We were outnumbered, there were six of us to more than a dozen of them. We felt we had the advantage, they were unarmed, unarmored, and we were ready to bring the pain. The first rank of clay men charged us, swinging heavy punches and going for body tackles. They worked together, like professional soldiers. They still fell, their clay 'flesh' was rent by our axes and swords, and lacking arms and legs they were left unable to fight. But we didn't get a chance to congratulate ourselves on the win, because the second rank hadn't been idle. They had shaped their fists into weapons, spiked clubs, stone edge swords and clusters of spikes. They were on us in a heartbeat. The spikes punched through armor, and old mace fist crumpled my shield like a cheap tin cup in a common tavern. We fought them, and they eventually fell toour weapons. They might have had swords, but ours were better. We were forced back, the rank we had cut down first had reassembled itself, reattaching severed limbs and pulling rent bodies back together. They were tireless, and we were starting to wear out. We hadn't put down the wave when the armed clay men attacked, hacing into our battered shields with their weapons. Takob and Kessija fell, their blood pouring from tears in their armor. Nasmin fought well but mace hands caught him with a masterful power stroke that crushed his helmet halfway into his breastplate. The three of us remaining retreated. The clay men overran Ordan and tore him apart, and Mastraa and I escaped. Mastraa died that night, blood loss and her injuries were too grave for me to attend. I have no interest in facing those horrific golems.
The Argillomatus is a singular man shaped, generally man sized entity made mostly of clay. The argillmata have smooth bodies, lacking definition or detail. Their faces are the same, they have a pair of hollow eye sockets and a mockery of a mouth and nose. The general features are the sort that might be expected if a sculptor was asked to make the face of a man, but had with his alien eyes had never seen a man and only had vague descriptions to go from. The proportions of the face are disturbing, as is the semi-elastic nature of the argillomata. Their limbs can change length at whim and they can alternate between humanoid and animal gaits. Anyone with any experience around golems will realize that these feral sort of things are not alchemical creations, likewise they are in no part elementals summoned and bound to a material form.
Argillomata don't carry weapons, instead they can take several turns to shape their bodies into weapons made of their own clay 'flesh'. The weapons created are inferior to metal and enchanted weapons, but the argillomata make due by their superior strength. They will craft their hands and forearms into stabbing spikes, clusters of foot long needles, ax like cleaving heads, giant hammers and large spiked globes. These all deal lethal damage, and combined with the argillomata high strength can splinter shields and break other weapons that engage in combat with them. Magical weapons are immune from breaking in such a fashion. Argillomata also demonstrate an ability to work together and coordinate their attacks, and can make special attacks to take advantage of blindsiding or backstabbing unprepared foes.
Lacking vital organs the Argillomata are immune to critical hits, wound penalties and the like. They can function if cut in half, or reduced to a torso and a head. The parts will attempt to ooze back together to reconstitute the creature. (regen something like 1 hit die of HP per turn). Magic damages them as much as logically makes sense (lightning and thunder are absorbed, fire is half effective, fear and illusions are worthless, etc). Argillomata destroyed by magic or magical weapons are permanently destroyed, so they are not completely invulnerable.
A dozen more corpses were tossed into the bubbling mud pit, the argillomata carrying them also slipped in afterwards, absorbing mud and clay into their damaged bodies. Basil the Necromancer worked his arts, lacing spells into the bubbling muck, causing the goo to roil and boil as necromantic energy churned into it. The intact argillomata emerged from the pool, their bodies dripping with steaming claw, a renewed sense of strength and purpose infusing their earthy bodies. The corpses then rose, and the argilloamta surrounded them. Some clawedat battered armor, pulling away metal and cloth. Their fingers dug into dead flesh and pulled away horrid bloody gobs. The mud was streaked with blood as the clay men denuded the corpses of flesh and started packing in the new body with new clay, steaming with blood and pulsating with nihilistic and eldritch power. As the new argillomatus was formed, the bones were wrenched from the body. One by one, until there was a pile of bloody, muddy bones, the corpses were so treated until the only bone that remained in the earthen man was the skull and nothing more. The argillomata stepped back and started a keening alien wail until the newly born clay men in the center of their numbers lifted their dull and blank faces skyward and too started wailing. Horrible things, these Argillomata, but they were so superior to zombies and more durable than any skeleton shy of a reanimated behemoth.
Technically the argillomata are a form of undead and are vulnerable to clerics and similar divine powers, but few clerics think of trying to turn golems or mud monsters, or whatever they think the argillomata actually are. Aside from magical damage, and enchanted weapons, the only way to destroy an argillmatus is to shatter it's skull. This is harder than it might seem, as the human skull they have is seldom if ever born inside the thing's head. Usually the skull is protected in the thickest part of the body, the torso. As long as the skull is intact, the argillomatus can reform itself over a matter of hours, if it was badly damaged in a fight.
The argillomata retain a human level intelligence and if the victim had any special fighting skills in life, it retains them in it's unlife. Swordsmen will shape their arms into blades, men at arms favor axes, hammers, and maces, and victims with no special skills will simply punch and smash with their elevated strength. They maintain an unknown method of communication and can coordinate their tactics, make traps, leave a part of their number in reserve or pick out the most dangerous targets to take out first. They also like to go after softer foes before going after more heavily armored foes.
Birth of an Argillomatus
To create an argillomatus, a necromancer or similar evil aligned spellcaster has to have access to a pool of mud/clay/ooze that has to be magical consecrated or defiled based on their mode of magic. A freshly slain corpse, less than 24 hours dead, is then immersed in the pool and allowed to sink to the bottom. A ritual is cast, drawing together powerful necromancy and elemental magics, infusing a sentience and will into the ooze and tying it to the skull of the victim. After a certain amount of time has passed, the victim rises like a typical zombie where it will begin discarding the organic remnants it no longer needs, replacing it with clay. A lone argillomatus takes roughly a day to complete this self construction process. If other argillomata are present they are drawn to the new birth of one of their own kind and can complete this building in less than an hour give or take the number assisting. Solo born argillomata tend to gravitate towards leadership positions, while those born into the community of clay men are more prone to be followers. Most necromancers who know how to create these mud zombies will dump peasants and commoners into communal pits to create hordes of common argillomata while skilled warriors and capable soldiers are born solo to retain a great amount of their skills and self will.
Dealing with Argillomata
Argillomata are dangerous foes, not the common sort of foe that can be met with a civilian militia armed with peasant weapons. Defeating argillomata requires professional elite soldiers supported by either magi or by divine spellcasters.
Inspired by the Putty Patrollers from season 1 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers