The Armorer is one of the four Artificer subclasses officially available in D&D 5e. It has players become a magical armorsmiths, using ancient techniques to create powerful, enhanced armor with unrivaled capabilities.
Similar to all the other subclasses, the Armorer dabbles in magic while being proficient at defending due to their high armor rating.
Armorers have many roles, so picking one might be a bit difficult, but because of its diversity, they can supplement almost any party perfectly.
- Armorer Artificer 5e – Features
- Building an Armorer Artificer
- Armorer Artificer 5e FAQs
- Final Thoughts
Armorer Artificer 5e – Features
As the name implies, Armorers focus on armor while having magical and martial capabilities.
Unlike the Alchemist subclass, Armorers focus mainly on themselves. Seeing to what extent they can buff their armor and become nearly invincible or deal high amounts of damage to enemies using armor effects.
The armor improved by an Armorer also has many buffs that stack, making for a potential raid boss of a character.
Tools of the Trade
Tools of the trade is a specialization you can adopt starting at level 3. When adopted, you gain proficiency with heavy armor and Smith’s tools.
Note: If you already have proficiency with Smith’s tools, you can gain proficiency in one other type of Artisan’s tools.
Starting at level 3, you’ll always have specific spells prepared after reaching particular levels as an Armorer.
Understand that these spells count as Artificer spells for your character. However, they do not count against the total number of Artificer spells you can prepare.
The table below shows all the prepared spells depending on the Artificer level.
|Character Level||Armorer Spells|
|3rd||Magic Missile, Thunderwave|
|5th||Mirror Image, Shatter|
|9th||Hypnotic Pattern, Lightning Bolt|
|13th||Fire Shield, Greater Invisibility|
|17th||Passwall, Wall of Force|
Note: Armorers aren’t much different than normal Artificers regarding spellcasting, so think highly of these spells you’re unlocking at no additional cost.
At the beginning of level 3, your specializations have led to the armor you make or wear becoming a conduit for magic. By using an action, you can transform a suit of armor you are currently wearing into Arcane Armor.
Note: You only use this action if you have some Smith’s tools in your hand.
You’ll gain the following benefits from wearing Arcane Armor
- If the armor usually has a Strength requirement, you’ll be able to wear it without that requirement.
- The Arcane Armor can be used as a spellcasting focus for all your Artificer spells.
- While donned, the armor is attached to you and cannot be removed against your will. The armor also expands, covering your entire body, while the helmet can be deployed or retracted as a bonus action.
The armor will also replace any missing limbs, functioning identically to the body part it’s replacing.
- Doffing or donning the armor can be done by expanding an action.
Note: The armor will continue to be Arcane Armor until you either don another suit of armor, or you perish.
As of level 3, you’ll be able to customize your Arcane Armor. When you choose to customize your Arcane Armor, you’ll choose between Guardian or Infiltrator.
Depending on the model you choose, you’ll gain innate special abilities while wearing the armor.
Both models come with special weapons which, when attacked with, use your Intelligence modifier instead of your Dexterity or Strength for attack and damage rolls.
Note: The armor’s model can be changed whenever you finish your short or long rest, but only if you have Smith’s tools in your hand.
Guardian – You design your armor so that you can be in the frontline of combat. The armor provides the following features:
- Thunder Gauntlets: Each gauntlet of this armor counts as a simple melee weapon if you aren’t holding anything in them and deal 1d8 Thunder damage on a successful hit.
Creatures hit by the gauntlets will have disadvantage on attack rolls against those other than yourself until your next turn starts.
This is because the armor produces a magical distracting pulse when the creature attacks someone or something else.
- Defensive Field: By using a bonus action, you’ll gain temporary HP equal to class level while replacing any temporary HP you currently have.
Note: Doffing the armor means you lose the temporary HP it gives you.
This bonus action can be used for an equal amount to your proficiency bonus, and you will regain all expended uses once you finish a long rest.
