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While making a Battle Smith Rock Gnome, I came to a similar question to this one about the Steel Defender, but saw it in another light; Though it is a construct, there is nothing in the stat block or artificer entry that states it does not require rest. While this is also true in the Monodrone entry, I do know that the warforged entry does specifically state that they have an ability called Sentry's Rest requiring them to effectively "sleep" for 6 hours.

As such, I was wondering if such constructs as Steel Defenders would require rest, or if one could combine the following two features to make an effective night watchman?

Vigilant. The defender can't be surprised.

Steel Defender (Artificer entry) [...] If you are incapacitated, the defender can take any action of its choice, not just Dodge.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that although many constructs have the trait 'construct nature' specifying that they don't need sleep, this trait is listed in the lore description that occurs before their stat block and is not actually part of their stat block per se. For those in the Monster Manual, this lore is the section between he start of their entry and the stat block, which begins with Size. For those, like the Steel Defender, in TCoE, it is presumably the text in the class descriptions. Cf., What all is included in a creature's game statistics? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt I was unsure if there was a rule written somewhere that gave it to all constructs by nature, as it technically does not say they need to breathe either, but could not find additional info on the Steel Defender \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

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The Steel Defender need not sleep

It is immune to exhaustion, it can stay up all night and party like a steel rock star.

Not only that, it should make a reasonably good night sentry, since it has darkvision to 60 ft and gets your proficiency bonus x 2 to Perception and Passive Perception checks.

The Steel Defender is immune to exhaustion, as noted in its stat block.

Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, poisoned

Xanathar's provides some rules for going without a long rest:

A long rest is never mandatory, but going without sleep does have its consequences. If you want to account for the effects of sleep deprivation on characters and creatures, use these rules.

Whenever you end a 24-hour period without finishing a long rest, you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or suffer one level of exhaustion.

Since the Steel Defender is immune to exhaustion, it can just choose not to sleep.

Of course, if the Steel Defender doesn't sleep, it doesn't get a long rest, and while it doesn't suffer exhaustion, it doesn't gain any of the benefits of a long rest, such as regaining hit points or spent Hit Dice. However, you can repair it yourself, if necessary, or just make a new one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The other consequence to not taking a long rest is not recovering HD. However, it is doubtful that a Steel Defender would need HD, given that it has the Repair action and its creator presumably has Mending. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt I believe you meant HP, but I thought constructs did not regain HP during a long rest. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB I meant HD. HD are recovered on a long rest, and spent on a short rest to regain HP. I don't know of any rule that says that constructs can't regain HD when they long rest. Although for that matter, they would also regain all HP on a long rest, which I hadn't considered, since I don't allow that in my games. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt Oh, you mean Hit Dice. never seen this written in abbreviated form, sorry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The DM might allow the Defender to benefit from a long rest and recover health even though it doesn't sleep -- provided it remains inactive for 8 hours. This is how it works for Warforged player characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daron
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 9:51
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Constructs that do not need sleep have a trait saying so.

For example the classic Helmed Horror has the “Constructed Nature” trait:

Constructed Nature. A helmed horror doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.

Since the steel defender has no such trait, it technically requires sleep, that is if you want to have it take a long rest, since a long rest requires sleep. If you don’t want your defender to take a long rest, it isn’t going to die, since it is immune to exhaustion.

You can just make a new one at the end of a rest.

The rules for the Steel Defender state:

At the end of a long rest, you can create a new steel defender if you have your smith’s tools with you. If you already have a steel defender from this feature, the first one immediately perishes. The defender also perishes if you die.

So even though a Steel Defender needs sleep to complete a long rest, you can just make a fresh one when you finish yours. So it doesn’t really need sleep unless you have ethical objections to killing your defender each morning.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In that case, how would Vigilant work while the defender sleeps? like the Alert feat? \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 11:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB The defender cannot have the surprised condition \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Still am unsure if that means it automatically wakes up or not \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 11:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB No. The only thing it means is that when in the “determine surprise” portion of beginning combat, the DM always determines the defender is not surprised. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah ok, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 11:58

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