What is a golem?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The magic item golembane scarab specifies:

Core Rulebook wrote:
This beetle-shaped pin enables its wearer to detect any golem within 60 feet, although he must concentrate (a standard action) in order for the detection to take place. A scarab enables its possessor to combat golems with weapons, unarmed attacks, or natural weapons as if those golems had no damage reduction.

From a purely technical standpoint, there doesn't seem to be a precise criterion to decide which creatures are affected by this item, since there is no golem subtype, and a creature's name is more descriptive than a classification.

Note that, for example, many demons aren't called out as such in their name in the statblock, but they have a demon subtype that identfies them.

Some creatures that do not have golem in their bestiary entry name could be considered golems that might be affected, such as the caryatid column, that even has golem-like immunity to magic and damage reduction. I think it would be fair if the golembane scrab affect this creature, too.

Personally, I think there should be a golem subtype. What do you think?


That would make life simpler, but I guess it isn't common enough an issue to have been dealt with...


What are some other examples of creatures that are questionably golems?


Kolyarut wrote:
What are some other examples of creatures that are questionably golems?

Caryatid columns were called out.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Kolyarut wrote:
What are some other examples of creatures that are questionably golems?
Caryatid columns were called out.

Even if no other examples exist, that one example alone warrants discussion...


Caryatid columns are not golems. The Caryatid Column entry in bestiary 3 specifically says they aren't. So we are going to need another example.


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Milo v3 wrote:
Caryatid columns are not golems. The Caryatid Column entry in bestiary 3 specifically says they aren't. So we are going to need another example.

Okay then.

If we treat the creatures name as a rules-relevant entry (such as Golems) then we set the precedent of allowing Owlbears to be treated as Bears, and Giant Scorpions to be treated as Giants.

There is no Golem creature type, so unless we treat the names as rules, this item doesn't work.

My above example illustrates the dangers of using names as rules though.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hm, yes, the flavor text differentiates them from "true golems". However there is a similar difference between dragons as a creature type in general, and "true dragons", i.e. those that actually have "dragon" in their name. But a desert drake, for example, while not a "true dragon", is, for all intents and purposes, an evil dragon, and would be affected by double damage from a paladin's smite ability. So I think the "no true golem" statement does not necessarily dismiss the caryatid column.

I must admit, I can't presently think of another creature, it was the caryatid that got me thinking about this; this and the fact that the name of something is not actually a technical term. I vaguely remember that there was an argument made about something similar, but I can't recall what it was, maybe a spell?


alexd1976 wrote:

Okay then.

If we treat the creatures name as a rules-relevant entry (such as Golems) then we set the precedent of allowing Owlbears to be treated as Bears, and Giant Scorpions to be treated as Giants.

There is no Golem creature type, so unless we treat the names as rules, this item doesn't work.

My above example illustrates the dangers of using names as rules though.

I wasn't talking about the name. The text of the column says they aren't golems. But also, there is a rather obvious difference between something being called a "X bear" and a "xbear". Polar Bears are bears of the polar variety, owlbears are a different creature. A Polar owlbear would be an owlbear of the polar variety. Also, golems aren't just "x golem" in name. They are "Golem, X".

You can tell if something is a golem, by whether it says it is a golem. If it doesn't say it's a golem, then it isn't one. It's... pretty simple.


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Milo v3 wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

Okay then.

If we treat the creatures name as a rules-relevant entry (such as Golems) then we set the precedent of allowing Owlbears to be treated as Bears, and Giant Scorpions to be treated as Giants.

There is no Golem creature type, so unless we treat the names as rules, this item doesn't work.

My above example illustrates the dangers of using names as rules though.

I wasn't talking about the name. The text of the column says they aren't golems.

The OP believes the caryatid column should be CHANGED to be treated as a golem, and a golem subtype should be created.

I agree with both points.


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alexd1976 wrote:

The OP believes the caryatid column should be CHANGED to be treated as a golem, and a golem subtype should be created.

