The creation of the Ironborn is the greatest and most closely guarded military secret of the Saexe Empire.

Centuries before the founding of the empire, the elf artificer and founder of the Chisel, Glix Gadgetzan unearthed the ruins of the ancient metropolis of Jzadirune, Some say that the artifacts he claimed there drove him mad, warping his view of reality. Others theorize that the magical power he gained caused him to see the world with a new clarity, and to realize that his supposed allies and friends had plotted against him to gain his knowledge. For whatever reason, Glix went to work replacing his flesh-and-blood allies with constructs and mechanical substitutes. He crafted the first shield guardians and charged them with defending his lair against the humans and goblins that sometimes sought it. Many sages accept that his theories and designs gave rise to a variety constructs that are now part of established magical tradition. Yet these achievements pale next to his greatest creation, the ironborn. By fusing organic and artificial components into a single, humanoid whole, Glix crafted truly loyal warriors and defenders rather than mindless automatons. His new war machines, while lacking a golem’s strength and raw power, were flexible, cunning, and intellectually independent.

The first ironborn was christened Firstborn. It served as Glix’s closest companion and apprentice. Firstborn helped him design the next generation of ironborn, tactically skilled warriors who would command the shield guardians and golems arrayed to defend Jzadirune while Glix assembled what would grow to be the Infanta’s unstoppable legions. In time, Glix progressed deeper and deeper into dementia. The many artifacts he had gathered wore away at his psyche, taking a tremendous toll in exchange for the might they offered. With his attention distracted, Glix gave Firstborn limited freedom. The first of the ironborn devoured the books in its master’s library and researched the processes behind its own creation. Using the lore it uncovered, Firstborn crafted an ironborn entirely on his own. He then commanded the new construct to build another one, and so forth. Together, these first ironborn created a variety of new intellects, personalities, and forms for the next generation of warriors. Some were excellent combatants who could stand against any foe; others were cunning scouts who could spend months alone in the passages and caves below the ancient city. In time, Firstborn’s progeny became able to produce ironborn capable of nearly any martial vocation that a human, elf, or dwarf could follow. Others followed in Firstborn’s footsteps and became wizards and sorcerers, tapping into their fundamentally arcane nature to wield potent spells.

In time the Infanta healed Glix of his madness and recalled her loyal craftsman to his duties as her adviser. When he returned from Jzadirune that Was, Glix came at the head of a legion of the ironborn, appointed Firstborn as the Immortal General of the Order of the Chisel, and established the first Imperial Foundry for the construction of yet more and more highly specialized soldiers.

Ironborn Characters

While all ironborn are born in the Imperial Foundries in Jzadirune and designed for some form of military service, some, mostly older, ironborn have taken up the adventuring life. These characters have most often been dispatched on independent missions for the empire or else were among the initial generations created by Firstborn and his descendants. Most people have never encountered one of these creatures beyond watching the endless march of the Imperial Legions, and few who have met one on its own trust them. The ironborn are known for their dedication, stunning array of body forms, varied personalities, and intense curiosity about the world.


Ironborn are as varied in personality, aptitude, and ambition as humans. Each of them was crafted for some specific purpose, and many pursue their vocations with a focused, passionate intensity. An ironborn warrior may practice its parries and strikes for days on end, never pausing to rest or sleep. An ironborn wizard might speak under only the most important circumstances, since it is too absorbed in pondering the mysteries of arcane magic or carefully reflecting on its prepared spells. An ironborn inquisitor may never question the moral weight of its actions. It merely assumes that, since it is a tool of the empire, all of its decisions are guided by a higher power. The concept of moral fallibility is alien to it. These ironborn turn their intrinsic curiosity inward, using it to find the utmost limits of their potential.

Not all ironborn exhibit such a mechanical fixation on the task they were designed to perform. Some question the method of their creation. They wonder if they are truly alive, or if they have only the illusion of free will or consciousness. They delve into philosophy and seek to become part of society, and in so doing learn what it means to be alive. These ironborn try to learn from humans and other intelligent beings. They might even select a gender, take a name that fits the local culture, and wear local clothing styles in an attempt to fit in. They are the most likely of all ironborn to feel the sting of rejection if they are cast out or unwanted. These ironborn focus their curiosity on society and the interplay between living things. Some of them have spurned civilization, living as barbarians and druids among wolves and other wild animals.

