Expanded Rules for Objects and Constructs (5e Variant Rule)

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Expanded Rules for Objects and Constructs[edit]

While D&D 5e has some rules for how to handle inanimate objects, they are what might be considered "the bare minimum" and leave quite a lot up to DM interpretation. These supplemental rules and conditions attempt to address and cover interactions with objects and other constructs where the existing rules provide inadequate depth.


Objects and certain constructs are not "alive" in the traditional sense. What unconsciousness is for other living creatures is indistinguishable from nonexistence or even death to them. Shutdown, offline, inactive— this condition represents the state of an inert construct.

  • Similar to unconscious, an inactive object or construct cannot move, speak, think, or be aware of its surroundings if it is normally able to.
  • The construct falls prone unless it is being supported.
  • The construct automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • The construct cannot be made to make Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throws.
  • The construct is considered an object and not a creature.

If an inactive construct is dealt damage, it suffers risk of being destroyed. The construct suffers 1d4-1 levels of weardown for every 10 hit points of damage it is dealt while inactive.


Also known as wear and tear. While constructs and objects are immune to exhaustion, they get worn out in other ways. The gears of a machine or the edge of a blade might slowly wear away if not taken proper care of, causing a steady decline in performance.

Rust monsters are an infamous source of wear and tear.

For Constructs

A construct can accumulate up to 10 levels of weardown before any additional instance of weardown causes it to become destroyed. Each level of weardown provides a cumulative -1 penalty to the construct's attack rolls, ability checks, saving throws, and its save DCs if applicable. There are other cumulative effects as well, as shown on the table below.

Weardown Level Penalty Other Effects
1 -1
2 -2
3 -3
4 -4
5 -5 The construct's speed is halved.
6 -6
7 -7
8 -8 The construct's speed is reduced to 0.
9 -9
10 -10 The construct falls inactive.
For Armor and Shields

Armor and shields that take wear and tear suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to the AC they offer. Armor reduced to an AC of 10 or a shield that drops to a +0 bonus is destroyed.

For Weapons

Weapons that take wear and tear suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to damage rolls made with them. If a weapon's penalty drops to -5, that weapon is destroyed.

Low-Activity State[edit]

Constructs in a low-activity state consume less resources and suffer less weardown. It is the equivalent of light activity or sleep for a living creature. A construct is considered to have passed an hour in a low-activity state if they meet the following criteria:

  • The construct has not moved a total amount greater than its speed for the extent of the hour.
  • The construct has not taken more than one action for the extent of the hour.

Failure Mode[edit]

Again, constructs are not alive in the traditional sense. However, more advanced constructs are designed with failure states in mind so that in the event of critical damage the construct may still be able to be repaired or at least salvaged. Failure mode is the equivalent of when a creature is at 0 hit points and dying.

A construct enters failure mode when it reaches 0 hit points. While in failure mode, it is under the effects of the stunned condition and its speed is 0. At the start of each of its turns, or when it takes damage it must make a death saving throw. On a roll of 2-10 the construct falls inactive. On a roll of 11-19 the construct continues to persist in failure mode. On a roll of 20, the construct regains 1 hit point. On a roll of 1, the construct falls inactive and gains 1d10+1 levels of weardown.

A construct is no longer in failure mode once it either becomes inactive or has at least 1 hit point.


A destroyed object or construct is beyond repair. It is no longer functional and cannot be restored to functionality unless most if not all of it is entirely remade. The remains of a destroyed construct is a wreckage or scrap, the equivalent of a corpse for living creatures. An object is destroyed once it takes too much wear and tear or its hit points are reduced to 0. A construct is destroyed once it takes too much wear and tear or if it is reduced to 0 hit points by damage and the remaining damage equals or exceeds its hit point maximum.

A disintegrate spell is capable of outright destroying an inactive construct, treating it the same as if it had targeted an object. A Large or smaller construct destroyed by a disintegrate spell leaves behind no wreckage or scrap and can only be restored by means of a wish spell.

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