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Constructs in 5e
As you enter the musty room, the heavy stone door slams behind you. You feel rumbling as the statues lining the walls turn towards you. One by one, each statue steps off its platform, the sound of stone-on-stone echoes throughout the chamber.
Constructs include some of the most classic of classic monsters in fantasy. From ambulatory statues to clockwork automatons to floating weaponry, constructs include a wide range of creatures in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
But, what, specifically, are constructs in 5e? How do they work? And, how can you use them in your game?
Today’s post covers what constructs are, how to use them in your game, and some common questions surrounding them.
Let’s start with explaining the construct creature type.
The Construct Creature Type
Construct is on of the 14 creature types in D&D 5e. It’s used to describe any artificially created creature or a creature born from the awakening of inanimate object that isn’t a body or plant.
Basically, a construct is any creature made or brought to life by another that wasn’t formally a living being. The line between construct, undead, and plant creatures is thin. But, it’s easy since undead and plants come from formally or currently living beings instead of, say, a chair.
…Unless it’s a chair made of bones, I guess. Or, a chair made of still alive vines….
Page 6 of the Monster Manual describes constructs.
The thing to remember when it comes to constructs is they’re made creatures. Now, I like to play around with that concept when it comes to the possibility of inanimate objects absorbing magical energies to create a construct. But, at the end of the day, constructs in 5e are inanimate creatures given life through mechanical or magical means.
Now that you know what constructs are in D&D 5e, let’s look at some of their shared traits.
D&D 5e Construct Traits
Constructs vary greatly from each other. So, their traits differ from each other according to the purpose of their creation and the materials used in their construction. That said, they do share some common traits.
The most obvious commonality between constructs in 5e is they’re made from inorganic, non-living matter. Things get a little funky in the differentiation once you realize that ensorcelling wooden furniture means you technically practice a form of plant-necromancy. So, I suggest not thinking too hard about it.
At the end of the day, every construct in D&D is an inanimate object brought to "life" by another creature.
Constructs also share some common immunities and how healing spells affect them. But, their construction, purpose, and capabilities vary depending on the type of construct they are.
They may be made of wood, metal, or stone. They may be as small as a housecat or as large as a 40 foot statue to a great hero. They may serve their creator as an extra set of hands to help around their lair or as a guardian dedicated to fighting off intruders.
So, the constructs in 5e have traits as different from each other as almost any other creature.
Construct Immunities in 5e
Constructs often have a number of damage or condition immunities. Being non-organic creatures, they often don’t suffer the negative effects of poisons and charm spells.
The poison damage type deliberately harms living things. So, it has no effect on constructs since they don’t suffer the same negative drawbacks of consuming or becoming exposed to poison.
By extension, constructs also often have an immunity to the Poisoned condition.
Now, many constructs also have an immunity to psychic damage. Like poison, psychic damage really only affects thinking creatures. Some constructs may still take psychic damage, but many of them don’t.
While we’re on the topic, many constructs don’t fall victim to charming spells and abilities. They often have no free will or sentience, so the abilities that impose the Charmed or Frightened condition don’t affect constructs.
In fact, many of the conditions in D&D 5e don’t affect constructs; including Exhaustion, Paralyzed, and Petrified. Some do, like the Homunculus, but those constructs usually fall lower on the Challenge Rating scale.
Most healing spells have no effect on constructs in 5e.
It’s really as simple as that. Nearly every healing spell in D&D 5e explicitly states: "This spell has no effect on constructs or undead".
That said, some spells that restore hit points do affect constructs by virtue that they don’t explicitly stating they won’t work. These spells include:
Aid is more of a roundabout way of healing a construct. You’re not actually healing them. Rather, you’re increasing their current and maximum hit points by five. If a construct is down some hit points, then you’re techincally healing them.
Regenerate does two things. First, you heal 4d8+15 hit points. Second, any severed limbs grow back. Interestingly, this spell doesn’t specify that it doesn’t work on constructs. So, that 4d8+15 worth of healing works on them.
Now, some other, non-spell equipment works it you’re looking for how to heal constructs in 5e.
First, a bog-standard Potion of Healing. It only specifies that a character who drinks it gets healed. So, any constructs who partake in the good hit point juice benefit from the effects.
Next, a Healer’s Kit paired with the Healer feat. Now, I can’t get into too much detail of the Healer feat because it’s not included in the SRD. But, it does let you heal a creature using a Healer’s Kit. The best part is it doesn’t specify that it doesn’t work on constructs.
Finally, healing a construct in 5e might fall under a tool Ability Check. Now, this falls under the ruling of your DM at the table. Personally, I’d allow a player to make a Smith’s, Tinker’s, or Woodcarver’s Tools, depending on the materials making up the construct, to repair any damage done. But, that’s up to how your DM runs your game.
Spells That Affect Constructs in 5e
Most spells, with the exception of healing spells, affect constructs in 5e just like any other creature.
The important thing to remember is the damage immunities many constructs have; poison and psychic. If a spell deals these types of damage (or any other a construct may have), then it won’t do anything.
