Alchemist Class Preview

Monday, April 9, 2018

Just read any messageboards or comment threads, and you'll realize this truth about people: some of them love to throw bombs and blow things up. It's a visceral thrill. Lobbing bombs is dramatic and fun, and every so often all of us love to watch something burn. If you enjoy this activity more than most, do we have a class for you!

So far we've previewed the fighter and the rogue. You might have thought we'd showcase one of the original spellcasting classes next, but that involves talking a bit more about spellcasting, so instead, we decided to unleash the secrets of the alchemist in our newest preview of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook.

In the early days of Pathfinder First Edition, the alchemist saw release in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide. Since then, the alchemist has proven to be very popular. Unsurprisingly, when we surveyed the player base about what classes see the most play, the alchemist rose right to the top (along with the oracle, but more on that in a later preview). That alone would have promoted the class into the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, but tackling the alchemist early on during the design process was beneficial for another reason: it allowed us to take a hard look at alchemical item design with the alchemist in mind rather than as a later add-on.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Alchemist Features

While anyone trained in Crafting can take the Alchemical Crafter skill feat and craft their own alchemical items, the alchemist is much better at this crafting discipline. At 1st level, he gains Alchemical Crafter and a formula book for free, along with four bonus alchemical item formulas (for a total of eight, including the four from Alchemical Crafter). Each time he levels up, he gains two more formulas. This is on top of ones he either discovers or invents. Not only does he gain more access to alchemical tricks, by way of advanced alchemy and the quick alchemy action, but he can also spend resonance to create alchemical objects on the fly, though such hasty concoctions are potent for only a short period.

Crafting is all well and good, but what about bombing potential? The alchemist's bombs are now the basic alchemical items you are familiar with: things like alchemist fire, thunderstones, acid flasks and so on. He crafts these items and lobs them. At 3rd level, he gains the empower bomb feature, which allows him to multiply the damage of the bombs he creates. This multiplier increases with level until it reaches six times the alchemical bomb's base damage at 19th level.

But that's only the start—at 5th level the alchemist learns the secrets of mutagens, and as he progresses his ability to craft alchemical items on the fly becomes both greater and faster.

Alchemist Feats

Tying these features together is the selection of alchemist class feats. As with other class feats, they allow the alchemist to either focus or diversify his features and talents. In the case of the alchemist, class feats come in a few broad categories. If the alchemist wants to make the most of his crafting, he might choose Efficient Alchemy or Enduring Alchemy at 4th level. The former allows him to craft larger batches of alchemical items during downtime, while the latter extends the amount of time he can use alchemical items that he creates with the Quick Alchemy action. When he reaches 6th level, Powerful Alchemy allows him to increase the DCs of his alchemical effects, while the 18th-level Improbable Elixirs feat enables him to craft elixirs with the effects of magical potions.

Making stuff is great, but destruction is much more fun. Most alchemical bombs are splash weapons, which means that when the alchemist hits an enemy, those nearby take a bit of damage. At 4th level, an alchemist with the Calculated Splash feat can deal splash damage equal to his Intelligence modifier instead of the normal 1 splash damage. At 6th level, the alchemist can take the Precise Bomb feat, allowing him to hit everyone but his allies with the splash damage. Taking both feats increases the hurt he puts on enemies while saving his allies the pain. Of course, there are also plenty of feats that affect the primary target of a bomb. Debilitating Bomb at 6th level and its greater counterparts at 10th and 14th levels allow the alchemist to apply different types of conditions to the primary target of his bombs.

After an alchemist gains the mutagen crafting feature, he can take feats that modify how those powerful elixirs interact with his internal chemistry. For instance, the 8th-level Feral Mutagen feat boosts the alchemist's Intimidate checks and morphs his teeth into frightful jaws and his hands into rending claws. Other such modifications are subtler. The 10th-level Stalker Mutagen feat grants the alchemist Stealth as a signature skill and allows him to move up to his Speed when he sneaks. While all mutagens grant some bonuses and drawbacks, the Perfect Mutagen feat at 18th level allows the alchemist to ignore the drawbacks when under the effect of a mutagen he crafted.

