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Artillerist Artificer 5e D&D Guide

Artillerist Artificer 5e D&D Guide

The Artillerist Artificer is one of the four Artificer subclasses officially available. Players who become Artillerists hurl powerful energy, explosions, and projectiles on a vast battlefield.

An Artillerist specializes in using spells as well as their magical cannon to wreak havoc on the battlefield. Many generals praise Artillerists as “exceptional artillerymen,” even turning many battles around because of their tremendous firepower.

Even though Artillerists are known for their destructiveness, many use their power to destroy evil and ensure peace resurges.

Artillerist Artificer 5e – Features

Artillerists can easily be associated with artillery just by reading their name. From that, you can understand that their power comes from long-distance destructiveness.

Whether they use cannons, long-ranged spells, or just normal weapons, Artillerists excel at destroying their enemies before they even get a chance to strike back.

In many cases, these Artificers make excellent Blasters or backline Supports, firing away at enemies before they can intercept the frontline.

Tool Proficiency

You will adopt the Tool Proficiency specialization upon reaching level 3, gaining proficiency with Woodcarver’s tools.

If, at the point of adopting this specialization, you already have this proficiency, you can choose to gain proficiency with one other type of Artisan’s tools.

Artillerist Spells

When you reach level 3, you’ll always have certain spells prepared and continuously unlock more as you level up. 

All the spells in the Artillerist Spell List count as Artificer Spells. However, these spells don’t count against the Artificer Spells you have prepared, giving you more spells to choose from.

Artillerist Spells
Character LevelArtillerist Spells
3rdShield, Thunderwave
5thScorching Ray, Shatter
9thFireball, Wind Wall
13thIce Storm, Wall of Fire
17thCone of Cold, Wall of Force

Note: Even though you’ll be using your cannon, the Artillerist functions almost identically to a normal Artificer, so don’t forget to incorporate good AoE spells like Fireball into your build.

Eldritch Cannon

Your Eldritch Cannon is probably the best addition to becoming level 3 as you learn to assemble this mighty magical weapon.

By using the Woodcarver’s tools or the Smith’s tools, you can take an action and magically create a Tiny or Small Eldritch Cannon in an unoccupied area on a horizontal top 5 feet from you.

Note: The Small Eldritch Cannon will occupy the space, while the Tiny cannon can be held in one hand.

Once you’ve constructed a cannon, you aren’t able to do so again until you’ve finished a long rest or until you’ve expended one spell slot to make it. 

You may also only have one cannon at a time, and you cannot create another one while your cannon is present.

Eldritch Cannon Statistics

A created cannon is a magical object. It also, regardless of size, has an AC of 18 and HP equal to five times your Artificer level. The cannon is also immune to poison damage and psychic damage.

If the cannon is forced to make a saving throw or an ability check, all of its ability scores should be treated as 10 (+0). 

Also, if the Mending spell is cast on the cannon, it will regain 2d6 HP. Upon being reduced to 0 HP or after 1 hour, the cannon will disappear; however, you can choose to dismiss it early by using an action.

Eldritch Cannon Appearance and Effects

When you are creating your Eldritch Cannon, you can determine the appearance it takes and whether it has legs. At this point, you can also choose which type of cannon it is from the options on the Eldrtich Cannon Table.

Eldritch Cannon
FlamethrowerHave your cannon spew fire in an adjacent 15-foot cone you can designate. 

Each creature caught in this area is forced to make a Dex saving throw against your spell save DC, taking 2d8 Fire damage if failed but only half if successful.

Any flammable objects that aren’t being carried or worn can be set alight by the fire.

Force BallistaInitiate a ranged spell attack, originating from your cannon, at a creature or an object within 120 feet of it.

If you hit, the target will take 2d8 Force damage, and if you target a creature, it is then pushed up to 5 feet away from your cannon.

ProtectorYour cannon emits a large burst of positive energy, which grants itself and every creature you choose within 10 feet of it temporary HP equal to 1d8 + your Intelligence modifier (it must be a minimum of +1).

On every turn, you may take a bonus action and cause the cannon to activate if you’re within 60 feet of it. As a part of the same bonus action, you may direct your cannon to climb or walk up to 15 feet to an unoccupied area (if it has legs).

Arcane Firearm

Reaching level 5 gives you the know-how to turn a staff, rod, or wand into an arcane firearm, a conduit for your fiercely destructive spells.

