Golems 201 -- A Historical Reference
Part Three: The Legion of the Dead
By Mark A. Jindra

One of the players in my weekly campaign spent an entire summer in Florida at his parent's condo. We agreed that his character (the party's mage) would spend time at a local mage academy studying the construction of golems. When the player returned, the party went to meet his character at the academy -- to find it in ruins. The heroes never did track down the evil mage responsible for the attack.

Part Three

Good day, class. This morning, Tod has brought us a special treat. We actually have the remains of a flesh golem from The Legion of the Dead, the subject of today’s review. Following the review, you will all have a chance to take a closer look. I have chosen a paper about the legion to read aloud -- I’ll try to be quick, as I know how anxious all of you are to get a peek at the flesh golem.

The Legion of the Dead

The first course students attend here at the academy is Ethics, and those who can’t abide by the rules are expelled without exception. Five years ago, a group of students from this institution started construction of a flesh golem. When the academy’s governors learned that they were using parts of freshly buried corpses from the local cemetery, they were expelled.

Led by a young mage named Verran, the students formed a group known as "The Circle" and began to recruit members of the city’s underworld. They robbed and killed, using their victims’ money and bodies for their research. Unknown to anyone outside the original 13 members, Verran and the former students were creating a second army within the city.

They worked for two years, creating nearly a hundred flesh golems. In their haste to exact retribution on their enemies, they cut a few corners, using inferior corpses and abbreviated rituals. The result was an army of flesh golems that were smaller, slower, and weaker than normal flesh golems.

To make up for the golems’ inefficiencies, the Circle equipped their golems with magical weapons and armor of various sorts. And secretly, with the help of a powerful runemaster, they enhanced the golems even further: Each golem wore an amulet with a rune on it, and was able to trigger the rune simply by touching the amulet.

Verran did not know that one of the rogues that he dealt with from time to time was an agent of the academy who reported the Circle’s actions to the governors on a regular basis. So when The Circle launched its attack on the academy, the school was prepared.

The attack on the academy came late in the night. The first wave of golems easily breached the walls and moved towards the central complex when the sky suddenly became as bright as midday.

A bloody battle raged for almost four hours, with golems locked in battle with one another and spells flying from all sides. In the end, the Circle was defeated. But in its defense, nearly half of the academy was destroyed; twenty of its best mages and close to one hundred students lay dead.

Surviving mages were able to determine that the spells cast by the runes were dispel magic or greater dispelling; fire storm, wall of stone, flame strike, and blade barrier. The golems used a tactic of activating the spells upon engaging in melee. This caused the majority of the casualties among the mages and students, but did little to stop the attacks of the iron and stone golems of the academy.

Whatever became of Verran?. Some reports say that he was struck by a spell and destroyed; others believe that he escaped during the battle and is rebuilding his army, plotting his revenge. We may never know.

Flesh Golem

Verran’s Flesh Golems

Large Construct

Medium-size Construct

Hit Dice:

9d10 (49 hp)

6d10 (33 hp)

Initiative:

-1 (Dex)

-1 (Dex)

Speed:

30 ft. (can’t run)

20 ft. (can’t run)

AC:

18 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +10 natural)

19 ( -1 Dex, +10 natural)

Attacks:

2 slams +10 melee

+2 longsword* +10 melee

Damage:

Slam 2d8+5

+2 longsword* 1d6+6

Face/Reach:

5 ft. by 5 ft./10 ft.

5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.

Special Attacks:

Berserk

Berserk

Special Qualities:

Construct, magic immunity, damage reduction 15/+1

Construct, magic immunity, damage reduction 15/+1

Saves:

Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +3

Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +2

Abilities:

Str 21, Dex 9, Con --, Int --, Wis 11, Cha 1

Str 18, Dex 9, Con --, Int --, Wis 11, Cha 1

Climate/Terrain:

Any land and underground

Any land and underground

Organization:

Solitary or gang (2-4)

Solitary or gang (2-4)

Challenge Rating:

7

6

Treasure:

None

None

Alignment:

Always neutral

Always neutral

Advancement:

10-18 HD (Large); 19-27 HD (Huge)

7-18 HD (Large); 19-27 HD (Huge)

*Verran equipped his golems with armor and weapons of varying type and quality. However, no armor or weapon has a bonus greater than +3.

Combat

Flesh golems often fare poorly in combat (thanks to their fairly low Armor Class), though they can easily crush foes who lack magic weaponry. A flesh golem supported by an ally who can launch electrical attacks is fearsome indeed.

Verran’s golems wear rune amulets inscribed with the following spells (dispersed among the legion in equal numbers): dispel magic, greater dispelling, fire storm, wall of stone, flame strike, and blade barrier. Upon entering combat, the golems immediately use the runes. The spells activate directly in front of each golem as if cast by a 20th-level caster.

Berserk (Ex): When Verran’s flesh golems enter combat, there is a cumulative 3% 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 some object smaller than itself if no creature is within reach), then moving on to spread more destruction. The golem’s creator, if within 60 feet, can try to regain control by speaking firmly and persuasively to the golem, which requires a successful Charisma check (DC 19). One minute of rest by the golem resets the golem’s berserk chance to 0%.

Magic Immunity (Ex): Verran’s flesh golems are immune to all spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural effects, except as follows. Fire- and cold-based effects slow them (per the spell) for 3d6 rounds, with no saving throw. An electricity effect breaks any slow effect on the golem and cures 1 point of damage for each 5 points of damage it would otherwise deal. For example, a flesh golem hit by a lightning bolt cast by a 5th-level wizard gains back 3 hit points if the damage total is 15. The golem rolls no saving throw against electricity effects.

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