Monster Analysis: Sandstone Golem

  • First Appearance: 12 Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Tips
  • Armor Class: ≤18
  • Challenge Rating: 1
  • Immune to Poison and Psychic damage
  • Estimated 1d6+2 bludgeoning damage per attack (multi-attack)
  • 33 damage received; Unknown bludgeoning to orb by Ulfgar
  • Orb destroyed by Snugglelord’s 1 damage

Thanks to criticalrolesource for collaborating on this analysis!

So, excuse me while I gush: The whole episode was a master class for DMs in constructing a game from scratch. We got to listen to the wisdom of an experienced DM before watching him build an entire world from the ground up for a group of beginners after himself being immersed in an epic quest of mid-level adventurers. The monster manual was not consulted, we know for a fact that the story was entirely improvised, and for the few times Matt did have to look up rules, they were 5e specific (coming from Pathfinder) that took him less than 30 seconds to confirm before the game was back on.

You see the image above? (Edit: Not anymore; it’s not there. Picture a Stone Golem at the top.) That’s not a Sandstone Golem. That’s a Stone Golem, and it has a CR of 10. Heck, the weakest golem in the MM is the Flesh Golem, and even it has a CR of 5. Sandstone Golem isn’t even in the book, but its difficulty, its actions, its strengths and weakness, everything about it is entirely appropriate for the setting it exists in.

The golem is actually a great comparison to the pre-formed Lich Matt discussed before the game. A textbook golem of any kind would have wiped the floor with a level 1 party, let alone one with only three players with no healers. However, modify its damage from 3d8+6 to 1d6+2 and spread out its multi-attack to multiple PCs, and the fight turns from impossible to merely terrifying. A single d6 without modifiers can still take out over half the health of a starting-level player. (And that’s when they’re NOT rolling poorly or willingly dipping themselves in acid.)

This was also a great experiment in going from a ~10 level campaign back to the extremely limited capabilities of level 1 players, especially the new-comer. Zac didn’t have the meta-knowledge that golems are immune to poison or that thaumaturgy can’t deal damage, and that is still great. Even with these mechanically wasted turns, the story unfolds with just as much excitement and suspense, and the new player isn’t punished harshly for learning and experimenting with the game’s system.