Upon finishing a long rest, you can use your Woodcarver’s tools to carve special sigils into a rod, wand, or staff and thereafter turn it into your arcane firearm.

Whenever you carve the sigils on a different item, they will disappear from your current arcane firearm. If you do not do this, then the sigils will last indefinitely.

Your arcane firearm can be used as a spellcasting focus for all your Artificer spells. Whenever you cast an Artificer spell through your firearm, you may roll a d8, gaining a bonus (depending on what number you rolled) to one of the damage rolls the spell has.

Explosive Cannon

At the start of level 9, every Eldritch Cannon you construct is much more destructive.

  • All the cannon’s damage rolls are increased by 1d8.
  • By using an action, you may command your cannon to detonate if you’re within 60 feet of it. 

If you do this, the cannon is destroyed, and each creature within 20 feet of it is forced to make a Dex saving throw against your spell save DC.

Failing the save deals 3d8 Force damage and only half as much damage if successful.

Fortified Position

Achieving level 15 means you’ve mastered the art of forming well-defended emplacements with your Eldritch Cannon.

  • If you or any of your allies are within 10 feet of your Eldritch Cannon, they’ll have half cover because of the shimmering field of magical protection that is emitted by your cannon.
  • You can have two cannons constructed at the same time. You can now create two cannons with the same action (however, not the same spell slot), and you both can be activated using the same bonus action.

You can determine whether the cannons are different or identical to each other. Unfortunately, you cannot create a third cannon while you have two active.

Building an Artillerist Artificer

Building an Artillerist 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 Artillerist.

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.

Artillerist Ability Scores

Your main source of damage and the attraction of the Artillerist is their Eldritch Cannon and spells buffed by the Arcane Firearm.

That means you’ll have to focus on what makes your spells powerful and what gives you the most value when used in combination with the rest of your kit.

  • Intelligence – As an Artificer, your spellcasting ability and skills are powered by your Intelligence stat, so the higher, the better.

It also makes sense that you need to be clever to be able to do that parabolic math needed to accurately fire your cannons!

  • Constitution – Constitution is a must-have if you want to survive in the later game. The HP you get from it and the fact that it helps with Concentration saves makes it your go-to second choice.

You’ll need all the HP you can get to survive some of the nasty encounters your DM is bound to throw at you, especially because you’re playing a ranged spellcaster.

  • Dexterity – You don’t need Dexterity for anything other than your AC and the fact that you’ll be wearing medium armor. 

Getting your AC up to 14 and wearing medium armor (eventually obtaining the best medium armor) should give you enough AC to sail through the game without major setbacks.

  • Wisdom – Some skills, like Perception, use Wisdom, so it might not be a bad idea to pop some points into it just to get rid of the -1 when your Dex is at 14.

Otherwise, if you have other characters with high Wisdom, there isn’t really any reason to raise it any higher. Your job isn’t to be a lookout anyway; it’s to give covering fire and deal heaps of damage.

  • Strength – You don’t need Strength whatsoever. Your character isn’t here to go into melee or grapple enemies; you’re here to fire massive AoE missiles at anyone who looks for a fight with your party.
  • Charisma – There’s no need to become a Face or handle charismatic encounters. Your job is to blow stuff up and make sure nobody gets out alive to warn others about your power (yeah, something like that).

Ideal Artillerist 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:

Thri-Kreen, Half-Elves, Centaurs, and Autognomes are among some of the most popular and best-performing Artillerist races.

Races like the Centaur and Thri-Keen are quite special as they directly affect how you can use your Eldritch Cannon differently, whether mounting it on your back or holding it in one of your many hands.

Note: The Autognomes and Half-Elves also have great additions, whether a free Mending spell or Elven Accuracy.

Artillerist Background and Skills

When creating your Artillerist, 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 Artillerist are Investigator, Clan Crafter, and Cloistered Scholar.

Investigator is a great background to choose from, as you’ll be able to take the Insight and Arcana (allows the scribing of scrolls) skills. 

It also grants two tool proficiencies (Disguise Kit and Thieves’ Tools), one of which (Thieves’ Tools) you already have because you’re an Artificer, meaning you can choose one other proficiency (the best being the Carpenter’s Tools).

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.

