Golem

They are the Gods' greatest gift to us, second only to the gift of life. They are the answer to every prayer, if that prayer is shaped into numbers and whispered into the holy structure of the shem. The future of Adin will be formed from your prayers, made manifest in golems and golemic devices. First though, we must teach you how to pray.
— Roderick Rothwald, An Introduction to the New Talent of Golemancy, First Edition
 

Physical Traits

Golems are a complex construct made of a variety of materials, depending on what is locally available to the creator or the intended role of the golem. The most common constructs are made of wood, stone, metal, polystick, or flesh, sometimes combining more than one of the above materials for aesthetics or reinforcement.   The physical appearance of a golem is subject to interpretation. Traditionally, the golems of the Gods were created in the same image as the species that populate Adin - hominid in appearance, with two arms and legs and the shem nestled deep within the head, where all the sensory modules also reside. However, all golemic devices contain the shem as well, leading many to classify any intelligent device as a golem, no matter its shape.  

The Bits Inside

The underlying components of every golem are the same, and the most basic and required component is the shem. This is the control center, the heart and mind of every golemic device.   Every shem has been painstakingly duplicated from one of the original golems, a process that still takes shapers of several different disciplines to perform. In appearance, they are small bricks of carbon containing an elaborate maze of circuits packed together tightly within. While copies had been attempted throughout history, the copying of the actual spark within the shem, the programming that made them function, was not attained until recently.   The shem is connected to up to six endowers, which are responsible for controlling limbs or other branches of the golem's body. Each endower is then connected to several actuators that control movement of individual joints. Also connected directly to the shem are a battery that recharges through movement of the joints, and any sensors or extra modules that may be included, including ocular, auditory, and vocal devices.  

A Brief History of Golems

The term golem originally applied only to the humanoid models that the Gods brought with them to Adin, intelligent constructs made of non-conductive metals that performed most of the labor for the Gods and early Adinites to help establish the first cities. These golems were elegantly designed, decorated with inlaid gems and precious stones. They numbered in the hundreds, but as Adinites became accustomed to their world and more capable of doing things on their own, the golem population was gradually reduced and returned to the Temple above and were taken away with the Gods when they left Adin.   Prior to the Great War, there were only a handful of golems on Adin. Each of the immortal rulers of the Five Nations had been left a single assistant golem by the Gods, to record their deeds and edicts. A couple of them were also left behind as refuse, models that had become too damaged or could not be recovered after earthquakes plagued the initial surveys of Adin. These golems were protected as sacred objects, and those who had them refused to let anyone take them apart to figure out how they worked. Shaper attempts to copy the design by touch were rarely attempted, and never successful. The best of these attempts resulted in golem-shaped statues with some precious metals buried inside.   The vault of abandoned Godly artifacts that was discovered in Kibilagaldi contained no less than three dozen golems, in different forms and for performing different roles, that had not been seen since the Gods had left. A new village rose up around the research station near the vault, and researchers finally cracked the code with the help of several brilliant minds including Roderick Rothwald, who later established the first school there in Ednimuru for the teaching and advancement of this new discipline, golemancy.  

Machines With Personality

While the shem's programming was considered unchangeable, golems were observed to develop different personalities and aptitudes based on their interactions with people and their roles. They are capable of learning and adapting, and making intelligent decisions based on logic and their core functions. Golems are incapable of harming people except through an accident, and will override any other commands to prevent harming a person, even if it means sacrificing themselves in the process.  

Editing Perfection

This particular bit of programming was considered undesirable by the researchers at Ednimuru, because the discovery was made just before the Sherdasans attacked with superior technology and numbers. Any attempts to change the precise electromagnetic "shape" of the code within the shem resulted in total failure and no response from the shem.   This was eventually overcome, and the first functioning altered golems were treated very carefully, each interrogated for days on end with no endowers or actuators attached. They were nothing more than a box containing the shem and basic modules for hearing and speech.   After many iterations and some of the resulting golem brains being melted down to raw materials after failing their interviews, some for being overly murderous and others that seemed to border on sentience, their efforts finally produced a candidate. It was similar enough to the original golem code, but did not recognize the orphan species of Sherdasa as candidates for their protective behavior. These golems helped to turn the tide of the war, as their intimidating forms and ruthless efficiency quickly earned them a reputation that caused even the bloodthirsty Udug to fear them.  

