Vermin Golem

Despite the name, a vermin golem is not a true golem – instead, it is a combination of two or more swarms formed around a large version of the same creature – for example, a centipede golem would be two centipede swarms and a monstrous centipede. These creatures are typically created by powerful druids or Vermin Lords, but there have been recorded instances of vermin golems forming spontaneously from sufficiently large colonies to deal with a threat to their survival. A naturally-occurring golem lasts for only a few hours, but an artificial creation remains intact until destroyed.

In either case, a vermin golem is formed from two or more swarms melding together around a dire or monstrous specimen of their particular type. For example, a rat golem would be two rat swarms forming around a dire rat. This larger creature is the "heart" of the golem, and provides direction and control – if it is slain, the golem instantly collapses into its component parts. Getting to the "heart" is another matter; it is completely buried in the middle of the mass of vermin, nearly impossible to get to – in effect, it has improved cover (+8 to AC). Certain spells like insect bane can kill it if of sufficient power, however.

Creating an artificial swam is a relatively simple process, but it still requires time. First, the creator must summon or find a monstrous or dire version of the desired vermin to form the heart of the golem. This creature must be two sizes smaller than the golem's size (the example golems below use Small creatures). Next, he must find or summon two swarms of the type he wishes to combine. He then binds the two swarms into a compact mass around the heart, shaping it into the desired form, and casts command vermin over it. Most golems created in this manner have a vaguely humanoid appearance – two thick legs, two arms, and a suggestion of a head – but some crafters choose to make them resemble the creatures making up the swarm – a centipede swarm would look like a giant centipede, for example.

Once the golem is bound into its form, it remains under the caster's control until it is slain. As it is a living being, it still must feed; starving a vermin golem will eventually kill it.

Note that the above instructions are for a Large golem. Creating something larger requires a greater number of swarms and a larger "heart" – three swarms for Huge, or seven for Gargantuan. Colossal vermin golems are impossible to make, as they are too large to maintain cohesion. The golem's heart must be a creature two sizes smaller than the golem's size – Medium or Large, respectively.

Vermin golems are particularly feared because they are so hard to kill. If a vermin golem is reduced to half its hit point total, it loses cohesion and separates into its component parts – typically two swarms and a monstrous vermin – which remain under the caster's control until destroyed or dispersed. A quicker way to disperse a swarm is to kill the creature forming the heart – if enough damage is dealt directly to it to kill it (damage dealt straight to this creature does not count against the golem's points as a whole), the golem instantly loses cohesion and falls apart. The heart can be hit only with piercing weapons, however – an edged weapon can't penetrate far enough into the mass to do any real damage, and while a bludgeoning weapon is effective against a vermin golem, the mass of insects shielding the heart disperses the damage too much for the weapon to hurt it.

Combat
Unlike a normal swarm, a vermin golem occupies a discrete space according to its size, and cannot occupy an opponent's space, though it can engulf an opponent on a successful grapple check. Despite being bound into its form, a vermin golem is slightly shapeable – it can squeeze through a space large enough to contain the creature forming its heart.

Vermin golems have similar vulnerabilities to swarms – a lit torch deals 1d3 fire damage to them; a weapon with a special ability such as flaming or frost deals its full energy damage with each hit, even if the weapon’s normal damage can’t affect the golem. A lit lantern can be used as a thrown weapon, dealing 1d4 points of fire damage to all creatures in squares adjacent to where it breaks.

Two sample golems are presented below; the first is a centipede golem using two swarms and a Small monstrous centipede. The second is a hornet golem using two hornet swarms and a giant hornet (use the stats for the giant wasp from the MM). Since the giant wasp is Medium, the golem itself is Huge.



