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Statblock Sunday: Golem Liberum

Golem Liberum - JAM

As if sent askitter by an unseen gust of wind, the books in the library are thrown from their shelves. Some twirl about, airborne with pages fluttering back-and-forth, while others fall, bounce, and flip across the ground as if being pushed by an unseen force. Within moments the tomes pile, slam, and organize themselves into a haphazard stack that vaguely resembles a short humanoid form.

Golem Liberum    CR 4
XP 1,200
CN Medium construct
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft. low-light vision; Perception +0

DEFENSE
AC 22, touch 14, flat-footed 18, (+4 Dex, +8 natural)
hp 47 (5d10+20)
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +1
DR 5/—; Immune construct traits, magic (except for fire damage)
Weaknesses vulnerability to fire

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft
Melee 3 slams with bookbindings +5 (1d4 bludgeoning)
Special Attacks flurry of pages
STATISTICS
Str 10, Dex 18, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 1
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 19
Feats Improved Initiative[B]
Languages Common, polyglot (can understand 2d4 random languages); cannot speak

ECOLOGY
Environment any (preferably a library)
Organization solitary, pair, troop (3-8)
Treasure standard + 1d6 random scrolls containing 1st- or 2nd-level arcane spells

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Flurry of Pages (Su)
As a full-round action, a golem liberum can cause pages to tear from the many tomes that comprise its body and send them in a fluttery flurry towards any target within 60 feet. The flurry of pages inflicts hundreds of tiny paper-cuts to its target dealing 1 point of bleed damage (DC 20 Reflex negates). The flurry of pages also obscures the targets vision causing them to react as if dazzled (DC 25 Will negates). A golem liberum can have only one active flurry at a time, but may move the effect to another target within 30 feet of the first affected target as a swift action.

4 thoughts on “Statblock Sunday: Golem Liberum

  1. Sorry but there are a lot of things wrong with this stat block. It should have 47 hit points; it should have 2 slams since it only has 2 arms for hitting; its feat should be a bonus feat since it has no Intelligence score; Flurry of pages should be Ex not Su; and finally, the DCs should be Dexterity-based and 16 (no idea how you get 20 and 25 with Charisma 1). You also left out the construction costs. My final thought is too bad it can’t use explosive runes as a once a day spell-like attack.

  2. We’re glad you took the time to consider this beastie so thoroughly! 😀

    You’re absolutely right on the hit points – I think Justin forgot his halves and it passed my notice as well (fixed that in the upcoming Bestiary but not over on the blog).
    The number of natural attacks a creature has isn’t actually dependent on the number of limbs, I don’t think (at least if it is, the PRD obscures that wording somewhere I’m not looking), and while it’s a bit unorthodox (like much of this monster!), my guess is that JAM was trying to approach the damage benchmark for CR 4 creatures by loading it with several smaller attacks. Seems gray to me.

    We can’t do superscript so I often pass on that, but aye, it should be a bonus feat and now there’s a bracket so folks know.

    Flurry of Pages: I don’t agree that it should be Ex. There’s a thematic tenor established with its Immunity to Magic; because its partial, some still gets to them – which means they can use some as well (ie, a supernatural ability). As for the DCs, there’s some more unorthodox activity going on and I remember sitting there for a bit puzzling what JAM was up to when this first came in. I settled on “the DC to avoid damage is 10 + double HD, the DC to avoid annoying is 10 + triple HD.”
    I’m letting JAM know about your thorough appraisal however, and he might have some more concrete answers for us. 🙂

    Thank you for the comment! It elates us to know that folks are enjoying our work. 😀

  3. Thanks for the feedback, Debra. It’s always appreciated. And, it’s always interesting to see what readers see in our creations. I don’t entirely agree with most of your points though, but then again, perhaps I am being misguided by creativity.

    To my knowledge, the rules for monster creation were presented by Paizo as rough guidelines, and it has always been indicated by those rules that creating a monster is as much art as number crunching, and it is not a specific equation. I frequently make minor tweaks to a monster (especially when they are encounter-specific). Sometimes these tweaks are a straight forward as applying a simple template, but other times those tweaks may be outside of the monster creation step-by-step instructions provided by the Pathfinder RPG.

    Any tweaks I make are typically in an effort to find balance, add flavor, or intensify the scenario or specific challenge rating. When creating a monster for a specific encounter, sometimes I take liberties. These little guys were created for a specific encounter in the preceding sidequest adventure, “Wizard Heist.”