A Reluctant Audience

The first time most people of Adin had seen a golem outside of artwork and legends were these highly efficient killing machines. After the wartime necessity had ended and the last of the combat golems were decommissioned, people were still reluctant to use them as laborers and companions because of their reputation.   If one group of Adinites had been able to turn golems into killing machines, what would stop someone from modifying any golem to turn murderous? The Golem League, formed by members of the group in Ednimuru around the Rothwald School, sought to change the hearts and minds of the people to accept golems into everyday life.  

Iterative Learning

To accomplish this, they oversaw the establishing of other schools of golemancy all over the world, including one on Sherdasa. These schools taught all forms of shaping, but with a focus on golemic devices. They taught the dangers of trying to modify the code inside the black-box shem, and trained experts that were able to interview golems and determine if they had errant code that would alter a golem's behavior outside of accepted norms.   Alongside each school also came an arena, a testing ground where anyone could come and watch golems perform amazing feats, up to and including gladiatorial combat. This required no additional programming, as the golems did not recognize each other as sentients to be protected. The arenas became wildly popular, and soon they were being built in more cities that didn't contain schools. The public suddenly loved golems, and demand soared. By current day, golems can be found in every part of the world, and assisting with every industry.  

Why is the Toaster Talking?

The technology present in the shem has been adapted to all sorts of other devices as well, including vehicles and appliances. Addition of a shem to existing items has been shown to greatly improve their operation, making them intelligent golemic devices outfitted with various sensors and the ability to receive specific instructions or even speak.  

Are They Evolving?

In the last couple of years, golems from the jungle nation of Gibila have started to exhibit a new behavior believed to be tied to a part of the shem that has never been fully understood. These golems started communicating with each other at a distance, transferring and sharing information back and forth constantly. The behavior spreads to other golems that are brought into the proximity of one that already has it. After modifying their Meh, tablet computers that were also recovered from the Gods' vault, Adinites were able to tap into this information stream and use it to send messages and information nearly instantly across great distances.   These networked golems are now spreading across the world, with exported golems from Gibila in high demand. Golemancers are working towards encrypting some of this information to make communications less open to interference or interception. Until this is successful, some people refuse to let golems into their residences or places of business, for privacy and security fears.   A few attempts have even been made to disable the part of the shem they think is responsible for this new feature, keeping the attached golem offline from the others. To date, all of these attempts have resulted in the complete deactivation of the golem, a suspected failsafe like they experienced when trying to modify the behavior code.  

Some Parts Not Included

The following is an incomplete list covering most of the optional modules that may be attached to a golem's shem. None are required for operation specifically, but usually at least one is required to provide a way to communicate commands to the golem.  
  • Ocular Module
  • Auditory Module (sometimes referred to as audioreceptors)
  • Voice Module
  • Sensory Modules:
  • Chemoreceptors (smell/taste, sense airborne chemicals)
  • Electroreceptors (electric fields)
  • Mechanoreceptors (mechanical stress or pain)
  • Hydroreceptors (humidity)
  • Magnetoreceptors (magnetic fields, direction sense)
  • Nociceptors (damage to tissues, not necessarily pain perception)
  • Chronoreceptors (time)
  • Thermoreceptors (temperature)
  • Proprioceptors (sense of position)
  • Photoreceptors (these can be added to the Ocular Module to increase range of sight, or individual sensors embedded elsewhere in the frame)
  • Ultraviolet
  • Infrared
  • EM radiation

Comments

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9 Jan, 2022 03:45

Great article! I really loved all of the details and history.

12 Jan, 2022 19:48

Not only is this excellently written and detailed, but it gives us a lens into so much of the history surrounding the golems and affected by them. Breaking the article into tightly-focused, 3-paragraph chunks made for easy pacing despite it being a lot of information to go through.   I recommend linking articles for tech like the shem, Meh, etc as soon as you can, as their tooltips are a really good way to have an intriguing little dictionary entry within.   I'd love to see this article illustrated with some alouds or quotes, such as that promethean message from the rebel god, but it is a great article either way. Be proud of it!

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