Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fighter Class Discussion

Good Morning Game Fans, we’re back to continue our deeper investigation into the mysteries of Dungeons and Dragons, and how it shaped the larger roleplaying game community.  We’ve put a temporary hold on our discussion about races in fantasy roleplaying (We’ll pick back up with the races from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion after this interlude).  We’re going to discuss the role of Classes in fantasy roleplaying games, and then we’ll take a look in turn at each of the character classes in the Player’s Handbook for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Deities, Divinities and Other Scary Things Pt. 2

Hey Game Fans, we’re taking a look at some world building ideas and concepts for the home setting i run.  If you’ve checked out my other world building articles, this is the setting that focuses on Lakeport and the larger world around it.  Today i’m going to  take a look at one of the more colorful gods for the setting, Bannock, the Lord of Civilization.  before i get started on Bannock himself, let me give you a little background for the gods of this world.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Treasure Hunt Outline

Those of you that have been keeping up with the random things that fall out of my head might know that I'm working on constructing a fairly large scale adventure is a project.  This is my rough outline of the adventure, broken down into key parts and then encounters.  I use the word encounter as a placeholder for any significant event in the story, whether it's a travel sequence, a set piece battle, a dungeon to explore.  As you can see each part has 7 encounters to play with, and this outline features a background, a prepping your adventuring hooks, and then the follow up, and what happens next.  Finally, there are three appendices listed so far, and I will likely add a 4th to include any and all monster statistics needed to run this adventure.  See what you think, see what's interesting, and i'll starting fleshing out the stems of this outline.   Happy Gaming

Wyrmwood Gaming Screen

Wyrmwood is at it again with another excellent offering in their woodcraft line of gaming accessories.  Just released on Kickstarter, they are offering a completely customizable gaming screen in a variety of wood grains, with a suitably impressive array of options. With the quality that Wyrmwood is known for, and their use of magnets as fasteners, They are offering a customizable product that can change from session to session depending on the needs of the game.   Let’s take a closer look at the new offering to the gaming accessory market.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Monster Mash (Thought processes for Adventure Building)

Hey Game Fans, Some of you might have seen me posting some thoughts and ideas about an adventure i am working on, and part of the process i go through when writing an adventure is to basically whiteboard up a list of monsters that i think i am going to use for the adventure.  Most of the time, this starts with me just tossing up a list of all the monsters and then pruning them down as i move through the ones that i don’t think i’m going to end up using.  So i’m going to share some of my whiteboarding and put up a broad list of monster ideas that i think would be fun to drop on unsuspecting players.  

Adventurer's League Season 2 (Upper Track part 1)

All right Game Fans, we’re continuing with our look at the 2nd season of the Adventurer’s League for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.  Unlike last season, we’re not going to take these adventures in numeric order, but we’ve split them up into two different tracks based off of their suggested character level.  Today we’re looking at the first two adventures for the upper level track, DDEX 2-3 The Drowned Tower and DDEX 2-4 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines.  Let’s dive in, and take a closer look at the next part of Season 2

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Edge of the Empire Character Creation Example

Hey Game Fans, we’re back with another look at Edge of the Empire, and today we’re going to put together a brand new character using the rules for Edge of the Empire.  This game focuses on the space between the Empire and the Rebellion, and tells the stories about people who are caught in the middle, trying to survive in an otherwise unfriendly universe.  What kind of a character would you want to play? A rougish smuggler?  A hardened bounty hunter?  A Gun for Hire?  What ideas are percolating in your brain, and how do you want to interact with the Star Wars Universe?  Let’s take a closer look at the mechanics of building a character, and dive into the game.


Quick reminder, you can catch the new show, Pencils and Parsecs on Friday nights on https://www.twitch.tv/hyperrpg for the live show, or you can catch past episodes on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHKocVDXoWBsVQVwv6HgYVzRYzZFYR4N4


Now then, let’s build a character worthy of being described as someone’s kind of scum.  


There are 10 steps to character creation, so let’s dive in and see how much ground we can cover.


Step 1.:  Determine Character Concept and Background.  


Now the character i have in mind for this build is an outsider, hailing from a species that doesn’t interact much with the galaxy at large.  Because of this, i’m leaning towards a character from the Outsider background, with a Failure of character as the hook that pulled them into the life living along the Edge of the Empire.  This background looks like:


Exiled from the Ascendancy after an incident he will not speak of, the Chiss Tech Specialist known as Marret is an oddity among his normally cool and reserved people.  With a legendary temper and a disposition that doesn’t sit well with most people, it’s only been his tech skills that have kept him out of a shallow pit or floating home in the void of space.



Step 2: Obligation


Continuing on with our character building exercise, i have to think about what kind of trouble could force a Chiss into the shadows, and how he interacts with the other things living on the Edge.  If i wanted, i could just roll the dice and see what options appear, but i have some ideas for this character.  I end up selecting the debt obligation, because Marret seems like a person who’d end up owing the wrong people money for something eventually.  Because Marret is intended for a starting party of four PCs, he has a starting Obligation Value of 10*  His Obligation write up looks like this:


Debt:  After one outbreak of violence too many, Marret was in serious trouble.  He’d almost destroyed an entire space station.  He was pretty sure the next steps he took would be out an airlock.  He was surprised when the lawyer showed up, and escorted him off the station.  It didn’t take long to figure out that the lawyer was a representative of the Black Sun.  Most of the equipment and ships he’d damaged belonged to them, and they were going to make him pay back the damages one ship, blaster or droid at a time.


Note 1:  Marret increases his starting obligation by 10 because he wants a little more cash to buy stuff.  


