Jade Empire: Origin of the Golems

By Shamus
on Apr 8, 2007
Filed under:
Game Reviews

Some Jade Empire spoilers follow. Reader Nathan Weismuller asks:

To what extent would you believe Sun Hai’s acquisition of the Water Dragon’s power led to the golem army project, in Jade Empire? I find it… suspicious, to say the least, that one of the powers associated with the Water Dragon is the binding of spirits, combined with the sudden development of golems, powered by enslaved spirits, by Sun Hai after he stole the Water Dragon’s power. If this is related, would you guess the Soul Extractor was somehow powered by Sun Hai, or he simply developed insight as to how such a device might be made?

I’ve been thinking about this myself. I remember someone else asking this question, but I can’t remember if it was in the comments here or if it was posed within the context of the game. (Which suggests I’ve probably been playing too much.)

Let’s back up and look at what we can glean from the game:

The first binding is the soul of the recently killed Sun Kin, who gets bound to Sun Li’s vacant armor to form Death’s Hand. (This is creates a nice bit of misdirection for first-time players.) I’m sure Sun Hai (a god-ish power at that point) accomplished this directly without a soul extractor. The golems come later, and it seems like they are not directly made by Sun Hai. In fact, I suspect they are made by Death’s Hand, which would mean one bound creature could enact the will of its master and itself perform a binding. Note that when Death’s Hand falls in Dirge, the golems collapse. So, they seem to be driven and controlled by him, not the Emperor. This suggests an interesting hierarchy:

[Guy with Water Dragon Powers] » Death’s Hand » Jade Golems » Regular Golems

(The person with the Water Dragon’s Powers can be either Sun Hai or Sun Li. Arguably, the player would gain this ability as well after the end of the game if they choose the very evil ending.)

Early in the golem project it seems they just used the remains of the long dead. This made for unpredictable golems. Some would be more unwieldy than others, and the Lotus Assassins eventually figured out that the soul being used needed to die a very painful death if they wanted a good golem. I think it also helped if the victim was sort of docile and weak-willed. Note how it suggests that a nice old man made for a fine golem, and the spirit of a brutal warlord from ages past made for a rebellious one. (Evil grin.)

So Sun Hai bound Death’s Hand. Then Death’s Hand (who was little more than a puppet) bound the first golems. Eventually their process became more streamlined and it became inconvenient to have DH spending all his time making golems, so someone devised the soul extractor. (I assume Sun Hai came up with it, although it seems a little elaborate for his way of thinking.) This mechanized DH’s contribution, allowing lowly Lotus Assassins to run the machinery and make golems even if the person running the machine had no idea how it worked or what it was really doing.

Since the people running the machine just pulled levers, it seems like the magic had to come from somewhere else. Golems that resulted from the machine still stood or fell with Death’s Hand, which suggests that the machine was tied to him, not Sun Li. My guess is that with the release of the Water Dragon, Death’s Hand would fall (assuming the player didn’t already release him) and without him, the machine would be useless.

This is my own guess. Others may be devised.

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3Three comments. 33% of them are the most recent.

From the Archives:

  1. Nathan says:

    Yeah, the fact that the golems fell with Death’s Hand *does* sort of suggest that they were somehow bound through him, doesn’t it? Actually, as far as mechanising the process goes… there’s hints that the Lotus Assassins stole some components from some of Lord Lao’s machinery, somehow (speaking of which, Shamus: how much did you learn about Lord Lao in your playthrough?), repurposing it to make the golem press and soul extractor. There were apparently at least a COUPLE of technicians who more-or-less understood how the press and extractor functioned… hm. Actually, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if Sun Hai ordered Sun Kin/Death’s Hand to devise how to automate the process- Death’s Hand would have to obey, and it means that the messy details of designing the machine never have to come to Sun Hai’s notice. This would help explain why the machine was tied to Sun Kin…

    Oh, and it was me raising the question of the golems, in the last comment to your ‘plot twist’ thread. Thanks for helping figure this out, Shamus!

  2. Shamus says:

    A note about Lord Lao:

    When you get to fly the mission to “find” Lord Lao or whatever, make sure your airship is up to the job and that you are prepared to see it through.

    I made the mistake of thinking this was another cakewalk, like most airship missions. Then I hit that final boss and got toasted. Again. And. Again. Finally I got annoyed and gave up, planning to buy some upgrades and try again later.

    But when I came back hours later, the option was gone. I couldn’t bring it up with Kang again, so the entire sub-plot was cut off. Ouch.

    I’m now on my third trip through the game, and this time I’m not doing any sidequests, for reasons I’ll go into later. So, I won’t meet Lord Lao until at least my fourth play-through.

  3. Nathan says:

    *nods* You’re at least aware, then, of Lord Lao’s nature as a marvellous artificer and the like. And, yeah, I basically beat that boss by using Dragon’s Wrath, if I recall correctly.

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