Flesh Golem

From 1d4chan
Boris Karloff: The original flesh golem.

Flesh Golems, as their name suggests, are a kind of golem made from human flesh...

What? Alright, alright, we'll get serious. You're familiar with the story of Frankenstein's Monster? About a mad scientist trying to create life by stitching together a bunch of corpse pieces and zapping it with lightning? Well, Dungeons & Dragons never met an idea they couldn't steal, and so promptly co-opted the idea for their own setting.

Flesh Golems are created by taking parts from multiple corpses - and it always has to be multiple corpses, with Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder traditionally requiring 6; 4 separate limbs, 1 for the torso, and 1 for the brain (head optional) - and melding them together before animating them as a golem. Depending on the setting, this may or may not have certain advantages over the usual golems of clay or metal. At the very least, it tends to be easier and cheaper than the standard golem, but they're also more likely to run amok.

Distinguished variants include more horrific and obviously undead forms of flesh golem (known variously as Zombie Golems and Carrion Golems) and the obvious sapient golem ala Frankenstein's Monster.

D&D[edit]

AD&D[edit]

Introduced in this edition as a "Lesser Golem", the Flesh Golem is a big, dumb, lumbering brute, mostly useful for its relative ease of construction. Hideously strong, it doesn't handle combat well, having a tendency to fly into a mindless berserk fury if forced to fight for too long (cumulative 1% chance per round). Immune to attacks from non-magical weapons, fire and cold-based spells only Slow them for a few rounds, whilst electrical attacks heal them (1 HP per damage die inflicted) instead of hurting them.

The same edition featured two variants, both native to Ravenloft.

The "Ravenloftian Flesh Golem" is a direct reference to Frankenstein's Monster, and is far more powerful than its standard cousin; it's more intelligent (sometimes to the point of true sentience, although in such cases the golem inevitably turns on its "master") and has great healing powers - it regains 1 hit point per hour and, if slain, can be resurrected by sewing up its wounds and jolting it with lightning. And those are just some of its powers. It does have a unique weakness, in that it takes significant damage from fire. Adam, Lamordia's Darklord, is the best known of these flesh golems.

The Zombie Golem is an even more grotesque version of the standard flesh golem, made from rotting flesh which later editions would specify have to be taken from bodies that had originally been animated as zombies. It's even more sluggish and stupid than a normal flesh golem, and lacks its standard magical defenses, but can't go berserk, can be healed by Animate Dead spells, and exudes a noxious stench akin to that of a Ghast.

Mystara is home to the "Drolem", which is what you get when you make a Flesh Golem out of Dragon bodyparts.

Flesh Golem PCs[edit]

The "Book of Secrets", #3 of the Books of S netbooks for Ravenloft, features an article called "Wretched Creations" which presents rules for playing a Flesh Golem PC in a game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition.

Inspired by the earlier articles on Broken One and therianthrope PCs from the Book of Souls, which in turn were inspired by the rules for undead PCs from the Requiem: The Grim Harvest official splatbook, they are true to AD&D Ravenloft rules: overly complex and guaranteed to fuck you over sooner rather than later.

To start with, flesh golem PCs have supernatural physical abilities, but distinctly substandard mental ones. Thus, they ignore the normal dice roll range for generating ability scores and use this one instead:

Strength: 4d4+4
Dexterity: 4d4+4
Constitutiion: 4d4+4
Intelligence: 3d6
Wisdom: 1d4+2
Charisma: 1d4+2

Next, race. Now, technically, your race is "Flesh Golem", but you have to consider what races your golem was built out of. This means you need to determine the ultimate origins of your golems Brain, Head/Torso, Arms and Legs. Whilst a DM may allow you to skip this and just pick a base race if your backstory justifies it, there is, of course, the option to randomly roll on a d100 table for each component.

