The earliest accounts of a golem (GŌ-ləm) come from the 17th century, when Rabbi Eliyahu of Chelm created the creature from raw clay and used it to perform manual labor. The term golem means "unshaped form," which references Rabbi Eliyahu's supposed utilitarian design. Rabbi Eliyahu's technique for animation, considered by modern experts to be unsurpassed in its performance, has been lost or kept secret.
Today, the definition of "golem" has grown to include any creature corresponding roughly to a humanoid shape or size that is made by animating matter, regardless of the technique or the creature's intended use. Golems are still being produced, but their existence is rare due to the exceptional magical talent required to create one.
Wizards have attempted to create golems in other shapes, but they do not work. There is something about the humanoid shape that is integral to creating a golem. That hasn't kept wizards from trying, of course. Likewise, golems seem to need to be about the size of a typical adult human. A golem smaller than about 4 feet or taller than 8 feet simply fails to function properly.
Golems are not autonomous or intelligent, but the better-made golems are capable of following such complicated commands that they may give the impression of sapience.
A well-created golem can last a few dozen years before they drain themselves of all magical energy and fall apart. There are rumors of golems that have survived for hundreds, even thousands of years, but there is no evidence to support those rumors. There are rituals which allow Wizards to increase the longevity of a golem; however, they drain the life force of the Wizards who perform them, and they can only be performed by the golem's creators. Because of these difficulties, these spells are rarely used.
Golems are typically created from inorganic material such as sand, clay, or stone; but it is possible to create golems from dead flesh, wood, and liquids. Arch-Mage Thomas Veronicus of Destiny Province claimed to have created an air golem in the year 1799. However, according to his records, the golem quickly dissipated and "blew away." All known attempts to recreate his work have failed.
Golems will always obey the orders of their creators, including obeying the orders of those who the creators place in charge of them. A golem can be ordered to kill and can even kill its creator; however, golems crumble or dissolve when the life force of their creator is dissipated.
Golems exist wherever they are created and commanded to go.
At minimum, golems require a source of magical energy to animate them and an enchantment to direct them. A disruption to either the energy source or to the enchantment will cause the golem to cease functioning.
The magical energy required to activate a golem is significantly greater than what most magi can produce on their own. There are some exceptionally efficient designs that allow for golems to operate for centuries, but eventually all golems will deplete their power source and cease functioning.
Beyond their designed use, golems can sometimes surprise their deisgners with their interperetations of the commands they are given. Golem parts do not make useful components.
Note: It is forbidden by the laws of the Magimundi to create a golem from the bodies of sapient creatures. These so-called "flesh golems" are assaults on the dead, and while not technically necromancy, they are nonetheless prohibited.
Golems can come in a wide variety of humanoid shapes, sizes, and materials. Thus, defense against them requires quick observation about their manner of design. Possible points of vulnerability include the golem's energy source, the enchantment that directs it, the material of its construction, or loopholes in the commands it has been given.