There is nothing like scaring a party of novice adventurers in Dungeon and Dragons 5e than with a suit of armor that starts to move and turns out to be a helmed horror. These monsters have a couple of subclasses, which all vary in power. The strongest of the helmed horrors are battle horrors. These reanimated suits of armors are also named shadow guards.
I love throwing this monster at my players, and I am sure you will, too, after reading this ultimate guide about helmed horrors. If you are an adventurer, don’t click away. I will give you a couple of tips to defeat these fearsome DnD foes and at least help you get away from them if you are about to die.
Keep reading till the end, as I am going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have about helmed horrors.
What are helmed horrors in 5e Dungeons and Dragons?
You can find these monsters on page 183 of the 5e monster manual. They are medium-sized humanoid monster between 5 to 7 feet tall that can reason, think and strategize against their foes. They are completely loyal to their creator and his or her goals. Even centuries after their maker has died, they will continue to carry out the commands they were given. They do not have any emotions or ambitions but loyalty to their goal and creator.
From a physical point of view, they are just animated armor. Most of the time, they have plate armor, a shield, and a long sword. However, it is not uncommon for them to dual-wield the long swords or hold them with both hands. In addition, some creators give their helmed horrors magical weapons to make them stronger.
They are more intelligent than regular golems and have enough intelligence and wit to understand the difference between a literal order and the actual intent of that order. So it will carry out any order its maker gives it. No matter how vile or how strange, they never have any objection about executing it.
What are their stats?
The first thing you as a DM or a player need to know is what stats your opponent has, their weaknesses, how they attack you, and any other information that might come in handy when fighting these monsters.
|Hit Points||Armor Class||Speed|
|60 (8d8 + 24)||20||30 feet|
AC – Hit Points – Speed
Armor class – Being a reanimated armor, helmed horrors have quite a decent AC. They have an armor class of 20 and use a plate body and shield to protect themselves. This means that you won’t hit all too high on them when fighting them.
Hit Points – They also have a decent mid-level hit points pool. With 60 hit points (or 8d8 +24), they are pretty bulky if you consider their AC. So they aren’t a monster you should throw at beginning adventurers.
Speed – Helmed horrors are very interesting when it comes to movement. Besides the fact that they have a normal walking speed of 30 ft, they can fly too! This is something a lot of players do not know about them. So it is perfect to surprise them.
Helmed horror stat block
|18 (+4)||13 (+1)||16 (+3)||10||10||10|
Strength – They have a strength of 18 (+4), so they can dash out some decent melee hits if you aren’t careful.
Dexterity – Their dexterity isn’t all too great; they have a 13 (+1) in this stat. That means you can hit them quite often.
Constitution – Their constitution is pretty decent too! The monsters have a 16 (+3), so they should not be underestimated in this regard.
Intelligence – They only have 10 intelligence, so nothing special.
Wisdom – likewise, helmed horrors only have 10 wisdom. So that won’t be a problem.
Charisma – Just like wisdom and intelligence, they only have 10 charisma.
Skills, immunities, senses, and resistances
Helmed Horrors in 5e have a perception of +4. If you have ever DM’d, you know what that means! They are awesome monsters to use in an ambush. Time to scare some adventurers who are a bit too confident walking around in the ruins of a long-dead evil wizard’s tower.
Being made out of armor gives you quite some resistance. The creature has resistance against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing if the attack is nonmagical and not adamantine. So that is quite a powerful defense.
Their immunities are pretty decent, too; you can’t damage them with force, necrotic, and poison. Having no body comes with some perks, after all!
Helmed Horrors have a massive amount of powerful condition immunities. They are immune to being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, petrified, poisoned, stunned, and paralyzed. This is quite a lot to remember, so I would write them down to ensure you don’t forget about them.
This is such an awesome perk about them. The helmed horror can be immune to up to 3 spells. These can include fireball and heat metal. So if you know the spells of your adventurers and you want to give the wizard a hard time, you can render a major part of his magic arsenal useless!
