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[Let's Read] 13th Age Bestiary

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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I liked how the ghoul entry clearly embraced using these as more like modern movie zombies are normally handled than D&D zombies usually are; it brings how a bit more of the horror than zombies in 13A can probably manage.
 

NinjaPaladin

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I used these in a nasty undead adventure, and they gave the party a good tough fight that had them feeling scared with everything they could do. Loved them.
 

Nate_MI

Hail Tzeentch!
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Did you keep your receipt? Because that's a really cool way to free a

Golem
Golems are constructs, created and given orders and drives that form the core of their personality/programming. The most lasting are made of metal and stone; flesh and clay golems are more like hard-hitting line-breakers rather than immortal guardians. Flesh golems tend to be made of whatever's lying around or can be scraped up quickly, which can lead to some nightmarish looks. Clay golems are literally made from the same dirt that the gods used to make the living races, which feels like an odd pull in a setting like 13th Age where the gods are so out of focus. Iron golems were created to be the perfect bodyguards but "something went wrong." I guess if you want PCs making iron golems they can investigate and straighten out the problem? (In one campaign I made them Brutalist figures commissioned by a particularly tyrannical Emperor, who saw anything less than slavish devotion as an execution-worthy offense. Think Judge Dredd with less sympathy.) Bronze golems are decorated with baroque stylings, while marble golems attempt to mimic living bodies in an idealized, classical manner. Most golems, due to not being alive, are entirely immune to statue effects -- you can't daze 'em, you can't stun 'em, you can't weaken 'em. They only thing that sticks is damage!

Our first set of stats is for the flesh golem, a Large 4th lvl Blocker [Construct] with 100 HP. It has a pair of sweeping fist attacks vs AC that do some damage, and against an opponent that's staggered it can make use of maddened battlefield repairs vs AC that heals it in a suggestively horrifying manner. A cry of "got your nose!" has never been more chilling... Thankfully flesh golems, being made of living parts, are still susceptible to conditions. As well whenever a spell causes energy damage to a nearby ally of the golem, there's a 50% chance it will attack the golem instead. I would probably have keyed that to work off even or odd attack rolls, depending on the escalation die, but it does suggest that a flesh golem embedded in the ranks of an enemy army can act as a bodyguard for squishier targets.

Clay golems are large 6th lvl Spoilers [Constructs] with 120 HP. Their bare brutal hands vs AC do some damage and the clay they are made of flakes into the wound, meaning that anyone wounded by one can't be healed above half the maximum HP until after the battle. They have the usual set of golem immunities and outright ignore all attacks that are less than 11+. Not resist, ignore! Being made of god-clay has its advantages.

Bronze golems are large 7th lvl Blocker [Construct] with 190 HP. It can attack with its gong-like fists of bronze vs AC for some damage. A natural even hit against a target in heavy armor will daze the target; a natural odd hit on a target in light or no armor does some extra damage. Bronze golems have the regular golem immunities and resist damage 18+. If you manage to make that 18+, you can also make an Intelligence or Wisdom skill check. If you succeed, you notice the secret flaw that every bronze golem carries. If you know the flaw, you can ignore the resist damage effect and the golem is vulnerable to you!

Stone golems weren't made; they're idols from Ages ago that have been empowered by the worship of their people. These are large 8th lvl Blockers [Construct] with 280 HP that can use a pair of massive stone fists vs AC for damage, or they can use a finishing smash vs AC against a staggered enemy. On a natural even roll the target is hampered, on a natural odd roll the target is dazed. The stone golem has the usual immunities and no flaws to exploit.

Marble golems are large 9th lvl Troops [Construct] with 340 HP that wields an enormous maul vs AC for some damage. On a miss they'll try and catch you on the backswing vs PD for a bit less damage. Marbles have the regular golem immunities and each one has a pair of special virtues that they were build to embody. Virtues do things like giving it a fear effect, letting the golem heal on a natural 1-5, or becoming more dangerous when it's staggered.

Last but certainly not least is the iron golem. These large 10th lvl Wreckers [Construct] have 360 HP and fists of iron vs AC twice for some damage, and nearly as much damage if they miss. That seems off. It has the usual raft of golem immunities and every round it has to check to see if it goes on a rampage. If a d6 roll is equal to or less than the escalation die then it attacks with its fists three times per round, each time at a different target and it will attack its allies to fill out that quotient. If there's only one or two targets in range if will make the attack and then move next to a valid target, taking half damage from opportunity attacks.

