Advanced Options: Alchemists' Discoveries (PFRPG) PDF

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The alchemist class represents a trope common in adventure fiction, if not fantasy fiction: the mad scientist. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, many of the classic works of fiction that helped build the framework from which most fantasy RPGs hang include the inventor or scholar who is clearly dabbling in matters beyond mundane science. Coupled with the more fantasy-friendly view of the medieval alchemist who seeks to use combinations of materials and formulas to bring change to the material world and a rich history of inventor-adventurers dating back to Daedalus, the alchemist class allows players to enjoy an archetype that can’t easily be represented by any other Pathfinder Roleplaying Game character class.

However, that rich tradition of mad scientists and natural philosophers obviously requires much more support than any single book has room to offer, especially since most game supplements have to appeal to a broad range of interests. The Advanced Player’s Guide lacks room to present alternative alchemist options, and logically it must focus on the most obvious and functional discoveries and bombs. But if ever there was a class that called out for quirkier possibilities, the alchemist is it.

To help in that regard, Advanced Options: Alchemists’ Discoveries presents 29 new discoveries, including 7 tied to two new forms of alchemy: spagyric devices and metamorphosis. With this broad set of new options, alchemists can make rockets, create homunculi, sniff out their foes, craft waxwork wings, and even transmute lead into gold.

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Cool new options for the Alchemist

4/5

This pdf is 9 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, leaving 7 1/3 pages of content for the new discoveries, so what do we get?

After a short discussion of the alchemist-class and the literary tradition of the trope, we are introduced to 29 new discoveries, 7 of which belong to two new sets of discovery-trees, which I’ll elaborate later. From bombs that blind, deafen and splitter bombs, explosives get a plethora of cool new options, two of which I particularly liked: Minibombs and High Explosives use half a bomb slot or two respectively, but are less/more effective than regular bombs, adding to the set of tactical options for bomb-focused alchemists. Even better, alchemists can learn to expand their range by creating rockets and expand the threat range – nice! Via essence discoveries, mutagens can be modified to add e.g. scent, greater invisibility etc. Extracts also get a cool expansion, by enabling them to heal minor amounts of damage, extracts that have a higher duration etc.

The second part of the pdf deals with alternate alchemy and introduces the concept of spagyric devices and metamorphosis, for which the alchemist must give up one of his alchemical areas of interest . The devices are particularly interesting: The field enables the alchemist to duplicate magic items with a certain GP-limit with his alchemical devices. Before you start screaming about magic inflation, let me elaborate: Apart from a very restrictive GP-limit-pool to create these devices from, they require maintenance and at best have a durability of 2 days when separated from their creator. Furthermore, they take up 2 item slots and are very fragile. 6 sample names for such devices are given and all said, I consider the field a gold-mine for roleplaying, offering players a very cool opportunity to develop their very own devices and come up with justifications for their usage. Three new discoveries for these devices are presented, one making his creations harder to break, the second enabling the alchemist to select spells not on his spell-list and create items necessitating these spells. The final one lets the alchemist create more items with his gp-limit.

The second new field of alchemical expertise is metamorphosis, which belongs to the field that seeks to create gold from lead, focusing on the transformation of both materials and persons, enabling the alchemist to duplicate polymorph-effects via the 4 discoveries. While an iconic idea and not unbalancing (turning lead to gold works, but takes forever…), mechanically, it can’t hold a candle to the cool spagyric devices.

The problem of the relative scarcity of low-cost magic items is also addressed and I’d like to add Necromancers of the Northwest’s “Into the Armory” (available for free) to the list of recommended material to expand it, SGG’s recommendation being, of course their loot 4 less-series, which I’ll hope to buy and review sometime in the future.

The pdf closes with 2 feats granting extra devices and metamorphosis.

Conclusion:
Editing is good, though is noticed a missing “e” in the metamorphosis-section. Layout adheres to the 3-column standard. The artwork is stock art and rather often used pieces at that. The pdf has no bookmarks. The new discoveries for bombs, mutagens and extracts all rock and I had no balance concerns with regards to them. The new devices also offer a neat and easy way to play a tinkerer and showcase Owen K.C. Stephens’ mastery of concise crunch-writing. Paradoxically, I think this pdf would have been better off if it were a bit shorter (or larger, of course!), as the new metamorphosis ability, while iconic, is simply not too rewarding and seriously needs more options to become a viable choice for all but NPC-alchemists. As written, transmuters will still mop the floor with these poor chaps and there simply is not that much going for them due to lack of support material. 2 additional pages of discoveries would have been either a viable options for the new field or a nice space for more discoveries. While these gripes are there, I still consider this book to rank among the finest of the advanced options-line and due to the quality of the crunch, will settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


Spagyric Devices Rock!!!

