D&D 5E Help me brainstorm unusual artificers

BookTenTiger

He / Him
The stereotypical Artificer is a tinkerer. Their magic comes through the use of various contraptions or machines. As said in the Spellcasting section of the class:

To observers, you don’t appear to be casting spells in a conventional way; you look as if you’re producing wonders using mundane items or outlandish inventions.

But Artificers can use any artisan's tools to cast their spells!

You produce your artificer spell effects through your tools. You must have a spellcasting focus—specifically thieves’ tools or some kind of artisan’s tool—in hand when you cast any spell with this Spellcasting feature (meaning the spell has an ‘M’ component when you cast it).

I think it would be fun to generate some ideas for Artificers who aren't tinkerers. What would an Artificer look like when casting spells using, say, Calligrapher's Supplies, or Cobbler's Tools?

Here's a big list of Artisan's Tools (at least the ones that show up for me on Dndbeyond). Which ones ignite your imagination? What would be fun to use in a game? I'd love to see some concepts for unusual Artificers who use these Artisan's Tools!

For example: An Artificer who uses Painter's Supplies would have special magical paints that allow their paintings to come to life. Sometimes they would paint just in mid-air, and the paint would become a summoned creature or set of armor. Sometimes they'd paint special runes or pictures on the ground or a wall, channeling magical effects. Perhaps this Artificer would spend time gathering special materials in dungeons and the wilderness to create unique dyes and pigments for their paintings!

Artisan's Tools
Alchemist's Supplies
Brewer's Supplies
Calligrapher's Supplies
Carpenter's Tools
Cartographer's Tools
Cobbler's Tools
Cook's Utensils
Glassblower's Tools
Jeweler's Tools
Leatherworker's Tools
Mason's Tools
Painter's Supplies
Potter's Tools
Smith's Tools
Weaver's Tools
Woodcarver's Tools
 

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I think it would be fun to generate some ideas for Artificers who aren't tinkerers. What would an Artificer look like when casting spells using, say, Calligrapher's Supplies, or Cobbler's Tools?
One of my PC-ideas-in-waiting is an artificer who uses calligrapher's tools.

Aasimar artificer, armorer subclass. Backstory is that of a powerful celestial who was busted back to mortal status and stripped of the vast majority of their knowledge, power, and memory as a punishment/repentance opportunity for pride or arrogance or some similar sin. PC knows the Celestial language, and dimly remembers the even older elder language of creation, so can create magical effects by writing words in that tongue on objects, or even scribing them in the air in letters of light.

Unfortunately, they've failed to learn the lessons their exile was intended to teach, and are instead trying to piece by piece scribe their way back to their original status and power. So their armour will be enchanted by scribing it with celestial sigils (probably the brawler-type Armorer whose hands cause thunder damage, cos that's really thematic), and they'll learn spells which mimic angelic powers, learn infusions that do stuff like let them create Winged Boots which emulate their old abilities etc.

Driving motivation: ambition, with a bit of resentment and vengefulness for flavour.
 

Alchemist's Supplies: Basically the standard alchemist, creates potions and bombs. Potions could produce temporary or lasting effects on living creatures (super-soldier serum). Classic targets of the alchemists were the philosopher's stone (turn lead into gold), panacea (cures all ills), and universal solvent (dissolves anything--probably the closest real-world analogue is hydrofluoric acid). This could theoretically serve as a replacement healer if you don't have a cleric or druid. The biggest question about the universal solvent--how do you store it? Can be flavored as a protoscientist, medieval apothecary, or witch.

Brewer's Supplies: similar to the alchemist in that they produce magical liquids, but in much larger quantities. A magical brewer might be able to brew potable water or liquid nutrition (recall beer was a source of calories in some cases) or even potions from the dank water found in dungeons, not to mention being a nice source of income and entertainment for parties outside of dungeons.

Calligrapher's Supplies: makes scrolls, of course, but can also produce hypnotic patterns (or ones that cause charm spells if your ethics allow) or other mind-affecting effects with their supernatural handwriting. In a darker, Lovecraftian-themed campaign, their calligraphy may open the way to Things From Beyond--or close it. Calligraphic patterns may leap off the page as creatures or spell effects.

