Introduction

When Eberron was released, it included the Artificer and three subclasses for the new class. When Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything was later published, the Artificer and those subclasses were reprinted along with a new fourth subclass. It has remained as such since then: four official subclasses, the least of any class. But did you know that Keith Baker, the original author and creator of Eberron, published a third party supplement not long after Rising from the Last War? This book, Exploring Eberron, contains two new subclasses for the Artificer (as well as one each for Bard, Cleric, Druid and Monk).

In this handbook, we’ll be exploring the Forge Adept subclass for the Artificer, a frontline support combatant. This subclass is similar to the Battle Smith but gives up the go-go dog person sidekick for more personal power with a subclass exclusive Infusion, the Ghaal’Shaarat. While any Artificer can use the Enhance Weapon Infusion to get a magical weapon, this feature does not take up a daily Infusion slot for the Forge Adept.

One extra Infusion might not sound big, but avoiding the tax that a Battle Smith has to pay by Infusing a weapon to use Intelligence  to hit and damage is a big deal. We like to talk about Fundamental Math quite a lot around here, but we don’t usually explore just how much that math can be tilted sideways with even a +1 weapon. Assuming a four person party with three weapon users, a Forge Adept can get magic weapons on all of them from third level.

The math is a little messy, but at lower levels the DPR increase from those weapons is ever so slightly higher than the average +2.5 attack bonus increase from Bless because of the +1 to both hit and damage. With enough other added damage the calculation does swing back into Bless’ favor, but by the time that happens it might be reasonable to spend slots on Bless throughout an adventuring day. Not like anything is stopping you from stacking the pair either.

Bill of Materials

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Forge Adept Features

  1. Tool Proficiency: Smith’s tools are alright, and you even get to pick any other tool if you already have Smith’s proficiency. There are plenty of nice tools to choose from so you’ll find something useful here.
  2. Forge Adept Spells: A good mix of Paladin and Cleric spells, with a few Warlock exclusives mixed in as well. These spells lean onto the defensive and supportive side of things, with a few damage options thrown in. This pairs nicely with other Forge Adept features that provide damage elsewhere.
    • 3rd Level: A pair of defensive spells that work well for us, providing either Temporary Hit Points or an increase to AC. These spells would rank higher, but our half slot progression inhibits our ability to upcast.
    • 5th Level: These spells are ranked orange not because they are bad spells but because they are somewhat more situational options. We could get some mileage out of the damage spell, but it eats up our bonus action for the duration and by this level the damage output is already starting to lag.
    • 9th Level: More defensive and restorative spells. In particular, one of these buffs makes us a healer’s best friend, not only for the effect it brings but also that they don’t have to be the one Concentrating on it.
    • 13th Level: A couple of non-Concentration longer duration defensive buffs, the spells at this level are nice but we have so few high-level spell slots. Like before, these are not bad spells, they are just harder to justify using.
    • 17th level: We come to a pair of very strong control options that work well even at this level. It helps that one of these spells is a 5th-level Paladin spell and those were all balanced around being only available at higher levels.
  3. Battle Ready: Exactly the same as the Battle Smith feature of the same name. As long as your weapon is magical, you can use Intelligence instead of Strength or Dexterity. This opens up plenty of possibilities by itself, but it pairs really well with the other 3rd level Forge Adept feature.
  4. Ghaal’Shaarat: Goblin for “mighty blade.” Put very simply, Ghaal’Shaarat is a special Infusion available to Forge Adepts that gives a weapon a scaling +X bonus as well as the Returning property if it happens to be a Thrown weapon. Where it differs from other Infusions is that it does not count against our Infusion limit and it only functions when held by the Forge Adept. This feature means we don’t sacrifice one of our Infusion choices every day just so Battle Ready can function. Because this eventually reaches +3, which is the value we use when talking about Advantage, it’s somewhat on par with a Reckless Raging Barbarian who can still cast spells.
  5. Extra Attack: Because a Forge Adept focuses on fighting with their Ghaal’Shaarat, extra attack is very helpful. Unlike the Battle Smith, the Forge Adept does gain on-hit damage bonuses, but we still have to wait till we’re 9th level to get the first one.
  6. Runes of War: AoE Elemental Weapons. While it does use our Concentration, this is a powerful effect in many parties and usable often enough to be available in most fights for the average adventuring day. This is more effective as your party makes additional weapon attacks, so in parties with classes like fighters, monks, and rangers this is great. In parties which rely on big single attacks (rogues, most casters) you will see less benefit.
  7. Perfect Weapon: This has two features. The first benefit is like a reverse Reckless Attack, taking a penalty to our offense to boost our defense. Players of 3.x may recognize this as the Defending magic weapon property or Combat Expertise. The second benefit is one of two persistent upgrades to the Ghaal’Shaarat that can be changed every morning after a long rest, one defensive and one offensive. Both are welcome additions that help keep us relevant at this level of combat.