5/5

This is where it's at, combine this PDF with advanced feats alchemist PDF and you have the swiss army knife of alchemists.

This is what would have been in the APG if they had more space and time.


Need alchemy discoveries? Look no further.

4/5

Advanced Options: Alchemists Discoveries by Super Genius Games

This product is 9 pages long. It starts with a cover and intro. (1 pages)

Discoveries (2 ½ pages)
There is 22 new discoveries in this book. 10 of them are new bombs or modifiers for bombs, such as making a bomb into a air-burst rocket. 8 are mutagens, some examples are ones that give you swim bonus, scent, natural armor etc. 3 extracts, one that does minor healing in addition, another ups the caster level, and the last increases duration. The last one lets a alchemist create a homunculus.

Alternate Alchemy (4 pages)
This section introduces Spagyric Devices and Metamorphosis. To take one of these then either Bombs, Mutagens or Extracts must be given up. On a one for one basis.

Spagyric Devices are basically magic items, the Alchemist is allowed to create x amount worth of magic items at any given time. If the Alchemist wishes they can take one apart and make a different one, but this takes a great deal of time. They also take up magic item slots a character is allowed to have. They can also be broken and take effort to keep working. I love the idea of this but not sure how I feel about it. This is something I would honestly have to use in game to make up my mind about. It has 6 sample devices, some advice on making more and 3 discoveries.

Metamorphosis you can transmute one thing to another. Such as lead to gold. You can weaken things, at higher levels effect living flesh. It is not a easy way to make profit though with how the system works. There is 4 discoveries. This one makes sense and it is very alchemist like in concept. But with that said I am not a real big fan of this one. It would be of limited use to a adventuring Alchemist compared to some of the other choices in my honest opinion.

Feats (½ page)
There is only 2 new feats, ones that grant a extra Spagyric Device and one for a extra Metamorphosis.

It ends with a OGL and credits. (1 pages)

Closing thoughts. Art is ok, layout and editing is topnotch. The new discoveries where well done and worth the price of the book alone. The two new Alchemy options are interesting. Spagyric Devices might be really cool. I am honestly torn on it, I love the idea but unsure how well it will really work. In theory if it works the way the author thinks it should be a very cool option for Alchemist. Though a future support book I think is almost a much to truly make it shine. The other one Metamorphosis, I felt was very meh and just didn't impress me. The idea fits the class but not really for a adventurer. So what's my rating? I am going to give this one a 4, the discoveries are nice and I may come back and bump it up to a 4.5 after I get a chance to play around with Spagyric Devices.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.


Bottom line: this made me want to play an alchemist.

5/5

This is my first review here; if my style seems familiar, it's because I don't have my own style yet, so I'm copying some reviewers that I found more useful than others.

Advanced Options: Alchemists' Discoveries is a 9-page PDF in landscape format.

The first page is a cover and intro. This is followed by the titular Discoveries (two pages plus art):

-Airburst Rocket: Bomb with a longer range and wider splash radius, but no direct hit.
-Amphibious Mutagen: Gives waterbreathing and a swim speed.
-Barb Bomb: Barbed shrapnel impairs movement rates.
-Blinding bomb: Self-explanatory.
-Burst Bomb: Splash damage in an adjacent cone, but no direct hit.
-Chitinous Mutagen: Adds a bonus to natural armor.
-Cliffwalking Mutagen: Gives a climb speed.
-Deafening Bomb: Self-explanatory.
-Essence of Aberration: Mutagen adds darkvision and unusual anatomy.
-Essence of the Cheetah: Mutagen adds a haste bonus to move speed.
-Essence of the Eagle: Mutagen adds low-light vision and a Perception bonus.
-Essence of the Wolf: Mutagen gives the scent ability.
-Explosive Trap: Bomb that’s what it sounds like.
-High Explosive: Bomb that deals more damage but counts as two uses.
-Homunculus: Unique among the discoveries in this section, Homunculus has nothing to do with bombs, mutagens or essences. Instead, it gives the ability to create a familiar.
-Minibomb: Opposite of High Explosive.
-Phantom Mutagen: Makes you invisible.
-Potent Extract: Higher effective caster level.
-Preserved Extract: Extended duration.
-Rocket: Bomb with a longer range.
-Vital Extract: Adds a little bit of healing to them all.
-Volatile Bomb: Widened critical threat range.

