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A helmed horror was an animated construct formed from a suit of armor and often found as a guardian.[6][4]

The most powerful type of helmed horror was the battle horror,[4][7] also known as a shadowguard.[7]


A helmed horror was an empty suit of plate armor, standing as much as 7 ft (2.1 m) tall, with purple magical light flickering between the joints.[3][4] Some appeared to maintain their armor, keeping it polished and shiny, while others' armor deteriorated. They almost always kept their visors dowm.[3]

They often carried a greatsword and a heavy crossbow.[4]


Helmed horrors could move through the air, as with the spell air walk supplemented by the ability to feather fall.[3] They could see unseen creatures and objects, as the spell see invisibility.[4]


A helmed horror imbuing its weapon with fire.

Helmed horrors fought intelligently. They went after soft foes first with ranged attacks and used their magic to outmaneuver foes.[3][4] Their first priority was to ensure the success of their current commands, so they would not fight to the death unless doing so was the only way to pursue their directives.[3]

They were highly resistant to magic and immune to poisons, diseases, and mind-altering effects. They possessed an innate ability to imbue their weapons with potent offensive enchantments, such as causing it to ignite.[3][4]

When a helmed horror was defeated, its armor would crumble into slag.[3]


They were often created to protect specific locations, but occasionally they were given special tasks requiring them to travel. As tireless constructs, they often outlived their creators, and pursued their final directives for eternity.[3]


The process of creating helmed horrors was something of a closely kept secret for many years. While unknown to the magical community at large, a great number of clerics of Bane, liches, and evil wizards knew well how to create these constructs.[3] In later times, it was uncommon knowledge. A powerful spellcaster, with knowledge of both construct creation and arms and armor creation was needed, and a special workroom, along with the spells needed for the ritual.[4]

The spell of mailed might could be used to animate mundane sets of metal armor into versions of helmed horrors. When horror created via this spell died, they exploded in a burst of shrapnel, yet simply returned to unanimated state once the spell expired.[8]


Helmed horrors were first created over 5,000 years ago. Both Netheril and Imaskar were known to have used them.[3]

Notable Uses[]

A helmed horror with a flail attached to its arm.

The Seat of Might in Myrinjar was guarded by several helmed horrors.[9]

Battle horror shadowguards were employed to defend the "silent vaults" of Hlintar in the Vast in the mid–14th century DR.[7]

In addition, the deities Deep Duerra, Flandal Steelskin, Gaerdal Ironhand, Gorm Gulthyn, Helm, and Laduguer made use of these constructs.[10]




Halls of the High KingThe Ruins of Undermountain
The Temptation of Elminster
Video Games
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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 183. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 155. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 60. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. Edited by Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 175–177. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Greenwood, Martin, Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Monstrous Compendium. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  6. James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 60. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
  8. Ed Greenwood (June 2006). “A Dark and Stormy Knight: Another Evening with the Wizards Three:”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #344 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 60–61.
  9. Ed Greenwood (April 1999). “Elminster's Everwinking Eye: A Wayfarers Guide to the Forgotten Realms”. In Erik Mona ed. Polyhedron #135 (TSR, Inc.), p. 8–9.
  10. Sean K. Reynolds (2002-05-04). Deity Do's and Don'ts (Zipped PDF). Web Enhancement for Faiths and Pantheons. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 10–15. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-08.