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RR8 Van Richten's Guide to the Created (2e)
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RR8 Van Richten's Guide to the Created (2e)

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...by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

—Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Armed with satchel and saw, the creator slips into the night. He seeks the freshly dug grave and the unguarded morgue, selecting each body part with care. In the twilight before dawn, he tailors a perfect form, seeing no fault in the livid flesh or the crude black stitching. Creating new life is his sole obsession—yet the thing he creates brings only misery and death.

The golems of Ravenloft boast powers unseen in other realms, for they are shaped by the demiplane's mysterious forces. Join Dr. Van Richten as he exposes the evil that is created. Learn his theories on construction and animation, and discover his hard won notes on the golem's phenomenal strength. Heed well his sage advice, for weather their parts are human or otherwise, the created are cunning and relentless foes, rising again and again from apparent death. Only with the knowledge herein can a hunter utterly destroy such a monster, until nothing but ashes and nightmares remain.

Product History

RR8: "Van Richten's Guide to the Created" (1994), by Teeuwynn Woodruff, is the eighth Ravenloft Resource. It was published in January 1994.

Continuing the Ravenloft Resources. Starting in May 1992, all the Ravenloft Resources were Van Richten's monster hunter books — though boxed sets like Forbidden Lore (1992) and Castles Forlorn (1993) were providing some variety. "Van Richten's Guide to The Created" continues that trend.

Like RR7: "Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts" (1993) before it, "The Created" details an entire category of D&D monsters: the golems. However, it departs somewhat from the standard style of the Van Richten Guides by not focusing entirely on theoretical advice for killing golems. Instead, the majority of the book is about their creation.

The best Van Richten guides, such as RR5: "Van Richten's Guide to Ghosts" (1992), gave GMs the tools to create truly unique villains. "The Created" manages that trick by also spotlighting flesh golems, with a whole chapter spent on making them unique.

Though TSR later recognized "Van Richten's Guide to the Created" as being book "RR8" in their Ravenloft Resource series, it doesn't actually bear that code because TSR stopped publishing module codes in 1994.

A History of D&D Golems. Golems originated in Jewish folklore, with the best-known story being the golem of Rabbi Eliyahu (1550–1583). Surprisingly, when golems made the jump to D&D with Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975), they only shared a name with their mythical cousin: though they were made of a variety of substances, none of them were clay! The flesh golem was obviously a take of Frankenstein (1818); the iron golem was a Rob Kuntz creation that had been inspired by Conan stories; and the stone golem was more of a moving statue. Clay golems only entered the dungeon several months later, in The Strategic Review #4 (November 1975). These four traditional golems then reappeared in AD&D's Monster Manual (1977).

A few other weird constructs debuted during the AD&D days. Three of them were stone creatures explicitly said to be golem-like: the caryatid column in the Fiend Folio (1981), the stone guardian of L1: "The Secret of Bone Hill" (1981), and the juggernaut from T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1983). The Fiend Folio also contained two even stranger constructs: the bone snake Necrophidius and the scarecrow.

Though golems appeared in a wide variety of adventure's during the AD&D era (1977-1988), only one was of particular note, WG5: "Mordenkainen's Magnificent Adventure" (1984). This was an adaptation of the adventure where Rob Kuntz originally introduced the iron golem, which had actually killed two of Gary Gygax's characters!

The early days of AD&D 2e (1989) saw a reorganization of what were now nine classic constructs. When the four traditional golems reappeared in MC1: "Monstrous Compendium Volume One" (1989), they were grouped into two types. The clay and flesh golems were now known as "lesser" golems, while the iron and stone golems were "greater" golems. Meanwhile, the caryatid column, juggernaut, and stone golem reappeared in WGR1: "Greyhawk Ruins" (1990) as "stone constructs", while the necrophidius and scarecrow were updated in MC5: "Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" (1990).

While AD&D was introducing the classic constructs in the '80s, Basic D&D was creating an entirely different stable of golems. Tom Moldvay's Basic D&D (1981) debuted a set of living statues, then David Cook's Expert Set (1981) introduced totally new golems including the amber, bone, bronze, and wood golems. Even more appeared in the Creature Catalogue (1986) and Creature Catalog (1993), including the rock and silver golems and the iron gargoyle.

AD&D expanded beyond its traditional golem roster when it began to experiment with new settings during the 2e era (1989-2000). The furnace golem and the radiant golem premiered in the MC7: "Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix" (1990), then the lightning golem was introduced in MC11: "Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix" (1991). However, it was the Ravenloft setting that introduced the most new golems. MC10: "Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendix" (1991) debuted six new golem-constructs: bone, doll, gargoyle, glass, mechanical, and zombie. The first four then appeared with the classic nine in the updated Monstrous Manual (1993), which was the biggest collection of AD&D golems ever! The caryatid column, juggernaut, and stone guardian were even now recognized as "stone golem variants".

Ravenloft unsurprisingly focused its golemic attention on the Frankenstein-like flesh golem. Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (1990) introduced mad scientist Dr. Mordenheim, his creation Adam, and their realm of Lamordia. Forbidden Lore (1992) then expanded on their story by detailing a secret society called Adam's Children.

RM2: "The Created" (1993) was Ravenloft's other major look at constructs, and a very unusual one: the characters are trapped in the bodies of puppets!

Monsters of Note. "The Created" details seven different golems, mixing old and new. They are: bone, clay, flesh, glass, metal, stone, and straw. The flesh golems get the most attention ever, including a system for creating unique flesh golems by giving them their own stats, weird body parts, and extraordinary abilities.

Future History. The next Ravenloft supplement was "Adam's Wrath" (1994), an adventure focused on the realm of Lamordia (and the flesh golem Adam). Ravenloft returned to the topic of golems several years later with "Children of the Night: The Created" (1999), while "Van Richten's Guide to the Created" was reprinted as part of Van Richten's Monster Hunter's Compendium Volume One (1999).

About the Created Creators. Woodruff was a freelance designer doing extensive work for TSR, White Wolf, West End, and others. She come aboard Wizards of the Coast full-time in 1995 and work there for a decade.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Product Information
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Rules Edition(s)
Pages
98
Edition
1.0
ISBN
978-1560768197
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TSR 9417
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File Last Updated:
December 16, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on December 17, 2013.