Clockwork Man (5e Race)

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Clockwork Man[edit]

The clockwork men, have, naturally, inspired debate across many fields of study. Intelligence, animation, even free will have been applied to non-organic mediums, such as wood or stone. But the idea of giving life in such a way that it cannot be retracted through the ordinary magical means - namely, creating a self-serving machine - can be truly terrifying. Many engineers of such constructs have provided limitations to their creations, such as removing water deterrents or exposing vital mechanical parts. One scholar even suggested that the golems only function for a period of time after the winding of a key, like those found in many (non-animated) clocks, and the idea has spread to many such inventors. Rather ironically, such attempts to limit clockwork men result in a determination and freedom usually only found in living creatures; many find that an attempt to enslave their creations while keeping their intelligence result in uprising and revolt. But there are other designers who give free will to their clockwork men for the sake of their clockwork men, teaching them, helping them, so that one day they may be regarded as companions with the living.
—Professor B. Lairic, Playing God: A History of Golems, Animates, and Other Artificial Life

Physical Description[edit]

This particular clockwork man has been designed for war. Illustration by Toni Justamante Jacobs

Clockwork men, while made in the fashion of humanoids, have much more liberty in the way they are designed. Some are designed with the utmost intricacy and delicacy, some resemble little more than oversized windup toys. Some walk on two legs, some have wheels for feet. Some are built for war, some are practitioners of art. Some have eight fingers, some have swords for hands. Some are made from rusted steel, some are made from fine gold. One thing is for certain; no two clockwork men, when designed by creators independent of one another, will be noticeably alike. This is not to say that clockwork men have common threads amongst them. As the name suggests, they all run through mechanical means, and unlike their golem cousins, they require little or no magic in order to function. Sometimes, an engineer may throw in a few magical bells and whistles, sometimes to improve its mental prowess, and other times to enhance its physical capabilities, but for the most part, clockwork golems run entirely independent of spells and sorcery.


The first clockwork man was invented by the famous Koil Tansella. He hoped to mass produce golem-like beings that ran on mechanical rather than magical power, so that he could create constructed servants without the aid of sorcery. The creation was at first a success, but while it was able to walk, talk, and even obey commands, its lack of free will prevented it from adapting and learning to new scenarios. It took Tansella a few more years, but the man developed the ability to reason. Tansella was not one to hide his discoveries from the world, being a staunch believer in the progress that science could make, and he gave his blueprints to several of his trusted friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, while the blueprints were made public, most scientists were concerned with non-magical sentience. Golems were indeed common in the magical community, and many were given some extent of free will, but there were often magical protocols in place to keep obedience and prevent them from going rogue. In the case of clockwork men, however, their non-magical nature meant that sorcery could not be used to limit them. Of course, there were other methods for limitations. The workings of clockwork men could be damaged by water or electricity, and manual shutdown devices could be attached to them, but they all limited the performance of the clockwork men as servants altogether. In the end, while a few clockwork men were built, they ended up being fairly rare. To this day, there are some engineers and inventors who build their own clockwork men, but, as predicted, they would eventually leave to find their own path through the world.


Clockwork men have existed for hundreds of years, and though they have mostly integrated into society, they are uncommon enough that many creatures are slightly startled at first when they see one around town. Of course, the clockwork men have their fair share of prejudice. The scholarly community has always been slightly wary of them, as, under the proper conditions, they can be near-immortal. Additionally, there is a small group of conspiracy theorists who believe that all clockwork men are secretly working to undermine living creatures and impose the dominance of machines over the world. But the clockwork men are fairly independent, and exist mainly as free spirits, simply roaming the world. While they can act as heroes or villains occasionally, those who encounter them mostly treat them as they would any living creature, and the clockwork men typically respond in kind.

Clockwork Man Names[edit]

Clockwork men technically have neither gender or names, being made with serial numbers, but they will usually assimilate both into their being. In the case of names, they identify either by their serial number, or a name they give themselves. With the former, the names are a letter in Common, followed by three numerical digits, also in Common. With the latter, the names are typically taken from the cultures and societies they encounter.

Serial Numbers: A-113, E-616, L-890

Note that in spite of their lack of gender, whether through physical design or personal preference, many clockwork men will select a gender (in the case of females, "clockwork women"). The clockwork men are usually just called "men" for reasons of brevity.

Clockwork Man Traits[edit]

Constructs created through mechanics rather than magic.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2 and your Strength score increases by 1.
Age. Clockwork men don't technically age, but most worlds, carrying moisture in their atmosphere, cause their mechanical components to slowly rust. In most environments, clockwork men will live for around ten to twelve thousand years. In particularly dry environments, such as deserts or the Elemental Plane of Fire, clockwork men age at half their normal rate, and in very wet environments, such as oceans or the Elemental Plane of Water, they age at twice their normal rate. You may choose to replace your mechanical parts to set back your "age." Buying any single part has a cost determined by the DM (typically anywhere from 1 to 6 cp), takes 1d4 hours to insert and replace, and will give you an extra 2d10 years of "life."
Alignment. Clockwork men can choose to be either good or evil, but will mostly be neutral figures. Their love for free will usually makes them lean slightly towards chaotic alignments.
Size. Clockwork men vary extremely widely in height, build, and form, with heights ranging from less than 4 feet to well over 7 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Metal Skin. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 11 + your Dexterity modifier. You can use your natural armor to determine your AC if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Mechanical Vulnerabilities. Because of your mechanical nature, you are vulnerable to certain attacks. Roll 1d4 to select a weakness:

1. Conductible: You are vulnerable to lightning damage.
2. Corrosive: You are vulnerable to acid damage.
3. Fragile: You are vulnerable to bludgeoning damage.
4. Photopic: You are vulnerable to radiant damage.

The vulnerabilities received from this trait are unaffected by other conditions granting resistance or immunity to the particular damage type. If, for instance, this trait makes you vulnerable to acid damage, and a partner casts a spell on you that makes you resistant or immune to acid damage, that aspect of the spell takes no effect; you are still vulnerable to acid damage.
Integration. Clockwork men can wield weapons and wear armor like most humanoids. However, if they so wish, they can permanently integrate armor, tools, and weapons into their physiology, preventing them from being stolen, and allowing them to be pulled out without using a bonus action. The cost of integrating a tool or weapon is a third of the cost of the tool or weapon, and the cost of integrating armor is half of the cost of the armor. Any weapon that requires two hands, or any armor that you cannot usually wear, cannot be integrated. Any attack with an integrated weapon is considered an unarmed strike.
Measurement Device. Permanently integrated into your person is a gauge or measurement device of your choosing. Such devices include clocks (measure time), thermometers (measure temperature), barometers (measure pressure), hygrometers (measure humidity), anemometers (measure wind speed), and geiger counters (measure radiation). You may have a different type of measurement device at the DM's discretion, but keep in mind that these measurement devices are intended for superficial purposes only, and have little useful function in-game (unless you want a job as a meteorologist).
Living Construct. Even though you were constructed, you are a living creature. You are immune to diseases. You do not need to eat or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish. Instead of sleeping, you enter an inactive state for 4 hours each day. You do not dream in this state; you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal.
Specialization. You may pick any three traits from the specialization list below. You may pick any trait up to two times (i.e. selecting Wheel Feet twice to gain a walking speed of 40 feet; some traits have special conditions for being selected twice) unless otherwise stated.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write the native language of your creator.


Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray. You cannot select this trait more than once.
Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift. You cannot select this trait more than once.
Built For The Job. You are proficient in an additional skill or tool of your choice.
Linguistics. You can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice.
Wheel Feet. Your walking speed increases by 5 feet.
Rotor Propulsion. You have a swimming speed of 20 feet (30 if this trait is selected twice).
Drilling. You have a burrowing speed of 15 feet (25 if this trait is selected twice).
Metal Claws. You have a climbing speed of 10 feet (20 if this trait is selected twice). Additionally, your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Dexterity modifier (1d6 + your Dexterity modifier if this trait is selected twice), instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
Targeted Armor. You are resistant to any single damage type that is not one of yours determined in the mandatory Mechanical Vulnerabilities trait above.
Laser Cannon. You can use your action to blast destructive energy from a cannon attached to your arm or shoulder. This produces a 5-foot by 30-foot line dealing radiant damage. When you use your laser cannon, each creature in the area of the laser must make a Dexterity saving throw. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level. After you use your laser cannon, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest. You cannot select this trait more than once.

