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Artificer Cleric Multiclass Guide for DND 5e

Artificer Cleric Multiclass for DND 5e

Table of Contents:

Artificer/Cleric Multiclass

All Hail the Machine God

Artificers are the inventors of the impossible and the crafters of the arcane, capable of assembling the most wondrous and deadly of magic items. Clerics are the devout ministers of divine will, imbued with celestial power to heal the sick and smite the unworthy. Put them together and we get priests of arcane science and the machine god’s clergy, bedecked in all the powers that can be assembled by God or man. Grab your schematics and your prayer books as we go through everything you need to know in this artificer/cleric multiclass guide. 

 Artificer Cleric Multiclass Guide for DND 5e

Why Play an Artificer Cleric Multiclass?

This isn't one of the multiclass options that most people think of, and you'll likely have a truly unique character. While the classes may feel very different at face value, both can be built as support casters or as combat tanks and most of those features will stack together. Two prepared spellcasting classes together means we'll have tons of additional spellcasting options. Cleric gains quite a bit at 1st level, meaning we can get away with some of the builds with just a single character level dip. Artificers are usually stuck in medium armor or even light armor, and just a pinch of cleric will let us upgrade to heavy armor. Finally, since infusions don’t rely on any ability score, we have some wiggle room when it comes to our ability spread. Built it right and we can become the ultimate party buff with half a dozen different buffs online at a time, or a power tank bolstered by both our own technological and holy buffs.

 

What are the Downsides?

The big problem here is that both artificer and cleric are both casting classes and they use different spellcasting abilities. Then if we want to tank or get anywhere near combat we’ll also have to care about Constitution, and one of the physical damage abilities. Both classes can go for a martial prowess combat build, but without a lot of work you'll lag behind the actual combat classes at doing the same thing. This basically leaves us going full glass cannon with severe combat limitations and maxing out our two casting abilities, spreading ourselves thin over at least 4 abilities, or ditching one of our spellcasting halves altogether. With some careful building we can overcome a lot of this, but we don’t have a lot of wiggle room if we want the build to actually work and at least be on par with a single class build.

Since artificer in particular is already a half-caster class, multi-classing an artificer means we'll be even further behind full casters than normal, and artificer multi-classes can expect to feel weak at the mid-levels. We also can't make much use of the arguably best artificer class archetype the artillerist and their eldritch cannon, since the arcane cannon just doesn't synergize with the cleric.

And just like with any other multiclass build, we’re going to be sacrificing high-level artificer abilities and high-level cleric abilities, and we’ll be getting to our mid game and higher level class features significantly later than a single-class character.

We'll cover the best combinations of just these two classes, but they actually lend themselves better towards “class soup” builds with dips in multiple different classes, such as ranger, paladin, and rogue. 

 

When Does an Artificer / Cleric “Kick In”?

Multiclassed characters tend to have a level goal they're working towards and a synergy that provides a massive boost of power to justify the level dips. Most of our builds require at least gaining the 3rd level archetype features of the artificer class and at least the 1st level archetype features from cleric class. This means most of our builds will be kicked-in with 4 character levels, with 3 artificer levels and 1 cleric level. Most builds will also continue on with artificer as the primary class, with only the small level dip into cleric.
 

 

What Class Features Do We Care About?

As a dual-class option we've got a ton of features to consider but only a few of them will be important. We can shift the build in a few different ways so not every class feature will factor into every build, but the following features all play into at least one of our strategies.

