The Artificer: Merging Magic and Science

The Artificer has been a well-loved class within Dungeons and Dragons, both by myself and by the community as a whole.  Artificers are individuals who combine a mastery of science with complicated arcane knowledge to invent fantastic trinkets of magical power.  In 5e, the Artificer was recently released under the Unearthed Arcana title as a playtesting class.  While a welcome surprise, public opinion so far has been that this playtest material has some great concepts, but ultimately falls flat in creativity, customization, and gameplay.

No two Artificers should be the same; that is the core of my design philosophy.  They are inventors and tinkerers, whatever their specialization, and that should reflect in the class design.  As such, my alterations to the base Unearthed Arcana try to grant Artificer players more customization options, both in general character design and gameplay.

 

Anything I release through Geeks New England for D&D will be available completely for free, though you can donate to any project I upload at the “pay what you want” price on DMsGuild if you’d like.  I prefer DMsGuild for one simple reason; it lets me see how many people like the product, how many have downloaded it, and gives you (the customer) easy tools to rate and critique it.  But if you dislike DMsGuild for one reason or another, feel free to download from any other provider.

 


Downloads

Version 4.0

DMsGuild

Homebrewery

Google Drive

Version 3.2

DMsGuild

Homebrewery

Google Drive


 

Changelog

Version 4.0 11Apr2018

I’m not going to go into a fully detailed explanation of the changes made to the document with this version the way I usually do, separating into subclasses and the like, simply because so many were done.  Instead I’ll just go with a paragraph style and explain why these changes are happening.  In a way, it’s fitting that this is version 4.0 of the class, since we now have 4 specializations: Alchemist, Armorer, Engineer, and Inventor.  Alchemist and Armorer remain the same.  It’s the other two that are interesting.

One of the biggest pieces of feedback I’ve received is concern over the damage output of the Engineer class (formerly the Gunsmith in the original UA).  While I hold that the damage of the thunder cannon is nothing extraordinary, the addition of a mechanical servant when the rest of the specializations do not get it is problematic.  The servant, depending on what kind is chosen, represents an additional turn in combat, plus anywhere from 10-20 or more damage per round.

After more consideration, and having actually gotten to *play* an Engineer/Gunsmith for a while now, I decided this was a fair concern, and the class should be changed.  I didn’t want to remove the servant entirely since I think building robots is a core part of what makes some heroes artificers, and so I decided on the following changes: a specialization focused on building a mechanical servant which improves over time and helps you out in combat, and a specialization focused on building a gun and building other unique inventions.

The Engineer is now the name for the servant-based specialization.  You start with a Medium-sized servant at lvl 1, get the ability to augment its various properties starting at lvl 3, get the current Large, CR2 creature chassis at lvl 7, a half-orc-like ability at lvl 14 which helps the servant stick around longer, and a lvl 17 your servant essentially becomes a personal Shield Guardian (without the regeneration).  Yes, Artificer gets a companion at lvl 1 while the ranger doesn’t get theirs until lvl 3.  I understand this is a concern, but unless I get some helpful feedback about how to make this specialization matter in a flavorful way at lvl 1, I don’t see what else to do.  Ultimately the base ranger at lvl 1-2 is stronger than the base artificer at lvl 1-2, so I don’t think this breaks anything terribly; the servant *is* going to be the artificer’s main method of survival and damage at those low low levels.

What was once the Engineer/Gunsmith is now the Inventor (yes, I know that all artificers are “inventors,” but this specialization focuses on that aspect of the class the most, hence the name, and I really am not a fan of “tinkerer” as a name).  The thunder cannon, arcane magazine, and modifications stay the same.  What’s added is an improvement to how Wondrous Invention works (you can pick a spell from *any* class starting at lvl 7, and get an additional Invention then to boot), your cannon permanently upgrades at lvl 14 now instead of lvl 17, and you get additional uses of your Inventions (and another extra one) at lvl 17.  Honestly, I was never happy with the original capstone for this subclass; I always felt you should get a permanent modification for your cannon before that very high level, but if I had moved that to lvl 14 then the only thing you’d get for a capstone is the upgrades to your servant, which felt like more of an afterthought for the specialization.