The Final way i’m going to write this down is Obligation 20: Debt, Black Sun


Step 3:  Select a Species


This step is easy, I’ve chosen Chiss. I record all of my racial attributes, the special abilities, my thresholds, and most importantly for a starting character, my starting experience point total. This is the pool of experience points i have to customize my character throughout the rest of the character creation process, and what let’s me make my character different from all the other tech specialists in the galaxy.


Starting Experience Points: 100


Step 4: Selecting a Career


This one’s fairly straightforward, and of the selections available, i’m going to build a techie for this character.  I’ve considered a lot of the potential options, but i’ve envisioned this character as a support character who keeps the ships and gear running for other people, and the most efficient way to build that character is Technician.   For my four starting skills, i select Computers, Mechanics, Perception and Piloting: Planetary.  (I also noted the rest of my career skills on the character sheet).  


Step 5:  Selecting a Specialization


Of the three starting specializations for the Technician, i’ve settled into Mechanic.  I like the concept and the ideas for mechanic, and i make that selection.  I add the Mechanic’s additional career skills to my list, and add an additional point in Mechanics and Piloting: Space.


Step 6: Invest Experience Points


Now i’ve got 100 experience points to customize my character, and the first thing i do is increase Intelligence to 4.  This costs me 40 of my starting experience points.  I also want to unlock the Outlaw Tech Specialization, which costs me 20 more starting experience points.  With 40 experience points left, i think it’s time to pick up a couple of skills and maybe a talent or two.  I increase my Computers Skill to 2 ranks for 10 experience, and Astrogation to 2 ranks for 10 more.  This leaves me with 20 experience points to pick up talents from the Outlaw Tech and Mechanic Trees.  From the trees, i grab Gearhead for 5, (mechanic), Fine Tuning for 5 (Mechanic), Tinkerer for 5, (Outlaw Tech), and Utinni! For 5 (Outlaw Tech).  Now I’ve spent my starting 100 experience points, and am ready to move to the next step.  


Step 7: Derived Values


As we covered in our reading a character sheet article, there are four derived values we need to determine.  Soak Value is currently a 0, because we didn’t pick a race with a natural armor value.  Strain Threshold and Wound Threshold are both 12 (10 + relevant statistic).  Finally, Defense Value for both melee and ranged is a 0 (again, no special armor to make that better).  This might change in a moment, but i consider it unlikely that Marret is going to pick up heavy armor.  


Step 8:  Motivations


Motivations are different from Obligations in that they are intrinsic motivators that characters have.  Some have ambitions, some have causes, some have a variety of things.  Marret has a heavy case of Greed, but it’s purpose driven Greed.  He knows he doesn’t get along well with anyone but droids, and eventually hopes to have enough credits to buy his way out from under the Black Sun and open his own shop/station where he only has to deal with droids and gear.  


Step 9:  Gear and Equipment


The Star Wars Universe is full of exciting equipment and things to spend money on.  Marret is a relatively light packer, and only has the following equipment:  


Light Blaster Pistol
Heavy Clothing (Increases our Soak Value to 1)
Handheld Comm Link
Datapad
Emergency Repair Patches (4)
Fusion Lantern
Tool Kit
Utility Belt


This cost him a total of 1,025 credits, leaving him with 1,975 credits left.  


Step 10:  Select a Starting Starship


This is a group decision, but Marret’s personal choice would be for a YT-1300 transport to get around the galaxy and holding his droid and parts and stuff.  


And that’s putting a character together for Edge of the Empire.  We’re going to put up a link to our example character, and put up the form fillable sheet we used to put the character together.  If you guys are interested, we may put in two or three other characters that fill out the rest of this group.   






So what would you like to see next?  A Breakdown of the careers, a look at the species, or another example character?  


Let us know, and we’ll see what we can put together for you wonderful people.


Game On, Game Fans


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Druid Class Discussion

Good Morning Game Fans, we’re back to continue our deeper investigation into the mysteries of Dungeons and Dragons, and how it shaped the larger roleplaying game community.  We’ve put a temporary hold on our discussion about races in fantasy roleplaying (We’ll pick back up with the races from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion after this interlude).  We’re going to discuss the role of Classes in fantasy roleplaying games, and then we’ll take a look in turn at each of the character classes in the Player’s Handbook for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Deities, Divinities, and really Scary Things

Hey Game Fans, we’re taking a look at some world building ideas and concepts for the home setting i run.  If you’ve checked out my other world building articles, this is the setting that focuses on Lakeport and the larger world around it.  Today i’m going to  take a look at one of the more colorful gods for the setting, Hassur, The Lord of Hell.  before i get started on Hassur himself, let me give you a little background for the gods of this world.  

Unearthed Arcana: Ranger & Rogue

So Wizards of the Coast pulled a switcheroo on us for the first Unearthed Arcana for 2017.  Last week, we got the Artificer base class, and while it’s a box load of fun, it did throw off our schedule for UA material and our current plan to cover the base classes from the Player’s Handbook.  Today we’re going to hop back on the wagon and catch on the features for the Ranger and the Rogue.  2017 is shaping up to be another interesting year for Dungeons and Dragons, so let’s dive into the new Ranger and the new Rogue

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Random Thought Saturday

Adventure outline: Untitled Treasure Hunt #1



Adventure Synopsis:  A band of adventurers are initially hired to transport a bauble from a Waterdeep shop to a waiting scholar in Silverymoon.  Along the way, a few attempts are made by a variety of interested parties to acquire the bauble.  Upon delivery, the Bauble is explained by the scholar who hires the party of adventurers to retrieve the other missing pieces in a grand treasure hunt across the Forgotten Realms.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tales of Amusement

Today we’re going to take a bit of a break from our normal routine and drop off a gaming story that hopefully you find amusing and it gives you something to chuckle about while you gear up for your games as they come up this weekend.  I’m going to talk about one of my personal favorite games, Deadlands, and the absolute horror show that our first few sessions turned out to be.  Now i’ll give you a brief description of the principal characters, and start the mystery of mystery land.  It’s been several years since i played this game, so bear with my faulty memory circuits in places.

