Bianca’s Guide to Golems is the third of Chamomile’s series of kickstarter 5e zines. Each of which is focused on a specific topic of D&D that’s always been a little wonky. This one, obviously, is focused around golems, but less obviously, item crafting in general. I’ve got a hard copy, and plan to review that, although the art is screenshots and cropped from the pdf (with permission). You can pick one up at Drivethrough in physical or digital versions. Before I dig in, I do want to disclose that it includes a reference to my product, the Manual of Exotic Materials, and its sequel. They’re pay what you want, and his rules don’t actually require mine, but its would help.
The book opens with playable golems, and Chamomile’s take is a step up from WoTC’s warforged. The first premise I’ll throw out is that playable robots are awesome. If you’re against that, you’re probably against WoTC’s copy, and you’ll probably dislike this one even more. WoTC’s tries to appeal to everyone with something generic. Chamomile’s approach instead, is to let you build out the exact playable robot, sorry golem, with exactly the features you want. Chamomile’s take has a general construct trait, and then you select a core to function as a subrace. Clay, Flesh, Metal, Stone, or Wood. This gives you some powers, and changes your healing method, allowing you to craft yourself back together. Then, you have the ability to enable modules. This give you powers like lantern eyes, sword hands, flight, or mana shields. Its a good take, and a good introduction to the book and the level of complexity to expect. Some books are high fluff rules light zero math affairs. This one is not.
Next up is an artificer subclass. The subclass is pretty straight forward, but it unlocks the ability to get into golem crafting, which is probably my favorite part of the book. There are two paths of golems to create, and the implication is that you use one of them, or potentially make your own path if you have a permissive DM. The titular Bianca’s golems are faux latin metal themed, and The Third Eye’s golems are chess themed. The chess themed ones are probably cooler, but I imagine most people will drop the chess motif after the firs time, and you might see a lot more of Bianca’s golems in play. These golems all range from tiny utility golems to gargantuan mobile towers.
Once past the players options, we get into the bulk of the book. A magic item crafting system, that really does listen to all the “I wish” sort of systems that get floated around. The crafting section is the meat of the book. A DM who wants to introduce item crafting is going to love it. The rules are complex, but finally, actually, avoid the tired situation of “Give the artificer a pile of gold, which she melts into a magic cloak”. They also strongly encourage questing for unicorn horns, which IMO is a core component of a fantasy RPG that is missing from a lot of RPGs.
At its core, there are 17 base elements, with three tiers each. That should tell you right away that there are recipes and crafting and the like. Each element has unique fluff, harvesting mechanics, and traits, to let you get into it some. For the Lightning element, living copper is buried on elemental earth, but wiggles itself around and might unearth itself. Lightning can be bottled, and cloud sinew can be extracted from clouds, that sort thing. When it all comes together, you have a list of magical resources, and how to get them. Instant quests. Then, you combine them to form the recipes you need, to craft your items.
Filling out the remainder of crunch, there’s a nod to my exotic materials stuff, and how one might incorporate it into the crafting rules, a revised firearms section, some extra infusions, extra golems a batch of new boss monsters. The rest of the book is a little more rules light, world building stuff
I love the Walking City, and have been trying to find ways to casually slip it into my home games since I first read about it in The Dark Lord game. We get 6 or so pages of world building for a society heavily reliant and based on golems, that is still clearly and recognizably fantasy as opposed to sci-fi. The Mana Kings lived in a region whose life energy they sucked dry. Now, artificers scavenge the region for lost magical items and sources of power. Most enticingly to me, the mile wide golem and capital city which is still unaccounted for. Like a steampunk zaratan.
Overall, this is another content packed cheap product if you really want to step up item crafting in your 5e game. Especially for $5.