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Am I missing something? (Alchemist Bombs)


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gilfalas wrote:
Good stuff.

Agreed. If we really are talking about a great wyrm, that's CL 17th, so an extended resist energy (fire) would last 5.5 hours, and as one of the most common elements, would be part of my day-to-day if I had lived over 1000 years.

Even if he for some reason doesn't know that spell, I would bet that you can use some of that dragon loot to give him some items, like a ring of fire resistance.

If the alchemist switches to acid, the dragon is immune; if he switches to force, you've just significantly lowered his damage. Once again though: once the dragon had identified only one party member as a threat, why did he not A) cast displacement, B) cast disintegrate, or C) (because apparently limited wish was an available option) limited wish for a greater invisibility?


"The rule your forgetting is that monster stats are guidelines and not etched in stone. Your SUPPOSED to make iconic, powerful enemies played intelligently and dangerously. Your SUPPOSED to use your brain when making a monster and not just say "it is not on the monster summary so it does not have it".

I tend to use AP's a lot for inspritation (and I run several AP's straight from the book). In them, they do indicate, at times, that an NPC has X spell on him all day or casts Y if he suspects someone coming...etc,etc. Ironcially enough, energy protection is rarely one of those things they throw up since spells that buff SR, saves and AC generally cover a lot more ground in terms of general defense.

Now, I can agree that Dragons, as a general rule, have protection from energy types . But this isn't just about one encounter...I simply used that as an example. Even if Draggies give the alchy a harder time, there's a lot of others out there.

If I start being more liberal with how mage types have permanent energy resistance, One of two things happen. The achemist changes to a different element or he switches to the less damaging force bombs (which as a full round attack does ~100 pts of gaurenteed damage unless touch AC is higher than 12-15ish.) against those types.

And for those who don't have access to that arcane protection, I have to purposely play them to the alchemist weakness.... long range combat. That's hardly fair to the party given how many melee people there are (and how unrealistic that is sometimes). And, it's not a super great strategy anyway...for every "Why don't your bad guys do this," my alchemist has an answer for most of them.

I don't like having to do SOOO much tactical consideration around one class feature! I don't do it for any other class because they don't have a [gaurenteed] way to take down the toughest and/or more dangerous mobs in two rounds (on their own -- if they work together, sure). A character may get luck and knock off 50% of a baddies HPs in one whack, or the mage may do great on a save or die / save or debilitate spell.... but they're just that...one small chance.

Unless I totally start bending rules to get BBEG's a touch attack much higher than normal, (or items that do something similar) it just seems to be a problem to me. Again, not a huge problem... a small one that makes me go "Hmmmm...how did this get in?"


Again the tactical info is not based off of one class feature. You should be doing this for each encounter based off what your group as a whole can do.

If you have a lot of people that can AoE then hordes of lower CRs are useful to weed some of those out. In the case of the Dragon Minions, they do two things 1) They eat at the available AoE and 2) They act as a warning system for the BBEG which allows him to prepare for what the party can do with out cheesing the rules.

Make the encounters leading to the BBEG use up resources it can be done with out a whole lot of prep. So can adjusting a stat-block to make an encounter a little more challenging.

There is nothing wrong with the Bomb class feature it is not over powered. It can be handled easily with simple adjustments to the stat-block or how the monster is handled tactically. It is a lot like complaining when the party Paladin one shots your evil outsider. Smite is not over powered neither are bombs.

@Mergy exactly why wouldn't the Dragon be using anything he collected in his horde to his benefit.

Andoran

JCServant wrote:
I tend to use AP's a lot for inspritation (and I run several AP's straight from the book). In them, they do indicate, at times, that an NPC has X spell on him all day or casts Y if he suspects someone coming...etc,etc. Ironcially enough, energy protection is rarely one of those things they throw up since spells that buff SR, saves and AC generally cover a lot more ground in terms of general defense.

Depends on the villain, their stats, and their personality. Many of Pathfinder's villains are also human or human-scale, and thus have somewhat more impressive Touch AC.

JCServant wrote:
Now, I can agree that Dragons, as a general rule, have protection from energy types . But this isn't just about one encounter...I simply used that as an example. Even if Draggies give the alchy a harder time, there's a lot of others out there.

Such as? A couple of rundowns have been done, and most creatures have either pretty good Touch AC or some other defense against this.

JCServant wrote:
If I start being more liberal with how mage types have permanent energy resistance, One of two things happen. The achemist changes to a different element or he switches to the less damaging force bombs (which as a full round attack does ~100 pts of gaurenteed damage unless touch AC is higher than 12-15ish.) against those types.

So? He probably should be effective. And this does nothing to help him vs. say, Mirror Image (a lovely, common, defensive spell).

JCServant wrote:
And for those who don't have access to that arcane protection, I have to purposely play them to the alchemist weakness.... long range combat. That's hardly fair to the party given how many melee people there are (and how unrealistic that is sometimes). And, it's not a super great strategy anyway...for every "Why don't your bad guys do this," my alchemist has an answer for most of them.

Go the opposite route then. Melee the Alchemist. It's logical on their part (assuming some melee competence), lets the rest of the party shine, and damages his effectiveness significantly (assuming they have any reach at all, anyway), since he's provoking AoO every round (or every shot, if the bad guy's got Combat Reflexes).

JCServant wrote:
I don't like having to do SOOO much tactical consideration around one class feature! I don't do it for any other class because they don't have a [gaurenteed] way to take down the toughest and/or more dangerous mobs in two rounds (on their own -- if they work together, sure). A character may get luck and knock off 50% of a baddies HPs in one whack, or the mage may do great on a save or die / save or debilitate spell.... but they're just that...one small chance.

It's not around one class feature. Touch attacks are pretty common and anyone without SR (ie: most people) needs to be prepped for them somehow. Any such prep works just as well on the Alchemist.

You really need to use NPCs, not just monsters. And not just for mechanical reasons, they're often better thematically and more fun to build and use than the monsters, and really don't tend tohave this problem at all.

