From PathfinderWiki
A clockwork golem.
This article is about the construct subtype. For the general technology in use beyond constructs, see clockwork technology. For creatures that have been described generically as clockworks, see robot. For other mechanical creatures or animated contraptions, see automaton. For the construct-like race sometimes confused with clockworks, see android.

A clockwork creature is a complex mechanical construct with an external power supply. Many clockworks are built to resemble living creatures and mimic their abilities.1


Unlike standard constructs created purely via magic, clockworks do not require the creator to bind an elemental spirit or mortal soul to give it power and motion. Instead, most clockworks rely on some form of winding mechanism or other clockwork technology that must be turned on a regular basis in order to animate the construct. After being wound, often with a unique key, the construct can go about its duties until it runs out of energy. Once that happens, the construct becomes little more than an inanimate object (albeit a very complex one), that can remain in this dormant state for centuries before it is wound again and returns to "life". The mundane source of their power makes clockworks the preferred creations of those who find the harvesting of a creature's life force to be distasteful or evil.1


Unlike the much more solid and durable constructs, clockworks are filled with springs, cogs, gears, and other delicate mechanical devices, making them more susceptible to damage. Electricity in particular can be devastating to the internal workings of such a construct.1

On Golarion

The technological understanding to build clockwork devices was first developed over 10,000 years ago in Azlant, and later perfected in Thassilon. Even though Earthfall destroyed most examples of their work, a few constructs survived the apocalypse, leading to the rediscovery of the art thousands of years later.1 The resurfacing of New Thassilon also revived some of its ancient techniques.2 Because clockworks are so much more time-consuming to develop and create than more standard magical constructs, they remain somewhat of a curiosity of the rich.1

One of the centers of clockwork technology in the Inner Sea region is the Clockwork Cathedral in Absalom. The craftsmen and spellcasters who work here continuously strive to improve their creations, often infusing them with magic in order to lessen the need for external sources of power.1 The best-regarded modern work on clockwork design and construction is The Glorious Rhythms in Life and Mechanica, by Professor Hadia Al-Dannah, a Qadiran mathematician and former scholar at the Clockwork Cathedral.3


Paizo published an article about clockworks in The Flooded Cathedral 76ff. and a sourcebook about constructs, including clockworks: Construct Handbook.

For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 256. Paizo Inc., 2011
  2. Michael Sayre, et al. “2: Gears Equipment” in Guns & Gears, 60–61. Paizo Inc., 2021
  3. Brian Duckwitz, et al. Construct Handbook, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2018