One of my first homebrew which I put out for public consumption was my Artificer, taken after Wizard of the Coast’s second attempt at the 5e class in their January 2017 Unearthed Arcana. That homebrew saw moderate success. It was never as popular as the Artificer released by KibblesTasty on Reddit, but both Artificer classes had very similar ideas in what we believed players wanted to see in an Artificer for 5e.
But there were concerns and complications. The wealth of options and customization was well received by most people, but plenty of others felt that these iterations on the class were overly bloated and complicated, and in many ways felt more like a Pathfinder or 3.5e class than a 5e class. And I experienced this myself; watching others use my Artificer class, I often saw some confusion about how certain features worked.
Fifth Edition, as pointed out by someone else on Reddit whose username I sadly cannot remember, is more successful than any other edition of Dungeons and Dragons has been. And a large part of this success boils down to its simplicity. 5e is 3.5e. It is not even Pathfinder. It tries to simplify class selection and abilities as reasonably as possible, and thus the average person is more likely to enjoy it. Some people who have been with the hobby for a long time may dislike this, and desire a more complicated and crunchy system. Personally, I think this line of thinking borders dangerously on gatekeeping; making this more appealing to more people,a and involving more people in the hobby, is not a bad thing in itself. And I think 5e has been very healthy for D&D and other RPGs as a whole, rather than damaging.
Which leads me to my point; simplicity. Or at least, avoiding problems of choice overload. And I believe my original Artificer class quite simply did a bad job of avoiding that problem. There were too many choices. The whole class was overly complicated. That was something I had considered and been concerned about even before the February 2019 UA hit.
And then that UA did drop, with a new Artificer with very little similarity to the 2017 version. Without spending too much time on it, I found myself ultimately not liking the new change. While it was certainly simpler and felt more like 5e, it too much lacked options and felt off; the subclasses didn’t seem to make much sense within themselves. But, that said, there were a whole lot of nifty ideas in there that I did like, and the overall design direction was solid, even if I felt the execution was lacking.
So, I set about creating a revised version of my own Artificer. A reimagining; a reinvention. Below is the result of that; an Artificer which takes the ideas behind my complicated version of the class and melds it with some of the ideas and design choice in the new UA. The result is a class with FIVE subclasses, made less complicated than the original four that I had, and with invocation-like infusions as the main source of customization. I believe that this Artificer, Reinvented sticks closer to 5e’s design space, while retaining a strong sense of what makes an Artificer an Artificer as my original class did.
The Artificer, Reinvented can be downloaded from the DMsGuild for free, though you can purchase it as a “Pay What You Want” price if you’d like to help support the Arcane Athenæum and its future projects. It is on the same page as the original Artificer, so you can download either version of the class as you like.
Version 1.31 14Apr2019
- Version 1.31 instead of 1.4 because there are just minor tweaks to certain features.
- The Elemental Shot infusion has been updated to establish that you can switch your Thunder Monger damage back to thunder even while the infusion is applied; the intention was not that once you take that infusion, you can’t do thunder damage anymore.
- The Minor Wonder infusion has an added clause, establishing that you can apply it to an item as an action, and not have to wait for a long rest to apply it.
- The Replicate Spell infusion was meant to allow 5th level spells at 18th level, not 19th level, as it is meant to be associated with the level when you learn a new infusion. That’s been fixed.
- Also, a small note. RAW, knowing an infusion means that it must be applied to some kind of item, because the infusion represents the knowledge and creation of an artifice item. However, you/your DM may allow you to not have that item active if you desire to do so. For example, if you have the Integrated Weapon infusion, and integrate a magic weapon into your armor, but then later decide you want to give the weapon to someone else in the party, you can simply remove the item from your armor at the end of a long rest and not re-integrate another one. This means you effectively have a wasted infusion slot, since it’s not actively doing anything, but I personally would allow a player to do this if they wanted to.
Version 1.3 10Apr2019
- The Integrated Weapon infusion can now be deactivated after activation with another bonus action. Previously, RAW, once you made a blade or somethin come out of your armor, there was no way to put it back.
- The Repeating Firearm infusion has been removed, due to changes below to the Gunsmith.
- The Elemental Shot infusion has been reworked a bit to function properly with the new Gunsmith changes as well.
- Decided to put arcane weapon from the new UA on the class’s spell list, since I suspect that WotC will be keeping that spell around. Ideally, I wanted to include it in the document, but there isn’t room for it without clipping and losing information. So for now you’ll need to have a copy of the Feb 2019 UA available to reference it.
- The extra bonus damage provided by the power armor has been removed. Found to be far too strong, especially compared to other subclasses, especially for a subclass meant to be focused more on survivability than straight-up damage.
