1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your opinion on my modernized golems

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Lea`Brooks, Mar 24, 2016.

    In a current WIP, I have a race I created that are essentially golems, just in modern form. I thought I had everything pretty well planned.. The outline is created, the characters and world is created, and the first chapter has been written. But I've been thinking a little about my golems, and I'm worried they are too complex and/or unbelievable. So I wanted to give you a rundown of them and see what you think.

    The Basics: The story takes place in Colorado, in an undisclosed time in the future. The world has been ravaged by war and global warming, so much of it is destroyed or majorly damaged. All the creatures of myth (faeries, vampires, werewolves, etc.) have come out of hiding and live among the people. Many of the people are afraid of them, though, so these creatures are forced to live in Containment Zones, which are just heavily patrolled cities, essentially prisons. They are forbidden to change humans into them (like vampires) and from having romantic relationships with humans. To add: I know there's a TV show (True Blood, maybe?) where creatures of myth live among humans. But since my story focuses solely on these golems I've created, I'm confident the story is much different.

    The Golems: I have given them several new elements, and I worry there are too many. I'll lay them out here and you can let me know which to get rid of or keep. The story won't really suffer if I have to change many of these elements, since it's heavily plot driven, so feel free to rip them apart. :)

    1. There are many types of golems, but I focus only on golems made from clay in this story. The clay golems are created by taking clay from an ancient golem that I call the Stele. He is a massive (at least 10 feet tall) being that is so old, he cannot move or speak. He is essentially a statue. The only way he can communicate is through Acolytes (possible name change), who are golems that can read his thoughts and relay them to others. To create new golems, these Acolytes take clay and blood from the Stele, form a body, then recite an ancient incantation to bring them to life.

    2. Because they are made of clay, they are essentially shape-shifters, although they are only able to shift into other humans and not animals. In their natural form, they look a little like Gollum from LotR. Gray bodies, pointed ears, wide mouths, and yellow eyes, often walking on all fours. But because so many are afraid of them, they often choose to appear as humans and just blend in (thought their yellow eyes give them away).

    3. They have several defense mechanisms, which is one of the areas I think I overcomplicated. Their blood in poisonous, and they have sharp claws and shark-like teeth. I gave them the poisonous blood because they are very peaceful creatures. They don't want to cause or engage in any type of fighting. I gave them sharp teeth and claws because their main source of food is metal, and it's obviously easier to shred metal with sharp body parts. To add: their sharp teeth and claws is something I cannot change. I need them to appear menacing, because they are highly feared throughout the story. I can, however, lose the poisonous blood if needed.

    4. Since they are living creatures, they require food to stay alive. I chose metal, with the logic being, metal comes from ores, which is in the ground, and clay also comes from the ground so... there you go. I thought about having them eat trees or bark or rocks instead, but... I liked the idea of my golems being the world's garbage disposals. Since the world is falling apart, there are many buildings or abandoned cars that need to be destroyed. Why spend money to demolish buildings when you can hire golems to just... well, eat them? So they use their claws to scale buildings and their teeth to eat away at them so something else can be built there. I also needed them to have a reason to be scary looking, and a scary looking golem eating a tree just kind of takes away the scariness to me... Anyway.. Moving on.

    5. This is where it starts getting complicated and another area I know I need major reform. The second thing they need to survive is magic. The original incantation animates them, but it only does so much. Eventually, they have to return to the Stele, who lives on an island off the coast of Florida. Since he is the "original" golem (I haven't really hammered out his origins yet -- that's book two), he's essentially pure magic. Just being in his presence refreshes their magic. So golems have to occasional come back to the Stele, or else they'll die. However, there are ways to delay their return trip. Eating regularly helps this, but being around other golems also helps. I think of it kind of like warmth. If you're standing in the freezing cold alone, you'll get really cold really fast. But if you stand in a group of people, you feed off their warmth as well and collectively, you can all stay alive longer. So the more golems that are together, the more magic is pooled together and the less they use. May not be the best logic, but it's all I got. lol

    6. Acolytes, however, are different than clay golems. They are humans-turned-golem who sometimes develop weird abilities during the changing process. They are able to have visions, telekinesis, psychometry (basically any psychic power), and can always read the minds of other golems. As such, they use and require more magic, so they are directly tied to the Stele and will die if they are away from him for just a short amount of time. They are also directly tied to the person who changed them for the rest of their existence. They can communicate long-distance and can feel if the other is in danger or something. That's what my story is about. A human girl is changed into a golem, and she is an Acolyte. They have very little time to get her from Colorado to Florida before she dies. Note: there are only three Acolytes in the story before my character becomes the fourth. They are very rare.

