The warforged are one of the many races available to play and use in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Players and dungeon masters who want to create a warforged NPC should have an idea of their history, mechanics, and some tips on creating engaging warforged.
How do you make a warforged NPC in Dungeons & Dragons 5e? There are a few steps:
- Find the warforged game statistics in Eberron: Rising From The Last War.
- Understand the history of the warforged and create a backstory for the NPC.
- Come up with a goal for the NPC that will drive them to action.
Following these three steps will ensure a well-rounded and playable warforged NPC that can engage any table. Of course, each of these categories is broad and can take some time to navigate. To help you along, here are some quick tips and notes for each step.
If you don’t have a copy of Eberron, you can pick one up at your local game store. If you don’t have a local game store, you can grab a copy from Noble Knight Games. This is a brick and mortar store, which means you get the convenience of online shopping and still get to support local stores! Yay!
Warforged Game Statistics
The warforged have seen a few different versions of themselves throughout the history of Dungeons and Dragons, and even just in 5e alone. The final, balanced, and official version of the warforged for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons can be found in the sourcebook Eberron: Rising from the Last War. The book can be bought physically at a large variety of locations, like Noble Knight Games or a digital version can be acquired at dndbeyond.com.
Warforged are available as a player character race or as monster stat blocks. For creating an NPC, the recommended version to use is the monster stat blocks. This way, much of the mechanical heavy lifting is done for you, allowing for focus on the following steps that can make a truly unique warforged NPC.
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Choosing A Warforged Stat Block
Warforged are meant to be varied and historied, and Dungeons and Dragons 5e provides various stat blocks to help with that narrative.
When choosing between the different stat blocks, consider the history and goals your warforged NPC will have. Or, if you are undecided on that, let the stat blocks help shape your narrative.
Ultimately, the statistics of an NPC should be married to its history, so consider all of the steps at once and let them meld with each other.
Many warforged can simply follow the Warforged Soldier stat block (above) and be on their way, while other NPCs may fit better with the Warforged Titan. Or, for a truly custom warforged NPC, you can edit the stat blocks and come up with your own! See some stat-block options below!
The History Of The Warforged
The warforged are an interesting race to create NPCs in due to their short history. Dungeons and Dragons 5e is a game where many creatures, places, and events are ancient. Warforged, on the other hand, are a recent occurrence. What’s more, they were specifically created!
Understanding the history of the warforged as they exist in Eberron will help create compelling characters even in other settings.
The Last War
The Last War was an enormous battle that waged on the plane of Eberron, where warforged were originally created. Basically equivalent to our real-world World War II or Cold War, it shaped the history of Eberron and created drastic shifts in power.
One of the most important things that came out of the Last War were the warforged – creations from wood and stone and steel that were given life through experimentation and science.
Eberron makes it clear that warforged were created initially for one thing – to fight. They were weapons, and this can provide a very good question upon which to build your NPC. How do they feel about that?
If the campaign you are creating takes place during the Last War, then use the warforged actively fighting as a great backdrop to introduce your character. Most campaigns, though, will take place after the Last War has ended.
This creates a dichotomy between the warforged and the world they live in actively. A central pin in creating a warforged NPC is considering how they feel about the war being over. Did your NPC enjoy fighting, or wish for the war to end while it was happening? Do they feel lost and without purpose, or have they found a new drive for life and experiences?
There are no wrong answers for creating a warforged NPC, but coming up with tentative answers to these questions is essential.
Creating A Backstory
Once a basic history of the warforged, in general, is understood, it is important to narrow down and create a backstory for the actual NPC! Creating a few key experiences that the NPC went through will help them feel connected to the world and allow for player characters to engage with the NPC naturally.
Consider the answers to the earlier questions. If the warforged NPC is worried about what to do in a post-war world, why? What events led them to that thought? This can also inform what they did during the war. If they miss the times, they were most likely treated well or vice versa.
If you need more ideas a help creating unforgettable NPCs that your players will always remember, then be sure to read my article on Creating Unforgettable NPCs
How Has The Past Shaped Them?
Warforged, by design, have short pasts and were often only recently freed from the bonds of war. They have little bonding them to the world. This allows for all kinds of backstories and ambitions!
Some questions that all warforged may have to tackle at one point or another are:
- Did they ever lose purpose? Coming back from war after being specifically designed for it can be an unwelcome shock to the system.
- Are they mortal? Dungeons and Dragons 5e leaves it to the imagination on whether or not warforged age. This could cause some dread among warforged and be great fodder!
- How do they interact with others? Warforged most likely were not taught many social cues in their creation. This will surely influence their interactions.
- How were they treated? Some may consider warforged abominations or unnatural and look down on them. This could easily cause resentment or other negative feelings.
You don’t need to have answers to all of these questions. However, having one or two answered in certainty will help turn your warforged NPC from a stat block into an engaging part of the game.
With a basic backstory and some statistics to use in-game, the final step in creating a warforged NPC is creating a driving goal for them. Consider how the world and their backstory will shape what they want to achieve, and keep it tied to their current position.
Make The Goal Large
Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy game. While some goals can stay small and still be engaging, it is worth considering making the goal of your warforged NPC larger than life. This way, the character will really feel driven and end up taking action more in the world.
This is where the backstory comes in. If the warforged was used as a spy during the Last War and uncovered major secrets, maybe they want to share them with the world. If your warforged NPC wants to escape all reminders of war, maybe they now pursue government work to try and change the world.
Goals do not need to be achievable, they need to drive the story forward. The warforged NPC exists in the campaign, fundamentally, only as long as they provide engaging interaction with players. Having larger goals will allow this to happen more.
What Do They Do Now?
Figuring out what the warforged NPC does now in the campaign can be helpful for figuring out their goals. Is the warforged working a simple job to get by in life, or have they taken up a public role? Are they advocating for better conditions for other warforged, or have they turned to crime?
The opportunities for what a warforged can be doing in your world are endless. Create a career or current occupation that either lets them dream or display what their goal is. Be sure it allows for them to interact with the players, too!
Bringing It Together
With statistics, a backstory, and a goal, you have successfully created a warforged NPC! Remember that every tool developed here is meant to bring engagement and fun to players through the character. Be willing to change and adapt as the story needs.
Until next time,
May your game have advantage, my friends!
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