 

Significant Artificer Features

  • Magical Tinkering. Gained at 1st level, you basically get to turn a number of mundane items into “tiny gadgets”, with a number of items per day equal to your Intelligence modifier. They can emit light, record and replay sounds, emit noises or odors, or relay messages. All of this has pretty limited utility, but having even limited utility options under your belt is never a bad thing.
  • Spellcasting. Artificer spellcasting works a bit like an Intelligence-based cleric, you get access to spells on the artificer spell list that you prepare but are limited by your spell slots. The artificer list is limited, but for most of our builds it's where we'll be getting the majority of our spells. Note that the artificer is a half caster, which means we only ever get up to 5th level spell slots. Artificers don't have a ton of offensive spells at low levels but consider Tasha’s caustic brew for some unexpectedly powerful acid damage. 
  • Infuse Item. Starting at 2nd level the artificer gets to essentially “make” magic items that only last for a while, choosing an item feature from a long list that gains more options as you gain artificer levels. This, however, opens up all sorts of gadget possibilities from simple stuff like magic rapiers to on-demand magic ropes and gloves of thievery. Early on you'll be limited mostly to static buffs, but at later levels you can make magic items that essentially amount to extra features. You'll want to build towards the level milestones when your infusion options improve with 6th level infusions, 10th level infusions, and 14th level infusions. Note that what gadgets you can make depends on your artificer level not your Intelligence, so we can actually get quite a bit of use out of these even if going core cleric.
  • Artificer Specialties. Artificers gain their archetypes at 3rd level and several of our builds rely on the 3rd level archetype features. We’ll go more into artificer subclasses in a bit but just know for now they’ll be integral to our builds. And before
     

Significant Cleric Features

  • Spellcasting. Clerics are a full prepared spellcasting class. This means you have access to spells on the cleric spell list, you just have to pick which spells you prepare each day. Clerics have a couple really good offensive spells but you’ll likely get the most value out of their utility, buffing, and healing spells. Even with just a level dip cleric grants us a ton of additional spellcasting options and 1-2 spell slot levels.
  • Channel Divinity. Clerics get a special divine resource in their uses of “channel divinity”. You first gain this feature with your 2nd cleric level and you get one of these “uses” of channel divinity every short or long rest and more uses at your 6th cleric level. The base use of your channel divinity is “turn undead” which is unsurprisingly only useful if you’re running into undead monsters. All the cleric archetypes, however, provide us with much more interesting uses of our channel divinity power. Tasha’s also gave us another “base” use of our channel divinity power called “harness divine power” that lets us spend it to regain a lost spell slot. You can only do this once per long rest to stop us from farming spell slots, but you can do it more often at higher cleric levels.
  • Divine Domains. Clerics gain their archetypes at 1st level and more than most classes you’ll be getting most of your unique class features from your archetype. In particular we really care about the domains that let us ditch medium armor by giving us proficiency in heavy armor, including Forge, Life, Nature, Order, Tempest, and War. Other tempting options exist but we don't want to be stuck in light armor or medium armor.
  • Blessed Strikes. A revised cleric feature that replaces all the similar versions in the archetypes, this lets us deal an extra 1d8 damage once a turn on an attack or cantrip. This is a nice upgrade since it allows you do focus on martial options or spellcasting regardless of what archetype you select. 
     

 

Artificer / Cleric Ability Scores

For these dual-class option builds we’re taking advantage of some artificer archetype features which will let us use Intelligence for our attacks. As such, for these builds we want to focus on Intelligence as our highest ability score. Any ability score increases should be spent on Int until you max it out.

Next, for both of these builds we’re going to be making use of our cleric spellcasting, and we’ll want to make Wisdom our second highest ability score.

Then, since we don’t want to die and care at least a little about our hit points, we’ll need to make Constitution our third highest ability score.

Finally, we’re going to be relying on heavy armor for these builds and heavy armor has a Strength requirement. Ideally, we’ll want 15 Strength so we can wear plate armor, but we can also make due with 13 Strength so we can at least wear chain mail. If however you’re going for our Machine God Tank build, we’ll have a special artificer feature that lets us ignore the Strength requirements and we can just use Strength as a dump stat.

For all these builds, Dexterity, and Charisma can both be dump stats. And just as a reminder, the base attribute requirements for multiclassing artificer and cleric are 13 Intelligence and 13 Wisdom and that's the absolute minimum for the build.