    I think that's basically it... Turned out a lot longer than I thought it would. Anyway. ANY and ALL advice is appreciated! I want to get this hammered out. And like I said, I can change nearly anything, so feel free to be open about the issues. All I need is their appearance to stay the same (their scary look is important to the story) and for them to have to return to the Stele or else they die.


    Thanks for reading!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It all makes sense to me, except for the part about turning humans into golems (to be acolytes). It seems like the acolytes are more like hybrids, rather than a subcategory of golem? Does that make sense? Golems are made from magic clay, humans are made from flesh and bone, acolytes are made from flesh and bone AND magic clay.

    If that's accurate, I'm not quite sure where the special powers come from - just some sort of synergy, I guess? Or was the power latent in some special humans and then activated by the clay?

    But up to the acolyte part, it all made perfect sense.
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great!

    Yeah, the Acolyte part I'm still a little unsure of too. I struggled for a while to figure out how their made, what happens after, etc. My idea was that Acolytes are the only ones who know the incantation to animate golems. But somehow, it got out so the others can use it. Essentially, they have to transfer some of their blood to the human, which kills them but puts their blood in the humans bloodstream. Then they recite the incantation and they become golems too. Originally, I thought maybe over time, their bodies would magically be converted over to clay. But I worried that would be too weird. Then I thought, just leave them as humans -- there is such a thing as a flesh golem. But then they wouldn't be able to shapeshift. As for how they "become" Acolytes, original idea was that the DNA of these humans perfectly meshed with the DNA of the golem that changed them. But then I realized, all the golems are made from the same creature so they'd have the same makeup, so that wouldn't work...

    I guess I still need to work out the details on them. :meh:
     
  4. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd love to see a modern Golem narrative, and you've got some interesting stuff to flesh out there, but as a reader who practices Judaism, I'd hate to see the Golem divorced from it's Jewish cultural origins. The term itself is Jewish in origin and the myth is very, very heavily a product of medieval Jewish mysticism. You can't really have a a Golem story without at least acknowledging the story of the Maharal and the Golem of Prague - which is the pre-eminent Golem legend although not the earliest one. The legend has a lot of resonance in the Jewish community, with Golem legends usually focussing around Golems being brought forth by great rabbis to protect the Jews of a city during a pogrom. They're not monsters, they are protectors.

    So, I would definitely look at ensuring you have a solid grounding in Jewish Golem legends and extrapolate your history from there.
     
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  5. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks!! I'll have a look at those. :) Maybe they can help me with some characteristics.

    If I ever write a sequel, the plan was to investigate their origins a bit more. The Stele is dying, so the MCs would have to figure out why and how to stop it. So I'll definitely keep those stories in mind. :)
     
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  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if... I made my humans-turned-golems more like werewolves? Their bodies wouldn't turn to clay, but their blood would become poisonous. They wouldn't be able to shapeshift into other humans like the clay golems, but they'd still be able to take the golem form. So their bodies would be stronger than clay golems, but their magic would be weaker, thus making them have to visit the Stele more often. Would that work?

    Also, do you think I could leave out why Acolytes become Acolytes? Make it a mystery that no one really understands, then I could explore the idea if I ever make a sequel.

    Thoughts?
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What does your plot demand? What role do the acolyte's play in your story, and how do you want them to be characterized?
     
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Uhhh.... I don't know. lol

    Like I said above, the plot is what moves the story forward, not so much the characters. So I can alter the golems in a lot of ways and it still fits the story. My MC is changed into a golem fairly early in the story. It's not necessary that she be able to shapeshift like the others. In fact, it isn't even necessary that the others shapeshift, but I figured, they're made of clay, so why not? I just worry that if I don't give an accurate explanation for how things work, it could take the reader out of the story.

    Other than my MC, the Acolytes don't make an appearance until the end. They are in essence the rule keepers. They're the only ones that can communicate with the Stele, so when he issues a demand, they execute it. If someone needs punished, they punish them. If something is about to go down, they see it in visions and can communicate it. They're viewed as a sort of royalty, highly respected, and the golem that creates them is rewarded. They all live in special housing, nearest to the Stele, which is seen as the highest honor.

    I don't know if that answered your question at all. lol
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if they're meant to be really powerful, I think it would make sense to design them in a way that reflects that - so all the psychic powers, sure, but maybe the shape shifting, too? Otherwise it seems like they're barely golems at all, based on the way you're designing golems.

    I don't know - I don't think there's a right answer to this! It's just what you want to do with your characters in your story.
     
  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, sorry, I misspoke. I don't want them all to have ALL psychic powers. I meant they were capable of having any of the psychic powers upon changing. They just have a few individually, and no two have the same. For example, Giselle has telekinesis, Denali has clairvoyance, Catherine has psychometry, and I haven't decided what Richard has yet (he doesn't talk much). Along with their individual ability, they all can read the minds of any golem and often have strong instincts and hunches.

