Mindless automaton in service of magicians.
Once there were two brothers who, in their grief, resolved to break the greatest taboo of alchemy. After years of study and preparation, the brothers carefully assembled every component needed to make up a human body, and brought them together in front of an alchemist's circle. Their goal was to resurrect their dead mother. They knew this was wrong and that such a thing was simply never done, but they had to try. Near the beginning of the ritual, they glimpsed success. They could sense something beyond. Their mother's presence seemed to surround them and they almost remembered a warmth they hadn't known for years. But things turned horribly wrong. They had meddled with something no one ever should. The horrors they witnessed in the throes of that terrible alchemy are beyond description. They did not return their mother's soul to a body and they paid a terrible cost with their own. The eldest brother lost his leg and the younger brother… his body was taken altogether. It was only through raw talent and desperation that the eldest managed to offer a sacrifice to save his brother. In the final moments, he gave up his right arm and marked an inscription in a suit of armor, binding his brother's soul to the suit. He created a golem, or more than a golem, for those creatures of wizards don't usually contain any human intelligence. His brother would remain invincible provided the inscription stay intact. The two would go on to journey around the world, attempting to find a way to return their old bodies back to themselves.
A golem is a creature given life by a wizard to perform menial tasks on his behalf. Golems have no real intelligence and have great physical strength – the exact characteristics one would want in a magical slave. They are usually crafted in a rudimentary form out of the simplest possible ingredients at hand. The oldest golems on record were made out of clay and had a lumpy, ashen figure. However, there is no strict limitation on the materials used. Modern magic users may reach for sturdier or more intricate components for their golem's body. This may be desirable to suit a specialized task they have in mind, or simply because they appreciate beauty in their underlings.
To make a golem, one must perform an elaborate ritual involving a number of rare folios and a strong command of the alphabets of the two hundred thirty-one gates. These ancient letters and numbers may be imagined as a the language of creation itself but in a form that a trained human mind can understand and manipulate. The inscription that animates the golem is placed on its forehead at the ritual's conclusion. The inscription reads "EMET" which means "truth". To destroy the creature, you simply remove the first character so that the inscription reads "MET" which means "death".
Do heed those final instructions. The most famous story of a golem is from the city of Prague. That story teaches us that a golem can be a faithful servant but that it has a dark side. A golem left unattended will grow in power and ultimately rampage. Any being that was made by the hand of a human rather than the hand of the gods must come to despair. It is as if they can feel something is wrong with them but they cannot understand what it is or why. We cannot stop those feelings of frustration. The best we can hope to do is clean up after ourselves.
Written by Giles Ravensong.