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Unearthed Arcana: The Artificer Class (5e)
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Unearthed Arcana: The Artificer Class (5e)

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Unearthed Arcana Update

Over the past few months, we’ve delivered a stream of new content via the Unearthed Arcana column. Some of that content will show up in future products. Other pieces, having been found lacking by the open playtest process, will drop from our development plans. A few things will follow a third path.

The subclasses we’ve created have fallen into two categories. Some have proven to have mechanics or story concepts that players have embraced. These subclasses have moved on to deeper design and editing passes and further playtesting. We’ll have news soon about where they might turn up next.

Other subclasses were not embraced. Some had mechanics that were dull or confusing. Others’ concepts were too niche, stepped on the toes of other classes, or just didn’t resonate. Our plan is to either redesign these subclasses from the ground up in a future design cycle or push them aside in favor of new concepts.

We have already rereleased a few subclasses for further comment. You’ll see a few more revised subclasses in the June installment of Unearthed Arcana.

We feel confident that the Unearthed Arcana process gives us the feedback needed to develop a subclass into something worthy of publication and official status. Complete new character classes are a different story.

We debuted two new classes via Unearthed Arcana, the mystic and the artificer. Both have received positive feedback, to the point that we are going to commit more time and energy to refining them for official publication. However, the process for completing a new class requires more resources than a subclass. Here is our plan for completing these classes.

Starting today, we are adding both the mystic and artificer to the DM’s Guild. They are both resources you can use to create your own material to share and sell on the Guild. We are also going to release additional surveys to delve deeper into the classes and identify headaches. Between watching the design work done on the DM’s Guild and monitoring feedback data, we’ll continue to revise these two classes.

Once the classes have robust sets of features and options that are hitting the approval levels we aim for, we will make those classes available for playtesting in the D&D Adventurers League. This step indicates that the new class is slated for official release as part of a D&D product. This step’s goal is to put the classes through the same rigorous testing and DM feedback that the core fifth edition classes received during their open playtests.

Once that step is complete, we’ll add these classes to a future D&D product. We can’t predict how long each step will take, so we don’t have dates to share. We remain committed to releasing material only when it is ready.

Thanks for taking part in the Unearthed Arcana playtests and helping us to make 5e the best game it can be. Your efforts have helped D&D reach heights of popularity and success it has not seen in decades. We’re committed to building on that success by including you in the game’s evolution. Thanks for coming along on this journey with us!

Unearthed Arcana: The Artificer Class

This version of the artificer character class was originally released as part of the Unearthed Arcana web series. This download is the latest version of the character class. The artificer is in playtest. It has been made available so that you can use it in your games and provide feedback on its design.

The artificer masters the ability to create magical trinkets and objects to deliver powerful effects. This class can also wield a limited selection of spells and produce an impressive masterwork, such as a powerful firearm or a satchel that can create alchemical items in the blink of an eye.

 
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Reviews (14)
Discussions (23)
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Jon J June 19, 2017 2:36 am UTC
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My only input so far after reading and playing the alchemist subclass a small amount is this: the spell list could use some expansion. I don't think it would affect the balance of the class against other classes, and there are other control, enhancement, and healing spells in the core book that would still fit the core concept of the artificer, like Create or Destroy Water, Mage Armor, or Sleep, just to pick a few 1st-level spells.
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Corey O June 11, 2017 10:36 pm UTC
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I posted a free revised version of the class here: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/214015/Unearthed-Arcana-Artificer-Revised?src=newest_community&filters=0_0_45397_0_0_0_0_0

