Last Updated on January 22, 2023
The artificer is hands down my favorite class in Dungeons and Dragons 5e.
They perfectly combine brute force, magical abilities, and clever ingenuity in a way that I try to carry over into just about every character I play.
There is one downside though. As the newest and only class to be added into 5e since we got the Player’s Handbook in 2014, they do have a lot fewer options to work with than any of the other 12 classes.
This by no means makes them any less powerful, but it can be tough to get a new experience if you keep coming back to this class as often as I do.
A great way to make a really unique artificer is to try your hand at multiclassing. This allows us to tap into the diversity that the classes that have been around for almost a decade have to offer us.
It also has the added perk of ironing out any weak spots and making a really balanced character when done right.
For a full guide on all the ins and outs of multiclassing, check out: Best Multiclass Combos in 5e.
For now though, all you really need to know is that multiclassing is what happens when a character takes a level in a class other than the one they started out as.
Multiclassing Artificers: The Dos and Don’ts
Artificers are great candidates for multiclassing, but they don’t meld well with just any class.
We need to consider what makes an artificer function like a well-oiled machine. Typically, that’s high Intelligence for casting and infusions, high Strength for combat, and a good Constitution to keep us standing.
This makes them somewhat of a M.A.D. (Multiple Ability Dependent) class. M.A.D. classes require us to consider classes that focus on the same ability scores lest we end up not really being good at much of anything.
In a way, artificers are almost like a multiclass build already. As a half caster, they utilize spells and martial prowess in almost equal parts. This, along with their signature abilities, is part of what makes them such a favorable class.
As we look at classes that we can take a few levels in, we want all of this at the forefront of our minds.
We’re looking for features that can help us in our spells or with our weapons, and we don’t want to go outside of the three abilities (Strength, Intelligence, and Constitution) that make everything work.
Now, there are a few exceptions to these rules we’ve set out, each of which is mainly focused around strength.
Dexterity can replace strength if we focus on finesse weapons and/or ranged weapons, which opens up classes that are typically dex focused (Ranger and Rogue).
Additionally, two of the four artificer subclasses have the ability to use Intelligence as their weapon-attack modifier.
Since just about every class needs a good constitution, this gets us much closer to being single-ability dependent, and we have a bit more wiggle room.
With those exceptions, our options can start to look very wide. Still, I’d urge beginners to either multiclassing or the artificer class to stick to the basics.
All things considered, there are two basic paths we can choose when deciding on our second class. We can either choose to improve our spellcasting or our martial prowess.
If we go the spellcasting route, our only real option is the wizard class. The wizard is the only full caster that uses Intelligence, and juggling two spellcasting abilities is just way too much of a hassle.
Fortunately, wizards have a lot of subclass options to choose from, so there are quite a few ways we can go from here.
On the martial side of things, fighters are our best choices. Rogues and monks are feasible, but the fighter class’s weapon options tend to work best with the artificer since cool armor and magic weapons are our main focuses.
From there, it’s all down to looking at what your subclass has to offer and finding the right abilities to complement it.
This really boils down to figuring out what you want in a character, and there’s no formula that can decide that for you.
Building Your Own Multiclassed Artificer
If you want to make your own multiclassed artificer from scratch, follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way.
- Choose your Artificer Specialty – You can’t get anywhere without a subclass. Knowing your subclass will tell you which ability scores to focus on the most and what sort of features can mix well with the base of your build.
- Make a Theme/Goal – Any good multiclass build has a purpose, something that it wants to do really well or some cool ability it wants to pull off. You don’t need to be as focused as “I want to cast Eldritch Blast with a range of 3 miles,” but you should have some sort of log line that gives you direction.
- Choose a Second Class – This is the biggest piece of the puzzle, so it will take the most research and work. Figure out what works with your theme and how many levels you’ll need to take to make things work. Remember, there are no wrong answers.
- Consider Some Feats – Feats are an incredible tool when making a multiclassed build. Often, they can be the glue that holds your creation together or the missing piece to your puzzle.
- Have Fun – With your new creation assembled, all that’s left is to get together with some friends and watch your new character come to life before your eyes.