Carpenter's Tools: making wood golems and devices is the obvious thing, but could also build shelter (Leomund's Tiny Hut, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion) or supernaturally enhanced barriers and fortifications. Monsters are coming--an enchanted 2x4 can become a door with a command word. For Christian gamers, this could also have spiritual aspects--remember Who the most famous carpenter in the world was.

Cartographer's Tools: The map isn't the territory--or is it? A sufficiently powerful magic cartographer has a reality-warping ability to make passageways, doors, or even small islands appear or disappear. Archmage cartographers can rewrite reality--as it is drawn, so it shall be.

Cobbler's Tools: magic shoes, of course. But those don't have to be limited to boots of speed; they can be weapons (boots of kicking), travel (boots of striding and leaping), cast mind-affecting spells (oxfords or high heels of allure) or travel between dimensions. Could even power a bard variant that uses dancing rather than magic to cast spells.

Cook's Utensils: there's at least one anime about cooking and eating the monsters you find in the dungeon, at least some of which might give you some of their powers properly prepared (quite a bit of folklore about this). Magical meals could have healing effects or produce buffs such as haste, bull's strength, etc. And, of course, it could be poisoned with curses. Any magic that produces effects on a living creature could be produced.

Glassblower's Tools: glass is fragile, but could be easily shaped into enchanted grenades. Also note that glass is, ironically, chemically resistant, so the glassblower could produce coatings that protect against acid. Purely artistic effects could have charming, hypnotic, or even dominating ability--look into the creepy Black Glass of the Dark Lord and you will always do what he says. And, of course, enchanted glass could bring movies to your fantasy world before anyone invents celluloid or cocaine.

Jeweler's Tools: enchanted jewelry is a staple of already-existing D&D--look at all the crowns, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and the like. In addition to the usual magic items, shiny stones could entrance or hypnotize, shoot rays of fire (lasers!), and cursed ones could be radioactive (and the decay products themselves might be something else, something dangerous.)

Leatherworker's Tools: well, you can make clothing and leather armor, so enchanted boots, belts, and leather armor are obvious. Making your stuff out of monsters might grant some of their powers (cockatrice gloves create a petrifying touch a la Nethack), and the fact that you have to actually kill something (or, for really dark games, someone) to get your best stuff could be explored as a moral dilemma. Books bound in leather might have enchanted abilities. Other applications for leather depend on your game group.

Mason's Tools: a bit slow for dungeoneering, but you can make powerful golems, shelters and fortresses, and possibly even weapons for the technology-averse. Masons are strong--this character could double as a fighter-type in a pinch.

Painter's Supplies: as suggested above, paintings can come to life, as items, spell effects, or monsters. The pigments might have magical properties--perhaps certain reds inflame the viewer, or blues put them to sleep. And, of course, gettiing the best ones might require a quest.

Potter's Tools: we all assume the magic of a potion comes from the contents, but what about the container? A magical potter might make vesels that turn their contents magical a certain number of times a day. Magical pottery might even be more resistant, and a pot of holding isn't that much nuttier than a bag of holding. Magical pots might entrap enemies like a genie in a lamp, possibly forcing the monster to grant a wish when released (it attacks you on a 1). Oh, and clay golems.

Smith's Tools: the fighter's best friend. This artisan makes all your magic weapons and armor, quests for the right metals and fuel to make them, and is burly enough to help the fighter if necessary. They can also make fences, doorknobs...and iron golems. (Cue Ozzy...) If your characters want to be Iron Man in the Middle Ages, this is where you start.

Weaver's Tools: enchanted clothes are a staple of folklore, from cloaks of invisibility to thinking caps. Almost any effect can be applied to an appropriate piece of clothing--you can also have embroidery that comes to life or enthralls or hypnotizes.

Woodcarver's Tools: similar to the carpenter, but their creations are likely to lean toward the artistic. As such, in addition to mind-affecting spells, they might actually encode spells like a scroll, or be able to trap monsters in a woodcarving that later come to life.
 
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Admittedly, the biggest visualisation problem I have with artificers isn't how they use their tools to make magic items or create infusions, it's how they use tools as a spellcasting focus. Using a set of weavers tools to embroider mystic sigils and create a cloak of protection in downtime is one thing, waving a needle and thread briefly around in the air to cast Acid Splash or using your deep mystic knowledge of rock hammer and chisel in order to See Invisibility is a bit more of a stretch. You'd need to be at least a little bit thematic with your spell selections or it'd all get a bit silly.
 

