The first feat on the handful of interesting, intriguing, and excellent options brought to us from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Artificer Initiate is an interesting situational feat for 5th edition D&D that brings some very varied opinions to the table. Some players argue it’s much worse than Magic Initiate, a feat already offered in the PHB that has a much greater versatility in the available skills to choose from.
Others argue that for the right style of game and with the right campaign, Artificer Initiate can actually be a clever feat that offers some interesting versatility that can give a little taste of the Artificer class without being too strong or too weak.
While the Artificer Initiate feat won’t be right for most players in most campaigns, it is a versatile feat that does offer some tricky flexibility and emergency magic in the right narrow situations. Generally speaking, most players view this as a flavorful poor man’s version of the Magic Initiate feat.
That said, a clever player who loves their magic classes will see the potential this feat offers in the right circumstances, and the problem making possibilities that it opens up for a smart player in his/her eternal struggle against the DM who has had enough 🙂
Breaking Down the Artificer Initiate Feat
On the surface this is a pretty simple feat. The complexity isn’t in the mechanics, but it’s the possibilities that open up once you tie this feat into your character’s build. A single cantrip and first level spell aren’t going to get a lot of players excited, but if you find a creative way to blend them into your character’s spell list this can punch way above its weight class.
Directly from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything:
You’ve learned some of an artificer’s inventiveness:
- You learn one cantrip of your choice from the artificer spell list, and you learn one 1st-level spell of your choice from that list. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
- You can cast this feat’s 1st-level spell without a spell slot, and you must finish a long rest before you can cast it in this way again. You can also cast the spell using any spell slots you have
- You gain proficiency with one type of artisan’s tools of your choice, and you can use that type of tool as a spellcasting focus for any spell you cast that uses Intelligence as its spellcasting ability
TCE, p. 79
So what does this mean when actually breaking down the pros/cons of the Artificer spell?
Benefit #1: Learn one Artificer cantrip and one 1st-level Artificer spell. You can cast these using Intelligence.
The Artificer actually has a really good spell list just because of the versatility that it offers. While having these tied to intelligence isn’t great for most non-wizard classes, this makes sense thematically. There are also plenty of classes who don’t use INT as a dump stat, so they shouldn’t be as bothered by this.
The versatility of the Artificer’s spell list is crucial for why anyone would want to take this feat.
Benefit #2: You can cast a 1st level artificer spell once without a spell slot per long rest, and that spell can be cast again using available spell slots.
Having any spell that can be cast once without using a spell slot is a nice little boon. The fact that it can be cast with other spell slots is huge and this is where it really shines with clever players. Don’t have a healer but have a wizard? Take cure wounds as the first level spell. Sure, at level one that’s not much, but the wizard can then cast it from level 5 and 6 spell slots, and that will do some work.
Have absorb elements in the back pocket when elemental attacks come or as a bard (who often has very hard decisions to make with spells if they are working as utility caster, healer, and buffer/debuffer) use this artificer spell to pick up that spell you wanted but couldn’t justify. It’s another cantrip and another spell in the arsenal that can be used with all the other spell slots.
Some of these spells are plenty strong. Catapult does some serious damage for a Level 1 spell, the cure wounds opens up the ability to heal, and how often has feather fall saved your life?
Benefit #3: You gain proficiency with one type of artisan’s tools, which now become a spell focus for INT-based casting.
This is probably one of weaker benefits for most campaigns, but having an extra arcane focus on you is never a bad thing, especially if it’s in a tool that might not get stripped off of you when approaching a sensitive area. Many players will use this to grab proficiency in some tools that add flavor and a kind DM might even use a logical argument to let the right tool proficiencies help make goods a touch more valuable by the time the party come back to market.
But for the most part, this is the “add-on” benefit of the feat in most campaigns.
5E Classes That Should ALWAYS Take the Artificer Initiate Feat
There is no class where the Artificer Initiate is a must have take. That doesn’t mean this is a bad feat, but every campaign and party is different and while there are some “always powerful” feats in 5E, Artificer Initiate is not one of them. This isn’t Lucky, or Sharpshooter if you’re a ranger archer.