Paying for Gaming (Odd Thoughts)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one “I saw a facebook post where some guy said he was charging $30 per player to run a Dungeons and Dragons game session, wtf?”  It’s an interesting question that leads to a series of more interesting questions that run the gamut of ideas and philosophies.  Questions like…
  • I provide a service as a Game Master/Dungeon Master, why shouldn’t i make a little money?
  • Can I charge for running a game?  
  • How would i do that?
  • What about the other stuff that goes into it?
  • If i host a Livestream game that accepts tips, do i split that with my players?  


To name just a few of these questions.  Now before everyone develops an emotional reaction and starts screaming about this, let’s take a look at some differences and some thoughts and ideas.  Whether we like it or not, there are going to be ventures into monetizing gaming, and like the Joker says “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”  Let’s think this through on a couple of different points of interest, and see what we can come up with as a basis for having a conversation about putting this together.


Running a Gaming location vs. Running a Game

To me, this is the single most important aspect of this “pay to play” ideation.  If you are setting up a hosting location that provides table space and resources to encourage players to gather and play games, you’re going to need to consider a lot of different resources and the level of commitment you’re willing to provide for players and game masters.  This is very different from the level of support a GM provides for players when running a game at a store, or a convention.  Let’s examine the various resources a hosting location can provide.  


Space

Probably the most important physical thing a gaming session needs is a place to settle down and play.  The level of furnishment of this space will vary greatly, but the bare minimum floor, walls, and ceiling coupled with environmental maintenance (heating and cooling) are essential for putting together a place to play.  Assuming you need space for 1 GM and between say 3 and 7 players (looking at you Adventurer’s League) you’re looking at probably a 20 by 20 room (Yep, we’re expressing this in terms of dungeon building).  You probably want decent heating and cooling, and most importantly to most of us, ventilation.  D & D (and gaming in general) produces a lot of body heat, and you want that heat to go somewhere.  Ideally, we’re looking at an enclosed space with its own doors (to keep your group from bothering the neighbors and vice versa).  Most groups will need some light sockets, for a variety of reasons (ambient lighting, laptops/computers/other electronica).


The other major space that a location like this is going to need is a storage space for all of the gaming supplies that aren’t in use.  Dice, books, miniatures, playmats, and a host of other peripheral accessories can be used for a gaming host, and they occupy real estate.  Finding the best place to store this stuff in an easily accessible yet out of the way space is a fun logic puzzle for a different day.  Labels are essential, and knowing what is stored where is going to save a lot of frustration and irritation in the long run.  Depending on where you live, a space like this can vary widely in price and maintenance, but you have to consider the costs of maintaining the physical space.  


Furnishings

So you’ve got a space now, but most of us aren’t going to sit on a floor to play D & D for an extended period of time (if you can, more power to you, but my back won’t take it for extended periods anymore).  So what do you want to furnish a spot like this with?  You need to consider the flooring, because it’s what your feet and the rest of the furnishings sit on top of.  Concrete floors are not ideal in the long run.  Make sure it’s comfortable to stand on, and cleans up well/easily. So after we cover the floor, there are the following considerations:
  • Table:  Probably the centerpiece of any gaming setup, the table for a gaming area is probably the most critical piece of furniture you’re going to invest in.  There is an amazing assortment of playing surfaces you can pick up for your gaming needs, but my key considerations are to make sure you have enough playing space for the maximum number of players suggested for an area.  (with our existing example, we need playing space for 8 people and their dice, sheets, and other resources).  You can spend a crazy amount of money on a table, but you can also find very functional tables if you’re willing to look outside the “gaming table” market.  
  • Seating:  Everyone looks at the table first, but i personally think chairs are as critical to a gaming setup as the table.  You’re going to be using these pieces of furniture for around four hours at a shot, so make sure you pick comfy chairs for this.  Flimsy chairs or uncomfortable chairs are not ideal for this purpose, so don’t scrimp on chairs.
  • Light Sources:  Unless you have an overhead lighting that provides enough light to shine all over the room, you’re going to need at least one, and possibly more sources of light.  Lamps are probably your friend in this endeavor, and these are a matter of personal design and decorating taste, but you should be aware that you may need them.    


Resources

So we’ve got a space and a gaming setup, and we could stop right here with our provision of a gaming space.  What will separate this space from others are the resources that the space also provides.  What’s that consist of?  All sorts of treats, accessories and other things that can be offered to improve the gaming environment.  Let’s look at a potential list of the resources a gaming space can provide.
  • Books:  The first and most prevalent resource that a gaming space can provide is the books needed to play the game.  Some game systems require more books, and this can be an extensive library of books.  
  • Maps:  If the group playing uses Maps, then one of the easiest resources to provide is maps.  You can provide Blank Graph paper pads for DMs that are building their own maps, or you can provide playmats from a variety of manufacturers.  If you’re feeling truly adventurous, you can consider picking up 3D gaming terrain from a variety of manufacturers on the market.  
  • Miniatures:  This is where a lot of cash can get spent very quickly.  The tokens, pawns, miniatures pool of accessories is astonishingly deep and ranges from simple cut out tokens, all the way up to custom 3D printed individually painted miniatures made from diamonds.  We’re kidding about the diamonds part, but you can find great variety and options for the playing pieces that represent the characters and the monsters they have to overcome.
  • Dice:  Everybody needs them, so why not provide them?
  • Character Sheets:  Beyond having a stockpile of ready to go pre-generated characters for new players to jump right in, you also have to consider the availability of printing additional sheets as they’re needed.
  • Electronic Resources:  Applications like Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 are alternatives to traditional tabletop gaming.  Providing memberships and access to these resources are potentials.  Beyond that, providing Wi-Fi for the location is probably a boon to anyone using the internet for other applications.
  • Dungeon/Game Masters:  This one’s a little bit different to wrap the brain around, but if you knew that the space you were going to had a game master available to run a game, help you with your character and work on some of the other outside the game aspects of D & D, i think it would be a fairly valuable resource for a gaming space to provide.  
  • Gathering spots:  Outside of the gaming space itself, being able to provide meeting spots for other gamers can cement a host like this as a key hub for the gaming community.  Knowing that you can find other gamers who might be looking for a game or hosting stuff is a boon for the folks who are looking.  
  • Retail Options:  Being able to buy stuff for the game at the same location you play the game is a pretty cool option, if you can swing it.
  • Snacks/meals/drinks/liquor:  The Game cafe is a real thing, and being able to provide a space to play games, eat food and socialize with your friends while playing D & D might be neat.  
  • Prep work:  Not in terms of writing out the adventure, but having someone pull all the monsters and maps you need for an adventure sounds like something that would be superbly cool.


Thoughts on Hosting/Running

So the question to me is essentially “Would i be willing to put in a fixed dollar amount to help build/become a member of an organization that hosts gaming events with all the bells and whistles?”  This is a very different question than “Am i willing to pay this guy money for running a Dungeons and Dragons game?”  The answer to the first question is a qualified yes, the primary qualifications falling along the lines of i need more information, but in principle and on paper, probably.  Having a social club/cafe that provides the space for gaming and all of the tools of the trade so that all i really have to do is show up with my character and play feels like a very appealing concept.  


Now, the answer to the second question is maybe.  If it’s a charity event, and someone from Wizards, or one of the other publishers of role-playing games is offering a “Buy a seat, play a game” ticket or promotion, i might be up for that.  Under less amazing circumstances, i would probably graciously decline.  


There are a few issues to keep in mind for operating a space like this, so let’s take a look at a couple of other incidental costs/potential snags
  • Scheduling:  Basically, you are building the mega shiny deluxe gaming space, and if you’ve done it right, people should be lined up around the block to play in it.  This means that you’re going to have to put in a schedule to make sure that everyone gets their chance to play and this can be a headache.  
  • Resource scarcity:  It’s possible to have multiple gaming groups operating in the same space, in separate areas.  This becomes tricky when you have a situation where 1 table is running through a necromancer, table 2 is exploring an ancient tomb, and table 3 is dealing with a skeletal pirate crew.  The problem is, you don’t have that many skeletons.  This can be mitigated by picking up additional resources, or by scheduling creatively.  
  • Repairs:  Someone’s going to break something eventually.  It’s a part of the process of having a space like this that a map will get something spilled on it, a miniature will break, a chair might shatter, or some other equally creative accident will occur.  First, hopefully you have insurance to cover a contingency like this, but you also should consider needing a fill in piece of gear or equipment while the replacement is acquired.  
  • Licenses/permits/regulations:  Don’t break the law when building the gaming space of your fascinations.  


Let’s loop back to the original idea of running a game for profit or hosting a gaming location.  If you’re going to provide a hosting service like this, you should certainly make sure that you don’t lose money at it.  Some folks are going to tell you it’s a labor of love, or do it for the sake of the fun you have playing the game.  That’s an idea that i don’t disagree with, but you are going way, way above and beyond what i typically expect of a gaming host to provide.  


If you are looking for a way to monetize gaming, i say fair enough.  If you have devoted your life to it, and you think you have found a niche that will let you turn your love for games into currency, then more power to you.  However, if you’re going to put up a price for your services, i strongly suggest you consider what the current market provides, and what the rest of your local community considers a fair price for your services.  

Final Thoughts for now
We’re looking at a strange, bizarre new world of gaming.  Game cafes are opening up all over the place.  We’re seeing a diffusion of livestreaming and podcasting from sources all over the world.  You can find 40+ hours of Role-playing game content on a combination of video providing platforms and apps.  I think that we’re going to see an uptick in “premium” game providers and hosting locations in the next four or five years as people continue to see Gamers as a new market for a variety of services, things, and stuff.  We’re probably going to see a bunch of these open up, and close rapidly as people get in over their heads.  I think we can put our heads together and figure out how to make places like this work, and find new places and people to work with.  


Do i think there exists a rationale for charging players to run a D & D game?  If you are the hosting venue and providing services and resources above and beyond what would normally be expected at a place? Probably.  If you’re DMing for a home game or a convention, i am not sure i can justify charging players for the game.  


Anyway, that’s my ramble for now, i hope this makes sense to the rest of you.