So there you have it; now if you want a gun you can’t have a servant, and if you want a servant you can’t have a gun.  I understand some people may be very unhappy with this decision, which is why I will leave version 3.2 available for download in case you/your playgroup prefers it.  I don’t foresee updating that version of the class anymore, but we shall see what happens in the future.

Version 3.2 22Mar2018

General

  • Altered Wondrous Invention a tad.  First; you now can pick a new spell if you have to craft a new invention; I found that the feature was too restrictive by locking you into one choice which you may later regret, and wanted to give players the option to “fix mistakes”, as it were.  Classes like the Sorcerer are allowed to swap spells as they level, and the Artificer can as well, so I felt this was fair.  Second; starting at 11th level you can use one of your inventions twice instead of once.  The Artificer had a gap in new abilities at 11th level, and this opens up some more play without introducing a new mechanic to the class.
  • Included a clarification for the Productive Craftsman feature and how it works with our own crafting system.  Artificers are intended to be able to craft magic items faster than other classes, hence the 2x speed.  However, our crafting system already allowed them to craft items faster if they made the item from scratch, as Artificers naturally get 2x proficiency bonus with tools.  So to prevent this from becoming a 4x bonus when crafting an item from scratch, Productive Craftsman only halves the time to enchant a magic item using the Artificer’s Arcana skill.  In this way, the Artificer is equally fast at both.

Armorer

  • Moved the Flight to lvl 9; as pointed out by a few people, lvl 6 is just too early to gain permanent flight.  This still puts it earlier than some classes, like the sorcerer, and so may get pushed back to lvl 15 at some point.  For now it’ll remain at 9.

Engineer

  • After some calculations, I found that the HP gain for the mechanical servant was just too high as the player would level.  Now it gains a hit dice every odd-numbered artificer level (so 9, 11, 13, etc.).

 

Version 3.1 14Feb2018

General

  • Somehow the Productive Craftsman feature got changed back to an earlier version which referenced gold cost.  It’s been changed back to a generalized “2x crafting speed.”  However, it has also been capped at 2x, as I felt making any item 4x  or even 3x as fast stretched into balance issues.  Note that the crafting rules referenced in the new note in the same section are not yet available (but will be soon).
  • Added more spells to the spell list, things which I felt were justified and flavorful for the class.  Being a 1/3 caster you are still very limited by what you can bring to the table, and I’d suggest focusing on spells which can get a lot of use from Infuse Magic.

Alchemist

  • Changed the name of the “Imbibed Immunity” feature to “Imbibed Tolerance.”  Seems more fitting.

Engineer

  • Added a clause to the Arcane Magazine; you can’t have more than 50 rounds in it at one time.  Prevents implied stacking of ammo over the course of weeks or months.
  • Slightly changed the name of some of the modifications to sound more like modifications.  “Braced” changed to “Brace”, for example, and “Grappling” changed to “Grappling Hook”.
  • Added a clause to the “Brace” modification, as the granted advantage would be cancelled out by being prone.  The Brace mod now specifically does not cause you to take disadvantage on ranged attacks while you are prone, and if you never move during the turn you get the additional benefit of advantage as you hunker down for your shot.
  • Changed how the “Elemental” modification functions.  Instead of adding an extra amount of damage of your chosen type, it changes the damage type of your Thunder Monger attack.  Small nerf to prevent extra damage from piling on while giving your main method of damage a new utility.
  • Changed the “Telescoping” modification name to “Disguise”, which is a more fitting description of what it does.
  • Changed the “Silenced” (now “Silencer”) modification to only work with normal attacks; the sounds of blast wave, explosive, piercing, and thunder monger attacks are too bombastic to be silenced, which I think is a important flavor for the class.  This still allows you to still utilize quieter attacks so you aren’t waking up the whole dungeon any time you want to contribute to a fight, just at reduced damage.  Save the big blasts for when everyone knows you’re there anyway.

 

Version 3.0 16Jan2018

General

  • Added a single set of artisan’s tools to the starting gear, as it makes no longer sense for an artificer not to start with at least one set of tools appropriate to their craft.  Wizards get a focus, clerics get a holy symbol and shield; artificers should get the tool kit to make stuff.

