Learn all about these self-aware, robotic beings from the Spelljammer setting
What are Autognomes?
Autognomes are mechanical beings built by the Rock Gnomes of Wildspace. While most Autognomes are built to be servile, some eventually go on to operate independently of their creators.
No two Autognomes are built the same. The Gnomes that built Autognomes, did so for many different reasons and with differing technology. Because of this, there’s a huge variety in how Autognomes appear and act.
Because of their nature as mechanical beings, Autognomes are the first playable race in D&D 5e to be classified as a construct. While Warforged have many similar attributes, they are still classified as humanoids in 5e. Despite this, as you’ll see below, the Gnomes had the foresight of building them in such a way that healing spells still work on them (phew).
Autognome features in DnD 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Languages||Common and 1 other language|
|Traits||Armour Casing, Built for Success, Healing Machine, Mechanical nature, Sentry’s Rest, Specialised Design|
|Book found in||Spelljammer: Adventures in Space|
If you want to play as an Autognome, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Armored Casing – You are encased in a thin metal or some other durable material. While you aren’t wearing armor, your base Armor Class is 13 + your Dexterity modifier.
Built for Success – You can add a d4 to one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw you make, and you can do so after seeing the d20 roll but before the effects of the roll are resolved. You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Healing Machine –If the Mending spell is cast on you, you can spend a Hit Die, roll it, and regain a number of hit points equal to the roll plus your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 hit point). In addition, your creator designed you to benefit from several spells that preserve life but that normally don’t affect Constructs: Cure Wounds, Healing Word, Mass Cure Wounds, Mass Healing Word, and Spare the Dying.
Mechanical Nature – You have resistance to poison damage and immunity to disease, and you have advantage on saving throws against being paralyzed or poisoned. You don’t need to eat, drink, or breathe.
Sentry’s Rest – When you take a long rest, you spend at least 6 hours in an inactive, motionless state, instead of sleeping. In this state, you appear inert, but you remain conscious.
Specialized Design – You gain two tool proficiencies of your choice, selected from the Player’s Handbook.
How to play as an Autognome
Autognomes are built for durability and to ensure the success of their assignment making them an excellent character choice. Below are the main benefits of playing an Autognome:
- Naturally armored – 13+ dexterity modifier for AC is fantastic if you’re dexterity based or limited to light armor. It outshines the best light armor (studded leather is 12+ dexterity modifier). If your dexterity is high enough, it can also beat the best medium armor (halfplate) and heavy armor (plate) without giving you disadvantage on stealth (or costing precious gold). We’d suggest going for a high dexterity character which can work for most classes.
- Built for success – A great way of ensuring those near miss but crucial rolls are successes. It stacks with other similar abilities too so if you want to really frustrate your enemies, pair it up with things like bardic inspiration, bless, guidance or a peace cleric’s emboldening bond. of course, at this point, your bard may want to save some bardic inspiration for someone else because you clearly don’t know the meaning of the word failure you annoying little over-achiever!
- Hard as nails – And probably built with them too! Poison is a common resistance to need and paralyzed and poisoned conditions can be nasty so advantage on these saving throws is also excellent. These abilities mean Autognomes work really well on the frontlines of combat. Especially when paired with built for success.
Best classes for Autognomes
All of them! Autognomes can work great with pretty much any class! Ideally though, you’ll want to go with a high dexterity build to get the most out of armored casing. Melee characters and characters that are highly reliant on a single hit or miss attack (like rogues with sneak attack) are great options to take advantage of built for success and mechanical nature.
I’d highly recommended these classes for an Autognome:
Worst classes for Autognomes
While there aren’t really bad classes for an Autognome, there is a bad subclass. An armorer artificer loses all the benefits of armored casing (or the benefits of their arcane armor). It’s one or the other I’m afraid.
If you’re playing a druid, you get great benefits in your natural form, but when in your wildshape, I can’t see a way to justify having the benefits of armored casing or mechanical nature.
Autognomes are mechanical beings that vary wildly in their appearance. Rock Gnomes are not known for consistency in technology so Autognomes can be as varied as the imaginations of their creators. You’ll find Autognomes running on steam-power, clockwork, coal and almost any other way you might think of to power a mechanical being.
It’s often surprising what Autognomes are built from as well. While many are built from metal, others are built from wood, rock and basically whatever other useful material a gnome found lying around. One thing is consistent though, Autognomes tend to have similar proportions to their creators so they’re all classified as small creatures.
Autognomes were originally built by their creators to be servile and obey orders. For various reasons though, some end up becoming independent and striking out on their own. Most Autognomes have some innate programming to follow orders and serve others, though this doesn’t mean some Autognomes haven’t gone rogue, or simply had quirky programming. Sentience is hardly an exact science.
Other Gnome subraces
How to roleplay as an Autognome
Because Autognomes are all built so differently, there’s a wide variety of ways to play as one (imagine the different personalities of Star Wars robots and that will likely give you a good gauge). The main thing to bear in mind though is that these are robots gaining sentience who once served a master and a specific purpose. Understanding your former purpose and your current purpose will help to fashion how you role play your character.
Below are some ideas of how you could roleplay your Autognome:
- Finding your purpose – You once had a purpose. It was assigned to you by your creator, but your creator is no longer here. You travel, explore and attach yourself to people to find a new purpose in life. If you were a bodyguard, you might seek out similar employment. If you were an artificer’s assistant, you might seek to continue inventing and tinkering.
- Seeking your creator – You lost your creator somehow. Perhaps they fell into a void, were captured or maybe they left their lab in a hurry and forgot about you. Whatever it is, you seek to be reunited with the one being that gave you meaning.
- Becoming a real boy (or girl) – You have become sentient, you think… What even makes a being sentient, and are you sentient or is that just how you were programmed to think to emulate sentience? You have many questions and you want them answered. You seek to emulate other sentient beings in the hopes of understanding emotions like love and joy. Kryten from Red Dwarf is a great example of an android like this.