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In D&D 3.5 there are a number of types of homunculi that can be crafted by characters with the Craft Construct feat. Among these are Dedicated Wrights, which are specifically called out in their description as being an atypical type of homunculi that "does not go out on missions or accompany its master on adventures. Instead, it stays home working while its master adventures. (Eberron Campaign Setting, p. 285)." However, they are specifically mentioned as a subtype of the standard homunculus template laid out in the monster manual, meaning they have an innate telepathic bond with their creator that reaches 1,500 feet out. Also, “A homunculus never travels beyond this range willingly, though it can be removed forcibly. If this occurs, the creature does everything in its power to regain contact with its master (Eberron Campaign Setting, p. 285).”

Dedicated Wrights, being intelligent constructs, are exceptional for passively generating money using crafting skills, especially when outfitted with equipment to boost their skill checks. My goal is to craft a group of them and take advantage of their tireless nature to keep a forge running 24/7 while my character is off adventuring. However, the 1,500 foot limit seems to make this impossible. Out of the box they seem incapable of fulfilling their stated purpose. Is there an exception to this rule that I have missed somewhere?

Assuming there is not I need a solution that will allow me to travel about without my workforce grinding to a halt whenever I go on campaign. I see three options for handling this issue. A) Replace or upgrade the telepathic bond, B) “Spoof” the telepathic bond so the homunculus believes it is still functional even when it isn’t, or C) Otherwise convince the homunculi that not having the telepathic bond is acceptable, such as through an enchantment spell.

If at all possible, I would prefer a solution that costs 5000 gp or less. Also, my character will be taking Leadership at level 6 and is moderately invested in charisma, so using followers with obscure classes for the solution is completely acceptable.

Additional qualifiers:

  • While upgrading the innate telepathic bond in each wright via the “Improved Homunculus” feat is possible, that triples their cost and only extends the range to 1 mile per character level. Since I doubt every campaign will be within a 4 to 20 mile radius this is not enough.
  • As clever as the idea seems, I’d prefer to avoid playing a Dvati (I’d rather have a solution that works for any race).
  • I’d prefer something cheaper than paying a wizard to cast Telepathic Bond and Permanency on each one. Also, avoiding any spell with a “permanent” duration would be desirable so that my workforce won’t grind to a halt whenever my character walks into an antimagic field.
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Consider a syntactical solution

The description of the homunculus, in part, says, "A homunculus never travels beyond this range [i.e. 1,500 ft.] willingly, though it can be removed forcibly. If this occurs, the creature does everything in its power to regain contact with its master" (Monster Manual 154). The dedicated wright (Eberron Campaign Setting 285) shares this feature: "A homunculus never travels beyond this distance [1,500 ft.] willingly, though it can be moved forcibly" (ibid.).

In a campaign for which I was the DM a PC had a dedicated wright, and another campaign for which I was DM included as part of one plot the mass production of homunculi. (The plot involved a rudimentarily intelligent flesh golem planar shepherd terrorist attempting to bring to sentience the setting's objects. Yes, it was complicated.)

In both cases, I ruled that, yes, if the master's order would send the homunculus farther than 1,500 ft. from the master then absolutely her homunculus will get to 1,500 ft. then turn back, essentially refusing to obey that order. However, if the master herself travels more than 1,500 ft. from her homunculus, that is totally okay. This means that, for example, a master in my campaigns could order a homunculus to guard her prisoners, clean her house, or play with her hippogriff while the master goes out for brunch, attends a play, or topples Asmodeus.

In short, the master can issue an order to the dedicated wright like Stay here and work on this then the master can go and do whatever, yet when master issues an order to the dedicated wright like Run back to the inn, make me a turkey sandwich, and bring it back here to the dungeon, unless the house is within 1,500 ft. of the dungeon—in which case, the master should move—, the dedicated wright will return at top speed to the master when it reaches 1,500 ft., it's master's order unfulfilled. (This also explains the supernatural ability message of the expeditious messenger (Eberron Campaign Setting 285–6).)

(Keep in mind that this achingly precise language dates back to the homonculous [sic] in the Monster Manual (1978) that says that a homunculus "will never willingly pass from this maximum range" of about 500 ft. Again, one reading says that while it can't travel far away from the master, the master can still travel far away from it.)

A portable hole workshop: A more palatable alternative?

The above explanation's worked fine for two different groups, but if it's too hair-splitting for the question's purposes, this DM totally understands. If that's the case, I recommend the master set up a workshop for the dedicated wright in a portable hole (DMG 264) (20,000 gp; 0 lbs.) or similar. The homunculus's construct type means it doesn't eat, hydrate, or breathe, so it can survive within indefinitely, and since the homunculus is on another plane the distance between the master and her homunculus simply can't be measured in feet.

Nonetheless, it's possible for the DM to rule that the familiar measures the distance from itself while within the extradimensional workshop, past the planar boundary—the portable hole's opening—, thence to the master. This will still limit the distance that the master can travel from the portable hole, but a hole can be folded up to the size of a handkerchief, so keeping it nearby shouldn't be a big deal. (The connection shared by master and homunculus doesn't say it doesn't cross planar boundaries; cf. some possibilities like the supernatural ability telepathy (MM 316), the 2nd-level Clr spell status [div] (Player's Handbook 284), and the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell Rary's telepathic bond [div] (PH 268–9).)


Note: Consider the Arms and Equipment Guide magic item libram of flesh (178,000 gp; 5 lbs.) (134) for your next villain; it's awesome.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately the portable hole is a rather expensive approach considering I want to mass produce wrights for 2100gp a pop. And the syntactical solution is questionable to me because the description says "the creature does everything in its power to regain contact with its master." That's part of why I was considering an approach based around lying to the wright (option 'b'). \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Mar 18 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Benjamin The less expensive option is the enveloping pit (Magic Item Compendium 159) (3,600 gp; 0 lbs.), although it does have an alignment restriction. And, really, context is key here: The whole quotation is A homunculus never travels beyond this range willingly, though it can be removed forcibly. If this occurs, the creature does everything in its power to regain contact with its master. What, then, is this but being removed forcibly? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 18 at 21:14
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I think you're just misinterpreting the passages, and the description specifically excepts the Wright from the range restriction (Which is only a communication channel, really).

From The Eberron Campaign Setting (page 285)

A dedicated wright is a homunculus created to carry out the process of item creation on behalf of its master. Unlike most homunculi, a dedicated wright does not go out on missions or accompany its master on adventures. Instead, it stays home working while its master adventures.

The emphasis that I added shows that the Dedicated Wright is an exception to the distance rule, and is designed to work in the absence of the creator.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So, they would not react adversely to being separated from their master? That seems odd to me because the Expeditious Messenger (from the same book) has a Supernatural Ability specifically spelling that out when the Dedicated Wright does not. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Mar 16 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Benjamin - No. The base template is the homunculus, which has general outlines. Each of the sub templates (wrignt, messenger) have specific outlines solely for their particular variant. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Mar 16 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ that makes sense. However, what I was remarking on was how the writers drew specific attention to the distinction in the Messenger by giving it a unique ability, whereas the Wright didn't have anything so clearly defined. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Mar 16 at 21:56

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