Most ironborn lie somewhere between these two extremes in personality and outlook. Each of these “moderates” has a fundamental confidence in its vocation—it simply feels right to follow the prescribed path. Other intelligent beings fascinate them. They see themselves as equal to organic beings, but in many ways wholly distinct. These ironborn are the most likely to form settlements of their own and remain forever separate from other cultures. They hold no malice toward other races but recognize that they may never enjoy full acceptance from elves, dwarves, or humans. While other ironborn may seek to fit into the world or remain aloof and test the limits of their abilities, these constructs attempt to find a stable, harmonious relationship between their manufactured nature and the organic world around them.

Physical Description

While other folk fall into standard ranges of height, weight, and size, ironborn face no such restrictions. Each one was crafted to fulfill a specific purpose. Warriors might be as much as 8 feet tall, with massive barrel-shaped torsos and hulking, spiked arms. A scout or explorer might be no taller than a goblin, with nimble hands and strong legs that allow it to outrun bigger folk.

Most ironborn are crafted from iron, steel, and bronze. They have humanoid shapes and durable bodies built to withstand punishment. In all other respects, their shapes and forms are as varied as their personalities and vocations.


Ironborn speak whatever language their creators use, typically Saexe. Firstborn and a few of his kin have attempted to create a new language called Metereon, which uses Dwarven runes arranged in long columns rather than horizontal lines. The speakers and writers of this language use it to communicate messages meant only for others of their kind. It is most commonly used to leave signs and transmit signals in battle.


Ironborn tend to receive nicknames from their creators, usually ones that describe their function or unique traits. When an ironborn creates one of its own kind, the naming process either follows this approach or makes use of a name from some other race that the new ironborn likes or thinks is particularly apt. Many of them select a single descriptive word that summarizes their personality and attitude, or one that reflects on their creator.

Sample Names: Arrogance, Cloud Chaser, Deepthought, Haste, Lightbearer, Longrunner, Noble, War Bearer.

