Warforged are a hugely popular racial option in DnD 5e which was introduced in in Eberron: Rising From The Last War (affiliate link), immediately coming a community favorite. The idea of magical robots is novel and exciting, and while sometimes the warforged can be mistaken for a downsized Iron Golem, they’re a unique and versatile race with a lot to offer.
While there are just three decision points in the Warforged racial traits (ability scores increases, a tool proficiency, and a skill proficiency), they are both flexible and simple to play. This, coupled with their natural durability, make the Warforged a great option for new players and for experienced players looking to survive a dangerous life of adventuring.
The introduction of the custom origin rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything did very little to change the Warforged. The only difference is that you can now put that +2 Constitution increase somewhere else. In most cases, that just means switching the +1 and the +2 increases within the same build, such as taking +2 Intelligence and +1 Constitution for a wizard, but it does open up options for MAD classes like the Monk and the Paladin to put those increases elsewhere.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
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The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.
The Warforged’s traits are broadly useful, consistently benefit characters of any class.
- : Borderline perfect for most classes even without the custom origin rules.
- : Medium. Rarely impactful.
- : Standard.
- : Broadly useful defenses. Excellent on any character.
- : Not especially impactful in most games, but helpful for keeping watch.
- : Not flashy, but consistently impactful on almost any character.
- : Excellent on any character. If you need a default, take Perception and Chef’s Tools for the bonus Short Rest healing.
- : Common plus one is standard.
Warforged, despite their appearance, are not constructs. In 3rd edition when they were first introduced to DnD, warforged were constructs, but in 5e they are humanoids. It’s not entirely clear why this is the case, but at the time that Eberron: Rising from the Last War was published, there had not yet been any non-humanoid playable races.
Warforged are exceptionally versatile, second in versatility only to the Variant Human. Constitution is a great option for literally every class, few classes benefit significantly from more than one flexible ability increase, and a bonus AC is literally always useful.
Because the custom origin rules change things so little for the Warforged, the custom origin rules are not addressed in a separate section as I have done in most of my race handbooks.
An obvious choice. The Warforged’s Constitution increase and AC bonus are great on top of the Artificer’s already exceptional durability. Since the Artificer needs little beyond Intelligence, the single flexible ability increase works great. If you build a Battlesmith you can be a robot with a pet robot, and if that doesn’t sound like fun I feel like you and I have very different ideas of fun.
Increase your Strength, grab some medium armor, and you’re borderline unstoppable. Resistance to poison and immunity to both disease and sleep mitigate or negate some common challenges which front-line melee characters face, adding to the Barbarian’s incredible durability. The Warforged may even unseat the Mountain Dwarf as the hardest barbarian to kill.
More AC makes options like College of Valor and College of Swords more durable, which is great if you’re trying to play a spellcaster in melee with d8 hit points. Spellcasting is still going to be more effective than using weapons most of the time, but you can stand in melee with a shield in one hand and a one-handed instrument like a tamborine in the other and do just fine.
Boost your Wisdom and you’re the cleric with the world’s highest AC. Put your free skill proficiency into Perception to capitalize on your high Wisdom and your ability to remain conscious while taking a long rest.
Druids have notoriously poor AC, and while you lose most racial traits while using Wild Shape, any circle which isn’t dependent on Wild Shape is a great option. Warforged work especially well for Circle of Spores thanks to their Constitution increase and bonus AC. Put your free skill proficiency into Perception to capitalize on your high Wisdom and your ability to remain conscious while taking a long rest.
The Fighter is one of the simplest classes, and the Warforged is one of the simplest races despite their built-in decision points. Put them together, and you can deeply customize your build to fit your play style, confident that your character will durable and effective.
Monks typically need increases to both Dexterity and Wisdom so that they can start with an AC high enough to survive their d8 hit points. The Warforged addresses this nicely with the bonus AC, and the Constitution increase mitigates the low hit dice. Unfortunately, the Warforged’s resistance to poison and immunity to disease both become redundant, but if you survive to the levels where that happens I think you’ll be fine with the redundancy.
If you use the custom origin rules, you can move the increases to Dexterity and Wisdom. Starting with 16 in each gives you an AC of 17, higher than any other monk can achieve at first level with the exception of the Tortle.
You’ll be crazy durable, and with the extra AC it’s safer to opt for a two-handed weapon. Or you can go for a shield and be an impenetrable tank.
Extra durability, and the extra skill proficiency helps close the gap in skills between the Ranger and the Rogue.
While the Warforged’s bonus AC isn’t as import for the Rogue thanks to their ability to remove themselves from danger and options like Uncanny Dodge, the extra durability is great insurance for a class which often finds themselves in dangeorus places.
The idea of a bloodline is a bit silly for a race with no blood or ancestry, but if your DM is willing to ignore that strangeness you have some options. Draconic bloodline sorcerer will get you 14+Dex AC, which is unusually high for similar spellcasters and combined with options like Shield you’ll be reasonably durable even when you draw a lot of attacks.
The Warforged is a great option for the Hexblade, making you much more durable than your d8 hit dice would indicate. With extra durability, you’re much more able to handle running around in melee with a weapon for extended periods.
The Wizard may be the worst option for the Warforged, but only because the Wizard spends so much time avoiding the problems which the Warforged is built to endure. If you’re taking a bunch of damage or being targeted by effects to which the Warforged is resistant r immune, you should be invisible, running, or otherwise magically countering the effects. Still, Constitution and Intelligence are really all that the Wizard needs, so you’re fine if you never see poison or disease come up.