All of this is only a small sample of what the class has to offer. The alchemist is also a master of poisons (which he can craft for free each day just like other alchemical items), has easy access to a number of skills, and can act as the party's trap disabler or healer if necessary. The diversity in the class allows you to pick and choose exactly how you want to manifest your particular brand of alchemical discoveries.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Senior Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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graystone wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Technically, the Alkhest bombs should be doing Acid damage. They Errata'd it.
Technically they never errata'd it so it still does force. We got a comment from James Jacobs but as far as I know it was never made official.

Well I tend to use the SRD as reference, and it's listed as Acid there so who knows.

If it's still force, hmm tad miffed. I was going to play a Cryptbreaker Tiefling to make up for the lower damage on anything else but the game is Iron Gods. That would have been nice.

Instead grabbed Tinkerer as it fits the RP idea I have for her. I like the idea of an actual Assistance that isn't a formless blob of flesh so seeing something about a custom golem familiar from that other link sounds cool.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The alchemist's bomb was never a gunpowder magic bomb, it was always just a variant alchemist fire of sorts, not something with a lot of explosive force. Now, all flingable alchemical items are categorized as bombs, give alchemist element variety and unique effects without need 5 feats just so you can do cold, acid, sonic or force damage. Alchemist fire is a bomb, thunderstones are a bomb, liquid ice, etc.


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MusicAddict wrote:
The alchemist's bomb was never a gunpowder magic bomb, it was always just a variant alchemist fire of sorts, not something with a lot of explosive force. Now, all flingable alchemical items are categorized as bombs, give alchemist element variety and unique effects without need 5 feats just so you can do cold, acid, sonic or force damage. Alchemist fire is a bomb, thunderstones are a bomb, liquid ice, etc.

If Numeria is still a thing and we get access to better tech, are Grenades bombs or too advanced to be used?

What about Pellet bombs that already exists in the game, though if they get ported or not remains to be seen. Same with the Fireworks, tangle burn back, hey what do we do with Holy Water?

I'd rather do the reverse; putting items into the bomb does X than Tossable item is a Bomb. I mean we have that one item that boosts the fire damage of a bomb, why can't we just make more?


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MerlinCross wrote:
I tend to use the SRD as reference, and it's listed as Acid there so who knows.

If you're talking d20srd, then it lists the reason for the change at the bottom of the page and the link it gives goes to the unofficial post from James.

D20srd wrote:

"*Unofficial Errata

“Alkahest bombs should do acid damage to all targets, just more against constructs and corporeal undead.”
link


graystone wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
I tend to use the SRD as reference, and it's listed as Acid there so who knows.

If you're talking d20srd, then it lists the reason for the change at the bottom of the page and the link it gives goes to the unofficial post from James.

D20srd wrote:

"*Unofficial Errata

“Alkahest bombs should do acid damage to all targets, just more against constructs and corporeal undead.”
link

Thank you for the link. While James Jacobs states that the force damage was left in from a previous iteration of the Archetype (mostly because the lower damage kept it from being game breaking)

The different damage types might not make sense from a "real world" point of view, but neither do dead bodies or assemblies of wood, stone or other materials that walk around and perform tasks (fighting, lifting etc.) as if they were programmable robots. The answer to both example is "But it's magic". Not that I'm arguing that at it's core that the explanation as to why the PF1 Alchemists various abilities are magic doesn't need a better definition, it does, but I still like the class (and it's Archetypes) as it is.

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Cyouni wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
- At the VERY SAME TIME, I LOVE the root idea of alchemists being able to uniquely alter and improve alchemical items as a class feature. I'd love to see the alchemist be able to not just enhance bombs (if they must exist), but other items as well--alchemist's fire, thunderstones, tanglefoot bags, etc. etc. I'd love to give them a very MacGuyvery angle where they can pick something up that is just a little bit of something nifty in an ordinary hands, but they use their reagents and expertise and personal stink to make it especially amazing. Increase damage effects, increase duration, add extra features, etc.
I'm not sure if you missed it, but that's literally what 2e alchemist bombs are.

Maybe it was all the talk of booms at the beginning, but I took that phrase originally to mean that bombs were going to be additional objects LIKE alchemist's fire.

If we are now just calling splash weapons "bombs," and there are otherwise no actual bombs, then that's cool, if confusing. The rest of my original statement applies: I hope the alchemist's ability to enhance alchemical items extends to non weapons as well.