Multiclassed Artificer Builds
As anyone who’s put Ikea furniture together can tell you, all the tools in the world can only get you so far before you need some guidance.
This is the part of the article where I show you a few builds I’ve put together and explain why I made the decisions I did.
These are by no means the “BEST!” builds because there aren’t any best builds. The best build for you is one that you’re going to enjoy playing.
Instead, these are examples of builds that work in an effort to save you from a character that functions more like Frankenstein’s monster than Voltron.
Feel free to use any of these builds as is, make modifications to them, or simply use them as inspiration for your own unique creation.
Alchemist Multiclass Builds
The alchemist is typically a supportive subclass that uses elixirs and spells to buff and heal their allies while dishing out some decent spell damage when the need arises.
We can improve upon this by bringing in more spells and supportive abilities, or we can modify the purpose and use our buffs on ourselves.
Classes: Alchemist Artificer 16 / Life Cleric 4
This build will almost never have a weapon in hand, so we don’t worry about Strength. Life cleric brings heavy armor and more healing spells to the table along with some nice features that boost our healing capabilities.
We’ll want to make sure we get an herbalist kit as well, as we’ll be making potions in our downtime to add to the goodies we’re handing out.
That’s where the Chef feat actually becomes useful. If we’re focused on making herbal remedies, then it makes sense to get a +1 in constitution or wisdom along with the ability to make temporary hit-point snacks.
Classes: Alchemist Artificer 17 / Arcane Trickster Rogue 3
One of my few dislikes about the artificer class is that the Alchemist doesn’t deal more heavily in poisons. Having the option to poison others is something that I wish was explored more in 5e in general.
With this combo, Intelligence and Dexterity are incredibly important to us. The rogue brings us a lot of offensive abilities, and this specific subclass happens to also have a bit of intelligence-based spellcasting.
Additionally, we get an invisible Mage Hand, which we can use to hand out our elixirs (or poisons) from a distance.
Our main focus can now be using elixirs and infusions to get the drop on our enemy and hit them with a whole lot of damage, boosted by our poisoned blades.
When we don’t have the drop, we cast some spells and offer support as needed.
Armorer Multiclass Builds
The armorer uses a suit of specialized arcane armor (typically heavy) to deal a lot of elemental damage. They use infusions to supplement this as much as possible, which unlocks some incredible potential.
Giant Mech Suit
Classes: Armorer Artificer 16 / Rune Knight Fighter 4
Feats: Mage Slayer
The rune knight is a subclass of fighter that modifies their equipment to achieve different magical effects. Sound familiar?
Using runes and infusions along with our already powerful arcane armor, we can boost our armor and attached weapons up to the maximum potential.
The fighting style you take from the fighter class is really up to you. If you want to focus on one mode of the arcane armor, you can go with Archery for the Infiltrator or Dueling for the Guardian.
Another safe bet is just choosing Defense to give yourself an AC boost since you’ll almost always be in your armor.
Artillerist Multiclass Builds
The closest thing to a gunslinger class in 5e is the artillerist, who uses cannons and spells to blast their enemies all the way to the next plane. This is one of the best subclasses, so it doesn’t need much in the way of improvement.
Because the 5th-level feature of this subclass specifically improves artificer spells, it doesn’t make much sense to get more spells from another class.
It also doesn’t make a lot of sense to focus on any sort of weapon abilities as this is mainly a spell-focused subclass.
For this specialty, if we multiclass at all, we’ll want to do what’s called a dip. A dip is when you only take one or two levels in another class to grab a specific feature.
Classes: Artillerist Artificer 18 / Evocation Wizard 2
Dipping two levels into the evocation wizard gives us the Sculpt Spells feature, which just allows us to make our evocation spells a bit safer for our allies.
Spells like Fireball and Ice Storm can be very dangerous and wild if we don’t have some way to reel them in.
Adding the gunner feat to this build gives us our main method of dealing damage when we’re not using our cannons or arcane firearm.
Basically, we’re always using some version of a gun, so we have specialty in mundane ones as well.
Battle Smith Multiclass Builds
There are two main things that make the Battle Smith a terrifying force in combat.
