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Monster Minute: Golems (Proto-Warforged)

Golem of PraugeGolems in Real-World Mythology
The Hebrew word for golem literally means “pupa” or “cocoon”. The meaning of golem tends to change based on its context; in some ancient written works, golem was synonymous with “fool” or “stupid”.  But in certain Bible translations, the word golem refers to an embryonic or incomplete substance.  Golem was often used as a metaphor for a brainless servant or someone who is slow and lumbering.   Golem comes from the root Hebrew word gelem, which means “raw material”.

In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated being crafted from inanimate material.  The earliest reference to a golem is in the Talmud, where it describes Adam (from Genesis) as initially created as a golem made from dust.

The most famous story about golems was the “Golem of Prague” and appears in the book Galerie der Sippurim, which is a collection of Jewish stories.  In this 16th story, the Golem of Prauge was created by an old rabbi who wanted to protect the Jewish people in Prauge, who were under attack. When the golem was created, the Hebrew word “emet” (meaning “truth”) was placed on the Golem’s forehead.   Initially, the golem protected the people, but as it grew in size it became violent and began killing people.  It was only when a promise was made not to harm the Jews of Prague did the old Rabbi destroy the golem. By removing the first letter of the word “emet,” the word became “met” (meaning “death”), the golem’s life was taken out of its body.  Legends say that the Rabbi’s son revived the golem and that it maybe still protecting Prauge today.

ADnD GolemGolems in D&D
Golems first appeared in the D&D Greyhawk supplement in 1975 and included types such as the flesh, iron, and stone golems.  These same golems were reprinted in AD&D first edition, while in second edition they introduced lesser and greater golems made from various materials. 3rd edition D&D, saw a plethora of Golem types, found in the Monster Manuals and Dragon magazine articles. The Savage Species book describes the flesh golem as a playable race.  Here is a full list of golem types and the publications that they appear in.

Golems in Eberron
The most famous golems in Eberron were the early predecessors of warforged, created by House Cannith over a century ago and served as battlefield constructs.  They soon realized that the simple golems were too reliant on their controllers and thus near useless on the battlefield where tactical creativity was needed and quick decision-making was pivotal to winning a battle. House Cannith had succeeded in improving its rudimentary prewar designs and introduced the first warforged titans in modern Eberron History.  Among the first warforged created during the Last War, titans are a small step forward from massive, mindless war golems. Warforged titans are not true living constructs like other warforged; they are barely sentient, with just enough intelligence to follow changing commands in the heat of battle.

Though the warforged are made beings, they are not to be confused with golems.  They are sentient and after the end of the Last War they were granted civil rights by the major nations. Now this new race of created people is trying to find a place in society.  In general, it is considered rude to call a warforged a golem.

In recent times of Eberron, archeological evidence has been discovered that the original warforged were crafted by the Quori, the Dal Quor host.  According to the docent found in Xen’drik, the very first warforged were created to be host bodies for the Quori in their battles against the giants.  Conflicting historical evidence says that the giants were the original creators of the warforged, and that the Quori stole warforged plans from the dreams of giants.  Though there is no direct proof, it is rumored that House Cannith had originally discovered such findings well over a century ago, which would explain their first forays into creating golems and warforged.

Warforged Titan