Artificer is the most common term used in fantasy games for a character archetype or class focused on the creation and use of gadgets and devices. Whether a pulp gadgeteer, a mad scientist, or even outright called an artficer, they're somebody defined by the way in which they can either use artifacts to fight or else their skill at making stuff.
- 1 Dungeons & Dragons
- 1.1 1st Edition
- 1.2 2nd Edition
- 1.3 3rd Edition
- 1.4 4th Edition
- 1.5 5th Edition
- 1.6 Gallery
- 2 Deadlands
- 3 Ars Magica
- 4 Mage: The Ascension
- 5 Iron Kingdoms
- 6 Warhammer 40K
Dungeons & Dragons
This archetype actually goes back a long way in Dungeons & Dragons, all the way to the Skygnomes of Mystara. The most "classical" D&D example, unfortunately, are the incredibly irritating Tinker Gnomes of Dragonlance - gnomes cursed by Reorx to constantly experiment with science, but never to actually achieve anything.
It was a convoluted mess of a class, with the typical overly detailed ruleset of the edition. Which, admittedly, supported the flavor of minoi being inept bunglers who make nothing useful, but didn't entice people to play it.
Attempting to be an improvement on the Krynnish Gnome Tinker class from 1st edition (which isn't exactly a high bar to surmount), the Artificer appeared as a wizard specialist in the splatbook "Player's Option: Spells & Magic". Here, it's categorized as a "Thaumaturgical Specialist", a wizard who practices an unusual means of invoking and channeling magical energy; in this, it thusly shares its nature with the Alchemist, Geometer, Song Mage and Wild Mage.
The "School of Artifice" is composed of spells that store or channel magical energy through items. Basically, artificers are experts at creating one-shot versions of enchanted items, allowing themselves to use more spells at once by storing "pre-charged" spells in various tokens and talismans. This also increases their aptitude for crafting permanent magical items as well. Like the Alchemist and Geometer, they emphasize the need for a wizard to spend a lot of time in preparation, but this expanded arsenal can make them really nasty if they've got the time they need to stockpile gear. The splatbook even warns that artificers can potentially break the game if they're allowed to reach a high enough level, and specifically warns about the potential dangers of letting them craft magic items with the Absorption and Negation traits.
This specialization has the following mechanical traits:
- Allowed Races: Human, Gnome
- Ability Prerequisites: Intelligence 12, Constitution 15
- Prohibited Schools: Necromancy and Enchantment
- An artificer may memorize one additional School of Artifice spell per spell level each day.
- An artificer gains a +15% bonus to learn spells checks made to learn spells from the School of Artifice, and suffers a -15% penalty to learn spells checks made to learn spells from other schools.
- When an artificer gains a new level, they automatically learn one School of Artifice spell.
- When attempting to research a spell from the School of Artifice, an artificer treats that spell's level as being one level lower.
- Laboratory: An artificer, like an alchemist, requires a well-equipped laboratory to perform their distinctive take on magic. They begin play with a suitable laboratory, which requires 50 gold pieces per character level in monthly maintenance and supplies. If they need to build a new laboratory, it costs 1,000 gold pieces per character level. If denied access to their lab, an artificer loses access to their bonus spells, and cannot conduct research, make magical items, or add new spells to their spell book.
- Artifice Studies: By spending one full turn examining a magical item, an artificer has a chance (20% + 5% per level after first) to identify the item's general purpose and function.
- Master Magical Crafter: An artificer gains a +10% to their chance to successfully enchant items using the "create enchanted items" rules and the "Enchant an Item" spell. Additionally, if an artificer uses these methods to create a "true" version of an item that they have produced at least one temporary version of, then research time and expense is reduced to its minimum value.
- Store Spell: This ability is gained at 4th level. By spending an uninterrupted week to prepare an item as a magical vessel, which requires an item of the finest workmanship (minimum cost 100 gold pieces), an artificer can then bind a spell of their choice into the item, which requires a day of casting and 500 gold pieces per level of the spell. Once enchanted, the item's stored spell can be activated by the artificer alone, which casts the spell as normal except with a casting time of 1. A single item can only hold a single spell at a time; it can be "recharged" after its spell is expended, but re-enchanting it before using the spell merely swaps out the spell inside. An artificer may only store spell levels equal to their character level at once.
- Create Temporary Magical Item: This ability is gained at 7th level. Artificers can create temporary versions of any magic item not specifically restricted to non-wizards, which only function for them. To be able to create such an item, the artificer must first research the process; this takes 1 week per 500 XP value of the item and costs 100 GP per week. This time is halved if the artificer can either study a copy of the true magical item, or uses a research spell like Contact Other Plane or Legend Lore. At the end of the time, the artificer must succeed on a learn spells check to successfully understand the enchantment ritual. Once the ritual is researched, the artificer can use it whenever they like, but they can only memorize so many of them; an artificer's maximum number of spells per level is the same limit for their item-building rituals. Crafting an item requires half the research time, and funding in the form of the item's normal cost, plus 2d6*100 gold pieces, followed by success on a learn spells check. Once an item has been temporarily enchanted, it remains functional for 1d6 days, +1 day per level of the artificer. Temporary versions of charged items are created with one charge per artificer level. Items that were temporarily enchanted can be re-enchanted after their magical energies expire; renewing this enchantment requires a single week's work, 2d6*100 gold pieces, and a successful learn spells check.
