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5E How is Artificer Balanced?

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
In our game, we are 4th level. We have a rogue/wizard, barbarian, artificer and cleric.

This is what we've noticed about the artificer - specifically the Artillerist turret:

The cannon is a magical object. Regardless of size, the cannon has an AC of 18 and a number of hit points equal to five times your artificer level. It is immune to poison damage, psychic damage, and all conditions. If it is forced to make an ability check or saving throw, treat all it's ability scores as 10 (+0). If the Mending spell is cast on it, it regains 2d6 hit points. It disappears if it is reduced to 0 hit points or after 1 hour. You can dismiss it early as an action.

Casts burning hands better than the wizard: While the PC does his main action, his turret that has movement can cast burning hands every round, without using spells slots as a bonus action.

Casts Healing Word better than a cleric: Every round, it can give ALL ALLIES withing a radius 1d8+INT temporary hit points as a bonus action. Every round. The synergy with the barbarian rage is obvious. He can just constantly top us off.

It can eldritch blast every round as a bonus action: 2d8 Force damage, every round.


It isn't concentration. It can't be counter-spelled or dispelled. You can try to kill it but it has 5 hit points/level of artificer. If I took average hit points as a rogue or cleric, I'd have the same number of hit points as the turret. It has an AC of 18 which is higher than most PCs at low levels and roughly as good as the cleric or fighter. You can heal it better than you can heal a PC with a cantrip- so no spell slots to cast - just your action.

At 4th, the player took Magic initiate with the plan of summoning a familiar and having the bird fly the turret around the battlefield. Since it's hand-sized and has no weight, it should work, right?

My question: What other aspects of the Artificer make it balanced with the rest of the classes - IE: What are the Cons to playing an artificer?
 
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First, it is doing one of those.

Second, on a class without extra attack.

By level 5, the Artificer with a firebolt cantrip is doing 2 attacks, one for 2d8(9) and another for 2d10+1d8(15.5).

The warlock is doing 2d10+8(19), only slightly less; in she also uses Hex it is 26, exceeding Artillerist single target damage.

And the warlock has 3rd level spells, while the artificer is stuck on 2nd until much later.

Artificers sacrifice full casting for higher at-will damage than most full casters and some fun utility.

Their level 3 feature is strong, so they have a power spike.
 

Vael

Adventurer
All those abilities function off of the same Eldritch Cannon, the Artificer cannot do all three. Second, the Cannon only lasts 1 hour, and only gets one free use per day, so if you have more than one combat, the Artificer has to burn a very precious spell slot.

Artificers are half casters, they still only have 1st level spells while your full casters have twice the spell slots at this level.

The Cannon is a spike in the Artificer's power set, but it's like the Moon Druid, very noticeable now, will get in line pretty quickly.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
First, it is doing one of those.

Second, on a class without extra attack.

By level 5, the Artificer with a firebolt cantrip is doing 2 attacks, one for 2d8(9) and another for 2d10+1d8(15.5).

The warlock is doing 2d10+8(19), only slightly less; in she also uses Hex it is 26, exceeding Artillerist single target damage.

And the warlock has 3rd level spells, while the artificer is stuck on 2nd until much later.

Artificers sacrifice full casting for higher at-will damage than most full casters and some fun utility.

Their level 3 feature is strong, so they have a power spike.
Ok, thanks. We were wondering if it was just a low level spike in power that would even out over time.
 

Others have covered the main points about the power of the Artificer, but it looks like there might be a couple of rules mistakes you're using that make it seem a bit more powerful than it actually is.

You can heal it better than you can heal a PC with a cantrip- so no spell slots to cast - just your action.
Mending takes an entire minute to cast - not an action.
So after a fight you can top it off, but not during a fight. If you have another fight before it ends.

At 4th, the player took Magic initiate with the plan of summoning a familiar and having the bird fly the turret around the battlefield. Since it's hand-sized and has no weight, it should work, right?
It does not "have no weight". It just doesn't list a weight for it in the same way as a cat has no listed weight. It is still a metal or similar object that is the same size as a familiar. Letting a familiar be able to carry it, and particularly fly with it would be very much a DM call.

