Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blood Golem

Longtime readers know my feelings about golems that diverge too far from basic building materials—I’ve singled out brain golems and web golems before—so you can imagine my first reaction to the blood golem.  (“Anybody got some white vinegar, baking soda, and a few paper towels so we can blot out this thing?”)

But the mission statement of this blog is to make you fall a little in love with every single monster in the Bestiaries, and the blood golem is no exception.

For me, I think the blood golem works best in places where ordinary rules don’t apply—spelljamming campaigns, truly alien underdarks, psionic nations, demonic ooze-holds, and so on.  A blood golem is a sign of magical art or science more powerful than physics…and a sign of a realm where human life means less than nothing.

Prince Fenrin Woeburn is a vampire lord of surpassing wealth who rules with an iron hand, revoking territory for even minor infractions and strictly monitoring the creation of childer.  His choice of blood golem guardians is a pointed reminder of that power—a brazen statement that he has thralls and blood to spare. Adventurers who long to end the prince’s evil will find many younger vampires eager to stand with them against Woeburn’s blood golems and who knows what other sentinels.  Whether the undead rebels can be trusted after the coup is another question.

Adventurers discover a colony of renegade caulborn and their totenmaske servants.  Used to devouring memories at will while their undead thralls shape and steal flesh as they please, these caulborn see nothing wrong with volunteering the adventurers for exsanguination in the rendering vats.  The vats are guarded by their end product: blood golems, some standing guard, others bottled for shipping to even darker allies.

Constructs are common in the crystal-studded realm of Neifallin, but also somewhat distrusted, being mindless constructs in a land where psionics and mind magic rule.  Golems are therefore fitted with crystals diadems and heartstones that respond to mental commands or the resonances of bardic song.  But there is rot at Neifallin’s heart, and those of evil intent often turn to blood golems as guardians—constructs with no brain to command and whose stolen blood stirs not the slightest at a bespelled chord.

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I can actually point you to the Dragon Magazine issues where golems went all to hell.  Dragon Magazine #193 (a surprisingly weak entry during Roger Moore’s typically excellent latter years) gave us the brain, hammer, and spiderstone golems.  I refuse to even mention the golems that appeared in Dragon #302.

3.5 fans will remember the blood golem of Hextor was a thing (in Dragon #292 and the Fiend Folio to be precise).  I actually liked that, because it had a sick kind of logic: “Well of course the blood of sacrifices can be used as fuel. Bring out the weak and the heretics!”  Since I like it, it's no surprise it’s a Sean K Reynolds clanker.

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