 

Version 2.9 10Jan2018

Engineer

  • Modified the way the Mechanical Servant progresses.  Originally, you basically had your CR 2 beast all the way until lvl 17, at which point it suddenly got a small boost to its usefulness.  After some deliberation, I considered that having a pet which takes so long to improve isn’t particularly fun.  At the same time, I didn’t want it to end up being too effective in combat.  With this in mind, I borrowed a few ideas from the Revised Ranger.  Now, your servant’s proficiency bonus is equal to yours.  This means it’ll slowly get better at hitting things as you level, rather than a sudden boost in usefulness.  It also gains a hit dice every artificer level after 7th.  This results in a pretty substantial HP boost by lvl 20, meaning your servant just might not die in one round any time you’re facing off against something tougher than a giant wolf.
  • Because of the changes to Mechanical Servant, the Masterwork Metallurgist feature has been changed to just give the servant two upgrades.  The Thunder Cannon part of that feature remains the same, of course.
  • Added a small clause to the Mechanical Servant feature, establishing that if you build a new one you can choose a different beast to base it off of.

 

Version 2.8 26Dec2017

Engineer

  • Fixed a typo in the description of the Thunder Cannon.  It has the loading property, not the reloading property.  Loading property is identical to the one all crossbows have.  Note that, RAW, the part of the Crossbow Expert feat which lets you ignore the loading property of crossbows does not work with the Thunder Cannon.  But, your DM may allow it anyway.
  • Added a line at the end of the Modification feature specifying that using a ranged attack granted by a modification, such as the Piercing or Explosive attack, does require you to expend a round of ammo.

 

Version 2.7 14Dec2017

Overall

  • Added the following spells from Xanathar’s Guide to Everythingsnare, catnap, and tiny servant.  As an aside, I wish there were some way to introduce create homunculus for the class, but as it stands the spell is just too high a level to be on the spell list and even too high a level for use with the Wondrous Invention feature.  Damn shame, WotC.  All you needed to do was make it a 5th level spell.
  • Big thanks to Jared C. for pointing out that I had completely omitted the spellcasting focus feature.  Artificers were not intended to be unable to use an arcane focus, so that has been added.
  • Minor text fixes throughout the document.

Armorer

  • Added the Cloaked upgrade, giving the armor a pass without trace-like ability.  Originally, I was going to make this straight up invisibility, which I thought would be fun.  However, the class already gets access to invisibility in its spell list, not to mention you can choose invisibility for a Wondrous Item if you want, so I reasoned that a different kind of ability would be more interesting.
  • Introduced the concept behind armor-type-specific upgrades.  Both the Expanded and Heavy upgrades now require the power armor in question to be built from heavy armor, since neither would make any logical sense with light or medium armor.  For now these are the only two upgrades that have a specific armor requirement.
  • The Heavy upgrade now specifically makes your armor weigh 4x as much as normal.  However, this does *not* apply to the Artificer while being worn; your armor is designed to sit comfortably and is, remember, powered by magic or pistons or whatever you want.  Thus, you don’t feel the extra weight.  But for everyone and everything else, it’s heavier.  Though it is not directly referenced in the feature, this could likely come into play when being grappled, or in situations where you are standing on an unstable surface.
  • Similarly, the Expanded upgrade has been reworded, and specifies that the armor is 8x as heavy.  However, you do *not* consider the armor’s weight against your carrying capacity, as you are not “wearing” it in a conventional sense.  Since your size category is considered one size up while in your armor, your carrying capacity changes as defined in the normal rules (so yes, you are “stronger” in your Hulkbuster suit and can can carry more).  If someone decides to cast Enlarge on you while inside your Expanded armor, well that’ll be up to your DM to decide what happens; either you and the armor both increase in size, or you remain Medium within the armor and the armor gets bigger and becomes Huge (and let’s be honest; this is the most awesome idea).  I wouldn’t recommend being Enlarged outside of your armor, though.
  • Changed the speed granted by the Flight upgrade to 30 feet, down from 40.  Every other class-based flight in the game is either walking speed or 30 feet, so this falls more in line with others.  You can still increase this to higher speeds with the Speed upgrade, as normal.
  • Increased the duration for the Unmanned upgrade to 1 hour, up from 10 minutes.  Decided that 10 minutes really isn’t enough time to do anything interesting.  You can still use this feature multiple times; you just get more exhausted from the strain of doing so.  As well, added a line to establish that the DM gets final say on which of your various upgrades and features can be used while using your armor like a drone.  Spellcasting, for example, I wouldn’t allow the armor to do.  Fire a Force Blast, though, or use any integrated abilities like flight or cloaking, I absolutely would.  I would even allow the armor to use your Wondrous Items, since in a way it is still *you* activating them.