I agree with both points.

This is in the rules questions area, so I am answering these questions via a rules perspective. If you want homebrew advice, it is best to go to the homebrew sections of the forum.


Milo v3 wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

The OP believes the caryatid column should be CHANGED to be treated as a golem, and a golem subtype should be created.

I agree with both points.

This is in the rules questions area, so I am answering these questions via a rules perspective. If you want homebrew advice, it is best to go to the homebrew sections of the forum.

Has been flagged as such.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

No I am not talking about homebrew rulings. I am talking about actually adjudicting the golembane scarab. This is a rules question. There is precedent that names of something (in this case a class features) are considered flavor, not rules, see this FAQ entry. I think a monster's name is flavor too.


Zaister wrote:
No I am not talking about homebrew rulings. I am talking about actually adjudicting the golembane scarab. This is a rules question. There is precedent that names of something (in this case a class features) are considered flavor, not rules, see this FAQ entry. I think a monster's name is flavor too.

A Caryatid Column isn't a Golem though, they actually make a point of saying that in the entry.

So from a rules perspective, nope, the Golembane clasp won't affect them.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Well, they say it is not a "true golem", or rather a "lesser cousins of true golems, which kind of implies that besides the "true golems", there are other non-true golems, as with dragons. The exact same wording. And the non-true dragons are technically dragons.

Also, basically every grouped monster has its own subtype—there is even a constuct subtype, colossus, so there i precedent.


Zaister wrote:

Well, they say it is not a "true golem", or rather a "lesser cousins of true golems, which kind of implies that besides the "true golems", there are other non-true golems, as with dragons. The exact same wording. And the non-true dragons are technically dragons.

Also, basically every grouped monster has its own subtype—there is even a constuct subtype, colossus, so there i precedent.

I agree with you that a golem subtype should exist, and that they should be included in it.

However that is not currently the case.

The caryatid column is explicity called out as NOT a golem, and also doesn't have golem in it's name.

So the magic item doesn't currently affect them.

I do agree with you that it probably should, but it doesn't.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

In the absence of a type, you can reasonably rely on the name (constructs that have golem in the monster entry name). I did FAQ the first post, though. It probably should be overtly stated.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Alex, thanks and yes you're probably right. But since I seem to remember that we have been told somewhere that we should not rely on names as rule elements this might indeed by in issue in need of a ruling. I will admit that is certainly isn't the most urgent one, though.

Christopher, thanks for marking as FAQ :)


alexd1976 wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Caryatid columns are not golems. The Caryatid Column entry in bestiary 3 specifically says they aren't. So we are going to need another example.

Okay then.

If we treat the creatures name as a rules-relevant entry (such as Golems) then we set the precedent of allowing Owlbears to be treated as Bears, and Giant Scorpions to be treated as Giants.

Are owlbears put under the "bear" entry in bestiary and giant scorpions under "giant"?

Golems are put in bestiary under "golem" heading with their own group description that acts as a reasonable definition of a golem.

Quote:
There is no Golem creature type, so unless we treat the names as rules, this item doesn't work.

Name itself might not be the rules, but group entry in a bestiary with a definition is a rule.

The subtype fulfills specific role in game mechanics of adding specific abilities and qualities to creature, in a way narrower than type. In case of humanoids it is generally limited to being subject to specific bane/favored enemy. Adding "golem" subtype would be reasonable if there were enough associated mechanics involved, but making a subtype for purpose of one or two magic items and spells would be exaggeration.


Drejk wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Caryatid columns are not golems. The Caryatid Column entry in bestiary 3 specifically says they aren't. So we are going to need another example.

Okay then.

If we treat the creatures name as a rules-relevant entry (such as Golems) then we set the precedent of allowing Owlbears to be treated as Bears, and Giant Scorpions to be treated as Giants.

Are owlbears put under the "bear" entry in bestiary and giant scorpions under "giant"?

