Golem (Ravenloft), General Information

Golems are automatons created by the use of powerful magics. In Ravenloft, there are varieties of golem unknown in other lands. The reason for this is simple enough to understand. While all common golems are animated by elemental forces, Ravenloft golems are given life by the Dark Powers of Ravenloft. Thus, they are inexorably tied to the land and are unable to exist in any other realm.

Background: The origin of the first golems created in Ravenloft dates back to a time when the land itself was young. Their story is tied to the “lives” of two of Ravenloft’s most powerful lords.

In the land of Barovia, Azalin (the current lord of Darkon) was engaged in magical studies under the yoke of Strand Von Zarovich. At Strahd’s command, he was examining a number of Strahd’s minions – undead zombies and skeletons – who had been slain in mysterious ways. Strahd demanded to know who had done this and by what means. Azalin was able to give Strahd the information he wanted, but also learned something more. He found that there was some essence of life left in these fragmentary remains.

For the next several weeks, Azalin locked himself away in his laboratory, experimenting with powers he had never dealt with before. When Strahd sought him out and demanded to know what he was working on, Azalin answered honestly (if incompletely) and said that he had found something unusual in the mystical fabric of this demiplane that needed more study. Strahd, satisfied that this work was related to Azalin’s assigned duties of finding an escape from Ravenloft, bade him continue and left the lich to his work. Azalin never related to Strahd the fact that he had learned how to create two new species of golem using the essences of Ravenloft.

When Azalin assumed his place as Lord of Darkon, he brought with him the knowledge of these new possibilities. Although he now found it impossible to learn new magical spells, he had already laid out the process required to create his new breeds of golem. Before long, he had produced the first zombie and bone golems ever created in the land.

In the years since that time, others have learned the secrets first unearthed by Azalin and used them to create new golems. Each of them is unique to Ravenloft and all require the creator to make a mystical pact with the Dark Powers that, for many, has led to their final demise.

Common Characteristics: There are eight know varieties of Ravenloft golem, each of which has its own powers and weaknesses. While these are described in detail on the following pages, they all share some common characteristics.

Ravenloft golems can be damaged in combat only by magical +2 or better weapons. They are immune to all manner of mind or life affecting spells (such as charm, sleep, hold, or finger of death) and cannot be harmed by poisons of any sort. They are all vulnerable to the effects of a dispel magic. If the caster of such a spell is equal to the level of the golem’s creator, then the monster will collapse, seemingly dead, and be inanimate for a number of turns equal to the caster’s level. A detect magic cast on a “stunned” golem will reveal that it still has an aura of power about it and that it is gradually growing stronger as the monster “recharges” itself. If the caster of the dispel magic is of a higher level than the golem’s creator, however, the golem falls inanimate and is slain.

Lastly, the creation of any Ravenloft golem requires such close contact with the Dark Powers, that a Dark Powers check is required for each month of research into or actual work on the fashioning of such a creation.

Theory: The creation of any manner of Ravenloft golem is a dark and dangerous process for the creature’s master. The creature must be created with loving care and special magical spells woven over the body to bring it to life. The exact materials and magics required to create each type of golem are detailed below.

As with traditional golems, those fashioned with the aid of the Dark Powers of Ravenloft have a great hatred of all living things. They are kept in check only by the will of their creator, who faces death at their hands if they ever escape his domination and become free-willed creatures. While the spells used to create the golem usually enslave it so that it cannot refuse to obey its creator, there is a 10% chance that any Ravenloft golem will break free of that control. Thereafter, it will devote all of its time and energy to the destruction of its creator. Once a golem is created, it is entitled to a saving throw vs. spells once per month (on the full moon). Failure indicates that it must serve for another month, while success indicates that it has become free-willed.

The rituals to animate the body (once it has been built) require one full month (from full moon to full moon) and cannot be interrupted in any way or the entire enchantment process must be started anew. In all cases, the spells used may come from any source (including devices or scrolls). If a spell is cast on behalf of the golem’s creator by a second individual, that spell must contain special alterations to make it sympathetic to the creature’s would-be master. There is no additional cost for these alterations.

Bone Golem

Only powerful wizards (of at least 18th level) can create these evil creatures. The body of a bone golem is assembled wholly from the bones of animated skeletons who have been defeated in combat. Any manner of skeletal undead will do, from traditional skeletons to Strahd skeletons, but all must have been created and slain in Ravenloft. Only 10% of the bones from any given skeleton can be used, so the final product is a 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.

Various spell components, costing a total of roughly 25,000 gold pieces, must be acquired and are consumed by the assembly process. The following spells are woven over the body: animate dead, symbol of fear, binding, and wish.

Doll Golem

Only a priest of at least 15th level can create a doll golem. 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.