Forge Adept Ability Scores

The Forge Adept doesn’t stray from the typical spread laid out in the Artificer Handbook. Thanks to Battle Ready we can focus on Intelligence for weapon attacks as well as Spell DCs.

Str: We don’t need this for anything.

Dex: We’re proficient with Medium armor and shields so we shouldn’t need more than 14.

Con: We’re blessed to have proficiency with this saving throw, but we still want to have hit points.

Int: This is our “do everything” ability score. It does everything.

Wis: Good for some skills and this kind of saving throw is dangerous to fail.

Cha: We’re not going to be the face of the team.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str88
Dex1413
Con1514
Int1515
Wis1012
Cha810

Forge Adept Races

For anything else not listed here, refer to the Artificer Race Breakdown.

  • Variant HumanPHB: An extra feat goes a long way if you’re trying to get all the damage you can out of your attacks. Polearm Master and Crossbow Expert are stronger the sooner they are available, as are most feats.
  • Elves (and Eladrin, Shadar-Kai, Half Elves, Etc.)PHB, MMoM: I guess it would be odd if I forgot to point out that Battle Ready pairs incredibly well with Elven Accuracy.

Forge Adept Feats

For anything not listed here, please check the Artificer Handbook.

  • Elven AccuracyXGtE: It’s only green because not every Forge Adept is an Elf. Otherwise it would be Blue.
  • Great Weapon Master: The Ghaal’Shaarat scales pretty well, hitting +3 at 13th level. This can offset the -5 to-hit penalty quite well.

Forge Adept Weapons

Also check out the Artificer Handbook for anything not listed here.

  • Dart: The Ghaal’Shaarat does mimic the Returning Weapon Infusion and not the Repeating Weapon Infusion so in the narrow situation where you want to wear a shield and use the Sharpshooter feat at the same time, a Dart is your best option.
  • Longbow: Using the Bracers of Archery Infusion alongside the Ghaal’Shaarat is quite a lot of damage.

Forge Adept Armor

The advice in the Artificer Handbook is accurate for the Forge Adept.

Example Forge Adept Build – Arsenal

The example build presented below features 3rd-party content from author Keith Baker’s Exploring Eberron as the primary focus of the build. In addition, we’ll be using a feat from Keith’s more recent book Chronicles of Eberron. We don’t need to use that feat, but it’s fun and works for us. For argument’s sake, we’ll call out a replacement for the feat in case you either can’t use or do not have Chronicles of Eberron.

Abilities

We’ll prioritize Intelligence and Constitution, with Dexterity close behind. With leftover points we can bump our Wisdom up a tiny bit. Thanks to being a Half-Elf, we get to use their special +2/+1/+1 ability spread.

BaseIncreasedLevel 20
Str888
Dex131414
Con151620
Int151720
Wis121212
Cha888

Race

We’re going with Half-Elf for the +2/+1/+1 ability spread as well as an extra two skill proficiencies. We’ll take Religion and Acrobatics.

Background

We’re taking the Sage background for the Arcana and History skills.

Skills and Tools

From Artificer we’ll gain Jeweler’s Tools, Tinker’s Tools, and Thieves’ Tools. We’ll also gain Investigation and Nature skills. Then from Forge Adept we’ll gain Smith’s Tools.

Feats

At fourth level, we’ll take the Psionic Egoist feat from Chronicles of Eberron, adding +1 Intelligence. If you’re unable to take the feat, Elven Accuracy is also fine.

At eighth level, we take Great Weapon Master. Thanks to the Ghaal’Shaarat, we’re already ahead of the Fundamental Math.

