What are the Astral Constructs (mindless, construct type) possible actions in the sense of "performing other actions" beside attacking particular enemies, using specific tactics or powers, or doing nothing at all, and wording of the orders to achieve "other actions"?

We had a lot of discussion about what sort of actions can astral construct do besides attacking. The RAW is clear about what is astral construct, how it looks like, and it describes the basic mechanics of using it on combat.

Combat: Astral constructs act as directed by their creators. As a free action, a construct’s manifester can direct the construct to attack particular enemies, use specific tactics or powers, perform other actions, or do nothing at all. The construct does exactly what its creator directs it to do.

We also found a feat named Advanced Constructs [Psionic], using a term "task" under Utility(Ex), which we understand well.

Thats why we argue about term "other actions".

Does astral construct understand mental orders saying: "hunt a rabbit" when the manifester and his astral construct can see the rabbit, or "move the party across the river", "dig a pit or hole", "break the door directing to it with a finger".

Does it mean that other actions are kind of "other combat actions" like aid another or total defense?

The conclusion is that tasks are different from "other actions".

What exactly are those other actions?


What counts as "other actions" depends heavily on the GM. By RAW, there are no restrictions on what an astral construct can do. Constructs can make skill checks, perform complex actions, and do pretty much anything a character can do. The only thing that the construct probably can't do is speak, since it doesn't know any languages. It's not clear whether or not it can parrot your speech, by RAW, but it definitely can't say things that you don't say to it first.

That said, it's totally reasonable for a GM to restrict the kinds of checks that a mindless creature can make, since it can't think on its own. My current GM has a house rule that mindless creatures can't make intelligence based checks without constant supervision, and can't make Knowledge checks at all. When I wanted my Utility constructs to forge swords for an army, my GM ruled that I had to stay with the constructs and constantly order them around, or else they wouldn't know how to make the swords in the first place.

I would guess that, when writing that description, the designer was saying that you could tell the construct to do other things that it should be able to do, but aren't directly combat-related. For example, you could use a flying construct as a short-duration mount, or have a strong construct tear down a locked door. This kind of thing would be difficult to explain thoroughly, and so a generic term like "other actions" is used. I would further guess that the designer who wrote Advanced Constructs typically played in games where mindless creatures weren't allowed to make skill checks, and wrote the feat accordingly.

For the specific examples that you list:

  1. Hunt a rabbit: You can definitely do this. There is no real limit on the complexity of actions that you order your construct to do, so you can totally have them kill the rabbit and bring it back to you.
  2. Move a party across a river: Again, this would be simple to do. Remember that you can direct the construct as a free action, so if it's about to do something obtuse, you can very easily amend your orders.
  3. Dig a pit: Constructs could definitely do this. They could even use a shovel to dig the hole, if you gave them one.
  4. Break the door directing to it with a finger: You'd probably want to specify whether you wanted it to break the door with damage, or with a Strength check, but this is definitely within the purview of what a construct could do.
  5. Other combat actions: Constructs can definitely do things like Aid Another or Total Defense. This is also probably covered in the "specific tactics" clause.
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Other actions are literally any other action. An Astral Construct is mindless, but it's still a creature (i.e. it has a soul) so even actions like "sort this pictures into two piles: happy and sad" are completely possible. In fact, Astral Constructs have a base Wis score of 11, which is slightly (albeit insignificantly) better than the human average of 10, making them better-than-average at tasks involving simple Wis checks. As mindless creatures Astral Constructs have an effective +0 Int modifier for Int related skill checks, making them about as good as an average human at things like mental math.

Some orders you could give it as "other actions":

  • find and kill a rabbit, then bring it back here

  • define 'love'

  • get me directions to the nearest Library

  • go buy 1 dozen eggs and 1 quarter gallon of milk

  • Take Company 112 and flank the demonic army such that their archers are distracted.

Some possible problems you might have in doing each of these:

  • the Construct returns with the rabbit's soul, not its body.

  • The construct fails to come up with anything, despite trying its best.

  • The construct is unsure the Library you are standing next to is the closest one. The Construct believes that the closest library is the library in your heart. The construct is unsure how to give you directions. The construct waits for such directions to become clear to it so it can give them to you.

  • The construct has no idea where to buy these things from and wanders aimlessly waiting to encounter an egg-and-milk salesperson.

  • The construct is a poor military leader and does not respond appropriately to complications in the plan

So what's the advantage of the Utility power? Well, there's a couple of benefits, as detailed below:

  • normally, the construct lasts 1 round/level. That's not very long. With the Utility add-on your constructs last 1 hour/level! That's much better!

  • normally, constructs follow your orders until the orders have been carried out. With the utility add-on constructs loop even if you don't want them to (if you're not careful), resulting in even more hilarious hijinks.

There are also a couple things about the Utility add-on I'd like to clear up:

  • the Utility Power seems to think normal Astral Constructs have to stay within the spell's range. That's not true though.

  • the Utility Power seems to think Astral Constructs abandon long tasks for reasons other than disappearing after their one-minute lifespan, being destroyed, or being ordered to do something else. This isn't true either.

  • the Utility Power seems to think Constructs can't be used to make skill checks normally. That's just silly, and completely baseless.

So, to sum up, you can give your Construct 'tasks' of any kind, but it might not succeed at them and it might disappear before completing them. Utility doesn't help with the first problem, but it works wonders for the second.

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