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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Shadow Lodge

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Here comes the BOOM!

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Whether you like it or not!


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(obligatory "but [X] got pushed out to level [Y]!" outrage)


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Not a big fan of the alchemist(in general, not this one in particular), but what's this about the oracle being in a later preview? Are Oracles going to be an archetype of another class? Sorcerer? Cleric?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sounds interesting. Hopefully it won't be quite as problematic as the older Alchemist class. (And I am curious about the Oracle, which to me would have been a logical choice for a Core class, being the Divine version of the Sorcerer.)


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In PF1, playing a melee Alchemist was well-supported with mutagen available at level 1 and archetypes such as the Vivisectionist and Beastmorph that gave you more melee punch. Will this playstyle continue to be an option in PF2 or is the assumption that all Alchemists do their damage through splash weapons?


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Looks interesting, and I was never a big fan of 1e alchemists.
Still have huge reservations about resonance - powering class abilities as well as magic items does nothing to alleviate those concerns.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Interesting...I wonder how separable the mutagen and bomb aspects will be.

Also intrigued to see the tie into the resonance system here. Can’t wait to see how it all fits together!


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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.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
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.

I noticed that as well, hopefully I am wrong, but I kind of feel like classes are a lot weaker at lower levels, but more tanky. They kind of did this in Starfinder, and it made me feel like combat was a slog.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hrm. Hope I get ways to ditch Mutagen.

Interesting to see what's happened with Bombs... but I kinda like it. It makes the Alchemical Items something an actual alchemist will friggin' use...


Can someone link to a description of resonance? I've heard it mentioned several times now but to the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been discussed in one of these blogs.

Thanks in advance.


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Redblade8 wrote:
(obligatory "but [X] got pushed out to level [Y]!" outrage)

Ack I am kinda iffy about Mutagen being pushed back to level 5. I'd have to see the numbers around it but unless you've been building for it from the word go, I don't think Mutagen will see as much use.

How good or bad this is, well that's up to the reader.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Redblade8 wrote:

Can someone link to a description of resonance? I've heard it mentioned several times now but to the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been discussed in one of these blogs.

Thanks in advance.

IIRC you get an amount of res equal to cha mod + Lvl or Half level, can't remember. When you equip or use magic items you use res, and when you are out you need to roll to see if magic items work.


Im not crazy about the splash out your friends ability. Seems a little hard to understand that narrative. Though if tossing bombs is what the class does, I suppose it needs to be able to not kill its own allies.


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Quote:
the 18th-level Improbable Elixirs feat enables him to craft elixirs with the effects of magical potions.

Is this hinting that potions can be much stronger in PF2? In PF1 they were capped at 3rd-level spells, but I imagine if you're getting this ability at 18th-level then that isn't the case anymore!


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So they got rid of all the Alchemist's Caster niftiness, made bombs just normal alchemical items (and weaker), made the PF1E normal features (Bombs gets Int mod to damage) into a Feat, moved precise bombs to 6th level (not that it matters much, if Splash is now a measly 1 damage) and mutagen is no longer level 1.

Oh, but you can make stuff that works like potions....at 18th level. And spend Resonance to get Alchemical Items on the fly.

Yay?

Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

Overall not very happy.


Planpanther wrote:
Im not crazy about the splash out your friends ability. Seems a little hard to understand that narrative. Though if tossing bombs is what the class does, I suppose it needs to be able to not kill its own allies.

It's kinda a feat tax. Though it's also pretty dependent on your adventure and party make up. Still better take it than not most the time.

Liberty's Edge

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Delicious mutagen. Glad to see it's not lost.

Having bombs be the actual alchemical items is interesting, will be nice to see if all those mundane alchemical items will actually scale in value.


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TheFinish wrote:

So they got rid of all the Alchemist's Caster niftiness, made bombs just normal alchemical items (and weaker), made the PF1E normal features (Bombs gets Int mod to damage) into a Feat, moved precise bombs to 6th level (not that it matters much, if Splash is now a measly 1 damage) and mutagen is no longer level 1.

Oh, but you can make stuff that works like potions....at 18th level. And spend Resonance to get Alchemical Items on the fly.

Yay?

Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

Overall not very happy.

Don't be too concerned over the numbers being smaller, alchemist bombs hit touch which means under the new system you're going to get a lot of crits.


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If Alchemical Crafter, as a feat, gives non-Alchemists four alchemical item formulas, does that mean that anyone can effectively pick up formulas? Are formulas still pseudo-spells?