Because of the amount of dead levels compared to the similar class templates of Eldritch Knight and Arcane Trickster, I changed the class to 1/2 caster progression. I also added in 3 more subclasses, expanded the spell list and gave them a feature that will allow them to craft all items in the game cheaper and faster than any other class. Please check it out and give me your feedback so we can hopefully create a good representation of the Artificer in 5e for Wizards of the Coast to see and take inspiration from!
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Ty G June 11, 2017 8:59 pm UTC
Alchemist would be better off as a separate class. I understand why it's a subclass of Artificer, but It'd be better off alone.
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June 10, 2017 11:45 pm UTC
I would definitely like to see some half saves across the board here. Gunsmith is fine with DEX saves, but I haven't looked at Alchemist on this front. Gunsmith getting Smith's Tools and Alchemist NOT getting Alchemy Tool's just feel wonky? I mean, sure, you get a bunch of tool proficiencies, but I'm just saying. And of course, I agree with everyone else, the Construct needs some scaling for higher level play. I don't mind the ability to make yourself a magic item...but maybe they could simply be more efficient when it comes to making magic items in general...to you know, feel like an artificer.

I love Gunsmith though, so make it better, don't get rid of it! XD
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Artakons P June 09, 2017 1:37 pm UTC
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So my opinion on the Alchemist is rather "meh, but it has potential", and our group has made some changes in order to make it more fun to play:

- First and foremost, we limited the amount of concoctions the alchemist can make to x+intelligence modifier, so it sort of represents separate spell slots (just so he cannot just heal an entire village with his draught, or won't just spend an hour throwing alchemical fire and burn down a forest)
- We adjusted the way alchemist attacks with the concoctions. Alchemical fire deals half damage on a saved throw, and alchemical acid was re-made into a ranged attack, using dexterity, since it only targets one creature, so it makes sense that it's more a matter of aim, rather than that creature moving out of the way. Also, having all of those just being safe throws made it really boring for the player, because he would simply say "I'm throwing acid" and then wait and see what the result was. Moreover, at low levels, those concoctions almost...See more
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Artakons P June 09, 2017 2:11 pm UTC
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Oh! I forgot one extra thing! Our Alchemist at lvl 11 will get the ability to use any spell scroll, and the spell level for the scrolls he can use scales the same way, as spell levels scale for Wizards (the closest to a "research/knowledge" based class)
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Thomas Klode S June 11, 2017 10:15 pm UTC
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To be fair though - A mage could do the "burning down a forest" with their cantrips. I agree with the "healing draught" though, it has some balancing issues, even if it is only once/long rest for each individual creature, yes they could easily heal a whole band of mercenaries, putting even a decent cleric, paladin or druid to shame. Maybe only limit the available "Healing draughts" or nerf the healing done to d4s?
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Ryan R June 12, 2017 1:35 am UTC
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Healing has to be a per-rest or other per-time or any short rest grants a full heal to the entire party. This is why even a 1 point, no-cost healing cantrip is a non-starter.
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Ryan R June 12, 2017 1:35 am UTC
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Healing has to be a per-rest or other per-time or any short rest grants a full heal to the entire party. This is why even a 1 point, no-cost healing cantrip is a non-starter.
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Artakons P June 12, 2017 11:02 am UTC
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I understand the idea, that the healing is significant, but only once per long rest. However we have changed it, because it gave no limitations to how many people can be affected. We literally had a moment in our game, where a town was being attacked, and our Alchemist was just healing everyone he came across, which made us think it could become a problem later on, both Role-Play and logic-wise. Also, we didn't like the idea that those concoctions were basically OP'd cantrips, we wanted them to have significance both in battle, and out of it.
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Tanner I June 06, 2017 11:27 pm UTC
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Anyone else want to see the Alchemist as its own class? There are tons of attempts on this very website that seem to do it better.
Cody Faulk's attempt is my personal favorite and really shows the possibilities of what alchemy can do in this world besides just... throwin' potions.
It would also let the Artificer become a bit more focused on creating straight magical items/machinery than be a swiss army knife of crafting.