Ironborn Racial Traits:
  • +2 to One Ability Score: Each Ironborn is designed and built to fulfill a specific roll. Ironborn characters get a +2 bonus to one ability score of their choice at creation to reflect their specialized construction.
  • Humanoid [Half-Construct]: A half-construct race is a group of creatures that are artificially enhanced or have parts replaced by constructed mechanisms, be they magical or mechanical. A half-construct race has the following features.
    • Half-constructs gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against disease, mind-affecting effects, poison, and effects that cause either exhaustion or fatigue.
    • Half-Constructs cannot be raised or resurrected.
    • Half-Constructs do not breathe, eat, or sleep, unless they want to gain some beneficial effect from one of these activities. This means that a construct can drink potions and can sleep in order to regain spells, but neither is required to survive or stay in good health.
  • Size: Ironborn may be either Small or Medium size (at the creator’s discretion).
  • Speed: Ironborn have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Immortal: As artificial creatures, ironborn suffer none of the drawbacks and gain none of the benefits of aging. They never die of natural causes, and they are immune to any attacks or effects that age a character.
  • Natural Armor: All ironborn have heavy, metallic bodies. They gain a +1 natural armor bonus to Armor Class.
  • Rust Vulnerability: An ironborn suffers damage from a rusting attack, as it disintegrates its body. Use the damage value given for the spell or effect if one is mentioned. If a damage value is not given, the ironborn makes a save using the Difficulty Class and save type indicated for the effect, if any. If no save is allowed or if the save fails, the ironborn takes 1d6 points of damage for each of its Hit Dice, with half damage on a successful save.
  • Ability Packages: In addition to the traits described above, ironborn have other abilities based on their purpose. An ironborn crafted to serve as a cleric might be covered in holy runes, while one built as a warrior could have a thick, heavy layer of armor. These specialized abilities are organized into a series of packages. You may choose one ability package for an ironborn character. Each package comes with a primary ability and a secondary ability. Once you have chosen a package, you cannot switch to a new one.
    • Acrobat: With its slender, long limbs, sleek chassis, and elegant design, an ironborn with this ability package can move with a speed and agility that belie the image of constructs as shambling, creaky machines. This set of features is most common in ironborn designed as monks, scouts, and other warriors who rely on mobility rather than heavy armor and brute strength.
      • Enhanced Agility (Primary Ability): Your slender but strong limbs and intricately designed joints allow you to perform difficult feats of agility and acrobatics with ease. You gain a +2 racial bonus to your Dexterity score (this is in addition to the +2 to any one score gained by all Ironborn).
      • Enhanced Mobility (Secondary Ability): With your long, powerful legs and efficiently designed frame, you move faster than normal. Your base land speed is 40 feet, and you gain an additional +10 ft. to your base speed when using the charge, run, or withdraw actions.
    • Centurion: This package is normally used for warriors and other ironborn meant to take a direct hand in fighting. It is easily the most common package, reflecting the fact that most ironborn are crafted for use in war.
      • Armored Body (Primary Ability): The centurion’s body includes a number of heavy plates, reinforced joints, and additional shielding. This protection provides a +8 armor bonus to Armor Class, a +1 maximum Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, a –6 armor check penalty, and a 35% arcane spell failure chance, and you reduce your speed as normal for wearing heavy armor. You gain these attributes in addition to the +1 natural armor bonus to Armor Class that all ironborn enjoy. Note that if you lack proficiency with heavy armor, you apply your armor check penalty to attack rolls and all skill checks involving movement. You can add magical abilities and enhancement bonuses to this armor as if it were any other suit of armor. You cannot remove this armor, nor can you wear armor over it.
      • Tough as Iron (Secondary Ability): The thick armor plating that covers a centurion helps shield it from critical hits. There is a 25 percent chance that any critical hit against a centurion deals only normal damage.
    • Iron Heart: Unlike other ironborn, you have only the slightest shred of an organic component. You were built to serve as an obedient warrior or soldier. Your intellectual abilities were given only passing attention, but the magical processes that power you are too strong to keep your personality and mind dormant. You have phenomenal toughness and durability thanks to your manufactured nature.
      • Machine Body (Primary Ability): You are immune to poison and do not need air to breathe, allowing you to survive indefinitely underwater. Your natural armor bonus increases to +3.
      • Machine Mind (Secondary Ability): You are immune to all mindaffecting effects, since your mechanical mind is simply too alien for such spells and magical attacks to affect it.
    • Protocol Droid: Your mechanical components have been refined to make you a master of languages, an expert at translation and persuasion.
      • Gifted Linguist (Primary Ability): You gain a +4 racial bonus on Linguistics checks and learn one additional language every time you put a rank in the Linguistics skill. In addition, you begin the game knowing a number of additional languages equal to your Intelligence bonus (if any).
      • Sociable (Secondary Ability): You gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks. In addition, when you attempt to change a creature’s attitude with a Diplomacy check and fail by 5 or more, you can try to influence the creature a second time even if 24 hours have not passed.
    • Shadow Friend: Your mechanical form was crafted from the solid stuff of shadow contained within a metallic shell. You can command the shadow to seep from your body and cover an area, allowing you to conceal your approach or escape under cover of darkness.
      • Shadow Master (Primary Ability): You can bind and fold a thick veil of shadowy darkness that cloaks your presence and confuses your enemies. You gain a +4 bonus on all Stealth checks. In addition, you gain a +4 bonus on Bluff checks made to create a diversion that allows you to hide. You create a sudden surge of shadows that allows you to divert your opponent’s attention while you slip into the darkness.
      • Darkvision (Secondary Ability): Your close attunement to shadow allows you to see through even the deepest darkness. You gain darkvision with a range of 60 feet.
    • Slayer: You were designed to use stealth and cunning to defeat your enemies. Many of the evil folk who have learned the secret of the ironborn prefer this set of abilities, because it produces an efficient, loyal assassin.
      • Blood Seeker (Primary Ability): You can see and smell the blood that flows through your enemies, allowing you to make a deadly strike when their guard is relaxed. You deal an additional +1d4 damage on melee attack rolls against opponents that you flank or that are flat-footed. You do not gain this bonus against foes that are immune to sneak attacks. This damage increases by +1d4 at 5th level and every five levels thereafter (to a maximum of 5d4 at 20th level).
      • Weapon Spike (Secondary Ability): You have a short blade that can retract into your hand, leaving you armed and ready for combat at all times. This weapon acts as a masterwork dagger of the appropriate size. It cannot be disarmed, can be readied as a swift action, and a Perception check (DC 25) is required to notice it if you leave it sheathed. This blade can receive magical abilities just like a normal weapon. If it is sundered, use the standard price for a dagger of its size to determine the repair time and cost.
    • Spellmaster: Your outer shell is augmented with a lattice of carefully worked metals enchanted with arcane energy. Lead, copper, silver, and other metals treated by an alchemical process turn your body into a magnet for magic. This lattice makes it easier for you to use and focus magic, allowing you to handle spells with greater precision. Ironborn created to serve as wizards and sorcerers commonly have this set of features, though many clerics built for combat also feature it.
      • Spell Precision (Primary Ability): When drawing magical energy and shaping it into a spell, you can direct it with greater precision than normal. You gain a +2 bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance and on Concentration checks. In addition, they also receive a +2 racial bonus on Spellcraft checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
      • Spell Durability (Secondary Ability): The arcane lattice in your body absorbs and holds magical energy even when you are on the verge of losing it. If you fail a Spellcraft check when attempting to cast a spell, you can opt to reabsorb the spell’s energy into your body before you lose control of it. You do not lose the spell’s slot and can attempt to cast it again later. This ability can be done a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    • Trailblazer: Your chassis was designed to withstand the elements, allowing you to endure extreme temperature, heavy rains, and other hazards of the natural world. You survive on the water and nutrients available in the environment around you, allowing you to spend months in the wilds without supplies. Ironborn created to serve as druids and rangers are usually built with this ability package, as are scouts who spend months seeking out enemy units and pathways through difficult terrain.
      • Survivor (Primary Ability): You gain resistance to cold 5 and fire 5. In addition, you no longer need to eat or drink.
      • Scion of Nature (Secondary Ability): Your mechanical body is laced with tiny plants and soil and rock blessed by a druid. These modifications grant you an innate affinity for the natural world. You gain a +2 bonus on all Handle Animal, Survival, and Wild Empathy checks. You can feel the ebb and flow of natural energies, granting you an almost intuitive sense of nature.