Infiltrator – You design your armor for subtle undertakings. Thus, the armor provides the following features:
- Lightning Launcher: A gemlike node will appear on either your chest or your armored fists (you choose).
It’ll count as a simple ranged weapon with a range of 90 feet and a long range of 300 feet. It also deals 1d6 Lightning damage on a hit.
Note: Once on each turn you take, when you hit a creature with the attack, you are able to deal an extra 1d6 Lightning damage to it.
- Powered Steps: Your walking speed is increased by 5 feet.
- Dampening Field: You gain advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
- If the armor used to impose disadvantages on stealth, the advantage and disadvantage of this feature cancel each other, leaving the armor with normal requirements.
When you reach level 5, you’ll be able to attack twice, not once, whenever taking the Attack action on your given turn.
Upon reaching level 9, you learn how to use Artificer infusions to modify your Arcane Armor.
By doing this, the armor now counts as separate items for the purpose of the Infuse Items feature: helmet, armor (chest piece), boots, and the special weapon coming with the armor.
Each item can bear an infusion, transferring over if you change the armor’s model using the Amor Model feature.
Another neat addition is that the maximum number of items you can infuse increases by 2, but the extra items must be part of your Arcane Armor.
Lastly, at level 15, your Arcane Armor will gain additional benefits depending on the model, which is shown below:
Guardian – A creature that is Huge or smaller can be magically forced to make a Strength saving throw against your spell save DC if it ends its turn within 30 feet of you. Doing this pulls the creature up to 30 feet toward you to an unoccupied space.
Note: Pulling the target to a space within 5 feet of you means you may make a melee weapon attack against it as a part of your reaction.
This reaction can be used several times, equal to your proficiency bonus, and all expended uses will be regained after you finish a long rest.
Infiltrator – Any creature that has taken Lightning damage from your Lightning Launcher will glimmer with a magical light until your next turn starts.
A glimmering creature will shed dim light in a 5-foot radius, and it will also have disadvantage on its attack rolls against your since the light jolts it when it attacks you.
Additionally, the next attack roll against that creature has advantage, and upon the attack hitting, the target will take an extra 1d6 Lightning damage.
Building an Armorer Artificer
Building an Armorer Artificer, much like any other subclass, means you’ll have to keep everything your character needs to be a powerful Artificer in mind.
You’ll also need to keep in mind how well everything flows, as certain ability scores, races, skills, feats, weapons, armor, and multiclassing, works best with the Armorer.
I know this might seem a bit daunting, but depending on how much you know about D&D, you can always use the Player’s Handbook to guide you through these decisions or get some tips.
You can even ask an experienced player for help, as they usually know a lot about D&D (sometimes more than the book itself).
After all, you’re making your own character, so you can add anything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be meta or OP to be an option, just go with the flow and try to have as much fun with your character as possible.
Armorer Ability Scores
Armorers will mainly use their Arcane Armor feature to buff their armor and turn themselves into frontline tanks or bruisers.
In other words, you’ll need to focus on a select few ability scores to make your Armorer as powerful as can be:
- Intelligence – It is your most important ability score out of the whole bunch since you’re an Artificer who uses Intelligence for your spellcasting modifier and skills.
Focus on getting Intelligence up beyond anything else, as without it; your Arcane Armor and spells will become unpowered, leaving you useless to your party.
- Constitution – It’s always good to have high HP, so don’t worry about putting a few more points into Constitution.
It also works well as a Guardian, so after maxing Intelligence, you’ll probably focus on Constitution next.
- Dexterity – Dexterity isn’t nearly as useful as Intelligence or Constitution, and Armorers primarily become Guardians and won’t use it either, but keep Infiltrators in mind.
If you want to also have a more stealthy/assassin background while being able to become a defender, you can put points into Dexterity.
It’s also a good idea to increase this stat if you plan on primarily being an Infiltrator, as it helps with skills like Stealth and Sleight of Hand.
