Although the Artificer class in Dungeons & Dragons only has four subclasses at the moment, there are some potent and interesting options for people who enjoy experimenting with a high Intelligence character.
Artificer is the most recent addition to the class list, having been officially revised and released in the latest Wizards of the Coast book, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Here’s a detailed look at every artificer subclass in Dungeons & Dragons.
As the name implies, the alchemist’s primary abilities revolve around crafting magical potions that grant varied effects.
For role-playing purposes, this can also make a fantastic avenue for your character to earn a living. This can be part of your backstory, or it can be a way to get some extra coin when you and your adventuring party stop for a few days in a town or city.
Remember, adventuring and fighting monsters can be a pretty expensive lifestyle. Sure, some monsters guard hoards of precious jewels and golden chalices, but plenty of battles require the use of some healing potions or magical weapons that can be pretty expensive.
The armorer’s entire subclass is based around an elite suit of armor that your character creates. You are, in essence, the Dungeons & Dragons Tony Stark. As you advance through the levels, your artificer improves their skill and adds new benefits and bonuses to your armor.
While standard armor requires a certain amount of Strength to wear and utilize properly, your armor is based around your Intelligence score, something you should have in spades.
At higher levels, you get two modes for your armor: stealth and combat. When you’re stealthy, you become faster and can shoot short bursts of lightning.
On the other hand, combat mode in this subclass can help your (likely) puny artificer take to the front lines of the battlefield, right up there with paladins, monks, and fighters. Take the fight to your enemies with thunderous gauntlets and bonus temporary hit points, which can boost your fighting ability tremendously.
The ultimate blaster subclass is undoubtedly the artillerist. Even at low levels, you can construct a small magical cannon—with legs, no less—that can move around on its own, firing off damaging blasts or healing your allies.
Eventually, you can have two eldritch cannons at once, essentially forming your own defensive line at the back of the battlefield. Snipe foes who try to break through the front defenders.
If you want to cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time, or make distance shots, this is the best subclass of the artificer.
The battle smith is the artificer equivalent to a beast master ranger, as this subclass affords you a constant companion.
Your small construct, or robot, can be in whatever shape you desire. Want a pet dog who you never have to worry about dying in battle? A weird automaton that constantly questions your poor life choices? Battle smith lets you have it.
However, this subclass is about more than having a metal friend. It also increases your healing abilities, letting you function as a battle medic.
What’s more, you can attack using your Intelligence modifier. Like the armorer subclass, you don’t have to worry if your Strength or Dexterity score is on the lower side.
Plus, whenever you or your steel defender succeeds on an attack, you can choose to heal a nearby friend who might be in distress.
Basically, your character will spend battles rushing through the battlefield, patching up the wounded, and doing potent damage to the enemies. A battle smith is a true force to be reckoned with.
While not an artificer subclass, the infusion ability is a key feature of the class as a whole.
The idea behind it is that as an artificer, your character primarily draws their magic from their ability to craft items or enhance existing ones by infusing them with magic.
This lets your character either generate magical items from non-magical materials, or take something. For example, an ally’s armor can be enchanted to make it more powerful.
Your party will undoubtedly be happy if you can create a much-coveted magical item or empower an existing weapon.
However, keep in mind that you can only apply infusions to non-magical weapons. That rule stops you from taking a super-powerful magical item and turning it into a game-breakingly epic weapon. Although, if your DM is really nice, they might let you do that once in a while.
Part of what makes artificers unique is their ability to attune to more than three magical objects at once when they reach higher levels.
Every other class is limited to three according to the rules, so this can be a hugely advantageous aspect. Some of this is because many infusions turn an item into one that must be attuned to gain its benefits.
Still, if you ever manage to hit the level 20 cap with your artificer, you also gain benefits based on being attuned to your maximum of six magical items.
Many D&D players haven’t experienced the artificer class yet. Some Dungeon Masters disallow it, since it provides proficiency with guns. Depending on the fictional world you and your friends choose to play in, gunpowder may not have been discovered yet, or was never weaponized.
Some DMs choose to let guns exist as long as they remain extraordinarily rare. You should always talk to your DM before choosing your class. Especially if you’ll be using a weapon that might not usually be available. Also discuss with your DM if there have been any feats established before the start of your quest.
However, it might turn out to be an exciting quest for your character as you locate the hidden schematics for a gun, or tinker around until you manage to invent one.
If you’re unable an artificer, you may have just as much fun being a cleric, or any of the classes.