JCServant wrote:

Unless I totally start bending rules to get BBEG's a touch attack much higher than normal, (or items that do something similar) it just seems to be a problem to me. Again, not a huge problem... a small one that makes me go "Hmmmm...how did this get in?"

Touch Attacks have been in the rules from the beginning. Having non-SR means of getting through them has, too. Alchemists are better at it, but it's always been an option, and often an endorsed one.


Realmwalker wrote:
Again the tactical info is not based off of one class feature. You should be doing this for each encounter based off what your group as a whole can do.

This statement alone could start a very interesting thread. There are DM's who run with your line of thought, which provide dynamic encounters based on the strengths and weaknesses of the group, giving them each times to shine. This provides a more consistant challenge as the size and make up of the encounters are scaled specifically for that party...if the party is optomized well, you make tougher encounters. If they decide to run with a group of all fighters, you don't throw challenges at them that can only be overcome with magic.

I'm from the opposite school that says, run the encounters and mobs as written (for adventure paths or prescripted homebrews) or do what makes sense totally from an RP perspective in that world. This tends to provide static encounters. As long as those encounters are varied, different team members can shine, or so the theory goes. If the party is optomized well, the game will be easier for them as a result. If they run with four fighters, they better bring creative solutations to face the inevitable monsters with high DR/AC and puzzles that may require flight to get past.

If you're from the first school, then whether or not a class, or class feature, if balanced, is not a concern at all. You simply tweak the encounters and monsters to insure that the build doesn't shine too much in contrast to other players. Giving all mobs a +8 touch AC bonus would solve any concern I have right off the bat.

If you're from the second school, especially if you're running an AP as written, I think you'll find that given the scenarios and monsters as described, the alchemist has a fair more opportunities to shine more than other classes, specifically in combat encounters where taking out a specific baddie (like a BBEG) is key. As mentioned earlier in the thread, it has to do most with the fact that touch AC does not scale with level like SR and AC tend to. And while baddies can certainly have arcane protection, a lot of the pre-written ones don't have those anti-missle spells/prot from energy prepared. And, come to think of it, neither do my players. Unless a character knows that an alchemist is in the group ahead of time, they tend to overlook those protections for more universally applicable types. That's not to say that NONE of them don't have SOMETHING memorized to address bombs...Blur and mirror image is common amoung casters, but the types of extra protection a fighter, rogue, (intelligent) monster, etc would carry rarely includes these types. (And to their credit, Paizo does a good job making sure that enemy NPCs do have potions and conumables as needed...and even indicating when a monster might use an item in his horde)

Andoran

JCServant wrote:
If you're from the second school, especially if you're running an AP as written, I think you'll find that given the scenarios and monsters as described, the alchemist has a fair more opportunities to shine more than other classes, specifically in combat encounters where taking out a specific baddie (like a BBEG) is key.

I'm still really not sure this can or should be considered an advantage. Being the guy the main vilain targets is usually not a good thing for one's continued survival, and they aren't enough of an offensive powerhouse to keep from getting hit like that.

It's also only true if the PCs hit the BBEG at full resources (at least for the Alchemist) which isn't, as a rule, the case.

JCServant wrote:
As mentioned earlier in the thread, it has to do most with the fact that touch AC does not scale with level like SR and AC tend to. And while baddies can certainly have arcane protection, a lot of the pre-written ones don't have those anti-missle spells/prot from energy prepared. And, come to think of it, neither do my players. Unless a character knows that an alchemist is in the group ahead of time, they tend to overlook those protections for more universally applicable types. That's not to say that NONE of them don't have SOMETHING memorized to address bombs...Blur and mirror image is common amoung casters, but the types of extra protection a fighter, rogue, (intelligent) monster, etc would carry rarely includes these types. (And to their credit, Paizo does a good job making sure that enemy NPCs do have potions and conumables as needed...and even indicating when a monster might use an item in his horde)

An enemy Fighter's also gonna be real vulnerable to Will save effects, and a Rogue might be as well. Indeed, spellcasting and spellcasting classes are the bane of such characters...which is why you usually don't have anyone without some casting of some sort (even if by item) as a main villain.


Well, the alchmist kinds plays smart...hording his bombs for BBEG's and using bow attacks or mutagin/elixir+Physical for trash. So it's not a matter of having enough long adventure days. I can't FORCE him to use his bombs....espcially given how the party sees the alchemist as more as a one mob nova deal more than an AoE CC or Damage deal. (DUDE, why are you wasiting bombs on the trash? LOL)

I could, let's say, use two BBEG's or give them more HPs...but that feels meta to me and/or doesn't stop the alchemist from bragging that he cranked out enough damage that he essentially took one down by himself (Granted, it's untrue given that everyone supported by doing their role...but it won't stop him from bragging)

As far as fighters...well, I like AntiPaladins myself :) Anyway, as far as the enemy fighter deal.... any Fighter type BBEG usually has improved Will feats to help shore that obvious weakness up... The fancier ones have an item or caster mook to shore up his magic defenses. Anyway, yeah, those are occasionally thrown in to let the casters shine, and that's cool (everyone needs their day in the sun)...but here's the thing...a low Wil save can and does result in misses because saves are carefully balanced so that everyone has a decent chance to survive (unless they totally dump that stat). I've seen casters go four rounds sometimes trying to hold that sucker. LOL. Bombs are automatic on fighter bbaddie is more than 100' away...and even rogue baddies, who should probably be the best at dodging these things, have maybe a 20 touch AC at this level, giving the alchemist only a 25% miss chance or so. Monks, by far, are the bane of the alchemist bomber. We need to see more Monk BBEGs in the books, Paizo! LOL

Shadow Lodge

I think the OP feels the Alchemist was just too good in this situation.

The new classes can appear very unbalanced at times, especially in their favoured situations.

The Core classes are just as unbalanced however when they are in their "sweet spot".

I had real problems with the alchemist and magus, until I saw an optimised druid wild shaped as a dire tigre...

Who can compaire against a barbarian with power attack at level 1. Easily capable of 24 points of damage.