School of Artifice Spells
- Chromatic Orb (1st)
- Divining Rod (1st)
- Mending (1st)
- Bind (2nd)
- Ice Knife (2nd)
- Leomund's Trap (2nd)
- Moon Rune (2nd)
- Bone Club (3rd)
- Explosive Runes (3rd)
- Flame Arrow (3rd)
- Item (3rd)
- Melf's Minute Meteors (3rd)
- Snapping Teeth (3rd)
- Enchanted Weapon (4th)
- Magic Mirror (4th)
- Thunder Staff (4th)
- Magic Staff (5th)
- Arrow of Bone (6th)
- Dimensional Blade (6th)
- Steal Enchantment (7th)
- Analyze Dweomer (8th)
- Antipathy-sympathy (8th)
- Shape Change (9th)
The initial attempt to bring artificers to 3.0 came in the form of the Gnome Artificer prestige class, in the Magic of Faerûn sourcebook. This version made exactly zero impact on the gaming community, and fell into shadow. The requirements are very weird, requiring a mix of otherwise useless skills, casting it doesn't advance and two feats. Its abilities are theoretically useful, but come slowly with weird execution and the requirements are high enough nobody bothered.
The archetype came into its own with the Artificer class in Eberron: as Eberron was built to explore the logical conclusions of D&Disms, magical engineers were a natural result, and this gave rise to the Artificer class. It was more or less an arcane buffer with a few extra things for making stuff (fabricate, wall of stone), using a complex ruleset called "Infusions" to temporarily enchant items and augment constructs, as well as being better at making magical items and creating construct sidekicks. While all this may seem a little ho-hum, the buffs could rack up some amazing bonuses for both the artificer themselves and their party, and their item creation abilities basically breaks the Wealth By Level standards of the game completely in half.
This latter point is the big deal here: 3rd edition artificers get a Craft Reserve pool of "free XP" for making items, and even better they can (starting at 5th level) "melt" existing magic items down to add their creation XP to the pool. So next time you go on an adventure where the DM has you finding a bunch of otherwise useless items, you don't sell them for half-value, you melt those fuckers down into more XP to use on making customized items for you and your party.
It doesn't take a clever person to see how to cheese the everloving shit out of this class in 3.5 in various ways. Not only can you get customized magic items you don't have to hope a DM rolled randomly on some table (that is, items you can actually fucking use well), you can also start relying a LOT more on consumable items like potions, scrolls, wands, staves, etc. There are several kinds of constructs, namely homunculi (from the MM and several Eberron books) and effigies (from Complete Arcane), that are cheap enough to somewhat mass-produce for tireless and loyal guards/sentries as well as a cheap source of labor. In fact, your very first homunculus should be a Dedicated Wright from the Eberron Campaign Setting book, because it can do all your item creation literally while you are doing anything else. And because you can throw on all kinds of buff effects for weapons and armor, your party wizard and cleric can save their precious slots for things like more battlefield control, debuffs, healing, etc.
One easily overlooked yet really powerful ability artificers have is the infusion Spell Storing Item. For the low price of a 1st level infusion and small amount of XP (spell level*caster level), that can be paid with your reserve, an artificer can have any 4th level or lower spell in the game without an expensive component/focus whenever he wants it. Locked door? Make a wand of Knock! Fighting poisonous enemies? Delay Poison! As you aren't limited by any spell list, you can apply spells at their lowest available level (such as Trapsmith's Haste as a 1st level spell.). Note that unlike most formula that multiply by spell level, this one doesn't say cantrips multiply by .5 instead of 0 so they have no cost (aside from the infusion slot) here. Another class making infusion is Personal Weapon Augmentation, which allows an Artificer to give any weapon they wield any +1 weapon ability. The most obvious use for this is Bane (giving +2 hit/damage and +2d6 damage against anything you're fighting), but other situational boosts like Ghost Touch are also useful.
If Leadership is available to you, basically the super-powered option is you take an artificer cohort (effectively doubling your WBL), and make your higher-level followers experts who manufacture stuff (masterwork items, tools, clothes, vehicles, possibly even your stronghold). Set them up in a nice, safe stronghold built to be a workshop with sleeping quarters, then put them to work between adventures. Just have your party turn over all items for XP reclamation, divvy up the money equally, and just put in requests for which items they want made for them, and let the boys go to work. Smart groups manufacture ways to really maximize the amount of loot they send back home for being sold or scrapped, such as portable holes (which have only volume capacity with unlimited weight tolerance) and (planar) ring gates (which, because the portable hole is basically just a piece of cloth weighing a few pounds, allows you to ship a virtually unlimited amount of stuff back and forth as needed).
