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This is a continuation of my first attempt to get a review of a monster stat block. If I'm doing something wrong, let me know.

Homebrew Parchment Golem monster

My goal for this creature is to be a trash mob, but with enough resistance/immunity to not get crowd-controlled too easily so the party focuses on tactics.

The core is based on the Palimpsest (a spell scroll that eats people), with some construct condition immunities that make sense. This is where I got the Immunity to Fire damage, which I can't find a satisfactory reason why that's the case. Many Golems have unique immunities, so I've only kept those from the Palimpsest.

From the original I changed the non-magical slashing immunity to a resistance, to represent how weak the base material is. Lowered the average damage of the attacks because they were way off. Also clarified the Senses so it made sense.

Some features from Rug of Smothering, and generic golems. I'm not 100% happy with all the features, and will likely tweak stuff before my party encounters this. I know Challenge Ratings in 5e are hardly accurate, but I'm aiming for no more than ~5-6 tops.

Tested out 3 variations of a lvl 10 Scout Rogue getting ambushed by 5 of these. Scout possessed a dagger with the Returning Weapon Infusion, bypassing immunity. No potions. 1st Scout strafed away from the enemy with supeior mobility. Picking them off at range. He would only take damage if he ran out of room to run. 2nd Scout stood his ground, and the enemy all used their grapple attack exclusively(Smother may not be the best name for how different this construct is from a rug). PC survived without Disengaging, and I even forgot to use the Aim feature (TCoE). 3rd Scout stood his ground, and the enemy used Cut exclusively. Even with Aim allowing Sneak Attack to 1 shot each golem, they still overwhelmed him. PC dead.

I figured with this golem's anatomy they could all grapple at the same time, maybe I could come up with an additional metrics to make the barely dangerous restraint more dangerous in swarms, and more pitiful in isolation. I imagine if I did a combo of Smother and Cut, it should maximize the danger the PC is in, but currently the Cut is more effective. I can't find any examples online of encountering multiple Rugs of Smothering, or just the Rug paired with another monster that doesn't sound like a DM trying to kill PCs. For me doesn't make sense for the golem to be subjected to damage transfer if they all are Grappling. It feels like they need a second attack, but I feel 2d8 + dex is a tad much for a magic paper cut.

I suppose Smother would make sense if they can gang up on an enemy, and Cut should be a more reliable tool for when they're whittled down.

Should Cut get a Downgrade? Should Smother get a buff/nerf? Would there be a better term than Smother? What clarity do the Traits need to make these encounters feasible if someone else wanted to use this golem? Is CR 4 properly calculated?

If there any other information I need to provide let me know.

Description While at first appears to a large sheet of paper, suddenly Pareidolia kicks in and you realize it's been cut into the shape of a man, with eyes and a mouth cut out of the head, leaving an empty mask to stare you down. A breathy chuckle is heard, almost like the wind is laughing. You turn around, to discover the shelves of this library had barely any scrolls, as more of these pale faces unroll their forms and surround you, laughing at your misfortune.

Parchment Golem

Medium construct, neutral

Armor Class: 12
Hit Points: 18 (4d6 + 4)
Speed: 5 ft., fly 15 ft.

Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
2 (-4) 14 (+2) 12 (+1 4 (-3) 16 (+3) 10 (+0)

Damage Immunities: fire, poison, necrotic, piercing, and bludgeoning damage from nonmagical weapons
Damage Resistance: slashing damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhausted, poisoned, frightened, blinded, deafened, paralyzed, petrified
Senses: blindsight 60 ft. (Blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 13
Languages: one language their creator knows
Challenge: 4?

Traits

Immutable Form. The golem is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form.

Magic Resistance. The golem has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. The golem's weapon attacks are magical.

Antimagic Susceptibility. The golem is incapacitated while in the area of an antimagic field. If targeted by dispel magic, the golem must succeed on a Constitution saving throw against the caster's spell save DC or fall unconscious for 1 minute.

Damage Transfer. While it is grappling a creature, the golem takes only half the damage dealt to it, and the creature grappled by the golem takes the other half.

False Appearance. While the golem remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from normal paper.

Actions

Multiattack. The golem makes two cut attacks.

Cut. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d8 + 2) slashing damage.

