What Do I Know About Reviews? Artificer Subclasses: A Dark Fantasy Supplement (DMs Guild)
Here’s a review that probably would have been good to finish last month, but just pretend November continues to be spooky. If you happened to catch my review of the Grim Hollow Players Guide, this supplement is another Ghostfire Gaming product, however, as it was released on the DMs Guild, it has no specific setting information included. Which makes sense, because it’s a supplement that supports the Artificer, a class that can’t be supported in an OGL product.
With introductions out of the way, today we’re going to look at Artificer Subclasses: A Dark Fantasy Supplement. The product is currently pay what you want on the DMs Guild.
First Things First
I purchased this PDF myself and was not provided with a review copy. Additionally, this is my analysis of the material presented. I haven’t had the opportunity to use the material myself and have not seen it in play firsthand.
Schematics of Darkness
This product is 8 pages in total. The final page of the product contains the legal boilerplate as well as a half-page advertisement for Ghostfire Gaming, including their website information. The cover has full-color artwork, with a banner that looks similar to many DMs Guild products. The interior matches the font and formatting of the Ghostfire Gaming books that are part of the Grim Hollow line.
This product contains two subclasses for the Artificer class, the Machine Cultist, and the Reanimator. In addition to the two subclasses presented, there are ten new artificer infusions. These include infusions for the Battle Smith, Alchemist, Machine Cultist, Armorer, Reanimator, and Artillerist specialties.
This subclass is a bit of a hybrid. The machine cultist is contacted by The Dread Machine, a machine that has yet to be built. The Dread Machine inspires an artificer to help construct it.
- 3rd–Tool proficiency, machine cultist spells, cog in the machine, infernal engine
- 5th–Eldritch ordinance
- 9th–Dead pact magic, Infernal Dead
- 15th–Apocalyptic Metamorphosis
Third level is a bit front-loaded. You gain smith’s tool proficiency and additional spells. Cog in the machine grants you eldritch blast. It also grants you a once per short or long rest ability that is effectively some form of inspiration from the Dread Machine itself. Infernal Engine is the ability that gets the majority of the thematic work in this subclass. You can touch a vehicle, and it because your specific infernal transport, allowing you to operate it without a crew. The size of the vehicle you can claim as your infernal engine grows as you gain levels, starting with chariots and ending with armored carriages and hot-air balloons. You can also transfer it to a demiplane by performing a minute long ritual.
Eldritch Ordinance gives you a bonus to damage when you fire eldritch blast from your vehicle, as well as giving you bonus damage whenever you cause damage with a spell of 1st level or higher. Dread pact magic allows the artificer to draw power from the Dread Machine to cast a spell without using a slot once per long rest. Infernal Dread lets you imbue your infernal engine with a fear aura that affects anyone that fails their save, causing them to flee from it if they fail their save. Apocalyptic Metamorphosis gives you resistance to damage from magic, and grants so resistances and advantages to the infernal engine.
There is a religion in Eberron that is The God that Will be, and I’ve always like that concept of something that doesn’t exist yet exerting its will so that it can eventually manifest. Granted, in this instance, it has a much more sinister bent to it. I would have to dig through some resources to see if I’ve run across resistance to all magic damage as a precedence, but it’s also a 15th level ability, so I’m not too worried about it.
I’m very curious to see how often the vehicle gets a chance to be a focal point, in a similar manner to how often mounted characters get to use their mounted abilities. I also feel like a key bit of flavor for this subclass is really provided by the Infernal Implant infusion, which allows the Machine Cultist to access Invocations from the Warlock class by implanting mechanical bits into themself.
I feel like you may have an idea what this subclass does. Between having a class feature called Modern Prometheus, and taking its name from a Lovecraft story, you may have determined that this subclass is about reanimating dead tissue. But I’m going to point out that there are a few class features that also make this feel a wee bit like the Forgemasters from the Castlevania anime, which definitely gets my attention.
- 3rd–Tool proficiency, reanimator spells, modern Prometheus, macabre modules
- 5th–Enlivening discharge
- 9th–Reanimate dead
- 15th–Spark of life
The tools that you learn to use are surgeon’s tools, which are detailed in a sidebar. While they are described, like medicine, you don’t really get much in the way of what you can use these for outside of this class, although I would totally allow someone to use this tool proficiency to stabilize someone. Reanimator spells are all themed around curing, bringing back the dead, summoning constructs, and shooting lightning. Modern Prometheus gets you a lesser flesh golem pet with the +PB and hit points by caster levels that the newer pet subclasses have received. You also have the ability to pick from a list of “upgrades” that you can swap in and out of the friend you made once per long rest.
Enlivening Discharge lets you fire a bolt of energy at your golem once per short or long rest to imbue it with several benefits, such as giving it a damage boost and healing hit points. Reanimate Dead lets you cast animate dead once per long rest, with the undead you create being a construct instead of an undead. You can also opt to install this undead with one of your special components that you normally install on your golem. Spark of life at 15th level boosts your ability to use both healing spells and lightning spells.
The artificer infusion specialized for the Reanimator doesn’t feel quite as integral to the experience of the subclass in this case. It allows you extra modules that can be installed into your golem. Handy, but not the only way to go with your infusions.
Okay, on one hand, you can’t create a customized army of monsters from the corpses of the dead, like Hector or Isaac, but you can customize the dead things that you rebuild. Does it say something about me that I’m really interested in seeing this one in play?
I already touched on two of the infusions from this list, but let’s take a quick look at some of the others available. Here is the whole list:
- Adamant Defender (Battle Smith, modifies stats for the steel defender)
- Advanced Potion Craft (Alchemist, makes potion creation a bit more predictable)
- Book of Scholastic Mysticism (Allow extra spells to be added to spell list)
- Enhanced Tools (Bonus to checks with tools)
- Infernal Implant (see above)
- Iron Feather Armor (Adds flight, stability, and extra carrying capacity)
- Modular Mastery (see above)
- Potion Injector Projector (Use a crossbow to shoot healing at people)
- Ship of Sky Sailing (Turn a ship into a sky ship)
- Spellslinger’s Sidearm (Artillerist, enhance damage from items held with the arm)
I just want to go on the record as saying I love the idea of shooting someone to heal them. I mean, I played a bounty hunter with kolto rockets in The Old Republic. In general, I like that there is something for every specialization here. I would love to use Advanced Potion Craft with the alchemist, just to have a little more control beyond what experimental elixir provides.
Welcome to the Machine
Both subclasses have some strong flavor behind them. They work well for the Grim Hollow setting and would be right at home in Ravenloft. I would engage in some begging to see if I could get access to the reanimator in the right non-horror campaign as well. I think the reanimator especially stays on theme with some great class features that check all the boxes I want it to for Mary Shelly’s creation. While not all of them excite me, most of the infusions are solid additions to the rules.
Feed My Frankenstein
I’m still intrigued by the machine cultist, but I wish the “artificer/warlock” angle was the standard set of class features, with the vehicle bits being more of the flavor/expand with infusions aspect of the class. I like the scary machine aspect of infernal dread, but I’m not a huge fan of making characters flee on a failed fear save. It also feels like aspects of Eldritch Ordnance and Apocalyptic Metamorphosis want you to interact with your vehicle, but there are enough aspects that you pick up that don’t encourage this narrative that it feels like a soft connection to the theme.
Recommended–If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.
As a pay what you want product, it’s very easy to recommend this, but I’m going to go a step further and say, you should go above and beyond with what you pay for this. Even with my quibbles with the machine cultist, this is some nice, thematic work, and it makes me look forward to seeing other, similar content.