So... yeah. Artificer can be pretty broken. It's even possible that, in the long term, they are as broken as full spellcasters are; they actually can get access to things like gate and time stop (via items), and while those items are usually one-shot things like scrolls, it only takes getting one off before the other guy casts a spell to seal their fate. That doesn't mean DMs should necessarily ban the class, though: a CoDzilla or God-wizard still destroy balance past a certain level. And truth be told, playing artificer effectively still takes some planning and smarts; clerics and wizards can just whistle up cheese on command at certain levels, right out of the PHB.
Oh, also there's something fun you can do. If your DM is fond of having you encounter Evil-oriented magic items that are of limited use to your party, and was silly enough to let you have an artificer, you can melt those items for XP and use that XP for making Good-oriented items. There is absolutely no indication or even any mere suggestion that the XP you recover is in any way "tainted" or otherwise aligned based on the item's original purpose or background. So yeah, you can absolutely melt down that black robe of the archmagi and just turn around and use the XP to make a white robe of the archmagi. The same also applies to any useless magic item that supposedly has a high price but has no interested buyers, such as the Apparatus of the Crab. Just be aware, bad DMs will react badly to this little turn of events in their campaign if they weren't prepared for players to figure this shit out, so do this at your own risk...
In Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, it came into its own as the Arcane Leader; embracing its status as the Wizardly equivalent to the Cleric, it specialized in healing spells and temporarily buffing armor & weapons, from giving your guys flaming swords to dispatch trolls to making your armor electrocute anybody trying to stab your ass. Unfortunately, due to coming out after the Bard, which shares its source/role combo, the artificer lost out on a chance to appear in Arcane Power. Thanks to the disaster that was Essentials, which meant no Arcane Power 2, Artificers never got any official expansions, though they did get a new subclass and some new spells in Dragon Magazine.
Mechanically, the 4e artificer has the following traits. It first debuted in Dragon #365, one issue after the debut of the Warforged, so it was actually available to players pretty early.
- Role: Leader
- Power Source: Arcane
- Key Abilities: Intelligence, Constitution, Wisdom
- Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, Leather
- Weapon Proficiencies: Simple Melee, Simple Ranged
- Implements: Rods, Staffs, Wands
- Bonus to Defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
- Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution score
- Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
- Healing Surges per Day: 6 + Constitution modifier
- Class Skills: Arcana, plus 4 from the following list: Diplomacy, Dungeoneering, Heal, History, Perception, Thievery
- Class Features: Arcane Empowerment, Arcane Rejuvenation, Healing Infusion Ritual Casting
Arcane Empowerment enables you to tinker with a magic item as part of a short rest, applying one of two effects - an item can only be subjected to a specific effect once per day. You can tinker with one magic item per day, but each milestone you reach allows you to tinker with one extra magic item per day. The effects you can apply are Impart Energy (recharge a depleted item Daily power) and Augment Energy (imbue a weapon or an artifact with a single-use +2 attack roll bonus that can be triggered as a free action).
Arcane Rejuvenation means that when an artificer's ally uses a magic item's daily power, that ally gains temporary hit points equal to (1/2 artificer's level + artificer's Intelligence modifier).
Healing Infusion is the artificer's "leader class power"; an Encounter power that can be used twice per encounter (thrice per encounter from level 16 on), but with each use replenished only if you spend a healing surge as part of your short rest, the Healing Infusion can be "cast" as either of two effects, with you choosing which effect applies when you use the power:
- Curative Admixture - Close Burst 5 per tier, targets the artificer or 1 ally in burst, target regains hit points equal to their healing surge value + the artificer's Wisdom modifier (plus an extra +2 HP per 5 levels the artificer has after 1st)
- Resistive Formula - Close Burst 5 per tier, targets the artificer or 1 ally in burst, target gains +1 AC until the end of the encounter, target can end the AC bonus as a free action to gain temporary HP equal to their healing surge value + the artificer's Constitution modifier (twice Con modifier at Paragon tier, thrice Con modifier at Epic tier).
Ritual Casting means the artificer starts play with the Ritual Caster feat and a ritual book containing Brew Potion, Disenchant Magic Item, Enchant Magic Item, and Make Whole. They don't need components to perform the Disenchant Magic Item ritual.
Dragon #374 featured the Punishing Eye 1st level Daily spell for Artificers.
Dragon #381 featured the Warrior Forge Artificer article, containing a new Healing Infusion option that replaces Resistive Formula (Shielding Elixir: Close Burst 5 per tier, targets the artificer or 1 ally in burst, target gains Resist 5/tier to one element from the list of Cold, Fire, Force, Lightning, Necrotic, Poison, Radiant or Thunder, resistance lasts until encounter's end, can end this resistance as a free action to become Immune to that element until the end of their next turn), a huge array of new spells, new feats for all three tiers, and two new Paragon Paths; the Arcane Armorer and the Spell Commander.