- The Gunsmith has been reworked to give the subclass more synergy and better damage output, which is intended to be it’s main niche.
- Thunder Monger returns as the 5th level feature, giving you back the special attack which deals extra thunder damage on a hit. This time though, the damage is 2x your Artificer level instead of being based on the Rogue’s sneak attack die progression. In practice, this results in slightly more damage per round than the Rogue’s average Sneak Attack damage, but the Rogue’s sneak attack damage benefits from crits and also can easily roll higher, so I believe it balances fairly. Additional new aspect for the feature; on a miss you can apply half of the thunder damage to the creature you were aiming for, like a concussive blast, to make it less swingy.
- The new 10th level feature takes the concept of the Repeating Firearm infusion and makes it a core subclass feature. When you make a ranged attack with your firearm (including a Thunder Monger attack) OR cast a spell using your firearm as the spellcasting focus for that spell, you can make an attack with your firearm as a bonus action. This attack cannot be a Thunder Monger attack, so no casting, say, Fire Bolt, then using Thunder Monger as a bonus action to get another bunch of damage off. But it does let you use some kind of support spell or heal someone and still get your base firearm damage for the turn.
- Like the Gunsmith, the Wandslinger has gotten a rework to bring its power up a bit as a blaster. These changes still do not make it quite as powerful as an Agonizing Blast-using Warlock at higher levels, but they have more variability in their attacks than a Warlock.
- The new 5th level feature is now Empowered Cantrips, which combines a few ideas from an earlier version. One; it increases the range of your cantrips, allowing a wandslinger to act like artillery as they would in Eberron. Second, it gives you extra Int mod damage to every cantrip that you cast through a rod/staff/wand. This stacks with the extra damage provided by the Wand Prototype feature. so whatever cantrip you cast from the Wand Prototype does an extra 6-10 damage (depending on how high your Int is, and I assume it’ll be higher), and any other cantrip you cast gets 3-5 extra damage.
- The new 10th level feature is Wandslinger’s Aim, which basically ensures that even if you miss with a cantrip, you’re still doing half damage.
- The 15th level feature has gotten a boost as well, adding (again) Int-mod damage to ALL spells that you cast through a rod/staff/wand, and this again stacks with the earlier features. So, your Wand Prototype cantrips at this level are getting an extra 15 damage, your other cantrips are getting an extra 10 damage, and your 1-5 level spells are gettin an extra 5 damage. The focus remains on cantrips, but makes all your spellwork better in general.
- Again, the damage of this subclass is comparable to a Warlock using the Agonizing Blast invocation until lvl 17, when the Warlock is now getting 4 rays and thus 20 potential extra damage a ray, at which point the Warlock pulls ahead again.
Version 1.2 14Mar2019
- Accidentally forgot to include the rules for cantrips in the Spellcasting feature. That’s now been added.
Version 1.1 08Mar2019
- With some feedback, the class has received a few alterations. Additionally, a lot of features have had their language altered/improved to clarify on certain things, such as the fact that other creatures can use your Infused items. Some infusions have also had their phrasing changed for similar reasons.
- Infusions are now gained at the same rate as the Warlock gains invocations, as to not overshadow the original invocation-class. As a result, some infusions have had their prerequisite levels changed.
- The initial damage of the Alchemical Acid formula has been reduced to 1d6 instead of 2d6.
- The way Power Armor interacts with Str and Dex has been changed. Now, instead of a complicated system where you pick how a certain amount of bonus ability score is distributed, you simply pick your Str or Dex, and that ability is equal to your Intelligence. While this has the potential to make the class a bit SAD, Armorers will still want to invest in Constitution, and leaving their altered ability very low could be problematic if your armor is ever destroyed or left unusable for a time. Done because the extra damage, plus the Power Armor’s other bonus damage together was easily a bit much. Using Point Buy now, you can’t have a Str higher than 17 at lvl 1, and it can’t go higher than 20 unless you start involving magic items, and that’s obviously it’s own can of beans.
- The Overdrive feature has thus also been changed, now giving you a bonus to your Str and Dex equal to your Int mod.
- The damage of the Blast Cannon, Repeater Cannon, and Thunder Cannon have been reduced one die type each (2d10 has become 2d8, etc.)
- Fixed an issue where the Wandslinger’s Wand Prototype feature was listed at 2nd level instead of the proper 1st level.
Version 1.0 06Mar2019
- A reworking of our original Artificer class. The Artificer, Reinvented has a proper “5e” design. It offers 5 simplified subclasses (Alchemist, Armorer, Golemancer, Gunsmith, and Wandslinger) and includes invocation-like infusions to help drive the customization players expect in an Artificer. The class has also been updated to a 1/2 caster to fall in line with this new concept.