Earlier today, while I was waiting to pick Jack up from school, I was flipping through the Fifth Edition Monster Manual looking for some monster inspiration. I landed on the clay golem, which are pretty cool and a little underused, I think.
Sure, they’re probably the second weakest of the MM golems (just behind the flesh golem), but they have some cool abilities.
- Haste. Clay golems can use this as an action and, as Keith Ammann points out, probably will use this whenever it’s available to them.
- Acid absorption. When hit with acid damage, it heals for the same hit points the acid damage would’ve dealt.
I like to create creative combinations for monsters like this, because when I see something like “acid absorption” it says to me “duh, pair them with acid monsters.”
Clay golems are basically brutes, too. Even though their haste power gives them extra AC and bonuses on Dex, it’s still a brute. It just becomes a harder-to-kill brute.
So the clay golem is going to need some quicker support, too.
Monster Manual support monsters for clay golems.
What monsters in the Monster Manual have acid attacks (not including the ones that swallow)? Well, not very many, unfortunately.
Here are the ones I found:
- Ankheg: 30′ x 5′ line that deals 3d6 acid damage (DC 13 Dexterity save). However, they aren’t immune to acid themselves and aren’t very bright, being giant ants.
- Black Dragons: Ancients do a 90′ x 10′ line, adults 60′ x 5′, young 30′ x 5′, and wyrmlings with 15′ x 5′. The breath weapons deal 5d8 to 15d8 acid damage, with Dex saves ranging from DC 11 to 22. Wyrmlings are a good choice, as they’ve got good flight and Dexterity themselves and are immune to their own attack.
- Copper Dragons: their range is nearly the same as black dragons, although slightly weaker with damage. Thematically, this one is a bit of stretch since these guys tend to be chaotic good.
- Oozes: Nearly all of the oozes do acid based attacks. Black puddings deal 4d8 on a pseudopod hit and have a corrosive form that deals 1d8 to anything that touches it. Gelatinous cubes have a pseudopod attack that does 3d6 acid damage. Plus, they can engulf prey and do round by round acid damage of 6d6. Gray oozes hit for 2d6 acid damage, and finally, ochre jellies do 1d6 acid damage when they hit. The trouble with oozes is that they’re super dumb. And all of these attacks are 5 ft. reach stuff, so it’s weird to think of them purposely going for something that isn’t food.
Kind of a limited selection, right? Of those four, the black dragons make the most sense since they swing towards evil, are smart, and can fly.
Easily customizable options
Here are some options you can create fairly easily:
Half-black dragon creatures that can move fast.
Doing some basic homebrewing, you could also create a half-black dragon humanoid that deals acid damage which would make sense. Something that’s good at keeping distance like a goblin with its Nimble Escape or something that can fly (winged kobold or even a kobold sorcerer make the most sense thematically) are good ideas for this.
Spellcasters with acid-based spells.
There’s also mages and spellcasters that can cast Melf’s acid arrow or acid splash.
Acid splash is fun because it’s only a cantrip that requires a Dexterity saving throw and it can hit two targets for 1d6 damage. This works great because a lot of your melee folks that are going to be 1v1’ing the clay golem are probably going to have lousy Dexterity saves. Just keep hitting both the melee combatant and the golem (having it fail on purpose) and it’s like two birds with one acidic stone! Acid splash has a decent range on it, too, of 60 feet, which can help keep your squishy guys out of reach.
Melf’s isn’t nearly as good since it only affects one target, so unless you’ve got somebody blowing second level spell slots to heal a golem (which would be dumb), it doesn’t make nearly as much sense to use it.
Intelligent monsters armed with flasks of acid.
This would be a lot cooler if the acid splashed into an area, but unfortunately, it’s ranged attack only. Still, it’s not the worst idea ever.
Acid traps and obstacles.
Finally, creating a room full of acid traps would be fun. Imagine vats or pools of acid all around and a golem that can easily walk through them? Meanwhile, the PCs have to carefully walk (or jump!) to avoid falling into the acid themselves.
Maybe really make it a pain in the ass with terrain that doesn’t stand still!
3 New Monsters to Support Clay Golems
Of course, this blog wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t create monsters to accompany clay golems.