Dragon #387 featured the Class Acts: Artificer article, containing a bunch of different feats for artificers of specific races.
Dragon #390 featured a new background and some new feats for Eladrin artificers in its Winning Races: Eladrin article, as well as a new Artificer spell (level 3 Encounter Attack: Phantasmal Henchman) in its Winning Races: Gnomes article.
The artificer would make it way into Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition as the very first full class to be introduced outside of the Player's Handbook. However, its unusual focus and the new rules set meant it took a long time to get a finalized version done, as WotC made a conscious decision to avoid posting revised versions of classes in official splatbooks - for good or ill (see the Ranger debacle). As such, the artificer made frequent appearances in Unearthed Arcana, and took until November 2019 for an official version to debut. This ultimately does fit with how Artificer is an Eberron thing and there are twelve base classes in 5E Core with Eberron's recurring twelve plus one motif.
Wizards seemed to take an approach to the Artificer similar to a that of a genetic learning algorithm, by throwing random stuff at the wall that is the fanbase and recollecting whatever sticks. Each iteration of the artificer was a very different creature from all the others, and in the end it took five iterations before there was a finalized version.
Mark 1 Prototype: 2016
The Artificer was introduced as a subclass for the Wizard during the pilot re-release of Unearth Arcana, themed on Eberron. People pretty much decried it because it offered nothing new besides a bunch of magical items, a matter of contention because of how underwhelming those were. These items also cost you spell slots, which any sane Wizard would be better off spending on actual spells they wanted.
- Infuse Potions (2nd Level): Starting at 2nd level, you can produce magic potions. You spend 10 minutes focusing your magic on a vial of mundane water and expend a spell slot to transform it into a potion. Once you have expended a spell slot to create a potion, you cannot regain that slot until the potion is consumed or after 1 week, at which time the potion loses its effectiveness. You can create up to three potions at a time; creating a fourth potion causes the oldest currently active one to immediately lose its potency. If that potion has been consumed, its effects immediately end.
- Infuse Scrolls (2nd Level): At 2nd level, you can also tap into your reserves of magical energy to create spell scrolls. You can use your Arcane Recovery ability to create a scroll instead of regaining expended spell slots. You must finish a short rest, then spend 10 minutes with parchment, quill, and ink to create a spell scroll containing one spell chosen from those you know. Subtract the spell's level from the total levels worth of slots you regain using Arcane Recovery. This reduction to your Arcane Recovery applies until you use the scroll and then finish a long rest.
- Infuse Weapons and Armor (6th Level): Beginning at 6th level, you can produce magic weapons and armor. You spend 10 minutes focusing your magic on a mundane weapon, suit of armor, shield, or bundle of twenty pieces of ammunition, and expend a spell slot to infuse it with magical energy. The magic item retains its enhancement for 8 hours or until used (in the case of magic ammunition). You can infuse only one item at a time; if you infuse a second one, the first immediately loses its potency. Once you have expended a spell slot to create such an item, you cannot regain that slot until the item becomes nonmagical. The spell slot you expend determines the type of weapon, armor, or shield you can create.
- Superior Artificer (10th Level): Starting at 10th level, you can create a second magic weapon, suit of armor, shield, or bundle of ammunition using your Infuse Weapons and Armor ability. Attempting to infuse a third item causes the oldest one to immediately lose its potency. You can also create one additional potion or scroll using Infuse Potions or Infuse Scrolls.
- Master Artificer (14th Level): On reaching 14th level, your mastery of arcane magic allows you to produce a variety of magic items. You can create a single item chosen from Magic Item Tables A and B in chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. It takes you 1 week to produce such an item, and you must rest for 1 month before using this ability to craft another item.
Mark 2 Prototype: January 2017
As part of a wave of Unearthed Arcana released during January/February 2017, Wizards decided to repay the Artificer concept a visit...
- Magic Item Analysis (1st Level): You are able to cast Identify and Detect Magic as rituals at any time without any cost.
- Tool Expertise (2nd level): Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any check you make that uses any of the tool proficiencies you gain from this class.
- Wondrous Invention (2nd, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th level): You gain the power to craft certain magical items to use at each level. As in legit items from the DMG without worrying about cost since they never made any.
At 3rd level, you pick between the Alchemist and Gunsmith subclasses.
Mark 3 Prototype: February 2019
The third playtest version of the 5e artificer finally released around February 28/March 1 of 2019, with WotC claiming that heavy snowfall had prevented any UA material from being released in those two months of UA. WotC's laziness aside, how did it look? Well...
