For as long as mortals have known magic, magicians have created constructs to serve them. From the mightiest golem forged of nearly indestructible material and elemental energies, to a clockwork minion cunningly built from countless metal gears, to a humble animated broom that cleans of its own accord, construct creation has become a mainstay of a spellcaster’s craft. To some spellcasters, golems and other constructs are simply not strong enough, powerful enough, impressive enough, big enough, or unique enough. These spellcasters design and build creations far larger and more powerful—creations that makes the world take notice of their might and prowess. They build colossi.
Colossi are constructs of great stature, the smallest of them towering ten times the height of a human, bigger than even the tallest giants. Though superficially similar to golems, they are distinguished not only by their greater size but also by their greater magical powers. A golem is given a semblance of life by an elemental spirit, sealed within the body by a magical barrier that also serves to keep out other magical influences. A colossus is likewise given life by an elemental spirit, but this spirit is much closer to being a true soul, and requires no such magical barrier to prevent it from fleeing the body and leaving behind only inert, dead matter. Like a proper soul, it provides will and impulse rather than power alone. It controls its artif icial body via a magical physiology of potent and eldritch spellcraft, just as a living being commands its muscles, nerves, and blood.
A single colossus can help its master to raze a kingdom and crush armies, and is immune to almost all forms of retaliation. Many colossi are intended to do exactly that—to forge an empire for their creator, to subjugate a hated foe, or to annihilate some equally dangerous enemy. Some are created to be defensive weapons, as deterrents against invasion. Others are tasked to serve as guardians for singular locations or objects that are not to be disturbed under the direst of consequences.
Because a colossus is an artificial creature, its exact form, function, and composition are left to the discretion of its creator. Nonetheless, all colossi share certain traits that distinguish them from lesser constructs. These traits are described in the colossus subtype.
Only the greatest and most legendary spellcasters can create colossi, because the process requires experience and knowledge beyond ordinary mortal ken. Shaping a colossus’s controlling spirit is about as close as a mortal being has come to truly creating a life and a soul. An inadequately prepared crafter is likely to produce an inert pile of rubble, or at best, a mere golem of tremendous proportions, but relatively fragile for its immense size. At worst, such a creation can fail catastrophically, with results that are unpredictable, but invariably expensive and dangerous.
Unlike many artificial creations, colossi are able to think for themselves. The creator has some degree of control over the personality of a colossus, and usually tries to instill an urge to please its “parent” to make it easier to control. Molding an elemental spirit is similar to raising children, however; the results are inconsistent and hard to predict. On occasion, it results in stubborn, cruel, or merely childish colossi. Rarely, a colossus realizes it’s strong enough to refuse to follow orders, and instead follows its own will independent of those who would command it. Such rogue colossi have little interest in the society of minuscule beings like humanity. Some manage to make a sort of existence among the larger giants, but as most are too conspicuous in their primary forms to mingle with mortal beings well, they seek out forgotten corners of the globe where they can quietly dwell.
The magical energy required to fuel such hulks is great and often difficult to control. Most colossi drain nearly all magic energies from their immediate area, with the exception of energies in tune with a colossus’s own powers. Draining such energy creates an area around the colossus in which most magic simply doesn’t function. The magic that does still work in these areas is just as likely to further empower the colossus as it is to harm it, since it’s by necessity in tune with the colossus’s magical metabolism. Still, a clever spellcaster can find and exploit this metaphorical chink in a colossus’s armor.
All colossi have two forms. The primary form resembles an immense humanoid, much like a larger golem. The second varies from type to type, but often serves to disguise the colossus as something more innocuous, as it can be difficult to conceal a 60-foot behemoth. Some colossi, however, can transform into terrible, inhuman forms that are even more powerful and destructive, forgoing any attempt at being subtle. Colossi can take many forms depending upon the materials used in their construction and the will of their individual creators. Creating a colossus is an ambitious undertaking, leading most creators to base their designs on lessons learned crafting lesser constructs. As a result, the best-known kinds of colossi are the flesh, stone, and iron varieties, corresponding to the most common and best-understood varieties of golem. Other varieties are possible, such as the clay colossus given life by divine secrets, the glacial colossus wrought of unmelting ice and frost, and the timber colossus built from still-living wood, which bears eerie powers over plants and creatures of the natural world.