Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Class Struggles

The Eberron campaign setting is rich in magic, to the point where it is almost common. This kind of world demands an adventurer who is equally rich in magic, but not flashy, destructive spells. The artificer is a master of the other kind of magic. Subtle, utilitarian magic, which is as useful in a local workshop as it is in the deepest dungeon. The artificer is unique in that they don't cast spells in the traditional sense, but rather infuse magic into objects to improve their functionality.

First introduced in the Eberron Campaign Setting, the artificer is a master crafter, and mechanical expert who's skill in creating magical equipment and improving objects easily makes them a peer to any wizard or cleric.

Note: The Eberron campaign setting provides alternate rules which may not be appropriate for other settings. In an effort to make this guide universally accessible, feats and abilities that use these alternate rules, such as action points, are disregarded.

Artificer Strengths

  • Ability to cast infusions.
  • Ability to create magical items at a reduced experience point cost.
  • High Will saving throws.
  • Aid of a homunculus.
  • Ability to manipulate and recycle magic items.

Artificer Weaknesses

  • Low Fortitude and Reflex saving throws.
  • No access to either healing or destructive magic.
  • Crafting magic items can take time that the party doesn't have to spare.

Playing an Artificer
The artificer isn't a traditional spellcaster in any traditional sense. They don't have access to destructive magic like a wizard or sorcerer does, and they don't have the ability to heal (with the exception of constructs). Instead, the artificer focuses mainly on transmutation effects, by infusing objects with powers that benefit the wearer.

In a group without a rogue, an artificer can bypass traps and locks, but beyond this bit of mechanical mastery, they aren't very roguish. They lack the ability to sneak effectively, and most tend to wear heavier armor that would give them away.

Where artificers shine is in their ability to manipulate and create magic items. They possess a pool of points that can be used to pay the experience point cost of a magic item, and can recycle old items by draining them in order to increase the number of points they have available. They may also apply metamagic to items like scrolls and wands, making those items even more effective in their hands. Finally, they receive a large number of item creation feats, allowing them to build a wide repertoire of different items at a minimal cost.

Alternate Artificers
Warforged artificers have access to substitution levels (Races of Eberron) that provide them with the ability to improve infusions cast on themselves, the ability to cheaply produce and repair magical weapons, armor and constructs and access to a weapon familiar.

The psionic artificer, introduced in Magic of Eberron provides rules for creating an artificer who focuses on psionic items rather than magical ones. This is an excellent choice for a character who wants to focus on an alternate and often unused path.

Rules for epic-level artificers were introduced in the Player's Guide to Eberron.

Race Suggestions
Intelligence is the driving force behind the artificer's infusions and many of their class skills and abilities, so most artificers need to be reasonably intelligent. In addition, in order to create magic items, they need to be able to replicate spells using the Use Magic Device skill, meaning that they must also have a decent Charisma score.

The bonus feat that is provided by humans can be extremely useful, especially if it's spent on something that can help reduce the cost of magic items (see below). In addition, the additional skill point can help the artificer's rather average number of skill points.

Dwarves may not seem like the right choice for an artificer. Their low Charisma scores can negatively impact the artificer's constant use of the Use Magic Device skill. However, they possess a few abilities that can offset this, most notably, their ability to move quickly in heavier armor. Since the artificer is usually protected as much as possible, this added mobility can be a boon.

Gnomes, like dwarves are sturdy, but they also possess bonuses to Craft (alchemy) checks, which can help them craft cheap non-magic items to assist them in battle. In addition, gnomes generally have a mechanical mindset, and many gnome prestige classes can work quite well with artificers (see below).

If any race should become an artificer, it is the warforged (Eberron Campaign Setting). Although they lack a high Charisma score, they benefit by being able to use infusions on themselves instead of on any item they're using. Warforged also benefit from the Warforged Artificer substitution levels (Races of Eberron), which allow them to better use infusions on themselves, craft magic weapons and armor more easily and create a weapon familiar.

Karsites (Tome of Magic) cannot cast arcane or divine magic, but they can use infusions. Although this race suffers from a level adjustment, they have unparalleled protection against magic as well as a high Charisma score. In addition, they also possess the ability to suppress magic items held by their opponent, further strengthening their mastery of items.

Spellscales (Races of the Dragon) have a high Charisma score, but they often become sorcerers rather than artificers. Spellscale artificers however can use many of their blood quickenings to benefit their class abilities. Not only can the metamagic abilities they can use each day be applied to infusions, but at later levels, they can also be applied to magic items such as scrolls and wands. The only two blood quickenings that should be avoided are Falazure and Tamara, as the artificer typically has enough ranks in Use Magic Device to render these useless.