This version of the Artificer remains an Intelligence based Half Caster, which must have a set of either thieves tools or artisan's tools to hand in order to use them as a focus - without those, it can't cast its spells. It's a Prepared Caster, and needs to spend 1 minute fiddling with their tools per spell level for each spell on their list in order to change out their prepared spells. It has the following base class features:
- Magical Tinkering (1st Level): You can use your tools to transform a tiny, mundane item to perform some magical effect, such as storing 6 seconds of audio-recording, emitting a specific smell or noise, shedding weak light, or displaying a small visual effect. You can keep these "tinkered" items enchanted indefinitely, and sustain a number of them equal to your Intelligence modifier.
- Infuse Item (2nd Level): You can create temporarily enchanted items. The number of different Infusions you know, and how many you can sustain simultaneously, is determined by your artificer level. Infusions are permanent until you end them, you try to exceed your sustainable infusions (at which point the oldest is cancelled), or you have been dead for a number of days equal to your Int modifier (1 day minimum). Infusions consist of the following:
- Boots of the Winding Path (requires 4th level): You can enchant a pair of boots so they can teleport you to a spot you previously were at within 15 feet.
- Enhanced Defense: Enchants a shield or a suit of armor to give you +1 AC when equipped, +2 from 12th level onwards.
- Enhanced Weapon: Enchants a simple or martial weapon to grant you a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls, +2 from 12th level onwards.
- Many-Handed Pouch (requires 4th level): Enchants 2-5 pouches so that the contents of one can be accessed from another, so long as they are within 100 miles of each other.
- Radiant Weapon (requires 8th level): You can enchant a simple or martial weapon to grant you a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls, shed bright light up to 30 feet when desired, and attempt to blind an attacker as a reaction to being struck by a melee attack.
- Replicate Magic Item: Lets you build an equivalent to one of a number of different magical items from the PHB, with your options increasing as you level up.
- Resistant Armor (requires 8th level): Allows you to enchant a suit of armor so it can grant Resistance to either Acid, Cold, Fire, Force, Lightning, Necrotic, Poison, Psychic, Radiant or Thunder.
- Returning Weapon: Allows you to enchant a simple or martial throwing weapon to grant you a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls whilst also returning to your hand after being thrown.
- Tool Expertise (3rd Level): You double your proficiency bonus when using tools.
- Arcane Armament (5th Level): You can attack twice per round, if you are using a magical weapon.
- The Right Cantrip for the Job (10th Level): You can swap one artificer cantrip that you know for another artificer cantrip whenever you complete a short or long rest.
- Spell-Storing Item (18th Level): When you finish a long rest, you can place a 1st or 2nd level artificer spell in a simple weapon, martial weapon, or tool. Any creature holding the enchanted item can cast that spell with an action. The item remains enchanted until it has been depleted by use (it holds "charges" equal to twice your Intelligence modifier) or you use this feature again.
- Soul of Artifice (20th Level): You can attune to up to 6 magic items at once. You also gain a +1 bonus to your saving throws per magic item that you are attuned to.
At 3rd level, you choose a subclass. This version of the artificer features the Alchemist and the Artillerist. For the former, see its page. For the Artillerist...
- Bonus Spells: Shield (3rd), Thunderwave (3rd), Scorching Ray (5th), Shatter (5th), Fireball (9th), Wind Wall (9th), Ice Storm (13th), Wall of Fire (13th), Cone of Cold (17th), Wall of Force (17th).
- Tools of the Trade (3rd Level): You gain proficiency with Smith's Tools and Woodcarvers Tools, can use Rods/Staffs/Wands as spellcasting focuses for your artificer spells, and require only a quarter of the normal time and half the normal gold to make a Wand type magical item.
- Arcane Turret (3rd Level): You can summon a turret-like construct minion for free 1/day, or by casting an artificer spell of 1st level or higher. You can only have 1 turret at a time. Turrets can be armed with a flamethrower, a force ballista, or defender shields; you choose which when you summon your turret. It acts based on your commands, and as an action you can command it to self destruct, potentially dealing Force damage to all creatures within 10 feet.
- Wand Prototype (6th Level): When you complete a long rest, you can imbue a nonmagical wooden wand with the ability to cast an artificer cantrip of your choice until the end of your next long rest. You can only have one such proto-wand at a time, until you reach level 14, when you can have two of them at once. Nobody other than you can use these proto-wands.
- Fortified Position (14th Level): When you or allies are within 10 feet of your Arcane Turret, you count as having half cover. You can also summon 2 turrets at once.
Mark 4 Prototype: May 2019
The 4th version of the Artificer was an expansion upon the Mark 3. Aside from tweaking the multiclassing rules (now you round your artificer levels up for determining spell slots) and reworking the artificer's spell list, mainly by incorporating spells from the Xanathar's Guide to Everything splatbook, the new version featured three new Infusions - Enhanced Wand, Repeating Shot, and Repulsion Shield - and two new subclasses; the Archivist and the Battle Smith.