My question: What other aspects of the Artificer make it balanced with the rest of the classes - IE: What are the Cons to playing an artificer?
Artificers have fairly good consistent damage, but lose out on being able to nova when they need to like a full caster. They are really good support characters - perhaps as good as bards - but a bard is always going to have more powerful spells.

At your current level, the artificer is pretty good, but they are probably having to spend all their spell slots on their turret. Next level, the martials get a whole extra attack, the spellcasters get access to the much more powerful 3rd level spells. The artillerist will get an at-will damage bump a bit higher than the spellcasters, bit is only then hitting 2nd level spells.
 

Teemu

Adventurer
Healing Word is in many ways better than the cannon’s temp hp. Healing Word brings back PCs from unconsciousness, which is arguably its best use. If you’re at 0 hp, temp hp won’t make you conscious. You need at least 1 hit point for that, and temp hp don’t do that.
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
I'd rather take the battlesmith for sustained dps anyway. 1d10+1d8+5 at 3rd level isn't bad but it jumps to 2d10+1d8+11 at level 5 and scales better than artillerist. You also get your iron defender all day with disadvantage debuff every round while the artillerist has to burn spell slots and whole actions to get the turret going. The turret sounds dope but the defender is better in too many ways.

EDIT again: Forgot that Arcane Weapon didn't get an official publication. That was a nice buff for battlesmith.
 
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Artificers are balanced by having the casting ability of a paladin or ranger.

Also, a familiar turret wouldn't last to the end of the first round of combat, and that's 10gp every time it dies.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
They get an Eldritch Boom stick. What's not to love?
I wish that all their widgets could be the same object. Let me make my crossbow both my Eldritch canon and my arcane firearm. It’s weird as hell to be constantly swapping them around.
 

I wish that all their widgets could be the same object. Let me make my crossbow both my Eldritch canon and my arcane firearm. It’s weird as hell to be constantly swapping them around.
You can make your Arcane firearm an Enhanced Spell Focus, but your Eldritch Cannon is an independent creature,, and you don't have to hold it. (Or hold it in your other hand).
Swapping between those and your crossbow could be tricky, but after perhaps the first few levels, you often don't need a crossbow.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You can make your Arcane firearm an Enhanced Spell Focus, but your Eldritch Cannon is an independent creature,, and you don't have to hold it. (Or hold it in your other hand).
Swapping between those and your crossbow could be tricky, but after perhaps the first few levels, you often don't need a crossbow.
I don’t need an explanation about what the mechanics are. I’m currently playing an artillerist, and DMing for another. Im quite familiar.

The point is that the artillerist should be able to focus on a crossbow, or a wand/staff, or the canon as a handheld weapon. Rather than swapping between. Yes, I can make a Mandalorian style guy who is using all these different objects all the time, but that doesn’t fit most concepts I’ve seen for the subclass.

Now, in these games I mentioned, we have simply houserules that you can activate the canon as part of a ranged weapon (and probably as part of a melee weapon or shield, for gunblade type concepts), and can make a magic weapon into your arcane firearm, because we got tired of them being 3 separate things. But houseruling the problem doesn’t mean we don’t still see the problem, obviously.
 

The point is that the artillerist should be able to focus on a crossbow, or a wand/staff, or the canon as a handheld weapon. Rather than swapping between. Yes, I can make a Mandalorian style guy who is using all these different objects all the time, but that doesn’t fit most concepts I’ve seen for the subclass.
What concepts have you seen for the artillerist that use a crossbow regularly? Honest question: The artillerists that I've seen used cantrips and spells for damage rather than weapons after the first few levels.

You're saying that any spellcasting focus the artillerist can use should be usable as your arcane firearm? That seems reasonable, but it was incorporating your eldritch cannon into the crossbow that was confusing me. Is the idea that it would climb on and cling to the crossbow like a sort of animated underslung launcher barrel? Or that you would actually be animating your crossbow/arcane firearm itself into your pet and have it running around independently or perching on your shoulder predator style when you're not actually holding it?

