So a few days ago I wasn’t feeling particularly Rift-y, so I decided to double-click that DDO icon that’s been gathering dust on my desktop for a while. How long? 10 months since I last logged in, said the status page. So anyway, I log in and the splash screen is talking about this new “Artificer” class. I’ve got an Artificer in Rift, but that’s a crafting profession, not an adventuring class, so I was a bit intrigued as to how a class that sounds like a crafter could be a full-fledged DDO adventurer.
I checked in the DDO store to see if it had anything beyond a general description. It didn’t, but since it was 995 points and I had over 1800 still sitting there I said “Why not?” and bought it. Then I had to log out and find a server that I actually had a free slot available on it to create one.
I still knew nothing about the class when creating it, so I just read the descriptions as I was going through it and it sounded kinda like a rogue mechanic but wit ha bit of spellcasting thrown in too. So of course, I defaulted to my favorite DDO race and picked a Warforged. 16 CON from the racial bonus, 18 INT since it said it was an arcane caster and then. . . I had no idea where to put my remaining points. I think I mixed them in STR and DEX, but I’m not 100% sure, becuz about then I got spouse aggro and turned it off without completing creation.
Next morning at work I pulled up the DDO website and went looking for more information on the class. And my impression from the in-game descriptions seems to be born out — it’s more or less a rogue/mage hybrid class with the added bonus of an Iron Defender pet that you can use to tank for you or as additional dps. It gets automatic feats geared toward using the Repeating Crossbow weapon, plus Use Magic Device skill bonuses for wands, scrolls, potions, etc, as well as bonuses toward the new crafting system that’s been added in since I last played.
Suggested races depend on what you’re planning to do with it — if you want it to be your crafting bot, then Human is suggested since they can take the Dragonmarks of Making feats which boost your crafting level. If you’re looking at a “pure dps” version, then a half-elf with the Rogue Dilletante racial feat is suggested for the sneak-attack bonus damage. For an “easy stat distribution” race the Drow work well, able to have a starting DEX and INT of 18 with a not-terrible 14 CON and a 10 CHA for no penalty to the UMD skill. Plus since you’re something of a trap-monkey, the +2 racial spot and search modifiers are kinda nice there too. Warforged is also suggested since Artificers get Repair spells, so you can self-heal at full benefit without needing to UMD a wand or scroll or take the “Construct Essence” feat which allows “fleshies” to repair themselves at 50% effectiveness (up from 0%) at the cost of losing 25% healing effectiveness from the so-called “positive energy” spells. Dwarf, Halfling, and Half-Orc aren’t suggested races, though they can certainly still work if you play well.
So, the next day since I had a character I didn’t care about on the Argonessen server, which is the one I primarily play on and thus had some characters with a bit of money to use for twinking, I freed up a slot and rolled up a Drow Artificer. I took the Point Blank Shot feat from the get-go since this doubles your crossbow’s base damage when within 45 feet of your target (which is most of the time). Vet status is not enabled for this class, so off to Korthos I went.
1st thing I noticed was that the pet didn’t seem to do all that much. Occasionally I saw it hurting some mobs, but it didn’t act like a tank, and DDO allows very very little control over pets/hirelings. You mostly just set them to “active” or “passive” and call it a day, though there are a few commands you can give. So I basically just thought of the pet as added dps and concentrated on doing as much damage to the mobs with the crossbow as I could. Point Blank Shot lets you shoot in melee without penalty too, so I didn’t have to worry about swapping weapons when mobs got in close which was also nice. I’m not a big fan of equipment changes when in combat in any game.
Since this post is getting long, I’ll try to sum up everything and not be much longer: Level 2 you gain the ability to use “Rune Arms” which essentially are magical cannons. They also add bonus damage to your main weapon, usually elemental, but the 1st one in Korthos adds “force” damage. It’s a starter weapon so it only adds 1d2 to my main weapon, but you can also fire the rune arm (it charges up, then you can fire, it cools off, then charges up, then you fire, etc) for additional damage as well. Got to level 3 and added in the spell that adds elemental damage to your weapon, plus by this time I was using a heavy repeating crossbow. Due to the bonus damage from the buff spells, rune arm, and my enhancement points I spent, I was doing 7-31 damage per shot (within 45 feet — 6-21 beyond that) fired in 3-shot bursts. Most mobs have 35-40 hp, so yeah… pretty much each burst would be a kill, and since Artificers get the Rapid Reload feat for free, you’re firing a burst about every 3 seconds.
Still, I found myself kinda jonesing for the self-healing abilities that a Warforged would have, so I cleared another slot and made a Warforged Artificer as well. It’s only level 2 so far, but I took the “Augmented Summon” feat at level 1 to buff the pet, rather than the Point Blank Shot. The pet is a LOT more effective now and makes up for the difference in my 45′ crossbow range for now. I’ll take PBS at level 3 and be “back on par” while also having the improved pet. With this character, I mailed it all my platinum from the other characters on the server, so I was able to pick up a Docent of Invulnerability which gives me a nice damage resistance. I’d also researched the spell lists, so I’d taken the “unavailable from vendors” spells at creation, then ran to the vendor and bought all the rest of the Level 1 spells, so I have a complete selection now, not just uneducated guessing at what would be useful. Plus. . . self-heals without needing UMD skill or burning a feat ;-) Downside is that my UMD skill is 2 points lower due to stats, and my Spot skill is 3 points lower due to loss of stats and racial bonus, but. . . that doesn’t bother me. I’m told Artificer class bonuses to UMD more than make up for the stat difference, and Spot’s never been a skill you need to have very high to have it be effective.
I joined a good sized “newbie friendly” guild, so hopefully will have some group dungeon adventures to share with you shortly. And here’s what my WF Artie looks like at level 2 with his Rune Arm. I know… not very attractive, but that’s DDO’s odd armor for you: