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Craft Construct allows player characters to create their own homunculus, golem or shield guardian. Other than by the spell animate objects with permanency, are there any rules allowing the creation of permanent animated objects under the control of the caster?

If not, what would be a fair price?

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So far as I know, animated objects are the result of an animated object spell, nothing else. Hiring an NPC to cast animate objects and then permanency would cost 16,540 gp minimum (caster level 14th for the casting of permanency on animate object; at that CL you could get a Huge one).

Crafting a Construct by the Craft Construct rules would result in a creature not vulnerable, as a permanent animate object is, to dispel magic, which is a rather huge advantage. On the other hand, it takes longer to set up (the whole crafting time), not to mention the Craft Construct feat itself, so it perhaps makes more sense to compare it to other Constructs that you can craft. It’s better than a Flesh Golem (20,000 gp) most likely, but not as good as a Clay Golem (40,000 gp). I’d probably put it around 25,000 gp then, base cost.

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There was an alternative to casting animate objects then permanency

Between the publication Savage Species (2003) and the original Spell Compendium (2005), animated objects both permanent and intelligent were created via the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell minor servitor [trans] (Savage Species 68-9). The spell allows the wizard to spend one day casting the spell then touch an object to permanently (not instantaneously!) grant a mundane object (or mass of similar material) of up to 1 cu. ft./level "mobility and a semblance of life"; the spell costs the caster 250 XP per cu. ft. affected. The object-that-is-now-a-creature's new ability scores are randomly rolled, and it's friendly toward the caster, and it had better be: the spell's effect is dismissible. (If you're curious—I was!—a Wiz20 can affect with the spell minor servitor material fitting into about the space occupied by the typical household refrigerator.)

The spell minor servitor is a good spell—it's not particularly powerful, it's difficult to abuse, and, while it relies on the DM to adjudicate some of its effects (this DM, for instance, wishes the spell affected lbs./level instead of the more-difficult-to-determine cu. ft./level), only the most dedicated wizard—given the spell's cost and time to cast—is making with the spell an army. And were that to happen, foes can use an effect that dispels magic to end the minor servitor spell's effect. Further, the spell conveniently fills some narrative gaps. O, and it's fun.

But the spell must've made someone in editorial very angry. The Spell Compendium's list of Renamed Spells (5-6) says that minor servitor was "renamed before [its] inclusion in this book" as the 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell awaken construct [trans] (SpC 21), which is a totally different spell with a wholly different effect. Insult to injury: the Spell Compendium spell awaken construct was already published… as the spell awaken construct in Savage Species.1

So, officially and using only spells, a combination of the 6th-level Clr spell animate objects [trans] (PH 199) and the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell permanency [univ] (PH 259-60) is the sole way to make permanent animated objects… and they're under control of the caster of the spell animate objects. Painfully, were, for example, a player to desire to have his PC make permanent animated objects in isolation (and because the spell permanency isn't, for example, (so far as I'm aware) available as a domain spell), this particular combination of spells and caster levels requires a creature take a prestige class like mystic theurge so that the PC can (eventually!) cast spells both as a Wiz14 and Clr11.2

So in a campaign featuring a plethora of animated objects, this player would urge the DM to rollback the Spell Compendium's decision to conflate minor servitor and awaken construct. The spells serve different purposes—the former to make cute dancing brooms or teacups that lead adventurers to their troubled creator, the latter so the master of a creation she's outgrown can send her now-intelligent creation out into the world to make its own way by befriending or harrying adventurers—, so having one spell in the game doesn't obviate the other, and neither spell obviates the utility of the core combination of the spell permanency applied to an object affected by the spell animated object: having a permanent Gargantuan animated object that's slavishly obedient is still a thing.3

Urge the DM to allow permanency to affect multiple littler-than-Colossal animated objects

If the DM balks at reinstating a spell that the designers thought so fraught with peril that they deleted it, ask the DM instead to read more generously how the spell permanency interacts with the spell animate objects. That is, the only information the spell permanency provides about affecting with it the spell animate objects is that such a permanency must be cast by at least a level 14 caster and that it costs that caster 3,000 XP. If a PC wants only a dancing teacup, that's stupid.4

One such generous reading of the spell permanency (and a reading this DM and player supports) allows a caster to pay the permanency spell's exorbitant price to affect not just one lone animated object of any size but, instead, 1 animated object of size Colossal, 2 animated objects of size Gargantuan, 4 Huge, 8 Large, 16 Medium, or 32 Small or littler objects or some combination thereof. The generous DM may even add to this the option of affecting 64 Tiny, 128 Diminutive, or 256 Fine animated objects or some combination thereof (as this DM would).5

While this doesn't help the less-than-Wiz14 create only a lone animated teacup that will dance for his amusement, it does mean that one casting of such a permanency spell can affect a whole darn drawer of animated silverware.