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Redblade8 wrote:

Can someone link to a description of resonance? I've heard it mentioned several times now but to the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been discussed in one of these blogs.

Thanks in advance.

Second post edit 4


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Chock this one up for another strictly 'whelming preview.

Bunch of old stuff reshuffled and repackaged, some fairly mundane looking class feats (lot of basic + numbers on parade), and something that I'm sure would be cool if we knew something else (the stealth mutagen).

There's a few tidbits in there like alch items now being bombs (thunderstones are now sonic damage I guess) and stacking bomb riders is now seemingly placed in a single class feat rather than needing half your discoveries to golf bag them which is more elegant in practice I suppose. Also mutagen is level 5 to the assembled groans of despair for all the alchemist 1/martial x builds. The sad violin plays something fierce for them. Oh and you can do poison which hopefully won't be pointless this time around.


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I was kinda hoping I could skip the mutagen entirely, but I guess there are always archetypes.


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Man maybe i just lost something, but the overall numbers seems to be toned down.

From 1 point of damage to INT mod... either way not much heh.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
TheFinish wrote:

So they got rid of all the Alchemist's Caster niftiness, made bombs just normal alchemical items (and weaker), made the PF1E normal features (Bombs gets Int mod to damage) into a Feat, moved precise bombs to 6th level (not that it matters much, if Splash is now a measly 1 damage) and mutagen is no longer level 1.

Oh, but you can make stuff that works like potions....at 18th level. And spend Resonance to get Alchemical Items on the fly.

Yay?

Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

Overall not very happy.

Don't be too concerned over the numbers being smaller, alchemist bombs hit touch which means under the new system you're going to get a lot of crits.

Unless they changed the rules on Splash weapons which if they did, no one would probably touch them.

Also if Alchemist Bombs are closer to normal alchemical items... do they have a a bloody cost to make now? If so, ouch.


Redblade8 wrote:

Can someone link to a description of resonance? I've heard it mentioned several times now but to the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been discussed in one of these blogs.

Thanks in advance.

Mentioned in Glass Cannon (forget which). Basically, a pool of points (Cha+Level) that's used to power certain magic items. If you run out, you can still use items, but have to roll d20 against an increasing DC where, if you fail, the item has no effect.


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TheFinish wrote:


Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

I think overall, we have seen that classes are getting their powers stretched out significantly, so I am guessing we will continue to see stuff like this across every class. This will make multi-classing for power grabbing much more difficult, at the very least.

Overall, this Alchemist seems very inline with what I think we were expecting to see.

My big question is what do Alchemists do as a reaction?

I was under the impression that each class might have something special, but I am having a hard time parsing it out of this description.
I was hoping it would be something along the lines of use or ready an alchemical item. I am definitely intrigued to see how the effectiveness of alchemical items has been addressed to be a factor over 20 levels.


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Does resonance even apply to alchemical items? I could see it being a *magic* resource not a *science* resource, so the alchemist dodges it entirely (save for the magic items the alchemist wants to use).


MerlinCross wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
TheFinish wrote:

So they got rid of all the Alchemist's Caster niftiness, made bombs just normal alchemical items (and weaker), made the PF1E normal features (Bombs gets Int mod to damage) into a Feat, moved precise bombs to 6th level (not that it matters much, if Splash is now a measly 1 damage) and mutagen is no longer level 1.

Oh, but you can make stuff that works like potions....at 18th level. And spend Resonance to get Alchemical Items on the fly.

Yay?

Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

Overall not very happy.

Don't be too concerned over the numbers being smaller, alchemist bombs hit touch which means under the new system you're going to get a lot of crits.

Unless they changed the rules on Splash weapons which if they did, no one would probably touch them.

Also if Alchemist Bombs are closer to normal alchemical items... do they have a a bloody cost to make now? If so, ouch.

Alchemist makes temporary stuff for free, up to a daily limit. I think this just means Alchemists can also spend money to make extra bombs for emergencies?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Does resonance even apply to alchemical items? I could see it being a *magic* resource not a *science* resource, so the alchemist dodges it entirely (save for the magic items the alchemist wants to use).

From the first post (the blog post)

Quote:
he can also spend resonance to create alchemical objects on the fly, though such hasty concoctions are potent for only a short period.


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Ugh, I was hoping they would leave in dipping for versatility and avoid dipping for power. Seems instead they plan to punched MC in the nuts.


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Looking at this, it's obvious that a lot of details are being kept hidden.