Admittedly, the biggest visualisation problem I have with artificers isn't how they use their tools to make magic items or create infusions, it's how they use tools as a spellcasting focus. Using a set of weavers tools to embroider mystic sigils and create a cloak of protection in downtime is one thing, waving a needle and thread briefly around in the air to cast Acid Splash or using your deep mystic knowledge of rock hammer and chisel in order to See Invisibility is a bit more of a stretch. You'd need to be at least a little bit thematic with your spell selections or it'd all get a bit silly.
Just say the right words over your enchanted dyes. ;) And for fireball...some of them might be flammable.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
With a healer’s kit (or cook’s utensils, if you want this to include tools for prepping freshly killed game), you can assemble automatons from bone, flesh, skin, scales, or chitin. To attach upon the artificer. Take those parts and grow them from the smallest “ingredient” into as much as needed, into new fantasy-forms and fantasy-biological abilities.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Admittedly, the biggest visualisation problem I have with artificers isn't how they use their tools to make magic items or create infusions, it's how they use tools as a spellcasting focus. Using a set of weavers tools to embroider mystic sigils and create a cloak of protection in downtime is one thing, waving a needle and thread briefly around in the air to cast Acid Splash or using your deep mystic knowledge of rock hammer and chisel in order to See Invisibility is a bit more of a stretch. You'd need to be at least a little bit thematic with your spell selections or it'd all get a bit silly.
I agree. The quote from the Spellcasting section makes me think, though, that you could flavor the Artificer's creations as part of their tools. For example, an Artificer using "Potter's Tools" as a spell focus isn't really bringing out a pottery wheel in the middle of combat. They're, instead, bringing out clay pots or a small clay golem or raw clay, which to me counts as part of their kit of Potter's Tools.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
One of my PC-ideas-in-waiting is an artificer who uses calligrapher's tools.

Aasimar artificer, armorer subclass. Backstory is that of a powerful celestial who was busted back to mortal status and stripped of the vast majority of their knowledge, power, and memory as a punishment/repentance opportunity for pride or arrogance or some similar sin. PC knows the Celestial language, and dimly remembers the even older elder language of creation, so can create magical effects by writing words in that tongue on objects, or even scribing them in the air in letters of light.

Unfortunately, they've failed to learn the lessons their exile was intended to teach, and are instead trying to piece by piece scribe their way back to their original status and power. So their armour will be enchanted by scribing it with celestial sigils (probably the brawler-type Armorer whose hands cause thunder damage, cos that's really thematic), and they'll learn spells which mimic angelic powers, learn infusions that do stuff like let them create Winged Boots which emulate their old abilities etc.

Driving motivation: ambition, with a bit of resentment and vengefulness for flavour.
This is a great, totally unique concept for an Artificer. I love it because if you didn't know the character's class, you would not necessarily assume they were an Artificer! But it still matches all the mechanics of the Artificer Class.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Alchemist's Supplies: Basically the standard alchemist, creates potions and bombs. Potions could produce temporary or lasting effects on living creatures (super-soldier serum). Classic targets of the alchemists were the philosopher's stone (turn lead into gold), panacea (cures all ills), and universal solvent (dissolves anything--probably the closest real-world analogue is hydrofluoric acid). This could theoretically serve as a replacement healer if you don't have a cleric or druid. The biggest question about the universal solvent--how do you store it? Can be flavored as a protoscientist, medieval apothecary, or witch.

Brewer's Supplies: similar to the alchemist in that they produce magical liquids, but in much larger quantities. A magical brewer might be able to brew potable water or liquid nutrition (recall beer was a source of calories in some cases) or even potions from the dank water found in dungeons, not to mention being a nice source of income and entertainment for parties outside of dungeons.

Calligrapher's Supplies: makes scrolls, of course, but can also produce hypnotic patterns (or ones that cause charm spells if your ethics allow) or other mind-affecting effects with their supernatural handwriting. In a darker, Lovecraftian-themed campaign, their calligraphy may open the way to Things From Beyond--or close it. Calligraphic patterns may leap off the page as creatures or spell effects.