Centipede Golem
Large Vermin
Hit Dice: 19d8 (85 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares) (can't run)
Armor Class: 15 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +3 natural), touch 16, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +14/—
Attack: Slam +16 melee (1d10+2 plus poison)
Full Attack: 2 slam +16 melee (1d10+2 plus poison)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Engulf, poison
Special Qualities: Darkvision, DR 5/bludgeoning, discorporation, spawn swarm, tremorsense 30 ft., vermin traits
Saves: Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +6
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 17, Con 10, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 2
Skills: Perception +4
Feats:
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 12
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: None
Level Adjustment:

A centipede golem looks like a writhing mass of insects forced into a vaguely humanoid form.
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Combat

A centipede golem seeks to close with opponents and bludgeon them down with its slam attacks, or engulf a single opponent and sting it to death, then feed on the flesh.

Discorporation (Ex): A vermin golem that is reduced to below half its hit points separates into its components, each of which has full hit points, except for the "heart," if it has been previously damaged.

Engulf (Ex): If a centipede golem hits with both slam attacks, it can engulf an opponent up to one size smaller as a free action. Each round thereafter, on its turn, it deals 2d6 points of damage from the mass of stinging, biting insects forming its body, and the victim must make a Fort save against the golem's poison. In addition, the golem's heart can make an attack , dealing its normal damage. The victim must make either an Acrobatics check (DC 15) or an opposed Strength check to get free of the swarm.

Poison (Ex): Injury, moderate incapacitating, DC 15; onset 1d4 rounds, check 1d3 minutes; initial and secondary effect 1d4 Dex damage.

Spawn Swarm (Ex): If a centipede golem slays a creature it has engulfed, it can spend a full minute devouring the flesh and laying eggs. These eggs hatch 2d6 days later, spawning a new centipede swarm, which is not under the control of the golem's creator.

Skills: A centipede golem has a +4 racial bonus on Perception checks.


Hornet Golem
Huge Vermin
Hit Dice: 17d8+17 (93 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 20 ft. (2 squares) (can't run), fly 40 ft. (poor)
Armor Class: 15 (-2 size, +3 Dex, +4 natural), touch 15, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +12/—
Attack: Slam +16 melee (2d6+4 plus poison)
Full Attack: 2 slams +16 melee (2d6+4 plus poison)
Space/Reach: 15 ft./15 ft.
Special Attacks: Engulf, poison, reach attack
Special Qualities: Darkvision, DR 5/bludgeoning, discorporation, spawn swarm, vermin traits
Saves: Fort +13, Ref +9, Will +9
Abilities: Str 19, Dex 16, Con 15, Int —, Wis 11, Cha 6
Skills: Perception +4
Feats:
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 11
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: None
Level Adjustment:

A hornet golem looks like a writhing, buzzing mass of insects forced into a vaguely humanoid form. It can be detected at a distance with a Listen check due to the constant buzzing noise it makes.

Combat

A hornet golem seeks to close with opponents and bludgeon them down with its slam attacks, or engulf a single opponent and sting it to death, then feed on the flesh and lay eggs.

Discorporation (Ex): A vermin golem that is reduced to below half its hit points separates into its components, each of which has full hit points.

Engulf (Ex): If a vermin golem hits with both slam attacks, it can engulf an opponent up to one size smaller as a free action. Each round thereafter, on its turn, it deals 2d6 points of damage from the mass of stinging, biting insects forming its body, and the victim must make a Fort save against the golem's poison. In addition, the golem's heart can make an attack , dealing its normal damage. The victim must make either an Acrobatics check (DC 15) or an opposed Strength check to get free of the swarm.

Poison (Ex): Injury, moderate incapacitating, DC 15; onset 1d4 rounds, check 1d3 minutes; initial and secondary effect 1d6 Dex damage.

Extended Reach (Ex): Once per round as a full attack action, a hornet golem can extend one arm to twice its normal reach to make an attack. This attack, if it hits, deals less damage (1d6 instead of 2d6), but still incurs a Fort save to avoid being poisoned.

Spawn Swarm (Ex): If a hornet golem slays a creature it has engulfed, it can spend a full minute devouring the flesh and laying eggs. These eggs hatch 2d6 days later, spawning a hornet swarm, which is not under the control of the golem's creator.

Skills: A hornet golem has a +4 racial bonus on Perception checks.

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