So this isn’t a must have, but in fairness many good versatile feats aren’t must haves, they’re just nice to haves, and not necessary. Artificer Initiate from Tasha’s is clearly in that camp, though someone who wants to make the argument that Artificer belongs here might have a point…but there are other magic-based feats that arguably provide more.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Artificer Initiate Feat: None
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Artificer Initiate Feat
Any build that makes strong use of the potentially overpowering aspects of the Artificer Initiate feat is going to be a bit specialized or niche in nature, which is why so many classes end up in this middle section. How the DM runs the table, what your party composition looks like, and what type of campaigns you’re playing in all matter.
Spellcasting classes will get the most out of this, and usually because of situations where one casting class can either buff itself further with another first level spell and cantrip from the Artificer list, or they can creatively do something their class usually can’t do to make up for a glaring hole in the party composition.
So if a party doesn’t have a healer, taking cure wounds as a wizard or sorcerer can allow those classes to heal at high levels since they can cast that first level spell at higher levels. For sorcerers with sorcerer points, this can become incredibly effective.
For bards who always feel like they are making tough sacrifices they can focus on more bard class spells, taking the cure wounds or feather fall or even catapult through this feat depending on what extra role their party expects them to fill out, this feat can be a huge blessing to fill in some of those gaps.
For the unfortunate ranger or paladin who somehow find themselves the only ones able to heal or cast spells, every little bit helps keep the other members of your party alive despite players’ poor decisions to have a large party without a single healing class (I once DM’d for a group of six with a fighter, rogue, monk, paladin, warlock, and sorcerer leaving the paladin as the “healer” which was a choice – in that situation he could have used more spell help for sure).
The versatility of the spell list with this feat is the true strength and that can be more fully taken advantage of by traditional casting classes as opposed to melee or partial casting/hybrid classes.
While an argument can be made for warlock here, because of their limited spell capacity an the mechanics of the class, it makes more sense to me that they would be at the bottom since they don’t have the sheer number of spell slots to work with despite being a casting class, though the argument could be made for the other side of it.
5th Ed Classes that should consider the Artificer Initiate Feat:
- Artificer (why not add to that spell list?)
5E Classes That Should Almost Never Take the Artificer Initiate Feat
While I can see the interest with this feat in some odd builds, generally it makes no sense for pure melee characters, and for classes that tend to require an in-depth knowledge and in-depth build to get the most out of (looking at you, Cleric) they don’t have the openness needed to add artificer initiate in effectively.
Clerics have enough on their plate that the spell slots are often already tagged. Plus they have many of the most interesting spells that a wizard has.
Barbarians, fighters, rogues, and monks are obvious passes for this feat. While the idea of a monk who can cast feather fall once can be appealing, it’s just way too situational plus a really good monk build in most sub-classes requires 3 good stats (Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution) so adding intelligence to that is rough.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Artificer Initiate Feat:
Final Feat Grade for Artificer Initiate 5E
Artificer Initiate Feat Grade: C+
Honestly, the grade could be a B, especially with an experienced player who knows how to use the versatility of this feat with the right class, but considering how many classes don’t get a benefit out of the feat and how situational the right combination is – a C+ feels right. It’s a slightly above average feat that has moments where it is just shines.
Is the 5E Artificer Initiate Feat Worth It?
The artificer initiate feat will be a pass for most players but for certain magic casters played by experienced players who know how to take advantage of interesting combination of spells that the artificer initiate feat makes available this is an excellent feat option in certain circumstances.
Artificer Initiate Feat FAQ
Can the artificer take the artificer initiate feat?
The artificer is allowed to take the artificer initiate feat in 5th Ed D&D. Although strangely enough, it must be house ruled to allow the Artificer to take Magic Initiate as a feat according to head of rules Jeremy Crawford.
Can a player who takes artificer initiate craft magical items?
An artificer initiate can not craft magic items like an artificer. That is one skill that is not passed on out of class.
What is artificer initiate?
Artificer initiate is a new feat for 5E D&D released with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything that is aimed at Artificers but hits with arguably limited success.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.