Carpenter's Tools: making wood golems and devices is the obvious thing, but could also build shelter (Leomund's Tiny Hut, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion) or supernaturally enhanced barriers and fortifications. Monsters are coming--an enchanted 2x4 can become a door with a command word. For Christian gamers, this could also have spiritual aspects--remember Who the most famous carpenter in the world was.

Cartographer's Tools: The map isn't the territory--or is it? A sufficiently powerful magic cartographer has a reality-warping ability to make passageways, doors, or even small islands appear or disappear. Archmage cartographers can rewrite reality--as it is drawn, so it shall be.

Cobbler's Tools: magic shoes, of course. But those don't have to be limited to boots of speed; they can be weapons (boots of kicking), travel (boots of striding and leaping), cast mind-affecting spells (oxfords or high heels of allure) or travel between dimensions. Could even power a bard variant that uses dancing rather than magic to cast spells.

Cook's Utensils: there's at least one anime about cooking and eating the monsters you find in the dungeon, at least some of which might give you some of their powers properly prepared (quite a bit of folklore about this). Magical meals could have healing effects or produce buffs such as haste, bull's strength, etc. And, of course, it could be poisoned with curses. Any magic that produces effects on a living creature could be produced.

Glassblower's Tools: glass is fragile, but could be easily shaped into enchanted grenades. Also note that glass is, ironically, chemically resistant, so the glassblower could produce coatings that protect against acid. Purely artistic effects could have charming, hypnotic, or even dominating ability--look into the creepy Black Glass of the Dark Lord and you will always do what he says. And, of course, enchanted glass could bring movies to your fantasy world before anyone invents celluloid or cocaine.

Jeweler's Tools: enchanted jewelry is a staple of already-existing D&D--look at all the crowns, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and the like. In addition to the usual magic items, shiny stones could entrance or hypnotize, shoot rays of fire (lasers!), and cursed ones could be radioactive (and the decay products themselves might be something else, something dangerous.)

Leatherworker's Tools: well, you can make clothing and leather armor, so enchanted boots, belts, and leather armor are obvious. Making your stuff out of monsters might grant some of their powers (cockatrice gloves create a petrifying touch a la Nethack), and the fact that you have to actually kill something (or, for really dark games, someone) to get your best stuff could be explored as a moral dilemma. Books bound in leather might have enchanted abilities. Other applications for leather depend on your game group.

Mason's Tools: a bit slow for dungeoneering, but you can make powerful golems, shelters and fortresses, and possibly even weapons for the technology-averse. Masons are strong--this character could double as a fighter-type in a pinch.

Painter's Supplies: as suggested above, paintings can come to life, as items, spell effects, or monsters. The pigments might have magical properties--perhaps certain reds inflame the viewer, or blues put them to sleep. And, of course, gettiing the best ones might require a quest.

Potter's Tools: we all assume the magic of a potion comes from the contents, but what about the container? A magical potter might make vesels that turn their contents magical a certain number of times a day. Magical pottery might even be more resistant, and a pot of holding isn't that much nuttier than a bag of holding. Magical pots might entrap enemies like a genie in a lamp, possibly forcing the monster to grant a wish when released (it attacks you on a 1). Oh, and clay golems.

Smith's Tools: the fighter's best friend. This artisan makes all your magic weapons and armor, quests for the right metals and fuel to make them, and is burly enough to help the fighter if necessary. They can also make fences, doorknobs...and iron golems. (Cue Ozzy...) If your characters want to be Iron Man in the Middle Ages, this is where you start.

Weaver's Tools: enchanted clothes are a staple of folklore, from cloaks of invisibility to thinking caps. Almost any effect can be applied to an appropriate piece of clothing--you can also have embroidery that comes to life or enthralls or hypnotizes.

Woodcarver's Tools: similar to the carpenter, but their creations are likely to lean toward the artistic. As such, in addition to mind-affecting spells, they might actually encode spells like a scroll, or be able to trap monsters in a woodcarving that later come to life.
So many fun ideas!

For Cartographer's Supplies, it would be funny if the Artificer just had secret magical maps that showed where all these traps and secrets were in a dungeon. So they're pressing on the right brick that releases a bolt of fire from a hidden trap when they cast Firebolt, and so on.
 

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