    But you're right. I don't think there's one "right" answer. I guess just whichever I decide works best, huh? :p

    Thanks for the help!!
     
  11. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Re: Acolytes... this is an off-the-wall idea, but here goes: What if the transformation isn't stable? Human and golem physiologies aren't compatible, and thus they need the Stele's influence to keep them alive. What happens to an Acolyte if they're too far away for too long? That might help answer your question, too.

    The "psychic powers" thing is a little odd, but given that you already have magic, why not change it to magical abilities? Same power, just a different source.
     
  12. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I already have it that way. :p Acolytes die quickly if they leave the Stele, so they're forced to live on the island with him. And humans have to return more often than golems, or else they'll get sick and die as well.

    Except, I guess it's less about the transformation being unstable and more about the magic sense of it. The Stele is essentially the golems life force. But since clay golems are made from his body, they carry more of his essence around. Since humans aren't made that way, they regularly have to return to "refresh." Acolytes, while basically an extension of him, require too much magic to live and cannot be away from him for longer than a few hours before they burn themselves up.

    I'm not sure what you mean here... Would you mind explaining a bit more?
     
  13. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    I don't think any of this sounds too complicated. It sounds like an interesting premise, actually. I think the challenge will be turning all this into a story without any unwieldy info dumps, but I'm sure you already have some idea of how to do that.

    I must say, I got a chuckle out of the Stele living in Florida. I just pictured it sitting around in the dayroom of some retirement community with a bunch of elderly New Yorkers, complaining about how its kids never call...
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But some of its kids are actually forced to live with it, because otherwise they'll die. It's the retiree fantasy/nightmare!
     
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  15. IHaveNoName
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    Yeah, but WHY do they use more magic? That's what I was trying to answer. You said it's because "they aren't made that way", which led me to "the transformation isn't stable because you're trying to alter a living being instead of taking a part of the Stele".

    I was viewing "psychic powers" and "magic" as separate things. I know "magic" is often treated as being basically the same thing - it comes from an internal source, and often doesn't require movements or chanting or anything - but I always think of them differently. Hence, their powers would be magically powered instead of psychic in nature. It just makes things less complicated - if you've already got magic, why add psychic powers? Then you wouldn't have to explain where they came from. Plus, using their abilities drains their magic, so it could result in a dire situation - a good plot device.

    Other thoughts:

    * I'd leave the backstory behind the hows and whys of the Acolytes for a later volume, as long as it's not a super-important plot point - it gives you more material to use later. You should, however, have some idea of what's going on yourself, as well as how/why/by whom the Stele was created. This might also help you iron out some things.

    * I'd ditch the poisonous blood thing and just give them really tough skin. They're made of clay and eat metal, after all... that would make them nearly indestructible.

    * What would happen if a golem devoured a human? Maybe this is how Acolytes are made - the human flesh or blood reacts with the golem's makeup and causes a transformation, and the human's soul takes over the golem's body (are golems sentient?). The reason they're so rare is because golems don't normally eat flesh.
     
  16. ToBeInspired
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    So... golems are made from a 10ft magic clay man? The resource would be depleted quickly. Guess you could say he just regrows, but that's just using "magic" to justify blanket reasoning.

    I agree with hardened skin, it makes a lot of sense. The poisonous blood doesn't really, since golems don't have blood. They're constructs made out of a raw material; clay, wood, metal, etc. Not sure why it would be poisonous in the first place.

    Gollum is a name, he's not a golem in any shape or form. Actually pretty much a hobbit twisted by dark magic.

    Eating metal is a stretch simply because clay comes from the earth.

    You need to fix the way they're made. What if Stele was in a cavern full of clay? A human drops some blood on some clay, Stele's eyes glow, and a golem forms. Now you have justification to give a golem blood or part of your "modern twist." Poisonous blood doesn't really make sense. Why would it be poisoned? How would this be dangerous? You can kill something without ingesting any blood. It could be both poisonous and corrosive, but again means it has to bleed to be dangerous. I would harden the skin, add some regenerative powers, and up the shape-shifting powers. Why not, instead of metal, it needs minerals to survive? You can get it from inorganic or organic material. Rocks, ore, people, cars... doesn't matter much.

    They can look like Gollum, it's targeted marketing in a way. Psychology and all that, just wanted to make the point that Gollum is a name.

    Good luck, I like new twists on old things.
     
  17. PilotMobius
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    You may want to stick with your original idea of having the golems consume tree bark for energy. Living organisms consume food and metabolize it by breaking down complex compounds and storing them for later use (as exothermic chemical reactions). There's not much energy you could get from concrete and steel. It'd make more sense for these golems to use the concrete and steel found in buildings as a structural element rather than for energy.
     

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