Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Their Name is a Killing Word - The Golems

In the land of Hebron, legends tell of a powerful being made of clay that protects the people in their hour of need. Details vary by the telling, but most agree that the creature was formed from dust and clay by a powerful priest and given life through magic words carved on its body or by a magic formula written on parchment and placed in the creature's mouth. In some of these stories, the creature is little more than a mindless automaton; a powerful construct that possesses personal initiative and follows orders to the letter. In other stories, the creature is deadly and cunning; a monster requiring constant supervision and a danger to both its creator's enemies and the creator himself. These Golems, as they were called, existed in one form or another throughout Hebron's antiquity, being at once metaphor for man's hubris and a representation of man's power and his wish to protect hearth and home. When the Crone and her armies boiled out of the Mountains and entered Hebron, at their head strode massive, hand-built horrors. Automata of bone and clay, of iron and straw and pallid flesh, these horrific creatures cut a swath through Hebron's defenders. Those few who survived called the monsters Golems and fled before them, their ancient stories come to life at long last.

Created by the Crone to lead her armies to victory, the Golems are slow and implacable machines of destruction. Using the darkest of rites and the blackest of magics, the Crone stripped the souls of men and women culled from the Outlands and placed them in inanimate bodies. These tortured souls acted as semi-living power sources; spirit engines burning hatred, rage, pain, despair and suffering driving their new bodies to incredible feats of savagery. The Crone's initial Golems were built in a variety of styles out of different materials. She created each one to fill a specific niche. Some were made of stone or iron, living statues whose dense hides could turn even the sharpest blade. Others were made of dead flesh and bone, disparate body parts sewn together and brought to life by Witchcraft in conjunction with lightning and alchemy. Still others were made of straw, wood, scrap, clay, sand, or anything that could hold a humanoid form and contain a soul. Witchmarks were carved or branded into their bodies depending upon their component materials. Any weaknesses they may have were dictated by the composition of their bodies.

In combat, Golems are slow and methodical, implacable killing machines who prefer a straight-forward frontal assault to fancy battlefield tactics. Unfortunately, Golems also tend to be oafish and clumsy, graceless in movement and prone to destroying things by accident rather by malice or forethought. They often don't know their own strength, or the limitations of their bodies. Consequently, they often pose as much danger to their friends and allies as they do to their enemies. In their day-to-day interactions, Golems seem to be aloof and cold, detached from those around them. Much of this can be attributed to their means of creation. Their tortured souls have lost much of their humanity after being ripped from their mortal bodies and spending decades trapped in a lurching shell doing the evil bidding of the Crone and her sisters. Many, however, prefer to keep a distance between themselves and their smaller, more fragile companions lest a wrong move or action cause major harm. That being said, those mortals who have had dealings with the mighty Golems state that they are the most honorable, honest, and forthright of the Accursed, and make for the finest friends and most determined enemies.

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