- Enhanced Wand: Boosts up a wand so its wielder gains a +1 bonus to spell attack rolls (+2 if the artificer is 12th level or more), and ignores half cover when making spell attacks.
- Repeating Shot: Affects a Simple or Martial weapon with the Ammunition trait, giving it a +1 attack and damage roll bonus and negating the Loading trait - instead, it magically produces ammo each time it's fired (stray shots disappear, so you can't produce endless ammo for others to salvage). In light of the Gun Smith's removal, it's a nice touch for many fans.
- Repulsion Shield: Imbues a shield with +1 AC and the bearer can, once per encounter, after being hit by a melee attack, use their Reaction to push the attack 15 feet.
Archivists are specialists in recovering, preserving and accessing information, which was already a job done by both the diviner and knowledge clerics. The elusive pinnacle that each pursues is the creation of an artificial mind to store information in.
Battle Smiths are basically an even tankier version of the Artillerists; their whole subclass revolves around creating a golemesque pet to beat the shit out of their enemies for them and keep them from getting squished whilst they lay buffs onto their allies.
The Final Result: November 2019
Released in Eberron: Rising From the Last War, the Artificer has seen its final published form. This marks the first fully-fledged, officially released class for 5th edition... 5 years after it was released. This final form takes lessons learned from the previous two prototypes, and refines them down to a smooth final product. That's not to say it's a perfect refinement. The Archivist is oddly absent from the final release, but this may have been due to fan backlash, or possibly held back for inclusion in whatever psionic content ever gets an official publication.
If you have played with the previous prototypes, you'll find the final release to be more or less what you were expecting. There are a number of noticeable tweaks though.
- Artificers get more Infusions Known, beginning with 4 and capping out at 12 at level 18.
- You also get more Infused Items, capping out at 6.
- Right Cantrip For the Job gets replaced with Right Tool For the Job, which allows you to conjure up a set of artisan's tools using an hour of work. This feature is moved down to 3rd level.
- Arcane Armament is gone.
- Tool Expertise is moved up to 6th level.
- 7th level gives you Flash of Genius, which lets you add your INT mod to your or an ally's ability/saving throws as a reaction.
- 10th level gives you Magic Item Adept, which gives you a 4th attunement slot and quarters the time to make and halves the gold needed to make a common or uncommon magic item.
- Spell Storing Item is now an 11th level feature.
- 14th level gives you Magic Item Savant, which gives you a 5th attunement slot, and allows you to ignore class, race, spell, and level requirements to attune to items.
- 18th level gives you Magic Item Master, which gives you a 6th attunement slot.
- Your capstone, Soul of Artifice, gives you the +1 saving throw bonus of the other one and allows you to cheat death by ending one of your attunements to bring you down to 1 HP instead of 0 HP.
- In an attempt to make the Alchemist more like an Alchemist, they axed the Alchemical Homunculus (which now any Artificer can take), and gave them the ability to make Elixirs. At the end of a long rest, or by using an action and burning a spell slot, you can charge a flask with liquid and roll for which of 6 effects it has: Healing 2d4+INT mod HP, increasing walking speed by 10 ft for 1 hour, giving a +1 AC bonus for 10 minutes, adding a d4 to every attack roll or saving throw for a minute, granting a 10ft flying speed for 10 minutes, or granting the ability to cast Alter Self for 10 minutes. If the elixir was created using the long rest method rather than the spell slot method, you don't get to pick which of these effects the potion does, the material forcing you to roll randomly instead.
- Restorative Reagents at 9th level gives anyone who drinks one of your Elixirs 2d6+INT mod temp hit points, as well as the ability to cast Lesser Restoration for free.
- Chemical Mastery at level 15 gives you both Greater Restoration and Heal as freebie spells, in addition to resistance to poison and acid damage.
- Arcane Turrets are now called Eldritch Cannons, can be made to be size Tiny and can be held (so you can have your GUNtificer again), and don't necessarily have to have legs anymore. They now last for an entire hour or until destroyed. The Flamethrower now deals 2d8 Fire damage upfront.
- Wand Prototype at level 6 has been replaced with Arcane Firearm at level 5, so combined with your cannon you can go John Woo guns akimbo. Instead of a flat bonus to damaging spells, it is now a 1d8 bonus to damage.
- Explosive Cannon at level 9 boosts the damage of all Cannons by 1d8, and allows you to detonate your cannons, dealing 3d8 force damage on a failed DEX save. In theory, this allows you to make a tiny sized flamethrower that you can also throw at people like a grenade.
- Fortified Position at level 15, in addition to letting your cannons provide half cover, lets you have 2 cannons out at once. (Lord Adorable approves)
- The Iron Defender is pretty much the same, except it deals force damage.
- To make up for the lack of Arcane Armament, you just straight up get Extra Attack at 5th level.
- Arcane Jolt is now a 9th level feature, and the dice is bumped up to 2d6. Otherwise, it works exactly the same.