Smother. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one Medium or smaller creature. Hit: The creature is grappled (escape DC 11). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the golem can't smother another target. In addition, at the start of each of the target's turns, the target takes 3 (2d6 - 4) bludgeoning damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Some explanation why you decided to keep fire immunity and slashing resistance, even when people told you to make it vulnerable to fire and resistant to all but slashing under your original question would be in order. You probably don't need the same advice under every iteration. Especially when you tagged it with immunities, so this is bound to be a point of interest. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Feb 18, 2023 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot I did explain the fire immunity in this post. Nonmagical Slashing immunity is something every golem has, I considered this to be a weak enough golem to remove that immunity. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 18, 2023 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would it be out of bounds to add italics or some other emphasis to the paragraph about the Fire Immunity? Or even the question block before the Description? \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 18, 2023 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've voted to reopen, I see no reason for this to be closed. Molot's request about clarification on the immunity choices would be helpful, but is not a barrier to this being an answerable question. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20, 2023 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I should've asked this question with the original question, but can you please provide a link that describes in greater detail what a Palimpset is? You'd stated that it's a spell scroll that eats people, but is this some type of folklore? When I did a Google search, I ended up on a Wikipedia article discussing a manuscript page. This is clearly a key element that's important to you, so it will be helpful to try and close this knowledge gap. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2023 at 15:00

2 Answers 2

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Here are some possible tweaks

Fire immunity/vulnerability: I understand that the idea of this having fire immunity came from the Palimpsest, but this is a golem, not a palimpsest, and they really are entirely different types of creatures. The fire immunity seems entirely out of place here. If you still want to inherit that feature, I would expect to see "Palimpsest" in the name of this monster.

In fact, it is a stretch to understand why this should not have vulnerability to fire, but I guess you could address that by adding to the description. Add something like "In the creation process, parchment golems are coated with a fire-retardant varnish or veneer."

Bludgeoning, piercing and slashing immunity/resistance: I realize other golems have these immunities, but they are more solid creatures, and this is a much lesser golem. Why not go with the parchment golem being largely unaffected by getting slammed? I would accept bludgeoning immunity (or resistance) flat out, and not just from non-magical attacks.

Other immunities/resistances: First of all, it should have immunity to psychic damage. And how about granting thunder damage resistance (or immunity)? That would be much more fitting than fire damage immunity.

Ability scores: Why is Wisdom (and Perception) so high? The vast majority of golems are 10 or below on these, so this would need explanation.

Smother mechanics (and name): Smother should be called something else ("Enshroud" or "Wrap" or "Envelope") because unlike the rug of smothering, it does not threaten to suffocate you. I would add something like "Pack Tactics" which gives a parchment golem advantage on its Smother action if another allied parchment golem is within 5 ft of the same target.

CR: With the above suggested changes, CR 4 is ok, but arguably might be a bit high. There is nothing strongly similar in WotC sources to compare, but consider the non-WotC (Kobold Press) death shroud golem (Tome of Beasts 2), which is made of fabric, is CR 5, and is similar in powers (and damage-per-round) to this parchment golem, but has 95 hits points.

Languages: An answer to your previous version recommended you add "but cannot speak", and you should really do that. A clay golem has more of a real mouth, and still cannot speak.

False Appearance: Seems odd that anytime it is motionless it just seems like a normal piece of paper, given that it is the size and shape of a man with cut-out eyes. It would be easier to "buy it" if the description said that when it is rolled or folded up, and motionless, then it is indistinguishable from a normal paper or scroll.

One final plug: I think it would be cool to have this monster be vulnerable to fire, because my guess is that it would usually be encountered in a library which the adventurers want to explore. Imagine the DM saying "Yeah, it's vulnerable to your fire bolt, and now, congratulations, you've set the library on fire, geniuses!"

