Last Updated on January 22, 2023
In this article, we’re going to be exploring autognomes, small mechanical creatures built by rock gnomes. We’ll be looking at their racial traits, basic lore, and, of course, how to build an autognome character in DnD 5e.
Before you dive deep, let’s cut to the chase. Autognomes are an excellent race that lends themselves especially to classes with high dexterity or to spellcasters looking for some added durability. With racial traits that provide healing, extra AC and protection, and bonuses to rolls, there are not many builds that wouldn’t work with these small constructs.
Autognome Abilities and Racial Traits
Where typical gnomes are stout inventors with a curious spirit, autognomes are the result of such ingenuity. They hold a variety of traits that perfectly embody their mechanical nature.
Ability Score Increase. When creating your character, you may increase one ability score by 2 and a different score by 1, or you may increase three different scores by 1.
Languages. Autognomes can typically speak, read, and write Common and Gnomish.
Creature Type. You are a construct.
Life Span. Autognomes live roughly as long as gnomes, often up to five centuries.
Height and Weight. Autognomes are of roughly the same build as gnomes, but they may be much heavier, depending on the materials they are made of.
Size. You are size small
Speed. You have a walking speed of 30 feet.
Armored Casing. Thanks to your durable casing, your AC is 13 + your dexterity modifier whenever you aren’t wearing armor.
Built for Success. You can add a d4 to one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw you make. You 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, regaining expended uses on a long rest.
Healing Machine. Whenever the Mending spell is cast on you, you can spend a Hit Die to regain hit points equal to the roll plus your Con modifier (minimum 1 hit point).
Additionally, you can benefit from some spells that don’t typically affect Constructs: Cure Wounds, Healing Word, Mass Cure Wounds, Mass Healing Word, Spare the Dying.
Mechanical Nature. You have resistance to poison damage and immunity to disease. You have advantage against being paralyzed or poisoned. You don’t need to eat, drink, or breathe.
Sentry’s Rest. To take a long rest you just need to spend at least 6 hours in an inactive, motionless state. You remain conscious but appear inert.
Specialized Design. You gain two tool proficiencies of your choice.
As you can see, autognomes have quite an interesting spread of abilities. The most prevalent thing we see here is that they are incredibly durable creatures. They have more racial traits than most playable races, and three of them are devoted to making a character that can withstand quite a lot.
Let’s talk about some of these in depth.
Fortunately, the unique circumstances of an autognome’s creation make them capable of receiving this healing. Some might have actual beating hearts, but all autognomes are more “alive” than your typical construct. You can think of them as being more Pinocchio-like than an animated suit of armor.
What’s more, these creatures get an extra way to heal through the Mending cantrip. Sure, any creature can spend a hit dice on a short rest, but autognomes can do this whenever, so long as they or someone else in their party have access to this great utility cantrip.
All of this blends into a creature that can heal slightly more often than your average 5e race. They don’t necessarily receive any extra resources, but they can use the general 5e resources in more ways, and that’s exactly what we want in a good character.
This is a very straightforward ability, but its importance can’t be understated. Essentially, this is as good as the Unarmored Defense feature that makes monks and barbarians so durable in combat.
A good AC like this is beneficial for any class that doesn’t typically wear armor and can even improve a class used to wearing light or medium armor. Basically, as long as we have a decent dexterity score, we’re looking at a character that’s tough to hit.
Built For Success
An ability that improves our odds of success is something few races get, and it’s something every character wants. Adding a d4 to a roll might not seem like much, but it can be an excellent bonus in a pinch.
Interestingly enough, the wording of this ability differs from what we see in a lot of similar 5e abilities. Typically, we’d see “..you can do so after you’ve rolled the d20, but before you know whether or not the roll was successful.”
For a lot of groups, this is a moot point since you’ll probably have some idea of the target DC already. In other groups though, this slight text difference is huge. You can add a bonus to your roll “before the effects … are resolved.” This means you can more than likely learn if you succeeded or not.
That’s a lot of text to say this: you won’t have to waste this ability on a roll you already succeeded on. With a limited resource like this, you want to only use it when you absolutely need to.
Another way to avoid wasted uses of this ability is to use the Guidance cantrip. This cantrip lets a creature add a d4 to an ability check, so unless you need a quick success on an ability check midst combat, you can use it instead of Built for Success.
Both Mechanical Nature and Sentry’s Rest are what I would call maintenance traits. Their main focus is aligning your character’s abilities with the fact that you are, in fact, a construct and not a normal flesh-and-blood humanoid.
Because of this, you get a solid amount of protection from undesired effects, a damage resistance, and more. Not needing to eat, drink, or breathe can be really helpful in campaigns where resources are kept track of with a close eye.
Lastly, the ability to avoid sleeping on a long rest is incredibly useful — just ask any full-elf characters. This kind of feature allows you to keep a close eye on what’s going on while the rest of your party sleeps. I mean, that’s why it’s called Sentry’s rest. You become a sentry and can easily alert your party to threats sneaking up on you while you rest.
What Is an Autognome in DnD 5e?
Autognomes are mechanical beings built by rock gnomes, the notorious tinkerers of the Forgotten Realms and beyond. These creatures typically serve a specific purpose, providing some level of aid to their creators. They may, however, be separated from their masters, providing a great plot hook for us to start our adventures with.
Since they are just creations of gnomes, there isn’t much history of these creatures to be explored. However, we can talk about how they’re made.
These creatures are made to resemble the gnomes that build them, not exactly by any means, but there is a similarity. Their stature and proportions are where this comes through most easily,
After that, it’s kind of up to you to decide the specifics of your autognome’s construction. They could be made from all sorts of materials, although bronze, wood, copper, and iron are probably the most common. They might be near facsimiles of a gnome, or they might’ve been hastily constructed out of whatever was lying around.
When we look at some examples given in the Astral Adventurer’s Guide (the image at the top of this page), we can see that autognomes are all very clearly mechanical, but they have a lot of variety. So, let your imagination loose, and throw together whatever feels right to you.
Best Classes and Builds for an Autognome
Being released in the new age of 5e playable races is a huge benefit to the autognomes. Had they been forced into an Ability Score Increase of say, +2 Intelligence and +1 Dexterity, we’d have almost no choice but to make them a wizard or an artificer. Fortunately, we’re fully equipped with Custom Ability Scores, and the world is our oyster.
That being said, this race does lend itself to some very clear builds. The one ability score referenced here is dexterity, which boosts our unarmored AC. So, we’re probably going to want to go after a class that utilizes dexterity.
That doesn’t narrow it down much though. Rogues and rangers are solid immediate options focused on dex since we definitely don’t want to overlap unarmored defense abilities with monks. However, most classes still care about dexterity as a secondary ability score as it always impacts AC.
The next thing we can look to in our racial traits is the Mending spell. Since we can use this spell to heal, we’ll definitely want to take it if we can. Since it’s available to bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, wizards, and artificers, we have a lot of choices, and all of them can benefit from dexterity.
You might also remember me mentioning the Guidance cantrip as being useful to us. With this, we can narrow ourselves further down to bard, cleric, druid, or artificer since this is where we see an overlap between both of these cantrips.
After that, it’s really up to us to decide what we want to do. Sure, any class would work well so long as we avoid classes and subclasses that have their armor figured out, but we’ll probably want one of these spellcasters to really get us the most synergy.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.