Here is another aspect that makes them so great at ambushing unexpected players. While they have blindsight of 60 feet (more than enough for corridors or rooms), they have a passive perception of 14. So, as I said, they are perfect for ambushes in buildings and dungeons!
As a DM, you will need to think a bit about who created the helmed horrors. They can only understand the languages their creator spoke. However, they can not speak and are mute. So make sure you have some kind of a backup story for the creator of these monsters if your players start to ask questions about the language.
Helmed horrors aren’t just defense-based; they also have a decent multi-attack where they make two attacks with their longsword. The longsword they carry isn’t all too crazy. It gives a melee weapon attack of +6 to hit, and it reaches 5 feet. If the longsword is used with both hands, the hit is 8 – or 1d8 +4 – slashing damage or 9 (1d10 + 4) slashing damage.
Of course, you can give these monsters a magical sword. Their creator has the money to reanimate armors, so a decent magical sword isn’t too farfetched. Just make sure you do not make them too strong for lower-level adventurers.
What do these stats mean for your adventuring party?
These monsters aren’t going to be pushovers! They have a very high strength and constitution. Their dexterity is above average, and their armor class is high too.
So if the party is under-leveled, there might be some dead saving throws if they don’t have a good strategy. Check out the FAQ at the end if you need some tips on how to defeat them!
Thanks to the +4 they have in their perception skill, they are vigilant and hard to surprise. They also have a very strong resistance against nonmagical and non-adamantine attacks. They will take only half the damage against bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing. They also have a ton of immunities and resistance.
However, the strongest perk they have is their complete immunity against three spells. If your DM is a bit evil, he makes his helmed horrors immune to the most powerful spells your party has.
Moreover, they can attack in groups, and their immunity does not have to be the same. That means you will need to keep track of them. For example, you may waste a turn on one that has resistance against heat metal.
Another cool aspect that a creative dm might make great use of is their ability to fly (hover) 30 feet per movement. This means you aren’t safe when you are close to the castle walls, and you can’t throw them out of any windows!
Tactics: How to DM a helmed horror in 5e
Setting the scene
A major part of DnD is storytelling and thus having encounters that do not feel forced. Helmed horrors are amazing to get the gears in your brain turning and make up a creepy or tragic background story.
You have some of the most fun classic fantasy elements to work with. You have ruins, loyal automatons, strong wizards, and so on. You can put these helmet horrors in ancient ruins, newly built castles, long-forgotten dungeons, and funky wizards towers. You might also have one randomly pop up in a forest. Remember, these will do their orders long after their creator has died. So if they had to protect a certain plot of land, they would do so, even if it has long been reclaimed by nature.
Another thing you, as a dungeon master, should not forget is that these can be part of a unit or a pair. You can have multiple helmed horrors guarding a door, a room, or working as a small personal garrison.
You can also combine them with other monsters that do not need an ‘upkeep.’ Furthermore, you can have undead-like skeletons as their minions or squires. Do not forget that they are mute and can not give out spoken orders. However, they can use their shields to use a kind of color-coded language. For example, Thor’s shields have a continual flame spell which is covered by gemstones.
These guardians are very multifunctional; they have a lot of potentials if you know how to use them! So try and make the most out of them.
Thinking about the possibilities and weaknesses
A good DM thinks about the strength of his monsters; a great one thinks about the weaknesses. Next, you will need to figure out how your players are going to mess with your plan.
Let’s start with what their goal is. They want to perform their orders, and they have 0 problems dying for their cause. This can be guarding something, preventing certain people from coming inside, or killing everything that comes close to them.
The thing about helmed horrors is, they are not dumb. They understand the difference between a literal order and the intent of an order. So your adventurers aren’t going to outsmart them as easily as regular golems.