The alchemist is good at what it does.

As for meta gaming, look at a dragons spellcraft and knowledges. It fully knows what the alchemist is capable of. If it has RP reasons for doing other things, its a calculated risk the dragon is well aware of.

Andoran

By 15th level plus I'd expect fighter types to be in the 20s on Touch AC, while Rogues are approaching the 30s.

Potential spoilers on some very minimal stats (Class and Touch AC, basically) only of some AP villains follow:

Spoiler:
The BBEG of Serpent skull had one in the low 20s as a Cleric (and Protection From Energy-Fire, which he's even listed as using prior to the PCs arrival, and will probably cost the Alchemist a round of bombs at 0 damage).

The BBEG of Legacy of Fire is more susceptible to the tactic, but also a lot more capable of killing the annoying Alchemist in a round. And it needs to be certain energy types to effect him...and perhaps not the expected type.

And the BBEG of Curse of the Crimson Throne has Touch AC 30 and minions.

I haven't read the other APs for this sort of thing (as I'm still hoping to hget to play in an AP and don't know which it might be)...but those seem a reasonable selection of ways to deal with this tactic.


To be more specific, Dag, I feel alchy is pretty good in too many situations (usually with one or two key BBEGs) since generally speaking, mobs and NPCs don't have good touch AC. Sure, everything is good vs something, but the alchemist is near perfect when lined up against what HE is good against...and that subset of what he is good against is pretty impressive...any baddie dumb enough to get into 100' without multiple elemental resistances. High AC, SR and saves don't mean squatola.


Deaman, I went through the last book of one of my AP's, specficailly looking at touch AC of spelled out mobs (which tend to be NPCs or touched up mobs)
Touch AC / # mobs
10 4
11 2
12 2
13 2
15 2
16 3
17 4
18 1
20 1

Now, granted, they could have been incorporial or magic casters with magic defense (though I will tell you, I saw a number of knights and fighter types in the mix)...but going off the numbers here...12 of the 22 mobs are auto hits with an alchy's first attack. Even with rapid shot at level 14 he's got a 95/95/95/75% chance to hit...assuming they all hit... 126 pts. No other class has such a guarenteed chance for such a predictable amount of damage against such a high subset of baddies.

Andoran

JCServant wrote:

Deaman, I went through the last book of one of my AP's, specficailly looking at touch AC of spelled out mobs (which tend to be NPCs or touched up mobs)

Now, granted, they could have been incorporial or magic casters with magic defense (though I will tell you, I saw a number of knights and fighter types in the mix)...but going off the numbers here...12 of the 22 mobs are auto hits with an alchy's first attack. Even with rapid shot at level 14 he's got a 95/95/95/75% chance to hit . No other class has such a guarenteed chance for that damage potention against such a high percentage of baddies.

Right...but how many of those are the main villain, and what are his numbers? I've never argued that the bombs don't auto-hit vs. most run of the mill foes...but in that case the Alchemist is using them then (on the little encounters), not vs. the main villain at the end, and, frankly, a Fighter will auto-hit a lot of those guys too.

It's only a problem if he can do it to the main villain, not some random guy you're fighting on the way to the main villain.


Just looking at that list of AC's alone, as an alchemist, I have to figure that even with the occaasional miss here and there at the higher touch ACs, I'm doing a solid 100 pts using 4 bombs a pop...(So I can do that 5 times/day). It's an instant death, actually, for a lot of the things I saw listed there.... (most where between 85-125 hps). I saw a dragon at about 200 or so HPs...and while it had immunity to fire, it had nothing to deal with acid bombs. With that being said, they were careful to point out that it has a few tricks / traps planned for would be heroes, and that it does a lot of flyby attacks.


Well, there are a number of BBEG's throughout, but the one I believe is the end boss... he's got 25 SR, tons of AC and saves...but a touch of 17. Clearly he's designed to make the PCs work for their victory and work together to win...but, unless he takes out that alchmist first, he has two rounds at the most if they target him before his mooks (Actually, THEY don't have to target him...just the alchemist...from 100' away if need be).


I will add...it does say that he casts a few spells to prepare...and mirror image is one of them. This with his natural 20% concealment deal will buy him one extra round (maybe two) against the alchemist unless a caster dispells it first.

Regardless, I believe the precence of an alchmist takes what would usually be a six round encounter (the guy has even more physical and magical defense designed to make sure he doesn't go down fast, but nothing that really stops bombs) and puts it on a very real 2-3 round timer....unless he debilitates that alchemist with a save or Die/Paralyze spell (He has a number of those). Again, it turns the battle into bad guy having to give the alchemist full attention (which would probably happen after 1 round of being blasted) because he, like many others, lack the adequate touch AC/Bomb defenses.


JCServant wrote:
Just looking at that list of AC's alone, as an alchemist, I have to figure that even with the occaasional miss here and there at the higher touch ACs, I'm doing a solid 100 pts using 4 bombs a pop...(So I can do that 5 times/day). It's an instant death, actually, for a lot of the things I saw listed there.... (most where between 85-125 hps). I saw a dragon at about 200 or so HPs...and while it had immunity to fire, it had nothing to deal with acid bombs. With that being said, they were careful to point out that it has a few tricks / traps planned for would be heroes, and that it does a lot of flyby attacks.

That list is from the last book of which AP? CoT ends at lower level than say kingmaker for example -- the end level of the AP is going to say a lot about what you are looking at. Also note that different APs are of different... quality as well. CoT has a lot of known mechanical errors in it due to the fact it came out at the same time as the actual pathfinder rules did.

Also you need to stop insisting that this should be a 5~6 round encounter -- it shouldn't be. A fighter can end it in three without buffs (with buffs he'll end it much faster), a wizard could as well. Same with a ranger, paladin, barbarian, etc -- especially if you play the encounter like you did. You have a whole party of people that should be capable of this as such the dragon is going to be lucky to get 1~2 rounds if he's stupid in his approach.

Just to help out some consider the CR of your party.