Golems are put in bestiary under "golem" heading with their own group description that acts as a reasonable definition of a golem.

Quote:
There is no Golem creature type, so unless we treat the names as rules, this item doesn't work.

Name itself might not be the rules, but group entry in a bestiary with a definition is a rule.

The subtype fulfills specific role in game mechanics of adding specific abilities and qualities to creature, in a way narrower than type. In case of humanoids it is generally limited to being subject to specific bane/favored enemy. Adding "golem" subtype would be reasonable if there were enough associated mechanics involved, but making a subtype for purpose of one or two magic items and spells would be exaggeration.

There IS no golem type, that's the problem.

They are listed as Constructs.

So the magic item designed to kill a specific type of creature only works if we use the name of the creature, instead of it's listed type.

It's obvious what it SHOULD do, but the writing for it leaves a lot to be desired.

Maybe this magic item should just affect creatures of the Construct type. That would be a simple fix.

As it is, I can't find a single creature with the Golem creature type, so the item (mechanically) does nothing, unless we recognize creature names as an enforceable mechanic.


Drejk wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Caryatid columns are not golems. The Caryatid Column entry in bestiary 3 specifically says they aren't. So we are going to need another example.

Okay then.

If we treat the creatures name as a rules-relevant entry (such as Golems) then we set the precedent of allowing Owlbears to be treated as Bears, and Giant Scorpions to be treated as Giants.

Are owlbears put under the "bear" entry in bestiary and giant scorpions under "giant"?

Golems are put in bestiary under "golem" heading with their own group description that acts as a reasonable definition of a golem.

Quote:
There is no Golem creature type, so unless we treat the names as rules, this item doesn't work.

Name itself might not be the rules, but group entry in a bestiary with a definition is a rule.

The subtype fulfills specific role in game mechanics of adding specific abilities and qualities to creature, in a way narrower than type. In case of humanoids it is generally limited to being subject to specific bane/favored enemy. Adding "golem" subtype would be reasonable if there were enough associated mechanics involved, but making a subtype for purpose of one or two magic items and spells would be exaggeration.

Good point. As the item in question does not reference a "golem type" but instead only "golems", I find it sufficient that it indicates the group entry in the bestiaries.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Given that there are very few questionable cases, it seems best to me to limit 'golems' to those monsters in the 'Golem' section of each bestiary, all of which also have 'golem' in their name, and all of which can also be constructed as 'shield guardians'.

Various other constructs (including Caryatid Columns) lack all of these features and thus are not 'golems'. Most, but not all, constructs also lack golem immunity to magic and animation by an elemental. Those few that share these traits are still non-golem constructs and the magic item is not a 'construct bane scarab'.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm still wondering why they felt the need to talk about "true golems".


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Does it have the word "golem" in the creature's name? No? Then it isn't a golem.

Easy. Simple. Elegant even.

Nevertheless, a golem subtype could certainly make things more interesting.


alexd1976 wrote:

There IS no golem type, that's the problem.

They are listed as Constructs.

So the magic item designed to kill a specific type of creature only works if we use the name of the creature, instead of it's listed type.

Could you point me where the golembane scarab says it affects golem type? Affects and abilities does not have to be keyed to the type or subtype. There is no bear, feline or snake type and yet there are bear, lion, and snake shaman druid archetypes that have totemic summons abilities that make those archetypes better at summoning bears, felines, and snakes, respectively.

Quote:
It's obvious what it SHOULD do, but the writing for it leaves a lot to be desired.

If it is obvious then the writing is sufficient. If it wasn't obvious then there would be a problem.

Quote:
As it is, I can't find a single creature with the Golem creature type, so the item (mechanically) does nothing,

The problem is not with the description but your insistence that mechanic must be keyed to creature (sub)type. Following that reasoning commune with birds does nothing because there is no birds subtype.

Quote:
unless we recognize creature names as an enforceable mechanic.

Not name. Bestiary entry.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Golem's have construction cost and require the Craft Construct feat.