 

Version 2.6 13Nov2017

Overall

  • Slightly altered the last paragraph of Wondrous Invention, establishing that the material components for the item only have to be payed for once while repairing/making a new item, at any point during its creation.

Armorer

  • Changed the cost to create a new suit of power armor to be 2x the base cost of the armor type, rather than .5 the cost.  It wouldn’t really make sense to be able to build an advanced suit of magic armor for half the cost of regular armor.
  • Altered the way the Self-Destruct feature functions.  It’s still essentially the same, but now instead of a “explode in a turn OR concentrate up to 10 minutes” it’s just the concentration option (which you can, of course, just have explode at the end of your next turn anyway).  Also added the ability to cancel the self-destruct, but only if you can successfully save vs your own spell save DC.  This is a volatile ability; it’s a risk to stop it.
  • Reworded the the Unmanned feature’s “psychic backlash” just to make it a bit more clear.  If your armor gets destroyed while you’re wearing it you roll your total number of hit dice as if you were rolling to regenerate HP after a short rest (so you add your Con modifier to the die rolls as well).  You don’t actually spend any hit dice when you do this, but that is the amount of damage you suffer.  This could easily knock out a character, but that’s intended; there needs to be some risk if you are going to be able to pilot your suit around a battle while in the safety of your party’s home base.

 

Version 2.5  30Sep2017

Overall

  • Updated the wording to the Alchemical Formulae, Upgrades, and Modifications to specify that only one of each type is gained at certain levels.
  • Added references in the class table to the levels where additional upgrades/formulae/modifications are acquired.
  • Altered some art.

 

Version 2.4  11Sep2017

Overall

  • Added additional rules for multiclassing related to determining spell slots.

Armorer

  • Added a line to the Collapsible upgrade, making the resulting package significantly lighter (remember; it’s magic!).
  • Changed the Force Blast upgrade damage to a d8. This makes its damage comparable to a crossbow but it’s range remains comparable to a hand crossbow.
  • Changed the Sealed upgrade to give the wearer greater environmental sealing; you are now considered adapted to hot and cold climates, and high altitudes, while wearing the armor. The oxygen supply is also now switched off with a bonus action instead of no action at all.

Engineer

  • Changed how Masterwork Metallurgist affects the mechanical servant.
    Now, all mechanical servants get a boost to their proficiency and a boost to their hit dice (which amounts to 50% additional HP), making them slightly better all around. The options that Engineers have to upgrade their servant are now also pulled directly from the Armorer subclass; Engineers can pick two of the Armorer’s Upgrades and apply them to their servant. This allows for an increase in AC, speed, flight, Strength or Dex, or other utility-based options such as being able to convert your servant into an inconspicuous carrying form. The options available are limited to anything at prerequisite level 6 or less; no making your servant explode or making it larger and wearable.

 

Version 2.3  30Aug2017

Overall

  • Fixed typos and misspellings throughout the document.

Alchemist

  • Changed Flash Ice, making it work more like a weaker version of Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere. It’s primary purpose is still to freeze bodies of water.
  • Included references to certain formulae disappearing if not immediately used, falling more in line with UA formulae.

Armorer

  • Armorer’s Proficiency feature now also provides proficiency with smith’s tools, falling in line with the idea of an Armorer literally forging their own armor.
  • Changed the name of the Unbreakable Armor feature to Reinforced Armor, and gave it the additional ability to allow the artificer to use their reaction to mitigate the damage from a single attack. I felt the features available to Armorers were very lacking, and this addition helps to make them more durable, front-line combatants (as is the focus of the specialization).
  • Added the Climbing upgrade, essentially giving the wearer Spider Climb.
  • Changed the Flight upgrade, making it only able to be taken once.
  • In return, added a new upgrade called Speed, allowing the artificer to increase any single speed they have by 10 feet.
  • Added the Sealed upgrade, making your suit environmentally sealed.
    This gives you up to an hour of air at a time,
  • Removed the Reinforced upgrade; the temporary hit points didn’t feel fluffy, and the idea of reinforcing your armor makes more sense as a damage reduction/resistance mechanic. Since this is put into the (renamed)
    Reinforced Armor feature I felt that this upgrade was unnecessary.