Note: Don’t forget about the AC you receive from Dex!
- Strength – After Int, Con, and Dex, it’s not a good idea to invest any more points into Strength.
At this point, you can’t afford to lose ability points just to focus on more than 3 ability scores. In other words, if you aren’t trying a specific build or experimenting, don’t worry about leveling Strength.
- Wisdom – Much like Strength, Wisdom should only be looked at once, and that’s for your Perception, but that’s about it.
- Charisma – You don’t use Charisma at all, so don’t worry about leveling it; just focus on your main ability scores.
Ideal Armorer Races
To be honest, you can choose to play any race with any class (even if it doesn’t make sense) and still be able to play through a campaign.
The only job an ideal race fills is that it makes things easier for you, giving you better ability scores, skills, or features that work well with your class.
There are many options, but since you’ll mainly be using spells, certain options stand out:
High Elves, Deep Gnomes, Vedalken, Human Variants, and Warforged are just a few excellent examples of races that can be chosen when building an Armorer.
The main reason for this is that they all either offer a beneficial racial trait, needed ability scores (especially Intelligence or Constitution), and work well with the playstyle of an Armorer (Warforged are my personal favorite).
Armorer Background and Skills
When creating your Armorer, you’ll want to keep their background and skills in mind, as these play quite a big role in what your character will be able to do in the campaign as well as the bonuses they start with.
There are a ton of backgrounds out there, but a few examples that’ll work well for an Armorer are Sage, Clan Crafter, and Cloistered Scholar.
Cloistered Scholar is one of my favorites, especially among spellcasters, as it gives you the option of choosing two more languages and unlocking the History skill and one other skill of your choosing (pick between Arcana, Nature, and Religion).
Sage is similar to Cloistered Scholar, allowing you to choose two languages while unlocking the Arcana and History skills. You’ll receive a specialty, opening even more doors for character customization!
Clan Crafter is quite similar to Guild Artisan, only better as it gives you proficiency with Artisan’s tools while unlocking the History and Insight skill for your character.
As an Armorer Artificer, you’ll have access to seven skills; Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, and Sleight of Hand.
Out of these seven, Perception is great, as it is one of the most used skills in D&D. Arcana is also another first place contended as it works great with your Intelligence and provides some very important information.
Even though Sleight of Hand is the best skill to take in most campaigns, if you plan on consistently playing as an Infiltrator, this skill could come in handy, so don’t ignore it.
Investigation is also very good for an Alchemist, although it does get overshadowed by Perception and Arcana in most campaigns.
Note: The other four skills are either not that important or situational, except Nature, as you have high Intelligence for it, and it can prove to be quite a good knowledge skill if you are constantly in the wilderness.
While Backgrounds are more for character customization, Feats are important elements of a character’s gameplay.
There is an abundance of Feats to choose from, which puts you in a similar predicament to choosing your Background. Luckily below are five examples of Feats that could work well for an Armorer:
Telekinetic – You’ll be able to increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma by 1, maxing out at 20, and you also learn the Mage Hand Cantrip.
Mage Hand has several new bonuses, as you don’t need the Verbal or Somatic components to cast it. You also gain 30 feet of extra range if you already have Mage Hand as a spell.
Lastly, you be able to push one creature within 30 feet of you if they fail a Strength saving throw (DC 8 + ability modifier of the score increased by this feat + your proficiency bonus) 5 feet away or toward you.
Note: Creatures can willingly fail their Strength save.
Skill Expert – Choose one ability score to increase by 1, maxing out at 20, and you’ll also gain proficiency in one skill you choose.
By choosing one skill you have proficiency in, you gain expertise with it, which doubles your proficiency bonus for ability checks you make with it.
Note: The skill you choose cannot already benefit from a feature like Expertise.
Sentinel – Hitting a creature with an opportunity attack leads to the creature’s speed becoming 0 for that turn.
