D&D 5e: Build the Strongest Character Possible with the Artificer Initiate Feat

A young male human artificer initiate.

D&D 5e: Build the Strongest Character Possible with the Artificer Initiate Feat

SOURCE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Rating the Benefits of Artificer Initiate

Benefit #1 – 

Learn one cantrip and one 1st level spell from the Artificer spell list 

Equivalent to other spellcasting options, this feat lets you pick a cantrip and spell from a solid list of both

Benefit #2 – 

Cast the 1st level spell gained by the feat once per day. The spell can also be recast using any spell slots the character has

The standard “cast the level 1 spell once per day.” The ability to recast the spell using your spell slots is useful, especially with some of the available options 

Proficiency with a style of Artisan’s Tools, and the ability to use tools you’re proficient in as a Spellcasting Focus

Tool proficiencies tend to be niche, as is using them as spellcasting foci, but this isn’t the main focus of the feat. 

Mechanics and Requirements

Understanding How It Functions

The Artificer Initiate Feat grants a cantrip and a spell, both chosen from the Artificer spell list, which seemingly combines some of the best spells in the Arcane and Divine casting styles. 


Ray of Frost: Reasonable range and damage, plus a movement speed debuff rider. 

Thorn Whip: Low damage, but Thorn Whip is a melee attack that somehow also has a 30ft range, and also pulls enemies 10ft towards you on a hit, no saving throw or check needed, allowing you to relocate enemies and get allies out of tough spots. 

Booming Blade: Improved melee damage, plus bonus damage if the target moves after you hit them. For many melee characters, this is as good, if not better, than an Extra Attack. 

Guidance: The king of cantrips. Guidance adds 1d4 to an ability check. But that simple effect can be used at any time your characters could reasonably cast a spell. Essentially, this cantrip is +2.5 to every out-of-combat skill and ability check your party ever makes. If no one else has it, take this. 

Prestidigitation: Learn a laundry list of flavorful, handy abilities. Nothing here is broken powerful, but for a cantrip, Prestidigitation does so much. Creative players can get a ton of use out of this spell.  

1st Level Spells

Cure Wounds: Interestingly, the Artificer spell list contains Cure Wounds, meaning this is one of the few ways for an Int-based arcane caster to gain a real healing spell. This is especially strong as it can be recast with your spell slots.  

Faerie Fire: AOE Advantage and ignoring invisibility on demand. Faerie Fire is a powerful and effective option, even for fully martial characters. 

Absorb Elements: A once-per-day defensive button that you can slam as a reaction to cut elemental damage in half. This spell can and will save your life when the dragon fire roars.

Sanctuary: Another defensive spell that isn’t on the Wizard list. A successful Sanctuary roll can completely lock out a key enemy’s ability to interact with a party member in need. 

Tool Proficiency, plus tools as a spellcasting focus. 

Gain an Artificer Tool proficiency. These types of tools generally relate to skilled trades or other pastimes. It’s also worth remembering that tool proficiencies aren’t just for the times you’re actually using your tools. Many GMs might offer bonuses to knowledge and perception checks in times where it’s relevant to a proficiency your character has. 

So a mason might be able to better recognize weaknesses in stonework when searching for a hidden passage, and a calligrapher could pick out inconsistencies in the fake letter of ransom your party just received.  

A lot of backgrounds and some classes also come with tool proficiencies built in. This feat specifies that any tools the character is proficient in can be used as a spellcasting focus. While this isn’t likely to come up often, the time your characters are disarmed but they let you keep your calligraphy supplies? Yeah, you can still cast spells. That’s cool. 

Which to take? Artificer Initiate or Magic Initiate?

Magic Initiate is seen as the premier spellcasting feat, and for good reason. It allows you to pick from essentially any class and provides two cantrips and one spell. 

So why pick Artificer Initiate? Three reasons spring to mind:

  1. Flavor. Artificers are a completely different style of caster, and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to take Wizard levels
  2. The unique spell list: The Artificer list contains options not found anywhere else. If you want Guidance or Cure Wounds on an arcane caster, this is one of the few ways to do so
  3. Tools! A tool proficiency is handy, and gaining one alongside the rest of the benefits here is a nice touch

Key Stats

Intelligence is the casting stat for the spells gained via Artificer Initiate. That means the feat has a natural synergy with Intelligence casters like the Wizard, Arcane Trickster Rogues, and Eldritch Knights. 

However, the defensive spells and utility cantrips on offer don’t actually require any Intelligence to function. 

This means spellcasters that don’t have common access to Guidance and Cure Wounds, such as Warlocks and Sorcerers, can pick this feat to gain access to these powerful options. 

A young male human artificer initiate.