Next is an even more interesting section: Alternative Alchemy. Not including art, it spans four pages discussing two new alternate class abilities — Spagyric Devices and Metamorphosis — that may be taken in place of Mutagens, Extracts or Bombs. Each new class ability comes with 3-4 relevant new discoveries.

Almost three of those pages are devoted to the fascinating Spagyric Devices option; and rightfully so, in my opinion! Basically, the alchemist gains the ability to make improbable devices that can duplicate various magic items (depending on class level and other factors), but that are fragile and need regular maintenance by their creator to keep them functioning. Brilliant!

The other page or so of Alternative Alchemy discusses Metamorphosis, which focuses on transforming one material into another, with a sideline of polymorphing. The section ends with two new feats, Extra Devices and Extra Metamorphosis, which are as they sound.

There’s roughly one page total of art mixed in throughout the Discoveries and Alternative Alchemy, so that just leaves the last page, with the credits and OGL.

Conclusion:
The discoveries are good, but not perfect; for example, I think that Blinding Bomb should probably have a Fortitude save instead of a Reflex save, whereas Deafening Bomb is probably available at too low of a level and should not have a permanent effect on the splash area. On the other hand, they did good by having Essences where only one can be applied to a given mutagen; going back to the first hand, some of their other mutagen discoveries (such as Amphibious and Cliffwalking) should probably be Essences too. I also think that Homunculus would need a good hard look (and then a second one) before being allowed, due to the potential for unexpected consequences. However, I consider those as normal quibbles for this kind of product, so they don't affect my score.

Spagyric Devices was my main reason for buying the supplement, and it didn’t disappoint! Mad Science is one of my favorite genres, and yet the Dr. Jekyll flavor of the Alchemist in the APG failed to pique my interest. My imagination is captured more by characters like the inventive Sparks in the steampunk webcomic Girl Genius, and it looks to me like Spagyric Devices would give that feel without being particularly under- or over-powered.

Metamorphosis underwhelmed me and I don’t care… much. It could’ve been completely omitted, and Advanced Options: Alchemists’ Discoveries would still be a great product. Still, I’m dinging a star for publishing what feels to me like a series of mechanics clustered around a concept, instead of a real cohesive whole; it's a polish issue.

That just leaves the production values: good layout, decent art, seems mostly well-edited. Overall, I give it a bonus star for taking a class from “meh” to “cool” in three dollars, so my final score is a five.


Scarab Sages

Advanced Options: Alchemists' Discoveries is available now!

Alchemists’ Discoveries presents 29 new discoveries, including 7 tied to two new forms of alchemy: spagyric devices and metamorphosis. With this broad set of new options, alchemists can make rockets, create homunculi, sniff out their foes, craft waxwork wings, and even transmute lead into gold (yes, without a philosopher's stone, and yes it's been tested for balance!)

Dark Archive

Here you go again... you're plotting... I see it...

Sczarni

Just showed this to my player who wanted to be some kind of McGyver style tinkerer on out PF Modern game, he was ecstatic.

Sczarni

This is actually my favorite SGG product, and that's a LOT to say, because I love most of your products.

At last, I can build a combat alchemyst with a steampunk flavor without deformin Pathfinder mechanics.

Many, many thanks for this.

Scarab Sages

Thengel336 wrote:
This is actually my favorite SGG product, and that's a LOT to say, because I love most of your products.

You are most welcome! And thanks for the feedback, it's both very, very good for the ego, and useful to the designer.

Thengel336 wrote:

At last, I can build a combat alchemyst with a steampunk flavor without deformin Pathfinder mechanics.

Many, many thanks for this.

Let me know how that goes! I've been wondering if this is how I should do a steamgineer class...