Archetypes for the Artificer could be something along the line of
-Gunsmith: Single target, ranged attack specialist (should be able to make more than one type of gun... and maybe even dole them out to his/her party).
-Wand Adept: Magic damage/effects, increases potency of wand, rod and staff items AND specializes in crafting them.
-Golemancer: Gets the mechanical/magical companion and augments it as they level to be more effective (everyone wants a customizable robo-moose).
-Mechanist: Augments THEMSELVES with mechanical/magi-tech parts to...See more
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Ryan R June 07, 2017 5:25 pm UTC
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I think the alchemist as part of the Artificer class makes sense, but I agree that this version of it seems thin.

Artificers have always been the swiss army knife of "constructed" power; focusing on magical/alchemical/mechanical items rather than the more "fleeting" power of spells. That's why I like the core class well enough; because, with a few exceptions, it creates an excellent foundation from which interesting specializations have been built.
It just needs those specializations.

If you're interested I already made 5e versions of some of the specialization types you describe and posted them on this site under Master Makers; Artificer Character Options.
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Tanner I June 07, 2017 8:12 pm UTC
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I shall check it out when I have the time!

I suppose I just see a difference in the processes of making something solid/physically magic vs brewing a potion or concoction.

By separating the Artificer and Alchemist you would allow for refining of both concepts as well as allowing for the ability for greater expansion later on. By having a full Alchemically focused class you could give the option for a player to play a doctor or apothecary going about the battle field and reviving soldiers with a quick shot of his syringe. An anarchist in a lab concocting volatile solutions to take down a government building. Heck, even a mad scientist testing the solutions on himself, going into more of a Jackal and Hyde route.

As you can tell, I'm more story minded than balance/mechanic focused... so while the core of this class is all well and good, I just don't particularly like the idea of pigeon holing the concept of an Alchemist into a singular archetype. It could be a lot more than...See more
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Ryan R June 09, 2017 1:08 pm UTC
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I get what you're saying.

I think mechanics, if well designed, should tell a story even if entirely separated from flavor text.

I also think most of the things you're describing already exist or can be done without an entire alchemist class. In fact, I think some of them would get tripped up over "common abilities" with an alchemist. The anarchist in a lab is using the Crafting downtime action. It's hard building around consumables without turning D&D into Accountants and Actuaries or breaking the game. But, personally, I think that's the best way. There are a couple ways to have the (non-magical) medic on the battlefield. I'll be adding a set of new alchemist formulas to my Master Makers soon (something I was already planning, but I some got extra inspiration from our conversation), I also made a Chirurgeon Rogue Archetype you might find interesting.

As for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde route; you inspired me to put together a Barbarian Primal Path (for the moment...See more
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Brian W June 06, 2017 8:34 pm UTC
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I like the idea of the artificer, but I think 6 attunement slots is a bit much without any kind of limitation on them. Theoretically, an artificer could then attune to 6 legendary items. That's just mind-boggling....
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Tanner I June 07, 2017 1:17 am UTC
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But that is also on the DM. If you are dolling out 6 legendary items early in the campaign then you are not particularly caring about balance anymore. By the later levels it shouldn't be that much of a problem (if the party wants to give all of their legendaries to one character than let them).
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Ryan R June 07, 2017 5:29 pm UTC
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Tanner's right. I hate relying on DM balance, but this is more assuming the DM and party all cooperate to create an imbalance. It doesn't matter how many legendary weapons get put into the game, bonding with every one of them is only going to get an artificer so far. Even if we're talking things that are more extendable, is the rest of the party going to be ok with the artificer building an entire constellation of Ioun Stones or fill every possible wearable location with gear while they stay magic item poor?
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Jeremiah B June 06, 2017 7:59 pm UTC
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This class is almost like the rogue, but has only half the class features of a rogue. Filling out those levels would be the way to go, also let alchemists do half damage and give them an attack roll power (more options). Being able to comprehend languages doesn't compare to Uncanny Dodge, having played an alchemist artificer I know it doesn't compare. I took the most useful items to have value, and I can't feel like anything but the 5th man which sucks when there are only 3 men. I'm fine with support, but I would like to fill that role.
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Jeremy F June 04, 2017 12:04 am UTC
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I have made three new archetypes and 20 spells for this class, and included them in this product: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/213205/Archetypal-Spell-Compendium-Artificers--Arcanists?affiliate_id=925821
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Dan T June 03, 2017 2:19 pm UTC
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Mechanical servant needs removing and making its own subclass, not all grand inventors have robots. It forces me with a crappy robot that will die when I sneeze at it at higher levels. It also isn't setting agnostic and ruins this class for many DMs with their own settings. Replacing it should be more flavour abilities, why can't I make stuff faster and cheaper.

