Artificer Q - Subclass for the Artificer
The Artificer was originally release in February, but in May it was updated. The Artificer 2.0 adds some cool new things, tweaked others and generally tightened up the earlier release. For a full review of the Artificer 2.0, listen to Episode 11 of the No INT Here podcast, where we review and compare the update to the older version.
I like the Artificer class, but have a hard time seeing many people playing it. They do some really cool things and have some unique abilities, but I just don’t know. The spells seem like a cheap attempt to get people to play the class, by making them a weak half caster. That said, I may just play one so I can get a turret, as that is one of the coolest things I have seen in a while. I envision the Artificer as an amazing NPC class, since they wouldn’t be counted to do much in battle but can supply the party with defensive measures and make them cool ass stuff.
The big adds in the update was the inclusion of two new archetypes, the Archivist and the Battle Master. Both of these new archetypes are cool in their own right, but they fail to address, in my opinion, one of the major issues with this class. Both new archetypes, just like the Alchemist and Artillerist, are defense based. The Artillerist description says that they “use (sic) magic to create explosions and defensive positions” and the Battle Smith says “Armies require protection, and someone has to put things back together if defenses fail.” What’s interesting is that these defensive creations are often used for offensive purposes, mainly to crush one’s enemies in a violent and explosive way.
This got me thinking - the Artificer is a tinkering wiz, who uses his skills to make incredible things and infuse them with magical properties. One of the greatest ‘tinkerers’ in movie history is Q, the genius behind all the James Bond gadgets. Technology is the magic of the real world, and Q’s gadgets were always using the latest technology to make more useful (and cooler) items for Bond to defeat his enemies with or escape from their evil clutches. Q could make weapons, give Bond tools to disguise or hide himself, and gadgets to assist in the escape of his inevitable capture. Reading through the different archetypes, they all had a piece of what make Q such a fascinating character, but none of them quite capture his flavor.
One big point of difference to note before we dive in is that the Q Artificer can let one other character use his creations, including the Clockwork Mount. Q didn’t make the car for himself, but for Bond. So, while Bond may not be in your party, I’m sure your fighter wouldn’t mind having one. Just don’t let the rogue too close to it.
So, here is the Q Artificer subclass for everyone to enjoy.
For those that don’t want my thought process behind the Q Artificer:
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Tools of the Trade
Simply put, smith’s tools and tinker’s tools made the most sense to me for what he can create.
Q creates both offensive and defense gadgets. This is why, at each level, the spells are usually one of each. In the movies, Q’s creations can usually either help Bond out of a bind, or give him that crazy attack that his enemies never saw coming. Either through some sort of sneaky distraction or blowing something up, Q’s gadgets gave Bond that one extra edge every time. I would argue that the Counterspell is the magical equivalent of many of Bond’s crafty escapes where he uses the villain’s own deathly devices to escape; Live and Let Die, where he jumps on the crocodiles to escape being eaten, or in Goldfinger, where he uses the laser that is going to fry his testicles to break free of his restraints. And while it may not be a Cloud of Daggers, it seemed like almost every pen, watch or camera could shoot a dart or dagger at someone, just like the ski pole in A Spy Who Loves Me.
The most iconic of all of Q’s inventions was the car he would create and that would inevitably be destroyed. Undeterred, he would create another one, with cooler and more specialized features. The Aston Martin is the James Bond car, but it is Q who makes it the amazing vehicle is is. Since we cannot have cars in D&D (I wish Descent into Avernus was out, as it is to have Infernal engines, which could have added a whole new dimension), the Q Artificer has the ability to create a clockwork mount that either he or one other character can ride. Sure, it’s no Aston Martin, but riding a robot construct shaped like a horse is pretty cool.
Crossbow bolts replace the rockets. You get a total of six, and they need to be reloaded every short rest. There was some debate on giving it a bite and or a claw attack. In the end, it was decided that a slam attack and the ability to knock someone prone fit better. Nothing like getting knocked around by hundreds of pounds of metal to ruin someone’s day.
As stated above, the mount can be “given” to another character to use. I know this breaks with Artificer tradition, but since in the movie the car was made by Q for Bond, I felt it matched the flavor we were looking for. Lastly, the mount lasts until it is killed. No deciding you don’t like Bob the mechanical horse and making Billy the Mastiff the next day. Trust in Bob, he’ll serve you right!
It seemed like every movie had smaller gadget that had some minor yet important feature that got our hero out of a scrape. From the Stun Gas cigarette in The Spy Who Loved Me to the Electromagnetic Ring in Diamonds are Forever, there was always some trinket that Q gave Bond in the early stages of the movie that was crucial late in the game.
Rings seemed like the most logical item here, since their aren’t many watches in D&D and we don’t want kids to smoke. At 6th level, you learn how to take any common ring and enhance it with a variety of special properties. After you finish a long rest and have your tinker tools, you can give any non magical ring one of the following properties:
Adrenaline - Minor healing to get you through the fight.
Escape tactics - How many times has Bond escaped certain doom.
Sleepy Time -Poison and knock out darts are a staple in the Bond universe.
Smoke Bomb - See The Spy That Loved Me.
Sneaky - How he gets in so many places is beyond me.
Winning Smile - I needed to add in Bond’s ability to seduce women and make friends somehow.
In Tomorrow Never Dies, Q made the car (a BMW…for shame) able to be controlled by remote control. This has been applied to the clockwork mount. At 14th level, you have been able to give your clockwork mount the ability to function on its own. It can now move and attack independent of you, but will always respond immediately to all direct commands it is given. Not only that, but you have also learned how to upgrade Bob the mechanical horse with some new features:
Multiattack - Two crossbow bolts at a time.
Upgraded Missiles - More missiles!
Poisonous Breath - They love gas almost as much as the darts.
So there it is, the Q Artificer. Have comments? Please feel free to let me know below.