Still, based on what we've seen in other previews, what I've garnered from podcast summaries and the like... I suspect that alchemical items probably have a higher base damage and the like than we're used to, and that there might be higher level alchemical items too. We'll have to see, though.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Does resonance even apply to alchemical items? I could see it being a *magic* resource not a *science* resource, so the alchemist dodges it entirely (save for the magic items the alchemist wants to use).

Mamalou's explicitly did on Glass Cannon (except where he himself was the target)

Contributor

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This looks cool. Without knowing the rules behind either of them, it would be nice if you could decide whether you wanted enhanced bombs or mutagen at 2nd-level while the other choice turned into a 4th- / 6th-level alchemist feat.

By the time PF1 ended, the alchemist had great ability to either diversify in one kind of alchemy (infusions / bombs / mutagens) or branch out into other kinds, and this preview doesn't have that feel to it. (Also, it would be nice if you could play an alchemist who wasn't a bomb-flinging, body-warping sociopath; the alchemist has this problem where 90% of alchemists you see are the same character with superficial differences.)


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QuidEst wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
TheFinish wrote:

So they got rid of all the Alchemist's Caster niftiness, made bombs just normal alchemical items (and weaker), made the PF1E normal features (Bombs gets Int mod to damage) into a Feat, moved precise bombs to 6th level (not that it matters much, if Splash is now a measly 1 damage) and mutagen is no longer level 1.

Oh, but you can make stuff that works like potions....at 18th level. And spend Resonance to get Alchemical Items on the fly.

Yay?

Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

Overall not very happy.

Don't be too concerned over the numbers being smaller, alchemist bombs hit touch which means under the new system you're going to get a lot of crits.

Unless they changed the rules on Splash weapons which if they did, no one would probably touch them.

Also if Alchemist Bombs are closer to normal alchemical items... do they have a a bloody cost to make now? If so, ouch.

Alchemist makes temporary stuff for free, up to a daily limit. I think this just means Alchemists can also spend money to make extra bombs for emergencies?

We'll have to wait and see what that daily limit is then. Unless it's the formula numbers(Which would be 8 for alchemist) in which case, holy zen that's a bad idea unless it scales later. 8 uses over all your stuff seems pretty restricting to me.

I'd much rather have the normal alchemical items scale better than have bombs be possibly nerfed.


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Planpanther wrote:
Ugh, I was hoping they would leave in dipping for versatility and avoid dipping for power. Seems instead they plan to punched MC in the nuts.

Level dip for 8 formulas could be pretty useful. It'll stop the Barbarian/Alchemist Rage+Mutation builds that were supposed to be game breaking.

Not that I saw one but meh.


I hope they simplify damage multiples in this version... Sounds like you get a damage multiple from feats for your "bombs", and then they can critical... Be good to know how these things stack in a way that doesn't require you to describe it as "add up all your critical *multipliers* then subtract the total number of multiplier and add one".


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MerlinCross wrote:
Planpanther wrote:
Ugh, I was hoping they would leave in dipping for versatility and avoid dipping for power. Seems instead they plan to punched MC in the nuts.

Level dip for 8 formulas could be pretty useful. It'll stop the Barbarian/Alchemist Rage+Mutation builds that were supposed to be game breaking.

Not that I saw one but meh.

I recently played in a living campaign, and Bloodrager X/Alchemist 1 was very common. Or Alchemist 1/Bloodrager 1/Fighter x. Long Arm + Mutagen + Rage with a greataxe was really annoying to deal with at lower levels.


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Unicore wrote:
TheFinish wrote:


Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

I think overall, we have seen that classes are getting their powers stretched out significantly, so I am guessing we will continue to see stuff like this across every class. This will make multi-classing for power grabbing much more difficult, at the very least.

Overall, this Alchemist seems very inline with what I think we were expecting to see.

My big question is what do Alchemists do as a reaction?

I was under the impression that each class might have something special, but I am having a hard time parsing it out of this description.
I was hoping it would be something along the lines of use or ready an alchemical item. I am definitely intrigued to see how the effectiveness of alchemical items has been addressed to be a factor over 20 levels.

Sure, but it also means the lower levels are even less fun to play than they are now, with the game drip feeding you stuff super slowly compared to PF1.

I also dislike Bombs being Alchemical Items because it does away with your versatility. No longer can I use the same pool for different damage types and effects. Now I need to prepare alchemist fire (Fire), Vials of Acid (Acid), Liquid Ice (Cold), Thunderstones (Sonic? At least I assume). Oh and if I want to entangle people I better make Tanglefoot Bags (will they have damage now too?).

And they got rid of Extracts, which were one of my favorite parts of the class. So, to me, this is a horrible downgrade.


