So my friend and I are looking at doing a solo gestalt campaign starting at level 8. It's going to be relatively high-wealth, set in Eberron. Basically, the idea is that since our current DM makes a bunch of weird and arbitrary houserules(see my other questions), we want to take an opportunity away from that to explore the higher tiers and just what they're capable of. The general idea will be to powergame the crap out of my character and then throw me into situations any normal character shouldn't be able to ever deal with. Here are the specifics:

  • "Epic fantasy" point buy
  • More feats: Feats at 1, 2 and every even level (like fighter)
  • 1.5 times normal wealth
  • Starting at level 8
  • The only thing off-limits is iterable infinite or near infinite cheese, like Gating Effritis for infinite wishes or stacking Time Stops for infinite rounds

I'm looking at either Artificer//Factotum or Wizard//Factotum, but I'm not sure which to go with. I was figuring that Artificer would give me more versatility with preparation than wizard, but I'm not sure if it's worth not having full casting on a per-day rather than per-dollar basis.

So the final question is: Given a solo campaign with in this situation, which build will be more usable, survivable, and able to efficiently complete the quests it starts out on? What would be my staple spells/items/general combat approach for each?

  • \$\begingroup\$ So is the actual question, like, Given the campaign circumstances X, Y, and Z is character A or character B better able to marshal more resources to solving problems like L, M, and N? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2015 at 19:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the question "which is most cheesable"? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2015 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ “completely unrealistic cheese” is an almost-completely undefined term that makes this question impossible to answer. All three classes involved are magical (unrealistic), and Factotum//Int-based-caster is pretty much high-cheese to begin with. You need to give much better scope on what is or is not acceptable. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 20, 2015 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan, Yeah that's about it. I'll change the question to reflect that \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2015 at 21:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am curious—why set up a raft of house rules making a level 8 character act like a higher-level character instead of just playing a higher-level character? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2015 at 23:10

1 Answer 1


As it stands, the question cannot be answered on its face: “over-the-top, completely unrealistic cheese” is undefined and critical to try to do a comparison of the mechanical advantages of each class. This answer, however, is challenging the frame of the question, since it compares the two classes regardless of what each is or isn’t allowed to do.

Artificer is maybe theoretically more powerful, but you almost certainly don’t want to play a theoretical-optimization artificer

Artificer is the most complicated class in the game to play. It is hands-down, indisputably, utterly without competition in that regard. You need to track gold, XP, expensive material components, and time, and you need to have exceptional preparation, organization, and planning skills. You also need to literally know every item ever published and what they cost; there are literally thousands of those. Spreadsheets are almost mandatory to put the class to good use. To actually optimize it, get as much out of it as possible, you might consider becoming or hiring an actual accountant.

That difficulty comes from the artificer’s extreme versatility, and versatility is a huge advantage in 3.5. All of those options before the artificer could, from another perspective, represent opportunities. Unfortunately, you need to choose correctly from among all those options the overwhelming majority of the time. It is very, very easy to create a thoroughly mediocre artificer.

The wizard, on the other hand, has one thing and one thing only to worry about: spells. They’re a fundamental component of the class, that the wizard automatically gains as he levels up, and they are phenomenally powerful. Magic items are still super-useful tools for the wizard, the wizard can also take Item Creation feats, but the spells are always there. The wizard is still a very-complex class; the Sor/Wiz spell list is immense. But planning out a day’s spells is still orders of magnitude simpler than planning out when and how you’ll make each of the items that take many weeks to complete you’ll be working on.

And even at the absolute edge of optimization, the wizard is still definitely competitive with the artificer. The advantages of the artificer only might put it ahead, maybe. Assuming you do everything right. Both classes are astonishingly capable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not 100% sure this answer to a question that needs to go on hold was the right approach, and would delete the answer if it’s deemed to be clutter on a question that needs to be clarified. But I honestly cannot imagine any definition for that final bullet point that would change my answer. Whatever merits the artificer may or may not have under certain rules or expectations, it’s still damnably unpleasant to try to play. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 20, 2015 at 20:41

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