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Clockwork, Clockwork Vivisectionist

The mechanical workings of this humanoid figure are incredibly complex, but the gore-spattered scalpels it has on one hand and the glistening syringes inside its cage-like chest make its intentions clear.

Clockwork Vivisectionist CR 10

Source Pathfinder #112: The Whisper Out of Time pg. 82
XP 9,600
N Medium construct (clockwork)
Init +6; Senses all-around vision, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception –1


AC 24, touch 14, flat-footed 20 (+2 Dex, +2 dodge, +10 natural)
hp 91 (13d10+20)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +3
DR 10/bludgeoning; Immune construct traits
Weaknesses vulnerable to electricity


Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claw +22 (2d6+9 plus grab)
Special Attacks anesthetizing injection


Str 28, Dex 15, Con —, Int —, Wis 9, Cha 1
Base Atk +13; CMB +22 (+26 grapple); CMD 36
Feats Improved InitiativeB, Lightning ReflexesB
SQ difficult to create, efficient winding, standby, swift reactions


Environment any
Organization solitary
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Anesthetizing Injection (Ex) A clockwork vivisectionist that has pinned a victim can try to anesthetize the victim with fluid-filled syringes normally stored in the vivisectionist’s chest compartment. The vivisectionist performs the injection as a standard action. This deals no damage, but the victim must succeed at a DC 16 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 1d6 minutes. This is a poison effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Efficient Winding (Ex) A clockwork vivisectionist can function for 2 days per Hit Die every time it is wound.

Standby (Ex) A clockwork vivisectionist can place itself on standby as a standard action. While on standby, a clockwork vivisectionist cannot move or take any actions, but it remains aware of its surroundings. Time spent on standby does not count against the vivisectionist’s wind-down duration. A clockwork vivisectionist can exit standby as a swift action.


Assembled by unknown creators for inscrutable purposes, clockwork vivisectionists wait in the depths of ageless dungeons or within the tombs of forgotten kings. When wound, they pursue a single purpose: to examine the inner workings of living humanoids. They approach this task with a cold, insatiable curiosity that has somehow been programmed into their clicking levers and complex gear trains. Clockwork vivisectionists enter combat only to paralyze victims for later vivisection.


Clockwork vivisectionists are vaguely humanoid in shape, but they diverge from this general form in disturbing ways. They typically stand 6 feet tall and weigh 250 pounds. They have four segmented mechanical legs that allow them to move quickly in any direction. Their chests are wrought metal cages that swing open to reveal an assortment of syringes loaded with paralyzing poisons, and their misshapen arms end in vicious surgical implements, often caked with dried blood and bits of gore. A clockwork vivisectionist’s head has three visages, each facing a different direction, allowing the vivisectionist to see in every direction at once. A vivisectionist’s forged metal faces are often locked in expressions of horror, terror, or agony, as if whoever (or whatever) created them was building a facsimile of a humanoid, but had only ever seen faces expressing these emotions. Every few minutes, the faces rotate positions with a ratcheting sound, but it’s unclear why a clockwork vivisectionist does this.

The clockwork mechanisms within a vivisectionist are noticeably more complex than those of clockwork constructs built by most sages and engineers in the Inner Sea region. Those few scholars who have examined a disassembled vivisectionist have noted the incredibly precise machining of the gears, the astonishing density of the gear trains, and the banks of levers that seem able to store information by locking into countless combinations of positions. It’s possible that the information gleaned from their vivisections is stored within these mechanisms for later retrieval by their mysterious creators. Despite this complexity, clockwork vivisectionists have no true intelligence. The emotionless manner in which they carry out their experiments only amplifies the chilling horror of encountering one.

The key used to wind a clockwork vivisectionist is often difficult to recognize as a key at all. It usually takes an arcane shape and using it may require solving a puzzle of some kind. Examples include a star map cast in bronze that aligns with a star pattern on the clockwork’s back (often depicting constellations unrecognizable to denizens of Golarion), a set of independently rotating rings with unfamiliar runes on them that must be inserted into a socket on the clockwork and rotated into the correct alignment, and a complex set of lenses and mirrors that must be correctly focused to shine a beam of light on a particular spot on the clockwork’s body.

