Classic low-level treasure guardians, the CR 2 iron cobras are one of the first constructs PCs are likely to face (or even construct themselves for the price of only 2,000 gp). Iron cobras are nasty in that they can so easily (Stealth +12) hide or appear to be like something else.
Given that cobras are not native to most of the faux-Europes common in fantasy gaming, their presence may be a clue pointing to foreign adversaries. On the other hand, creating a construct from scratch is likely a time-consuming, years-long, and most of all secretive endeavor requiring mastery of several disciplines. Thus, if a particular construct schematic were made open source (by accident or design), it would likely spread like wildfire among interested parties without significant alterations.
Braids, wrappings, and travel grime hide the fact that Davis Merrowroot’s walking staff is actually an adamantine cobra. A halfling traveling alone is often a target, so the ranger/illusionist is happy to defend himself with the ramrod-straight construct serving as a quarterstaff (which his belt of giant strength and two-weapon fighting style allows him to wield). For more serious threats, he commands the cobra to attack on its own, freeing him to unleash his whirling blades.
“Nests” of iron cobras are likely uncommon—most patrons wealthy enough to commission several of the creatures would soon begin to dabble in larger guardians. But for traveling merchants and other specialized niches, they’re ideal. The nature priestess Dori Briarheart has at least eight darkwood cobras patrolling her lands or guarding her tree-root home. Should they be destroyed, her darkwood forest provides almost unlimited replacement components.
Jaipuri is not what she seems—the dark-skinned seller of maps and tapestries is actually a vishkanya spy from a distant land. She guards her high-priority secrets by sewing them to the backs of rugs. Rolled inside the rugs are iron cobras that are even more poisonous than she is.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 182
Happy Labor Day! I just finished up a 7-hour drive from Albany, NY, so I’ll save the usual Monday blather for tomorrow.
I’m guessing syringesin will agree with me, though, when I say that Spike Y. Jones’s “The Mechanics of the Iron Cobra,” from the absolutely classic Dragon Magazine issue #164 (and featuring his signature one-armed bard protagonist), is worth tracking down for a read. (Also, glad you liked the MFA quip. Any other survivors in the house?)