maybe they were dormant for decades before being awakened somehow* and their old instructions that once sent them through a field now send them through a town whose inhabitants believe they are under a relentless attack.

*A group of heroes nearby have fought someone using a magical artifact that they had to destroy but the villain escaped. The magic released when it was broken re-activated the golems who march onto the town where the heroes were staying so at first it looks like the golems were sent in revenge.

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#9 Jordan Peacock

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:08 AM

Iron Armor Golem. A suit of elaborate armor is found, with the skeletal remains of its previous owner still inside, partially buried under a minor collapse in a passage. The helmet (and skull of previous owner) is nearby in a corner. The armor radiates magic if detected for, and is of a curious design, as it is completely made of iron (no leather securing straps, no padding); every last clasp and part is made of clever iron-works, and all the pieces still move and are very sturdy despite the accumulation of rust.

All one needs to do is to start putting on some of the armor (leggings, breastplate), and the enchantment will kick in, as the rest of the pieces will wrest themselves free and assemble themselves around the wearer. The re-assembled Iron Armor Golem will then begin to carry out its last assignment, with the hapless adventurer trapped inside: It was taking its wearer (a crippled maker of magical marvels -- probably not a conventional spellcaster, since "armor" and "spellcasting" don't play well together in most fantasy systems) to his laboratory. Unfortunately, the laboratory is no longer accessible, as the passage leading there is blocked off by a collapse. The Iron Armor Golem's "programming" compels it to keep roaming about, looking vainly for a passage through.

The wearer of the armor can command the golem, but he has to know the correct words (the golem has only a very limited "vocabulary" programmed into it) and in the proper language. The wearer can still move his arms (since the golem's present course of action only involves walking). The golem will occasionally make arm movements of its own accord (i.e., to pull a lever or push a block to open a previously-secret passage or temporarily disarm a trap), but will not resist if the wearer attempts to make his own arm motions instead -- and the wearer is free to turn his head to look in whichever direction he can manage (as it doesn't affect the golem's ability to "see" where it is walking). Keeping a watch ahead may still be a good idea, for while the golem is "programmed" to avoid traps built into the place, and respond to monster attacks, the complex has not been properly maintained, and there might still be a few low-hanging parts where supports collapsed, and the victim had better try leaning one way or the other to avoid getting clocked on the head while going under a low-hanging portion.

If he is sufficiently strong (i.e., of the "bending iron bars" level of strength), he might be able to resist the iron golem's movement with some sort of opposed test (depending on the system). As per the traditional iron golem, a lot of magic won't work properly on it, but that means little for the wearer; magic that is capable of teleporting a person, making him ethereal, shapeshifting him into a smaller form, etc., can get him out of the armor, whereupon the unoccupied suit will promptly fall apart and deanimate. Alternatively, the armor can be knocked apart by dealing sufficient damage, but this is a less-than-desirable course of action since the squishy person inside is going to be taking damage as well, and the armor is "programmed" to fight to defend itself and its wearer from outside attacks.

Keeping up with the "captured" victim could be a bit of a challenge, if this is one of those typical trap-filled mad-wizard/mad-tinker laboratories. There might be a number of traps along the way (which the golem adeptly avoids or temporarily disables as a matter of course) that could be a hazard for anyone pursuing the golem. There of course might be some monsters along the way that will treat the golem as hostile. (The victim inside can either just let the golem fight them and hope for the best, or take over and fight with whatever weapon is at hand. Unfortunately, he still has NO control over where he walks, so he's at the mercy of the golem's "programming" when it comes to movement.)

If the wearer somehow figures out the proper language to use, the instructions are fairly straightforward. E.g., take me to the (name of a part of the complex), walk forward, turn right, turn left, stop, slow. The golem is not particularly fast at all (it is, after all, just a golem), and due to the difficulties in finely directing it by voice, its effective pace is halved at any point other than just letting it walk at full speed in a straight line, or toward a "programmed" destination (such as "take me to the entrance"). Furthermore, stealth is pretty much impossible in the suit, either due to the commands the wearer has to call out at every course of the way, or simply by virtue of the creaking, squeaking, rusty iron parts that grind together as it moves.

There might be other such "golem" marvels within the complex, such as wood, stone or iron furniture (e.g., a bedside stand that will go and fetch a glass of water for you, or a helpful little wooden trunk that will trundle along and carry things for you, a bed that makes itself and fluffs the pillows, a stone tub golem that trundles off to a hot spring to fill itself up for your bath). Each has a very limited span of functions, a fairly slow pace, and is relatively fragile -- so while it might be fun to add these to your Marvelous Mansion or your heroes' guild-hall back in town, any dreams of having a small army of golems to accompany you on future adventures are likely to be quite literally shattered after the first fight.

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#10 Qwyksilver

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 11:09 AM

^^ Beauty and the Beast meets Full Metal Alchemist.
:lol:

Sacrificing minions: is there any problem it CAN'T solve?

- Lord Xykon, OotS #192

Beowulf ll. 1538-1543
... Pay no heed to proud thoughts, famous champion. Now the flowering of your strength is but for a while. After a while, the time will suddenly come that disease or the sword's edge will cut off your power. Either fire's grasp or flood's surge or blade's bite or spear's flight. Or vicious age, or the flash of your eyes will gutter and burn out! It will be all at once, great campaigner, that death will overpower you.

 

It's terrifying!  Without enough caffeine your body undergoes these hours of partial paralysis and hallucinations! :shudder:

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#11 DirkDiggler69

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:37 PM

Mmmm golems. How about a giant stone golem that redirects a local towns river in order to water it's masters gardens. Make it like gigantic sized when not active it just curls up, and looks like part of the mountain. Then the players have to go about finding a way to turn it off.

#12 dwarvenranger

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 06:26 PM

A nimblewight, who swears an oath to hunt down it's creators destroyers would throw a partys perception of a golem on it's head.
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#13 Hatemonger

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 03:18 PM

Being evil, I'd give out the tools to make a golem for a wizard or priest much earlier than they should be able to. Secret formula, etc. Fast track to BIY golems.

And it'd work. For a while. But eventually, well . . . it would start to do bad things. Little things at first. Then worse and worse things. Real slow, like. So maybe the character doesn't catch on real early. And what's it up to while the character is away?

This just made me think of The Sorcerer's Apprentice (yes, the Mickey Mouse cartoon). Similar to creatively-interpreted wishing, I can see lots of potential here for a DM to exploit an "imperfectly" made golem.

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#14 Lastman

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 02:55 AM

Just recalled a movie from 1967 called It! aka Curse of the Golem. Gonna youtube it for ideas.

#15 Shakandara

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:03 AM

Once upon a time (i.e. several campaigns and many years ago), I had my players skulking around in a smelting facility. They were quite shocked when one of the piles of scrap metal started moving. I tweaked the stats slightly on the iron golem to create a scrap iron golem - a slightly less powerful creation, as it was a big rusting hulk of mismatched metal. Of course, they didn't know that, and as a low-to-mid level party, they were terrified of it. Good times.

The moral of the story is that tweaking existing golems to fit the situation (how about a flesh golem made of particular creatures that give it different vulnerabilities/immunities? clay golems from different kinds of soil that change their performance, or iron golems from metals other than iron?) can produce fun and interesting results, and can make the golem seem more at home in settings where you might not expect them.

~v

Edited by Shakandara, 03 October 2012 - 08:08 AM.

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