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 1.1 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.