As heroic NPCs they would be level-1 as CR each and that would give them 34,800gp each. If they aren't built with a 15 point buy they get a +1 to their CR since heroic NPCs use the elite array. With PC wealth their CR goes up by one putting them at CR 15. Two CR 15 equals a CR 17. Four CR 15 equals a CR 19.

So you have a CR 20 versus a CR 19. A dragon (especially but any CR 20 really) should understand that these are the odds its facing. Those aren't good odds for it.


Lets also consider the SR we are talking about.

There is an SR of 31 on the dragon in question -- a wizard with greater spell penetration and an orange Ioun Stone is going to have a +19 on his check to overcome that SR before we grab anything fancy (like the metamagic feat that lowers SR by 5), he has starting out now a 45% chance of getting through that SR, with the metamagic feat I mentioned he's up to a 70% chance -- and this is if the spell allows SR in the first place: Many of the good ones do not.

Personally against my wizards the dragon is likely to find himself staring down some 10 lantern archons in the first round with more to follow on the second. That's 10d6 worth of damage on the first round with 30d6 on the second and a probable 40d6 on the third and that's only burning 4 spells (and two charges on a quicken metamagic rod). Yeah he can probably kill some of those each round, but I would be foolish to leave them in one group where he can hammer them easily.


Uh...I think the only time I mention 5-6 rounds has to do with this one fight. Some are longer, some are shoter. And, sure, when there's only on BBEG involved, a save or die spell can shorten it REAL fast...but the thing is, those types of things that COULD end that battle real fast are not guarnteed...the mage has to get luck with SR and a failed mob save throw or two to end it all at once. The Barbarian is hoping for the confirmed crit. The Alchemist, however, only needs the baddie to be in 100' to put the battle on a timer. This one battle I'm looking at has buffs in place that all but gaurntee that this guy isn't going down super fast. Given what I see, I would AVERAGE the battle at 5-6 rounds. If the party fails a few saving throws early, it goes up to 10. If the party gets a few crits or something, knock it down to 2-3.

But with an alchemist, it is a gaurenteed 2-3 rounds unless the BBEG takes him out first. Period.

I don't mind players doing something extraordinatry and kiling a big bad guy in 1 or 2 rounds... but it should happen (mostly) through either really creative thinking/preparing ahead of time, or some very good rolling. The alchemist only needs 100' and 2 rounds.


JCServant wrote:
I'm from the opposite school that says, run the encounters and mobs as written (for adventure paths or prescripted homebrews) or do what makes sense totally from an RP perspective in that world.

It makes total sense that a person capable of doing so protects themselves from a common and lethal form of energy if they can. Like a caster putting on long term buffs for energy and missle attacks.

What your saying is that your players are the only ones in your game who get to think. Your denying the NPC's the option of using their brains since 'they are static'. Unless you happen to buy a module perfectly written to challenge the EXACT player makeup then your characters get to walk all over everything.

Your handing the win to your characters.

Modules can be run as is, of course, but they cannot be written to handle any all combinations of player groups and abilities. That is the primary reason that there are game masters. To tailer things to keep the group challenged.

If you don't want to do that that is of course your perogative but then don't complain if a stock creature gets it's ass handed to it because you don't want to make some common sense changes.


I'm OK with your example about SR...because, first, there's still a 30% miss chance, and the mage had to burn an even more precious resource or two to get there (30k gold and a higher spell slot) and second...just about every spell that does something majorly bad still allows a save for no or reduced affects. There's still a significant luck factor involved.


JCServant wrote:
I don't mind players doing something extraordinatry and kiling a big bad guy in 1 or 2 rounds... but it should happen (mostly) through either really creative thinking/preparing ahead of time, or some very good rolling. The alchemist only needs 100' and 2 rounds.

And the archer fighter only needs 120' and 2 rounds. My above wizard only needs 2 rounds and a few spell slots. Again it isn't the class, it's the expectations of you the GM. You are at the level where routinely cleaning the clock of big creatures is entirely feasible for any member of the party.

Honestly there was a huge row awhile back about a level 16 fighter versus a balor. Fighter won every time -- he had better stealth, better perception, great saves, and could 1~2 round the balor each time the balor showed itself. That's only 2 levels higher than this so a probably 2~3 round against the balor at level 14 (or dragon in this case) is also perfectly understandable.

This carries over to all classes (with the *possible* except of the rogue). A fighter (honestly at about any level) is going to be able to reliably and consistently deal enough raw damage to drop big creatures in a round or two. Wizards with smart players will be able to end encounters in the same time span, as well alchemist, clerics, et al.

This isn't saying you are a 'bad' GM -- it's not saying your players are 'metagaming' or 'overpowered' or that the system is unbalanced. Only that the raw numbers are there and support this sort of action by any potential party member.

Now you as a GM got an eye opener on one specific method of doing this -- hey that's cool it happens to us all sometimes (I took out a castle once with a minor creation spell -- the GM didn't expect it but hey it happens: Had another player take out a charging colossal red dragon with a wall of force spell, GM didn't see it coming) the thing is now that you've seen it you need to be able to prepare for it and realize this can happen many ways.

High level play is a real balancing act, there are ways for both sides to kill each other off rather quickly -- much like real life. The key is planning for the contingencies and knowing what the players are capable of.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I said I wasn't going to bother posting, but, as the tone has changed somewhat...

Please note the following spells would affect an Alchemist, and most people don't think about it...

Wind Wall : An alchemist's bombs are still projectiles, they have a 30% miss chance. Additionally, if he has a gas effect, the gas effect is stopped unless he get's the bottle through the wind wall in the first place. The wall stops gas that would come from outside it.

Wall of Force : Again, bombs are ranged weapons thrown and they explode against the 30 Hardness wall.

Globe of Invulnerability (,Lesser) : Both spells will protect you from the supernatural ability, at least, until the caster level turns it into something equal to a 5th level spell (4th for lesser). At least, if I remember my supernatural ability and equivalent spell level rules. Been awhile since I had to use them.