Because its singular purpose is to cut open and experiment on still-living creatures, a clockwork vivisectionist employs unusual tactics in combat. Once it has pierced a victim with its scalpel claws and injected him with anesthetic, it drops the paralyzed victim and moves on to another. Only once all enemies are paralyzed or have fled will the vivisectionist begin “operating,” keeping each victim paralyzed but alive as long as possible (rarely longer than 1 hour) with regular injections from the bank of fluid-filled syringes in its chest. A victim can continue to attempt DC 16 Fortitude saving throws once per minute to escape the paralysis effect. A victim who escapes or is rescued once this process has begun may suffer from severe mental trauma even after her physical wounds have been healed.

Habitat and Society

Explorers of the deepest dungeons in Golarion report finding clockwork vivisectionists in isolated chambers surrounded by mutilated corpses that were the result of the vivisectionist’s past experiments. This can include entire corpses with the skin removed, organs affixed to walls in careful arrangements, and bizarre sculptures with eerie radial symmetry built from the body parts of multiple victims. Clockwork vivisectionists are often found in areas with connections to Azlant or Thassilon. However, they have also been found in the ruins of Shadun in Qadira, Tumen in Osirion, and in the catacombs of El-Fatar. It is rumored that the Pactmasters of Katapesh maintain a collection of clockwork vivisectionists, their mechanisms wound down and their keys carefully hidden away.

Though they don’t typically remain in one location, instead roaming tombs and dungeons in search of victims for as long as their windings will allow, clockwork vivisectionists often seek out traps, natural locations, or other creatures with daze or stun attacks that might help them to conduct their vivisections. Traps involving azure lily pollen (Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Equipment 111), cytillipedes (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 5 65), Leng ghouls (Bestiary 5 120), or tenebrous worms (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 260) are often found in the same area of a dungeon as a clockwork vivisectionist.


No one on Golarion has successfully constructed a clockwork vivisectionist in recent memory, or, if they are indeed the work of extraplanar entities, ever. However, arcane academics who have examined partially destroyed vivisectionists have reverse-engineered the process, and it’s rumored that the dwarven metalsmiths of Maheto and arcane researchers in Gurat are competing to be the first to build a functioning one.

Creating these clockworks requires precisely crafted gears and other refined mechanisms, plus various anesthetizing fluids, worth 8,500 gp. However, the process isn’t a matter of simply building the mechanisms in the correct shape—some aspect of a clockwork vivisectionist’s function remains incomprehensible and alien to beings on the Material Plane, so aspiring clockwork makers must consult with extraplanar powers using contact other plane. One theory suggests that constructing the clockwork near a gate to Leng, or, for the truly adventurous builder, on Leng itself, may increase the chance of successfully creating a functional clockwork vivisectionist.

Clockwork Vivisectionist

CL 10th; Price 80,000 gp


Requirements Craft Construct, contact other plane, geas/quest, limited wish, creator must be at least caster level 10th; Skill Craft (clockwork) DC 20; Cost 44,250 gp

Creatures in "Clockwork" Category

Clockwork Angel15
Clockwork Assassin13
Clockwork Dragon16
Clockwork Excavator10
Clockwork Familiar2
Clockwork Fiend17
Clockwork Goblin3
Clockwork Goliath19
Clockwork Guardian8
Clockwork Gunslinger7
Clockwork Hound5
Clockwork Leviathan12
Clockwork Mage9
Clockwork Nautiloid14
Clockwork Overseer7
Clockwork Priest11
Clockwork Servant2
Clockwork Snail10
Clockwork Soldier6
Clockwork Songbird1/2
Clockwork Spy1/2
Clockwork Steed6
Clockwork Vivisectionist10
Mechanical Efreeti1
Toy Golem5


Source Bestiary 3 pg. 53
Clockwork constructs are the technological cousins of golems, constructed with a combination of magic and precise technologies dependant upon the internal churning and turning of thousands of intricate springs, screws, and gears.