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. As a player, if I used fire against a paper monster and it did nothing, I would expect that the monster is, in fact, not a paper monster. Except if that's an intended mindgame with your players, toying with their expectations like this might have unintended side effects on their fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Feb 21, 2023 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your suggestions on immunities do have some merit, so I'll try to address them as a group. Owning this much paper might make a caster worried about fire hazards, unless maybe the mage installed a smoke alarm/sprinkler system (note to self, do that with magic items in my next wizard tower) I think it would be fun for the players if this golem could catch fire, but that would probably need the immunity to drop to at most resistance to fire. Being grappled by a now flaming golem would change the encounter greatly, so I'm not sure how to implement that with proper language. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do like the suggestion on the magical bludgeoning resistance, maybe not full immunity since 5e monsters tend to not punish weapon choice, or minimalist martials for not bringing a backup weapon magic or otherwise. Personally I allow players to chose their damage type, as long as it makes sense for the weapons they're using. I hadn't considered the psychic immunity, I'll need to do more research on that. If we were talking about Sonic damage I'd, definitely agree an add the Thunder Immunity, but 5e seems to lump a few other damage sources into that element. Idk if it would be as intuitive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 8:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Language part feels more possible to me than most constructs, because it's movement is a manipulation of the air, like a wind kinesis. With the mental stats I could see it make a recreation of speech. However I'd imagine this self created Wind pales in comparison to a true Caster. Not sure there's an easy way to add Wind Weakness for 5e, but I'll do some research. I suppose in my own campaign, I don't need every golem to be able to speak, but I do have a monologue I want the party to interrupt, that's kinda hard to justify with Magic Mouth or similar spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ False Appearance probably won't give this monster much an edge, once the party figures out there's evil magic paper, it may only work if the golem hides among the dead bodies of its fallen comrades. I should probably have added a caveat to that part, but I guess I get a bit more time to work on the wording. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 8:23
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There wasn't a lot of changes from the previous version

Specifically, all that changed was fixing some math, adding the "Blind beyond this radius", and made slashing resistant instead of immune. Considering all the feedback you received from v1, I would have thought more would have happened. So I'm just rehashing my previous answer along with a few other ideas.

Stats

You have a strength of 2 (-4) and a dexterity of 14 (+2), which is fine, but you need to keep those numbers in mind for all of the rest of your features. It'll come up when discussing the attacks.

You also have a charisma of 10. Why on earth would a piece of paper have a charisma of ... any value? It's a piece of paper. This should be 8 at the highest and more likely 2-4.

Wisdom is far too high for a golem. Max for the existing golems I checked is 11, with a low of 6 for a snow golem. A piece of paper should be 10 at best.

Immunities, resistances, vulnerabilities

As mentioned in the comments of this post, and the previous post, and all the other answers, it seems odd for a creature made of "paper" to be immune to fire and, now resistant to slashing. While they may be common for golems in general, it may be worth reexamining all these these traits.

I would go with:

Damage Immunities: bludgeoning, poison, psychic, necrotic damage from nonmagical weapons
Damage Resistance: piercing and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons and nonmagical fire

and optionally:

Damage Vulnerabilities: piercing and slashing damage from magical weapons and magical fire

Although normal damage from magical weapons and magical fire would also be okay.

Languages

Since it has no mouth (unless you're thinking about the messages from Harry Potter), you probably want:

understands the languages of its creator but can't speak

Traits

I'm not sure how you picture a paper golem to but it sounds like it is really just a large sheet up paper. You may want to consider adding:

Amorphous. The golem can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

Antimagic Susceptibility

Building off of the resistances, you might say that the golem is vulnerable to non-magic fire, piercing, and slashing damage while incapacitated/unconscious.

Damage Transfer

I have a bit to say on this, but it makes more sense taking about it under the Smother Action.

False Appearance

The False Appearance trait may work well for a scroll, it probably won't fool a lot of adventurers as a Medium-size mound of paper. Even next to a printing press, it would seem a little out of place. So I still don't know how this will come into play.

Actions

Multiattack

You need to clarify if the paper can still multiattack while grappling/smothering. Some creatures, like the Crocodile say, "Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the crocodile can't bite another target." Whereas a Constrictor Snake says, "Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the snake can't constrict another target," but doesn't restrict it's bite attack.

You'll need to decide if it takes the entire paper golem to smother, or if it can still uses corners to cut its victim.

Cut

The damage is a bit high for what is essentially a "paper cut". A greatsword only does 2d6 compared to the paper golem's 2d8. Looking at CR 4 creatures; the Bone Naga's bite is 2d6, the couatl's bite is 1d6, the sea hag's claws are 2d6, etc. I think you need to reduce the damage of a cut, especially since this is supposed to be a multiattack. Maybe 1d6, 1d8, or 2d4 per cut. I will also point out, if this is a dexterity-based attack, which would make sense (finesse), your numbers are correct; +4 to hit (+2 dex, +2 proficiency bonus), and +2 damage (+2 dex).

Smother

This doesn't work on a number of levels.

As I pointed out in the last iteration, grapples are normally strength contests, but seeing as how the Rug of Smothering is using this as an attack instead, I'll back down on that part. However, with a strength of 2, your actual to hit would be -2 (-4 str, +2 proficiency bonus). Now with a swing of 30% less likely to hit (from your previous +4), I don't see this being much of a threat. Even granting the restrained condition, the golem is only ever going to do 0 to 8 hp (around 3 average).