Shield of Faith : Adds +2 Deflection, which if I remember correctly, also affects touch AC.

That's all I can think of from the core book, but I'm sure there's some more in UM/APG/UC.

Shadow Lodge

Thats the thing about pathfinder. Look at the optimised class guides. There is a lot of damage and death out there... It can make you cry as a GM... It can cause a TPK for the careless players...


"And the archer fighter only needs 120' and 2 rounds. My above wizard only needs 2 rounds and a few spell slots. Again it isn't the class, it's the expectations of you the GM. You are at the level where routinely cleaning the clock of big creatures is entirely feasible for any member of the party."

But your fighter/wizard doesn't have a 100% chance of getting their expected effect in the first round or even the 2nd. Bosses with higher AC may not pose a problem for your archer's first attack(s), but his iterative attacks are very much up in the air. For the wizard, he still has at least that 10-30% fail chance against the SR, and there there are saves for most effects after that. I know you can optimize characters to minimize miss chances and the such, but the game is pretty well balanced to where those optimizations rarely eliminiate the risk below a certain treshold. Using your fighter example from earlier, he has a decent change to miss 2 of the 4 attacks listed, for example, against this boss I'm looking at. He may hit all four, and do as much as the alchmist. But he has a good chance to miss 2 of those attacks....maybe even three if he's really unlucky. Whereas the alchemist is going to get a gaurenteed (well, a 1 misses) hit on 3 and a small miss chance on the last one.


Bullet Shield helps against all ranged attacks (Ultimate Combat).


mdt wrote:

I said I wasn't going to bother posting, but, as the tone has changed somewhat...

Globe of Invulnerability (,Lesser) : Both spells will protect you from the supernatural ability, at least, until the caster level turns it into something equal to a 5th level spell (4th for lesser). At least, if I remember my supernatural ability and equivalent spell level rules. Been awhile since I had to use them.

Ah...if this does work vs a level 13-14 alchemist, that would be quite awesome. Few wizard types go without this basic protection spell readied.

Without alchemist and gunslinger, most people/NPCs don't take much ranged protection like Bullet Shield. They tend to grab AC buffs which protect against all types.


JCServant wrote:

"And the archer fighter only needs 120' and 2 rounds. My above wizard only needs 2 rounds and a few spell slots. Again it isn't the class, it's the expectations of you the GM. You are at the level where routinely cleaning the clock of big creatures is entirely feasible for any member of the party."

But your fighter/wizard doesn't have a 100% chance of getting their expected effect in the first round or even the 2nd. Bosses with higher AC may not pose a problem for your archer's first attack(s), but his iterative attacks are very much up in the air. For the wizard, he still has at least that 10-30% fail chance against the SR, and there there are saves for most effects after that. I know you can optimize characters to minimize miss chances and the such, but the game is pretty well balanced to where those optimizations rarely eliminiate the risk below a certain treshold. Using your fighter example from earlier, he has a decent change to miss 2 of the 4 attacks listed, for example, against this boss I'm looking at. He may hit all four, and do as much as the alchmist. But he has a good chance to miss 2 of those attacks....maybe even three if he's really unlucky. Whereas the alchemist is going to get a gaurenteed (well, a 1 misses) hit on 3 and a small miss chance on the last one.

My wizard does -- summoning doesn't allow for SR -- you seem to think I'm dumb enough to fling a spell at a dragon, let me correct your thinking, I'm going to summon 10~20 lantern archons with 4 spells (in two rounds) and laugh as they cut the dragon to shreds with an extraordinary ability that completely ignores DR, SR and anything other than his Touch AC of 0.

The fighter above again wasn't specialized in this yet. If I was doing melee with a fighter I would be doing sword and shield, the dragon might miss me more often than I miss him and I would carve his hide apart easily. The ranged fighter would be taking an extra two attacks and would actually be hitting much more often in all likelihood with dragon bane arrows off of a +5 bow.

I would really suggest doing a search of these forums for the DPR Olympics the numbers there while old and at level 14 with only the elite array of stats (and therefore low) might surprise you.

Andoran

I've alluded to this point before but I'll make it explicit now:

The problem is not that Alchemists are too powerful. They aren't.

The problem is that Alchemists are easy to optimize. The most effective strategies for them are immediately apparent and intuitively easy to grasp to most people. Thus, in a group that usually doesn't optimize, the class appears overpowered (as different levels of optimization often result in), and is swiftly either abandoned or nerfed somehow, instead of inspiring the other players to focus more on doing their particular thing more effectively.

That's the problem with Alchemists.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Cavaliers are easy to optimize early as well. At early levels too. My halfling beastrider/emissary dragoon is at 6th level and I'm scraping the barrel on feats, he's got just about everything to maximize his lance charges. Next level will be power attack. I'm also thinking of taking a level of Inquisitor to get bane and some healing ability. The thought of hitting with a lance, on a charge, with Bane and Power Attack on it, warms the cockles of my heart. :)


Quote:
The problem is that Alchemists are easy to optimize.

I suppose. It's hard to argue that when they simply need a couple of feats and discoveries to do partically gaurenteed damage so many times / day against such a wide range of foes.

No doubt, too, that some the other tactics y'all have pointed out also hang on having more moola and a different flavor of campaign. My players are more apt to spend diversify their money on items that give bonuses to all three stats rather than just their primary because it gives them a defensive bang to go with their offensive buff....and they spend a signficant amount of money on various AC buffing and capes of the resistances (They have found that all offense and no defense makes for dead PC's). They may also be underfunded for their level...I'll double check that later. They also don't always get what they want, and not everything in the book is available for sale. So, I believe it IS a lot harder for these characters to optimize in my campaign at the extent you all point out since the alchemist doesn't have to buy fancy gloves and weapons to pwn with bombs.

