Gate Pass Gazette Artificer improvements: a revised homebrew approach

noodohs

Explorer
The basics of the artificer class are actually pretty great and I think I have given off the wrong impression when I say I was disappointed in it, so I wanted to put my money where my mouth is and offer a handful of improvements to the class for your consideration. These address a few key areas that I feel are pretty lacking as written and although they are mainly small changes, I feel that they go a long way to making the class exciting. Having said that, I will not be doing something that I would very much like to do and that is separating alchemy out into a separate class. In my mind, artificers are meant to be tinkers and craftsmen, not chemists, so they really shouldn't be lumped together, but that is a whole other can of worms I don't feel like opening right now. Having said that, I do have some half-baked thoughts on ways to replace some of those features. Anyway, here is a summary of my proposed changes:
  • Rework the schematic book slightly so that isn't subject to the whims of the GM.
  • Some minor tweaks for clarity.
  • Replace the capstone ability.

Features​

Spell inventions​

Instead of weighing one pound per spell level, they all just weigh one pound each. For one, it seems incredibly arbitrary, to me, to tie spell level to weight. That really comes to bear when you consider that you can prepare a 1st-level spell invention but still cast it at 2nd level. Should it suddenly become heavier for the duration of the casting? Should it be more likely to break than a properly-prepared 2nd-level spell invention if the idea is that you need the extra reinforcement when using more magical power? On top of that, if you are playing a small creature with low strength, your carrying capacity becomes a real concern when preparing spells. All of that just seems unnecessary to me, so for the sake of simplicity, they should all just weigh about one pound.

Schematics​

This is a bit of a bigger change. In addition to the rules provided, you may also add one new schematic to your book every level for free. Initially, you may only choose from the common magic items in the game; at 5th level, you may choose uncommon magic items; at 10th level, you may choose rare magic items; and at 15th level, you may choose very rare magic items. I'm not entirely sure whether or not that rarity scaling makes sense, so someone please chime in if you have better ideas there, but I do think the idea of scaling it makes sense. The primary motivator here is that as originally written, there is nothing to stop an obnoxious GM from just never giving you any opportunities to add any schematics to your book. Not only does that ruin the schematics feature of the class, it also nullifies your ability to infuse anything since those need to come from your schematic book. It's great if you can trust your GM not to do that, but not everyone can and no GM should just be allowed to remove entire parts of your class because they feel like it. This way, it works a bit more like the wizard's spell book.

9th level​

At 9th level, in addition to advanced tactical chemistry, you are also able to attune to up to 4 magic items at once. I don't particularly like the idea that you just jump from 3 to 5 at 14th level, so this makes it more gradual.

Trinket master​

As a matter of clarity, you may only craft one such item per long rest. I assume this is the original intent, but it's not specified.

Reliable spell inventions​

When another creature casts a spell using one of your spell inventions, the spell uses your spellcasting stats (not the creature's). Again, I assume this was the original intent, but it isn't specified.

Infusion recharge​

You may either use an unused infusion slot or give up an infusion on an item currently infused, in which case it becomes mundane again. Once again, I believe this is the intent, but it isn't specified.

Magical automaton​

This is the probably the biggest change. I would remove this feature completely and replace it with something akin to what O5e did by combining both the 18th- and 20th-level features. As far as I know, the automaton was never even playtested, at least not broadly, and it is worse in almost every way than the steel defender given to the Battle Smith in O5e. Not only that, but it takes up a spell invention and two infusion slots whereas the Battle Smith gets their steel defender for free. This brings us to:

Soul of artifice​

Stealing from O5e here, so maybe I need to change the name or tweak the feature a bit to be legally distinct, but: At 20th level, you may attune to up to 6 magic items at once. In addition, you gain a +1 bonus to all saving throws for each magic item you are currently attuned to. Finally, if you are reduced to 0 hit points, you may use your reaction to give up an infusion slot (either an unused one or an item currently infused) to drop to 1 HP instead. I have always thought this was a pretty great capstone and it is, in my opinion, much better than the automaton.

