Bog's World

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Familiars and Constructs

Natural Familiars

The Oerth is very rich in essence, the very stuff of magic. Thousands of years of animism and the sheer presence of the animals themselves has led to certain totem spirits, very much tied to the ‘power of nature’ itself, existing.

If a totem spirit expresses an aspect of its self or causes an effect in the fields we know then it is achieved by channelling. This is exactly the same as any other form of animistic magic in/on Oerth. Such effects should all be considered as channelling from the spirit of the physical world itself.

Lay persons can join animal cults. Sometimes the person will look for the cult and sometimes the cult will actively recruit the person. Always there is a match between the character of the person and the nature of the beast. ie ilin will often join the horse cult, orcs may favour the wvyern cult etc etc.

Saironost does not have many cells of animal cults therein. However all apprentices learn a little of the art of summoning. And the flows of essence sweep towards Saironost, bringing aspects of the totem spirits with them. This means that a mage can conjure up a part of the totem spirit and enter into a bargain. If the offer is accepted, then his or her life force is bound to a very small portion of the totem spirit, usually manifest as a typical animal thereof, to be the magi’s familiar. The totem spirit will only enter into such a bargain if it is sure that it has something to gain; ie the mage is sympathetic to the animal itself[1] and will further the course of its welfare in the wider world. Part of the attraction of such an arrangement for the totem spirits is that unlike the cult gaining a lay member, this more equal exchange of powers gains the might of at least a greyrobe.

Certain totem spirits avoid Saironost and will not be summoned by any except the most powerful. Generally, these are those whose use as a familiar is limited – horse, bear, basilisk, wvyern. A mage can try and summon his chosen totem spirit. Should he fail, given the pull of the essence on the totem spirits, there is every chance that he or she will succeed in summoning something. More often than not, this will be similar spirit to the one attempted (hound or wolf instead of fox, a kinship of this type). It should be noted that as cults, these can are quite different in policy and device as well as aim. Should the summoning be fumbled, the summoner is quite likely to find themselves hosting a demon or elemental for whom they are unprepared, there are plenty of these in all sorts of places around Saironost.

The taking of an animal familiar binds the magic user to the totem spirit by sharing a portion of the life force of each. The animal will behave in the most typical way it can, being a quasi-supernatural archetype. However it will take on either some identifying personality traits from its magic user or perhaps even a contrary one (if it adds to the role play). Likewise the magic user is increasingly likely to reflect the animal, as time passes. These familiars are the animals, imbued with an amount of their totem spirit; that is after all, the point. The advantages they confer are in concert with the very laws of nature itself. Consequently, whilst robust and long lived, they do grow old and die within the possible life span of wild ‘completely natural’ examples. When this happens the damaging effect to the magic user is temporary and lifts when the replacement totem animal appears. Those favoured by blackrobes and which are normally encountered as familiars are:

The Owl

The most noticeable thing about an owl is that it is nocturnal. There is a simple reason for this. It is blinded by the light of the sun and cannot see during the day. This would be a considerable disadvantage to the travelling magician. For mage and familiar to work most effectively together would also need some adjustment of the mage’s sleeping patterns. Owls also pay nocturnal visits to sheep and goats, where they suck milk from their udders. This causes the beasts to become blind and unable to give further milk. This suckling draws off that which allows the sheep and goats to see; thus enabling the owl to see at night.

Milk taken by this method is a quick and easy way to at least halve the time and expense of mixing potions that allow magically enhanced vision[2] (incl clairvoyance). A mage with an owl familiar will normally either keep a purse handy to compensate irate farmers or else keep a little of the potion back to cure the hapless animals.

Owls are not only patent listeners but also clearly capable of learning. Owls can not only understand human speech of whatever tongue, but obviously can pick out that which is useful from that which is of less value[3] . Owls dislike riddles, which they rarely understand, but are fond of puns, they only thing an owl finds funny. With time and training, owls can learn to write, although never in plain script. Thus an owl would be a good familiar to a mage seeking knowledge, whether magical or mundane. Owls make excellent spies.

Rubbing one’s chest with an owl will cure respiratory diseases.

Falcons, Hawks and Eagles

The hawk has long been associated with the more elevated sections of society through the comparatively exclusive sports of hawking and falconry. These birds often display what some may see as some of the virtues of the nobility. They are courageous, strong willed and wont to live very spartan lives. They are also noted for their aggressive hunting instincts. It seems to be sympathetic to a mage for whom might makes right and power excuses all.

Such birds are, for natural creatures, abnormally severe with their offspring. They expose their young to the full glare of the sun at an early age. If the chick has a fearless gaze and stares unblinking at the sun, then it is considered worthy. A chick that flinches and turns its eyes from the sun is considered unworthy and is cast from the nest. Once the young are old enough to fly, their parents cease to feed them and beat them with their wings, forcing them from the nest to fend for themselves.