Artificer / Cleric Equipment

We’re going to be relying on heavy armor but beyond that our builds will be using wildly different equipment. Put on the best heavy armor you can wear and take a look at each build for further equipment instructions.

 

Which Class Should I Start With?

You get similar skill proficiencies and the starting weapon and armor proficiencies are identical, and we pick up all the missing tool proficiencies when we multiclass anyway. This means there isn’t really a correct answer, and you could start with either. For my personal preference I’d start with the cleric though. For most of our builds starting with cleric will get you to heavy armor proficiency faster, and you can avoid the awkward swap from medium to heavy later.

 

How does Multiclass Spellcasting Work?

When you mix spellcasting classes things get a little messy for multiclass characters. The easy part is the spells you know. Your known and prepared spells don’t mix whatsoever and work just like you were a single class character. If you’re a 3rd level artificer and a 4th level cleric, you’ll have all the spells of a 3rd level artificer and a 4th level cleric.

The spell slots are the confusing bit. In the back of the basic rules you can find a table called “Multiclass Spellcaster” that shows you your spell slots by your combined levels in spellcasting classes. Unfortunately, artificer is considered a “half caster”, while cleric is considered a “full caster”, so we’ll have to do a bit of math. To figure out your spell slots, you’ll add your cleric levels to half of your artificer levels rounded down. So, for example, if you had 4 cleric levels, and 2 artificer levels, you’d be a “5th level caster” for finding your spell slots on the table.

When it comes to actually casting your spells, you’re going to have to keep track of your spell attack modifiers and the spell DCs of each class. Your cleric spells will all run off your Wisdom, and your artificer spells will all run off your Intelligence.

Finally, you need an arcane focus (orb, staff, whatever other magical thing you feel like) in your hand to cast your artificer spells. The cleric spells are a bit easier, you need a holy symbol (literally anything that represents your god) but you can thankfully just be wearing or displaying that so you don’t need to be holding it. You do need to keep a hand completely empty though to perform the somatic components of spells due to some wonky rulings about spell foci, but thankfully it can be the same empty hand for both your cleric and artificer spells.

 

Artificer / Cleric Multiclass Builds

There may be more combinations hiding in these class features, but the following three builds are among the best multiclassed characters of this particular brew.

 

Divine Robot Commander

Our goal here is to build a robot and buff our own private tank/DPS machine with divine power, getting free extra attacks as we buff the bot.

To start off with, we need 3 levels of artificer taking the battle smith archetype, and just a single level of cleric taking the order domain. We’re only going to be dipping into cleric for that single level, and all our remaining levels should go into artificer as our primary class.

Battle smith has a 3rd level feature called battle ready that gives us proficiency with martial weapons and more importantly it lets us use Intelligence instead of Strength or Dexterity on our weapon attacks. It’ll be an awkward first few levels, but with this we can actually get some hits in without investing into Strength or Dexterity.

At 3rd level battle smith also gets a handy robot friend in the form of a steel defender. Your robot pal acts on your initiative, and you command him with your bonus action. Its attacks and saves are all linked to your own proficiency bonus, and it sort of acts like an animal companion. Ideally battle smiths want to rely on their steel defender to defend them, while lobbing spells at the target and keeping distanced. The problem is that the steel defender doesn’t have that many hit points, and its AC is a reasonable but not amazing 15. Usually, you’ll be stuck spending your turn mending the steel defender and then ordering it to make a single attack.

Here’s where the cleric level and order domain kick in. Order clerics gain a 1st level feature called voice of authority which grants one allied target of our 1st level or higher spells a free attack using their reaction. Doesn’t matter what the spell was or what class it came from, it just has to be 1st level or higher. This essentially means we get to 3 “actions” a turn, since our action to cast a spell buffing our bot also gives the robot an attack, and we get the attack from the robot using our bonus action as well.

