- This article is about the construct subtype. For creatures that have been described generically as automatons, see golem, robot, and clockwork. For the construct-like race sometimes confused with automatons, see android.
Automatons are intelligent constructs powered by minor artifacts known as automaton cores, each containing a person's spark of consciousness and merged with planar energy. Automatons retain all of their personality and capabilities from life, combined with a construct's durability and longevity. They originated from the twilight days of the lost Jistka Imperium, and their secrets of construction were long forgotten until recently rediscovered.
While automatons are constructs and do not require air, food, or sleep, they still need to constantly vent a magical exhaust which requires oxygen, so their systems will not get clogged by exhaust buildup. They also require a daily magical recalibration and restoration process, which stabilises the energies within their core and lasts for two hours; otherwise, their core (and the automatons themselves, by extension) cannot function at full power.
Automatons do not age and possess a nearly endless power source in the form of their cores. Since an automaton core is much more difficult to destroy than its body is, a destroyed automaton's soul can linger for years within the core, though in practice the body's destruction usually leads to a malfunction that can only be undone through resurrection magic. If the core is destroyed or can no longer hold the soul, it is released to the River of Souls.
A few automatons can learn to influence their core, culminating in the ability to release their souls to the afterlife when they feel ready. In most such cases, the automaton's body remains intact but unable to do anything more complex than wandering and self-defence.
The body of an automaton is specifically crafted for each recipient: it is difficult to separate the core from the body, and if the core of a destroyed automaton is inserted into an inactive one, the core's and body's consciousnesses will either meld or fight each other for dominance.
Near the end of the Jistka Imperium, a group of artificers, mages, scholars, and soldiers founded the Artificer Conclave for the purpose of saving the failing empire and returning it to its former glory. Their technological developments resulted in the creation of the automatons: construct bodies that could contain their minds and life energy, allowing them to serve Jistka after the death of their mortal bodies. Most Conclave members wasted no time in transferring their minds.
The automatons were capable of planar travel, and most quickly left Jistka to search the planes for help against the hostile ascendant kingdom of Osirion. However, many of them became distracted by their new ageless bodies and the planes' infinite potential, and came back too late, only after a 'casual' century. Those that returned in time deemed Jistka beyond saving and continued travelling the planes, leaving their country to its fate. Those that stayed behind either led anti-Osirion resistance forces and were destroyed or scattered, or shepherded Jistkan survivors to hidden sanctuaries, where they either died or renounced their citizenship. Ultimately, the Artificer Conclave dissolved.
Most automatons moved to Axis, where they continue to live among the inevitables and aeons; others continue to roam the planes to gather knowledge and skills, or seek a way to end their cruel existence as the last survivors of a forgotten empire. A few still remain on Golarion; to this day, some still wish to restore the Jistkan Imperium.
Though the secrets to their construction have been lost, a high-ranking member of the Artificer Conclave named Anquira is trying to recreate the process and has created a few promising prototypes. Ulistul is conducting the same research in the deserts of northern Garund, though most of her creations are imperfect, their cores only managing to partially capture a mortal's mind.
In recent years, with the help of automaton immigrants, Eihlonan mage-crafters have managed to recreate automatons with their knowledge, magical process, and ancient technology. They seem to be nearing the success of the Artificer Conclave.
Most automatons are solitary. Some were designed to work as a team and live or travel together, but these are rare. Automaton 'settlements' are even rarer, almost always located in Jistkan ruins, and extremely secretive. Contacting or visiting them is very difficult, and these automatons will protect their homes at all costs.
After millennia of existence, only the strongest-willed automatons keep their memories, sense of self and lucidity, as their human psyches are meant to live only less than a century. Some forget their pasts, others develop nervous tics, and yet others forget their identities and became quasi-mindless constructs that only remember their lives in fleeting moments.
Due to their status as intelligent constructs, automatons tend to stand out everywhere across Golarion, though engaging with them is typically easy once the initial shock is over. They usually find it easier to live a normal life in large cities. Automatons must always be wary of those who seek to study their bodies or steal their cores.
Automatons tend to worship gods of technology and magic like Brigh and Nethys, or monitor demigods, followed by Irori and Pharasma; most Pharasmin automatons learn how to and choose to release their souls. Though they are much older than Casandalee, some have recognised her as a kindred spirit.
- Michael Sayre and Mark Seifter. (2021). Guns & Gears, p. 36. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-369-0
- Michael Sayre and Mark Seifter. (2021). Guns & Gears, p. 215. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-369-0
- Brian Duckwitz et al. (2018). Construct Handbook, p. 20–21. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-989-9
- Michael Sayre and Mark Seifter. (2021). Guns & Gears, p. 42. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-369-0
- Michael Sayre and Mark Seifter. (2021). Guns & Gears, p. 37. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-369-0
- John Compton. (2021). Ulistul. Monsters of Myth, p. 125. Paizo Inc.. ISBN 978-1-64078-389-8
- Michael Sayre and Mark Seifter. (2021). Guns & Gears, p. 38. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-369-0