Referencing the third edition Monster Manual, there was a pretty cool golem variant called an alchemical golem. From the text:
The body of an alchemical golem is composed of a single tough, transparent membrane in the shape of a humanoid, with the face usually mimicking the appearance of its creator. Inside the membrane is a swirling collection of toxic, oily chemicals, which merge and separate at random, and give the creature life. An alchemical golem wears no clothing and has no possessions. Despite the membrane that keeps the ingredients inside, the golem gives off a faint, acrid smell.
Basically, they’re a human-shaped bag of hazardous materials, ie toxic waste golems. But what’s cool about them is that they have an acid breath weapon that’s a 15-foot cone! Plus, touching them causes acid damage, too. And since I’m a mean DM, I’m going to make them corrode armor, as well. Muahaha!
Clay golem to alchemical golem: “DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS? YUP!”
The Swamp of Oblivion lies between the mud hills of the Plane of Earth and the silt flats of the Plane of Water. While there are many oozes that call this dank region home, there are also bizarre, nasty, little elementals composed of caustic materials known as acid mephits that live there, too.
There’s a strange offshoot of goblins that live in the Underdark called oxies. For whatever reason, the oxies are immune to acid damage; because of this they frequently work closely with black dragons around pools of caustic substances. Oxies are short, hairless creatures with deep olive skin and an extra arm growing from their backs. Oh, and they hate elves so much, it puts them in a frenzy whenever they see one.
Large construct, unaligned
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 126 (12d10 + 60)
Speed 20 ft.
Abilities Str 23 (+6), Dex 12 (+1), Con 20 (+5), Int 3 (-4), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 1 (-5)
Damage Immunities acid, poison, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks not made with adamantine weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)
Berserk. Whenever the golem starts its turn with 70 hit points or fewer, roll a d6. On a 6, the golem goes berzerk. On each of its turns while berserk, the golem attacks the nearest creature it can see. If no creature is near enough to move to and attack, the golem attacks an object, with a preference for an object smaller than itself. Once the golem goes berserk, it continues to do so until it is destroyed or regains all its hit points.
Corrosive Form. A creature that touches the golem or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 3 (1d6) acid damage. Any nonmagical piercing or slashing weapon made of metal that hits the golem corrodes. After dealing damage, the weapon takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to damage rolls. If its penalty drops to -5, the weapon is destroyed. Nonmagical ammunition that deals piercing or slashing damage and is made of metal that hits the golem is destroyed after dealing damage.
Immutable Form. The golem is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form.
Magic Resistance. The golem has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Magic Weapons. The golem’s weapon attacks are magical.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d8 + 6) bludgeoning damage plus 9 (2d8) acid damage.
Acid Breath (Recharge 5-6). The golem exhales caustic acid in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 17 (5d6) acid damage on a failed save. In addition, nonmagical armor worn by the target is partly dissolved and takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to the AC it offers. The armor is destroyed if the penalty reduces its AC to half. On a successful save, the target takes half damage and its armor isn’t affected.
Small elemental, neutral evil
Armor Class 11
Hit Points 22 (5d6 + 5)
Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Abilities Str 7 (-2), Dex 12 (+1), Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 11 (+0), Cha 8 (-1)
Damage Immunities acid, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages Aquan, Terran
Challenge 1/2 (50 XP)
Death Burst. When the mephit dies, it pops with a splash of acid. Each creature within 5-feet of the mephit must succeed on a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw or take 4 (1d8) acid damage.
False Appearance. While the mephit remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from an ordinary pool of acid.
Fists. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) acid damage.
Acid Breath (Recharge 6). The mephit exhales a 15-foot cone of acid. Each creature in that area must make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 13 (3d6 + 3)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 7 (-2), Dex 14 (+2), Con 12 (+1), Int 8 (-1), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 8 (-1)
Skills Stealth +6
Damage Immunities acid
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages Goblin, Undercommon
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Elven Hatred. The oxy has advantage on attack rolls against all elves. If the oxy makes an attack against an elf on its turn, attack rolls against it have advantage until the start of its next turn.
Evasion. If the oxy is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, the oxy instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.
Multiattack. The oxy makes three dagger attacks.
Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., or range 20/60 ft., one creature. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
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Next, I just need to build my acid trap room so I can plug in some of these baddies. Definitely thinking about doing an acid vat room with narrow, rocking catwalks, and either the kobold sorcerers armed with acid splash or the acid mephits.
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See you next time!