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Golems in Warhammer


Golems have a rather patchy history in Warhammer and WFRP. The conventional four types – clay, flesh, iron, and stone – were established in fantasy games by the AD&D Monster Manual back in 1977, and Citadel made a few Golem figures in the late 70s and early 80s.

From the first Citadel Compendium, 1983
Citadel Flyer, November 1986

No rules were published for Golems in Warhammer, although it might be argued that the Ushabti from the Tomb Kings army lists are a form of Golem.

A couple of Flesh Golems appeared in WFRP 1st edition adventures. Death on the Reik featured the Wittgenstein Monster, and a similar creature appeared in the adventure “The Curse of the Reichenbachs” in Death’s Dark Shadow. Golems were mentioned in the WFRP 2nd edition supplements Liber Necris and Renegade Crowns, but without game stats. A kind of Flesh Golem appeared in Forges of Nuln, but it was far from standard – if a Flesh Golem can ever be described as standard.

My earlier post on Gargoyles covered the living-statue type of that creature, and can be used for Stone Golems. Another take on Stone Golems is given below, along with the other three “classic” Golem types. As always, everything that follows is completely unofficial and should be regarded as a fan work. No challenge is intended to trademarks or copyrights held by Games Workshop, Cubicle 7, or anyone else.


Golems

Imbued with a semblance of life through magical and alchemical processes, Golems are Constructs of flesh or other materials. Most take humanoid form, but theoretically that can be any shape.

A distinction must be made between true Golems and the humanoid mechanical constructs made by some Dwarven and other engineers. Golems are animated by magic rather than engineering, while the others rely on steam and other power sources and move by the action of gears, wires, and levers.

Stone Golems include the massive Ushabti of ancient Khemri, animated Gargoyles, and other living statues. They are often created as guards, and given orders to attack anyone except their controllers.

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Traits: Armour 3, Construct, Dark Vision, Fear 1, Hardy, Immunity (poison, fire, electricity), Immunity to Psychology, Magical, Painless, Stupid, Territorial (one building or small area), Weapon +10

Optional: 2 Fists +10, Die Hard, Size (Small to Enormous), Magic Resistance 1-2, Ranged (Throw) +10

Iron Golems (and more rarely, Golems of brass or other metals) are also used as guards and troops, although they can only guard a location for a few centuries before becoming corroded and useless. Their great strength makes them useful as menials and labourers.

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Traits: Armour 2, Construct, Dark Vision, Fear 1, Hardy, Immunity (poison, fire), Immunity to Psychology, Magical, Painless, Stupid, Territorial (one building or small area), Weapon +9

Optional: 2 Fists +9, Die Hard, Size (Small to Enormous), Magic Resistance 1-2, Ranged (Throw) +9

Clay Golems are less durable than most other types but easier to make, and the secrets of their construction are more widely available. There are many tales of a Clay Golem being constructed by a learned priest or other scholarly individual as a bodyguard or servant.

MWSBSSTIAgDexIntWPFelW
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Traits: Armour 1, Construct, Dark Vision, Fear 1, Immunity (poison), Immunity to Psychology, Magical, Painless, Stupid, Territorial (one building or small area), Weapon +8

Optional: 2 Fists +8, Die Hard, Size (Small to Large), Magic Resistance 1

Flesh Golems are often made by necromancers, although they are not undead. Instead, they use alchemical processes to imbue a dead body – or a construct assembled from parts of several bodies – with a semblance of life and intelligence.

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Traits: Afraid (Fire), Construct, Fear 2, 2 Fists +7, Stupid, Territorial (one building or small area), Weapon +7

Optional: Die Hard, Size (Large)


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  1. Wolf
    August 23, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Is the Wittengenstein monster really a Golem? I suppose it depends on your definition. I’ve never been keen on the general RPG tendency to create more types of golem from ever more exotic materials. Personally, I’d stick with the traditional clay/mud formed variety of legend, but I can see that if you are going to expand the definition Frankenstein like creatures or animated tomb guardians might be seen as being of the same sort of thing.

    The lack of any rules is something of a genuine oversight for WFRP, however, now I think about it. The traditional Golem story fits very neatly into the general themes and background that inspire WFRP: dangerous magic employed in a good cause in a Central European setting. Some sort of ritual magic is now required to animate them, of course, though the stories suggest it is more the gaining of sufficient learning and knowledge to create the Shem which is important.

    • August 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      Well, Golem has never been an ideal term for what are actually very distinct monsters. I certainly wouldn’t object to using “Animated Statue” for the stone and iron versions, and “Animated Corpse” for the Frankenstein-type monster. There are also Homunculi to consider, though I left them out of this post.

      I agree that proliferating Golems of ever-stranger materials is not interesting – it’s too much like low-hanging fruit. And I definitely agree that a reference back to the original tale of the Golem of Prague and more detail about how Clay Golems are created would be good things. I did consider them for this post, but two things (apart from time) put me off. Firstly, I worry about cultural appropriation when it comes to stealing such a quintessentially, historically Jewish story and porting it over to… whom? The Dwarfs? Some renegade alchemist? There’s no good option. And secondly, I’d rather keep the process obscure and out of PCs’ hands to that Golems remain mysterious and interesting monsters.

      • Wolf
        August 23, 2020 at 3:12 pm

        I agree that any direct translation of the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem of Prague has the potential to be problematic, especially if tied to a particular fantasy group. In a fantasy world, where are different types exist, however, different means of creating them might exist and we are free to draw on different elements of the original stories to inspire us.

        Dwarf made golems – assuming they would not create such things from machinery, as a sort of particularly advanced Mechanical Turk – might be created by specialist runes, giving a sort of life for a period. The use of magical written words to give animation is similar but the means of inscription different.

        Sages might discover a magic formula – with what origin? – in their researches. All they need do is execute it properly (and remember to take proper precautions). Priests might need the blessing of a deity to create one. Magicians might have a various ritual magics that could be used. One, all or none might work.

  2. Wolf
    August 23, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    I meant to write, ‘where different types of golem exist’ of course.

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