At twelfth level, we take an ASI for +2 Intelligence, putting it at 20 Intelligence.

At sixteenth level, we take an ASI for +2 Constitution, putting it at 18 Constitution. 

At nineteenth level, we take an ASI for +2 Constitution, putting it at 20 Constitution.

Levels

LevelsFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Magical Tinkering

Spellcasting
-Cantrips
–Guidance
–Ray of Frost
-1st-level Spells
–Absorb Elements
–Faerie Fire
–Feather Fall

Skills
-Acrobatics
-Arcana
-History
-Investigation
-Nature
-Religion

Tools
-Jeweler’s Tools
-Thieves’ Tools
-Tinker’s Tools
Start off with a Shortbow or simple ranged weapon of your choice. Sticking to the back keeps us safe for now and leverages our Dexterity score. We’ll switch to Melee when Forge Adept gives us the ability to use Intelligence for attacks.

For Cantrips:
Guidance is pretty good for handling skill checks.
Ray of Frost can slow down enemies for a bit of crowd control.

Absorb Elements helps us take less damage and survive.

Faerie Fire can help the team get Advantage and win fights.

Feather Fall is nice to have when you need it and even worse to not have when you need it.
2Infusions
-Enhanced Weapon
-Repeating Weapon
-Healing Salve
Next level we’ll be getting the Ghaal’Shaarat, but until then we could enhance our weapon or the weapons of party members.

Have  a look at the Healing Salve Infusion from the same book as Forge Adept. It’s not a lot of healing in total, but it’s more than our total hit dice at this level, so use it that way to stretch out the healing for the day.

There are plenty of options really, so check the Infusions Breakdown.
3Forge Adept
-Battle Ready
-Ghaal’Shaarat
-Bonus 1st-level Spells
–Armor of Agathys
–Shield of Faith
-Tool
–Smith’s Tools
-Martial Weapons

Right Tool for the Job
We get our subclass along with the important Ghaal’Shaarat Infusion so we don’t have to spend Infusions on a personal weapon to use Battle Ready.

We’ll also gain some spells. Armor of Agathys can give us temporary hit points to increase our durability. Temporary hp is nice to have even as a ranged build.

Shield of Faith is an extra +2 AC that can be placed on a target. Good for all kinds of situations.

We can switch from Shortbow to Maul now thanks to the martial weapon proficiency. We’ll also be ahead of Fundamental Math because of the Ghaal’Shaarat.

Our Maul DPR with a +3 Intelligence Modifier and +1 Magic Modifier is 8.05. But that’s just our Maul (or Greatsword if you prefer that).

We can upgrade two allies’ weapons to +1s as well, but keep in mind we can’t have the same Infusion twice so while Enhanced Weapon can be anything, we have the option of Returning Weapon and Repeating Shot to get a second weapon.

Across a range of weapons (at third level and assuming 16-17 in primary ability score), the DPR increase of becoming a +1 weapon is between 1 and 2 DPR. For the sake of extra simplicity we won’t even factor in that these weapons bypass non-magical BPS damage resistance, but they do that too.

The higher end values were achieved by taking Crossbow Expert or Polearm Master as bonus feats at first level while the lower end of the range were traditional options like Greatsword or Longsword.

Average that out to +1.5 because we’re not going to be toxic by telling our party how to play their characters. Then add that +1.5 once or twice depending on how many other weapon users we hand Infusions to.

That gives us a total DPR contribution of 9.55 or 11.05.

For comparison, a VHuman Fighter with the Archery Style and the CBX feat is doing 10.10 DPR under these same assumptions. Coincidentally, this same example Fighter goes up to 12.35 and no longer needs a free hand to reload with our Repeating Shot Infusion, enabling the use of a shield.
4Feat: Psionic Egoist+1 IntelligenceThe Psionic Egoist feat out of Chronicles of Eberron has a fairly unique effect. Whenever we gain temporary hit points, such as by casting Armor of Agathys, the total is increased.

It won’t be much just yet, but it will scale as we level, and it is much stronger if there are other sources of THP in our party. For example, if we were subject to Heroism or the Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary of a Twilight Cleric, the bonus would apply every time the THP refreshed.