James Risner wrote:
Golem's have construction cost and require the Craft Construct feat.

So do many other constructs, so it isn't a viable discerning factor.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Risner wrote:
Golem's have construction cost and require the Craft Construct feat.

That applies to most creatres of the construct type.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So, if it's determined by name, if I name my fighter Johnny Golem, can he be detected by the golembane scarab?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
So, if it's determined by name, if I name my fighter Johnny Golem, can he be detected by the golembane scarab?

No, because that's not his creature/race name listed in the Bestiary. Instead, his creature name is likely "human" or one of the other Core Rulebook races.


Zaister wrote:
So, if it's determined by name, if I name my fighter Johnny Golem, can he be detected by the golembane scarab?

Yes. Officially, if Golem is in the name then yes.


Precious...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Starbuck_II wrote:
Zaister wrote:
So, if it's determined by name, if I name my fighter Johnny Golem, can he be detected by the golembane scarab?
Yes. Officially, if Golem is in the name then yes.

No, not "officially" or RAW or any other way that we want to waste time parsing out little slivers of the rules for our amusement. I do not know if this is result of the Internet and the anonymity that we each have so we feel we can throw any little thing out there and see if it sticks or is this the curse of the millennial mindset of the video game era crowd or if this is just the result of having a rule set that tries to cover every little action and leave very little to the imagination or the whim of the DM. Why do we have to be so pedantic about something like a golembane scarab and what it does? Why do we have to wring our hands and worry about things like "there is no golem type or subtype" or "a developer said that names do not matter so the name golem means nothing".

Can we not just say that there is a group/class/section of creatures that are golems. Look under the Golem heading in the Beastiary and there it is. Just like there is a section for demons, devils, genies, and several other groups but there is no demon type or subtype.

Maybe some do this for fun or look for ways to blow things up or out of proportion, but what it does is to make some developers and game designers roll their eyes and never want to put anything down in print as somebody, somewhere will take it and distort it as well unless it is so well phrased as to be unable to be misunderstood but even then somebody will notice a comma or a preposition that could possibly be read a different way and then claim RAW to support an absurd point of view. So you wonder why we do not get as much FAQ or errata as we sometimes want, it is because of arguments like this.

Sorry! My rant is now over...

So, no, a golem is a construct that will be in the golem section of whatever book it is listed or be called out in the text of the description as being a golem. That is it. A golembane scarab will help detect and fight one of these. That is it.

Thanks for the time and I hope I did not offend anyone, but I see this so much in the rules forum and I would like to just discuss real rules issues.


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Zaister wrote:

What is a Golem?

A miserable pile of components?


There are two entries that are not constructs: Blood Golem, and Baba Yaga's hut (maybe).
Here is a list from the bestiary spreadsheet:

Golems:
Adamantine Golem
Alchemical Golem
Angelic Guardian
Baba Yaga
Behemoth Golem
Blood Golem
Bone Golem
Brass Golem
Cannon Golem
Carrion Golem
Caryatid Column
Clay Golem
Clockwork Brain Gear
Clockwork Golem
Coral Golem
Crystalline Golem
Dragonship
Ebon Acolytus
Flagstone Golem
Flesh Colossus
Flesh Golem
Fossil Golem
Furnace Golem
Gelatinous Golem
Glass Golem
Grand Defender
Graven Guardian
Hanshepsu
Ice Golem
Iron Golem
Iron Maiden Golem
Jade Colossus
Junk Golem
Lawgiver
Lead Skeleton
Magnesium Golem
Marrowstone Golem
Mask Golem
Mirror Man
Mithral Golem
Mummy Golem
Mythic Flesh Golem
Necromantic Golem
Noqual Golem
Ooze Golem
Ossuary Golem
Panthereon
Philosopher Golem
Quantium Golem
Robot Golem
Rope Golem
Rune Guardian
Screaming Skull
Sentient Wax Golem
Set Guardian
Skiff Golem
Skinstitch
Stone Golem
Stone Guardian Golem
Tallow Golem
The Grand Defender
Wax Golem
Witch-doll Golem
Wood Golem

/cevah


Cevah wrote:
There are two entries that are not constructs: Blood Golem, and Baba Yaga's hut (maybe).

What are you talking about, both of those are constructs.


Don't Golems have Immunity to Magic as a key component to their stat block?

*edit* then again, I can think of one other creature that does.
If you make a golem a robot via the robot subtype, is it still a golem?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Unless that template says otherwise, it is still a golem.


Hmm, that makes at least one Iron Gods encounter interesting...


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

One would hope that there is actually more than one interesting encounter in Iron Gods.


The singular thing I can think of that separates a golem from other constructs is that it is brought to life by the binding of an elemental spirit into the golem's body. No other constructs that I have read in all four bestiaries have this quality. The closest would be a soulbound construct that uses a sliver of a dying creature's soul as the animating force. So maybe it could be interpreted as the ability to detect any construct whose "soul" is a bound elemental?


Jabborwacky wrote:

The singular thing I can think of that separates a golem from other constructs is that it is brought to life by the binding of an elemental spirit into the golem's body. No other constructs that I have read in all four bestiaries have this quality. The closest would be a soulbound construct that uses a sliver of a dying creature's soul as the animating force. So maybe it could be interpreted as the ability to detect any construct whose "soul" is a bound elemental?

This still annoys me though, since no golem requires the caster to have any way to bind an elemental nor requires an elemental to be present.


In the absence of a subtype or other rules defining it, I would say a golem is any creature with the word "golem" in its name (that isn't obviously something else, like some kind of "Golemkiller Beetle" or whatever), or a creature that is described as a golem in its flavor text.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Now I need to go stat up the golemkiller beetle. I imagine it might have adamantine jaws.


[A small rust monster waves at you as it nibbles on an iron golem]


Milo v3 wrote:
Cevah wrote:
There are two entries that are not constructs: Blood Golem, and Baba Yaga's hut (maybe).
What are you talking about, both of those are constructs.

Blood Golem (Tome of Horrors Complete) aberration vs. Blood Golem (Bestiary 4) construct

For Baba Yaga's Hut, the text indicated:

moster_bestuary_partial.xlsx wrote:
A baba yaga makes its home deep in the darkest and most remote swamps and fens. There in the center of the swamp is her home: a large wooden hut perched atop two tall and muscular chicken legs. The hut is believed to be highly magical, ten times larger on the inside than it appears outside, and possibly contain portals to other planes. It is also believed by some to be some sort of construct or golem, though no proof of such claims exists.

which is why I said "maybe".

/cevah


Cevah wrote:


Blood Golem (Tome of Horrors Complete) aberration vs. Blood Golem (Bestiary 4) construct

Well we can ignore third-party because this is a rules question.

Quote:

For Baba Yaga's Hut, the text indicated:

moster_bestuary_partial.xlsx wrote:
A baba yaga makes its home deep in the darkest and most remote swamps and fens. There in the center of the swamp is her home: a large wooden hut perched atop two tall and muscular chicken legs. The hut is believed to be highly magical, ten times larger on the inside than it appears outside, and possibly contain portals to other planes. It is also believed by some to be some sort of construct or golem, though no proof of such claims exists.

which is why I said "maybe".

/cevah

It's definitely a construct though. Which is what I was disputing.


Jabborwacky wrote:

The singular thing I can think of that separates a golem from other constructs is that it is brought to life by the binding of an elemental spirit into the golem's body. No other constructs that I have read in all four bestiaries have this quality. The closest would be a soulbound construct that uses a sliver of a dying creature's soul as the animating force. So maybe it could be interpreted as the ability to detect any construct whose "soul" is a bound elemental?

And that is easily defined using... um... yeah...


What is a golem? A miserable little pile of scraps! But enough talk...have at you!

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