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I found this artificer subclass on dmsguild and wondered if these replacement special weapons are balanced compared to:

  • The existing special weapon options
  • The offensive capabilities of a Battle Smith wielding a Greatsword

By "balanced", I mean "not so powerful that they make the other choices irrelevant in comparison".

If it is relevant, assume Int, Dex, and Con scores to be 16 (+3).

The intent is that each of these are options usable as replacements for the special weapons of the two armor models (the lightning launcher of the Infiltrator model, and the thunder gauntlets of the Guardian), and you only get 1.

Also, note that these are int-based weapons, like the other special weapons.

Bloodletting Jaw

The armor's helmet is built into a clockwork muzzle and counts as a simple melee weapon. It deals 1d8 piercing damage on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you damage a creature with this weapon, you regain a number of hit points equal to your proficiency bonus, provided you have less than half your hit points when you hit.

I think the healing on this isn't too overpowered, as it is limited to once per turn, only heals by PB, and only functions when you are at half health or lower.

Chainsaw

One of the armor's gauntlets is a solid fist with a mechanical chainsaw that has a button incorporated into its construction. It counts as a martial melee weapon with the misfire (1) and versatile properties. On a hit, it deals 1d6 slashing damage, or 1d8 slashing damage while held in two hands.

As a bonus action, you can press the button to activate or deactivate the chainsaw's blade.

While activated, the chainsaw gains the following properties:

  • Its misfire score is increased by 2.
  • On a hit, roll one of the chainsaw's damage dice one additional time and add it to the damage of the attack.
  • It emits a loud whirring sound. Creatures within 300 feet of you have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing to locate you, and you have disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

The misfire property functions as follows:

  • Whenever you make an attack roll with a weapon that has the misfire property, and the dice roll is equal to or lower than the weapon’s Misfire score, the weapon misfires, and the attack misses.
  • A misfired weapon can't be used until someone uses an action to repair it with a Tinker's Tools check (DC 8 + misfire score).
  • If the check fails, the weapon is broken and must be mended out of combat at a quarter of the cost of the weapon.
  • Using the weapon while not proficient increases the misfire score by 1.

Combat Socket

One of the armor's gauntlets is a solid fist with a socket that can hold one piece of combat equipment.

  • You can only attach a light or finesse melee weapon, shield, hand crossbow, or pistol that you are proficient with. Attaching or removing an item takes an action.
  • While you live, attached items can't be removed from your body against your will.

Emergency Missile

When this weapon is added to your armor, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder.

When a hostile creature's movement provokes an opportunity attack from you while wearing this suit of armor, as a reaction, you can create a glowing dart of magical energy that flies out and hits the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The dart deals 1d6 + 1 damage of the chosen type.

I think a guaranteed 1d6 + 1 is balanced compared to a 65% chance of 2d6 + 3 (with a greatsword).

Energized Frame

When this weapon is added to your armor, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder.

While wearing this suit of armor, a creature that touches you or hits you with a melee attack while within 5 feet of you takes 1d4 damage of the chosen type.

This one is interesting, and I don't know how to calculate balance for this.

Energy Blasters

When this weapon is added to your armor, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder.

Two gemlike nodes appear in the palms of the armor's gauntlets. They count as simple ranged weapons while you aren't holding anything in them, with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 damage of the chosen type. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or it is pushed up to 10 feet away from you.

Energy Launcher

When this weapon is added to your armor, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder.

A gemlike node appears on one of your armored fists, knees, or on the chest (your choice). It counts as a simple ranged weapon, with a normal range of 90 feet and a long range of 300 feet, and it deals 1d6 damage of the chosen type on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, you can deal an extra 2d6 damage of the chosen type.

Flamethrower

One of the armor's gauntlets conceals a flamethrower. Once on each of your turns, when you use the Attack action, you can exhale fire from the flamethrower in an adjacent 15- foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 2d6 fire damage for each charge expended on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire ignites any flammable objects in the area that aren't being worn or carried. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this Attack replaces one of them.

This one seems potentially overpowered... an AoE seems like a much more powerful option than a greatsword. It can't be infused though.

Grenade Launcher

One of the armor's gauntlets conceals a grenade launcher. It counts as a simple ranged weapon, with a normal range of 60 feet and a long range of 120 feet. On a hit, it deals 1d8 fire damage and each creature within 5 ft of the target must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 fire damage.

Mantis Blades

Each of the armor's gauntlets conceals an extending hidden blade. Extending or retracting the blade requires no action. The blades count as a simple melee weapon with the finesse and light properties, while you aren't holding anything in the gauntlets and the blades are extended, and it deals 1d6 slashing damage on a hit. Additionally, while both of the blades are extended, you are considered being engaged in two-weapon fighting.

The only potential problem I see with this is possibly the ability to extend or retract the blades at will. However, this seems balanced.

Mechanical Tail

The posterior of the suit of armor incorporates a lashing, spiny tail, which counts as a simple melee weapon with the reach property. It deals 1d8 piercing damage on a hit. If a creature you can see within 10 feet of you hits you with an attack roll, you can use your reaction to swipe your tail and roll a d8, applying a bonus to your AC equal to the number rolled, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

Powered Stomp

Each of the armor's boots are reinforced and count as a simple melee weapon. It deals 1d8 bludgeoning damage on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, you can create a shockwave. Each creature other than you in a 10-foot-radius centered on the target must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d8 thunder damage and fall prone.

Ramming Helmet

The armor's helmet is reinforced and counts as a simple melee weapon. On a hit, it deals 1d8 bludgeoning damage. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or it falls prone.

Retractable Claws

Each of the armor's gauntlets incorporate retractable blade claws, which counts as a simple melee weapon. Extending or retracting the claws requires no action. It deals 1d6 slashing damage on a hit and has the finesse property. Once on each of your turns when you attack with a claw using the Attack action, you can make one additional claw attack as part of the same action.

Is this balanced? This seems like dual wielding shortswords, but you keep your bonus action.

Rocket Gauntlets

Each of the armor's gauntlets counts as a simple melee weapon while you aren't holding anything in it. It deals 1d8 bludgeoning damage on a hit and has the thrown property, with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet. When thrown, the gauntlet detaches and flies at the target of the attack, then immediately returns to you and reattaches.


For reference, here are the existing special weapons:

Lightning Launcher

A gemlike node appears on one of your armored fists or on the chest (your choice). It counts as a simple ranged weapon, with a normal range of 90 feet and a long range of 300 feet, and it deals 1d6 lightning damage on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, you can deal an extra 1d6 lightning damage to that target.

Thunder Gauntlets

Each of the armor's gauntlets counts as a simple melee weapon while you aren't holding anything in it, and it deals 1d8 thunder damage on a hit. A creature hit by the gauntlet has disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than you until the start of your next turn, as the armor magically emits a distracting pulse when the creature attacks someone else.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Do my edits satisfy your concerns? \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Mar 27 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @User23415 A simple "if I replace X with Y, is this balanced" question is a fine thing to put out here, as long as you make sure it has enough information to discuss the balance details. The main problem with these Qs is their sheer length. The quantity of new material that we have to dig through makes it really hard to discuss the balance since it's really like twenty "is this balanced" questions wearing a trenchcoat. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27 at 15:07

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The balance on these is wildly variable and many of them suffer from very poor editing.

Some examples of issues I see:

The (too) Good

The Energy Launcher is basically identical to the Lightning Launcher, but wildly superior since it gets an additional 1d6 damage per round, AND lets you pick a damage type that provides for more vulnerability and less resistance -- having Radiant and Force on the list of options is just inherently broken; they are automatically the best energy types to pick, as they're almost never resisted (and radiant often has special effects on common enemy types like Undead) This entry alone effectively negates the existence of about half the list.

Flamethrower is overpowered. Even if you're only able to use it once per round (for one attack out of two) and are giving up your weapon slot for it (and thus limited to simple weapons for your extra attack), an area attack with guaranteed half-damage is huge. The Artillerist can do this, but deploying their turret is an extremely limited resource that often costs spell slots and can be smashed by enemies. This costs nothing (other than opportunity cost) and can't be removed from the fight.

Grenade Launcher is possibly even more broken. Even if it might target allies who are too close, being able to drop area blasts at range every turn is pretty insane -- not even a blaster-focused sorcerer can do that.

The Powered Stomp is basically similar and has shorter range, but it has a much wider area with more damage AND a prone effect -- and doesn't take away your nice weapon when you aren't using it to throw area blasts (you can choose not to make shockwaves)! I can't imagine why you'd take the original Thunder Gauntlets with Powered Stomp on the board.

The Bad

Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, we have the Combat Socket, which lets you use a subset of weapons you're already proficient with, and the only benefit is you can't drop it (which is not a common mechanic anyway)

Meanwhile, the existence of both Mantis Blades and Retractable Claws is confusing. These are basically the same weapon except the claws are strictly superior because the extra attack isn't a bonus action. I don't think the claws are bad -- they're probably perfectly balanced as a weapon -- but since they're on the list, the Mantis Blades are pointless, and even if they weren't, I don't think they'd be worth the slot as compared to other options.

The Unusual

The Chainsaw is a special case of a mechanic that's broken in two opposite ways at once. Leaving aside the question of how to use a weapon in two hands when it's glued to your gauntlet, when active this is a one-handed greatsword or a two-handed super-greatsword, and once in a while it just completely breaks in the middle of a fight. Being too good but sometimes worthless isn't balance.

The Intent

All that said, I have some questions about what the author is really intending to do here.

The two armor forms that the default Armorer gets each have specific intent behind them. Each one is thematically and mechanically built to do something: The Infiltrator gives you stealth, speed, and ranged combat options, while the Guardian makes you a close-up tank that can force enemies to fight you instead of your allies -- and importantly, you can swap between the two on the fly, using a mere short rest.

Part of the point of armor models is to give the player a set of coherent abilities that provide for a specific position in the game. While some of these weapons are interesting mechanically, I don't see that they make for any sort of coherent position other than "do more damage".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The revised armorer subclass I pulled these from gives a bunch of custom options for the features, and these are some of the weapon options. The original question got closed for being too broad. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Mar 27 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know -- the problem here is that picking, say, Flamethrower and two "minor upgrades" isn't necessarily a coherent set of choices that speaks to a specific role in the game. I think this concept is, at the base level, giving away a couple of strong thematic choices in favor of a piecemeal pile of cool tricks that don't add up to anything greater. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The breadth of choices available would ideally make it so that you could design a suit to emulate an existing one (for example, Samus Aran's Power Suit). I do realize that some of these are overpowered. The goal of the question is to weed out the ones that make the others pale in comparison. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Mar 27 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ The extreme version of this would be a weapon that instantly kills the target if you hit, but if you roll a 1 it cuts off your head instead, killing you. That's not balance, it's just un-fun garbage. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices I guess I disagree that it's unusual for there to be at least three enemies in adjacent squares? It depends on your DM to some extent but especially with horde-type creatures (ie the ones you want to use multi-targeting on) like goblins or skeletons, it's not at all unusual to have them clustered in a way that would let the GL drop a lot of damage very quickly. Acid Splash is limited to two targets on purpose. (And TBH acid splash isn't that bad.) I was perhaps too harsh on GL, though, the stomp is a lot more broken with that larger area and double the damage. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27 at 18:03

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