Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana – The Artificer Returns

It’s been a long, lonely two and a half months since we got our last Unearthed Arcana with the revised Artificer, but finally our friends at Wizards of the Coast have come back with even more content for the Artificer!

Rather than rehash and deep dive into every aspect of the Artificer (you can read about it here), I’m going to take a look at what they’ve added and how it changes up the class from the last version as well as give my own two cents on these additions. If you have ideas, insights, and comments that go beyond what I cover, be sure to leave them below or head over to our Discord and join the conversation!

Artificer Returns
In this Unearthed Arcana, we get a few specific additions to what we got back at the end of February. First and foremost, we have two new subclasses: the Archivist and Battle Smith! Then we have a few new infusions that add even more allure for the Artificer and their fellow party member. Finally,  there’s a changed spell list that includes some from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and a revision to multiclassing with the Artificer.

Artificer Subclasses
They were quick to bring the number of subclasses for the Artificer up and more in line with where the other classes are by introducing us to the Archivist and the Battle Smith! The Archivist focuses on the storing and accessing of information, and most importantly gets what is essentially a built in AI that allows to do a variety of different things. The Battle Smith on the other hand focuses on a mechanical beast that can damage your enemies while also potentially healing your allies.

As a brand new subclass for the Artificer, the Archivist brings us a new look and focus on knowledge rather than with gadgets or inventions. The subclass revolves around imbuing a small object with an artificial mind and using said mind to communicate or overload the minds of those around them.

Like the subclasses before it, the Archivist gets a bonus to crafting, and unsurprisingly it affects scrolls. Their subclass spells revolve around language and communication, including such spells as comprehend languageslocate creature, and modify memory and their respective levels.

Again, the main draw here is the Artificial Mind that you can imbue in a small object and call upon. Depending on what material the item is made out of, it will give the Artificer proficiencies in two skills related to it, and it can manifest and appear as something similar. For example, items made out of animals can grant Animal Handling and Survival and manifest as a beast or humanoid with antlers, generally. While the mind is manifested, it acts as a pseudo-familiar, allowing the Artificer to see and hear through it, and allowing them to cast a limited number of spells from the mind’s location.

Additionally, the mind can try to overload the thoughts of a creature with information overload, forcing a Intelligence saving throw and dealing damage that scales accordingly. Additionally, spell slots can be spent when damage is done to increase the damage the mind does to the target.

Of course, leveling up empowers the mind even more. At level 6, the mind allows you to communicate telepathically with anyone carrying one of your infusions (even across planes!) as well as ups the damage slightly with information overload. At level 14, information overload can also stun an enemy for one round when a spell slot is expended. Also at level 14, the mind allows you to transform into pure information and teleport next to one of your infusions or to the mind’s manifestation once per long rest.

While I appreciate both the flavor of the subclass and how it function mechanically, I can’t help but feel like it is slightly off. It feels like you get your own Siri or Cortana or even Navi, which is great, but mechanically it just feels a little bit like a reskin of a wizard’s familiar except slightly different. Overall, thumbs up, even if I am scratching my head slightly.

Battle Smith
The Battle Smith is a weirdly named subclass, because it feels more like a Robot Ranger than any kind of smith. Wizards of the Coast describes it as a combination of protector and medic, but… I don’t see it. It has the capacity to heal, but its main focus is on its iron defender- a mechanical creature that can heal and defend a little bit as it attacks. Possible misnomer aside, I do like the look of it, so let’s take a gander.

Per usual, crafting is boosted, this time in armor, and specific spells find their way to the Battle Smith. I’m getting a Paladin vibe from these, with various smite spells, heroism, and aura of purity. Also, mass cure wounds, so there’s the medic part they were talking about.

The big deal with the Battle Smith is their ability to create an iron defender, which is a four-legged metallic creature that is essentially a ranger pet that can be healed with mending and obeys your commands as a bonus action, dealing a fair amount of damage. It’s fairly hardy with 15 AC and a good amount of hit points, is unable to be surprised, and can heal itself as an action a few times per day. It can also impose disadvantage as a reaction with Defensive Pounce much like a Fighter with the Protection fighting style.

As you level the iron defender gets more options when it attacks, choosing between dealing additional damage or healing a nearby creature a number of times per long rest equal to the Artificer’s Intelligence modifier. At level 6, the Artificer can have it deal 2d4 force damage or heal 2d4 hit points to a creature within 30 feet. This bumps up to 4d4 each at level 14, or it can deal 1d4+ Intelligence modifier when it uses it’s Defensive Pounce reaction, still subject to the limited uses between long rests.

Again, I feel like this has nothing to do with neither battle nor smithing, but I really dig the subclass concept. Having a cool mechanical tiger tearing apart enemies, protecting friends, and maybe throwing out some healing, for some reason, is all well and good in my book. So while the name gets a questioning raised eyebrow, the subclass itself gets a thumbs up.

We’re also given three brand new infusions, each addressing different types of characters’ needs.

Firstly, we have the Enhanced Wand, which simply provides a +1 (and eventually) +2 bonus to spell attack rolls while allowing the caster to ignore half cover with said spell attack. Not too crazy, just a passive buff to casters that doesn’t break anything.

Second is the Repeating Shot which effectively makes any weapon with ammunition +1 to hit and damage. Additionally, it ignores the loading property, allowing you to unload a Heavy Crossbow over and over into some poor enemies! Alternatively, keeping a Hand Crossbow always ready to shoot off when the need arises!

Lastly, and possibly coolest, is the Repulsion Shield. It grants a shield +1 to Armor Class, but also, once per short or long rest, allowing the wielder to push an enemy up to 15 feet back after being hit with a melee attack. Set yourself up near a ledge and push your enemies over it!

I’m digging all three of these as it really fleshes out how the Artificer can help themselves or their party members achieve more and become more effective. Thumbs up!

Spells & Multiclass Revisions
What spell list is complete without the amazing Xanathar’s Guide to Everything? Not the Artificer’s apparently, as we get a revised list with some from that awesome book. All of the spells are in line with what was listed previously, so nothing crazy worth writing about- just a nice expanded list at every level that gives your Artificer even more ways to make an impact.

Additionally, we had a small change to the Multiclassing rule, now rounding up rather than down when determining your spell slots. A nice little adjustment, and with the added spells is a thumbs up!

I really enjoyed the changes here; you can’t go wrong with adding more subclasses, weirdly designed or named as they may be, and the small changes and additions to the spells and infusions just make the class more complete and on par with the other classes. I’m really interested in seeing what everyone else thinks of it, because from my point of view people were divided back in February when the current version came out. For me, personally, I dig it. I know the Artificer isn’t as science-based and is more magic-based than many would like, but for a game such as D&D I think it fits in just fine.

Also, Wizards of the Coast freely mention that they are considering further changes to the class before publishing it, but want feedback from this version before they take to making those revisions. Be sure to give it a try and give them your feedback with their usual post-Unearthed Arcana surveys so that the class can be its best when it finally shows up in print!

What did you think about this Unearthed Arcana? Be sure to join in the discussion over on our Discord channel where we talk tabletop!

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4 Comments on “Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana – The Artificer Returns

  1. I think I just convinced my DM into allowing me to try one of these variants for this week’s session 😀


  2. Pingback: Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana 2020 – Subclasses Revisited – Ready To Role

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