Golems rarely show up as parts of a regular force, and then usually only flesh golems. Those may be used, especially by the Lich King, to bolster army lines and provide a little meat, literally, to a patrol or bodyguard group. More often golems are set up as guardians of a particular location and are left behind when societies crumble and forget about them. Golems may be assigned in groups or may be paired with traps.

Icons
The Archmage prefers summoning guardian creatures to using golems.
The Crusader, the Lich King, and the Diabolist all have plenty of raw material hanging around to make flesh golems to supplement their armies.
The dwarves are acknowledged as the original golem-makers... except for stone golems. Maybe that's why the Dwarf King collects them. Or maybe he's just smashing them because of their often anti-dwarf bias.
The Elf Queen enjoys making superior versions of the Dwarf King's artifice. High elves and dark elves make marble and obsidian (mechanically identical to marble) golems for their monarch.
The Orc Lord has a ritual where a dozen orcs beat their swords into one and animate a bronze golem. It's rough and no one will mistake it as a piece of art, but it will serve for (a couple of) battles.
Iron golems are associated with the Emperor ever since an earlier claimant lost the favor of the dragons and fell back on using an army of iron golems to win his battles. Now, the Crusader loves throwing them into a fight with expendable troops and watching them rampage all over demons.
Marble golems are favored temple guardians and are naturally to be found all over Santa Cora and the Cathedral.

- The PCs are drip-fed clues leading them to an ancient and forgotten temple. When they arrive they're shocked to find that their benefactor is a marble golem charged with protecting it! The golem has been exercising its programming for defending the temple for centuries, but it's aching to use the other part of its programming, the part where it gets to smash invaders.
- An overwhelming force of bronze golems defend a location the PCs need to get into. They'll have to track down whispers and rumors to find out who made the golems and what their flaws are.
- There's a statue factory sunk under the water of the Midland Sea. Scattered all around it are deactivated marble golems, some of stunning size. Is it a site of golem disposal? Or are they awaiting a signal to awaken?

Final Thoughts
A good selection of fantasy-robots for people to beat up. Golems in D&D have a weird array of immunities and elemental vulnerabilities; this irons out the differences and presents a more unified front while still giving each type enough to stand out. 4 out of the 6 varieties here come from the core book so there's probably possible adventures tuned specifically to flesh golems and clay golems. Not much else to say here -- good golems!

Up Next: A single troublesome entry.
 

ESkemp

Registered User
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They are indeed good golems. The bronze is my particular favorite; I really like the way they implemented the Talos-like "strike it in the heel!" mechanics. The golem-wide immunity to conditions is also pretty nice: ordinarily it would be a problematic way of nerfing a bunch of player powers, but assigning that characteristic to golems instead of some more popular blanket type of monster like undead works out, I think. Golems are a rare treat threat in most campaigns, so if you only have a few golem fights in a given campaign, they won't drive the players into despair. Probably.
 

LuxVeritatis

Polysemous
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I'm amused by the thought of a battle where the party goes up against four iron golems, keeps them in a group, waits for them all to rampage and then just disengages and has a breather while they dismantle each other...
 

Dromio

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There's something about Golems in general that I've always liked, and the 13th Age versions are some of my favorites.

At one point I think Martin (the author of Dark Pacts and Ancient Secrets) was working on a Golem mage, which I thought would be VERY cool.
 

Dromio

Registered User
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Huh. Given his other work, that'd have been interesting to see, at least.
I believe it's still in the pipeline. He's got a book coming called Dark Alleys & Twisted Paths that I think is still in playtesting/layout. The golems are part of the Conjuration School for Wizards in that book.

EDIT: I meant to add that the Midgard Bestiary for 13th Age also has some neat golems: the Eye Golem, the Steam Golem, and the Glass Golem. :)
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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I believe it's still in the pipeline. He's got a book coming called Dark Alleys & Twisted Paths that I think is still in playtesting/layout. The golems are part of the Conjuration School for Wizards in that book.
While I didn't like everything in his prior book, I liked enough that that'll immediately go on my wishlist.
 
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