Wondrous Inventions isn't great either. I've seen the comparison with Invocations the Warlock gets but those can be switched out when they outlive their usefulness. The only thing this feature does is give you items to use you 3 extra attunement slots. How about instead of a list, it's based on rarity; 5th - uncommon, 10th-rare, 15th - very rare and 20th lets you make a legendary item, your magnum opus. This way the attunement slots also get a use.

Dispel Magic needs to be on the Spell list, as does Remove Curse. A magic item expert should know how to remove a curse from a magic item.

Alchemist is garbage, I would...See more
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Tyler B June 04, 2017 3:12 am UTC
It would be nice if you swap wondrous invention into something like Unearthed Invocations where you can add new ability/bonuses to your weapons, potions or mechanical servant. Alchemist DC makes sense since these are cantrips but at higher levels is should add the successful save takes half damage. The problem is that is should add more then just new potions.
Gunsmith does need to have if save takes half damage to help spread the love to its other 3 damage abilities and not focus on Thunder Monger. But saying it has the same problem as Warlocks is like saying same problem with rangers, fighters and rogues.
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Dan T June 04, 2017 11:07 pm UTC
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I like the idea of the Alchemist getting 'save or half' at later levels. After giving it more time, I feel like it needs the ability to imbue its spells into its potions, not so much giving it more options but allowing it to make its own, although that would be a nightmare to balance.

I shouldn't have used the warlock as a comparison, since in terms of what it can do in its turn, it and every other class have more options on their turn. The gunsmith has to use its entire turn firing(action) and reloading(bonus action) the cannon. If you're retreating or on the first turn, you might cast a spell, but the next turn, you still have to reload if you want to shoot.

I agree that the the other shooting options need a save or half.
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Tyler B June 06, 2017 2:11 am UTC
True it would make more sense to make the weapon like a crossbow.
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Robert B June 02, 2017 7:34 pm UTC
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I agree with a lot of the stuff people have been saying here, but I would also like to add that I think it needs something special at 11th level. 11th level is a big upgrade, basically all the classes get something awesome there, while Artificers get basically nothing.
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Ryan R June 02, 2017 5:33 pm UTC
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Edits and expansions on this class.

http://www.dmsguild.com/product/204644/Master-Makers-Artificer-Character-Options
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Michael W June 02, 2017 4:48 pm UTC
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It bothers me that the Artificer doesn't have some feature akin to the Rock Gnome's "Tinker" ability, especially with that having been explored in further depth in one of the recent Unearthed Arcana articles. Just seems so odd that the class wouldn't offer a way to build small devices on a regular basis. As it stands, you only ever get to make seven things over the course of your entire career as an artificer, which...just doesn't quite capture it for me.
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Ryan M June 02, 2017 4:38 pm UTC
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Site won't let me review, so I'm commenting here. This class should go up to fifth level for spells known and should gain access to Dispel Magic. Being able to hand out magic-dispelling items to companions is an interesting idea. Alchemist needs a buff; getting a metaphorical bag of tricks isn't as strong as having a gun that deals almost as much damage as the Rogue's sneak attack. Sage advice makes it clear that the person holding the infused item is the one to concentrate, but this should be stated in the actual text.
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Sean W June 02, 2017 8:55 am UTC
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Why is the specialization not 3rd level like every other class? With all of their focus being on their tinkering and magic item searches, when exactly did they take time to learn medium armor? I'm going to have to echo the previously stated concerns over the Mechanical Servant - this needs to function more like a shield guardian if it's going to be remotely viable, specifically in regard to regeneration and damage sharing. I'd go with 5 hp regen so long as it starts with at least 1 hp and 20 or 25% damage sharing plus boost initial DC to 3 to flow smoothly into the next suggestion. Add lvl 10 and 14 upgrades to DC 5 and 7 with boosts to regen and damage sharing. While we're on this subject, can we possibly get proper rules for constructing magic items and shield guardians for AL play please.

