Friday, 1 April 2011

A to Z: Alabaster homunculus

This post is designated Open Gaming Content according to the Open Gaming License.

Alabaster Homunculus
Available to: Magic-users
Level: 6
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch

This spell enables the caster to imbue a semblance of life into a small alabaster figure, which will then act as a servant. The figure must be an elaborately sculpted 1' high likeness of the caster, costing at least 1,000gp, and must be carved so as to contain an internal cavity with a lid or stopper in the top of its head. Once the statuette has been prepared, the spell is cast, requiring a 3 hour ritual. At the culmination of the spell casting, the magic-user must fill the cavity in the body of the statuette with a quantity of his own blood, giving the creature a translucent pinkish tinge. This blood, in conjunction with the magic of the spell, gives life to the homunculus, and results in the caster permanently losing 1hp. When the lid is placed on its head, the blood-filled homunculus slowly begins to animate.

In its normal state, the homunculus is inanimate, preferring to stand absolutely still, as if a normal statue. In this state the creature is utterly defenseless, and can be killed if the blood is poured out from its body. However during the casting of the spell the caster chooses a secret command word which can be used to activate the homunculus. When the command word is spoken (with unlimited range) the homunculus immediately awakens to do the caster's bidding. When activated, the caster has a vague telepathic link with the homunculus which allows him to give commands to the creature, and it in turn to silently give reports of its whereabouts. An activated homunculus has a movement rate of 90'/30', and is incredibly stealthy, having a 5 in 6 chance of being undetected by observers. The homunculus is small and weak, and while able to carry small items (such as a scroll or a key), it is incapable of combat. When active, it has an AC of 3, and 6 hit points. A homunculus can remain active for up to 24 hours per week.

Alabaster homunculi are typically created as guardians of a magic-user's home, as they can be contacted at any distance and be used to keep an eye on the place while the caster is away. They are also sometimes useful in emergency situations, as an aide to a magic-user who is endangered in his home. These homunculi, when inactive, usually stand in a secret location, where they are unlikely to be found or disturbed.


  1. Feels like something out of a Jack Vance Dying Earth novel, great stuff.

  2. Very Cool! Homonculi are loads of fun. Did you know that a lot of alabaster is actually quite red, almost like petrified blood, in appearance? We met and talked with a sculpter who was working with raw alabaster. It's fascinating stuff to carve and work with--and it's a great material from which to create an homoculus.

  3. Thanks guys :)

    @NetherWerks: No I'd not heard of the red alabaster. It's interesting to hear that it varies in hue, given that it's name is often used as a colour. The blood-filling was inspired by reading that alabaster is usually translucent -- I found it kind of grisly, the idea that the wizard's blood can be seen inside the homonculus.