I would much like to have a weird science mad inventor type of class.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is a really solid product. Lots of the ideas are fantasic, but I suspect the spagyric variant will get the most attention.

One, hopefully, quick question: how do the new variants function with your archetypes? At the moment, I'm going with the alchemist will swap out the mutagen for the new vaiant and the bombs for the archetype as that will retain the most discoveries for them. And I know the rules for swapping archetypes between classes are still not official, and may never become so, but there I'm saying these variants ar subbing for the Grenadier package, replacing Bombs and Throw Anything in that archetype. Does that sound about right to you?

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wow, I never knew what Spagyric was until I Googled it. The word sounds really goofy, though it appears to be just another word for Herbalism? Pity you couldn't have just gone with that?

Sounds like some positive feedback from those who have already purchased it though. Might have to add this one to my cart and see for myself.

Cheers,
DarkWhite

Dark Archive

Reviewed.

Scarab Sages

Paul Watson wrote:
This is a really solid product. Lots of the ideas are fantasic, but I suspect the spagyric variant will get the most attention.

That seems likely!

Paul Watson wrote:
One, hopefully, quick question: how do the new variants function with your archetypes? At the moment, I'm going with the alchemist will swap out the mutagen for the new vaiant and the bombs for the archetype as that will retain the most discoveries for them. And I know the rules for swapping archetypes between classes are still not official, and may never become so, but there I'm saying these variants ar subbing for the Grenadier package, replacing Bombs and Throw Anything in that archetype. Does that sound about right to you?

Yes, that's pretty close to how I'll handle the question, when I get around to handling the question. :)

DarkWhite wrote:
Wow, I never knew what Spagyric was until I Googled it. The word sounds really goofy, though it appears to be just another word for Herbalism? Pity you couldn't have just gone with that?

While most spagyric practices in the real world involved the use of herbs, it was spacifically a form of alchemy. In the context of this product it's much less herbal, and much more mad-science, the creation of things that work like magic items, but are driven by alchmy. It's exactly because it's not in common use I felt free to coopt it for a specific set of alchemy options, which needed a group name since "alchemy" is kinda taken.

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Reviewed.

Thanks, DM!


Would it make a difference balance-wise which class feature you give up? Let's say you give up mutagens to get spagyric devices. A mutagen by itself isn't really that powerful; they work best when combined with feral mutagen and other discoveries. If you're not going to take feral mutagen, you really have no reason not to take spagyric devices instead of mutagens. If you had to give up extracts instead, for instance, it would seem to be a more even trade-off in power.

Scarab Sages

RickSummon wrote:
Would it make a difference balance-wise which class feature you give up? Let's say you give up mutagens to get spagyric devices. A mutagen by itself isn't really that powerful; they work best when combined with feral mutagen and other discoveries.

In playtesting it doesn't seem to make a major difference, assuming the player was maximizing the utility of mutagens. The most effective mutagen combination we saw (not including discoveries) was to go +4 Dex, -2 Wis (for bomb-maximized alchemists) or +4 Con -2 Cha (for any other alchemist). The bomb-maximized alchemist is particularly deadly when facing anyone without Will-save powers (and of course a good alchemist just doesn't use that mutagen if there are Will-based effects obvious) since it gives him +4 AC and +2 to ranged attack rolls.

At low levels in particular, that's significantly *more* useful than even a few thousand gp limit of spagyric devices. Their breakability alone makes them less useful than first blush might suggest. Of course the spagyrics become more useful if you assign discoveries to them... but so do mutagens. And at upper levels, a mutagen-using alchemist can still get a huge boost, because as an alchemical bonus his mutegen stacks with nearly everything that he's bought to boost his ability scores. Just +4 Con may not sound like much, but if you have a +4 Con belt and then grab another +4 con from a mutagen, you;s Con may exceed the fighter's, and your hit points to boot.

Indeed, I've even seen barbarians take a single level of alchemist to stack mutagens with rage... it's ugly.

Characters who did see a significant uptick in power were alchemists who never used their mutagen ability, usually because they just didn't like the idea, but those are characters who weren't using a major class ability. It's not surprising they'd see a boost if they replaced it with anything they'd actually use.


I have a question about the spagyric devices. It says that the devices cannot have charges, but can have uses per day. A staff has charges, but they replenish each day, so does that mean a staff can be made into a spagyric device?