Field discoveries​

Modern comforts​

Again a matter of clarity, but when you repurpose your spell invention, it no longer functions as a spell invention until you prepare it again. This can be done at the end of the long rest.

Some final thoughts​

In my opinion, there should be a separate alchemist class instead of trying to lump it together with the artificer, but that is a lot of work and I am not a game designer. Instead, I have some simple thoughts on how to simply remove alchemy from this class. Someone else may have better ideas about what to replace the now-missing features with, but this is what I have come up with so far.
  • First, both tactical chemistry features need to be removed. Instead, at 1st level you gain an expertise die on all tool checks using tools you are proficient with. At 9th level, you just keep the additional attunement I provided above (but nothing else new).
  • Second, remove the alchemical prodigy field discovery. Since it's only the one thing being removed, I'm not really convinced there needs to be anything to replace it.
  • Finally, the bombardier archetype goes away, ideally to be integrated into a future alchemist class instead.
I would also really like to see something that has more "I like to tinker" vibes than the archetypes currently offered (and if alchemy is removed, it would replace the bombardier). I have been playing a Battle Smith for around about a year or so now, a gnome from a futuristic city where actual, legit technology exists (spoilers, it's actually just Star Trek stuff that crash landed), and there's nothing that really gives off the same vibes. The Stitcher is probably the closest except also completely different; the Engineer is more of a gear head (and, IMO, should be called Mechanic); and the bombardier is, well, a bombardier. But again, I am not a game designer and coming up with a completely new archetype is a little beyond my abilities. Maybe when the sci-fi themed stuff comes out later I can integrate some of that to get what I want.
 

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I like that you put your money where your mouth is. I like the original artificer, but I also have no complaints about this version.
The only thing I would change are the archetypes - specifically Engineer and Stitcher. Levels where the Engineer and Stitcher only get improvements that they have to spend Infusions on the get I’d give them +1 Infusion/the ability to have one permanent improvement for free.
 

noodohs

Explorer
My goal was to keep what people like and make something that everyone else also likes. I admit that none of the archetypes really speak to me, so I haven't spent as much time looking at them. Might have to change that eventually. This isn't to say they aren't cool, they just aren't ones I see myself playing, so... that part is still a bummer for me. But that's just me.
 

So first I compleatly agre that there should be a separate alchemist class instead of just tacking it onto the artificer.

I enjoy all of your other changes and clarifications with the exception of the capstone ability. To me the main benefit of the capstone is that you can activate a second device per round or maintain concentration on a second spell. To that whit I would look at the ability to modify one of your inventions to be usable as a free action or to not require concentration and let you change it every long rest.
 

Xaielao

Explorer
Great writeup Noodohs. I don't agree with everything, but I do on a lot of stuff. A few points to discuss:

Spell Inventions
I really think you're onto something here. A schematic each time you level up feels a bit artificial but at the same time it'd give the artificer a feeling of unlocking new technology quickly, and you only get so many infusions, so if the GM still hands out schematics as treasure once in a while too it wouldn't be game breaking (and I am the type of GM who loves to hand out stuff like that as treasure).

As to the weight issue, I don't really see it as a problem. Your at max going to be carrying an extra 30 pounds of gear, all of it temporary. Also to the 'sudden jump in weight when upcasting', I rather like to imagine it as 'overcharging' the invention, causing it to become slightly more unwieldy and also making it a bit more likely to Fizzle. You've got that lovely roman candle that shoots magic missile, but you need a big boom, so you light the 'secondary fuse' which causes the roman candle to rattle around in your arms before it unleashes hell.

Schematics
I also really like the increased rarity by level, and that it is somewhat behind the curve of magic item rarity advancement. So no worries about your Artificer somehow unlocking a Legendary magic weapon at level 13 because they met a paladin on the road who happened to have a Holy Avenger.