In short, falcons, hawks and eagles will do all in their power to ensure that their off spring do not turn into sluggish adults. Familiars will not tolerate sluggishness in their magi. A comfort-loving weakling will have difficulty with such a familiar. A mage hopeful of gaining such a familiar should ensure that his arm is strong enough to bear its weight.

These birds can stare unblinkingly at the sun. They can see needles in haystacks, they are faster than slow arrows. They can plummet from the sky and crash into the ground with incredible force and emerge unharmed. Once on the hunt, only death will stop them from taking their chosen prey. Where an owl will describe in intimate detail what a blackrobe’s rival possesses, a bird like this will bring it back for him. But they are only loyal to the hand that feeds them.

The keening of these birds is painful to the ears of those who have been unfaithful in love. They cannot fly at night, and would drop from the sky like stones[4] if they tried.

The Toad

Toads are venomous. No toad fears or suffers from any form of poison. The benefits of sharing such a power are self evident to the interested mage. Every toad has a gemstone in its skull. If this stone is cut out of the head of a living toad (killing it in the process) then the gemstone will glow with an inner light if held next to anything poisonous. Stones cut from already dead toads are worthless. Magi with toad familiars must needs guard them well from their less scrupulous brethren

In the right hand side of the toad’s body is a bone which, if cast into a pot of boiling water, would instantly cause it to cease boiling. Conversely, there is a bone on the left-hand side of the toad’s body which, if cast into a pot of cold water, would instantly cause it to boil. Furthermore, the left bone can cause lust and anger and the right hand bone can calm those same feelings. A mage with a toad familiar will find especial insight into the casting of spells that manipulate such feelings.

Also a newly slain toad was a common base substance for a potion of truth-saying in the PEP Middle Kingdoms. So spells designed to gain answers are also more effective when cast by those linked to the toad. Having a toad on one’s head for a day, in addition to other herbal remedies, can cure a cold. Although toads do not like being used like this. It’s a long way to fall.

Wild toads live in nests in the centre of bramble bushes.

Weasel (Otter, stoat, ferret, pine marten)

The weasel is known for its aggression, fearlessness and incredible cunning. Weasels pursue snakes and slay them out of hand, eating them from head to tail. All manner of reptilian creatures are a-feared of weasels and their ilk. In Teddin, basiliks would flee rather than face a blackrobe with a weasel familiar. More than once, the weasel caught and slew the basilik[5] .

Weasels have a weakness for eggs and may forget what they are supposed to be doing if a golden opportunity for fresh eggs presents itself.

Weasels are also highly skilled in medicine. If its babies are killed and it could get to them, the weasel could bring them back to life. A mage with access to a weasel’s knowledge and skill in medicine would easily produce more potent elixirs of healing than another. Weasels are also skilled at playing dead in their own right, either as bait in their own ambush or to avoid predators in their turn.

Weasels, although obviously carnivorous, are nonetheless elongated mice.

The Raven

In nature, ravens act as pathfinders and way-markers for all the birds that migrate north to south and visa a versa every year. They can find their way safely from Alvorn to Eagles Reach and from Tenh to Udas. Ravens excel at finding safe routes. This would be very useful to travelling magi.

Ravens have troubled elves, men and dwarves with predictions about the future since time immemorial. They can understand and speak the tongues of men and so forth. They often foretell the weather and never swerve from their ominous duty of bringing news, however bad. Obviously ravens have some limited ability to see in to the future; very useful to a mage when casting spells of an information gathering nature. Raven’s are also well aware of the pathways of treachery. Ravens have the annoying habit of clipping their sentences or speaking in a disjointed manner.

Ravens are blessed with either one or the other of cognisance or perfect recall. Either of these could be invaluable to a mage as long as he did not share the same faculty, although the ‘built in redundancy’ could be useful.

Ravens are garrulous, so much so that a secretive mage would do well to beware his own bird. The gods do not trust their secrets to ravens and they’re often pretty good judges.

Ravens will steal silver but leave gold, any amount is too heavy for them to fly with.

The Crow

Crows are the stunted siblings of ravens. For every raven fledged, the rest of the nest will be crows[6] . Crows are always hungry and willing to turn every stone in order to find what they seek (food). This determination could be useful to a mage following a tiresome ritual.

They cannot speak any more than one word a day. Given their nature, this is often an expletive rather than anything useful.

Crows are not usually as intelligent as ravens, however they do have a greater sense of fraternity and faced with a task such as remembering a passage of information, it could be shared out, a few words to each crow, to be regurgitated later. Hopefully in the correct order. A crow will always know where to collect confederates to aid in its missions. However sometimes it may have to repay the debt, even if that means working against its actual master. The crow would be unlikely to admit such actions and may make other excuses.

Path finding is another thing crows have to do en masse. Otherwise they swiftly become disoriented and end up going in circles. However, the more crows, the safer the route.

Crows can also foretell the weather to a certain extent, although they are only accurate when forecasting bad weather. As stunted ravens, the rest of their foresight is facing the wrong way. However this isn’t all bad news as it enables crows to speak with the recently departed, which is why they are often observed near Flanne Collectives and gibbets and so on. Crows like to see what the dead recently saw.

Quills made from crow’s feathers cannot write lies.

What’s in it for me ?

Quite often the mage will bargain with the totem spirit for use of the familiar’s senses Very often these are better then the mage’s own. Also they are normally available for use without draining the mage’s own power (daily pp allowance). With practice, these may be used at a distance[7] .

There is a telepathic link between the magus and familiar, although obviously this is ‘just’ a permanent telepathic link, not a true shared consciousness.

A familiar is one of the totem spirit’s agents in the fields we know. Whilst loyal and obedient, its advice and actions will always be in step with the goals and idiom of the totem. The familiar will seek to influence the mage in accordance with the wishes of its true master.

A mage will often desire to use some of the familiar’s areas of expertise. The amount of advantage the mage gains is dependant on his relationship with the totem spirit, both during the summoning and through his subsequent treatment of both his familiar and other animals belonging to that totem spirit. Normally such a bonus would be between +15 and +25. A good relationship may attract a bonus of up to +30 for an action. In the short term, a cunning mage could boost this to +50 by appeasing the totem spirit through the familiar. If the subject matter of the research or spell casting is related in someway to the acknowledged area of competence, then the referee should ramp down the bonus in a sympathetic but appropriate fashion. This is as close as most blackrobes ever get to channelling; an arcane expert conducting a well researched ritual may well be able to access low level open channelling lists. For most, however, the risks are too high.

Of course, if the relationship breaks down, the familiar will leave, causing pain to the mage equivalent to the concussion hit total of the familiar. It is possible that worse could happen, although that would depend on the exact nature of the relationship and the manner of its ending. Sacrificing your own familiar is a sure fire way of attracting all sorts of unpleasant things. Only the very desperate (or supremely over confident) would contemplate such a thing. If the familiar meets an untimely end, then the mage suffers a loss of concussion hits equal to double the base total of the familiar and is incapacitated (stunned, prone and unable to parry, -90 to all activity) through nausea for an hour.

Unnatural Familiars (Homonculi)

There are many recipes for making a homonculous. The recipes are old and have been perfected over four thousand years of trial and error. Some are in the library of the Assembly and some are closely guarded secrets, either of individuals, families or Orders of Wizardry. Each different recipe produces a slightly different result. However they do have the following things in common:

The creation ritual takes a lunar month, during which time the caster can cast no other spells, nor be away from the ritual site by more than one mile. Violation of either of these spoils the ritual, causing the ruination of all the ingredients.

The homonculous is ‘brewed’ in a vat. The base ingredient is water. One common ingredient is the magi’s own blood. One pint is the first thing into the vat, and another pint is the last ingredient added. All the other ingredients are dependent on where the magi obtained their recipe.

The rare and expensive[8] ingredients are added to the vat in a strict sequence in minutely measured out quantities. This ends on the stroke of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day. Thereafter the magi has to maintain the ritual until exactly one calendar month has passed. At that point the new homonculous will be all that stands in the vat.

Homonculi stand about 18” tall. They are roughly humanoid in shape although have a head reminiscent of a badger with foxes ears. Their hind legs are jointed like a four legged beasts and they have leathery wings and a tough, hairless, hide (base AT 8). Their bite (as a small creature) causes sleep IV (as spell caster by that magi, even if they are not usually able to cast such a spell) in those so wounded. They can fly, although not well or fast, but can also walk, sit and use tools with their heavily nailed man-like hands. (as small claws, no sleep effect this time). Unless the recipe dictates or allows otherwise, the creature will be sexless. Although its hearing and other sense are the same as its magi’s, the homonculous is completely mute.

A homonculous cannot speak, but shares consciousness with its magi. It does not have an independent mind of its own except that it will not voluntarily be separated by a distance of a mile, as that would break the enchantment and slay the homonculous. Each has full use of the senses of the other. The homonculous is brewed with 25% of the concussion hits of its magi. Should the homonculous ever die, an amount equal to double this is immediately inflicted on the magi.

The magi can cast spells through the homonculous although this is separate skill that must be learned (at the same cost as power projection). The skill roll is satisfied and then the mage casts the spell as if he were in the exact position of the homonculous. The magi can also eat, drink and breathe through the creature in lieu of him or her self.

Aside from this the other effects of differing recipes are variable. Mixing and matching is possible but what magi is going to risk half of his concussion hits on a creature that may not work as intended ?