Brain Table:

Roll Race Traits
01 Dwarf -1 Charisma, Magic Resistance, Mining Skill, Fearlessness, Magical Item Use, +10% Open Locks, +15% Find/Remove Traps, -5% Read Langauges
02 Elf Secret Doors, Iron Will, +5% Hide in Shadows
03-04 Gnome +1 Intelligence, -1 Wisdom, Magic Resistance, Mining Skill, Magical Item Use, +5% Open Locks, +10% Find/Remove Traps, +5% Hide in Shadows
05 Half-Elf Secret Doors, Iron Will, +10% Hide in Shadows, -5% Open Locks
06-07 Halfling Magic Resistance, Determination, +5% Open Locks, +5% Find/Remove Traps, +15% Hide in Shadows, -5% Read Langauges
08-09 Half-Vistani +1 Wisdom, +1 Intelligence, Nature Affinity, Fire Building, Tralaks, Moon Madness
10-100 Human None

Head 'n' Torso Table:

Roll Race Traits
01 Dwarf +1 Constitution, Infravision, -10% Climb Walls
02 Elf +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution, Infravision
03-04 Gnome Infravision, +10% Detect Noise, -15% Climb Walls
05 Half-Elf Infravision, +5% Dectect Noise
06-07 Halfling +1 Dexterity, -1 Strength, Infravision, +5% Detect Noise, -15% Climb Walls
08-100 Human None

Arms Table:

Roll Race Traits
01 Elf Weapon Expertise, +10% Pick Pockets
02 Half-Elf +5% Pick Pockets
03-04 Halfling Combat Bonuses, +5% Pick Pockets
05-100 Human None

Legs Table:

Roll Race Traits
01 Elf Surprise Bonus
02-03 Gnome +5% Move Silently
04-05 Halfling Surprise Bonus, +10% Move Silently
06 Half-Elf +5% Move Silently
07-100 Human None

Additionally, there is a 1% chance your golem includes some kind of monstrous humanoid component, taken from the d8 table below:

Roll Part Traits
1 Annis Head+Torso 60' infravision, -2 bonus to AC
2 Doppelganger Brain +1 Charisma, Disguise proficiency for free
3 Ermordenung Arms Unarmed strikes do +1d6 poison damage if victim fails save vs. poison
4 Goblyn Head+Torso 90' infravision, bite attack (1d6 damage)
5 Mind Flayer Brain +1 Intelligence, mentally contacting the golem causes the contacted to be stunned for 1d8 rounds
6 Paka Brain Summon & control 2d6 domestic cats 1/day
7 Reaver Arms Swim speed 12
8 Vampyre Head+Torso Bite attack (1d6 damage) that Charms victim if they fail a save vs. Poison with a +2 bonus

Now it's time to pick your class: Fighter, Avenger, Thief or multiclassed Fighter/Thief. Also, because golems suffer a "spiritual battle", good golems raise their experience totals to increase in level by +20%, and neutral golems do so by +10%.

As with the undead heroes from Requiem: The Grim Harvest, flesh golem PCs are saddled with the Alignment Descent system, which basically means they need to check against a complex grid system after each adventure to see whether or not they slide towards Chaotic Evil alignment.

Now let's talk about the common advantages to playing a flesh golem. For starters, you're completely immune to all life-affecting spells and effects, aging, suffocation, disease, poison, mind-affecting spells and effects, and telepathy. Also, you only need to eat the equivalent of a suckling pig's worth of raw meat or carrion per week - failing to keep up with this causes you to lose 1 Constitution point per week of starvation until you catch up with the cumulative food debt, whereupon your Constitution returns at a rate of 1 point per day.

Now, the drawbacks. Firstly, that protection against mental jiggery-pokery does not apply to regular old Fear, Horror and Madness checks. In fact, because of how abysmal your Wisdom score is, these checks will largely screw you over. Secondly, obviously, you look like a monster; aside from your shit Charisma score, you suffer a whopping +12 penalty to Reaction rolls to creatures seeing your visage for the first time. Invest in concealing clothing. Thirdly, there's the uncontrollable rage; whenever you are exposed to violence, involved in any kind of hostile confrotantion (including verbal), or even surprised, you have to roll a d6. Roll a 3 or less, and you stay in control. On a 4, you flee for 1d4 rounds. On a 5, you attack the nearest NPC for 1d10 rounds. And on a six, you attack everything around you for 1d10 rounds. Oh, and because you are considered "morally responsible" for this despite literally not having the choice over whether or not to attack it, you can still fall afoul of Powers Checks provoked by this unthinking rampage. Finally, you have a zeitgeber, a specific stimulus (sight, sound, odor, situation, etc) that, for whatever reason, renders you mentally insensate for 1d6 rounds, leaving you completely unable to do anything.