One of their main weaknesses is the location where you find them most often. Ruins, castles, dungeons, all are tight spaces. This gives creative players the ability to use spells like a bonfire in 5e to chip damage your helmed horrors when they run towards them. So you will need to find a counter to this, for example, making the horrors immune against the spell.
The most obvious strength is how bulky and strong they are. However, since these monsters are little more than reanimated armors with a ton of immunities and resistances, weak adventurers will have a lot of trouble taking them down quickly.
Another strong point helmed horrors have their passive perception and +4 perception. So they won’t be ambushed easily, and you can use them to ambush your players instead.
For tips on how to kill them as a player, check out the FAQ section below!
Helmed Horrors are great to pair with other monsters, which have the ability to stay around centuries after their master or creator has died. The best idea is to make them a tank to slow down adventurers while long-range unites like skeletal archers are attacking the adventures struggling to take down these hunks of armor. However, make sure these are spread out enough since a well placed Fireball can turn a lot of them to dust and ashes.
Another good idea is to use them as commanders for skeletal minions or as the first line of defense against intruders. The fact that they are most often found in smaller spaces also gives you the ability to throw a wall of helmed horrors at your players.
Finally, while they almost always use a regular longsword, you can always give them a nice buff by giving them magical swords, a special shield, or giving them other weapons at their disposal like ballistas. These hunks made out of metal are reasonably smart, so use this to your advantage!
Extra Dungeon Master tips
They are expensive – Since their suits are made out of adamant. The raw material cost of these guardians is immense. You will need to add in the price for enchantments, upkeep, additional costs, and perhaps some magical items or two. If you want to have just one of these buff armor bodyguards, you will need to spend around 5000 gold.
Helmed horrors are hard to make – If you want to create one of these, you need to be pretty strong. At least a level 7 spell is needed to conjure these. So whoever they are guarding has to be pretty strong themselves.
Final thoughts about these amazing monsters
I love helmed horrors in DnD 5e. They are a very underestimated monster, in my opinion. However, they aren’t just strong tanks with amazing immunities; you can also think of some pretty interesting tactics to make them truly strong and dangerous for adventurers.
The two things that stand out to me are their ability to fly or hover and that you can give them immunity against three spells! These can be any kind of spell, and they do not have to be the same if you have multiple of these monsters at your disposal.
Being warriors with at least some intelligence, they make excellent guards and leaders for small units filled with weaker undead and reanimated monsters like skeletons.
Frequently asked questions about helmed horrors in DnD 5e
Question: Do you have tips on how to defeat a helmed horror?
Answer: They are CR4 monsters, so if you are a low-level player, you will have a lot of trouble defeating them. Even more so since they have an AC of 20 and pretty amazing resistances and immunities; however, they are often found in confined spaces. This means your area of effect spells will almost always hit them and whatever minions they have.
Question: Are there any helmed horror 5e minis?
Answer: Yes! If you look online, you will find a lot of them. There are 3d printed ones that you can paint yourself if you are into that. You can also try and make some yourself. If you are interested in minis in general, check out this great guide about board games with minis.
Question: Does a DnD 5e helmed horror drop armor?
Answer: It could! Most of the time, they will drop some damaged, rusted armor. However, some DMs, including myself, don’t like to have them drop their entire armor and make it crumble to dust when they are defeated. Also, since they are made out of adamantine armor, the loot would be a bit too generous for their CR4 rating.
Question: can a Helmed Horror fly?
Answer: Yes, a helmet horror has the ability to fly at a speed of 30 feet. That doesn’t mean they are some kind of superman creatures. Their flying abilities are limited to simply hovering over the ground. This does make them as good as immune against fall issues.
Question: how is a helmed horror created or made in DnD 5e
Answer: Helmed horrors are created by using adamantine armor, enchantments of at least the 7th level, and multiple other items like swords, magical odds and ends, like rings, if you want to buff them. If you want to make one of these guardians, it will cost you at least 5000 gold coins in materials.