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RAW / RAI Question: Alchemist's Lab vs. Masterwork Artisan's Tools


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

Sczarni ***

I have an interesting dilemma, it seems. A player of mine is asking whether or not his Alchemist character can purchase Masterwork Artisan's Tools in order to receive a +2 circumstance bonus to Craft (alchemy) checks.

This should be an easy question, except that I'm a Pathfinder Society GM and this is a Pathfinder Society Organized Play character. I say that it should be an easy question, because were I to follow my gut, I'd have to say no.

The Breakdown:
How could I say no to this request? The RAW has a lot of things to say about crafting tools, and none of them specifically limits Masterwork Artisan's Tools from being used for Craft (alchemy) checks.

In the description of the Craft skill, under Special, it specifically states, "To make an item using Craft (alchemy), you must have alchemical equipment." It then goes on to say, "If you are working in a city, you can buy what you need as part of the raw materials cost to make the item, but alchemical equipment is difficult or impossible to come by in some places. Purchasing and maintaining an alchemist's lab grants a +2 circumstance bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks because you have the perfect tools for the job..." This is a little ambiguous. However, an Alchemist's Lab will not assist my player's character in the field any more than it would help any other character using Craft (alchemy) in the field. Less so because PFS Alchemists can only use Craft (alchemy) in the field for identifying potions. The lab won't help identify potions, either, since the class feature involved, Alchemy (Su), doesn't even require unstoppering the potion.

Continuing to the item descriptions, a Masterwork Tool—or Masterwork Artisan's Tools—grants +2 to any related skill check (does not stack with other tools). Masterwork Artisan's Tools serve the purpose of Artisan's Tools ("These special tools include the items needed to pursue any craft."), excepting that they provide a +2 circumstance bonus in addition to negating a -2 penalty for using improvised tools.

However... the line just above Masterwork Artisan's Tools, in the Alchemist's Lab entry specifically states, "Without this lab, a character with the Craft (alchemy) skill is assumed to have enough tools to use the skill but not enough to get the +2 bonus that the lab provides." This, to me, means that a lab provides stuff that's just too difficult to carry around (i.e. bunsen burner, tons of glass pipettes, graduated cylinders, stable work surface).

Craft (anything) has a -2 penalty to all rolls for those who do not have Artisan's Tools... with the strict exception of Craft (alchemy), which does not provide a penalty without the tools, as mentioned above. So Artisan's Tools would be completely unnecessary, but Masterwork Artisan's Tools (alchemy) on the other hand would confer a circumstance bonus of +2 (where applicable) to Craft (alchemy) checks. Note that I have defined them with the (alchemy) descriptor because if bought for this purpose they can't be used them for other purpose.

Where it Gets Sticky:
Because of this +2 circumstance bonus and the fact that they don't stack with the bonus conferred by an Alchemist's Lab, the use of the Masterwork Artisan's Tools in the lab's place would obsolete the use of an Alchemist's Lab of any kind—portable or otherwise.

To sum up:

Question: Can a character purchase Masterwork Artisan's Tools (or Masterwork Tool) to confer a +2 circumstance bonus to Craft (alchemy) checks?

Rules as Written: Yes. If you purchase Masterwork Artisan's Tools or Masterwork Tool, the tools must be used only for this purpose and the bonus does not stack with any other bonus conferred by tools designed for this purpose, including Alchemist's Lab and Portable Alchemist's Lab .

Rules as Intended (to my reading): No, because there is a specific kit (Alchemist's Lab, Portable Alchemist's Lab) designed for this purpose. Doing so would obsolete the need for an Alchemist's Lab and by conferring the same +2 circumstance bonus as an Alchemist's Lab for 55gp (the cost of the Masterwork Artisan's Tools), 145gp less than that required to purchase a Lab, and grant the benefit of allowing it to be used anywhere.

Cheliax ****

I believe it's been stated that there are no masterwork tools for thieves' tools, because there are already masterwork thieves' tools. Since the non-portable lab (the really heavy one) provides the same +2 bonus, I believe that that is meant to be Craft (Alchemy)'s masterwork tool.

I keep mine at my alchemist's alchemy shop (purchased for 5 prestige points for a +1 circumstance bonus on day jobs) so I don't have to lug it around.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Mergy wrote:

I believe it's been stated that there are no masterwork tools for thieves' tools, because there are already masterwork thieves' tools. Since the non-portable lab (the really heavy one) provides the same +2 bonus, I believe that that is meant to be Craft (Alchemy)'s masterwork tool.

