Lords, ladies, lads and lasses, I am Vinni the Troll and I come to you bearing gifts. The Artificer class is new, shiny, and chock full of new and shiny things. With the release of the “Eberron: Rising from the Last War” supplement I’ve been happy as a halfling on a dinosaur. The Eberron setting first came out with the 3.5 rules, and now we can play in it 5e style.
Today I shall cover the Artificer. This hybrid battle mage is a master of magical items. Whether it’s the Alchemist and their experimental potions, the Artillerist and their fondness for make things go boom, or the Battle smith waging war on the frontlines with his construct squire, the Artificer has a lot to go over.
The base class features of the Artificer are pretty decent starting with d8 hit dice, light and medium armor proficiency, and shields. Weapon wise they only gain simple weapons, but if your campaign has firearms they gain those as well. They are also skill in the use of tinkers and thieves tools. They only gain a pair of skills from some pretty academic choices, but you’re not here for the skills.
You’re here for the wonderful toys.
At level 2 the artificer gains knowledge of infusions. There are magical blueprints of prototype magic items they can construct and use. Each day they can create or change a limited number of these that will last until they exceed their limit, or will fade away soon after they die.
One rather powerful combo is the repeating shot ranged weapon and a shield. Drop that infusion onto a hand crossbow and it’s +1 weapon that loads itself. Outside of melee combat there’s no need to take the crossbow expert feat. Even then, with the ability to use an infused item as a focus, you could use that same hand crossbow to cast Shocking grasp.
As they level they are able to attune more magic items than a normal PC. Some of their infusions replicate other magic items, and require attunement as normal, so this is a good thing. Maxing out at 6 attuned items with no race or class limit they can really be decked out in the best toys. Their capstone even buffs their saving throws based on the number of attuned items they carry or lets them sacrifice an infused item to recover from dropping to 0 hit points.
As they level the cost and time involved in crafting magic items lessens. They’re able to boost the skill checks and saving throws they (or their allies) make as well. They can even store a 1st or 2nd level spell from the Artificer list inside an item and use it multiple times, essentially creating a wand after a long rest.
The alchemist subclass creates a magical elixir that has a random effect. Higher up they gain a bonus to a healing spell or damaging spell (provided it’s related to acid, fire, necrotic or poison) equal to their intelligence modifier. Even higher they see liberal casting of Restoration spells, granting temporary hit points when their elixirs are imbibed, and they themselves gain resistance to poison and acid. If you wish to be a master potion peddler, this is the subclass for you.
The artillerist, as the name suggests, makes thing go boom. They can summon a short-lived magical turret. This small (or tiny) construct can be summoned as an action, commanded as a bonus action, and can crawl 15ft per turn. They can also be outfitted with either a flamethrower, arcane bolt caster, or shield caster. Eventually they can be ordered to self-destruct, summoned in pairs, grant cover, and resummoning then only costs a spell slot. Also the artillerist can do a little extra damage with their specially carved focus.
Last we have the Battle smith. This intellect warrior can use his intelligence modifier for attack and damage rolls with any magic weapon he wields, and he gains proficiency with all martial weapons as well. He’s also able to create a Steel defender. This four-legged or bipedal buddy will accompany him into battle tearing into his foes, repairing constructs, or deflecting attacks.
In short, if you want an armored spell caster look no further than the artificer. No multiclass needed.