Engineer

  • Changed the name of the Master Smith feature to the Master Tinker,
    and changed its smith’s tools proficiency to tinker’s tools. I think this properly separates the concept of the engineer into a tinkerer who works with fine, highly complex machines and the armorer into a more hardened smith (since they would be forging their armor). Despite this change, Engineer artificers can still gain proficiency with smith’s tools through the base class (and armorers can always take tinker’s tools for the same reason), meaning nothing is really lost and character concepts are not altered in any way.
  • Removed the Empowered modification, since first and foremost the Thunder Monger attack was already an empowered attack which would be utilized more often, and because this helps balance out some of the other abilities (Empowered + Repeating, for example, would have the potential to give an extra 30 damage in addition to the rest of the damage). Basically, Empowered seemed to be imbalanced after looking at it again, and considering the average action economy of an artificer also seemed unnecessary.

 

Version 2.2  22Aug2017

Overall

  • Changed the Productive Craftsman feature. Instead of a flat GP for magic item creation, it doubles/triples/quadruples the amount of gold you can use for creation at certain levels. This makes the class a bit more DM-agnostic, so almost any magic item creation system can fall under the feature now.

 

Version 2.1  10Aug2017

Overall

  • Changed/altered artwork.

 

Version 2.0  10Aug2017

Overall

  • Minor text fixes.

Engineer

  • Changed the possibly upgrades for the mechanical servant in the Masterwork Metallurgist feature. Gave it a proficiency bonus to improve its ability to actually hit and perform other skills. Damage and HP-increasing options were also made stronger so they actually feel like they do something.

Armorer

  • Added the Armorer specialization option for Artificers. Armorers are artificers who construct arcane suits of Power Armor, allowing them to be at the front lines of combat (think Iron Man or Master Chief). Armorers can upgrade their Power Armor as they gain levels, making them stronger and giving them all sort of fun abilities.

 

Version 1.2  10Apr2017

Engineer

  • Changed the possibly upgrades for the mechanical servant in the Masterwork Metallurgist feature. Gave it a proficiency bonus to improve its ability to actually hit and perform other skills. Damage and HP-increasing options were also made stronger so they actually feel like they do something.

Overall

  • Minor text fixes.

Alchemist

  • Reworked Volatile Concoction. Now, formulas that have been boosted through the feature automatically deal increased damage (or increased healing), and then you can choose an additional effect on top of that. This increase to damage and healing is also different; instead of dealing +Int mod dice, the dice type you use increases by one (so d6 become d8, d8 become d10, etc.). Additionally, you now get to use Volatile Concoction a number of times equal to your Int mod daily, instead of based on your Artificer level, and additional options have been provided such as ignoring time limits for formulas. The change to damage makes the feature less powerful damage-wise, but prevents situations where players will only choose the damage-increasing option. The Int-mod daily limit remains at the same cap (5 for most people), but allows for increased usage if you are able to get your Int higher with magic items while giving lower level players more uses of the feature (assuming you ensure you have a decent Int score at character creation, of course).
  • Added to the Imbibed Immunity feature, making the Alchemist logically better at dealing with their own formulas (in the possible and likely situation when a bomb goes off in their faces).
  • Alchemical Acid should come before Alchemical Fire alphabetically, and now it does.
  • The Alchemist can learn one more formula than before, at 6th level, and the formula gained at 17th level was changed to 18th level to prevent alchemists gaining too much at 17th level.

Engineer

  • Changed the Modifications learned at 7th and 10th level to 6th and 9th level to better match the Alchemist’s progression.