- Improved Defender at level 15 now grants +2 AC to your pet, in addition to bumping up the dice of Arcane Jolt to 4d6.
New and Changed Infusions:
- Boots of the Winding Path are now a 6th level infusion.
- Enhanced Wand is now Enhanced Arcane Focus, allowing rods, staves, and wands to be enhanced.
- Homunculus Servant, as hinted above, is now a generic infusion. It loses the ability to enhance friends and shoot acid, but gains a ranged force attack and can deliver touch spells on your behalf.
- Radiant Weapon is now a 6th level infusion and has 4 charges to blind people with as a reaction.
- Replicate Magic Item's levels have been adjusted, granting new options at 2nd, 6th, 10, and 14th. There are also a couple of new Eberron-flavored options, like prosthetic limbs, Warforged wand sheathes, and a ROCKET FIST.
February 2020 finally saw the Artificer gain a new archetype in the Class Archetypes 3 UA in the form of the Armorer. This lets you use heavy armor, which is just as well since you'll be using it for your class. This turns it into literal Power Armor with one or two varieties: The Guardian for close combat and protection or the Interceptor for speed and built-in shooting. Or stealth.
The archetype provides everything the artificer would need to be a heavy armor user (proficiency, ability to ignore strength requirements) and a proper tank (bonus action to gain temporary HP equal to level, inflict disadvantage on struck enemies), except for failing to give the enemy an actual reason to actually attack the armorer and not just ignore him in favor of juicier targets.
In other words, the damage output is very lacking. While the armorer does get to use Int for attack rolls, this ability is strictly limited to the integrated weapons of the armor - the fists and the launcher. The weapon typing of these further limits feats the armorer can use to boost damage. The spell list is quite good, though, and the armorer gets additional infusion slots for the armor, which counts as four slots.
Mind you, there is some nice out of combat role playing potential here - wearing concealed full plate armor to the king's banquet will surely leave the artificer the only heavily armored party member among the fine cloth wearing attendees...
The Armorer became official in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.
The Semi-Official Subclasses
Keith Baker, not being content to leave Eberron in the hands of Wizards of the Coast for 5e, took his own shots at 5e Eberron splatbooks with Exploring Eberron, a general setting expansion, and Dread Metrol, an Eberron/Ravenloft crossover splatbook. In both, he added a bit of love for his setting's iconic class.
Forge Adepts are a special branch of the artificer found amongst the daashor, the ur-goblinoids of Eberron who still practice ancient techniques of magically infusing their soul into their arms and armor. At 3rd level, they get free Smith's Tools proficiency, the feature Battle Ready (proficiency with martial weapons, can use Int as attacking stat when wielding magic weapons) and their iconic feature, Ghaal'Shaarat. This lets them infuse a portion of their soul into a simple or martial melee weapon as part of a long rest, giving it +1 to attack and damage rolls (+2 from 8th level, +3 from 13th level) and the Returning property (if it's a throwing weapon). They pick up an Extra Attack at level 5, and at 9th level they gain the Runes of War feature, which lets them activate a 30ft aura Intelligence modifier times per day. This aura grants +1d4 acid, cold, fire, thunder or lightning damage to the artificer and all allies within it, and lasts for 1 minute (concentration). Finally, at 15th level, Perfect Weapon lets them lower their Ghaal'Shaarat's bonuses to gain a corresponding amount of Armor Class. Also, they can either give their Ghaal'Shaarat +1d6 acid, cold, fire, thunder or lightning damage, or give themselves Pysychic Resistance and immunity to Charm and Fear whenever they complete a long rest.
Mavericks are casting-focused artrificers who basically try to be more spell-based and less gear-based. As in, their starting features at 3rd level are Cantrip Specialist (+1 cantrip, you can swap out 1 cantrip each time you complete a long rest) and the hilariously broken Arcane Breakthrouhts, which gives the artificer complete access to another class's spell list. You still can only cast up to 5th level spells, but still, that means you can use all the Cleric, Wizard, Bard, Paladin, Ranger, Warlock or Sorcerer (Dungeons & Dragons) stuff... and you add another class's spell list to your "Breakthroughs" at levels 5, 9, 13 and 17. Yeah, a 17th level Maverick can cast five separate classes worth of spells, on top of their artificer spells. They also got a bonus spell slot for each spell level that can only be used to cast a Breakthrough spell. 5th level gives them Cantrip Savant, which gives a level-based bonus (+1, +2 at 9th, +3 at 15th) bonus to the attack roll and spell save DCs of their artificer cantrips, and lets them swap out a cantrip on the fly by spending an action... okay, they can only do it 1/day, but still. 9th level gives them two features; Superior Breakthrough (cast a Breakthrough spell as if using a +2 level slot for free 1/short rest) and Work in Progress (can swap out a prepared artificer spell for another artificer spell as an action 1/short rest). Finally, 15th level's Final Breakthrough gives the artificer a 2nd Breakthrough Spell Slot for all five spell levels.