Common variations are brain fluid of a Hurgilin, giving the creature increased depth perception and the ability to leap 20’ in any direction. An elixir of giant spider, allowing the creature permanent spider climb ability. The drowning in the vat of a metal/ore para elemental, giving the creature an AT of 15. The hide and blood of a monkey gives the homonculous a long prehensile tail. The heart of a fish allows the homonculous to swim, the skull and beak of a gannet allow it to dive into water. There are many such variations that can be worked into the recipe.

Supernatural Familiars (Imps and Quasits)

Imps are minor devils created by larger devils, and Quasits are minor demons, created by greater demons, specifically to cause trouble in the fields we know. They are of an order of magnitude that allows their comparatively easy summoning and binding as familiars.

Imps

Imps have the following intrinsic powers; to shape change into two other forms (this is for disguise purposes, so another common familiar shape is usual, along with an ‘escape disguise’ like dog or goat). Crossing salt, milk, running water or any magical barrier causes them to revert to their own form.

Imps can detect good and have +100 power perception. They have vestigial wings that somehow enable them fly slightly better than a homonculous but nowhere near as well as a bird. They otherwise look like wizened leathery little old men with small horns and fanged mouths. They are about 2’ tall. Imps can see into the infrared spectrum for a distance of approximately 30’.

Naturally AT11 (except when in animal form), Imps also regenerate 5 concussion hits per round. Mundane weapons will not harm them, but magical or silver ones will. In their own form, they have snake like tails that end in small stingers. These are poisonous (25th level slaying poison).

If a summoner binds an imp as a familiar, he or she gains the following benefits; a telepathic link is created between the two and the summoner is able to received all sensory impressions from the imp at distances of up to a mile. Within arms length, the following benefits are gained: +25 to RRs vs all four realms of magic and the ability or regenerate 5 concussion hits per round.

If the imp should stray outside the one mile limit, the ability to use its senses is lost but the telepathic link is not. The first command is normally to get the imp back in range as both summoner and imp are then at –25 to all actions as long as the one mile limit is being exceeded.

Six times during its existence, the imp will act as a conduit, at the behest of its master, to contact the devil who created it. An imp will have the face of its summoner, with a huge nose (bulbous and as long as its torso). They are intelligent and chatty, being fond of telling all and sundry how blood curldlingly evil they are. Supernaturally, they can understand and speak any language they hear (although they cannot read and cannot be taught to read). Thus they often used as translators. However, they are almost entire bereft of anything resembling common sense and only remain alive because they immune to most normal sorts of hazards.

Should the imp die, the summoner looses four experience levels. Should the summoner die, the imp will catch the soul or spirit and attempt to take it to hell.

Quasits

Quasits have the following intrinsic powers; to shape change into two other forms These are invariably things such as giant centipede, wolf, huge bat or (small) giant spider. Sunlight or a natural breeze causes them to revert to their own form.

A quasit resembles a leathery little figure with a pointed tail and serrated horns, they are only 12” tall. Their only physical attack is with their (tiny creature) teeth and claws. In addition to other critials, they cause an itching sensation whose net result is a reduction in their victims agility bonus equal to the damage in concussion hits. This passes at the recovery rate of 5 points per hour of inactivity. They are naturally AT11 and regenerate 5 concussion hits per round.

When summoned, a quasit receives 25% of the concussion hits of the mage who summoned it. (ie the summoner surrenders 25% of their temporary concussion hit total to the quasit).

They have power perception at +99 and can become invisible at will. Only magical or cold iron weapons harm these creatures. They can see into the infrared spectrum for distance of 80’ and can track at +99.

If bound as a familiar, the benefits imparted are; A telepathic link enabling the summoner to access of the quasit’s sensory information for a distance of up to a mile. If the quasit should stray further than this the binding is broken. The Summoner looses concussion hits equal the number possessed by the quasit at that time and the quasit returns to the lower planes. When within arms length the summoner gains: +25 to RRs vs all four realms of magic, +10 to their DB, six ranks of sense ambush and the ability or regenerate 5 concussion hits per round.

Six times during its existence, the quasit will act as a conduit, at the behest of its master, to contact the demon who created it. Quasits have blank inhuman faces with dead lifeless eyes, they never show any expression. Quasits are by no measure intelligent or clever, however they are sly and aware to hazards around themselves. Quasits cannot speak and do not understand the speech of anyone other than their summoner.

Should the quasit die, the summoner looses four experience levels. Should the summoner die, the quasit will catch the soul or spirit and attempt to drag it down to the abyss.

Creatures of the lower planes

In both cases it should be noted that the familiar will be nice as pie to the summoner all the time whilst hating them for summoning and binding them, no matter how kind the summoner then is the creature. Also these creatures are created by an evil of great magnitude for the express purpose of spreading more evil throughout the fields we know. So whilst the presence of one does not necessarily mean that the blackrobe owning it is evil, most will be.

The most powerful aspect of these creatures is their ability to allow unimpeded communication, using the creature is a two way safety valve for both parties, between a blackrobe and a major player of the lower planes.

Not all supernatural creatures are evil, not all magical servitors are familiars

There comes a time in the career of most blackrobes when they need to employ the services of one or more supernatural servitors to aid them in their supernatural practices.

These creatures range from frail spirits and lowly elementals and para-elementals to entities collectively referred to as Sandestines[9] . All blackrobes of note will have in their repertoire the facility to call upon a range of sandestines for certain services. Sandestines are magical creatures, sentient beings of a trans-mundane origin. By definition, everything they do is an act of magic, they are not bound by time and space and have certain paths available to them through the inner and outer planes of existence unless something prevents them.

Consequently they are generally only able to effect things in the fields we know by manifesting themselves in a physical form (although this may not be as a solid – fire, water and air elementals being the archetype non-solids). Whilst in physical form the sanestine may be harmed and a wizard can make good use of this fact.

Every sandestine has different abilities and generally blackrobes will use the ones they feel most comfortable with, a pyromancer will listen to the advice of an efreet, a hyromancer will choose an Undine, a demonist will choose ever-greater creatures from the depths of the abyss. No sandestine actually wants to serve a blackrobe; a sorcerer must coerce the creature with his own will power and certain spells. The more powerful the entity the blackrobe wishes to use, the more powerful these spells must be. He or she may also take advice of any hierarchy to which the sandestine belongs, by controlling one, it should be possible to control its subordinates. This is only possible with the knowledge of the truename of an entity near the top of this arrangement. The sandestines of the lower orders are so afraid of their superior that they will serve to prevent the utterance of this name, which would then alert that entity to their presence. There are many pit falls in this type of arrangement and it usually ends badly for the blackrobe.

The use of sandestines is usually only considered as a last resort even if the rewards are great. The effort required is considerable and often expensive. The alien nature of these entities makes them seem treacherous and chaotic and they never tire of trying to deceive those who would use them. Failure to properly bind an entity can have a number of results, depending on the wizard and the sandestine. A minor spirit or whispy madling may simply flee. Others may demand that no further attempts to summon or bind them are made (and that all references to magics that work to that effect are erased from the fields we know) on pain of dire retribution. And of course there are many more, unpleasant consequences.

The power of a sandestine is usually relatively unimportant, but the uses it is put to are not. The merest whisp can be the greatest of spies and the most powerful demiurge can make the biggest mistakes. Therefore it pays never to give a difficult or ambiguous order. The servitor will resent having to carry out the wishes of a mortal and will always try to follow some alternative interpretation of the rules. The blackrobe has to make it clear who is in control, even then some creatures have the annoying trick of pretending to be under the command of the summoner even when the binding was unsuccessful…

Helping hands

(DIY, Frankenstein’s Monster etc)

Some wizards require servants. Some for convenience, some for hard or dangerous labour and some to show how great they are and other wise flatter their vanity.

People are not appropriate servants for some wizards – they need paying, feeding, sleep, time off, personal space, sympathetic treatment and understanding. They are fallible, comparatively fragile and potentially disloyal, as well as being susceptible to both coercion and magic control by external powers.

People do not want to work in a dangerous place like Saironost. They chances of turning into something, unnatural, are too high. No-one wants to work for a summoner, lest they be offered up as a bargaining chip. No-one wants to work for a necromancer, lest they end up undead as well.

Having a Sandestine as a permanent flunky is a very ostentatious display of power. However, it could begin to attract the wrong sort of attention to the Assembly as a body and so this is discouraged from very early on in their training. A Sandestine would be constantly struggling against the terms of its servitude and would take every opportunity to twist every command, no matter how simple. And there is the matter that the Sandestine in the course of its duties might happen across some set of circumstances that set it free.

Much better for a mage is a golem of some sort. The creature does not tire, need air, food or sleep. It stands still in one place when not required, possibly in the dark, facing a wall or holding an ornament or tool (for weeks, months, perhaps years). Depending on what it is made of, it might be immune to the effects of fire or certain other phenomena.

One thing a blackrobe lacks is the ability to enter into physical combat. Generally this is not a problem and is really only a psychological block brought on by their over inflated self image. Blackrobes are powerful and are more then likely to win a ‘fight’ with their first act.

However, they are very aware (and some may hugely enjoy) the importance of theatre, and that requires ‘presence’. One thing some might miss would be the opportunity to physically intimidate someone. The handy thing for such a mage would be a larger than man sized golem. Immune to most (non-magical) weaponry[10] , the slow moving but incredibly strong golem is a good choice for those who like doing things like walking through walls (whilst remaining corporeal) or tossing masonry about.

