The Artificer class was only just released by the Dungeons and Dragons team with the new Eberron campaign setting, but it looks like they won’t have to wait too long for additional sub-classes! The D&D team have previewed a set of Unearthed Arcana test rules on their website. When reviewing these sub-classes, often the theme for the design can be seen upon close investigation, but this new entry wears this inspiration its sleeve. The Armorer is meant for those that want to play Iron Man from the Marvel universe. One doesn’t often associate this technologically advanced super hero with the realms of fantasy, but if they can pull it off, then I can see the Armorer being a fan favorite that will appeal to our more tinker-y players. So let’s see what the D&D team has in store with the Artificer Armorer.
Beginning at 3rd level, the Artificer can choose to specialize in being an Armorer. By enchanting their armor, the Artificer can unleash powerful attacks, as well as, manifest strong defensive fields. Gaining proficiency with heavy armor and the ability to ignore their Strength requirements, this relationship for an Artificer is equivalent to that of a second skin. Now, the team could have just added an AC bonus to the character’s armor, but I like the idea of opening up the player’s options to create a proper silhouette of a more bulky power armor. When this titan strolls into combat, they have the ability to use the armor itself as a spell-casting focus. All of this allows for the visual of this intimidating metal figure that is supported by enchanted infusions and devastating offensive spells. I’m sure many players will have fun with this, but it provides the opportunity to describe how your spells manifest using the armor. It may not be missiles, but are their runes carved into the suit that engage the shield? The Artificer will be armed to the teeth as, beginning at 3rd level, they receive a few bonus spells:
Armorer Spells (These always count as being prepared spells)
3rd Level: Magic Missile, Shield
5th Level: Mirror Image, Shatter
9th Level: Hypnotic Pattern, Lightning Bolt
13th Level: Fire Shield, Greater Invisibility
17th Level: Passwall, Wall of Force
On top of these magical abilities, the player will be able to tinker and customize their armor between two Models: Guardian and Infiltrator. This provides some amazing flexibility that will make other heavily armored characters drool.
Guardian – You design your armor to be in the front-line of conflict. It has the following features:
- Thunder Gauntlets: Your armored fists each count as a simple melee weapon, and each deals 1d8 thunder damage on a hit. A creature hit by the gauntlet has disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than you until the start of your next turn, as the armor magically emits a distracting pulse when the creature attacks someone else.
- Defensive Field: You gain a bonus action that you can use on each of your turns to gain temporary hit points equal to your level in this class, replacing any temporary hit points you already have. You lose these temporary hit points if you doff the armor.
Infiltrator – You customize your armor for subtle undertakings. It has the following features:
- Lightning Launcher: A gem-like node appears on one of your armored fists or on the chest (your choice). It counts as a simple ranged weapon, with a normal range of 90 feet and a long range of 300 feet, and it deals 1d6 lightning damage on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, you can deal an extra 1d6 lightning damage to that target.
- Powered Steps: Your walking speed increases by 5 feet.
- Second Skin: The armor’s weight is negligible, and it becomes formfitting and wearable under clothing. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks, the power armor doesn’t.
This creates an extremely strong and adaptive class, that is enhanced by their magical abilities. Now, you can’t provide the Armorer with this much firepower early on, without sacrificing some later abilities, because this would cause the Artificer to out scale other classes and create game imbalance. So, it should be noted that this sub-class is front loaded in order to adjust the play style, and fulfill that Iron Man fantasy, however, power advancement will be coming from new spells, and not necessarily new Armorer abilities. It’s worth noting that at 5th level you do gain an extra attack to scale a bit better with melee fighters. Also, at 9th level, the Armorer gains the ability to use their Artificer infusions on specific peaces of their armor. Chest, boots, bracers, and weapon can all bear one of our infusions. Also, the number of infusions is increased to two. Thematically, this is a nice touch. It plays into that tinker archetype, and forges a connection to the character’s armor.
Finally, at 15th level, the Artificer has reached Perfected Armor, and gains the following abilities based on the model selected:
Guardian: Tinkering with your armor’s energy system leads you to discover a powerful pulling force. When a creature you can see ends its turn within 30 feet of you, you can use your reaction to force the creature to succeed on a Strength saving throw against your spell save DC or be pulled up to 30 feet toward you to an unoccupied space. If you pull the target to space within 5 feet of you, you can make a melee weapon attack against it as part of this reaction.
Infiltrator: Any creature that takes lightning damage from your Lightning Launcher glimmers with light until the start of your next turn. The glimmering creature sheds dim light in a 5 foot radius, and the next attack roll against it by a creature other than you has advantage. If that attack hits, it deals an extra 1d6 lightning damage.
Overall, I feel the D&D team did an amazing job of bringing the Iron Man fantasy to life. Though, I do feel there’s a ton of opportunity to do so much more than simply play a Marvel knock-off. The role-play opportunities are not obvious, or may take some creative thinking, but I would encourage players to think about how your character works on their armor. Furthermore, how do you use your armor as a spell focus? Customize how your suit looks and interacts with magic. I think players that do this will take their character concepts to the next level, and I’m excited to see what they do.
So, do you want to play an Artificer Armorer in your game? Does the Idea of playing Iron Man appeal to you? Let us know down below in the comments!