DnD 5E Artificer Build Ultimate Guide: Magic is the Way

Welcome to the ultimate Artificer guide — an insight into one of the most innovative classes in Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), fifth edition (5E). The Artificer is a unique class, bending the traditional notions of magic and using it in ways that are as versatile as they are ingenious. They are the wizards of artifacts, the sorcerers of science, experts at infusing objects with arcane energy and utilizing them to shape the course of their adventures.

In this guide, we’ll delve deep into the Artificer class within DnD 5E, from its unique history within the DnD universe to its recent updates in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. We’ll explore different types of Artificers — from Alchemists brewing potent concoctions to Artillerists creating magical canons, and Battlesmiths forging weapons with arcane precision.

The goal of this guide is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how to play an Artificer effectively in DnD 5E, and how to utilize their fascinating abilities to best align with your campaign and gameplay style. We’ll lay out the most critical aspects of the class, including ability scores, race choices, weapons, armor, skills, spells, and potential multiclassing options.

Whether you’re brand new to Artificers or are an experienced player looking to fine-tune your strategies, this guide offers a wealth of knowledge to help you craft an Artificer character that’s as compelling as it is effective. We hope this guide becomes a valuable resource in your magical manufacturing journey. Let’s get started, shall we?

Basics of Building an Artificer

The core attribute for an Artificer is Intelligence, as it governs their ability to craft and infuse items as well as their spellcasting capabilities. A high Intelligence score allows an Artificer to prepare more spells and infuse more items per day. It also influences the effectiveness of many of their class features, such as Flash of Genius and Spell-Storing Item. Hence, prioritizing a boost in Intelligence is crucial during character creation and level progression.

Besides Intelligence, Constitution and Dexterity are also important for an Artificer. Constitution not only determines hit points but also assists in maintaining concentration on spells. Dexterity helps with Armor Class (AC) for better survivability and is useful for characters utilizing ranged or finesse weapons. Strength, Wisdom, and Charisma are generally considered less important for Artificers, but they may be valuable depending on the particular build or roleplaying aspect of your character.

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Class Features

Artificers possess unique class features that differentiate them from other spellcasters. They have magical tinkering capabilities that allow them to imbue small objects with minor magical effects. They prepare and cast spells in a way similar to clerics, but with an artisan’s twist, using tools as their spellcasting focus. Perhaps most notable is their Infuse Item feature, which lets them augment their gear or companions’ gear with magical properties.


The Alchemist Artificer is a master of using alchemical mixtures to heal and support their allies while dealing damage to their enemies. They can create an experimental elixir that provides random beneficial effects, and their healing spells are more effective due to their Alchemical Savant feature.


An Armorer Artificer specializes in manipulating and infusing suits of armor with magic. They can choose between the Guardian model, whose focus is on frontline battling and defense, and the Infiltrator model, which focuses on ranged attacks and increased mobility.


The Artillerist Artificer excels in dealing damage from the back lines. They can use their Arcane Firearm for enhanced spellcasting, create Eldritch Cannons that deal damage or provide support, and later even summon a formidable ballista as their ultimate weapon.

Battle Smith

Battle Smith Artificers focus on wading into battle alongside their Iron Defender, a loyal mechanical companion. They are adept at repairing and bolstering their allies’ defense, and they can utilize martial weapons, using their Intelligence for attacks and damage rolls instead of Strength or Dexterity.

Ability Scores of Artificer

Understanding how each ability impacts your Artificer is essential in crafting a successful character. Here’s a rundown of the influence of each ability:

  • Strength (Str): Unless you’re a Battlesmith who relies on Intelligence for attack, Strength is typically considered a dump stat.
  • Dexterity (Dex): Plays a vital role in boosting your Armor Class (AC) and benefits ranged attacks. A reasonable Dex score of 14 will suffice for most Artificers.
  • Constitution (Con): As with all classes, a high Constitution score enhances survivability by boosting hit points.
  • Intelligence (Int): The lifeblood stat for Artificers. It empowers your spells, infusions, and class features, making it imperative to keep the Int score maximized.
  • Wisdom (Wis): Mostly a dump stat, but it complements Artificer skills and can be quite beneficial, depending on your chosen skills and gameplay.
  • Charisma (Cha): Typically, another dump stat as Artificers aren’t reliant on Charisma for their abilities.

For ranged Artificers, distributing points to prioritize Intelligence (15) and Dexterity (14) is often best. Strength (8), Wisdom (12), and Charisma (8) get the remaining points. Constitution should also receive a fair amount (14) for survivability.

In contrast, melee Artificers should prioritize Intelligence (15) and Constitution (15) for survivability in the frontline. Remaining points can be distributed among Strength (8), Dexterity (12), and Wisdom (12) with Charisma (9) being the least allocated.