They cannot be stunned, do not have minds to be taken over, their senses are equal to their creators. They do not bleed. They are either large or super large creatures. They are slow moving, giving a DB of –30, they never tire or rest and have no sense of self preservation. Due to the manner of their creation, golems have an alchemical inertia factor of 2. This makes them attractive to magi who might further enchant their golem in other ways in the future.

A golem is an animated creature in the form of a man (Anthropomorphic animation). Its anthropomorphic shape is important in the rituals used to animate the model. Animations in the form of man are easier than those of other shapes. The rituals have their origins amongst the cabals of the Baklunish pre-rain of colourless fire civilisation of over 5,000 years ago. Although now more refined, these ancient treatise on the animation of such forms remains the basis of similar work today. These are the most popular form of animated servant. Following the usual pattern of the rituals, a golem will last 1,000 years unless it is destroyed (or deactivated by it’s creator) before that time.

A totem is an animated creature in the form of an animal (Theriomorphic animation). These creatures are much harder to create as the ritual usually attracts the attention of the totem spirit for that animal or its ilk. Generally, unless the magi already has a prior arrangement with the totem spirit, it will prevent the ritual from being successful. Creations have been known to become possessed and attack those performing the rituals. Totems such as these are usually made for a specific purpose for which the man-shape is unsuited. They will still have a full repertoire of possible actions and may have a limited life. If a person does not create a totem themselves but rather happens across and unattended one (that it standing still) then they could attempt to attune to it as if it were any other type of magical item. Success would then indicate that they are able to control the totem.

A hylem is an animated object (Hylomorphic animation). These are generally created to carry out one single function. They are normally created to carry out this function because they will do it consistently (day in day out for years) for many years to the same standard, without having ‘good’ or ‘bad’ days. For this reason they are usually created to carry out the function ad infinitum. Hylems are normally viewed as magical items rather than animated creatures of the same ilk as golems.

In common with each other, all of these understand and obey the spoken commands of their creator[11] . If their creator dies, Golems and Totems will carry on according to the last set of commands that they received. Hylems are normally made to continue their function regardless. There are no telepathic links to these animations, as they have no consciousness. Their ability to function is not subject to any effect brought on by their physical distance away from their creator (who may well be deceased). They are their creators loyal servants and even if the instructions given are ones that would leave a sandestine to do what it wanted, the animation will always carry out its instructions strictly in accordance with its creators intentions and with the minimum of delay.

Flesh golems are normally constructed to be roughly the size of a troll or orge (~9’). They are animated by magic and therefore do not require a skeleton to impart shape or movement. From the moment that the ritual is finished the ‘flesh’ is preserved. In terms of combat, they are AT1. Chopping into one with a magic weapon is not quite the same as striking a living opponent – there is no bleeding and no evidence of pain or loss of performance unless something becomes detached. If a bit does become detached then it ceases to be animated. The creator without too much difficulty can reattach the same bit, providing it is part of the original creature. These are the only golems that can be repaired in this manner. Normally ~400 hits.

Bone golems are occasionally mistaken for undead although obviously cannot be turned or destroyed in the same way. Casual examination of the ~9’ bone golem soon reveals it’s composite structure. A bone golem is AT18 to piercing weapons, AT8 to blunt weapons. Ancient Baklunish bone golems were tomb guards[12] and imbued with the ability to wither their opponents limbs in combat. As this is not much use in a servitor, it is normally left out of the modern rituals. Normally ~200 hits

Clay golems were the favoured golems of the ancients. A clay golem is roughly 10’ tall when created. Although preserved by its enchantments, the clay is never set. Somewhere on the golem’s body will be the final rune that animated it. If this rune can be found, reached and erased, the golem will be deactivated. A clay golem, whilst always slightly clammy to the touch, picks up more material (house dust, dirt form the roads etc) throughout its lifetime, gaining an extra 1’ in height every century. Therefore a clay golem, after only two or three hundred years, will be left outside of the wizard’s home (unless he has a huge golem garage built) where hopefully weathering will keep the golem at a constant size. Normally ~500 hits when first built, it will gain 10 –20 hits for each 1’ it grows.

Stone golems are usually created as static guards (the tower of Arl in Saironost has many such guards). They are 12’ tall at the completion of the ritual. The AT20 stone golem will freeze in a pose, like a statue, if so commanded. Like flesh and clay golems, stone golems are solid, this makes them very heavy. They are capable of crushing opponents in their hands and by giving them a bear hug or squashing them against a nearby surface. Caryatid columns (FF) (two 6’ female statues guarding a doorway) are in fact, one stone golem. Normally ~600 hits.