This should also play into the DC required to escape. More likely in the 8-10 range.

Once again the whole grapple/smother thing doesn't work with a creature of low strength.

I think a bigger threat than the golem itself is the damage transfer. Speaking of which, since you are picturing this as a group effort, what are you going to do when two or more golems are attached to the same creature? You said in the intro, "For me doesn't make sense for the golem to be subjected to damage transfer if they all are Grappling," but don't give any direction.

If two sheets of golem are wrapped around one person, wouldn't my one swing cut through both of them? Or are they somehow arranged so that they are smothering but not overlapping? That doesn't seem very plausible. So you'll need to address that.

You should also address that the smother is not a magical attack. Otherwise, the golems would smother each other1.

Even if the one swing doesn't cause issues, what about an area of effect spell? Does each golem transfer half to the creature inside? Picture your rogue smothered with three golems. My wizard casts fireball (because they expect the golem would be vulnerable to fire, right?) and does 30 points of damage. If each golem gives half of the damage to the rogue inside, that's 150% of the damage caused. Whether that's resisted, normal, or vulnerable; the rogue takes a huge amount of damage.

Resistance Golem (ea) Rogue
Immune 0 0
Resistant (passed saving throw) 3 9
Resistant (failed saving throw) 7 21
Normal (passed saving throw) 7 21
Normal (failed saving throw) 15 45
Vulnerable (passed saving throw) 15 45
Vulnerable (failed saving throw) 30 90

That may be what you're hoping for, but once again, the smother features themselves are pointless, it's all about the damage transfer that makes these things any kind of threat.

Final opinion

Still have a number of bugs and "what if's" (some of which you elude to in the intro) to work out.


1 If the smother attacks are magical, then it bypasses the bludgeoning damage immunity. Meaning if you have two or more golems attached, the first one does smother damage to both the victim AND the other golem. But then the other golem has damage transfer so the second golem only takes half damage and the victim takes an additional half damage.

It gets worse the more golems you have grappling. So to at least stop this, make it clear that the smother is not considered a magical attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Been considering some of the issues you've outlined with the 'Smother' skill. Where the Rug tends to attack, even while being stood on, it makes sense for it to grapple with its strength. If a PC were to walk on this golem, I'd probably say it would be restrained by the player. How this creature attacks is based on its movement and agility. Encircling and wrapping around the target. By itself the PC will likely get out, because it is just paper, but multiple of these golems Grappling a target is what I'd imagine be their preferred method. Action economy doesn't favor breaking free of multiple, \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 9:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Multiple enemies, cutting your way out seems to be the only option at that point. It definitely needs some tweaking to feel more immersive and 'believable.' I feel like maybe Restrained should only take effect after at least 2 golems strike (the rug is a Large not Medium?), and the PC should probably get degrees of Cover after a few. I suppose its possible the victim's allies could stab and not even hit their friend given enough layers of golem. A DM may need to track the order of grapple, then the fellow golems will take bulk of the Damage Transfer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 9:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree as written a Rug of Smothering emporium would end up with a lot of friendly fire. Easy fix is just to remove the Magic Weapon aspect of this golem's attacks, but I'm currently unaware of any issues that may cause. It seems like it'd be okay, I guess golems need magical attacks to fend off Fiends and similar interlopers to a wizard sanctum. Even with magical attacks I can't see this golem being an threat to most extra planar opponents. I suppose the non magical suggestion for the 'smother' action may be the safe bet. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I hadn't realized the wording enabled Cut attacks while it was Grappling, which is embarrassing because I've played a few grapple builds. I'd have to double check the wording of the 5e Conditions, the golem should probably be restrained or something. I'd probably say it should need to spend it's action to keep the grapple going. Also I can't see 2 of these floating off with a PC, not with that strength. Maybe enough of them working together could fly away with the PC like an arcane burrito, but they definitely don't have the strength for that solo. These are intended to fight in bulk, but stil \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 9:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see Cut as a kind of backup, if these golems no longer outnumber the party. Since the grapple attack can only be sustained with supeior numbers. Thanks for posting examples, they definitely feel more in the ballpark than the Flesh Golem Slam I originally used. What exactly both attacks need to be will take a few more tests I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xisnue
    Feb 22, 2023 at 9:37

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