Thursday, 4 July 2013

Monster: Spellbook Golems

Some tomes in magical and rare libraries are cursed. The unfortunate reader, if not properly prepared, may go blind from reading the title page. A careless peruser may go mad from touching a hellish travelogue. An unwary thief may find that they are trapped within the pages of a magically charged Who's Who.

None of these fates compare to coming face-to-face with a secret library's secret guardian. No, not a Kamikaze Librarian (thought for later: run a game where people can only choose from extraordinary classes created in that style). A golem made of magical texts...

You run your fingers along the wrong shelf. You open a locked cabinet. You don't pay your fine. Any one of these might trigger a cascade of leather bound books of all shapes and sizes, spilling on to the floor and forming into a humanoid shape - or perhaps into a vaguely houndlike body. If it has been activated it is because you are not supposed to be there, or because you have taken something it is bound to protect. A Spellbook Golem will follow you, attack you, attempt to restrain you - but usually it will not try to kill you. The Librarian who finds you afterwards will do that...

Spellbook Golem
AC: Leather. 6HD. Physical attacks with flailing book limbs, d6 damage (only +2 to hit) but see other attacks below. Commonly found alone, but sometimes a magical library will have a pair of golems hidden.

A Spellbook Golem at rest will be well hidden. They are very difficult to spot when not active: a clear sign from patient, careful study, will be a set of pristine-looking books, of various colours, sizes and types, but which all have a common rune at the base of the books' spines. When activated they assemble into an attacking/restraining form and will attempt to subdue any and all trespassers.

A Spellbook Golem is a magical being filled with magical words: typically they will act to subdue or ensnare thieves until their master(s) can be summoned. Protecting the library is what matters. They are not wholly intelligent, rather they respond to situations heuristically:
  • Protect the library;
  • Else restrain thieves;
  • Else use greater force;
  • If significant damage is taken and existence is threatened, then repair/heal (casts Mending).
They are difficult to distract: injuring a Spellbook Golem will not cause it to misfire or thwart a casting attempt as it would a human or elf. They cannot be made to Sleep. They are vulnerable to fire and water - which smudges the ink binding them together. Exposure to large amounts of either will cause the creature to be unable to cast spells for a minimum of 2d4 rounds. When they cast spells the pages of the books that make up their bodies flick through until they find the right spell.

When statting up a Spellbook Golem roll a d6. On a 1-5, you have an indication of the highest level of spell that the golem can cast. The golem will "know" one spell of the level shown on the die, two of the next level down and so on, except for first level spells, where it knows six by default. If a 6 is rolled on the die then the golem can cast two fifth level spells, three fourth level spells and so on. When a Spellbook Golem casts a first or second level spell it does not lose it.

When casting, Spellbook Golems do not speak aloud, they merely "find the page" and the spell is cast. They cannot be "silenced" and restraining them only thwarts spellcasting 30% of the time. In combat, a Spellbook Golem will cast spells for d4 rounds and then rest for d4 rounds, during which time it will only move or make physical attacks. They cast spells as fifth level Magic-Users.


  1. Nasty. I am really enjoying the monsters you've been creating here; I can't wait until you have enough to put out a book of them, he says, hinting with wild abandon.

    1. The thought is there in my mind - to create (for example) a 24-page bestiary and put it out there, see whether people like it!

      At the moment though I'm prepping for a modest little Kickstarter to create a print edition of the ebook for PhD students that I self-published.