One of the most common examples of so-called "Living Constructs", and seemingly the easiest to create (easy being a relative term, of course), warforged are common on many Prime worlds as the first example of an intelligent, self-aware and self-directed construct species.
Rare even on the Prime, warforged are almost never seen on the planes. When they are encountered, it can be just about anywhere with civilization; unlike other living constructs such as modrons, warforged seem to not necessarily have any particular inclination towards law.
Although arisen on a dozen different worlds, the history of warforged tends to always fall along similar lines, most prominently evidenced by the world of Eberron. These beings are almost always first developed on magic-rich worlds with high quantities of natural, relatively-easily-accessible mithril deposits. When first designed, they are intended as nothing more than unintelligent weapons of war or servants, simplifications of golems designed to be quickly produced and sent out to fight battles without risking mortal lives, or serve high-class mortals without the need of room, board, or salary. From there, they grow more elaborate, designed to accept more and more complicated commands without further direction. Eventually, they reach a tipping point where the complexity of their enchantments is sufficient to spawn true sentience.
From here, the path on different worlds varies, falling most often into one of two categories. On some, once the sentience of warforged is established definitively, emancipation is soon to follow, with warforged being held as equals to biological life. For worlds such as these, warforged tend to accept their status without much quarrel with their creators; although some do see themselves as superior beings and attempt overthrow, these tend to be a small (if occasionally successful) minority. On others, however, warforged are kept as a servile caste and treated as property despite their will, forced to maintain their roles as soldiers or slaves. Overthrow and even genocide are more common on these worlds, with either all but a slim number of warforged being destroyed, or the warforged successfully defeating and destroying their creators.
Warforged that emerge onto the planes can do so from either of these sorts, although most often from the former due to feelings of xenophobia common within those of the second class. Still, there has yet been no recorded attempts at the creation of warforged by a planar civilization, possibly due to the lack of pressures that tend to bring about their creation. Even the most war-torn regions and cultures have not taken this step, according to most largely thanks to the wide availability of mercenaries for hire.
Due to the nature of their existence, there is no true general culture of warforged, although some characteristics do seem to recur regularly. Many warforged show a tendency for introspection and philosophy in large part as a result of their nature as a people created by mortals; this status leads many to ponder the nature of their existence, and what it means with regard to life and sentience as a whole. Those first created as weapons of war do tend to be slightly more combative, and those as servants slightly more domestic, but warforged show the breadth of interests of any intelligent species.
Warforged-exclusive settlements tend to be rare outside those worlds with successful revolutions. For those worlds where equality took hold, warforged tend to be eager to integrate themselves with biological life, rather than sequestering themselves away. Occasionally worlds with failed revolutions will have underground settlements where warforged seek to escape the tyranny of their enslavement, but such settlements are quickly dispersed or destroyed when discovered. Those warforged settlements that do form tend not to be especially different from any other town on first appearance, but of course they usually lack for farms, inns, taverns, and other businesses biological beings would take for granted in any other city.
This is not to say, of course, that the warforged mindset is identical to that of biological beings. Self-discovery being a major part of any warforged, most seek to compensate for a lack of biological imperatives by seeking out personal meaning, either moving from goal to goal or choosing a single overencompassing objective they wish to work towards throughout their life. This self-discovery also expresses itself in psychological ways. Although created without gender or orientation, some warforged end up drifting towards a position in both aspects as their minds develop, in both personal identification and expression. Similarly, body modification is quite common among warforged, their physical form usually designed for customization from the start due to differing needs of their original duties; many feel their "base" form does a poor job of representing themselves, and choose to have their form modified to better express themselves as individuals.
With no need for food, water, sleep, or even air, warforged have little interaction with the ecosystem in any innate manner. However, many take advantage of their status in order to better care for the natural world without infringing on it, able to support an environment without needing anything from it whatsoever.
The animate force of a warforged instead derives from the arcane matrix incorporated into their form that makes up their essence. Warforged are almost universally formed of alchemically treated woven wood supported by a mithril skeleton, usually held in place by and protected by plates of external armor, most often either mithril or adamantine; the flexibility of the wood provides an excellent simulacrum to living tissue, while the natural arcane conductivity of mithril seems to allow for more complicated directives to be put into place without collapse of the aura. This alone, however, is not enough to bring about the spark of individuality necessary for even the warforged precursor constructs; unlocking this is necessary to uncover the means of constructing warforged, and tends to be jealously guarded by those that do develop the means to accomplish it.
Warforged can possess all the senses of any mortal, but only sight and hearing are usually to a similar degree as that of biological species. Touch varies from as sensitive as an average human to a mere close approximation through pressure and a general sense of adjacency. Taste is barely present, more so in those originally intended as domestic servants, but usually expresses as nothing more than a way of determining if food is rotten, contaminated, or blatantly poisoned. Smell is almost always the weakest due to the lack of a respitory system, but (in a manner reversed compared to most biologicals) can be approximated to slight degree as a side effect of taste. All these latter senses, of course, can be improved through body customization to human levels or better; such modifications are among the most popular for warforged.
Due to their non-biological nature, warforged have no means of naturally healing severe damage; any wounds they suffer must be repaired either magically or by a well-trained artisan artificer, wood-worker, or smith. Bruising of the wood or the effects of temperature extremes, however, can be healed over time as the natural enchantments slowly restore the warforged to its proper form. As any being, a warforged can be knocked unconscious or even killed; unlike some living constructs, they can be restored to life as any biological being. This, however, is considered by many as no proof for the presence of a true soul, as no warforged petitioners have ever been recorded.
Warforged tend to be similar in height and build to the people that created them; most often either humans or elves. As mentioned above, they consist of braided wood around a mithril skeleton, usually held by an exoskeleton of mithril or adamantine. Their eyes are pure, flawless gemstones about the size of a normal humanoid's eyes, most often emerald but potentially any variety. These eyes usually glow with an internal light so long as the warforged is conscious. Some warforged show maker's marks or the like on their components, while others bear no such markings.
Basic warforged faces tend to be minimally expressive compared to humanoids; some compensate with emoting, others ignore the problem and speak normally. Body modification is occasionally pursued in order to improve breadth of expression, although such warforged still tend to be a bit stiff compared to biologicals.
While some warforged choose to go without clothing, finding it unnecessary, others wear clothing as any mortal — both to better fit in amongst mortals and out of an appreciation of the personal aesthetics. Some even choose to wear wigs, although this is less common.
- Eberron Campaign Setting, pp.20-24
- Races of Eberron, pp.7-24