Create independently operating magic items using Craft Wondrous Item

The game presents quite a few wondrous items that are otherwise normal objects yet that act of their own accord. Most require the spell animate objects, but I've found none that also require the spell permanency (e.g. the autonomous harp (Dragon Compendium Volume 1 131-2) (6,250 gp; 40 lbs.) the broom of animated attack (DMG 275) (17,000 gp; 3 lbs.), the rug of welcome (Complete Arcane 150) (30,000 gp; 15 lbs.), which, by the way, is comparatively more expensive yet also better than some golems, albeit the rug lacks a typical golem's immunity to magic).

A handful of similarly independent wondrous items don't even require the spell animate objects; for example, Nimro Meadowspinner creates Nimro's self-propelled objects (Vicious Venues Web column "The Greenleaf Shop") (950 gp; 0 lbs.), and it's trivial to create a book that floats and knows its name so it comes when called (a floating book (Dragon #341 65) adds 500 gp to a book's price). A comprehensive list of such items is beyond this question's scope, but a caster that wants to create before level 14 a self-motivated broom or a dancing teacup should be aware that, while his options are few, there are likely magic items that can be reskinned to meet his needs.6


1 This reader supposes that the Spell Compendium removed minor servitor because it became too complicated to keep: constructs—no matter their Intelligence scores—just didn't gain feats in D&D 3e, but every creature with an Intelligence score gains feats in D&D 3.5e, so rather than greatly expand minor servitor, the choice was made to fold it into the spell awaken construct. However, the decision left nonhumanoid-shaped constructs (like brooms and teacups and many, many potentially-PC-created constructs) bereft of even the possibility of sentience. And similar difficulties didn't prevent publication of, for example, the 7th-level Sor/Wiz spell awaken undead [necro] (Spell Compendium 21). This player has come to detest the game's necromantic favoritism.
2 Such a PC is typically at least a wizard 4/cleric 3/mystic theurge 10, and he probably kind of sucks. Alternatively, ask the DM if a Wiz14 can go it alone, casting the 7th-level Sor/Wiz spell limited wish [univ] (PH 248) to duplicate the spell animate objects, the spell animate objects being a 5th-level spell for the urban druid (Dragon Compendium Volume 1 57-65).
3 Straight-up buying an animated object presumably costs the price of the object plus finding a Wiz14 to cast for 700 gp the spell permanency and paying another 15,000 gp for her XP. A Clr11 casts the spell animate objects (enough for 1 Huge and 3 Small animated objects) for 660 gp; a Clr16 (who can breathe life into Gargantuan object) charges 960 gp to cast the spell animate objects. In short, a Gargantuan Lincoln Memorial robot costs 16,660 gp plus the statue price, so within a high-level character's spitting distance of KRyan's estimated price of 25,000 gp.
4 That is, the price of a dancing teacup is too high. Having desired stupider things for his own PCs, this player is in no position to judge whether a PC's desire to have a dancing teacup is stupid.
5 While a stat block exists for the Fine animated object (Dragon #341 65), I tend to agree that the Diminutive animated object is apparently "so boring nobody created actual stats for it."
6 Wolfgang Baur's Clockwork Wonders Web columns are a good source of these, although some the magic items do have as a seemingly pointless prerequisite the feat Craft Construct.

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There is also haunt shift from libris mortis it let's you turn an undead into a haunting presence and then it can animate the object it haunts.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and check out the help center when you get a chance. This looks like the start to a good answer, if you can back it up with references and expand it a bit it will be a great answer. Thanks for participating and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 16 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm always suspicious of the spell haunt shift when it's recommended in isolation—on haunting presences (LM 6) pretty much says that it's the DM and not the player who picks what a haunting presence haunts, which means that any undead converted into haunting presences can end up haunting stuff the caster doesn't want them haunting. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 16 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Haunting things you don't want it to" is not necessarily a downside - for the player. \$\endgroup\$ – Narf the Mouse Jan 16 at 8:59

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