Game On, Game Fans



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Adventurer's League Season 2 (Part 6, Lower Track)


All right Game Fans, we’re continuing with our look at the 2nd season of the Adventurer’s League for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.  Unlike last season, we’re not going to take these adventures in numeric order, but we’ve split them up into two different tracks based off of their suggested character level.  Today we’re looking at the final adventure for the lower level track, DDEX 2-16: Boltsmelter’s Book.  Let’s dive in, and take a closer look at the next part of Season 2

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Obligation and You! (Star Wars, Edge of the Empire)

Hey Game Fans, we’re back today to continue our series on the joyful experience that is the Edge of The Empire Roleplaying Game from Fantasy Flight Games.  After consulting with my experts on the topic, we came to the consensus that pushing back a character creation example for another week allowed us to feature one of the most important/cool/amazing/interesting design mechanics we’ve seen in several years, Obligation.  Obligation is an essential component to every character in Edge of the Empire, and serves to pull the entire Star Wars Universe together in a tangled web of favors, oaths, bounties and intrigue.  Sounds fun, right?  Let’s take a closer look.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Artificer Class Discussion

Good Morning Game Fans, we’re back to continue our deeper investigation into the mysteries of Dungeons and Dragons, and how it shaped the larger roleplaying game community.  We’ve put a temporary hold on our discussion about races in fantasy roleplaying (We’ll pick back up with the races from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion after this interlude).  We’re going to discuss the role of Classes in fantasy roleplaying games, and then we’ll take a look in turn at each of the character classes in the Player’s Handbook for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition.


So what is a Character Class?  In Dungeons and Dragons (and many other roleplaying games) A Character Class represents a combination of special abilities, options and skills that make up a character’s occupation.  Your Character Class helps define what options you have to interact with the larger game world, and determines whether you’re a sneaky expert, or a bold warrior, or a crafty arcane magician.  


It also serves to indicate to other players what they can expect your character to be capable of doing.   In other words, it can serve as a keyword for you to identify a variety of factors.  It’s also the second most common descriptor used to identify a character after race.  For example, “He’s a human ranger, or she’s an elven wizard.”  in the same way that people can identify as a lawyer, or a doctor or a soldier, the fantasy adventurer identifies as a barbarian, or a ranger, or a wizard.  
Now Today’s Feature is a little different because we’re looking at an Unearthed Arcana class offering.  This isn’t the first one of these we’ve seen (looking at you, Mystic), but we’re going to revisit the Artificer as a potential character class for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition.  Bear in mind, this class is currently undergoing playtesting, so not all of its abilities or features are set in stone, and i’ll be making suggestions for ideas to go with the options listed.  

Artificer:

Artificers are a fairly new idea to fantasy role-playing.  Conceptually, it’s a character that blends magic and technology into an amazing synthesis of magically engineered awesome.  This a character that blends elements of engineering, magic, and expertise into a unified idea about how magic can work right alongside science.  These are your mad scientists, alchemists, construct makers and gunsmiths.  If any of these ideas seem like a cool concept, then you may want to take a closer look at the Artificer class.  


Creating an Artificer:

Why did you pick Artificer for this character?  Is he or she a enchanted by the synergy of math and magic?  Drawn to the interplay between strange magic and exotic elements?  Drawn to the roar of cannons and the flash of lightning? What brought your character to this role, and how did they end up deciding on the Artificer life?    Figuring out these answers can help you figure out why you want to be an Artificer, and how you can select a background that works with the class and your concept.


Artificers are an interesting blend of arcane magic and expert talent.  They are unique in that they build items of magical power to assist them in whatever task they’ve committed to, and they are likely to be the character that can devise a solution for the problem at hand.  If you hear the MacGyver theme song playing in the back of head, you’re not far off.  These characters use practical experience, knowledge, and a little bit of arcane power to solve their problems and contribute to the adventurers they work with.  


The Artificer is an intelligence based spell caster, but you’re going to want to consider a high dexterity (for now) if you plan on being a gunsmith.  You are going to have a variety of options on how to interact in combat situations at range, so considering a decent dexterity anyway, and Constitution can be very helpful in the long run to keep your hit point total high.  


Class Features

This section contains all of the mechanically and statistically relevant information that you will need as a player to build your character.  


Hit Points:

Hit points represent the amount of damage a character can take before being incapacitated and potentially dead.  Every class has a specific range of potential hit point totals, modified by the character’s Constitution modifier.


Hit Dice:  Artificers use a D8 for their hit dice.  This is a middle of the road hit die, the dedicated arcane spell casters are rolling D6s, while the rogue, the Cleric, and the monk are also rolling D8s.  Compared to more martially capable characters, Artificers can’t take as much of a punch without succumbing to their injuries
Hit Points at 1st level: A 1st level Artificer will have 8 hit points plus an additional number of hit points equal to their constitution bonus.  
Hit Points at higher levels:  Every level after first, a Artificer gains an additional D8 hit die, which they can roll for hit point, or take the average value of 5.  They also get to add their Constitution modifier to whatever they roll.  The new Hit Die plus Con mod is added to their existing Maximum hit points, and they are off to the races.  


For example, a level 3 Artificer has just gained enough experience points to achieve level 4.  They roll a D8, and come up with a 6.  The player adds their Constitution bonus of +2, and this comes to an 8.  Added to the existing maximum Hit Point total of 24, the new 4th level Artificer has 32 hit points.


Proficiencies:

Proficiencies represent specific training and competency levels with a variety of weapons, armor, saving throws, tools, and skills.  When using weapons and skills your character is proficient in, as well as making saving throws of types your character is proficient with, you get to add your proficiency bonus to the die roll.  


Armor:  Light and Medium Armor
Weapons: Simple Weapons
Tools: Thieves Tools, Two other Tools of choice
Saving Throws:  Constitution, Intelligence
Skills:  Choose any three from Arcana, Deception, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Religion, Slight of Hand


Note: There are other ways to acquire certain proficiencies beyond the character class.  Certain races, backgrounds, and other options allow a character to pick up proficiencies outside their normal range, so if you see something you’re looking for, you might just find it in another section.  