 

Version 1.1  23Mar2017

Overall

  • Altered which spells are viable for the Wondrous Item feature. I found that the rules I had provided made certain spells unavailable (by RAW) that would make perfect sense for an artificer to take, while other spells which were allowed per the same rules were more iffy. Ultimately I decided that, if you can justify it, you can use it. So all spells from level 1-5 (still dependent on artificer level) are available to use. Added a clause that allows spells which conjure creatures (such as Find Familiar and Conjure Elemental) to create a construct instead of their normal creature type, so that mechanical-focused artificers can use the spells to basically build more constructs. The creature retains its normal statistics but is now considered a construct and thus gains immunity to poison (and the poison condition; really this should just be a rule that’s in 5e for constructs in general).
  • Added a section at the end of the document detailing multiclassing options as well as alternate starting equipment options.

Alchemist

  • The Flash Ice formula now deals 2d8 cold damage to any creature in the affected cube that fails a Constitution saving throw, providing some manner of slight extra utility.
  • Added the Poison Bomb formula. The Poison Bomb creates a 10-foot radius area of poisoning fog which can poison enemies within.

 

Version 1.0  24Jan2017

  • It’s alive!  IT’S ALIVE!!

8 comments

  1. Hey, I’d just like to let you know that I’ve been reading over your flavor of the artificer and it definitely seems like an improvement over the UA release! I can’t wait to try it out in my next campaign! Please keep up the good work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello. Thanks a lot for you job! It is relly fun to play Engineer. But I and my DM have some questions:
    Can I have multiple mechanical servants? It’s not like I want a mechanical army of terminators(lie), but sometimes location switchs veeery quickly. My Giant Owl was useless during our quest, cause she can’t fly in buildings and her battle stats is too bad for open combat.
    Can I upgrade my Servant through using some ingrideients. Like Dragon’s hide or Manticore tail?

    Also. Please add profciency with shortsword\rapier. Bayonet is not helping cause there is limit of modifications and they are needed for something else. And my DM reeeally like to unleash some meele monster on me, such like quicklings with their insane speed. I died in two rounds an was absolutely useless.

    I hope this will be helpfull. Sory for bad english.
    From Russia with love.

    Like

    • Sorry for the long time it took to reply!

      As written, you only get one mechanical servant. Making decisions about what kind of servants would function best in certain situations is going to be part of the decision making you have to deal with. Having a servant that can fly is extremely useful, but that’s not going to be true in all situations.

      As for upgrading your servant in ways beyond those upgrades you get at 17th level, that’s up to your DM. I personally would allow it, provided the character had the materials and spent the time to apply the upgrades.

      Artificers aren’t designed to be melee-focused characters, unless you go with the Armorer specialization. This is a purposeful decision; artificers just aren’t trained to use those kinds of weaponry, and are designed much like wizards are in that you want to stay far away from combat as much as possible. You still know how to use things like daggers and maces (any simple weapons). Beyond that, you can either use a feat to give yourself some proficiency, or even use one of your Wondrous Inventions to give yourself a melee weapon in a pinch; Flame Blade or Shadow Blade, for example, either of which you could use as your Wondrous Invention at lvl 5. Otherwise, not being a powerhouse in melee is an intended limitation of the class. I’d also recommend telling the beefier, more melee-focused members of your party to try and keep you safe a bit more.

      Hope that was helpful!

      Like

  3. Hey, I found your version of the Artificer over the winter, and fell in love with it immediately! I’ve already used it to model many NPCs in my games, and will have a player running your Engineer starting this summer.

    I’ve even made an additional subclass with this as the basis using Homebrewery: sort of a monk-like artificer that uses elementally-charged melee weapons, and can build small devices that replicate cantrips.

    But I was wondering, how should I reference your version, in case I publish my subclass through Homebrewery? I want to be sure your work is properly credited as my inspiration.

    Thanks and take care!

    Like

    • Thanks so much for the interest! If you’d like to build off my stuff, all I ask is for a reference to my material somewhere in the document/rules for your subclass (something akin to “The XXXX Specialization is inspired by the Artificer class by Geeks New England” or “To play the XXXX Specialization, you will need the Artificer class by Geeks New England”. Either way, include a link to this page. If you have that, you’re golden! Otherwise I think people should be free to mess with whatever they want concerning homebrew.

      Like

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