Alternate Traits and Actions
The following changes allow GMs to alter a bearing golem without modifying its challenge rating.
Explosive Rebuke. When it dies, the bearing golem explodes as if it had used Scattershot. If its Scattershot had not recharged, it instead deals half damage, and each creature in the area has advantage on its Dexterity save.
The bearing golem’s Scattershot action recharges only on 6.
Make a Gap. As a reaction when the bearing golem is the target of a weapon attack, the golem gains immunity to piercing and slashing damage from the attack, if it is not made with an adamantine weapon, or resistance to piercing and slashing damage from the attack if it is made with an adamantine weapon. To do so, the golem must see the attacker.
The bearing golem loses its Scatter trait.
Merge with Another. As a bonus action, the bearing golem can combine itself with another bearing golem. The combined creature’s hit points become the total of the individual golems’ hit points. It becomes Large, its slam inflicts an additional 4 (1d8) bludgeoning damage and has a reach of 10 feet, its steel shot inflicts an additional 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage, and its Scattershot deals an additional 18 (4d8) bludgeoning damage. Additionally, if it uses Scatter, the ball bearings scatter in a 20-foot cube. Finally, if the merged bearing golem uses Reform, it can choose to reform into two separate golems (each with half the current hit points of the combined creature).
Superheat Bearings (Recharge 5–6). As a bonus action, the bearing golem can generate friction among the bearings composing its body. Until the beginning of its next turn, its slam deals 4 (1d8) fire damage, its Steel Shot deals 3 (1d6) fire damage, and its Scattershot deals 18 (4d8) fire damage. The fire damage is in addition to the damage it already deals with its attacks.
The bearing golem loses its Magic Weapons trait.
New Magic Items and Spells
The following magic items and spells are inspired by the bearing golem.
2nd-level conjuration (sorcerer, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (ten bearings from a bearing golem)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
When you cast this spell, or as an action on a later turn, you can throw one of the bearings at a creature within 30 feet of you. Make a ranged spell attack. On a hit, the target takes 2d8 bludgeoning damage.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for every slot level above 2nd.
Armor (shield), rare (requires attunement)
This shield fashioned from hundreds of adamantine ball bearings has 3 charges and regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn. While holding this shield, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit. Additionally, you can use an action to expend 1 of its charges to cause the shield to explode outward in a 15-foot cone of ball bearings. Each creature in the area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 6d8 bludgeoning damage and being knocked prone on a failed save or half as much damage and no additional effect on a successful one. While the shield is scattered, a creature moving through the area must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone. A creature moving at half speed doesn’t need to make the save. You can use a bonus action to have the shield reform itself in your hand.
Wondrous item, uncommon
This spiky, 6-inch-diameter sphere contains dozens of caltrops magnetically adhered to one another, making it difficult to prize a single caltrop from the mass. You can use an action to throw the caltrop ball up to 30 feet away. It explodes where it lands, unleashing caltrops in a 15-foot-radius sphere centered on that point. Each creature in the area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 8d8 piercing damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. The area is then treated as if it were filled with caltrops. The caltrop ball loses its magic when used, but you can recover enough scattered caltrops to make four bags of 20.
3rd-level evocation (sorcerer, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (15-foot radius sphere)
Components: V, S, M (eight bearings from a bearing golem)
You create an explosion of ball bearings centered on yourself. Each creature within 20 feet of you must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 8d8 bludgeoning damage and being knocked prone on a failed save or half as much damage and no additional effect on a successful one.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for every slot level above 3rd.
Bearing Golem Adventure Hooks
- A thief gained control of a bearing golem and has used it to carry out brazen heists. Investigators can make no sense of the only clues they’ve found: a handful of ball bearings and welts on the faces of guards left unconscious.
- A wizard researching bearing golems has discovered a method for combining the golems into a colossus. The wizard hires adventurers to track down existing bearing golems and return with their remains. Unsurprisingly, the wizard later uses the goliath golem to threaten the region.
The Tome Unbound series fleshes out monsters from Tome of Beasts 2, giving GMs ways to modify the existing monsters to surprise well-prepared players or to introduce monsters to a campaign.