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Was hoping Precise Bombs would be an automatic thing for alchemists.


Ehh, there nothing I really, really hate here. Or love. Alchemy seems like it's going to be pretty tightly regulated. Are you going to need a not-spell book to craft the items? Is a times six multiplier on a single class a kind of soft cap on what kind of damage those items can do?
I'm guessing Mutagen is going to get thrown around a lot by archetypes, and potions better be pretty damn good if the option of making magic drinks is only available to the people that mix freaky substances in magic land near the end of a campaign. And resonance...

Reliance on gold and downtime was something I was a bit worried about, but whatever. If the other DMs at my table keep skimping on them, and if we actually switch over to PF2, they'll just have to suck it up, because It's Sister Jenny's Turn to Throw the Bomb!

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

All this alchemist stuff is cool, but I'll admit that I'm more excited about the oracle hint in the blog!


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Please give the alchemist something like an elixir of youth - reduces age by 10 years when consumed by a sentient creature. It would be a first class that could avert ageing effects not only for himself but also for other party members.


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John Ryan 783 wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Planpanther wrote:
Ugh, I was hoping they would leave in dipping for versatility and avoid dipping for power. Seems instead they plan to punched MC in the nuts.

Level dip for 8 formulas could be pretty useful. It'll stop the Barbarian/Alchemist Rage+Mutation builds that were supposed to be game breaking.

Not that I saw one but meh.

I recently played in a living campaign, and Bloodrager X/Alchemist 1 was very common. Or Alchemist 1/Bloodrager 1/Fighter x. Long Arm + Mutagen + Rage with a greataxe was really annoying to deal with at lower levels.

Repeated fights seem to be a good way of dealing with that. The combo works but it seems to be a very Nova option.

On topic, I feel the move to level 5 while makes it easier to balance Multiclassing could leave the alchemist itself out on a limb when it comes to actually using their own class feature. That's kinda late to come online. I'd feel better if it was moved back to maybe level 3.


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TheFinish wrote:
Unicore wrote:
TheFinish wrote:


Also the original alchemist's bombs scaled so that a 19th level alchemist had bombs ten times as powerful as a 1st level alchemist, so I don't really see how six times is an improvement there.

I think overall, we have seen that classes are getting their powers stretched out significantly, so I am guessing we will continue to see stuff like this across every class. This will make multi-classing for power grabbing much more difficult, at the very least.

Overall, this Alchemist seems very inline with what I think we were expecting to see.

My big question is what do Alchemists do as a reaction?

I was under the impression that each class might have something special, but I am having a hard time parsing it out of this description.
I was hoping it would be something along the lines of use or ready an alchemical item. I am definitely intrigued to see how the effectiveness of alchemical items has been addressed to be a factor over 20 levels.

Sure, but it also means the lower levels are even less fun to play than they are now, with the game drip feeding you stuff super slowly compared to PF1.

I also dislike Bombs being Alchemical Items because it does away with your versatility. No longer can I use the same pool for different damage types and effects. Now I need to prepare alchemist fire (Fire), Vials of Acid (Acid), Liquid Ice (Cold), Thunderstones (Sonic? At least I assume). Oh and if I want to entangle people I better make Tanglefoot Bags (will they have damage now too?).

And they got rid of Extracts, which were one of my favorite parts of the class. So, to me, this is a horrible downgrade.

Having to prepare the alchemical items is actually a bug fix for me. Though, I do share the low level power down fear. Im guessing we are missing too many pieces yet still to make any sound observations.


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Wild Spirit wrote:
Please give the alchemist something like an elixir of youth - reduces age by 10 years when consumed by a sentient creature. It would be a first class that could avert ageing effects not only for himself but also for other party members.

First off, I think at least in PF1, we get something like that as a level 20 cap.

Second of all..., err how often does aging effects come up in game short of special effect or spell that can be reversed a few ways already?


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Alexander Augunas wrote:
Also, it would be nice if you could play an alchemist who wasn't a bomb-flinging, body-warping sociopath;

Did you even read the blog? You can also be an acid-flinging sociopath.

But seriously, I do agree with you - I'd love to be able to play a "gentleman alchemist" who was less focused on damage and more focused on support/control effects (stuff similar to Grease, Fog Cloud, Web, etc.)


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Very cool!.. and such a handsome fella!


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So, I was trying to figure out why I was a tad disappointed with this blog, and the rogue one.

I think it's cause they already were set up for 2e really. They already had talents/discoveries. That and this one in particular feels very dry. Not a lot of new info.

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