There are those who would scoff at the work of clockwork engineers, whose constructs seem at best merely imitations of the creations brought to life by practitioners of the purely arcane arts. However, those canny enough to realize the potential of clockwork engines know their true power to be both exotic and potent. In worlds where clockworks are common, these creatures can rival even the most powerful of golems for raw power. Massive giants comprising countless nuts and bolts have torn entire empires asunder. Time and time again, clockwork creatures have proven themselves a formidable presence in the face of more traditional rivals, and those who have borne witness to the feats of these creatures know to hold their tongues before questioning the constructs' power.

Clockwork creatures function by combining magical energies and clockwork mechanisms. The myriad metal parts that go into the construction of a clockwork creation require absolute precision in order to function properly, so they must be built by only the steadiest of hands. Amateurish attempts at clockwork construction typically result in nonfunctional units or misfires, and many an engineering lab has been burned to the ground by novices seeking to learn the basics of clockworks and the elements that power them.

Particularly guileful crafters may construct miniature clockwork spies that can record sound, and rumors tell of even more advanced technologies that allow visual recording. While magical wonders such as spells can allow the user to scry information or to see where one isn't normally physically able to, clockwork spies provide an edge in that their memories are concrete and incorruptible, enabling them to make flawless recordings of events not subject to the regular perversions of human memories.

Clockwork creations, as their names suggests, must be wound up before they animate. The creator of a clockwork crafts a unique key for each creation. This key is typically inserted into the clockwork's back and turned clockwise to wind it. Turning the key counterclockwise has the effect of winding the machine down, though only a willing (or completely helpless) machine will allow itself to be unwound in this way, meaning either its creator or someone its creator has specifically designated can normally do so. Since each key is totally unique, construction of a new key (or bypassing a key entirely) requires a successful Disable Device check (DC = 20 + the clockwork's CR). Larger clockworks tend to have larger keys, and particularly huge keys require more than one set of hands to turn. Rather than seek assistance from other engineers, eccentric or hermetic inventors often rely upon other clockwork creations to help them turn keys or aid in the creation of more monumental constructs. Other times, engineers give copies of keys to their most trusted clockworks, which can be programmed to wind allies and even themselves as the situation requires.

Much like golems and animated objects, clockwork creatures can be given any number of commands; a perpetually turning script in their core records those orders and programs the rest of the machine. Only one who possesses a key to the clockwork can program it, but any commands given to the construct last until the clockwork is reprogrammed or destroyed. An individual clockwork's potential is only limited by its creator's innovation and aptitude. Unlike many golems, which are trapped in bodies resembling lumbering and fallible cages, clockwork constructs can be repeatedly reworked and reengineered—gears can be oiled, springs can be replaced, and pistons can be fine-tuned. The ever-adjustable framework of these mechanical beasts allows for extreme variation from creation to creation.

Since clockwork creations are mostly mechanical and are at the mercy of their creator's adeptness with the technology, they are prone to the follies of human error. Loose bolts, improper programming, or lack of maintenance are all cause for malfunctions, errors that can range from minute energy leaks to deadly explosions. The most common cause of malfunction, however, is not imparted by the creator, but by the clockwork's destroyer. Creatures attacking the machine gradually unhinge screws and twist cogs with each landed blow, giving the clockwork a greater chance of backfire. Many combat clockworks are thus accompanied by clockwork servants—servitor clockworks that quickly and readily fix their mechanical allies in the heat of battle.