Construction of the doll’s body takes only two weeks, but the cost of components and enchanted elements of the golem reaches 15,000 gold pieces. 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 in the land of Sanguinia in the hands of a travelling priest. While his name has been lost to memory, it is believed that he researched and built the doll to protect his wife and daughter as they travelled around this dark land. History does not record the final fate of that pilgrimage. It is rumored that the doll survived and still haunts the realms of Ravenloft today, but there is no solid evidence that this is the case.

Gargoyle Golem

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, save that is built only by priests of at least 16th level. The body must be carved from a single slab of granite (weighing 3,000 pounds and taking 2 months to complete) and prepared with components costing 75,000 gold pieces. Of this money, 15,000 gold pieces is used to create vestments which can be reused, so a second golem could be created for only 60,000 gold pieces. The spells required to complete the process are bless, exaction, (un)holy word, stone shape, conjure earth elemental, and prayer.

The first gargoyle golem was fashioned at the command of Vlad Drakov, Lord of Falkovnia, as a means of defending his castle. Eventually, the secret of their construction leaked out and others began to build them. It is rumored that none of these creatures can attack Drakov, and even that they may all secretly serve him. This may or may not be true. Although none can report ever having seen Drakov challenged by such a creature, it seems unlikely, however.

Glass Golem

Fashioned by either priests or wizards (of at least 14th level), the glass golem is composed entirely of stained glass. Perhaps the most artistic of all the known Ravenloft golems, its creation takes 3 months and requires an outlay of 100,000 gold pieces. In addition to the materials required, the following spells must be used: 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.

While the origins of some types of Ravenloft golems are firmly established, the first appearance of glass golems is not recorded with certainty in any known record. It is believed that they were created by a spell caster who fancied himself an artist (hence their eerie beauty), but the identity of that sorry individual cannot be guessed. Some say that he was the lord of a small domain (one of the so-called Islands of Terror) who died at the hands of a brave band of adventurers.

Mechanical Golem

A nightmare of technology, the mechanical golem is an intricate device that depends on both magic and machinery to operate. It is the only known manner of golem that can be built by any class of character, even those without spell casting ability, if they meet the requirements listed below. Construction of the body requires a full year of work (with no more than 2 interruptions, each no longer than 30 days, being permitted in that time) and an outlay of 125,000 gold pieces. Almost half of that money (60,000 gold pieces) is spent on the creation of a properly equipped laboratory, and additional golems may be built for only 65,000 gold pieces using this existing equipment. The person building the body must have an Intelligence score of not less than 16 and either experience with fine workmanship (training as a watchmaker) or a Dexterity score of not less than 17. In the animation of the golem, the following spells are required: animate object, fabricate, grease, chain lightning, and either major creation or wish.

The first of these horrors was created at the order of Easan the Mad, Lord of Vechor. A twisted man who has always been fascinated by technological devices, Easan is said to have foreseen the elements of this creature in a study of a falling star. While most doubt that this is anything but more proof of Easan’s dementia, few can challenge the obvious conclusion that these evil creatures are a mix of magic and technology that must surely have come from the mind of a lunatic.

Zombie Golem

One of Azalin’s two original Ravenloft zombies, these dark creatures can be created only by wizards of at least 16th level. They are fashioned from the body parts of animated corpses (zombies, animal zombies, Strahd zombies, etc.) that have fallen in combat. In many ways, they are similar to bone golems. As with bone golems, only 10% of any individual zombie’s body will be suitable for reanimation, so the zombie golem will often be composed of parts from many types of zombie, making the construction look awkward and alien. Sewing together the parts of the body requires a Full month and an outlay of 50,000 gold pieces (all of which is used for items that are consumed in the animation process). The spells needed are wish, polymorph any object, strength, control undead, and stinking cloud.

Manuals of Ravenloft Golems: According to rumor, there are magical tomes that detail the procedures used in the creation of Ravenloft golems. Like the traditional Manuals of Golems found in other realms, each of these books describes how to fashion and animate one type of golem. In addition, the Dark Powers of Ravenloft favor the creation of these golems over their more mundane cousins, so that any Manual of Golems brought into Ravenloft has a 75% chance of transforming into a Manual of Ravenloft Golems when the tome enters Ravenloft. Such books do not revert to normal when removed from Ravenloft, but the creation of the golems they describe is not possible outside of that domain, making these tomes all but worthless in other lands. When a Manual of Golems is found in Ravenloft, roll percentile dice on the following table to determine the type of golem it can create:

Die RollType of GolemCreatorConstruction TimeGP Cost
01-20BoneW182 months35,000
21-27ClayP171 month65,000
28-37DollP152 months20,000
38-45FleshW142 months50,000
46-55GargoyleP164 months100,000
56-63GlassP14/W146 months125,000
64-66IronW184 months100,000
67-76MechanicalAny18 months125,000
77-80StoneW163 months80,000
81-00ZombieP162 months60,000

These works function as normal Manuals of Golems in all ways, except that the Manual of Mechanical Golems can be used by a character of any class so long as he meets the requirements listed in the “Mechanical Golem” text above.

Last Modified: June 10, 2010, 11:58:16 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

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