When it comes to our infusions, we’d really prefer to buff our steel defender with magical armor and weapons but sadly due to some annoying technicalities it isn’t proficient with anything and early on we should just buff ourselves up. We should be rocking heavy armor with the enhanced defense infusion for a +1 bonus to AC, with a spellcasting focus in one hand and a hand crossbow in the other with the enhanced weapon infusion on it not only for the +1 bonus to attacks and damage but also to transform it into a magical weapon so we can use our Intelligence for it thanks to battle ready.

So what spells are we buffing our robot with? Firstly, from our handy cleric levels we gain access to the spell shield of faith which grants +2 AC for 10 minutes so long as we can maintain concentration. +2 AC brings our little robot up to a healthier 17 AC and I’d recommend you try and make that your initial spell at the start of each combat. Bless also uses concentration and conflicts with our shield, but I still recommend it for situations where hitting is more important than blocking. Next, we have the classics cure wounds and false life which heal HP and provide temporary HP respectively, and can conveniently be found on the artificer list. At higher levels, consider spells like enlarge/reduce for giant robot fun, and haste when you reach 3rd level spells to stack up even more robot punches. Finally, make sure to use one of your artificer cantrips on mending, since that provides massive healing for your robot as well.

So, let’s put this all together and take a look at how it plays at 4th level. Combat begins with us casting shield of faith on our robot friend which allows it to make a force-empowered rend attack for 1d8 + 2 force damage. We then use our bonus action to command the robot to make another attack bringing us to 13 (2d8 + 4) force damage for the turn. That may not sound like a lot, but we can do this while staying well out of danger and pushing the enemy to attack your expendable and AC buffed robot pal, instead of you or anyone else in your party.

As a side note, MUCH later in the build you get a strange opportunity to turn your robot into an archer sentry! One of the magic items you can replicate using your infusions at 10th level is bracers of archery. The robot can attune the bracers, and the bracers actually provide proficiency with bows, allowing the bot to use our conveniently infused longbow! Also, once you reach your 6th artificer level consider swapping in some boots of the winding path and attuning them to your robot for teleporting robot shenanigans.

 

Machine God Tank

Our goal here is to become a living holy relic weapon, swooping in swinging holy fists of justice while shrugging off whatever comes our way and giving the martial classes a run for their money. We're going to stack up every defensive boost we can get our hands on, at try and become unkillable.

To start off we want to take 3 artificer levels selecting the armorer archetype, and at least 1 cleric level selecting the forge domain. We then want to push our original class artificer up to 10th level to snag extra attack, armor modifications, and the 10th level infusions, and all our remaining levels go towards getting us to 10th level cleric, for a final even split of 10 artificer levels / 10 cleric levels.

So how does this work? We have heavy armor proficiency as an armorer artificer so firstly we want to get our hands on some plate armor, and use the forge cleric’s blessing of the forge to turn this non-magical armor into +1 plate. It’s important to do this step first because it specifies that it can only be done to non-magical armor, but all our artificer iron man stuff doesn’t so it’ll only work as written if we do it in the correct order.

The iron man part of this build comes from armorer and the arcane armor feature we gain at 3rd level, specifically we want to take the guardian option for our armor. Arcane armor is complicated and grants several benefits, the most important of which is to make our fists into magical 1d8 thunder weapons that use Intelligence instead of Strength or Dexterity. These melee attacks also impose the “distraction” ability, and when we hit targets, they’ll have disadvantage on all attacks that don’t target us on their next turn. It also ignores the Strength requirements of the armor.

For our next defensive boost, we infuse our forge-blessed arcane armor with enhanced defense for yet another +1 AC bonus. From here we have a couple tempting options. Go FULL TANK by putting a shield in one of our hands or go for additional damage options and put a weapon in it. We don't actually have access to martial weapons but it's still a fair option to augment our defensive abilities with some melee attacks.