They focus on powerful magical weapons, using their intelligence as their weapon-attack modifier. They also have a steel defender, a mechanical ally that makes familiars and ranger companions look like goldfish.
This is an amazing subclass that can dish out a lot of damage, effectively be multiple places at once, and only really worry about one ability score.
We definitely want to get our capstone at 15th level, but since we’re not very focused on spells, we have five levels to play around with and grab up interesting abilities.
With all the wiggle room afforded to us by this subclass, we’re able to make a build that can be wherever they want on the battlefield at any time.
The echo of ourselves, which we can thematically call a hologram, means that we now are in control of three places on the battlefield. Since none of this requires our concentration, this is almost better than conjuring up creatures.
Chronurgy gives us a few more spells and the ability to mess with other people’s rolls, but the best piece of this is adding our monstrously high intelligence modifier to our initiative rolls.
Not only can we be anywhere, but we’ll end up acting before everyone else most of the time.
Lastly, the feats give us a bit more battlefield control. Fey touched gets us Misty Step, so we can teleport to a place that our echo can’t reach or come up with really creative ways to move around.
Martial adept gives us a few battle maneuvers from another fighter subclass. My top picks are “Bait and Switch” and “Evasive Footwork” for more battlefield control, but any of the options would be great.
All together, it’ll be hard for any of your enemies to make a move without being within range of one of your powerful magical-weapon attacks.
Taking Levels in Artificer
We’ve already discussed the concept of dipping a bit, but we’ve focused on dipping out of the artificer class.
As a half-caster class with a lot of really unique early abilities, artificers also make a great candidate for dipping into.
Synergy works basically the same if you’re going in or out of a class. Wizards and fighters are the best classes to dip into artificer for a level or two, but most classes can justify it as long as they meet the requisite ability scores.
So, in order to take any levels of artificer in RAW, you need a minimum of 13 Intelligence. I would go a bit further and say that if you don’t have at least 14, you shouldn’t take more than one level.
If you’re going any further, you’ll need better than a +1 Intelligence modifier for spellcasting, infusions, and other features that rely on it.
With requirements out of the way, let’s look at what you can get with a few levels in artificer.
One Artificer Level
- Artificer Proficiencies
- Magical Tinkering
If you don’t already have them, you gain proficiencies in light armor, medium armor, shields, tinker’s tools, and thieves’ tools. You also gain spellcasting and access to artificer spells.
See our full multiclassing guide for more info on how multiclassing spell slots works.
Magical tinkering is a feature that’s useful if you’re creative. It takes some work to make the relatively small effects useful, but once you get your gears turning, there is a lot you can do in and out of combat.
I once used this feature to commandeer an entire armada of pirate ships, and I was only a first-level artificer.
Two Artificer Levels
At two levels in, we get the meat and potatoes of the artificer class. You can make magic items, give mundane items magical properties, and really feel like a magical engineer with this feature.
This is a feature that can really be good for anyone because if you don’t have uses for it yourself, you can infuse items that support your allies.
Still, the best builds for this feature are ones that need help making their weapons or armor more effective.
Three Artificer Levels
- Starting Subclass Features
- The Right Tools
With three levels, you get your choice of one of the four subclasses we’ve discussed. You can expect an additional proficiency or two along with the signature feature of the specialty.
Taking an entire subclass is a way to really change up a build, and adding an eldritch cannon or steel defender to your arsenal will really shake things up quite a lot.
There are plenty of ways that the subclass abilities can be useful, but make sure that you’re not giving yourself too much to focus on.
If the subclass ability would conflict with things you already want to use your actions or bonus actions on, your turn will start to feel overwhelming.
Try to pay attention to any harmful overlap if you want a build that feels cohesive and powerful.
Aside from the subclass, you get the relatively minor feature “The Right Tool for the Job.” This just allows you to create temporary artisan’s tools that you can use for a wide variety of purposes.
This shouldn’t be the reason you take three levels, but it’s a nice little bonus.
Artificers are an incredible class that is perfect for players who want to flex their creative muscles every time they sit down to play some D&D.
It makes a lot of sense that these kinds of players would also love creating the perfect mix of classes to pull off insanely cool abilities.
I hope this guide has inspired you to whip up your own unique arcane scientist. As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.