Review by Brent Knorr
The Construct Companion is a 128 page soft cover book written by Nicholas HM Caldwell for Iron Crown Enterpises.
If you are looking to create animated toys, mechanical men, or Frankenstein monsters, then this book is for you. It is specific to the Rolemaster system as far as mechanics go, but might be adaptable or useful for other systems with some work. If nothing else it’s got some good ideas that could be incorporated into other systems.
The book starts with a brief introduction to the contents of the book, then an examination of artificial entities in legends, reality and literature. It discusses Automata and related items in different cultures and points in history, such as moving statues and idols, clockwork men, and various toys and devices. There are some very interesting things described including the fully automatic miniature theatre’s of the Greeks and during the Renaissance. The chapter then goes into quite a bit of detail describing the Golems from Jewish folklore and mystical tradition. Again, a well written section that is interesting to read.
This is followed by a brief examination of the monsters of Doctors Frankenstein and Moreau, then an overview of monsters and creations in literature, ranging from Tolkien to Terry Pratchett.
The third chapter defines the various types of constructs that are covered in the book in more detail. These are:
• Animated objects, which are pre-existing objects that are temporarily enspelled.
• Automata, which is a magical machine designed to do a specific task.
• Golems, which are sculpted out of a single piece of a particular material, such as wood, metal, stone or crystal, and then given “life” through spells.
• Constructs, which are assembled out of many pieces, usually made out of metal, built on a framework and typically mostly hollow inside. These can be animated and given special powers in a manner similar to Golems.
• Amalgams are your Frankenstein type creations, created by assembling bits and pieces from various creatures and animated through the use of electricity.
• Simulacra are your “vat grown” types of creations, combining organic and inorganic substances to grow a creature, brought to life with infusions of blood from it’s creator, or a willing or unwilling donor.
• Changelings are creatures that were once normal but have received various physical and mental adjustments and/or replacements through magic to make them into something new.
The next chapter of the book goes through the various professions that would use Creation magic, how available the magic is, and what sort of training is available and gives options for using Creation magic in various types of campaigns.
This is followed by several chapters that detail the creation of the various types of Constructs, giving guidelines on figuring out the stats of the construct, the cost, the time it takes to create, what happens when things go wrong, how to control your construct, etc. These sections are well done, working through several examples in sufficient detail to make the process easy to understand, and then giving some additional examples of completed constructs at the end of the chapters.
Chapter seven discusses Intelligent Entities, it covers what the advantages and disadvantages are to endowing or empowering an entity with increased intelligence. There are several methods of empowerment that are discussed.
The first is Self Empowerment, where the creator draws upon his own intellect to temporarily grant a Golem or Construct a mind.
A second method is Spirit Empowerment, which involves persuading or forcing a Spirit to possess the Golem or Construct. Various methods of doing this are discussed, and descriptions of a dozen different types of spirits that might inhabit a creation are given.
Elemental Empowerment is a third method, and the book describes two variations of this, one for using it without the rules from Fire & Ice: The Elemental Companion, and another for integrating this book with the Fire & Ice: The Elemental Companion book.
Demonic Empowerment is covered next, which is the most potent and dangerous method. Again, there is a discussion of the various types of these enties and what the effects of having them empower a creation are.
Another morally questionable method of empowerment is Life Empowerment, which is where the soul and mind of a living (or dying) being is transferred into the creation.
Lastly is Spontaneous Empowerment, this is the unintentional empowerment of a creation by wandering spirits and undead which can occur if certain precautions are not taken.
All of these methods are covered in substantial detail with fairly through discussions of various powers and abilities that the Golem or Construct can end up acquiring with each method.
Chapter eight covers the creation of Amalgams, Simulacra and Changelings. Again, the processes involved are well covered with good examples and some samples at the end of the chapter
Chapter nine covers using this material in a campaign, with a discussion of which types of creation magic might be allowed, various views society might have towards the different methods, and several adventure ideas and campaign seeds.
The last chapter contains the descriptions of the spell lists and spells that are used for creating constructs, and finally there is a Construct Creation Worksheet to assist you in making all your new creations.
Overall is a very well done book with very few problems. It can get fairly technical and loaded with information, yet still remains easy to read. One error that did occur is on page 109 which should be the Construct Mastery Spell List, but is actually a repeat of the Automata Spell List. A corrected copy of the page can be found on the ICE Website at:
This is definitely a worthwhile addition to the Rolemaster line.