Modrons. Hear me out. This race (seen in Dragon Magazine #354) make for pretty ideal artificers. Although they suffer from a lower Charisma score and a level adjustment, exiled modrons possess a high Intelligence score and a great degree of durability. In addition, they're also living constructs and thus may use any of their infusions on themselves, rather than on an item they wear.

Feat Suggestions
Artificers already receive a large number of item creation feats automatically, so players might find themselves wondering which feats they will select when it comes time to choose a bonus feat.

More Creation!
There's no reason why an artificer character can't take other item creation feats as they level. For example, characters with the Craft Construct feat might find themselves creating small armies of disposable troops, while those with the Graft Flesh feats can endlessly enhance their own bodies. Unfortunately, the feats that the artificer class provides cover the majority of items that they are likely to create.

Instead, look towards some of the item creation feats that can help reduce the costs associated with creating magic items. Exceptional Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan and Legendary Artisan (all from the Eberron Campaign Setting) can reduce the time, gold and experience point costs respectively that are required to create items. Also consider Magical Artisan (Player's Guide to Faerûn), which can further reduce costs, but for only one specific kind of item.

Also look at some of the other item creation-based feats that allow you to take better advantage of magic items (and can also be found in the Eberron Campaign Setting). Attune Magic Weapon effectively increases the enhancement bonus of a magic weapon you are attuned to by +1. Extra Rings can allow an artificer character to wear up to four magic rings, while Wand Mastery allows a character to use a wand more effectively.

Also consider taking metamagic feats. A higher-level artificer can apply metamagic to items like wands and scrolls along with their infusions, making them extremely versatile. Since artificers cast spontaneously, the Sudden metamagic feats (Complete Arcane) might be an appealing option, especially for lower-level characters. For infusions with a long casting time, like Weapon Augmentation and Armor Enhancement, consider Extend Spell, which can allow them to be used for up to 20 minutes/level.

Improving Class Abilities
Rapid Infusion allows an artificer to cast one infusion per day in a single round. This allows them to quickly cast some of their longer-lasting infusions like Weapon Augmentation in an emergency, instead of spending a full minute to do so. Improved Homunculus allows the character to create stronger and more able homunculus companions, which grow more powerful as the artificer provides them with more hit dice. Both these feats can be found in Magic of Eberron. Artificers may also want to take Armor Proficiency (Heavy). Since infusions aren't arcane in nature, they aren't hampered by heavy armor, which means that the artificer can remain safe and secure in a shell of armor without hampering themselves.

Since artificer characters will spend much of their time handling magic items, there are a number of feats that they can take to help them to improvise in a tight situation.

Cull Wand Essence (Magic of Eberron) allows the artificer to convert any wand's charges into a makeshift weapon by channeling the power into a ray of energy. Available to lower-level characters, it can turn any innocuous wand, like a wand of cure light wounds, into something capable to killing. In the same vein is Wandstrike (Complete Arcane), which allows the artificer to expend a charge to make a touch attack with a wand, but also allows them to activate the item at the same time, creating great potential for destruction. Double Wand Wielder (Complete Arcane) allows an artificer to use two wands at the same time, but at an increased cost. In a pinch it can turn a pair of lowly wands of magic missile into a barrage of damaging energy.

Delay Potion (Complete Mage) can allow a hardy artificer to drink a potion in preparation of battle, and then delay its effects for several hours. This is especially effective when used by alchemist savants (see below), due to the number of potions they tend to create.

Multiclass Suggestions
Artificers don't really 'plateau' at any given point, and they can easily be advanced as long as desired. That being said, their focus is generally so narrow, yet broad in some ways, that there isn't a whole lot that an artificer character would want to multiclass into.

Artificers work best when multiclassed into a skilled, Intelligence-based class, as these share the artificer's main focuses.

Factotum can provide the artificer with improvements to their skills, as well as a number of abilities to assist them in surviving perilous situations. In addition, at later levels, the factotum's ability to use arcane and divine magic can assist the artificer in becoming an overall fair substitute for a dedicated caster, although divided on three fronts (arcane, divine and infusion)

The wizard can provide a splash of arcane might to an artificer character. Artificer/wizards should consider taking an imbued staff (see Dragon Magazine #338) in lieu of a familiar. There are a number of feats associated with imbued staffs that can be extremely beneficial to an artificer character, culminating in the total customization of a unique magic item.