Optional Rule:

Master Design

Rather than selecting specializations, a clockwork man may instead have a Master Design. You may only select a Master Design at the discretion of your DM.

Mechanical Angel

Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Jet Propulsion. You have a flying speed of 35 feet. If you end your turn while flying your propulsion systems overheat and fail, causing you to fall to the ground. At 5th level, you've improved the efficiency of your systems so you can fly for up to an hour before, you must take a short or long rest to regain use of this trait.
Talons. Your feet and fingers have been reworked into sharp talons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with then you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Steampunk Tank

Ability Score Increase. Instead of your normal ability score improvement, your Strength increases by 2, and your Constitution and Intelligence scores each increase by 1.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 20 feet.
Cannon. As an action, you can fire a heavy projectile at a target from the cannon attached to your arm or shoulder. This cannon has a range of 40 feet. When you use your cannon, a creature must make a Dexterity saving throw. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d8 fire damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d8 at 6th level, 4d8 at 11th level, and 5d8 at 16th level. After you use your cannon, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
Heavy Armor. Your Armor Class cannot be lower than 14.
Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.

Random Height and Weight[edit]

4′ 4″ +4d10 140 lb. × (2d4) lb.

*Height = base height + height modifier
**Weight = base weight + (height modifier × weight modifier)

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

When creating a Clockwork Man character, you can use the following table of traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws to help flesh out your character. Use these tables in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I make quiet mechanical sounds constantly, it's just like organisms and their breathing.
2 When I set my mind to something, I become completely resolved to it.
3 I'm always trying to show emotion, but my physiology makes it difficult.
4 I am ashamed to show weakness, but even more ashamed that I have it at all.
5 Whatever I'm doing, it's important to be polite and civil at all times.
6 I'm terribly stubborn, and I'm slightly concerned that my peers only let me win arguments out of sheer exhaustion.
7 I twitch a lot; it doesn't affect anything much, but it's fairly noticeable nonetheless.
8 I measure one's worth by their strength/intelligence/character.
d6 Ideal
1 Unaligned. I don't want to act in good or evil, for fear of retribution. (Neutral)
2 Control. I am the superior creation, and I am therefore the only one worthy to control the world. (Evil)
3 Adventurousness. I want to explore the world, free of the engineer who created me. (Chaotic)
4 Calmness. All I want is to live in peace. (Neutral)
5 Desire. I do what I want, and I can't be stopped. (Chaotic)
6 Freedom. All creatures deserve free will. (Good)
d6 Bond
1 I was separated from my beloved creator a long time ago, and I have devoted most of my life to finding them again.
2 There is one in my party whom I have fallen in love with, but I am concerned that the nature of my being would make him/her repulsed by my love.
3 I do not know who created me, but I hope I find out.
4 I have been deactivated for years, and was only recently revived by someone/something unknown. My only question is why; what was the reason I was turned back on?
5 My creator was cruel, subjecting me to torturous experiments, and he never let me outside of the room I was built in. I was overjoyed when he/she died.
6 I wish I could find someone else like me, someone built, rather than born.
d6 Flaw
1 I will keep myself alive and any means necessary.
2 I have a distaste for all organic beings, and I find myself very slow to trust them.
3 I am constantly malfunctioning, and it causes me to behave outside of my usual character at times.
4 I find it hard to make friends with members of other races; they always die so quickly.
5 I have been programmed with a great deal of knowledge, which makes me a fairly arrogant being.
6 I'm constantly worried that organic beings treat me differently because I'm a construct.
(2 votes)

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