Eberron Thoughts: Do Warforged Dream of Iron Defenders?

As always: The material I do for Eye on Eberron is canon; anything I say here is just my opinion. Take it for what it’s worth!

Over on Dungeonmastering.com, Frank asks:

I have a quick question about the warforged from Eberron. In 4e, it is written that they only need four hours of ‘inactivity’ to regain all the extended rest benefits, however they are still fully aware and perceptive of their surroundings during this time. So i was wonder, what constitutes ‘inactivity’ per se? Would one be able to do simple tasks during this time? Specifically could they work on learning a language for the hours?

It’s an interesting question. The warforged of third edition didn’t need to sleep at all. The 3.5 ECS specifically called out that a warforged wizard had to rest for 8 hours to regain spells, but the wizard was the only class that had any restrictions. When we were working on converting the warforged to 4E, this was a subject of debate. I felt that it was very important that warforged not have to sleep, in part because it’s something that’s clearly established in the novels and something that makes them useful in the war; they are sleepless sentinels and can march on through the night.

So my first thought is this: Warforged don’t NEED to rest. A warforged can operate continuously without any rest whatsoever—marching, fighting, learning a language. It simply won’t gain the benefits of an extended rest until it does get those four hours. But if it doesn’t NEED those benefits, it can simply keep going and going and going.

But what if it does need an extended rest? What can it do during those four hours? Well, let’s look at the benefits of an extended rest:

  • Healing surges, healing surges, and action points are restored.
  • Daily powers are recharged.

To my mind, the physical benefits suggest three things. First, warforged have reservoirs of alchemical fluids. I could see these being depleted by strenuous activity and requiring downtime to be restored. I firmly believe that a warforged should be able to take basic physical actions while “resting” – patrolling, tending to armor or weapons, marching in a column – but running, engaging in combat, exerting full strength, etc should break that rest. Bear in mind that per 4E rules periods of such activity simply add to the total time you need to rest – they don’t reset your clock.

Continuing with the discussion of healing, warforged heal in two ways. First, I’ve always seen warforged as doing a certain amount of self-smithing… mending and patching while others are sleeping. However remember that warforged are in part living creatures. Even aside from the livewood tendrils, their metal components aren’t dead metal. A warforged juggernaut literally grows spikes on his armor… and pieces of metal sliced off a warforged will corrode, which is why you can’t strip adamantine-plated warforged and sell them for parts. Warforged are made of steel, leather, and stone, but all of these elements are magical in nature; they are living constructs.

Next issue: Daily powers. This varies by power source. Where do the warforged’s powers actually come from? In the case of divine classes, I believe that the warforged needs to spend those four hours in meditation and prayer, contemplating his vision of the divine and his connection to it. The warforged paladin can still patrol while doing this, but it takes up higher brainpower and would keep him from learning a language or anything else requiring a high level of focus. Ditto for the wizard, who spends his resting time considering mystic formulas and the nature of magic itself. The primal warforged meditates on his connection to the land around him, and the way in which the livewood within his body is part of the world. The warlord thinks about his allies and how he can inspire them in the day ahead.

So generally speaking, my thought is that recharging daily powers will prevent a warforged from engaging in other intellectual activities. A warforged who is purely regaining healing surges could read a book or study a lesson while doing it, though – and for a warforged bard, learning a language might actually BE the rest that restores his daily powers!