Going from my list of magic for travel, these are some variations on the unseen crafter spell and figurines of wondrous power. (Though I indulged my love of absurdity a bit too much with the magic items.)
Level: Bard 2, Cleric 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 2, Artificer 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: One quasi-real, humanoid creature
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
This spell functions as unseen servant, except that the phantom can be assigned any one task that can be accomplished by the use of the Craft, Profession, or Knowledge skill. Appropriate tools and materials must be provided for the phantom employee; it makes skill checks as if it had maximum ranks in the skill according to your character level plus your bonus for the relevant spellcasting ability (Intelligence (G,A) for artificers, wizards, and magewrights, Charisma (A,G) for bards and sorcerers, and Wisdom (A,G) for clerics).
A phantom employee can take 10 or attempt to work more quickly (as described in the Craft skill description, page 70 of the Player's Handbook), or can undertake research (as described in the Research feat description, Eberron Campaign System), but this must be part of the command it is given when the spell is cast. The phantom employee can be assigned another task if it completes the first task and the spell duration has not expired. If the phantom employee leaves work undone, any creature or another phantom employee can continue it, with the exception of research which can only be completed by another phantom employee.
Level: Bard 3, Cleric 3, Sorcerer/Wizard 3, Artificer 3
Effect: One quasi-real, humanoid creature/level
This spell functions like phantom employee, except you can summon several workers. Each comes with tools suitable for the task, though you must provide any raw materials to create items, or books to study for producing a report.
Miniature of Marvelous Employment
Price (Item Level): 10,000 gp
Body Slot: —
Caster Level: 11th
Aura: Moderate; (DC 21) transmutation
Activation: Free (command)
Each of the several kinds of miniatures of marvelous employment appears to be a figurine of a humanoid an inch or so high. When the miniature is tossed down and the correct command word spoken, it becomes a living creature of normal size. The employee obeys and serves its owner. The creature understands and speaks Common.
If a miniature of marvelous employment is broken or destroyed in its figurine form, it is forever ruined. All magic is lost, its power departed. If slain in humanoid form, the miniature simply reverts to a figurine that can be used again at a later time.
Tin Teamster: When animated, a tin teamster functions as a worker skilled in handling cargo transported on vehicles or by animal. The teamster is treated as a 3rd level expert with Str 15, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8; 6 ranks in Profession (teamster) and Animal Handling, Skill Focus (animal handling), and a feat relevant to vehicle use. The teamster has an AC of 13 and 16 hp.
You must pay a tin teamster 1 gp per hour of work. After 8 straight hours of work the teamster gets overtime at double the rate. Every additional shift of 8 hours increases the pay multiple by 1. The teamster also receives an overtime multiple is called on to work more than 5 days out of every 7, if called on to work on a recognized holy day, and if called on to work in dangerous conditions (that is, if combat breaks out while the teamster is working). If you try to use the teamster for more than 72 hours straight, more than 25 days out of 30, or more than 480 hours per year, he calls a strike and refuses to work until you settle with him for an amount equal to his market price. Any funds due a teamster are simply handed to him directly and absorbed into his body.
After 20 years of working for one individual, a tin teamster retires on full pay.
Lead Laborer: A generic variety of the tin teamster with skills and feats relevant to a different craft or profession. A lead laborer has a union contract identical to a tin teamster.
Ferrous Freelancer: A non-union variant of the tin teamster. A ferrous freelancer costs 15,000 gp, but transforms into a worker with any skill set desired each time it is activated. A ferrous freelancer does not receive overtime pay, but if used excessively like a tin teamster he stages a walkout and will not activate for 1 week, after which he joins a union and transforms into a tin teamster or lead laborer permanently.
Jasper Jeeves: When animated, a jasper jeeves functions as a gentleman's gentleman. He can perform all relevant tasks, including preparing meals, dressing and undressing, donning and removing armor, cleaning equipment. A jeeves is treated as a 3rd level expert with Str 10, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 8; 6 ranks in Profession (butler) and Craft (cooking), Skill Focus (butler), Skill Focus (cooking). The jeeves has an AC of 11 and 16 hp.
A jeeves serves faithfully, but does require some time to rest. After 8 hours of continuous use the jeeves will be fatigued. He will apologize profusely for being unable to keep up with his master, but will carry on nonetheless. After 36 hours of continuous use the jeeves will be exhausted. He will still not utter a single complaint, and his apologies will become more profuse to the point of annoyance. After 72 hours of continuous use the jeeves will expire tragically, uttering one last apology to the heartless overseer who pushed him so hard.
A jeeves who is overworked regularly will retire to a small cottage after 20 years of service and no longer function for the same owner. One who receives regular time off will serve continuously, automatically transferring his loyalty to the heir of his previous owner across multiple generations.
Malachite Maid: A female version of a jasper jeeves suitable for a lady of breeding.
If overworked a malachite maid with utter plaintive peeps of woe, and appeals for a gentleman to come and save her from a life of toil. If worked for more than 72 hours, a malachite maid will tragically expire from the vapors. A malachite maid who works for 20 years will eventually be rescued by her gallium gawdmother, who will bring a platinum prince to carry her off to live happily ever after. (Gallium gawdmothers and platinum princes may not be crafted.)
Iron Intern: An iron intern transforms into a dedicated researcher. He will faithfully report anything he knows, and use a library to provide reports as requested. An intern is treated as a 3rd level expert with Str 10, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 13; 6 ranks in any 2 Knowledge skills,, Skill Focus (any one knowledge skill), Research. The intern has an AC of 11 and 16 hp.
Iron interns are of course completely unpaid. However, they require caffeinated beverages and fast food (or reasonable equivalent thereof) to function for more than 8 hours per day. Provided they are so energized, they will research continuously. However, their personal hygiene will suffer. After 24 hours they will acquire a stench like a troglodyte, except saving will only grant immunity to the stench for 1 hour. After 48 hours they will acquire an additional stench like a ghast, the combination of the two rendering victims nauseated. After 72 hours the intern will transform (or revert some say) to a ghastly troglodyte with a diet dependence of plagiarism (plus random bits of human flesh). At that time it is best to dispose of the iron intern to maintain the integrity of your research department and avoid being rejected by peer review.
After 20 years an iron intern gains tenure, transforming into titanium. He can no longer be overworked, and must be given a sabbatical of 2 months every year.
Lapis Lazuli Librarian: A variant of the iron intern. If overworked, a lapis lazuli librarian gains a silence aura that renders anyone failing the save silent for one hour. If worked beyond 48 hours, a lapis lazuli librarian becomes oddly seductive, and begins trying to lure PCs "behind the stacks" (IYKWIMAITYD) After 72 hours the lapis lazuli librarian transforms into a silicon sexpot, rendering a PC who succumbs to her charms permanently exhausted and affected by a permanent and undispellable empyreal ecstasy (Book of Exalted Deeds). Other PCs may attempt to "save" their friend by destroying the silicon sexpot, but such may provoke violent PvP.
Note: If appropriate, the lapis lazuli librarian will instead transform into a boron beefcake.
Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, animate objects.