Even if creatures use the Disengage action before leaving your reach, they still provoke opportunity attacks from you.
Creatures making an attack against a target that isn’t you (as long as the target doesn’t also have this feat), by using your reaction, you may make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.
Fey Touched – You can increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma by 1, maxing out at 20, and you’ll learn Misty Step, plus one 1st-level spell you choose.
Note: The 1st-level spell must come from the Divination or Enchantment schools of magic.
The chosen spells can be cast without using a spell slot; however, after expending the spell, you’ll have to finish a long rest to cast them this way again.
You may cast these spells using spell slots, but only if you have the appropriate level.
Note: The spellcasting modifier of these spells will be the ability score you increased using this feat.
Dual Wielder – Gain a +1 bonus to AC while wielding a separate melee weapon in each of your hands.
You may also use two-weapon fighting even if the one-handed weapons you are wielding aren’t light weapons.
You’ll also be able to stow or draw two one-handed weapons instead of stowing or drawing only one.
Armorer Weapons and Armor
Since Armorers are a subclass of the Artificer, they’ll get the same equipment they do, but there is a slight difference compared to other subclasses.
While other subclasses like the Alchemist rely mainly on spells, leaving weapons only as backups in case something gets too close, Armorers use weapons only until they can wear Arcane Armor.
Even though you have proficiency in Simple weapons, it only helps you until you reach level 3, as after that, you’ll gain special armor weapons.
As soon as you can wear Arcane Armor, you’ll want to focus on wearing armor that goes well with either the Guardian or Infiltrator model.
If you know you want to become a Guardian, then starting with the Scale Mail set is your best option. For the rest of the game, a Guardian’s best permanent armor set is the Full Plate set, so if you can obtain it, do so.
When starting out as an Infiltrator, you’ll want to get your hands on the Chain Shirt. Further down the line opting in for the Breastplate armor is your best bet, even if the Half-plate armor gives better AC (it gives disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks, a skill an Infiltrator needs).
Lastly, you need a shield, even if you’re playing as an Infiltrator. The benefits it gives you and the infusion capabilities work too well for you to forget about a shield.
Armorers are one of the most versatile Artificer subclasses, so try seeing what Arcane Model you’re going for before multiclassing.
You can even ignore that if you want and stick with a spellcasting role while benefitting from your Arcane Model, but that depends on your playstyle.
Below are a few classes that could work for a multiclass:
Fighter – Multiclassing into a Fighter is great if you want to go sole play as a Guardian, especially because of the heavy armor proficiency.
Rogue – Multiclassing into a Rogue works great if you primarily play as an Infiltrator, especially the Thief archetype and the Fast Hands ability.
Warlock – If you want to use the Armor Models while also being a spell slinger, try multiclassing into a Warlock, as their spell slots reset after finishing a short rest.
There are other multiclass options like Rangers, Clerics, etc., but in the end, it all depends on your playstyle.
Armorer Artificer 5e FAQs
Can Armorer Artificers Use Heavy Armor in D&D 5e?
Unlike other Artificers, the Armorer can use Heavy Armor due to their Arcane Armor feature.
What Is the Best Race for an Armorer Artificer in D&D 5e?
The best options are probably Gnomes (who have a +2 Intelligence), Vedalken (with their +2 Intelligence), and Gith (with +1 Intelligence).
Because of their high Intelligence, it favors the abilities of an Armorer Artificer, so those are some good races to opt into.
Armorers aren’t considered a popular class among D&D players, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try it out.
The features of the Armorer class are very interesting and can make for some fun game mechanics, especially after multiclassing into a class that basically empowers your Armor Model.
In the end, the Armorer keeps the Artificer feel of casting spells but puts large reliability on using Arcane Armor.
Some might think this limits the subclass, but in all truth, it just opens more doors as you understand what you can and can’t do as an Armorer.
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