Origin and Creator

All ironborn were built for a purpose and designed by another person, be it a member of the Chisel working at the Imperial Foundry or an ironborn interested in spawning another member of its race.

All ironborn have an innate connection to their creators. They share their builder’s alignment as a consequence of the magical rituals required to give them life. An ironborn must make a Will save (DC 10) to disobey any direct order it receives from its creator. The ironborn automatically succeeds at this save if the order would destroy it or is suicidal in nature. Otherwise, anything goes. An ironborn’s creator can choose to forgo this control at any time, and once he does so, his hold over his creation is forever broken. Many ironborn who build descendants use their power over their children to help them learn of the world and adapt to it. At the coming-of-age ceremony, usually held two or three years after an ironborn’s creation, its creator relinquishes this hold.

These stipulations serve to add some color and weight to an ironborn’s background. The save Difficulty Class is low enough that high-level characters can ignore potentially harmful instructions most of the time. Since an ironborn shares its maker’s alignment, it usually obeys reasonable orders without question.

An Ironborn’s Burden

All ironborn have what they call a burden, which is the role or position they were created to fulfill. The magical process used to create them uses this overriding purpose to help give an ironborn’s nascent personality the force and will it needs to achieve true life.

An ironborn must engage in activities relating to its favored class each day, whether it simply practices its skills or uses them to accomplish a task. For example, an ironborn fighter might have to engage in combat, whether a mock fight or a real one, each day. For each day an ironborn fails to exercise its abilities, it slowly becomes more irritable, angry, and prone to lashing out with its talents in order to use them. At the start of each new day, an ironborn must make a Will save with a DC equal to 10 + the number of consecutive days it has been unable to use its abilities. If it fails this save, at some point during the day the ironborn loses control and makes use of its abilities regardless of the situation. If it cannot do so for any reason, such as if the proper materials are not available or it is physically restrained from exercising its abilities, it lashes out at the nearest living creature, attacking by any means available for 2d6 rounds. At the end of this time, it returns to normal. If no foes are present, it vents its rage against inanimate objects. An ironborn that lashes out in this manner must still make another save the next day, since it has not yet fulfilled its burden.

This drawback is intended as a piece of background color to illustrate an ironborn’s mechanical nature. All of these creatures were built for a purpose, and they pursue it with a focus that is at times maniacal. Most PC ironborn can easily get around this drawback, and it does not serve as a balance against the benefits of the ironborn’s abilities. Instead, DMs can use it as a part of an adventure or as part of a story in the game.

Ironborn Age

Ironborn do not age physically, but as a naïve, young race they tend to look up to the elders among them with tremendous respect and admiration. The table below is meant to give you a sense of how ironborn view others of their kind in terms of age.

Ironborn Age Value
Starting Age 1d4+1
Middle Age 45
Old 120
Venerable 300
Maximum Age

Height: 72 + 2d10 inches
Weight: 200 + 5d20 lbs.


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