I keep mine at my alchemist's alchemy shop (purchased for 5 prestige points for a +1 circumstance bonus on day jobs) so I don't have to lug it around.

He (she?) isn't talking about the generic "masterwork tool" that you're referencing.

Artisan's Tools (masterwork or otherwise) apply to "any craft". An alchemist's lab applies to Craft (alchemy). They appear to be redundant.

Qadira ***

1 person marked this as a favorite.

(my opinion here): This is a very grey area in the current rules. Circumstance bonuses (from MW tools or kits or Artisan's Tools) should be under the control of the Judge, but I have found that most players just lump them into the skill and never mention them. In fact, often they are just added to the skill number on the PC sheet and forgotten.

I hope this gets addressed soon... perhaps with a release of some type of Equipment guide?

Cheliax ****

nosig wrote:

(my opinion here): This is a very grey area in the current rules. Circumstance bonuses (from MW tools or kits or Artisan's Tools) should be under the control of the Judge, but I have found that most players just lump them into the skill and never mention them. In fact, often they are just added to the skill number on the PC sheet and forgotten.

I hope this gets addressed soon... perhaps with a release of some type of Equipment guide?

It would have to be quite the Equipment Guide to answer all of these questions comprehensively. I would go so far as to call it the Ultimate Equipment Guide.

...but that'll never happen.

Qadira ***

Mergy wrote:
nosig wrote:

(my opinion here): This is a very grey area in the current rules. Circumstance bonuses (from MW tools or kits or Artisan's Tools) should be under the control of the Judge, but I have found that most players just lump them into the skill and never mention them. In fact, often they are just added to the skill number on the PC sheet and forgotten.

I hope this gets addressed soon... perhaps with a release of some type of Equipment guide?

It would have to be quite the Equipment Guide to answer all of these questions comprehensively. I would go so far as to call it the Ultimate Equipment Guide.

...but that'll never happen.

I am hopeful that it gets addressed... I fear it will not.

And even then I can see someone saying, "I don't have that book with me so my character doesn't have access to it... so I can use my Master Work Tool for Climbing to get the +2, AND 'cause Circumstance bonuses stack, I'll use the Climbers Kit for another +2. Oh, and not mention it to the Judge, he's to busy with other stuff".

Cheliax ****

nosig wrote:
Mergy wrote:
nosig wrote:

(my opinion here): This is a very grey area in the current rules. Circumstance bonuses (from MW tools or kits or Artisan's Tools) should be under the control of the Judge, but I have found that most players just lump them into the skill and never mention them. In fact, often they are just added to the skill number on the PC sheet and forgotten.

I hope this gets addressed soon... perhaps with a release of some type of Equipment guide?

It would have to be quite the Equipment Guide to answer all of these questions comprehensively. I would go so far as to call it the Ultimate Equipment Guide.

...but that'll never happen.

I am hopeful that it gets addressed... I fear it will not.

And even then I can see someone saying, "I don't have that book with me so my character doesn't have access to it... so I can use my Master Work Tool for Climbing to get the +2, AND 'cause Circumstance bonuses stack, I'll use the Climbers Kit for another +2. Oh, and not mention it to the Judge, he's to busy with other stuff".

"Okay, roll climb"

*rolls* "46!"

"Can I see your character sheet for a second?"

"Uh oh..."

Qadira ***

"Okay, roll climb, the DC is 20"

"Got it with a Take 10, anyone else need an Aid up?"

"Having climbed the cliff you advance to..."

Andoran ***** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—St. Paul

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

Cheliax ****

nosig wrote:

"Okay, roll climb, the DC is 20"

"Got it with a Take 10, anyone else need an Aid up?"

"Having climbed the cliff you advance to..."

I'm getting into the habit of not telling my players what the DC of something is; nor do I tell them the AC they're hitting.

I also try not to ask "Does a 19 hit?". Rather I ask "What is your AC?" then follow up with whether there is a hit.

I also refuse to answer the question "How much did I miss by?".

Qadira ***

ok... so here we go then.

"Okay, roll climb, the DC is XX"

"I Take 10, for a 20, anyone else need an Aid up?"

"Having climbed the cliff you advance to..."

Qadira ***

Andrew Christian wrote:

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

agreed. No question.

do two circumtance bonuses stack?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

I'm not sure what question you're answering here.

Andoran ***** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—St. Paul

Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

I'm not sure what question you're answering here.