Andoran

mdt wrote:
Cavaliers are easy to optimize early as well. At early levels too. My halfling beastrider/emissary dragoon is at 6th level and I'm scraping the barrel on feats, he's got just about everything to maximize his lance charges. Next level will be power attack. I'm also thinking of taking a level of Inquisitor to get bane and some healing ability. The thought of hitting with a lance, on a charge, with Bane and Power Attack on it, warms the cockles of my heart. :)

I suspect we might be getting similar threads on Cavaliers except that people seem to often adventure places where the mere existence of a mount is apparently not viable (or that's what everyone says whenever they're brought up)...which tends to make them less intuitively easy to make truly good (if true).


A lot of the adventuring in AP's take place inside of castles, dungeons and the such. Outside of taking a small character with a medium mount, does it make sense to take a class that relies so heavily on a mount in most campaigns?

Andoran

JCServant wrote:
I suppose. It's hard to argue that when they simply need a couple of feats and discoveries to do partically gaurenteed damage so many times / day against such a wide range of foes.

Yeah. The thing is that, offensively speaking, there's very little that can jack up bomb-throwing. I mean, Int and Dex boosters are about it...which means that if everyone's going light on offense, his is gonna look more badass comparatively than it really is taking the expected levels of offensive magic items into account.

And to clarify, people aren't really talking about skimping on defense per se, I mean +4 Cloaks of Resistance, and three different +3 AC items (including armor) should all be minimums for this level...but that's only around 60K, leaving something like 100k for focused stat enhancers and an offensive weapon...which is often not a bad idea, investment-wise.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JCServant wrote:
A lot of the adventuring in AP's take place inside of castles, dungeons and the such. Outside of taking a small character with a medium mount, does it make sense to take a class that relies so heavily on a mount in most campaigns?

Halfling riding a cougar (Small race & medium mount)

Andoran

JCServant wrote:
A lot of the adventuring in AP's take place inside of castles, dungeons and the such. Outside of taking a small character with a medium mount, does it make sense to take a class that relies so heavily on a mount in most campaigns?

See what I mean, folks?

And, for the record, Cavaliers don't in any way need to be particularly mount focused. They've got one, but literally nothing forces them to ride it or focus on it particularly. One who does will be more badass than one who doesn't...when his Mount's available for use, but a powerful and dangerous Cavalier can be made with not a single mounted combat Feat, if you wish (or with only the basic Mounted Combat, for flavor).


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
JCServant wrote:
A lot of the adventuring in AP's take place inside of castles, dungeons and the such. Outside of taking a small character with a medium mount, does it make sense to take a class that relies so heavily on a mount in most campaigns?

See what I mean, folks?

And, for the record, Cavaliers don't in any way need to be particularly mount focused. They've got one, but literally nothing forces them to ride it or focus on it particularly. One who does will be more badass than one who doesn't...when his Mount's available for use, but a powerful and dangerous Cavalier can be made with not a single mounted combat Feat, if you wish (or with only the basic Mounted Combat, for flavor).

Especially the Emisary archtype, which get's bonuses that work even off the mount (Ability to wear medium armor without speed reductions, mobility).

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
JCServant wrote:
A lot of the adventuring in AP's take place inside of castles, dungeons and the such. Outside of taking a small character with a medium mount, does it make sense to take a class that relies so heavily on a mount in most campaigns?

See what I mean, folks?

And, for the record, Cavaliers don't in any way need to be particularly mount focused. They've got one, but literally nothing forces them to ride it or focus on it particularly. One who does will be more badass than one who doesn't...when his Mount's available for use, but a powerful and dangerous Cavalier can be made with not a single mounted combat Feat, if you wish (or with only the basic Mounted Combat, for flavor).

Once a medium cavalier has the ability to ride a wolf, he can be very effective letting his wolf do its flanking thing instead while he fights dismounted. The emissary is amazing for this tactic.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Many Dragons also have the Hover feat, which could create a cloud of debris (assuming the environment has things like dust, dirt, etc.)
that completely negates vision for the start of the fight (not after the dragon leaves the first 20' off the ground though).

Additionally, given that the winds from said Dragon's wings are strong enough to extinguish torches and small campfires when near the
ground, one can easily argue that Wind penalties apply to all projectile ranged attacks, potentially even when in mid-air. In a closed
environment, like a cavern, the compressed shifts in air currents might make those ranged attacks impossible (Windstorm level wind speeds).

Just some food for though, highly dependent on environments and encounter context.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It seems that people are getting lost in the weeds about how the alchemist will do against a particular creature. That can be argued endlessly.

Having run a AP (up through chapter 5 now) with and alchemist I have to agree with the OP that the class involves some great challenges for a DM. The alchemist in my game is 13th level and very rarely misses and never runs out of bombs (and I have tried!). He saves them for what he considers worthy opponents and has plenty of other options when not using bombs. They after all have spells, mutagens, and normal alchemical flasks to throw around at great effect. So, the run them out of bombs argument is poor, at best, IMO having tested one in play repeatedly.

Do I think they are overpowered? Not really. My archer player (lots o damage to anything he can see), witch (high DC persistent spells), and cavalier (godly charge damage) all provide sizable challenges. That being said the alchemist is indeed a more consistently reliable source of damage than the others (well except for the archer but he is relegated to a single foe at a time and does miss a bit AND DR does a number on him (thankfully he hasn't yet picked clustered shot)).

The elemental protection argument is moot in the face of force bombs, which my alchemist uses unless he is sure something is vulnerable to his various elemental attacks (sure he's made a mistake from time to time but it just takes one bomb to tell him he has). I have only felt the need to make one change to the class and that is because of force bombs. They are shoe-horned into a supernatural ability when it should be spell like (at least in my opinion). Everything else has some sort of possible defense, such as elemental resistances to elemental type bombs but not force bombs. Oh no, they go through DR, SR, magic immunity, elemental resistances, etc... Every other force effect I can find is distinctly magical in nature (if there is another non-magical one please point it out to me). Anyway, the end result is they are susceptible to SR and magic immunity in my game but also can recharge their ring of forcefangs. A battle with an otherwise immune iron golem convinced me of this, the player agreed. Not to worry his acid did just fine.