Equipment:

Every character class has a recommended starting package of weapons and equipment.  This is an excellent way to save yourself time by grabbing a gear package and being ready to go.  All of the suggestions are laid out in a menu, and you as a player get to make one choice per bullet point for your character’s equipment.
  • (a) hand axe and light hammer or (b) any two simple weapons
  • light crossbow and 20 bolts
  • (a) scale mail or (b) studded leather armor
  • thieves tools and a dungeoneer’s pack



Class Abilities:

The majority of the remaining class description will feature a combination of special abilities and tricks that only members of this specific class have access to.  These are the other professional capabilities that define this class and separate it from the remaining ones.  They give the flavoring that make the bard play differently from the sorcerer.  They have a specific format that they’ll likely follow:


1st Level


Artificer Specialist
At 1st level, you choose a specialization for your Artificer, either Alchemist or Gunsmith.  These archetypes have special abilities gained at 1st level, 3rd level, 9th level, 14th level, and 17th level.  We’ll look at these more closely when we examine those archetypes at the end of this document.  
Magic Item Analysis
The Artificer knows the Artificer Spells Detect Magic and Identify, and can cast them as rituals.  The Artificer does not need the material components for the Identify spell when using this class feature.  


2nd level


Tool Expertise
The Artificer is an expert with their chosen implements.  Double the proficiency bonus for any checks made with the tool proficiencies gained from this class.  


Wondrous Invention
Through the power of awesomeness, magic, and engineering, the Artificer has constructed a permanent magical item.  This process is assumed to take up free time and long hours of research, study and practice.  The Artificer will gain another magical item using this ability at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20.  The Artificer must select an item from their current level or below when selecting an item.  
At 2nd level, the options are: Bag of Holding, Cap of Water Breathing, Driftglobe, Goggles of Night, Sending Stones


3rd Level

Spellcasting
Through the power of artifice, study, and mathemagic, the Artificer can create magical effects.  Spellcasting is an incredibly dense topic that is covered in Chapter 10 of the PHB (Spellcasting) and Chapter 11 (The Spell Lists).  I’m going to cover the basics of how Spellcasting is affected by being all that is Artificer, but you should definitely check out both of those chapters before slinging spells.

Spell Slots

The Artificer has a limited number of slots that they can use to cast magical spells.  There’s a big table on page 2 that will tell you how many spell slots of each level you have available.  In order to cast a spell, you need to have a spell slot of the appropriate level or higher available.  Casting the spell expends the spell slot.  All expended spell slots recover with a long rest.


Note 1:  Some spells work better when cast with higher level spell slots.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher

An Artificer knows 3 1st level spells at 3rd level, and there’s a handy chart on page 2 that shows an Artificer when they learn more spells.


Spellcasting Ability

Intelligence is the spellcasting attribute an Artificer uses.  The Artificer’s understanding of formulae, pattern and long hours of study have given the magic its power.  What this means in game terms is as follows:
  • Spell Save DC = 8 +Artificer’s Proficiency Bonus + Artificer’s Intelligence Modifier
  • Spell Attack Modifier= Artificer’s Proficiency Bonus +Artificer’s Intelligence Modifier

Spellcasting Focus

The Artificer can use an arcane focus as a focus for Artificer Spells. (Check out chapter 5 in the PHB for some more details)



Artificer Specialization Ability #2
Depending on which Artificer Specialization  you select, you’ll get one of two abilities.  I’ll cover these below when i cover the archetypes in greater detail.



4th Level


Ability Score Increase


You can increase one ability score of your choice by two points or you can increase two different ability scores by one point.  You can’t increase an ability score over 20 using this ability.  Some games allow feats, and you can substitute a feat for an Ability Score Increase.


Infuse Magic


An Artificer can pour magical energy into an inanimate object.  By increasing the casting time of a spell to 1 minute instead of 1 action, the Artificer binds the spell to the object.  This allows the Artificer to expend a spell slot and store the spell within the non-magical item chosen.  Any creature with an intelligence of 6 or greater can activate the spell with an action.  This ability lasts for 8 hours, after which time the energy fades.


The spell activated targets the creature activating it.  If it targets multiple creatures, the creature activating it picks additional targets.  If it’s an area effect spell, it’s centered on the item.  If the Spell’s range is self, it targets the creature activating the effect.  An Artificer can infuse a number of spells equal to his or her Intelligence modifier at the same time.  


5th Level
Superior Attunement


The Artificer can attune to an additional magical item, bringing the total to 4.  At 15th level, this improves again, and the Artificer can attune to 5 magical items.  



Wondrous Invention
The Artificer constructs another item.  Make a selection from the level 2 list, or from the following: Alchemy Jug, Helm of Comprehending Languages, Lantern of Revealing, Ring of Swimming, Robe of Useful Items, Rope of Climbing, Wand of Magic Detection, Wand of Secrets.


6th Level


Mechanical Servant


The Artificer builds a new friend.  Select a Large Beast with a Challenge Rating of 2 or less (Mechano-Horse, anyone?) and apply the following modifications to it.  
  • It’s a Construct instead of a beast
  • Can’t be Charmed
  • Immune to poison damage (can’t gain the Poisoned condition)
  • It understands all the languages its creator speaks, but can’t speak
  • If the Artificer is targeted by a melee attack and the servant is within 5 feet of the attacker, the Artificer can use his or her reaction to give the companion a  free melee attack
The Servant obeys orders to the best of its ability and rolls its own initiative.  If killed it can be brought back to life with spells or old fashioned Artificer ingenuity.  If completely destroyed, a new one can be built for the cost of 1,000 gp and a week’s worth of work.


This is one of the most interesting features of this class, but i think it doesn’t go quite far enough.  I think Animated Objects and other suitably low CR monsters should be available choices for the Mechanical Servant ability.  More thoughts on this later on.  


7th Level


No New Abilities gained


8th Level


Ability Score Increase


You can increase one ability score of your choice by two points or you can increase two different ability scores by one point.  You can’t increase an ability score over 20 using this ability.  Some games allow feats, and you can substitute a feat for an Ability Score Increase.