Now, your proficiencies. Because you're a cobbled together thing which uses a stolen brain, you have to spend half your starting nonweapon proficiency points on randomly generated proficiencies. Yay. On the plus side, you can spend the remaining half of your points however you wish, and can even use them to buy supernatural golem powers, which consist of:

  • Animate Undead: Costs 4 NWP points, lets you animate twice your HD in zombies 1/week.
  • Attack Resistance: Makes you immune to mundane weapons. Every 3 NWP points spent boosts the enchantment required to hit you by +1.
  • Cause Disease: Allows you to inflict diseases with your unarmed attacks. For 1 NWP point, you can cause a Debilitating disease that will steadily drop the victim to Strength 2. For 3 NWP points, you can cause a Fatal disease that will negate magical healing and cost them 1 Constitution per day until they die. Even creatures without Constitution scores are vulnerable to this one, losing 10% maximim HP per day until destroyed.
  • Cause Despair: Costs 2 NWP points, lets you plunge all creatures around you into a state of near-defenseless apathy 3/day if they fail a save vs. death magic.
  • Climb Walls: Costs 2 slots, gives you the ability to use the thief skill of the same name. Can't be taken if you have the Thief class.
  • Damage Immunity: Costs 2 slots, grants you immunity to one elemental damage type and auto-success on saves against it.
  • Damage Resistance: Costs 1 slot, grants you 50% resistance to one elemental damage type and a +4 bonus to saves against it.
  • Hideous Laugh: Costs 2 slots. You can unleash a terrifying laugh 3/day; creatures must save vs. death magic (-2 penalty) or suffer a Fear check.
  • Hide in Shadows: Costs 2 slots, gives you the ability to use the thief skill of the same name. Can't be taken if you have the Thief class.
  • Hyper-Regeneration: Costs 6 slots. When reduced to 0 HP, you begin regenerating 10 HP per round until fully healed. You can only be killed if destroyed with fire or acid damage.
  • Move Silently: Costs 2 slots, gives you the ability to use the thief skill of the same name. Can't be taken if you have the Thief class.
  • Resilient Flesh: Grants you resistance to enemy magic; 2 slots per +1 to all saves vs. damage dealing magic.
  • Stench of Decay: Costs 3 slots. You exude a ghast-like stench.
  • Weapon Resistance: Costs 2 slots, gives you 50% resistance to either Bludgeoning, Piercing or Slashing damage.

You can also select vulnerabilities (Allergen, Allergen Ward, Animal Repulsion, Weapon Vulnerability) to gain a bonus NWP slot per vulenrability chosen.

D&D 3.x & PF[edit]

The D&D 3e flesh golem appears in the first Monster Manual. It is essentially the same as its AD&D counterpart, save for one new trait; zapping it with lightning fixes any Slow effect it may be under, and also heals it instead of hurting it.

A 3e update for the Zombie Golem appeared in the Ravenloft Gazetteer #2.

Heroes of Horror introduced the cadaver golem, an intelligent golem that can gain new skills and abilities by attaching new body parts from other creatures to itself. Serpent Kingdoms introduced the serpentflesh golem, a golem made out of dead snakes or other scaly creatures. They usually are made by people who really hate Serpentfolk. Fiend Folio introduced the demonflesh golem, made of the flesh of demons.

Pathfinder's flesh golem appeared in its first bestiary. Its equivalent to the Zombie Golem, the foul-smelling, disease carrying Carrion Golem, appeared in the 2nd Bestiary.

D&D 4e[edit]

There are multiple kinds of flesh golem in D&D 4e.

The standard Flesh Golem appeared in the Monster Manual 1 for this edition. It's pretty much the traditional D&D flesh golem; a cheap, low-level golem that stands out by being strong, tough & stupid, with a propensity to fly into berserk rages.

