Q: Dear Sage,
What, if any, templates can a warforged have applied? Does it lose any of its racial traits when its template changes its type?
A: As a general rule, if a template can be applied to a construct, it can be applied to a warforged. Thus, most of the templates in the Monster Manual are out.
Three notable exceptions are the half-celestial, half-dragon and half-fiendish template, which can be added to “any living, corporeal creature.” Technically, that excludes most constructs, since creatures without a Con score aren’t considered living creatures. However, a warforged has a Constitution score and is thus considered living (as suggested by the “living construct” subtype it has).
A warforged with one of these templates changes its type (to outsider or dragon, depending on the template), but retains the living construct subtype (and all features and traits thereof). It gains the traits of its new type, and it would lose any construct traits it possessed. However, since the living construct subtype basically supercedes the construct type, the warforged doesn’t really have any construct traits to lose.
A warforged that changes its type wouldn’t lose its racial traits (such as its composite plating or slam attack), just like a half-dragon human retains his bonus feat and bonus skill points.
About the Author
The Sage is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central and southern China. Debate continues as to whether he is truly a bear or more related to the raccoon rather than the bear, or perhaps in a family of his own. When not eating bamboo and answering rules questions, he works under the nom de plume of Andy Collins as an RPG developer in Wizards of the Coast R&D, where his development credits include Complete Mage, Dragon Magic, and the Player's Handbook v.3.5. He can be easily recognized by his large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, ears and on his rotund body.