If you can’t use that book or don’t expect to get a lot of THP, Elven Accuracy will work just as well for us, increasing our offense instead of our defense.
5Extra Attack

Spellcasting
-2nd-level spells
–Spiritual Weapon
–Web
Extra Attack: for when you want your Attack Action to Attack Twice.

Spiritual Weapon: for when you want to swing a third time but with magic.

Web: for when you want to restrain a whole group of foes and get Advantage against them at the same time and Faerie Fire’s AOE isn’t big enough.
6Tool Expertise

Infusions
-Cloak of Elvenkind
-Spell Refueling Ring
Double Proficiency with tools. We have Jeweler’s, Smith’s, and Thieves’ tools, so we might get some use out of this.

We get additional Infusion choices now:

The Cloak of Elvenkind as a Replicated magic item is rather strong if you want some stealth, almost like super Advantage because after the Advantage on Stealth it imposes Disadvantage on the Perception to find the wearer.

The Spell Refueling Ring gives the wearer an extra 3rd-level or lower spell slot each day. We could wear this for an extra 2nd-level slot, but an allied full caster would have 3rd-level slots right now.
7Flash of GeniusBackseat gaming as a class feature. Adding your Int mod to an ally’s (or your own) check or save a few times a day.
8Feat: Great Weapon Master

Ghaal’Shaarat +2
Great Weapon Master’s penalty to attack rolls is something to consider, but the Ghaal’Shaarat does help offset it quite a bit.

In fact, because it scales up to +2 this level, we’re still ahead of the Fundamental Math on attack rolls despite taking Great Weapon Master this level instead of raising our Intelligence to 20. We’re slightly behind on spell save DC’s and spell attacks, but that’s fine since our primary offensive option is our weapon.

Our Maul Attack DPR at this level is now 18.90 (1d8+4+2 and hitting on a 7) or 21.40 using Great Weapon Master.

But like before, we can analyze the effects of our Infusions on the DPR of others. It might not seem like much should change but the ideal allies to use Infusions would all have Extra Attack by now.

My Standard Reference Human Crossbow Expert Sharpshooter Fighter is doing 28.28 DPR before the +1 and 32.70 after, a difference of 4.42. That’s our high end.

The low end as far as Extra Attack users was Longsword Duelist going from 15.40 to 17.95, which is still a 2.55 DPR difference from the +1.
These average out to 3.485 DPR per Infused ally. Round to 3.5 for easier math and with two allies that’s +7 to our DPR contributions.

I hyped up the Web spell a few levels ago, but how about we look at the DPR with our best pal, Standard Reference Human CBX SS Fighter?

We lose out on the 18.90 to 21.40 DPR on the round we cast Web because we can’t attack. However, by granting Advantage to our example ally, their DPR jumps from 32.70 to 47.68, a gain of 14.98 DPR. Without trying to calculate anything from the rest of the party, we’ve already made up most of our one turn. We can’t always use Web, not enough spell slots to spam it and sometimes we’ll be hard pressed to keep foes in the web, but when we can it’s a great boost.
9Runes of War

Spellcasting
-3rd-level spells
–Beacon of Hope
–Haste
–Revivify
Runes of War has potential for doing a good amount of damage, but that depends heavily on the number of weapon-using allies we can apply it to. The only downside is that it requires our Concentration.

For 3rd-level spells, Beacon of Hope is situationally useful. For one 3rd-level slot we can maximize the healing received by our allies. We don’t have to provide the healing either. Features like Fighter’s Second Wind or Wildfire Druid’s Cauterizing Flames and Stars Druid’s Chalice Form all benefit from this spell.

Haste is haste. It’s not always the strongest option, but sometimes a 3rd attack each round is the right answer.

Revivify is a tax and we have to pay our taxes.
10Magic Item Adept

Infusions
-Winged Boots
-Cloak of Protection
-Enhanced Weapon (+2)

Spellcasting
-Cantrip
–Fire Bolt
We get a 4th attunement slot from Magic Item Adept and we can craft items at four times the speed. The attunement slot is handy and the increased crafting speed can either be helpful or do nothing depending on the campaign.

Winged Boots let us fly. Flying is strong. We like to fly.

Cloak of Protection is +1 to AC and +1 to all saves. Very much worth wearing one.

We already have the Enhanced Weapon Infusion. I’m just pointing out that it has been upgraded to +2 now if any of our allies still needs a +2 weapon.

Pick up Fire Bolt to start fires, or to attack in a pinch if we drop our weapon somehow.
11Spell-Storing ItemMy general advice for the Spell-Storing Item is to put Web in it and hand it off to someone who isn’t already Concentrating on something regularly.

Web is one of the strongest 2nd-level uses for Concentration and using this item to get an extra Concentration running on a Fighter or something is very shenanigans.
12ASI: Intelligence +2(18=>20)We cap out our Intelligence here. Doing this puts us another point ahead of Fundamental Math thanks to the Ghaal’Shaarat.
13Spellcasting
-4th-level spells
–Death Ward
–Stone Shape

Ghaal’Shaarat +3
The Ghaal’Shaarat now is a +3 weapon. This is a rather nice upgrade, especially with Great Weapon Master. Without any other buffs this puts us at -2 vs Fundamental Math when using GWM.

Death Ward stops instant death effects or prevents the target from hitting 0 HP once. It has uses from time to time.

Stone Shape is more of a tool to decide that this dungeon doesn’t have enough doors.One does simply Stone Shape into more doors, it seems.

We’re due for some DPR math. Since the last time, we’ve capped our Intelligence at 20 and upgraded to +3 on our weapon. This puts our DPR at 24.70 before GWM and 28.20 with.

Let’s check in with the Standard Reference Human Fighter, who now has three attacks. Because we’re assuming Repeating Shot as the Infusion we’re sharing, the bonus is still a +1. That’s not bad, though. We’re looking at 37.70 DPR before the +1 and 43.60 after, an increase of 5.9 DPR.

But Fighter is not the only class we could be boosting. What does it look like if we apply the Enhanced Weapon to a Longsword Duelist Paladin since they have Improved Divine Smite at this point? This puts the damage calculation at [1d8+5+2+1d8] and we’ll say that they use a 2nd-level Smite on crits.
It starts with 24.40 DPR and bumps up to 30.60 DPR. While the total DPR is smaller than the reference fighter, the difference in DPR is 6.2 likely due to the +2 attack/damage bonus vs. +1 for the fighter.

If instead this same Paladin was using Polearm Master with a Spear or Quarterstaff, we would get a before value of 33.80 and 42.70 DPR after a +2, an increase of 8.9 DPR.

For the record, applying the +2 to the Fighter instead gives us 49.90 DPR, which is an increase of 12.2. Conversely, applying only a +1 instead to the PAM Paladin, perhaps by applying Returning Weapon to a Spear, gives us a 38.10 total DPR, an increase of 4.3.

This gives us either a +14.8 contribution if we keep Repeating Shot on the Fighter, which allows it to still wear a Shield for at least +2 AC (magic shields and infusions would give more still), or we can contribute +16.5 DPR at the price of less AC on the Fighter.

There is yet a third option we could pursue where both get +1s. Our calculated DPR contribution lowers to +10.2 but in addition to the Fighter having better AC, the Paladin’s Spear gains Returning, opening up ranged attacking as an option for them.
14Magic Item Savant

Infusions
-Ring of Protection

Spellcasting
-Cantrip
–Prestidigitation
Attune five items and ignore item restrictions.

Ring of Protection is +1 AC, +1 to all Saves, and stacks with the Cloak of Protection. Might as well wear both.
15Perfect WeaponHere we have yet another upgrade to our signature weapon. 

We either get a defensive boost or extra damage, we just have to decide each day after our long rest.

I just want to point out the effect of this extra damage on our personal DPR. We’ll now be doing 30.65 DPR without GWM and 32.40 with, a gain of only 2 DPR.

At this point it might be smart to only use GWM when we have Advantage, for consistency. Our GWM Advantage DPR is 47.50, 9.93 DPR higher than our just Advantage DPR of 37.57.
16ASI: Constitution +2(16=>18)More HP, better saves.
17Spellcasting
-5th-level spells
Wall of Force
Wall of Stone
Walls for Days.
18Magic Item Master

Infusions
Attune six items.

No new Infusions unlock but we can now have 6 infusions. 
19ASI: Constitution +2(18=>20)Even more HP, even better saves.
20Soul of ArtificeCollect six attunements for +6 to all saves. Fairly strong. I recommend also wearing the Cloak and Ring of Protection for a total of +8 to all saves.