Same with healing spells. They just won’t work (for the most part).
Now, what about spells that remove magical effects like dispel magic?
Well, that’s up to both the construct and your DM.
Some constructs explicitly state what happens if any such spell targets them. For example, the Flying Sword makes a Constitution saving throw if targeted by dispel magic. And, it suffers the Incapacitated condition while in an area affected by the antimagic field spell.
On the other hand, the Flesh Golem makes no mention of these spells having any special effects on it.
So, when it comes to how spells affect constructs, it’s really up to your DM (or you if you are the DM).
Furthermore, charm spells, as mentioned earlier, usually have no effect on constructs.
Aside from these special circumstances, spells affect constructs like they would against other creatures..
How to Create Constructs in 5e
There are few explicit rules in D&D 5e on how to creature constructs. Often, it’s up to the DM to determine what goes into the process. But, some creatures include a vague idea as to their creation.
Now, it may seem like a huge problem that there are no guidelines on creating constructs. But, I see it as a huge boon. It means you’re not constrained by "well, that’s not how it works in the book." You’re free to do whatever you want when detailing a construct’s origins.
You can make it as simple or complicated as you like.
Now, I will say, some constructs come simpler than others. For example, a Flying Sword is basically just a mundane sword under a more permanent effect of the animate objects spell.
The flip side to this is the creation of more complex constructs like the Shield Guardian or Homunculus. These creatures should probably have more intricate rituals and construction standards.
Now, I will say the Dungeon Master’s Guide includes the different Manual of Golems magic items. Each type of golem (Clay, Flesh, Iron, and Stone) have their own manual with time and gold cost required for their creation. They don’t go into the specific process for each golem. But, they allow someone to create their own golem.
Outside of these, go wild with how constructs come to be in your game.
Using Constructs in Your Game
Constructs in 5e make great ancillary creatures. Whether as allies or enemies, they often pose as minions of the campaign’s villain or as guardians of ruins.
The easiest way to use constructs in your D&D 5e game is as minions of a greater villain. Since they’re made creatures, your villain could build a small group of obedient automatons or even a full army. Regardless, they’re great as enemies the party shouldn’t need to think too much about destroying (as opposed to a living creature).
This all said, what if you want a construct as your villain?
Well, I’d suggest either a construct who gains sentience and lashes out at the world (ala Ultron from the Marvel movies/comics) and creates their own automaton army. Or, a sentient super-structure broken up and scattered across the world; each piece plotting it’s return to the body and bestowing life to other objects.
As far as allies go, adding a Shield Guardian as an artificer’s servant or a Homunculus familiar for a mage gives some interesting character notes for your NPCs. Or, if you want to go bigger, maybe there’s an entire civilization that specializes in the creation of magical and mechanical tools.
It’s fairly easy working constructs into your D&D 5e game since they can be as simple or as complicated as you want. There are no limits on what constructs may exist in your world.
- The villain awakens an ancient structure built solely for the creation of a massive army of automatons.
- A lost Shield Guardian rampages across the countryside following the disappearance of its creator.
- Bodies keep disappearing from the local graveyards and cemeteries. Eventually, stitched horrors (Flesh Golems) begin showing up around towns across the county.
- The party comes across a Homunculus during their travels. It carries a message from its master, but it got lost along the way.
- The dungeon the party is paid to clear out is filled with animated furniture, armors, and weaponry.
Constructs in 5e by CR
Here’s a list of the constructs found in D&D 5e’s Basic Rules.
- CR 0
- Homunculus Servant
- Improved Steel Defender
- Steel Defender
- Vox Seeker
- Flying Sword
- Animated Armor
- Rug of Smothering
- Flesh Golem
- Shield Guardian
- Clay Golem
- Stone Golem
- Iron Golem
Constructs in 5e FAQ
Is a Construct a Humanoid in 5e?
No. Constructs are not humanoids in 5e. "Construct" and "humanoid" are each their own separate creature type.
What Language Do Constructs Speak in D&D 5e?
Most constructs don’t speak a language. Being created creatures means at most they usually speak the same language as their creator. That said, some constructs like the Modrons found in the Monster Manual do have their own language.
How Tall Are Constructs in 5e?
Construct sizes vary wildly. They range from size Tiny up to Gargantuan. So, constructs can be as tall as you want them to be.
Are Warforged Constructs in 5e?
No. Warforged are not constructs in 5e. This player race comes from Eberron: Rising from the Last War where they fall into the humanoid creature type.
Are Golems Constructs?
Yes. Golems in D&D 5e count as constructs.
Summary of Constructs in 5e
That’s about it for constructs in D&D 5e.
They’re basically any ambulatory, non-living creature that isn’t undead or a plant. Because of this, they vary greatly in appearance, construction, and purpose. But, they share some general traits including immunities to poison and psychic affects.
What is your favorite construct to use in D&D 5e? What’s your most memorable encounter involving a construct? Leave a comment below and we’ll swap stories.
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