I'm working on a homebrew tabletop RPG, based off of D&D since that's what I'm familiar with, and I am having trouble seeing the difference between an Enchanter and an Artificer. So here's my question: Across the various versions of D&D out there, what is the difference between an Artificer and an Enchanter?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Still seems too broad to me. Enchanter has a moderately consistent meaning through most editions it exists in, but artificer is pretty spotty. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Oct 21 '16 at 18:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I mean, artificers are at least consistently item-centric/themed, and this seems like a misunderstanding of the term enchanter as referring to someone who enchants items, which explains the confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 21 '16 at 18:52

The first use of “enchanter” as a primary character option in D&D came in The Complete Wizard’s Handbook (TSR, 1990) for 2e AD&D. That included the wizard kit, introduced the notion of spell schools as having mechanical significance, and included a school of “Enchantment/Charm” that covered both mind-affecting spells (charm spells) and object-enhancing spells (enchantments). Enchanters were the mages who focused on this school.

Player’s Option: Spells & Magic (TSR, 1996), also for 2e AD&D, created a new specialty for “artificers” that consisted solely of the effects from the Enchantment/Charm school that affected non-living objects. This was still a specialization of the wizard kit. At this point, enchanters and artificers were quite related: there was heavy overlap between the artificer spells and the enchantment side of the enchanter’s spells. The distinction was that the artificer was entirely specialized on these effects, while the enchanter also devoted half his emphasis to effects that were very much about living creatures rather than items.

With Player’s Handbook (WotC, 2000) for 3e, “Enchantment” came to replace “Enchantment/Charm” and focused solely on mind-affecting magic (which was originally the province of the Charm half of Enchantment/Charm). Temporarily enhancing magic items through spells was done mostly through the school of Transmutation, and Enchantment had basically nothing to do with it. Magic items were consistently said to be enhanced rather than enchanted, since enchantment referred to charms and compulsions. An enchanter is a type of specialist wizard, focusing on these spells.

And then when Eberron Campaign Setting (WotC, 2004) for 3.5e came out, we got the artificer class, this time wholly independent of wizards. The artificer class had unique and powerful talent when it came to the crafting of magic items, and their magic came in “infusions” rather than “spells”—and the primary difference between the two is that an infusion can only be cast on an item, and cannot affect creatures at all (except for constructs).

In both 4e1 and 5e, the 3(.5)e definitions of these terms persisted: the enchanter was someone who focused on mind-affecting magic, and the artificer was a master of magical items.

  1. This is despite the fact that 4e made the confusing choice to name the magic effects of magic items “enchantments” and the ritual that created magic items “Enchant Magic Item;” aside from those, though, it continued to use enchanter to refer to someone focusing on mind-affecting magic and artificer was again an Eberron class focusing on magic items.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I had no idea that the AD&D definition of enchanter was so different; fun question to answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 21 '16 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ "In both 4e and 5e, the 3(.5)e definitions of these terms persisted..." 4e took the slightly confusing turn of also switching to calling magic item enhancements "enchantments" instead (see: Enchant Magic Item ritual), despite otherwise sticking to the 3e definitions of terms. \$\endgroup\$ – Michaellogg Oct 21 '16 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Ah, yeah. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 21 '16 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Every AD&D level 7 magic-user has the level title enchanter. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 21 '16 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan That’s why I specified the as a primary character option bit. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 21 '16 at 21:21

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