9th Level


Artificer Specialist Feature #3
Depending on which Artificer Specialization  you select, you’ll get one of two abilities.  I’ll cover these below when i cover the archetypes in greater detail.


10th Level


Wondrous Invention
The Artificer constructs another item.  Make a selection from the levels 2 or 5 lists, or from the following: Bag of Beans, Chime of Opening, Decanter of Endless Water, Eyes of Minute Seeing, Folding Boat, Heward’s Handy Haversack



11th Level


No New Abilities gained


12th Level


Ability Score Increase


You can increase one ability score of your choice by two points or you can increase two different ability scores by one point.  You can’t increase an ability score over 20 using this ability.  Some games allow feats, and you can substitute a feat for an Ability Score Increase.


13th Level


No New Abilities Gained


14th Level


Artificer Specialist Feature #4
Depending on which Artificer Specialization  you select, you’ll get one of two abilities.  I’ll cover these below when i cover the archetypes in greater detail.



15th Level


Superior Attunenment


(Improves to 5 Attunements)


Wondrous Invention
The Artificer constructs another item.  Make a selection from the levels 2, 5 or 10 lists, or from the following: Boots of Striding and Springing, Bracers of Archery, Brooch of Shielding, Broom of Flying, Hat of Disguise, Slippers of Spider Climbing


16th Level


Ability Score Increase


You can increase one ability score of your choice by two points or you can increase two different ability scores by one point.  You can’t increase an ability score over 20 using this ability.  Some games allow feats, and you can substitute a feat for an Ability Score Increase.


17th Level


Artificer Specialist Feature #5
Depending on which Artificer Specialization  you select, you’ll get one of two abilities.  I’ll cover these below when i cover the archetypes in greater detail.


18th Level
Ability Score Increase


You can increase one ability score of your choice by two points or you can increase two different ability scores by one point.  You can’t increase an ability score over 20 using this ability.  Some games allow feats, and you can substitute a feat for an Ability Score Increase.



19th Level
No New Abilities Gained


20th Level


Soul of Artifice


The Artificer can attune a 6th magical item.  Further, the Artificer gains a bonus to saving throws equal to the number of attuned magical items they own.  


Wondrous Invention
The Artificer constructs another item.  Make a selection from the levels 2, 5, 10 or 15 lists, or from the following: Eyes of the Eagle, Gem of Brightness, Gloves of Missile Snaring, Gloves of Swimming and Climbing, Ring of Jumping, Ring of Mind Shielding, Wings of Flying.



Thoughts and Ideas:

I have a couple of questions about Wondrous Inventions.
First, is the Artificer the only person who can use the item they’ve made?
Second, what happens should one of these items explode, melt, or otherwise be destroyed?  Can they make a replacement for the item?  What happens if they have an item that either they’ve outgrown the need for or the party finds one?  


I think Mechanical Servant is a neat ability that can provide a lot of fun for the Artificer and his companions.  


Overall, i think the class focused on constructing and utilizing magical items to their fullest capabilities is a very interesting concept.  I like the fact that the basic magical items they construct aren’t weapons or armor.  This class has a ton of options for bringing incredibly useful items to the party and have competencies that make them excellent back up for a party’s trap detecting specialist, and an additional expert in knowledge areas.  

Archetypes:

A character class is built to be as broadly encompassing as it can be.  There are many types of wizards in the world, and different types of fighters as well.  Each class has access to a selection of Archetypes that allow a player to further tighten up their concept and build the type of character they are specifically looking for.  Rogues have access to both thief and assassin, for example, and while they are both Rogues at heart, the abilities that each Archetype uses definitely change the way the class feels to play.  


The two Artificer Specializations offered in the Unearthed Arcana for the Artificer are the Alchemist and the Gunsmith.  Each one adds a group of abilities to the core Artificer, and they can shift the way you look at your character and the feats of awesome you might want to pull off.  First, i’d like to say that i think the Artificer could do with at least two additional Archetypes, the Scientist, (A Dr. Jekyll type of Alchemist that uses Artificer magic to turn into a rampaging beast), and the Mechanic,  built around the Mechanical Servant and finding ways to augment that particular feature with more powerful options for the Servant.  

Alchemist

The Alchemist uses the Artificer’s lore and expertise to create magical effects on the fly.  From entangling masses of glue to explosives, acids, and a bewildering array of interesting short term magical effects.  This character is never without choices when they have their trusty alchemist’s kit, and can usually find a solution to a problem, with enough time and reagents.  Let’s take a closer look at the abilities for the Alchemist.  


1st Level


Alchemist’s Satchel


The Alchemist puts together a working alchemy kit that fits into a bag he or she can carry with them.  The bag contains exactly the right materials an Alchemist needs to make any given formula.  After the formula is used, the bag reclaims any remaining materials.  In order to use any of the formula options listed below, the Alchemist needs to have his or her satchel within reach.  


Alchemical Formula


The Alchemist is a master of formula and chemistry.  At 1st level, the Alchemist learns 3 alchemical formula.  They receive the formula for Alchemical Fire, Alchemical Acid, and one of their choice.  They lean an additional formula at 3rd, 9th, 14th and 17th level.  If the Formula requires a saving throw, it is 8 + Alchemist’s Proficiency Bonus + Alchemist’s Intelligence Modifier.  


3rd Level


Additional Formula


The Alchemist learns an additional Formula, as described above.


9th Level


Additional Formula


The Alchemist learns an additional Formula, as described above.


14th Level


Additional Formula


The Alchemist learns an additional Formula, as described above.


17th Level


Additional Formula


The Alchemist learns an additional Formula, as described above.