How do I deal with him? Well, range increments are your friend, using terrain is critical, cover and concealment, missing when throwing into melee with friends tends to splash everyone, and creatures quickly target him when he makes himself a nuisance. The alchemist has learned to make sure the other party members have things locked down before going nova otherwise he gets targeted real fast (just like any spell slinger really).


Dark Arioch, I think you summarize both sides of the issue (Both the challenge I present and the most common ways to address it) very well. My frustration is that, every class tends to have moments of shining and moments of being lackluster with encounters pretty much written in APs. Some mobs have high AC and DR giving physical attackers a harder time, where some have high SR and saves to frustrate casters... however, very few have high enough touch AC to give an alchemist a run for his money. So, as you pointed out, you have to use distance, terrain, cover and concealment (Which is REALLY hard to do with some encounter types). You find yourself, as the DM, constantly tweaking encounters just to somewhat answer the nova-bombing alchemist lest every BBEG type battle become a 2 round deal that ultimately feels somewhat anticlamatic.


JCServant out of curiousity just what is your alchemist's build?

I'm looking over a general idea and I'm seeing:
+9 BAB
+5~7 Dexterity bonus
-2 rapid shot
-2 (minimum) two weapon fighting
-10 distance
+0~+3 on his first attack roll, unless he has far shot (which I'm thinking he doesn't) which would put him to the range of +5~+8 on his attack rolls. If this is his set up then his full attack would be something like: +0/+0/+0/-5, and if he's hasted it should be +1/+1/+1/+1/-4. Now against a Touch AC of 0 of course it doesn't matter too much, but you put a single ring of protection +5 on that dragon and suddenly that alchemist is missing about 20% of the time (bullet shield and he's missing 35% of the time).

Make sure he isn't using manyshot because that specifically limits itself to bows (meaning bombs can't use it).

And in case it comes up the only parts of bomb damage that get multiplied on a critical hit is the first dice and any straight bonuses to damage (like his intelligence bonus).

Some other things that really kill an alchemist's damage include Int Damage or penalties (such as feeblemind, bestow curse, or touch of idiocy).

Alchemist have four possible weak spots:
1. Will saves.
2. Low(ish) hit points
3. AC
4. Anti-magic fields (already pointed out)

They do have lots of ways to shore these up but they aren't guaranteed and usually at least one is left uncovered.

Just some further thoughts on the subject at hand.


Your numbers look fine to me, except, yeah like you said, he has far shot. He's pretty good about only using multiple attack feats against foes he knows has low touch AC, so he isn't missing too much. I am thinking, though, if things keep up that maybe I'll take your advice and give the next BBEG a ring of protection or something that magically disolves when the party loots the boday, hahahahah (I work really hard to make sure they don't get too much money / high magic items). If he misses a few times, and doesn't know why, he'll probably take a lot more cautious approach!

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If he picked up Far Shot he's invested quite a bit into bombs, so I wouldn't worry about him having a shining moment with enemies who forget to cast or don't have access to energy resistance of some sort.


Well to be fair he's invested:
Point blank shot
Far shot
Rapid shot
two weapon fighting
precise shot (at least he better have...).

That's five feats out of seven as well as three discoveries (acid bombs I believe you said as well as force bombs and fast bombs) which is half of his allotment of discoveries.

So it's not like this didn't take some investment on his behalf to be good at this part of what he does.

Also depending on how you feel about it nothing in the splash weapons description or anywhere else I can find states that splash weapons are light weapons... so you could assess the -4 penalty to hit with them instead of the -2.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

JCServant what you say is very true but I would broaden it. It turns out that with Pathfinder character builds I have tweak encounters constantly for all my PCs, not just the alchemist. My witch will 1 or 2 round single creature encounters pretty easily and consistently. Same holds true for the charging cavalier if given space to use his mount (which since I am running Kingmaker is fairly often). The archer often decimates foes quickly by dealing 80-100+ hitpoints each round at long range. So what am I to do against this well oiled machine? Here's some examples from chapter 4 of Kingmaker (HEAVY SPOILER ALERT):

Spoiler:
These encounters are run for the most part right out of the book but require a lot of forethought about how their abilities, powers, and the situation will interact with the party prior to running the encounters.

Heavy swamp gas and mist that reduces visibility and possibly explodes when set off by something explosive (alchemist bombs <grin>). Where upon a group of swimming creatures with reach from beneath the water assault and split the party. Arrows and bombs have trouble targeting things they cannot see and are protected by the cover of water. The alchemists bombs acting like depth charges were an entertaining image.

Powerful hydra hidden amongst the swamp reeds. Party doesn't see it until almost upon it due to total cover until close and then only sees one big snake initially. Alchemist spends first round getting as far as he can from the beast. If he had been targeted would have grappled him and put serious hurt on him.

Assaulting a boggard village where boggards are coming out of dens all around the group thus minimizing the effect of area effect bombs. Dozens of attacks coming at alchemist from all directions. Great chaotic scene.

Dimension dooring invisible spirit naga sorcerer with touch AC of 20 gave entire party hell through two separate encounters. Alchemist bombs all but useless because of range and inability to target. Huge jumble of dead trees also gave the creature opportunity to attack from anywhere unexpectedly.

Iron Golem (after I changed force bomb to magic) was as invulnerable as it should have been and while the alchemist did some damage with acid flasks it was the other party members that shined. Followed up with daemons that killed a party member and feebleminded the alchemist (making him all but useless in two separate fights).

Taking the Baron prisoner. Alchemists do not excel at dealing non-lethal damage, of course neither do archers lol.

Taking the Baron prisoner (alchemist aren't great in situations where the party wants to deal non-lethal damage).

Those are but a few examples of memorable battles and conflicts from just one chapter of an AP that involved everyone in the party and lasted more than just a round or two. Good times. Never in those scenarios did my alchemist feel "targeted" or the party feel I tweaked things just to fit the alchemist. That being said, Pathfinder does require me to put quite a bit more thought into each encounter and I do throw in straight forward encounters where they all just get to blow things up and deal lots of damage. You are right about your observations and maybe this will give you some ideas. Hope it helps.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dark Arioch wrote:
The alchemist in my game is 13th level and very rarely misses and never runs out of bombs (and I have tried!). He saves them for what he considers worthy opponents and has plenty of other options when not using bombs. They after all have spells, mutagens, and normal alchemical flasks to throw around at great effect. So, the run them out of bombs argument is poor, at best, IMO having tested one in play repeatedly.