If you're looking to become a more martial character, consider the warblade (Tome of Battle). This combination can allow you to put your Intelligence into your martial combat, while providing you with a number of martial maneuvers in the bargain. Consider combining this with the Attune Magic Weapon feat (see above), and feats like Weapon Focus to allow yourself to change your battle style the moment a better weapon comes along.

Prestige Class Suggestions
Artificers aren't bogged down by a wide variety of prestige class options. They are a primary caster class, but they don't cast spells, nor are they divine or arcane. This means that most classes designed to improve spellcasting are barred to artificers. Fortunately, there are a small number of useful options still available.

Alchemist Savant (Magic of Eberron) - Alchemy and potions are the focus of the alchemist savant class, allowing you to create both much faster than normal, as well as the ability to combine the two or even create blank potions, which can be enchanted after they're created. If you want to specialize in potion-making, this is the prestige class for you.

Cannith Wand Adept (Sharn: City of Towers) - If you've specialized your talents into wands, this prestige class will allow you to further hone your skills, although you might want to take feats like Dual Wand Wielding (see above) in order to better manage your resources.

Fleshwarper (Lords of Madness) - This prestige class focuses on using grafts and gradually becoming an aberration as a result. Unfortunately, this will require the character to multiclass into wizard or sorcerer for one level in order to gain a familiar (although your Dungeon Master might allow the artificer's homunculus to act as a substitute). The class provides a pool similar to the artificer's restricted to paying for grafts, as well as several enhancements over time.

High Elemental Binder (Player's Guide to Eberron) - If you want to cause destruction, look no further than the High Elemental Binder. Not only do you gain the services of a elemental creatures, but you can also bind elementals to your weapons, armor and body. Each kind of elemental gives you a different result, allowing you to customize your equipment to fit the situation.

Renegade Mastermaker (Magic of Eberron) - If you want to focus on melee combat, consider the renegade mastermaker class. By gradually turning yourself into a living construct, you gain a strong natural attack, along with protection to match. The most obvious benefit is the ability to use infusions directly on yourself once you've finished the class, as well as the ability to channel infusions in order to heal your wounds, and later the ability to cast repair spells upon yourself at earlier levels.

New Material

New Feats
Artificers have a number of feats that allow them to maximize the effectiveness of magical equipment they use. Presented here are some more feats for artificer characters.

Attune Magic Armor [Item Creation]
Careful study and examination of your magic armor has allowed you to maximize the benefits it provides to you.
    Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, caster level 5th.
    Benefit: When you wear magic armor, you gain a +1 insight bonus to your armor class.
    Special: You must spend 24 hours with newly acquired magic armor before you can gain this benefit when wearing it.
    Special: You can choose this feat as an artificer bonus feat.

Homunculus of Legacy [Legacy]
You can temporarily transfer one of your legacy item's abilities to your homunculus
    Prerequisites: Least Legacy, Transfer Legacy, craft homunculus class ability, legacy ability with a daily use limit.
    Benefit: Once per day, select one of your legacy item's available abilities with a daily use limit. You can transfer this ability from the legacy item to your homunculus. This transfer requires that you touch the legacy item to the homunculus (a standard action).
    For the next 24 hours, you are unable to activate the transferred ability, but your homunculus may activate it as if you had. Your homunculus does not need to meet any prerequisites for using the ability.
    Special: You cannot transfer a legacy ability that does not have at least one daily use remaining.
    If you have the Lesser Legacy feat, you can use this ability twice per day. If you have the Greater Legacy feat, you may use this ability three times per day. Each time you do so, you must choose a different ability to transfer.

Infuse Soulmeld [General]
Your infusions can affect even the shaped incarnum of a soulmeld.
    Prerequisites: Con 13, ability to cast infusions.
    Benefit: You may cast your infusions on soulmelds. If you choose to do so, treat your caster level as one higher than normal.
    Normal: Infusions may only be cast on items.

Added Infusions

Legacy items are powerful near-artifacts, which artificers inexplicably little sway over. For campaigns where legacy items are available, consider adding the following spells to the list of artificer infusions. All of these spells can be found in Weapons of Legacy. In all cases, when cast by an artificer, these target the legacy item instead of the wielder.

3rd-Level Artificer Infusions
Revitalize Legacy, Least: Get extra use of chosen least legacy ability.

5rd-Level Artificer Infusions
Revitalize Legacy, Lesser: Get extra use of chosen lesser legacy ability.
Suppress Legacy: Target temporarily loses all legacy abilities of one item.

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