Liberty's Edge

DeathQuaker wrote:

Maybe it was all the talk of booms at the beginning, but I took that phrase originally to mean that bombs were going to be additional objects LIKE alchemist's fire.

If we are now just calling splash weapons "bombs," and there are otherwise no actual bombs, then that's cool, if confusing.

This is what's happening. Yeah. And I doubt the playtest rules mention bombs at all, the blog is just trying to clarify to people that alchemists can still do the 'bomber' thing.

DeathQuaker wrote:
The rest of my original statement applies: I hope the alchemist's ability to enhance alchemical items extends to non weapons as well.

I think this depends on what you mean by 'enhance'.


So are there any options for people who don't like or want to use Mutagens?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BruddaJokka wrote:
So are there any options for people who don't like or want to use Mutagens?

It sounds like you can hand them to party members instead, so you don't have to go that route yourself.


BruddaJokka wrote:
So are there any options for people who don't like or want to use Mutagens?

I have to imagine that since there are people who like bombs but not mutagens, and people who like mutagens (but not bombs) then there should probably be archetype support for these folks. Like, the Vivisectionist was one of the more popular alchemist archetypes.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
BruddaJokka wrote:
So are there any options for people who don't like or want to use Mutagens?
I have to imagine that since there are people who like bombs but not mutagens, and people who like mutagens (but not bombs) then there should probably be archetype support for these folks. Like, the Vivisectionist was one of the more popular alchemist archetypes.

Or you know. The numbers one can pump out with it.

Column A, Column B with some cross over. Point I'm reaching for is if they make Archtypes that remove Bombs or Mutagen, hope the numbers that replace it are just right.


Kalan wrote:

Thank you for the link. While James Jacobs states that the force damage was left in from a previous iteration of the Archetype (mostly because the lower damage kept it from being game breaking)

The different damage types might not make sense from a "real world" point of view, but neither do dead bodies or assemblies of wood, stone or other materials that walk around and perform tasks (fighting, lifting etc.) as if they were programmable robots. The answer to both example is "But it's magic". Not that I'm arguing that at it's core that the explanation as to why the PF1 Alchemists various abilities are magic doesn't need a better definition, it does, but I still like the class (and it's Archetypes) as it is.

PFS have made the change sort of offical by including it in the campaign clarifications


Remy P Gilbeau wrote:
The class seems much more spread out, rather than front loaded like it was in 1e. Then again, all the classes shown so far seem a bit more stretched along their length, rather than everything jammed into the first few levels and then upgrading numbers from there as you level.

Yes the classes seem more spread out in advancement, to me a good thing. New things are more exciting than just extension of the same thing I have.


Andy Brown wrote:
Kalan wrote:

Thank you for the link. While James Jacobs states that the force damage was left in from a previous iteration of the Archetype (mostly because the lower damage kept it from being game breaking)

The different damage types might not make sense from a "real world" point of view, but neither do dead bodies or assemblies of wood, stone or other materials that walk around and perform tasks (fighting, lifting etc.) as if they were programmable robots. The answer to both example is "But it's magic". Not that I'm arguing that at it's core that the explanation as to why the PF1 Alchemists various abilities are magic doesn't need a better definition, it does, but I still like the class (and it's Archetypes) as it is.

PFS have made the change sort of offical by including it in the campaign clarifications

Ah well at least the way it's worded I'll still do 1d4 for every odd level +int modifier to incorporeal creatures, slightly better than half. That just means I'll still have to take the force bomb feat for those creatures Resistant/immune to acid. sigh :p ;)


I really hope that a more mindchemist style is fully accounted for in the base rules. Especially with the flavor changes. A more science-y based class rather than magic seems to fit with enhancing their own mental abilities even more than the mindchemist archetype. I feel like the strong mutagen focus and flavor of the PF1 alchemist pigeon holes them into the Jekyll and Hyde stereotype too much and I hope that PF2 does not repeat that.

I think my ideal would be for the PF2 mutagen to combine the PF1 mutagen and cognatogen. Simply pick which usage is best for your character. If combining the two is too powerful, then make both mutagen and cognatogen class feats where the 5th level ability grants one of them as a bonus class feat.

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