Formulas

I’m not going to do a full breakdown of the formulas (you can find those on page 5 of the Unearthed Arcana article for Artificer), but in broad terms, the 7 formulas provide 2 means of directly dealing damage, a healing option, a cover provider, a glue bomb, a movement accelerator, and a distraction.  Check them out in detail on page 5 (Note that the damage dealing and healing versions scale up with the Alchemist’s level).  

Thoughts and Ideas:

The Alchemist turns up the Artificer’s problem solving ability to 11.  With the right formula in hand, an Alchemist can solve many of the problems associated with exploring and dungeon crawling.  Honestly, i think there aren’t enough formula options.  WIth 7 total formula, and 7 slots where a formula is acquired, it’s a matter of when the Alchemist picks up an ability rather than a hard choice of what options he or she chooses to pick up.  There are a variety of other alchemical options for interesting effects you could slot in, including
  • Cold, Poison, LIghtning, Radiant damage
  • Sleep grenades
  • Condition fixers
  • Light Sources
  • Water Breathing options
  • A variety of tools to open/melt/burn through walls, doors, and locks
  • Scent based options to confuse animals, incapacitate guards, induce charm effects
In this instance, i honestly think more options are better because it allows the Alchemist to specialize into a party niche that is otherwise unoccupied, and it lets two Alchemists in the same party focus on different sorts of tricks.  


Gunsmith

The Gunsmith takes the engineering and design focus of the Artificer and turns it to a violent end.  Alchemical powder, lead and steel combine with lethal intent to create a rare, possibly unique weapon of personal defense.  The Gunsmith may not change the world with his or her invention, but it will change their immediate environment.  Let’s take a closer look at the abilities for the Gunsmith.  


1st Level


Master Smith
When the Artificer chooses the Gunsmith Specialization, they gain proficiency in Smith’s Tools and learn the Mending Cantrip.


Thunder Cannon
At 1st level, the Gunsmith constructs a gun.  This is a two handed ranged weapon (range 150/500) that does 2d6 points of piercing damage.  Once fired, it needs to be reloaded as a bonus action.  Should the Gunsmith misplace or break the Thunder Cannon, it can be replaced by spending 3 eight hour work days and 100 gp for replacement materials.


Arcane Magazine
The Thunder Cannon requires specific ammunition and equipment to maintain a prime working condition.  The Gunsmith creates a magical bag to carry the tools and ammunition for his or her Thunder Cannon.  After a long rest, the Gunsmith can magically create 40 rounds of ammunition for the Thunder Cannon.  After a short rest, the Gunsmith can create 10 rounds of ammunition.  This bag can be replaced for 25 gp as part of a long rest.  


3rd Level


Thunder Monger
The Gunsmith can infuse the Thunder Cannon with...well Thunder.  As an Action, the Gunsmith can use a special attack that deals Thunder Damage in addition to the normal damage the Thunder Cannon does.  At 3rd level, this is an extra 1D6 points of Thunder Damage, but it scales up with level.  


9th Level
Blast Wave
The Gunsmith can infuse the Thunder Cannon with Force energy.  As an action, the Gunsmith can unleash a wave of energy at everything within a 15 foot cone, emanating from the Cannon.  Each creature in the affected area has to make a Strength Save (DC 8 + Intelligence Modifier + Proficiency Bonus) or take 2D6 points of Force Damage and be pushed 10 feet away.  The Damage scales up as the Gunsmith levels up.  


14th Level


Piercing Round


As an action, the Gunsmith can fire lightning from the Thunder Cannon.  The Thunder Cannon unleashes a bolt of lightning 5 feet wide and 30 feet long in a direction of the Gunsmith’s choosing.  Creatures in the targeted area must make a Dexterity Save (DC 8 + Intelligence Modifier + Proficiency Bonus) or take 4D6 points of Lightning Damage.  The Damage increases to 6D6 when the Gunsmith reaches level 19.  


17th Level


Explosive Round


The Gunsmith can fire explosive rounds using the Thunder Cannon.  As an action, the Gunsmith fire’s a fiery infused round at a point within the range of the Thunder Cannon.  It explodes, forcing everything within a 30 foot radius of the point selected to make a Dexterity Save (DC 8 + Intelligence Modifier + Proficiency Bonus).  Creatures that fail their saves take 4D8 points of Fire Damage.

Thoughts and Ideas:

Honestly, i am not as impressed with the Gunsmith as i am the Alchemist.  Sure, it has a gun, and that’s going to trigger some sort of response from the Dungeons and Dragons community about guns in fantasy, but this weapon is comparable to most other weapons in the game in every category but range.  Honestly, i think the Gunsmith is going to have to be using the special shot options available, and that means a lot of Thunder Mongering until other options become available.  Gunsmith is tightly focused around the themes one associates with cannons and firearms, which i like, but being able to only get off 1 shot per round means that this archetype is not going to be as effective as other possibilities in different classes.  I think the Thunder Cannon is a little underpowered.  


Conclusions:

The Artificer is an interesting look at the design philosophy for 5th edition.  I personally don’t consider this to be an arcane spellcaster.  It’s an expert class like a rogue or a bard with a different focus and additional spell casting support.  This is one of the first classes that has a built in supply of magical items and i like the additional selection of buildables.  It offers utility and allows the Artificer to specialize in several different roles within a party.  It’s a team player of a Class, and i like it a lot.  


I would like to see the two additional Archetypes i mentioned above, the Scientist (Looking at you, Dr. Jekyll) and the Mechanic, (Because everyone wants to build their own best friend).  I think the Alchemist needs more choices, the Thunder Cannon is a little underpowered, but i think those are little tweaks.