Now, in these games I mentioned, we have simply houserules that you can activate the canon as part of a ranged weapon (and probably as part of a melee weapon or shield, for gunblade type concepts), and can make a magic weapon into your arcane firearm, because we got tired of them being 3 separate things. But houseruling the problem doesn’t mean we don’t still see the problem, obviously.
You removed the bonus action requirement to activate the eldritch cannon? Have you noticed any issues, balance or otherwise?
Do you do the same for the other artificer pets?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What concepts have you seen for the artillerist that use a crossbow regularly? Honest question: The artillerists that I've seen used cantrips and spells for damage rather than weapons after the first few levels.
Every artilerist I've seen in play, every single one, the concept was focused on using a crossbow. Unfortunately the mechanics don't deliver on that, but instead force splitting focus between a wand, staff, or rod, and a canon.

You're saying that any spellcasting focus the artillerist can use should be usable as your arcane firearm? That seems reasonable, but it was incorporating your eldritch cannon into the crossbow that was confusing me. Is the idea that it would climb on and cling to the crossbow like a sort of animated underslung launcher barrel? Or that you would actually be animating your crossbow/arcane firearm itself into your pet and have it running around independently or perching on your shoulder predator style when you're not actually holding it?
Did you forget that the canon only has legs if it's small, and is a handheld device if it's tiny?

You removed the bonus action requirement to activate the eldritch cannon? Have you noticed any issues, balance or otherwise?
Do you do the same for the other artificer pets?
I did no such thing. Perhaps I should have said "create", but that isn't really accurate since it is surely a physical object already in your possession that you simply imbue with the magic to make it act as your canon.

To clarify, we have made it so that your magical weapon can be your canon. You can simply make your crossbow (or magic sword, if you want a gunblade, or shield if you want a gunshield or a magic shield that protects your allies) into your canon. Meaning you don't need to hold a separate object (for those who aren't interested in the mobile canon option) in order to use it. It's part of your weapon. As is the arcane firearm. So, at level 5, you are shooting firebolt or whatever out of your crossbow and adding 1d8 to damage, and then shooting a force bolt from your crossbow as a bonus action.

We also will probably rule soon that you can treat a single range weapon attack as if you were casting as spell for the purposes of the extra 1d8 damage.

We haven't decided yet if you can put both canons on the same item once you have two, because it hasn't come up, since we've mostly wanted to combine 1 damaging canon with a THP canon, and thematically the THP canon makes the most sense on another item or as a crawly turret critter.
 

Did you forget that the canon only has legs if it's small, and is a handheld device if it's tiny?
Doc, I don’t believe this is correct. A tiny cannon can be held in a hand, but does not have to be. Either a small or tiny cannon can have legs.

Snippets from the subclass:
can take an action to magically create a Small or Tiny eldritch cannon in an unoccupied space on a horizontal surface within 5 feet of you. A Small eldritch cannon occupies its space, and a Tiny one can be held in one hand.

When you create the cannon, you determine its appearance and whether it has legs.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Optimal play is to go pure ranged and then mellee level 10+ assuming you pick up green flame blade or the other SCAG cantrips somehow.

Battlesmith mellee with ranged option via cantrips or crossbow.

Alchemist don't do it to yourself at least if you care about damage.
 

Every artilerist I've seen in play, every single one, the concept was focused on using a crossbow. Unfortunately the mechanics don't deliver on that, but instead force splitting focus between a wand, staff, or rod, and a canon.
That's like complaining an arcane archer mechanics don't make you effective with two handed sword.

The artillerist doesn't "deliver" on crossbows because it was never designed to use a crossbow, it was designed to pew pew firebolts from it's wand.
 

Doc, I don’t believe this is correct. A tiny cannon can be held in a hand, but does not have to be. Either a small or tiny cannon can have legs.

Snippets from the subclass:
can take an action to magically create a Small or Tiny eldritch cannon in an unoccupied space on a horizontal surface within 5 feet of you. A Small eldritch cannon occupies its space, and a Tiny one can be held in one hand.

When you create the cannon, you determine its appearance and whether it has legs.
Yes, it says the tiny cannon can be held in your hand, not that it must be. It could be attached to your helmet or your shield, or even held by another character.

Shoulder or wrist mounted are also valid options.
 

The artillerist doesn't "deliver" on crossbows because it was never designed to use a crossbow, it was designed to pew pew firebolts from it's wand.
That is certainly how the Artillerist I play with approaches the class. High twenties damage on a ranged cantrip at 5th level is fairly nice. The Artillerist keeps an Infused Handaxe, just in case he needs to melee....came in handy when we encountered a Rakshasa.
 


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