Iron golems are hollow, 20’ tall constructions. A by-product of their existence is a form of noxious gas, trapped by the golem in its hollow interior. If someone fighting an iron golem managed to pierce it, they would suffer the immediate effect of the gas cloud rushing out. The iron golems’ creating mage could mend the damage, using an appropriate technique, without resorting to a ritual. It takes only a week for the gas to build up again. Normally ~400 hits, depending on the thickness of its construction.

A bronze golem is a specialised form of iron golem. During the ritual a magma para elemental is trapped within the golem’s hollow core. In addition to the normal bash and crush attacks that a cold iron golem is capable of, the bronze golem also causes a heat (fire) critical of one less level of severity. Bronze golems are warm to the touch. Magical fire attacks against them will add to their temporary concussion point total. However they are vulnerable to a spell of unlocking if cast deliberately at a small pin which is between the heel and ankle of either foot. This spell has to overcome the locking spell placed there by the creator. If the pin can be successfully removed then the para elemental is immediately set free. Its first act will be to find and slay the mage who imprisoned it. The empty 20’ shell will then topple over. Normally ~500 hits, they are heavier constructions than iron golems and not so hollow, either.

A rag golem is the exception to the normal rules of golems. It is simply made from whatever rags and odds and ends that the mage has about and weighs in at a hefty 6” tall. The creator must loose one point from their permanent intuition, reasoning and memory attributes in order to create a rag golem. These are given to the animation, which then develops its own consciousness. The newly created golem is physically fully formed but mentally undeveloped. The mage must then retire from all other activities for a year to teach the golem. If this process is interrupted then the break in the process will permanently deactivate the little fellow and the process would have to begin again.

At the end of the year the rag golem will have intuition and reasoning attributes equal to the creators. It will develop its own pp based on these attributes. Additionally the rag golem has total recall and will perfectly memorise (including mistakes) everything the creator has seen fit to teach it, including spell lists[13] . Thus a rag golem often serves as a walking spell book. Provided it stays within telepathic range (99’) the mage can relearn any of his spells at any time. However, although a rag golem may know 50th level spells, it can only cast 1st level ones.

If required it will use its own initiative to achieve its masters ends. Over time it will develop its own personality, inevitably on the humorous and mischievous side, mimicking the idiosyncrasies and foibles of its creator. Even so the rag golem will never behave in a deleterious manner towards its creator.

Unlike its larger betheren, who whilst immune to most physical attacks, are quite susceptible to magic, the manner (and indeed purpose) of the rag golems creation give it +50 on its RRs vs any magical attacks. The little golem may only be AT1, but is not slow like the big golems and is only 6” tall, this gives it a DB of +50. It will have about 20 hits.

If its master dies, the rag golem will set off alone into the big bad world. As a source of spells a rag golem is a prize find for any apprentice or even blackrobe. However, it is now, ‘freelance’ and must be enticed into co-operation. A ‘freelance’ rag golem will work with a blackrobe that they deem worthy, but not for him (or her). It must be remembered that it has all the memories that its creator gave it, so it may already have opinions about certain individuals.

The iron horse (steed of Achdin) is a totem once more common than it is now[14] . Many were made during the PWOC for wizards who otherwise would not have been as mobile as the Celebrinoth. Not being disposed to caring for horses the Celebrinoth preferred the magi to have these artefacts than the real thing. An iron horse is a large (17 hands) horse made of iron. Like other animations it requires neither air, sleep, food drink nor any form of husbandry. Being a horse, they are made to be fixed by blacksmiths, should any part become damaged. For comfort (and indeed, natural control) a full set of horse furniture is required, although the beast cares not if its charge is comfortable or not. It will respond to voice alone in accordance with its master’s intentions and therefore does not need a riding skill to use, although it will also respond just as well (if not better) to the normal ilin riding style. An iron horse is normally black and must be regularly oiled (like armour) to prevent it from rusting up. It is AT20 and has the speed and agility of a horse, but does not tire. Ever. It will strike with its hooves at +99 if so commanded or to defend itself. Due to its construction, if charged into an opponent it is a +99 huge bash. Real horses will treat a steed of Achdin as a part of their herd, despite its lack of social skills. Normally ~500 hits.

A blue hound (Cùglas) is made of a wooden frame (for lightness) over which are laid thin bronze sheets which are then enamelled blue (AT 16). The purpose of the blue hound is to find things or people. This it will do, following a trail (not necessarily scent), no matter how faint, across all surfaces at a base movement rate equivalent to a fast jog. It does not tire and will not stop to eat or drink; therefore it pays to have some form of transport to enable oneself to keep up. If it isn’t following a trail then it will begin by quartering the immediate area, continuing to expand the same until it finds a clue or is given some other indication of where to look by its master. A blue hound will defend itself if attacked (med bite at +200 OB) but is not designed to fight. A blue hound will be distracted enough to interact with any real dogs it meets in a dog like manner (incl foxes or wolves) however, they are confused by the blue hound and will thereafter ignore it (pretending it doesn’t exist). The blue hound will carry on with its tasks. Quite lightly constructed, a blue hound will have around 100 hits. Unlike all other animations, blue hounds will hop about like scalded lap dogs in the event that they become damaged, looking very sorry for themselves until they are repaired. This can be done either by their creator or more mundanely by skilled artisans. They quality of the repair is of critical importance to the future physical performance of the animation.