Move Specialization to 3rd level, Master Smith and Alchemist Satchel move accordingly from 1st to 3rd

Wondrous Inventions at 3 and 6 rather than 2 and 5 to correspond with the 3rd level specialization....See more
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Eric H June 02, 2017 12:58 pm UTC
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Cleric specializes at 1st level and Wizard specializes at 2nd level.

Clerics learn to wear medium armor--and half the cleric types learn heavy armor.

If you compare the Artificer to a Cleric I suspect that most of your objections will fall down.
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Michael W June 02, 2017 4:44 pm UTC
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"Why is the specialization not 3rd level like every other class?"

Only seven of the twelve Player's Handbook classes specialize at 3rd level. Cleric, Sorcerer, and Warlock pick their specializations at 1st level, while Druid and Wizard pick theirs at 2nd level.
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Sean W June 02, 2017 7:37 pm UTC
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Warlocks, sorcerers and clerics thematically make sense at 1st level because the class falls apart if you delay declaring whom you serve, artificer doesn't based on the material presented here. Wizards would thematically make sense at 1st level as well given how much time the spend in study.

Clerics learn to use armor and weapons in pursuit of furthering the interests of their deity - a cleric of Torm that can't stand in the front ranks of battle isn't much of a devotee to the principles Torm represents. Artificers spend their time learning to create things, not the proper usage of weapons and armor. You can't compare armor usage to clerics, it's a completely different type of class.
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Tanner I June 01, 2017 8:21 pm UTC
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After DMing for a player who used this class we had to go back and change a couple of things. The class isn't underpowered, it just lacks a lot of the flavor other classes have.

1) Get rid of the universal ability of having a mechanical servant and replace it with something more fitting/beneficial for both archetypes. Without it upgrading as you level it simply becomes a liability in later levels (my player no longer rebuilt it after it died for the 5th time and was just lacking a core mechanic for the rest of the game). Increased/less expensive crafting speed perhaps? The ability to lean into other another classes spell pool?
2) To add to the first point, create an archetype that's main mechanic IS its mechanical servant in an almost beast master fashion and as the character levels it can further upgrade its machine and have it dish out the majority of the damage/tanking while the character hangs back and supports. Heck... it's a large creature; let us hop in a power rangers this thing. I...See more
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Daniel P June 01, 2017 8:52 pm UTC
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I was about to say the same thing. A 'Construct' focused archetype would be great. Either through scaling or the ability to add on parts/features as you level.
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Tanner I June 01, 2017 9:19 pm UTC
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Having a large metal minion with you at all times instantly drew my friend to the class, but was severely underwhelmed by what it could do so I had to really put in extra work to make it useful. While mucking around it got me wondering a lot about the class: why would an alchemist also be a mechanical genius? Why can't the gunsmith not add a gun to its robo-moose? There is a lot of potential in this class that is untapped. Stoked to see it evolve over the next couple of months.
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June 08, 2017 10:15 pm UTC
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Selfish plug here... but I also wanted a construct that could grow with the character. I am still currently play-testing the Tinkerer. Have a look to see if this fits your need/want for a Construct companion class.
http://www.dmsguild.com/product/212588/Homebrewed-Class--Tinkerer
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This title was added to our catalog on May 31, 2017.