Capstone Feature
I don't entirely disagree, I think the cost of using the Automaton is high and it is technically weaker when compared to the o5e Artificers Steel Defender at 20th level, in that it has fewer hit points, and lacks the defender's fantastic damage negation ability. The damage output is very nice however. If I'd change one thing, it'd be to remove the damage instead of fizzle feature. Since the automaton only has 90 HP, that's really rough. I understand what the writers were going for here, a way to limit the Artificer from just setting it up with a powerful 5th level spell it uses every turn. I'd rather have it require repair during a short or long rest after a fizzle than deal 1/3rd the Automaton's hit points. Having the Defenders self-heal would be nice too... or perhaps the ability for the Artificer to spend their own hit dice to heal the Automaton during short rests. Some way of repairing it outside of a long rest seems necessary at only 90 HP.

That said, I agree Soul of Artifice is one of the best capstone abilities in o5e. +6 to all saves is really powerful and using an infusion to never die is also badass. Other A5E classes have a choice between two capstones. So perhaps instead of a strict replacement.. a choice between the Spell Automaton or something similar to (but differently named) Soul of Artifice.

The Alchemist
I get it, you want an alchemist class that is distinctly its own. I agree, I love the idea of the alchemist and the class is one of my favorites in Pathfinder 2nd edition (with a few minor house rules as it's a bit on the weak side). That said, I really like the Bombardier, I have yet to see one in play but on paper it looks extremely well made and very fun. I do hope we see an alchemist class (or something thematically similar) for a5e and that having the Bombardier in the Artificer doesn't preclude that possibility. There are tons of ways you could do an Alchemist without having bomber be a part of it.

Over all, this is a great post. I agree with a lot of it and if issue 0 gets a balance pass (it's not uncommon for secondary supplements to be a little lax on balance, TSR gods know both Dungeon & Dragon magazines included a lot of broken shite back in the day lol), some of the improvements you lay out here, as well as some of the clarifications you suggest are definitely something I'd like to see. A choice of capstone would be nice as well, but if not I don't want to see the Automaton go away. The changes I mentioned above to it's fizzle mechanic however, would be nice.
 
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noodohs

Explorer
With the weight, the only thing I'd have to say about that is that if it doesn't hurt anyone, what does it add? And if it doesn't add anything... Why bother? It's just another pointless thing to keep track of for no reason. If they're all just 1 lb, it's much less to think about and, if you are right, changes nothing.
 

noodohs

Explorer
As I was looking at this more, another thing that seems really odd is that the class has a whole bunch of features related to alchemy... but they are not (unless you choose it) proficient with the alchemist's kit. I was going to say that tactical chemistry should further specify that you have to have an alchemist's kit on hand to use the feature (makes sense, right?), but apparently they don't have proficiency unless you choose it, sooo... that seems like a mistake to me.

Additionally, circling back to weight again, the bombardier's bombs don't have any specified weight but spell inventions do, which doesn't make a ton of sense. And further adding up the various things a typical adventurer might carry:
  • Armor: 20-40 lbs, depending (they have medium armor proficiency)
  • Shield: 5-10 lbs, depending
  • Weapons: 3-8 lbs (longsword and a crossbow, let's say)
  • Tool kits: 10 lbs or so (smith's kit, thieves' tools, etc)
If, for some reason, you decided to dump strength and had an 8 (since that is the lowest you are typically supposed to go), that puts your total carry capacity at 120 lbs, of which ~70 lbs is spoken for before spell inventions. With the max of 30 lbs of those, you're dangerously close to being overencumbered. And that's not even factoring in supply (which gets rather heavy) or loot you might pick up along the way. This is why I say it seems overly harsh with no real reason to be. You're already limited in the number of spell inventions you can prepare, what purpose does the weight serve?
 


noodohs

Explorer
Yeah, I was just quoting them. But that kinda furthers my point. You'd be at max carry weight or above with 8 strength pretty easily, then.
 

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