An obsidian dragon is a 4’ long dragon with a 5’ wingspan cobbled together from as few a pieces of obsidian as possible. The dragon is very fast and extremely manoeuvrable in the air (DB +50). It is AT20 if carved from a single piece, each extra separate piece used in its construction reduces its AT by one. Its purpose is to kill vermin, spies and the familiars of other magic users. It strikes with a small bite at +200, causing a stress critical of equal severity to any other critical hits indicated. Most small creatures, even predators, will flee an obsidian dragon if they encounter one. Small but heavy and solid, they average 150 hits. They cannot be repaired, any pieces can be saved and the whole creature re-made at a later date (ie with a new ritual, creating a newer obsidian dragon out of more pieces).

The Necrophidious (FF) and Iron Cobra (FF) are also totems of a sort.

Illusionists may favour a gem hylem. Formed from a fantastically valuable single gemstone (at least the size of a goose egg, preferably larger), the completed gem hylem will spin in the air at shoulder height to its master. It requires attunement to harness its powers. It need not necessarily be ‘free’ for the attunement to take place, although this will result in a will vs will contest with its current owner. A gem hylem acts as a focus for spells dealing with the manipulation of light (light and darkness, illusions of all kinds etc etc). A single gem hylem will either double the duration of the spell (if applicable) and reduce the ESF range to 01-02. Or allow casting without preparation time penalties and make such casting at +25. Or count as the material component for all such spells and illuminate or cast into shadow an area of 20’ radius about itself, as required. It is perfectly possible to attune to many gem hylems and ‘stack’ their powers, making one exceptionally powerful when using spells that manipulate light. They are AT14 due to their size, and have 77 hits due to being very hard. They fly and spin and despite being relatively huge for gemstones, are very small targets. They have a DB of +150.

Other common hylems include:

The broom of flying
Dancing swords
Flying carpets
Other household tools (broom of sweeping, Mop of mopping et al)
Figurines of wondrous power
Qaal’s feather tokens

[1] Not just the conjured/provided familiar; but that animal in all its guises, wheresoever it may be.
[2] Infravision, ultravision, truesight, seeing through walls, various ‘eye’ type spells, various ‘detecting’ spells using sight as well being a short-cut ingredient for some darkness spells.
[3] An owl familiar is a product of the totem spirit and will be of the highest intelligence. However the quality of the briefing given to the owl may drastically effect the quality of information it comes back with.
[4] Although would obviously be unhurt and still able to walk and hop about etc.
[5] As if this is not enough in the way of combative expertise, the aquatic weasel, the otter, kills crocodiles. Whilst the Crocodile slept the otter would roll in the mud, coating itself quite liberally and slip down the crocodile’s throat. The crocodile, on suddenly waking up, would gulp the otter down; The otter would then attack from the inside, splitting the vile beast in two and emerging unharmed due to the protective layer of mud.
[6] Hooded crows, common crows, carrion crows, rooks et al. Only magpies are unsuitable as they plainly not crows at all, but spirits of the smaller orders of faeries who died by the sword.
[7] As the distance increases, so the connection between mage and familiar weakens. At a certain point the animal will simply forget that it is a familiar and carry on with its life in its own natural idiom. Such a familiar shouldn’t be too hard for a resourceful mage to track down and re-establish their link. With certain creatures, such as birds, this limit could possibly be hundreds of miles. For land bound animals, this mileage is likely to be in single figures.
[8] Equivalent to the cash value of 300 cattle, 100 horses, 2000 bushels of gain or 60 barrels of salt. A lot of money and some recipes have altogether more exotic ingredients.
[9] This also includes certain higher forms of self aware undead. Common to most generalists is the spell Mordenkainen’s unseen murderer (invisible stalker). This is an air elemental assassin with one target.
[10] Normal weapons have no effect upon them. Large rocks may pin them down until the large rock is removed again but it would take a vast weight (or enormous drop) to actually crush one. But it would work.
[11] Traditionally, this is limited to any number commands up to 99 words. The oldest commands are deleted as newer ones are given.
[12] Even programmed undead fade eventually. And if confronted by self aware undead or demons, could be turned from their original purpose to some other end.
[13] There may well be a limit to how much a rag golem can hold. But it hasn’t been reached yet.
[14] About half of the 14 made were taken to Udas for the wars there. None have been returned to the Flanaess.


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