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Friday, April 28, 2017

RMA: Wood Golem

Looking over my many old RMAs, I see that I've now covered every golem from BX except this one. I'll be honest. The wood golem has never seemed that impressive to me. They are, to be sure, the weakest of the golems; both in terms of  puissance and any special abilities. Let's just jump into the stats first, shall we? Since it's so brief, I'm including the full write up of this variety for reference.

Wood Golem (from Cook)

AC: 7
HD: 2+2
Move: 120' (40')
Atk: 1 (fist)
Dmg: 1d8
No. App: 1
Save As: F1
Morale: 12
TT: Nil

These monsters are crude manlike figures about 3' tall, rudely hacked from wood. They move stiffly and have a penalty of -1 on their initiative rolls. They burn easily, saving at -2 and suffering one extra point of damage per die from fire-based attacks.

So! Where to begin? Even with golem immunities, this thing is pretty wimpy. with an average of 11 hit points and the armor class of a hireling, the only thing keeping it going is the need for magic to hit it. It packs a punch for something kobold-sized, but then its punch is essentially getting hit with a baseball bat.

It's fire vulnerability and slowness are the kickers, though. There is a pretty good chance that someone in the party goes first. At that point, the thing is an oil flask and a torch away from oblivion. So what's the problem? It's a starter golem. Something easy for the players to smack down and move on from. After all, we don't want to make things too hard on th- BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!

aheh - Sorry! I couldn't get through that sentence with a straight keyboard. That is NOT how things are done here!

OK. So we've got a lemon of a monster. How do we make some limoncello out of this?

Of course you can tweak the stars, make a giant one, and so forth. But lets work with the numbers we've been given, shall we?

"crude manlike figures about 3' tall, rudely hacked from wood." But does it HAVE to be crude? I mean, that's really just cosmetics, right? A grey orc's stars aren't necessarily any different than a green one's, so why do all wood golems have to look like this? What if they were, I don't know...


They'd still be slow and flammable, but infinitely more unnerving to have one staring at you than something like Little Wooden Boy:

Now admittedly, that's just flavor text. What about making them more effective monsters?

One thing to keep in mind is that golems are created by someone. Usually at great effort and cost. Even a wooden golem isn't cheaply come by, so you want some kind of ROI.

So who says Wood Golems are for combat?

The relevant definition of "Golem" here is "an automaton or robot." A wood golem could be a handy little servant for some wizard, possibly carved into a whimsical shape. It's size would allow it to move through small passages (Like a -heheh- "dumb. waiter"). It could also be a form of home security by scurrying about, triggering traps according to circumstances. If anyone came across it and it wanted to conceal its nature, it could just go limp in a corner.

My players would go to extreme lengths to leave that scene the hell alone!

If caught, it can fight, albeit but not extremely well. That's not its function though. Its job is perform various tasks for the master. It's a spanner in the works. A little robotic assistant that can cut the rope or pull the lever while the PCs are busy fighting the "boss." It can be sent off to run some errand while its master is doing something completely different.

After all, there are no strings on it!

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