Sage is similar to Cloistered Scholar, allowing you to choose two languages while unlocking the Arcana (allowing the scribing of scrolls) and History skills. You’ll receive a specialty, opening even more doors for character customization!


As an Artillerist Artificer, you’ll have access to seven skills; Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, and Sleight of Hand.

Out of these seven, Perception is the best, 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.

Sleight of Hand isn’t the best option to take when playing an Artillerist, as you won’t have the opportunity to use it effectively since you’re not a Face character by any means.

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.

Artillerist Feats

While Backgrounds can be thought of as 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 three examples of Feats that could work well for an Artillerist:

Elemental Adept – As you gain Elemental Adept, you may choose one of the following damage types: Thunder, Lightning, Fire, Cold, or Acid.

The spells you cast will ignore resistances to the chosen type. They will also make it so that whenever you roll damage for a spell of that damage type, any 1 on the damage die can be treated as a 2.

You may select Elemental Adept multiple times, but each time you do, you’ll have to choose a different damage type.

Note: Elemental Adept has a prerequisite that you have to be able to at least cast a spell to use the feat.

Skill Expert – You can increase one of your ability scores by 1, but only to a maximum of 20, and you’ll gain proficiency with one skill you choose.

Then, you may choose one skill you have proficiency with, gaining expertise with that skill and doubling any ability checks made with it.

The chosen skill must be one that isn’t currently benefiting from a feature (like Expertise), which can double your proficiency bonus.

Metamagic Adept – You may choose to learn two Metamagic options of the Sorcerer class. You’ll only be able to use one Metamagic option on a spell when casting it unless it says otherwise.

When you reach a level granting you the Ability Score Improvement feature, you can replace one of your Metamagic options with another option from the Sorcerer class.

You’ll also gain two sorcery points to spend on your Metamagic (the points will be able to any sorcery points you obtained from a different source, but they can only be used on Metamagic).

All your spent sorcery points will be regained after finishing a long rest.

Note: Metamagic Adept has a prerequisite of having the Spellcasting or Pact Magic feature.

Artillerist Weapons and Armor

Since Artillerists are a subclass of the Artificer, they’ll get the same equipment they do, but they’ll focus more on spell foci than an actual weapon.

Obtaining an All-Purpose Tool (which is Artificer specific) gives you a great spell focus that boosts your cannon’s offensive capabilities and your spells.

Note: If you cannot find an All-Purpose Tool right away, using any Artisan’s Tools or Thieves’ Tools also works well!

Luckily the armor for the Artillerist is relatively straightforward, as you basically only need to get your Dexterity up to 14, wear medium armor, and carry a shield. Any more than this is completely overkill, so just stick to this to make it easy for yourself.

Artillerist Multiclassing

Artillerists, unlike other versatile classes like the Armorer, have a set goal they have to achieve – blow stuff up!

That means getting your Intelligence as high as possible and making sure you have more than enough spell slots, and AoE spells to inflict large amounts of damage on enemies.

The Warlock is by far the best multiclassing option for an Artillerist. This is mainly because of the pact slots and being able to have your cannon return after only taking a short rest. 

Being able to choose your subclass as a Warlock at level 1 also gives you more subclasses features and invocations to help you progress as an Artillerist.

Artillerist Artificer 5e FAQs

Can I Ride an Eldritch Cannon in 5e?

Being able to ride the Eldritch Cannon isn’t covered in the base rules, but you can always have a discussion with your DM about it. 

He might not allow a larger creature to ride on the cannon, but Small or Tiny creatures will probably be able to get on and have a ride.

In the end, it all depends on what they say.

How Many Times Can I Use Eldritch Cannon in 5e?

Eldrtich Cannon can be used at any time after using an action, but after the cannon is created, you cannot do so again until you’ve finished a long rest or expended a spell slot.

Final Thoughts

Artillerist Artificers are by far the most useful Artificer subclass you can choose. Their explosive damage and relatively simple kit make them more beginner-friendly than the other subclasses.

Along with being so easy to understand comes its insane damage output that no other Artificer subclass can beat, automatically putting them at the top of the list if we’re just talking about the damage.

Another great addition is their diverse role pool, as they can be Blasters, Controllers, or Supports, as they can fit into almost any party they want.

Even though the Artillerist Artificer doesn’t have as much customization as the Armorer or even Alchemist, they are one of the few Artificer subclasses that are welcomed in any party.

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