Apparently some folk think that they can buy a Masterwork Tool for Climbing (call it a climbing grips or something) and get +2 for climbing, which would also stack with the Climbing Kit's +2.

I'm saying that the climbing kit is considered a masterwork tool already, and you don't get the +2 for both items simultaneously.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

I'm not sure what question you're answering here.

Apparently some folk think that they can buy a Masterwork Tool for Climbing (call it a climbing grips or something) and get +2 for climbing, which would also stack with the Climbing Kit's +2.

I'm saying that the climbing kit is considered a masterwork tool already, and you don't get the +2 for both items simultaneously.

Indeed, but I'm not sure that was the topic at hand. The OP was talking about Artisan's Tools versus Alchemist's Lab.

If the topic morphed and I missed it, then disregard me. :P

Cheliax ****

Andrew Christian wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

I'm not sure what question you're answering here.

Apparently some folk think that they can buy a Masterwork Tool for Climbing (call it a climbing grips or something) and get +2 for climbing, which would also stack with the Climbing Kit's +2.

I'm saying that the climbing kit is considered a masterwork tool already, and you don't get the +2 for both items simultaneously.

Agreed. That's two tools that are perfect for the job; you should not be able to benefit from both.

Andoran ***** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—St. Paul

Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

I would say that any equipment that is considered a tool, and adds +2 to a particular skill, is already considered a masterwork tool for that skill.

Climbers Kit, Masterwork Thieves Tools, Alchemist Lab, etc.

I'm not sure what question you're answering here.

Apparently some folk think that they can buy a Masterwork Tool for Climbing (call it a climbing grips or something) and get +2 for climbing, which would also stack with the Climbing Kit's +2.

I'm saying that the climbing kit is considered a masterwork tool already, and you don't get the +2 for both items simultaneously.

Indeed, but I'm not sure that was the topic at hand. The OP was talking about Artisan's Tools versus Alchemist's Lab.

If the topic morphed and I missed it, then disregard me. :P

No, it is the same topic.

What I’m saying is that the Alchemist Lab is the masterwork artisan tool for Craft (alchemy).

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

The way Masterwork tools are handled in Pathfinder is a Pet Peeve of mine.

By making them 'tools' in their own right and not a quality that can be added to a tool like a MW weapon you get the untyped, non-descriptive, cheaper, lighter, superior and RAW items that just make all fluff items from books or chronicles redundant.

The artisan tool (alchemy) suffers the the same issue as a MW tool climbing.

RAW it is legal
RAI is is not

As a PFS GM I would hate a discussion with a player who feels he is entitled to use either of it.

Paizo - you are very good at listening. Please correct this in some upcoming item guides.

Sczarni ***

Since I can no longer edit my original post, for some reason... Even though I'm logged in and can post...

I've already ruled against it, but I did this to be safe, because I know that if the player goes ahead with it it's more work to reverse. If it comes back from these very messageboards that it's technically okay to buy Masterwork Artisan's Tools for this purpose, I'll reverse my ruling.


Matthew Pemrich wrote:
Since I can no longer edit my original post, for some reason... Even though I'm logged in and can post...

You can only edit a post for about an hour after making the post.

Lantern Lodge ***

As far as this goes, it's GM ruling, until a big wig steps in for a definite answer. I usually go for the item that's specifically for the task, such as Climber's Kit or Alchemist's Lab, just to be safe. When considering something like this which varies by table, my VO tells me to consider the worst possible GM ruling, and I think that's good advice. Just my two copper pieces.

Sczarni ***

Josh Spies wrote:
As far as this goes, it's GM ruling, until a big wig steps in for a definite answer. I usually go for the item that's specifically for the task, such as Climber's Kit or Alchemist's Lab, just to be safe. When considering something like this which varies by table, my VO tells me to consider the worst possible GM ruling, and I think that's good advice. Just my two copper pieces.

The worst ruling?

Do you mean the strictest? The one that benefits the player least?

Cheliax ****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

As long as your player is unhappy, that's the important thing.

Qadira ***

(getting out soap box...climbing on (DC5)...)

players who abuse the Masterwork Tools rules are not going to mention it to the Judge. When asked what thier climb (or any other skill) is, they'll glance at their PC and say... "+6" or maybe "without my shield, +6" and never mention that the brake down is +2 for strength, +1 for ranks, +3 for class skill, +2 for Climbers Kit, +2 for Masterwork Tool (Climb) and -4 for armor penility...