Anecdotal support for that: We've just wrapped up House of the Beast (part 2 of Legacy of Fire), and in our playthrough it culminated in what amounted to the entire population of the dungeon storming the PCs in wave after wave. The PCs exhausted themselves in the process, but they've killed about 95% of the enemies included in this entire adventure over the course of one long day. By the time the alchemist tossed his last bomb (the only time he's ever run out), there were exactly three baddies left standing (and two of them hapless mooks, of which this adventure has many).

I've come to accept that the alchemist is a death-dealing machine, especially when using explosive bombs. (One BBEG spent his entire 10-round fight against the PCs engulfed in flames.)

Yet, he's not overwhelming. If enemy groups with spellcasters learn what they're up against, resist energy spells become the norm. Any creatures with fire resistance dampen the alchemist's enthusiasm, and he's rather squishy in melee. The basic tactics I've developed, where feasible, are to keep enemies spread out and/or to rush into melee ASAP.

Andoran

John Mangrum wrote:
Anecdotal support for that: We've just wrapped up House of the Beast (part 2 of Legacy of Fire), and in our playthrough it culminated in what amounted to the entire population of the dungeon storming the PCs in wave after wave. The PCs exhausted themselves in the process, but they've killed about 95% of the enemies included in this entire adventure over the course of one long day. By the time the alchemist tossed his last bomb (the only time he's ever run out), there were exactly three baddies left standing (and two of them hapless mooks, of which this adventure has many).

You too? This totally happened to me as well, completely without the Alchemist. They really did just butcher everyone...though the battle was pretty epic.

John Mangrum wrote:
I've come to accept that the alchemist is a death-dealing machine, especially when using explosive bombs. (One BBEG spent his entire 10-round fight against the PCs engulfed in flames.)

My players killed the Carrion King round and a half. F~%+ing Sorcerer casting Invisibility on the whole party...

*walks off grumbling*

John Mangrum wrote:
Yet, he's not overwhelming. If enemy groups with spellcasters learn what they're up against, resist energy spells become the norm. Any creatures with fire resistance dampen the alchemist's enthusiasm, and he's rather squishy in melee. The basic tactics I've developed, where feasible, are to keep enemies spread out and/or to rush into melee ASAP.

Yeah, it's not too hard to combat an Alchemist's abilities for the most part. He's still pretty badass, but not unbalancingly so.


Spells that can help you against an Alchemist:

1 Entropic Shield (20% miss chance per bomb)
1 Obscuring Mist
1 Shield of Faith
2 Darkness
2 Fog Cloud
2 Mirror Image
2 Resist Energy
2 Web (the grappled condition gives you -4 Dex, -2 penalty on attack rolls and Web provides cover beyond 5 ft. and total cover beyond 20 ft. On a failed save the alchemist will end up with a penalty of -8 on ranged touch attacks)
3 Displacement (50% miss chance per bomb)
3 Protection from Energy
3 Stinking Cloud
3 Wind Wall (30% miss chance per bomb)

Opponents with tower shields can gain total cover against an alchemist while providing cover to any allies located behind them. They would still be exposed to splash damage however.


Oh, I don't think Alchemists are overpowered.... it's not like they are untouchable and/or there aren't classes that can (normally) take them down faster than they can return back the favor. I just think that the alchemist bomb ability is too reliable form of significant damage since a relatively low percentage of BBEGs have mulitiple resistances (either naturally or via spell) and/or high touch AC.

I understand there's a large feat investment on the part of the PC...so, like one of you said above, the guy should absolutely have opportunities to shine for that investment. I just think it's a bit too predictiable when he pulls that trigger. A mage who's invested heavily into spell penetration, or the Ranger who has taken all those feats into archery also tend to do really well on offense, but against bosses and enemy NPCs, specifically, they still have a significant opporuntity to not have one or two round kills. When, they do (usually because they planned something creative or they rolled lucky), it's exciting.

Conversely, when a BBEG comes out and the alchemist pulls the trigger on his bombs, it's a complete surprise when he misses, because it almost always happens on a natural 1 only. It's just far too predictable. Upping touch AC by an average of 5 or so across the board at least adds some unknown variable to the equation (and makes for fun if the party is hit by his own bomb LOL). Sure, there are the occasional foes (when following an AP) that have higher than normal touch AC or some sort of defense (like partial concealment) that can make it interesting, but, even then, he only misses once in a while.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It is possible for other classes to do exactly the same thing with touch attacks to higher CR critters through brilliant energy weapons (yes, I realize this isn't something lower level characters will have), rays, etc... It's just that they have to usually face a secondary line of defense like DR or SR when doing it. While the alchemist does too (energy resistance) he is usually versatile enough to be able to switch to some other energy type on the fly. Other casters with the right feats and/or the right spell selection can also do this pretty easy at higher level just not as quickly (alchemist can throw all five different energy types in a round if built that way). Of course then we get the force bomb which has absolutely no inherent passive defense. So, I guess what I am saying is I feel the crux of the problem isn't so much with the use of touch AC as it is with the ease which the alchemist passes by all secondary defenses. Change the bomb ability from supernatural to spell-like and suddenly you have a much more manageable class for the DM. Basically, the alchemist would then face similar issues to a mage casting a fireball. However, that may go to far in reducing the alchemists ability. Not sure, would have to see it in play but I suspect so. Thus I only did it to force bomb. My litmus test is usually would I think this is fair as a player should my DM suddenly use an alchemist against me? When alchemists start taking out PC's with no real way of them defending themselves except through pure luck then everyone has an interest in doing something about it. I guess I don't feel it's really that extreme a power imbalance yet but definitely keeping an eye on it.

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