The Open Grave sourcebook features the Blaspheme, a direct reference to Frankenstein's Monster in the form of a unique undead created from multiple body parts, and the Cadaver Golem, a rare outcome where an attempt to create a flesh golem imbues it with its own sentience, which typically hates its creator. This version of the cadaver golem has very different abilities than the one from the previous edition, as it doesn't gain new abilities from assimilated flesh.

D&D 5e[edit]

Appearing in the Monster Manual, the 5e Flesh Golem mostly preserves its tradition of being a shambling, destructive, unstable brute, but with a few tweaks for the new edition. This is the first edition where the standard flesh golem has some kind of pyrophobia, in the form of suffering Disadvantage on its attack rolls and ability checks until the end of its next turn if it takes fire damage.

Gallery[edit]

Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races
Core: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Dark Sun: Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen
Dragonlance: Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur
Mystara: Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak)
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
Oriental Adventures: Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk
Planescape: Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling
Spelljammer: Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil
Ravenloft: Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope
Complete
Book of X:
Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
Dragon Magazine: Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart

World of Darkness[edit]

Rules for crafting flesh golems as adversaries appeared in the New World of Darkness 1e sourcebook "Antagonists". This idea was then expanded upon to create the game-line Promethean: The Created, in which you basically play as different lineages of flesh golems.

Monstergirls?[edit]

LamiaMonstergirl.pngThis article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.
What better bride than one you built yourself?

Now, you might think that in comparison to standard golems, flesh golems would never get the monstergirls treatment. After all, they're pretty much the necromancer version of the golem, right? Well, you're wrong: beside the fact that monstergirl zombies and ghouls are things, it does make a morbid sense. If you're crazy enough to gather corpse-bits, stitch them all together and bring them to life, why not try and do it with bits taken from dead women and make yourself a girlfriend out of it? Heck, there's even some actual movies along this theme, from the legendary Universal film "Bride of Frankenstein" to the infamous horror-comedy "Frankenhooker", in which a hapless mad scientist ends up building a strangely sexy super-slut female flesh golem from the bodies of dead whores.

The Book of Erotic Fantasy takes this to its conclusion with the Pleasure Golem, made from "extremely fresh" humanoid flesh and wax. Normally it looks like a bunch of stitched-together bodies but it can use Disguise Self at-will to look like anyone within the limits of the spell (this means on average in the 5'-7' range), so those who like them some shortstacks but also the more amazonian physique might be better off with two Pleasure Golems instead of one. Pleasure Golems have no minds of their own; instead they have a drive to deliver pleasure and have a semblance of life thanks to an infusion with a fire elemental. They cannot speak, but they can produce sexual noises. And it's worth noting that they always sound and feel the same (it's up in the air if this means that you'll be able to feel the stitchings), RAW Disguise Self can make them look, smell and taste differently. Certain Pleasure Golems are built with extreme docility in mind for the more... harsh of owners, so there's a rough 5% chance that a threatened Pleasure Golem will not fight back when attacked. When it is attacked however it can clumsily defend itself with its fist, and has the standard Construct immunities. The Pleasure Golem does have one crippling flaw: its Intoxicating Pheromones Extraordinary Ability. All creatures (but the text specifies this as mammalian) within 30' of a Pleasure Golem have to roll a DC15 Will save or come under effect of the Vision of Exquisite Pleasure spell. This flat-out STUNS the target for the spell's duration, and since you have to save every turn in the presence of a Pleasure Golem... well, you better hope your Will save lasts longer than you do.

If this isn't enough for you, the Scarred Lands sourcebook for "Shelzar, City of Sins" has a sidebar on page 63 introducing "Sex Constructs"; flesh golem-like entities engineered by perverse wizards in pursuit of the wealth of the most hedonistic and debauched nobles of this infamous city of carnal pleasures. The two specific types mentioned are the Sintaur, resembling a centaur whose lower body is made of two human lower torsos melded together, with each "foot" replaced by a dextrous, long-fingered human hand and each pair of leg-arms having its own set of attendant genitals, and female sintaurs having two to three pairs of "huge" breasts; and the Slavering Orificer, which is basically described as a Gibbering Mouther made out of vaginas instead of mouths and which is associated with revels of such debauchery that the construct often doesn't survive the orgy that centers on it. Truly, creations worthy of a Slaaneshii necromancer.