Note: The “Crone Queen” entry went up earlier today, so be sure to check it out too.
I’m not sure where the association between psionics and crystals came from in D&D—it seemed firmly in place by Dragon #281’s exploration of the 3.0 psionic rules (which was pretty much the apex of my paying attention). (Out-of-game, I’m assuming the answer is pulp sci-fi novels and the ’70s in general). But vestiges of that connection linger in Pathfinder’s psychic magic, giving us the crystal golem.
These are not golems to dis either. They basically throb with psychic energy, acting as metamagic amplifiers for any psychic caster within 30 ft. (That can lead to some interesting tactical choices on both sides of the table if, say, a psychic bad guy and his crystal henchgolems go up against psychic PCs). Crystal golems can also punch into the Ethereal Plane. Oh, and they have the ability explode head. I repeat: explode head. THAT IS A REAL THING THEY CAN DO.
Given that I grew up game-planning what I would do against the laser-shooting sphinxes of The NeverEnding Story, crystal golems that hum with such energy that they can burst crania don’t seem that outlandish. So I’m on board with these guys!
A series of meteors slam into the Anchorite Peaks, cracking open to reveal dazzling geodes—and crystal golems. The fact that the gemstone monsters are constructs and not biological or elemental creatures suggests that the meteor strikes are no natural phenomena.
Dwarves who fight aboleths and other psychic threats sometimes learn psychic talents of their own…talents that often get them ostracized from their communities. Rather than upset their superstitious neighbors, these dwarves dwell in the lowest chambers, holding lonely vigils against threats in the dark. Rather than rely on nervous (and easily dominated) guardsmen for assistance, they craft crystal golems to be their backup instead. In contrast, duergar (particularly duergar tyrants) embrace both psychic magic and crystal golems, but their shoddy craftsmanship usually manifests in the end result, leading to golems that are more brittle (DR 8 instead of 10) or more vulnerable to shatter (slowing the golem for 4 rounds instead of 3).
The Star of Bessaly is a famous asteriated ruby whose star seems to float in the air above the surface of the stone. A Shermod merchant prince announces his plans to make a gift of the gem to the dowager queen—and set in the brow of a rose quartz statue no less. The gift is a trap. The Shermod prince is a rakshasa psychic assassin, and the Star of Bessaly powers an especially fearsome crystal golem.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 126
I had a babysitter named Crystal. This was a thing that could happen in 1982 in Oklahoma.
The psionic-focused Dragon #281 is actually an issue I’ve found myself going back to several times. The three psionics-focused articles were great teasers for the then-new Psionics Handbook while still being complete, interesting pieces themselves. It’s also got a Fool Wolf story—pretty much the only fiction in Dragon worth discussing after 1995—and “Subterranean Scares,” a bestiary of weird Underdark monsters that I’ve referenced several times in this space. Worth looking for.