Races for Artificers

Choosing an Artificer’s race largely depends on the attributes that bolster your Intelligence and Constitution. Races like Gnome (particularly Rock Gnome) and High Elf offer a significant Intelligence boost which is invaluable for an Artificer. For tougher builds focusing on Constitution, look at the Hill Dwarf or even Goliath.

Skills and Backgrounds

Artificers have access to a range of skills. Here are some possible proficiency choices:

  • Arcana (Int): Excellent knowledge skill for magic-reliant Artificers.
  • History (Int): Useful and campaign-dependent.
  • Investigation (Int): With high Intelligence, Artificers make excellent investigators.
  • Perception (Wis): A universally applicable skill, making it a sensible choice.

The Artificer’s background, like skills, should complement their abilities and campaign role. The Sage background aids knowledge-focused Artificers with its bonuses to Intelligence-based skills. Guild Artisan appeals thematically to the Artificer, but Clan Crafter from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide offers a similar benefit with a slightly more targeted set of skill and tool proficiencies. Choosing a background that accommodates for role-play opportunities can also enhance your overall DnD experience.

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Artificer Weapons and Armor

When it comes to weapons and armor, it’s important to understand the variance among subclasses. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to equip for different combat scenarios.

Weapons Suitable for Artificers

Artificer’s weapon choice mainly depends on their subclass, as each has distinctive combat abilities and styles.

Whether it’s the alchemical concoctions of the Alchemist, or the Battlesmith’s weapon prowess, an Artificer’s weapon system varies drastically on subclass. For example, a Battlesmith might prefer a longbow for the extra damage, while an Artillerist might lean toward a hand crossbow with the Repeating Shot infusion for better combat controls.

Firearms are an interesting choice for Artificers familiar with their operation. They can deal more damage than bows or crossbows but have less range. If the campaign setting allows, a firearm, in sync with the right infusions, can turn an Artificer into a formidable adversary.

Armor Fit for Artificers

Artificers are proficient in medium armor, and starting with Scale Mail, they can upgrade to Half Plate armor for better AC. Shields are also an alternative for added protection, although this may limit weapon usage.

Spells and Infusions

Artificer’s balanced blend of magic and mechanics imbues them with unique spellcasting abilities and infusions—artifacts infused with magic for better performance. Artificers have access to a broad spell list, comprising of both wizard and cleric spells. This allows them to heal, deal damage, and provide support when needed. It’s essential to be strategic with spell selection since the Artificer’s spell slot progression is slower compared to other full magic classes.

Infusing everyday items with magic, Artificers boast an exclusive set of features– from making a basic weapon deal extra damage to giving your boots the ability to fly. This flexibility of invention and adaptation often alters the tide of battle.

Multiclassing Possibilities

Multiclassing an Artificer opens up a range of synergies with other classes that greatly augment gameplay. However, these combinations heavily depend on the campaign’s context and the player’s personal preferences.

Taking a level in Fighter can provide heavy armor proficiency and constitution saves, while a Rogue subclass can offer the Fast Hands ability, invaluable for item usage. If magical prowess is your aim, a couple of levels in Wizard would open up an Arcane Tradition of choice. The key here lies in understanding the intricacies of each class to create a powerful Artificer hybrid.

DND 5e Artificer

Building an effective Artificer requires an understanding of this multifaceted class. The key aspects of construction start with the fundamentals of the class itself, including the Artificer’s roles, class features and subclasses. Prioritizing intelligent increases is paramount, followed by the distribution of ability scores based on whether you intend to play a ranged or melee Artificer.

Choosing the most suitable race is critical, keeping in mind the importance of racial traits, particularly those offering increases in Intelligence and Constitution. Matching skills with the Artificer’s strengths and identifying the ideal backgrounds also plays a significant part in defining your character’s personality and abilities.

Understanding the Artificer’s weapon and armor usage is also necessary, with weapons varying according to the different subclasses. Moving beyond weaponry, spells and infusions provide an Artificer with flexibility and an expanding range of tactics.

Finally, multiclassing offers possibilities to build upon the Artificer’s abilities, but this requires judicious selection to ensure synergy with the other classes.

The Artificer class is not for the faint-hearted. It requires careful planning, willingness to micromanage, and a strategic approach to gameplay. With options to fight, heal, support, and create, the Artificer stands as one of the most adaptable classes in DnD 5e.

Remember to embrace the versatility of the Artificer and customize your abilities according to the challenges you anticipate. The adaptability that this class offers is its greatest strength, but it also requires you to be proactive in tailoring your character according to each game’s needs.

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While number crunching and understanding the mechanics of various features and infusions can seem daunting, finding the optimal way to play an Artificer can be a rewarding experience. Above all, the beauty of DnD comes from building a character that you enjoy playing, so make sure your Artificer aligns with your style and your vision. Happy crafting!

Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.

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