The heat was unbearable. Quilix wiped the sweat from his brow with his sword hand and peered into the dim chamber. It was difficult to see, as acrid smoke and shimmering waves of heat obscured his vision. A dim red glow shone throughout the room, which he soon recognized as some sort of forge.
He stepped inside the room -- a cavern, really. For four days and nights, he had explored the shattered fortress of the salamanders. The dwarves that lived near this site had believed it to be long forgotten by its former masters, and so far, Quilix's investigations had proved him correct. All he had found in the deep, smoldering halls of salamanders, located dangerously close to the volcano known as Mount Drukk, was ash, ancient charred bodies, and a great deal of heat.
A huge, squat anvil sat in the middle of the room, scarred from what must have been centuries of use. Bits of metal and half-finished metal weapons were piled in metal racks, now drooping from age and constant exposure to heat. A pool of lava bubbled in a stone vat in the corner, no doubt being fed from one of the many tendrils of magma that seeped from the volcano.
Seeing nothing of immediate value in the forge to be looted, Quilix turned to leave. A flicker from the anvil suddenly caught his eye. He moved closer and saw a strange, octagonal stone fixed in the side of the anvil. He wiped off the soot and ash that covered the stone, and gave out a startled gasp of surprise. The stone was an enormous ruby the size of his fist! Quilix's hands shook as he sheathed his sword and drew his dagger from its scabbard. He began to pry the ruby from its setting.
"What a prize this will fetch from the dwarves at Duruk Lor!" he murmured as his dagger dug into the decaying metal of the anvil.
Deep in thought, Quilix failed to hear the sound of rustling from behind him -- the noise of coals settling into a fire. The ruby came loose from its fitting and he held it up in the red-orange light of the magma pool, a smile of pure greed on his face.
The smile faded quickly when he noticed a shifting in the sparkle of the ruby, alerting him to something moving behind him. In a flash, he pivoted, the dagger held low and ready to strike. He stopped cold and looked into the glowing red eyes of the monstrosity before him.
The coal golem released an infernal, crackling hiss, blowing hellishly hot air into Quilix's face. The dagger fell from his trembling hands as the golem raised its massive, glowing fists, ready to deal a killing blow to the intruder who had desecrated the forge.
Fire-dwelling races that thrive in intensely hot environments commonly create coal golems. The secret to the creation of coal golems is believed to have been first discovered by the salamanders, who used the coals and slag from their infernal forges to give life to these monsters. If not the true creators, salamanders are the usual masters of coal golems, using them as slave labor and as guardians of their forges. Fire giants that have mastered the arcane arts also manufacture coal golems, sometimes for the sole purpose of using them as mobile statues to decorate their fortresslike dwellings. Sages believe that unlike other golems, which receive life through the power of the element of earth, coal golems are animated by a combination of fire and earth energies. Because of these conflicting energies, a coal golem is more likely than other constructs to go on a berserk killing rampage.
A coal golem is a humanoid-shaped figure composed of deep-burning coals and cinders. It stands 9 feet tall, weighs 500 pounds, and has a powerful body with stocky legs and arms that extend to its knees. An open iron frame holds the entire body in place. Tiny bits of ash and sparks, which can light paper and other easily ignited objects, constantly "shed" from the coal golem's body. Two particularly large glowing cinders act as the coal golem's eyes.
Coal golems cannot speak but make a crackling hiss when attacking. They understand commands spoken in the Ignan tongue but do not understand Common. The creatures emit a constant wisp of smoke, equivalent to a low-burning campfire. They move in a slow, clumsy gait, accompanied by the sounds of crackling embers and shifting coals. The coal golem is typically armed with an enormous metal longspear, which glows red from the golem's heat.
A coal golem will engage in close combat, where its impressive heat can do extra damage, as soon as possible. It will also try to set fire to flammable objects, making the surrounding environment dangerous. It gets enraged by cold attacks and focuses its attention on anyone who attacks with such methods, even if those attacks do no significant harm.
Heat (Ex): A coal golem generates so much heat that its mere touch deals additional fire damage. Coal golems can conduct this heat through any metal objects or weapons they carry. This heat also has a chance to light flammable objects on fire (see Catching on Fire in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master's Guide).
Berserk (Ex): When a coal golem enters combat, there is a cumulative 2% chance each round that its elemental spirit breaks free and goes berserk. The uncontrolled golem goes on a rampage, attacking the nearest living creature or smashing (and/or lighting on fire) some object smaller than itself if no creature is within reach. It then moves on to spread more destruction. If within 60 feet, the golem's creator can try to regain control by speaking firmly and persuasively (in Ignan) to the golem, an act which requires a successful Charisma check (DC 19). It takes 1 minute of rest by the golem to reset its berserk chance to 0%.
Construct Traits: A coal golem is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects. The creature is not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, energy drain, or death from massive damage. It cannot heal itself but can be healed through repair. It cannot be raised or resurrected. A coal golem has darkvision (60-foot range).
Magic Immunity (Ex): A coal golem is immune to all spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural effects, except as follows. An ice storm slows it (as the slow spell) for 2d6 rounds, with no saving throw. Cone of cold slows the golem (as the slow spell) for 1d6 rounds and deals 1d12 damage. Otiluke's freezing sphere stops it from moving that round and does regular damage. A fire effect breaks any slow effect on the golem and cures 1 point of damage for each 3 points of damage it would otherwise deal. For example, a coal golem hit by a fireball cast by a 5th-level wizard gains back 6 hit points if the damage total is 18. The golem rolls no saving throw against fire effects.
A coal golem's body is made of an open iron frame, which contains the chunks of coals and cinders that make up its form. These coals are made from burning rare woods and coals. The golem costs 65,000 gp create, including 1,000 for the construction of the body. Creating the body is a complex task that requires a successful Craft (metalworking or weaponsmithing) check (DC 20).
The creator must have attained 14th level and be able to cast arcane spells. Completing the ritual drains 1,100 XP from the creator and requires geas/quest, limited wish, polymorph any object, heat metal. The creator must also speak Ignan.
About the Author
Eric Cagle is the Administrative Assistant to the R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast. Don't let the title fool you: He's also a regular gamer. Eric has edited several projects for R&D, codesigned a D&D sourcebook scheduled for release this year, and playtests several products a month. He is currently the lead designer on an upcoming Star Wars book. Eric has contributed several articles to the Wizards website and Dragon magazine. He firmly believes that fire is good.
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