Well, I certainly put my foot into it. Last time I wrote here, I (sarcastically) pointed out a distinct lack of Artificer/Barbarian multiclass characters. Immediately upon finishing writing that, the first thought that entered my mind upon logging into DDO was, “Let’s give that a shot.”
It’s fun, to say the least, though I do have some interesting observations (possibly as to why this mix isn’t overly popular)
1) An artifer’s infusions are treated as spells in the game. Therefore, you can’t cast them while raging.
2) You can’t set the runearm to automatically charge while raging. Instead, you have to keep triggering the bound key (I use the default Alt personally), but it will keep charge if you had been charging it before going into a rage.
3) The Battle Engineer tree has useful enhancements, if you are willing to use a hand-and-a-half weapon with a runearm. The other tree isn’t near as helpful.
4) Choice of runearm matters greatly. Thought Spike is great for attracting enemies at a distance, but Flame Warden is better for actually being in melee. I also have Chulchannad’s Claw, though I haven’t tested it yet. I much prefer the Flame Warden over the Thought Spike, though the force damage is nice.
Honestly, I’m not familiar enough with the Barbarian trees to be a good judge of which ones are more idea than others. I’m using Frenzied Berserker thus far, though Occult Slayer seems more defensive, a trait this build could use in spades. For this kind of build, I diverged from my normal choice of Warforged for race and went with Dwarf. Why?
Dwarven Axe. A hand-and-a-half weapon that benefits from the artificer enhancements and, thanks to Barbarian weapon proficiency and a racial trait, is a martial weapon. Therefore, I don’t have to burn a feat on weapon choice this way! Currently, Ferraus is just about level 6 (What can I say, I level characters slowly.), and a regular riot to play. I’ve been slating exclusively artificer buff spells, stuff like Elemental Weapons or Ablative Armor (a spell that will be replaced once I have a better armor buff. Enchant Armor just feels weak to me, but it lasts longer than Ablative to be sure. I’m a sucker for damage reduction though.) The advantage of this spell selection is that none of it is stuff that is generally cast in the middle of a fight, allowing me to just rage and run at this point.
There is the obvious question: Why no levels of Bard? The Swashbuckler tree would make for ridiculous boosts (and fun), and I would have access to more buff spells that way. It boils down to two main reasons. First, the stats were tight enough for a first-life character (even with 32 point build) that pulling a few points to Charisma (a dwarf’s favorite stat, right? Anyone?) would hurt elsewhere. Second, I wanted Ferraus to be functional as a barbarian and as an artificer, and taking levels of bard would hurt (or at least hinder) that goal in my mind.
Here’s my challenge to whomever is reading this: Try some variant of a Barbarian/Artificer. The only rule I have for this is that the past life would have to be one of those two classes. Go nuts, folks! With any luck, I might come across a LFM full of Barbificers. (Barbifier? Artbarian? I dunno, someone will come up with some sort of clever name for this concept). Also, let me know if you have other “bad/strange/gimpy/insane build” ideas that are begging to be tested, even Swimcleric levels of strange. I’d love to give about anything a shot.