And truthfully how many of us Judges are go to ask? Do we really want to waste the time doing it? The party has a "Challange", something they need to climb. I know I am not going to check each of 6 PCs to see how they get this done.

BUT... Circumstance bonuses are designed to be under the control of the Judge. In order to streamline play we are turning them over to the players (who might not know all the circumstances). Unless we train ourselves (and by extention the other players/judges) to say something like "+4, +6 with a tool" we will never know when they are being used. And as a result they will be abused. Do we want this?

On my PC sheets I note skills that PC has a MWtool for. so when the Judge asks, it is natural for me to say, "Perception? +10, +12 for stone, or with my tool, +14 with both" - which is a few seconds more, but... now the judge knows and can add in what bonuses apply. And you know what? next time that judge is a player at my table, maybe he returns the favor. And maybe the PC beside me says something like "Tell me sir Dwarf - what is this 'tool' of which you speak?" and I get some RP in on the side.

(getting down from soap box now...)

*

nosig wrote:
(getting out soap box...climbing on (DC5)...)

That's one tall soapbox. You use a knotted rope to climb that thing?

Cheliax ****

*Casts grease on the soap box.*

Qadira ***

Lab_Rat wrote:
nosig wrote:
(getting out soap box...climbing on (DC5)...)
That's one tall soapbox. You use a knotted rope to climb that thing?

Heck, I'm just the PC. The judge sets the DCs...

Qadira ***

Mergy wrote:
*Casts grease on the soap box.*

sigh...

Did I get a save? was the soap box an attended object?

wait a couple minutes (taking 20?) for the spell to end. (one star would be 2nd level caster?)

Cheliax ****

Almost two stars. :(

Qadira ***

Mergy wrote:
Almost two stars. :(

LOL: maybe I'll try that next time I miss a Concentration roll. "I'm almost a level higher!" - and if you had 2 stars, would you be to high a CR to put against lil' o' me?

and anyway - what did you think of the soapbox speach?

Cheliax ****

I agree with it.

Anytime you're adding circumstantial modifiers without telling the GM, you're not playing fairly.

It would be like me playing an elf and adding the +2 bonus versus enchantment spells towards every will save I make.

Qadira ***

So true Mergy.

and the best way I can see to "fix" the problem, is to lead by example. Always say what my PC has without circumstance bonuses and tack on the bonus mention it. so, "14, 16 with my attention focusing tool" is what I say. And I'm kind of hopeing it catches on....

Lantern Lodge ***

Matthew Pemrich wrote:
Josh Spies wrote:
As far as this goes, it's GM ruling, until a big wig steps in for a definite answer. I usually go for the item that's specifically for the task, such as Climber's Kit or Alchemist's Lab, just to be safe. When considering something like this which varies by table, my VO tells me to consider the worst possible GM ruling, and I think that's good advice. Just my two copper pieces.

The worst ruling?

Do you mean the strictest? The one that benefits the player least?

Both correct, although they're usually one and the same.

EDIT: Note, that this only applies if you're a player, and your GM is an unknown. If you have contact with your GM beforehand, you can ask him if a variable rule works one way or the other, and maybe try to convince him/her to see it your way. And if you're the GM, well, you get to make the ruling yourself, obviously.


I know that this is an old topic, but here goes. So far as I could figure the Artisan's tools, they would be used for the generic craft (weapons, armor, bowmaking, etc). An alchemist's kit would be to provide the bonus for the Craft: Alchemy, specifically. Ergo, you have a set of generic tools as opposed to a set of specified tools meant to do the job. You can use a mallet to open a door, but lockpicks work better, if that makes any sense. Now if he/she/it were trying to stack an Alchemist's Kit with a Portable Alchemist's Lab for a +3 circumstance bonus, that might be a little more conceivable, as he/she/it as a designated workspace (+1) and tools (+2). Unless I'm overthinking it.

Andoran *****

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ultimate Equipment wrote:

This tool is perfect for its

intended job. It grants a +2
circumstance bonus on a
related skill check (if any).
The bonuses provided by
multiple masterwork items
do not stack.

Several common items already count as masterwork
tools for particular skills.
These are the alchemist’s lab,
climber’s kit, disguise kit, healer’s kit, masterwork musical
instrument, and masterwork thieves’ tools. Therefore, there
is no masterwork climber’s kit, masterwork healer’s kit, and
so on—those items are already the best available for general
checks with the relevant skill.

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