Finally, our go-to cleric spell should be shield of faith, which cleanly stacks another +2 AC bonus defensive boost so long as we can maintain concentration, which hopefully shouldn’t be difficult.

What does all this look like at say 4th level? We’ve got plate armor starting us off at AC 18, + 1 for blessing of the forge, +1 from enhanced defense, +2 from a shield, and +2 from shield of faith for a whopping 24 AC! We can come in punching with our gauntlet, forcing targets to waste their turn scrabbling ineffectually against our impenetrable holy science!

Later on, you have nice options to improve this further. Armor modifications lets us essentially apply a whole ton of infusions to our armor rather than just one. I highly recommend going for winged boots for flying and higher movement speeds, repulsion shield on the shield for another +1 AC for additional defense, and radiant weapon for the gauntlets to get some holy justice into those punches. All told this build is capable of some of the highest ACs a player character can reach with an insane 28 AC in tier 4.

 

Gunslinging Preacher

Here we make use of the idealistic weapon for priests, a gun! Our goal here is to live out the trope of a holy man with a gun and blast our way through the heretics with massive amounts of damage. This is simple but one of the most offensive options the cleric artificer multi-classes have to offer. While this build revolves around firearms, it can work fairly well using crossbows instead if those don’t fit your campaign, though with a significant dip to the cool factor.

First off, we want to take 3 levels of artificer and once again we want to take the battle smith archetype. We then want to take a single cleric level taking the war domain, followed by 2 more levels of artificer to pick up extra attack. Finally, all our remaining levels should go towards cleric giving us a final split of 5 artificer levels / 15 cleric levels.

Firstly, we get our hands on a gun (or heavy crossbow if the world is lame). Often forgotten, artificers start the game off with any firearm skill proficiencies for the setting just in their base rules! If using renaissance guns, your best option is a musket. For modern firearms it’s an automatic rifle, and finally for futuristic guns we want a laser rifle. Next, we want to emboss that puppy with our holy symbol, since it’s a two-handed weapon.

Next, we need to infuse our lovely gun with repeating shot, which not only makes it a +1 magic item weapon, now it also ignores the loading property by making magic bullets. And, because it is now a magic weapon, battle ready allows us to use our Intelligence instead of Dexterity for its attacks and we can now make our attack rolls like we were martial characters. And since it’s displaying our lovely holy symbol, we can cast all our cleric spells through it.

Before going further, I do need to point out the silliness that is the distinction between loading and reload. Crossbows and the renaissance guns all use “loading”, which just says you can make a maximum of 1 shot with it a turn, but that we can also ignore thanks to repeating shot. Repeating shot basically lets us skip the crossbow expert feat that these sorts of builds normally need. “Reload” on the other hand counts the number of shots loaded into a gun and forces you to use an action or bonus action to reload it. All the modern and future weapons use “reload”, and there’s no way for us to bypass it. All this really means is every other turn or so for most later guns, we’ll have to only shoot twice in a turn as we spend a bonus action to reload rather than fire a 3rd time.

So how does this work? Let’s take a look at the build at 6th level. When initiative rolls we fire our gun, followed by another shot from extra attack, but we’re not done! The war cleric’s war priest feature gained at 1st level allows us to make another attack as a bonus action (uses equal to our Wisdom modifier) for yet another shot. That means that thanks to war magic at only 6th level our heavy armored preacher filled to the brim with magical abilities and healing spells can also pour out ridiculous damage rolls each turn. Martial classes? Hah! We've got two casting classes dishing out more damage than most martial characters.

If using the humble heavy crossbow you’ll dish out 32 (3d10 + 15) a turn.

Brandishing a musket brings you up to 35 (2d12 + 15) a turn.

The mighty hunting rifle pushes us up to 47 (6d10 + 15) a turn!

And if your DM is insane enough to give you futuristic guns and a laser rifle, you’ll be unleashing 56 (9d8 +15) every turn!

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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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