In the earlier days of clockwork technology, many practical hindrances prevented rapid maturation of the devices. Clockwork machines were powered by inefficient, costly resources; however, the advent of arcane enchantment not only has allowed for greater precision in the crafting of gears and other key components, but has also opened up a wide new range of possibilities for defensive systems and offensive weaponry. Early attempts to combine clockwork with steam power or other nonmagical forms of energy tended to overcomplicate the already delicate machinery, and have long since been abandoned as a result. Whispers abound of an even more unusual category of clockwork that has solved this problem and has merged the complexities of steam power with the adaptability of magical energies, yet such exotic and unusual clockworks remain nothing more than rumors in most worlds at this time.

Clockwork Augmentations

Source Pathfinder #123: The Flooded Cathedral pg. 81
In addition to the standard special abilities and qualities granted by the clockwork subtype, many clockwork designs incorporate more abilities designed by their engineers. The following examples are intended to help GMs build new clockworks or modify existing ones. Some of the most common clockwork special abilities have been gathered in this section along with a number of new ones.

Charged (Ex): Equipped with a static generator, a clockwork with this special ability deals an additional 1d6 points of electricity damage with all natural attacks and melee weapons it has.

Efficient Winding (Ex): Built for long missions, a clockwork with this special ability can function for 2 days per Hit Die each time it’s wound. If the creature’s CR is 11 or higher, it can function for 3 days per Hit Die each time it is wound.

Embedded Ioun Stone (Ex): As a full-round action, an ioun stone can be embedded in (or removed from) a slot in the clockwork creature (usually on its forehead). It is possible to embed or remove an ioun stone only if the clockwork is helpless, pinned, or willing. The clockwork gains the benefit of the ioun stone, including its resonant power.

Grind (Ex): A clockwork with this special attack deals additional slashing damage when it makes a successful grapple combat maneuver check because of many twisting gears and churning pistons in its body. This additional damage is equal to 1d4 points (1d6 if Large, 1d8 if Huge, 2d6 if Gargantuan, or 3d6 if Colossal) plus 1-1/2 the creature’s Strength bonus.

Integrated Firearm (Ex): One of the clockwork’s arms ends in a firearm. The firearm generally functions as a pistol or musket intended for a creature of the clockwork’s size, but nearly any firearm of suitable size is possible. The clockwork is considered proficient with the weapon. The clockwork can reload an integrated one-handed firearm as a swift action and an integrated two-handed firearm as a move action. As a standard action, the clockwork can remove the broken condition from an integrated firearm, provided that the condition resulted from a misfire. A clockwork usually has 10 rounds of ammunition and gunpowder stored within a reloading mechanism.

Proficient (Ex): A clockwork with this special ability is proficient with all simple and martial weapons. The clockwork must have humanlike hands in order to gain this ability.

Repair Clockwork (Ex): Clockworks with this special ability are adept at repairing other clockwork constructs. As a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, the clockwork can repair damage done to either itself or an adjacent clockwork creature, restoring 1d10 hit points to the target. If the repairing creature’s CR is 11 or higher, the amount of hit points restored increases to 2d10.

Self-Destruction (Ex): When the hit points of a creature with this special ability are reduced to 10% of its total or less but are still above 0, the creature self-destructs on its next turn, bursting in an explosion of metal scraps and steam in a 20-foot-radius burst. The damage dealt is equal to 1d6 points for each Hit Die above 5 the construct has (clockworks with 5 or fewer Hit Dice cannot gain this ability). Half of this damage is fire damage and half is slashing damage. A target that succeeds at a Reflex save (DC = 10 + half the clockwork’s Hit Dice + the creature’s Constitution modifier [usually 0]) takes half damage.

Standby (Ex): A clockwork creature with this special ability can place itself on standby as a standard action. While on standby, the clockwork creature cannot move or take any actions. It remains aware of its surroundings but takes a –4 penalty on Perception checks. Time spent on standby does not count against the clockwork’s wind-down duration. The clockwork can exit standby as a swift action. If it does so to initiate combat, it gains a +4 racial bonus on its Initiative check.

Tough Alloys (Ex): The clockwork gains Toughness as a bonus feat.