Ideal Characters for the Artificer Initiate Feat

Top Classes

Wizard – Pick up a healing option, a cantrip choice from the Cleric spell list, and a tool kit. In terms of spell feats, this is one of the best for the Wizard, because it offers choices they don’t otherwise have, that are already tied into the casting stat they want to raise

Rogue – There are great cantrips and spell choices for the Rogue here, who, as the party member best at skills, will probably even find the tool kit useful. This goes double for Arcane Tricksters, who love more spell choices, especially ones that are out of their standard spell list. 

Fighter – Are you an Eldritch Knight? Do you want more utility out of your spell list, either defensive or healing, plus to be able to repair your own armor in downtime? Take this feat. 

Warlock/Sorcerer We’re really here for one thing. An easy way to grab Cure Wounds for a class that can’t otherwise get it. The bonus cantrip and tool are simply extra. 

Multiclassing Considerations

If you’re considering taking this feat, there’s an argument that multiclassing into a single level of Artificer might be worth looking at instead. 

For Wizards especially, a level of Artificer offers so much. Especially if taken at first level. 

  • Proficiency in medium armor and shields pushes AC up by an average of 3 points
  • Access to the Artificer spell list, which has both cantrips and spells Wizard don’t get
  • Full spell progression, meaning no loss in total spell level
  • Proficiency in Con saves, making passing Concentration checks much easier
  • Thieves’ tools, Tinker’s tools, and another Artisan tool
  • The Magical Tinkering ability, which lets a character build flavorful, fun little trinkets

Race or Subrace Choices

High Elf: The usual suite of Elven goodness, plus a Wizard cantrip, adding more spellcasting to the mix. 

Gnome: Intelligence built into the race, plus bonuses against hostile spells are nice. Forest gnomes gain another Wizard cantrip, and Rock gnomes can create little pseudo magical trinkets, both of which are very Artificer-y things to do. 

Tiefling: Darkvision, resistances, mental stats that can feed into spellcasting, and a grab bag of cantrips and spells. Between the heritage and feat, a martial character could easily use magic to solve the majority of their non-sword related problems. 

Combos, Tactics, and Synergies

Complementary Feats

Ritual Caster: The ritual caster feat is one of the premier ways to interact magically with the world outside of combat situations. Choosing the Wizard spell list opens up another dozen spells that can be cast without consuming resources, that conveniently also use your Int bonus, just like this feat. 

Magic Initiate, Fey Ancestry, Shadow Touched, etc: Characters with multiple open feat slots could easily take two or more spellcasting feats, and start to build up a list of daily spells.

While this isn’t optimal, and probably shouldn’t be done before taking your core ASIs, is it fun? You’re darn right it is.  

Spells that Synergize

Strategies for Maximizing Artificer Initiate Effectiveness

Off-Class Healing: This guide already touched on this earlier, but in our opinion, one of the best uses for the Artificer Initiate feat is to grab Guidance and Cure Wounds on classes like the Warlock, who traditionally don’t gain access to either of these. 

On that note…

Flyby Healing: Cure Wounds is generally seen as inferior to Healing Word. One, because it casts on an Action instead of Bonus Action, and two because you have to be within a range of touch, which normally puts the squishy healer within slapping range of whatever just managed to drop the Barbarian to 0hp.

However, most of the classes that really like this feat also have access to familiars. Familiars can deliver touch spells through themselves. This means your owl can go land on the Fighter’s head and bring them back to life. Worst comes to worst, you have to spend an hour and some gold to bring it back to reality. Much easier to deal with than lifelong scars.  

Thieves Tools: If you weren’t already aware, Thieves Tools come under the purview of Artisan’s Tools, meaning they’re a viable option for this feat. 

Even if you already have a Rogue in the party, someone else taking this proficiency means that they can use the Help action whenever it’s time to pick a lock. Combine this with the Guidance cantrip for an average of +7 to the check, massively increasing the chances of passing critical tests. 

Magical Stabbing: If you’re a melee-based Rogue, grabbing the Booming or Green-Flame Blade cantrips literally just adds free damage to your attacks. 

Booming Blade is the better of the two. It focuses on single-target damage, adds bonus damage if the enemy moves after you hit them, and doesn’t require the Rogue put itself within range of multiple enemies when it only wants to hit one of them.  

Final Thoughts on Artificer Initiate

It’s strange, but one of our major issues with the Artificer Initiate feat is the disconnect between the fluff and the mechanics. 

For a spell that states that “you’ve learned a little of the Artificer’s inventiveness,” just gaining access to some spells, which many other feats also offer, is a little underwhelming, considering everything else that an Artificer can do. 

But in terms of mechanical benefits? Yes, Artificer Initiate is decent. Spells are chosen from a list with a lot of flexibility, the cantrip list mixes the best of the Cleric and Wizard, and you even get a tool proficiency into the mix.  

Is this the most powerful feat in the book? No. It’s not even the most powerful spellcasting feat. 

But there are a lot of uses here, which a lot of classes can find benefits from. TLDR, Artificer Initiate is a generalist feat that has a lot of power, spread over multiple options, so it’s almost always useful to have. Kind of like the Artificer class itself. Neat. 

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