    The missing 2 hp (45 instead of 47) for average was simply an oversight or a late-night typo on my part.

    Many of other issues you’re pointing out were intentional tweaks that I made to the creature when taking in consideration the CR, its abilities, and how I imagined the creature functioning in its intended role in the scenario. I’ll respond with my reasoning for each in order:

    I wasn’t aware of any rules anywhere limiting a creature’s number of natural attacks by any specific parameter. In the case of the golem liberum I imagine its natural attack as having its arms extending outwards, and pivoting in a flailing motion around the central core “stack of books.” Literally a whirling mass of books slamming into its target(s) as it attacks – the reduced damage was accounting for the improvised book bindings.

    I had actually originally placed the number of slams much higher, but later reduced it to only 3 to keep the monster within the sidequest CR parameters. However if there is a rule stating that a creature’s number of natural attacks cannot exceed its number of viable limbs, then that was an honest mistake on my part as I was unaware of this. I tend to take into account what the creature is actually doing when it attacks instead of crunching any specific equation or formula.

    I disagree entirely that a special ability that causes stack of books to animate, flutter and fly about a target should be (Ex); by the very nature and description of the ability it makes no sense to me. I saw the fact that the golem liberum contains magic in its very makup as ample justification in giving it a supernatural special ability.

    As for the CR, I chose to ascribe those parameters arbitrary to the scenario (how and why they was created) and the CR of the encounter. I tried to express in its build that it was not simply a mini golem, but a golem-like creation – an animated library in humanoid form retaining some imprints from its creator… It’s polyglot ability to understand a random number of languages despite having a nil intelligence, for example.

    I really like your idea with the explosive runes, and had considered concocting some ability to allow them to cast the random spells found within the pages (scrolls) found within them, but in the end decided it would overly complicate the intended scenario they were created for.

    I suppose what you’re seeing as “wrong” with the number crunching (and I’m not saying that it is not from that perspective), I’m seeing as just being more freeform for creativity’s sake in the scenario and an effort to provide some fun elements for a GM to play with and build off of dynamically. In the end, having playtested several of these little guys in a similar encounter, I found it to be quite balanced for the intended CR.

    Also, as a side note, at the time of writing this article, I was unaware that it was intended for any use outside of the specific scenario I was created for. 😉

  4. And thank you both for responding so quickly too!

    In looking over Pathfinder rules, I have to say that I was wrong regarding the number of natural attacks a creature can make. That was a holdover from 3.5 (See here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/specialAbilities.htm#naturalWeapons ) “The number of attacks a creature can make with its natural weapons depends on the type of the attack—generally, a
    creature can make one bite attack, one attack per claw or tentacle, one gore attack, one sting attack, or one slam attack (although Large creatures with arms or arm-like limbs can make a slam attack with each arm). Refer to the individual monster descriptions.”

    I was using the idea that form follows function, so what you see in the picture is how it behaves. It makes it easier when there is a picture and not much else to describe the creature. When you say “short humanoid form” that pretty much seals it as 2 slams for me. Obviously when playtesting, you described the creature’s 3rd slam attack (which was sadly lacking in the spare text).

    That said, I love the idea of the golem actually throwing its books at the PCs. I would have made that a secondary attack to allow it to throw books at a foe with a 10-foot maximum range, to keep the sneakiest PC from closing and just torching it. [Yes I am a mean DM, but I expect my players to be sneaky].

    At this level, the PCs won’t have fireball. On the other hand, I think a gust of wind spell might have an adverse effect on the golem (at least prevent its Flurry of Pages for 1 round). It also gives a good reason to add a Knowledge check. And let’s face it, fire spells are oh-so obvious and trite. Make the PCs do something else.

    Getting it wet could also slow it down as its pages would stick together or make its ink run. Just a few ideas (maybe for an advanced version of this). Yeah, I’m over thinking this as you made it just for a quest, but I see a lot of potential here.

    I was thinking Flurry of Blows being Ex and didn’t consider the flight the pages would be taking would indeed have to be supernatural in nature. My bad. I’ll eat the crow for that one.

    Are there going to be construction rules for this at some point? Something simple such as
    Requirements Craft Construct, animate objects, geas, must be caster level 7th; Skill Craft (bookbinding or calligraphy); Cost XXXX gp. [might require a special ink even]. Just a thought.

    Anyhow, thanks for letting me bend your ear on this!

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