Mastermakers, found in the Dread Metrol splat, are focused on cyborg engineering. These artificers are the ones who specialize in melding flesh and metal and stone to make them work, and are basically adapted from the old-school Reconstructed prestige class. At 3rd level, mastermakers get 4 features; Tools of Integration (proficiency with heavy armor and smith's tools), Mastermaker Spells (a set of bonus spells, focused on buffs), Prosthesis Expertise (can create a permanent prosthetic limb whenever they finish a long rest), and Battlefist. This replaces one of the mastermaker's arms with a magical prosthetic that functions as both a simple melee weapon (can use Str or Int for attacks, does 1d10 + Str/Int bonus bludgeoning, upgrades to 2d10 damage from 9th level, can be targeted for infusions) and as a spellcasting focus for artificer spells. A mastermaker can give their battlefist the Finesse, Thrown (20/60) or Reach properties whenever they complete a long rest. At 5th level, they gain an Extra Attack. At 9th level, Improved Battlefist means they gain +1 infusion slot that can only be used on their battlefist, and their battlefist a) can carry 2 infusions at once, b) grants +2 AC, and c) can be infused with weapon and shield-specific infusions. Finally, 15th level grants them the Construct Apotheosis; Resistance to Poison and Psychic Damage, Immunity to Poisoned, can count their type as Construct when they want to, and can cast Antilife Shell and Investiture of Stone through their battlefist 1/day each.
In Deadlands Classic, the Mad Scientist Arcane Background is essentially a magitek artificer, using inspiration secretly provided by demons and super-fuel compressed from damned souls to engineer all manner of impossible devices. If that's not impressive enough, you can also take the Huckster Arcane Background at the same time, effectively multiclassing to become the casters referred to as "Metal Mages". In Hell on Earth, you got Junkers, who are essentially a post-apocalyptic counterpart to the Mad Scientists. And in Lost Colony, the Mutes use arcane-fueled mentally-controlled nanobot swarms to achieve the same result.
The guild of Hermetic magicians known as House Verditius in Ars Magica doesn't use formulaic spells like the rest of the gang; instead, they craft items that will express their spells, and these items can even be used by non-wizards, although they do not last long enough to make true wizards obsolete. Sometimes the rules of the game describe House Verditius as alchemists, expressing their spells with potions, vapours and ointments instead. Their heraldic sign is a hand with a ring on each finger.
Mage: The Ascension
In Mage: The Ascension, this is essentially the archetype tapped by the Sons of Ether and the entirety of the Technocracy, all of whom channel magick through pseudo-technological props and mediums.
In Iron Kingdoms, artificers are less of an exception and more of the norm. Technomagical gadgetry is everywhere and multiple classes rely on it. The quintessential artificer is the Arcane Mechanic, the only profession with the ability to inscribe runeplates to make new mechanika. Warcasters and gunmages would be unable to wield their powers without their gadgetry, while the storm knights and stormsmiths of Cygnar wield powerful lightning weaponry without possessing any innate powers of their own. But the pinnacle of artifice in the Iron Kingdoms is the Warjack, a steam powered bipedal automaton built for battle. The heart of every warjack contains a cortex, a delicate piece of magical artifice that exhibits the properties of sentience. While not truly living, reasoning beings, they do have a shred of intellect and the ability to follow commands autonomously.
Besides using "artificer" to mean "a truly skilled craftsman" (artificer gear is very valuable and much more effective than normal), the Ork Mekboyz are a classic example, as their technological creations are mostly held together by the psionic energies of other orks.
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Classes|
|Player's Handbook 1:||Cleric - Fighter - Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Warlock - Warlord - Wizard|
|Player's Handbook 2:||Avenger - Barbarian - Bard - Druid - Invoker - Shaman - Sorcerer - Warden|
|Player's Handbook 3:||Ardent - Battlemind - Monk - Psion - Runepriest - Seeker|
|Heroes of X:||Blackguard* - Binder* - Cavalier* - Elementalist* - Hexblade* - Hunter*|
Mage* - Knight* - Protector* - Scout* - Sentinel*
Skald* - Slayer* - Sha'ir* - Thief* - Vampire* - Warpriest* - Witch*
|Settings Book:||Artificer - Bladesinger* - Swordmage|
|Others:||Paragon Path - Epic Destiny|
*·: Non-AEDU variant classes
|Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Classes|
|Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk |
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Warlock - Wizard
|Tasha's Cauldron of Everything:||Artificer - Expert - Spellcaster - Warrior|
|Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft:||Apprentice - Disciple - Sneak - Squire|
|The Classes of Pathfinder 1st Edition|
|Core Classes:||Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk |
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
|Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier |
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
|Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator |
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
|Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist |
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
|Ultimate X:||Gunslinger - Magus - Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante|