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This is concerning specifically the Alchemist's Satchel, the Thunder Cannon (and Arcane Magazine), and any other homebrew subclasses made to work with the Unearthed Arcana version of the Artificer class.

Can they make their 1st-level subclass item(s) for a non-artificer class PC, another Artificer subclass PC, or a NPC to use?

If it is possible, I would assume the new user would lack proficiency until sufficient training requirements are met. Also, the Thunder Cannon text (and others) says:

If you lose your Thunder Cannon, you can create a new one over the course of three days of work (eight hours each day) by expending 100 gp worth of metal and other raw materials.

My interpretation of that makes me think that the item doesn't have to be destroyed and can thus be made again without destroying the original (like the Eldritch Knight or Pact of Blades weapon being destroyed when a brand new is made).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "any other homebrew subclasses" made to work withe the Artificer? Given that the other items in that sentence are magic items/class features. Plus, "any other homebrew subclasses" might have mechanics that make them work differently. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 21 '18 at 2:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast by that I mean ones that are made specifically to use the Unearthed Arcana version and follow the precedent of having a item at first level that follows those rules for creating a new one. \$\endgroup\$ – bubbajake00 Aug 21 '18 at 3:57
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An Artificer could make specialty items for others, but won't.

Clearly there isn't physical limitation as you have pointed out. Two or more Thunder Cannons produced by the same Artificer can exist at the same time, and the same is true for the Arcane Magazine and the Alchemist's Satchel.

However, Artificers only make more of these specialty items if they lose them. Selling or giving away these items is not even considered as a possibility. The implication is that an Artificer is simply unwilling to make their specialty items for others. I believe this restriction is similar to the Druid's unwillingness to wear metal armor or a Paladin's unwillingness to break his oath.

Each class has story elements mixed with its game features; the two types of design go hand-in-hand in D&D, and the story parts are stronger in some classes than in others. Druids and paladins have an especially strong dose of story in their design. If you want to depart from your class’s story, your DM has the final say on how far you can go and still be considered a member of the class. As long as you abide by your character’s proficiencies, you’re not going to break anything in the game system, but you might undermine the story and the world being created in your campaign.

So a typical artificer wants to keep his specialty item to himself, but even if others get their hands on the specialty item, it shouldn't break anything in the game system, because:

Specialty items are not useful to non-artificers.

Everyone else lacks the features and proficiencies to make good use these specialty items.

The Alchemist's Satchel, only works for those who know Alchemical Formula options, that is, it only works for Alchemist Artificers.

At 1st level, you craft an Alchemist's Satchel, a bag of reagents that you use to create a variety of concoctions. The bag and its contents are both magical, and this magic allows you to pull out exactly the right materials you need for your Alchemical Formula options, described below. After you use one of those options, the bag reclaims the materials.

The Thunder Cannon is a weapon, so it can be fired by anyone, but it is neither simple nor martial so only Gunsmith Artificers are proficient with it. Moreover, the bonus action reload means that anyone with the Extra Attack feature will outright shun the Thunder Cannon. In short, the Thunder Cannon is a really bad weapon for anyone who isn't a Gunsmith Artificer.

You are proficient with the Thunder Cannon. The firearm is a two-handed ranged weapon that deals 2d6 piercing damage. Its normal range is 150 feet, and its maximum range if 500 feet. Once fired, it must be reloaded as a bonus action.

The Arcane Magazine is only as useful as the Thunder Cannon.

Homebrew subclasses for Artificers should somehow ensure that their respective specialty items are useless or near-useless to everyone else. If they don't, then I would assume it is a poorly designed subclass.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For the Thunder Cannon, note also that the Magazine says: "Your Arcane Magazine includes the powders, lead shot, and other materials needed to keep that weapon functioning.", which implies that Artificer tools break down if not maintained by an Artificer. (This heavily ties into their flavor as tinkerers who build powerful, but unreliable tools). \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Aug 21 '18 at 5:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik Good point. Anyone who's not an Artificer should have nearly zero chance of even reloading the thing successfully. Also note that you can build a new Thunder Cannon if you lose the old one, which is different from "if you sell it on Craigslist". This ties into the Artificer's flavor as having a personal connection to their creations. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Aug 21 '18 at 7:19

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