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The 5e Unearthed Arcana: Eberron (v1.1) says:

Although they are constructs, they have much in common with living creatures, including emotions and social bonds, and perhaps even souls.

This last part troubles me, however.

Do warforged canonically have souls?

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    \$\begingroup\$ To avoid sarcasm, I suspect you want an answer more satisfying than Perhaps, correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 12 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I downloaded this pdf and it’s on page 8. \$\endgroup\$ – MrHiTech Apr 12 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah ok that helps clear that up. Just so you know, that source is put together by a third party so it isn't an official source. They have taken a bunch of UA articles and put them together with graphics into one document. Do note that many of the UA in there are out of date though. In the future you are likely better off going to WotC's site and getting the official docs of whatever you want. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 19:12
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It is canonically undefined

In published 5e lore, the only mention of a warforged soul is in the introduction to the race:

“Pierce was built by design, while you were built by accident,” Lakashtai said. “The soul is what matters, not the shape of the vessel.”

“What makes you think he has a soul?” Gerrion said.

“What makes you think you do?”

— Keith Baker, The Shattered Land (Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron 69)

The excerpt appears to be leaning into the fact that it is not clear if warforged have souls. Nowhere else is the question brought up much less answered.

In the 2015 version of the Eberron 5e Unearthed Arcana, it came out and said this explicitly:

Although they are constructs, they have much in common with living creatures, including emotions and social bonds, and perhaps even souls. (3)

Though it is worth noting that this wording did not make it into the final published version.

In 3rd edition lore, the question was explicitly debated in-universe and came to no conclusion:

In the end, the Question of Souls, as that portion of the negotiations came to be known, was left unanswered. Warforged were freed because they could exhibit independent thought and free will. Today many people continue to think of warforged as creatures without souls, and citizens of Thrane often refer to warforged as “the soulless. (Races of Eberron 16)

And explicitly mentioned as an undefined point about the race:

When warforged are used, DMs should be mindful of potential controversies regarding the warforged: Do they have souls? (Races of Eberron 8)

It seems that through the time this race has existed, this ambiguity has purposefully been emphasized and left as part of the race.

Mechanically, they effectively do

The only thing that is clear is that warforged are living and are affected as if they were any other living thing by spells and other effects:

While they’re formed from stone and steel, warforged are living humanoids. Resting, healing magic, and the Medicine skill all provide the same benefits to warforged that they do to other humanoids. (Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron 69)

Mechanically this actually means that warforged should be affected by healing magic including resurrection spells that would require a soul. Thus, mechanically, the question doesn't really matter.

No lore reason is given for this, and in fact, the ability to be resurrected is canonically one of the supporting points for why they might have a soul though it also has a counter:

Breland argued that because warforged can be raised from the dead, they must have souls. Of course, House Cannith and Thrane countered that no warforged brought back from death told tales of any kind of afterlife. (Races of Eberron 16)

But, as lore leaves the answer ambiguous, your DM can decide the specifics of the flavor of why things work like they do.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But are resurrection spells canonicaly healing magic per se? \$\endgroup\$ – adonies Apr 12 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, resurrection spells are categorized as healing spells on D&D beyond in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 18:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ The way DDB tags things for search purposes isn't always rooted in the rules. There are no official "healing" or "resurrection" categories in the rules. The main way spells are categorized in the rules are by school of magic, and in practice spells that heal are found in different schools from spells that raise the dead. Healing spells are almost always evocation except for Healing Spirit. Resurrection spells are typically necromancy except for Reincarnate. The only healing spell I can think of in the necromancy school is Life Transference, which also hurts the caster. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Apr 12 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doval sure it's not an iron clad argument, but as you point out the term "healing spell" is not a game term. I think seeing how they are categorized on the official ish site is one of the more useful ways to understand how the term is being used \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 13 at 1:05
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It's canonically ambiguous.

Like many of the big mysteries in Eberron, this question is left to the DM to decide. This type of intentional moral and cosmological ambiguity is a big part of the theme of the Eberron setting.

The people of Khorvaire consider the question of do warforged have souls? to be unsolved and controversial. The Eberron Races Unearthed Arcana article includes an excellent quote which illustrates this:

“Pierce was built by design, while you were built by accident,” Lakashtai said. “The soul is what matters, not the shape of the vessel.”

“What makes you think he has a soul?” Gerrion said.

“What makes you think you do?”

—Keith Baker, The Shattered Land

The D&D 3rd edition book Races of Eberron, p.8, describes it as ambiguous:

When warforged are used, DMs should be mindful of potential controversies regarding the warforged: Do they have souls?

Even the warforged do not know if they have souls. Some warforged join the Blood of Vol, believing that they will be granted a soul in the afterlife.

What is the argument that warforged do have souls?

A warforged in D&D 5e is defined as living, as a humanoid, and as fully sentient. The method by which they are animated is not well known; it is not by an elemental spirit or some other automatic method. A player can control a warforged character as freely as any other character, and they appear to have free will.

Importantly, they are not given rules exceptions to any spell or effect which affects souls, and are therefore treated as any other humanoid.

What is the argument that warforged do not have souls?

The D&D 5e rules regarding warforged do not define anywhere that they do have souls. However, it must be noted that it is not stated either that humans, elves and such have souls; it is implied only by the existence of raise dead and similar spells, and a paragraph which defines that the souls of creatures pass through the Astral Plane.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I seem to remember (in a long ago edition probably AD&D) that they called out souls for humans and spirits for demihumans. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 12 at 21:04
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They are Humanoids; therefore, they have souls

In Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, the entry for Warforged says this:

Living Steel and Stone


Warforged are formed from a blend of organic and inorganic materials. [...]

While they are formed from stone and steel, warforged are humanoids. Resting, healing magic, and the Medicine skill all provide the same benefits to warforged that they do to other humanoids. [...]

Warforged, Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, pg. 69

The bolded passage is important, because it applies especially to spells like Raise Dead:

You return a dead creature you touch to life, provided that it has been dead no longer than 10 days. If the creature's soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with 1 hit point.

Raise Dead, Player's Handbook, pg. 270

If Warforged did not have Souls, they'd be unable to benefit from a spell like this. Because their description specifically calls out healing, among other things, as providing as much benefit to Warforged as to other Humanoids, they must necessarily fulfill the same qualifications as other Humanoids for any spell that heals a character. Since Raise Dead is one such spell, which requires its targets to have a Soul, Warforged must have souls.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The weak link seems to be whether Raise Dead qualifies as 'healing magic' or not... \$\endgroup\$ – adonies Apr 12 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or does the statement that says healing magic affects them normally just provide them an exception which allows them to be healed by spells requiring souls without specifying if they do have one? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @adonies You'd have to find compelling evidence that being a school of Necromancy spell inherently precludes Raise Dead from qualifying as a Healing spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Apr 12 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I very strongly do not read the quoted sections as carving out exceptions for Warforged in particular. If Raise Dead requires a willing soul, Warforged are expressly described as benefiting from all the same spells as Humanoids, and no passage is attempting to explicitly prove otherwise, then we have to conclude that Warforged have souls. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Apr 12 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema Real question: do all humanoids have souls unequivocally? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 18:33
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Yes.

The 5th-level cleric spell Raise Dead says:

You return a dead creature you touch to life, provided that it has been dead no longer than 10 days. If the creature’s soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with 1 hit point.

As there are no restrictions noted on the use of Raise Dead on the warforged, it necessarily follows that the warforged have souls.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that in previous editions warforged were able to be resurrected but also explicitly and purposefully left unclear whether this was because they had a soul it for some other reason. So I don't think this is as conclusive as you make it. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 18:10
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Not the answer you want, but as I understand it canonically the answer is a firm and disputed "maybe". Also depends on what version of DnD you are running.

From the D&D 3e sourcebook Races of Eberron:

The Treaty of Thronehold gave warforged their freedom, but only after great debate. House Cannith and Thrane argued ardently that warforged were not living creatures because they do not possess souls. Their evidence for this was that warforged cannot become undead by any known method, not even ghosts or wraiths. They are immune to energy drain, and no one knows of a warforged soul in Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead. Breland argued that because warforged can be raised from the dead, they must have souls. Of course, House Cannith and Thrane countered that no warforged brought back from death told tales of any kind of afterlife.

In the end, the Question of Souls, as that portion of the negotiations came to be known, was left unanswered. Warforged were freed because they could exhibit independent thought and free will. Today many people continue to think of warforged as creatures without souls, and citizens of Thrane often refer to warforged as “the soulless.

I think they intend it as a plot point for Roleplay and depending on your version their status as "living constructs" means different things.

I would say as a DM if you can't pray without a soul and you can have warforged clerics and paladins then at least Some warforged have souls.

I am sure other have a more thorough knowledge of the fluff than I, but at the same time if I had a DM that ruled my warforged was soulless I would definitely use that to munchkin as many advantages as possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What sourcebook did you get that quote from? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I believe this is from the D&D 3e sourcebook Races of Eberron. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Apr 12 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard thanks! I've edited that citation in here so it is clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 12 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, since in 3.0 (savage species p. 150) you can cast a wish to change your race and keep your intelligence etc. (very high spellcraft check to gain the advantages of the new race) so those becoming warforged are sure to have a soul, in 3.5 Warforged have CON, INTEL, CHA, can be resurrected. IMO it's clear they have a soul, but since they are immortal they might seem soulless by the way they act. Vampires got souls too if I'm not mistaken. \$\endgroup\$ – Maxime Cuillerier Sep 23 at 7:23
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I have always understood that the reason the Warforged are set apart from ordinary constructs is that House Cannith artificers actually succeeded in "breathing life into them," which I see as having at least the equivalent of a soul. While they may not always possess the full emotional gamut of a born living being, they yet have awareness and are capable of emotion, which is distinct from artificial intelligence. As to how the Canniths did it, tis a mystery, but it is done.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Can you support your answer by citing relevant evidence (e.g. a book/page number)? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 23 at 6:11

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