Scarab Sages

Brandon Cathey wrote:
I have a question about the spagyric devices. It says that the devices cannot have charges, but can have uses per day. A staff has charges, but they replenish each day, so does that mean a staff can be made into a spagyric device?

A staff's charges don't automatically replenish. A spellcaster can choose to imbue a staff with one of his own spells while preparing spells, restoring one charge to it. So, RAW, you can't use a satff to create a spagyric device.

That said, I might well relax this rule a bit, especially if the staff either held spells the alchemist could recharge himself (the idea of an alchemical metamorph battery with the power to inflict alchemist spells on the alchemist and his allies is kinda cool) or if it thematically made sense to me (a spagyric device based on a a staff of healing or a staff of weather is cool).

However!

The reason you can't make spagyric devices or items with charges is that it's too easy to create such an item, use the charges, then use the parts for a different spagyric item the next day. You get more "bang for your buck" that way. So if I did allow a spagyric device based on a staff, I would require the alchemist to maintain the full gp value of the staff out of his device gp limit until it was fully charged again. In other words, you can't disassemble the staff and use the gp value for other items until you've fully recharged it.

Scarab Sages

There's a new 4/5 review for this over at RPGNow.


Reviewed here and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

Dark Archive

Nice Review End.


Thanks, D_M! The next review comes tomorrow! One of these days I'm gonna catch up with all the SGG-files...one of these days...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Idd like to thank you for this great addition to any pathfnder players library, I´m foaming at the mouth over spagyric devices, and interestingly, I´ve decided NOT to ignore the Goldmaking feature at the end. The rules are far to vague in my opinion, and I wont be using them, they did inspire me though to create a trio of homebrew discoveries, that let alchemists add Polymorph spells to their extract list and throw bombs that turn their victims extremeties (fingers, claws) into gold that may be harvested!

This one file got me hooked on buying 3rd party pdf's, I already have several SGG books like Horrifically overpowered feats also some Genius guides and Advanced options titles.

Some questions about Spagyric devices:
Can you make expendable thrown weapons as spagyric devices? Using the Single-use item line in the CRB (Items like Bead of fore or Neclace of fireballs).
Could you make thrown weapons or ammunition?
Could you make spagyric construkts, like Shield golems? If not would it be appropriate to require Create construkt and/or the expenditure of a discovery for it?

I know this might not be the best place for asking these things, and there might be answers already, if so, where?

Scarab Sages Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

tsuruki wrote:
Idd like to thank you for this great addition to any pathfnder players library, I´m foaming at the mouth over spagyric devices

I'm glad you're enjoying it!

tsuruki wrote:
This one file got me hooked on buying 3rd party pdf's, I already have several SGG books like Horrifically overpowered feats also some Genius guides and Advanced options titles.

Great news!

tsuruki wrote:
Some questions about Spagyric devices:

Sure!

tsuruki wrote:
Can you make expendable thrown weapons as spagyric devices? Using the Single-use item line in the CRB (Items like Bead of fore or Neclace of fireballs).

No. Anything you can use just once essentially has 1 charge, and charged items are not allowed as spagyric devices.

tsuruki wrote:
Could you make thrown weapons or ammunition?

You could make thrown weapons like axes, but not alchemists fire. Again, you can't make anything that goes away when used.

tsuruki wrote:
Could you make spagyric construkts, like Shield golems?

Yes, but it's still be Breakable, need Maintenance, and be Bulky (suing the normal spagyric device rules). So essentially you'd need to decide on a body slot for a "controller" to run the goplem, and it'd likely crack up pretty quickly.

tsuruki wrote:

I know this might not be the best place for asking these things, and there might be answers already, if so, where?

Actually this is a GREAT place to ask these.


Thanks for clarifying.

Armed with this knowledge ill be ready to incorporate it fully into my sessions.

Also, deftly done on the "construct controller" item slot idea! Of course the mastermind of the construct would need to have a master control on hand!

Scarab Sages Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

tsuruki wrote:
Also, deftly done on the "construct controller" item slot idea! Of course the mastermind of the construct would need to have a master control on hand!

Thanks! I confess the idea probably came easily to me because of many, many episodes of Gigantor I watched in my younger days.


I know this product has been around for a while but I haven't seen this question asked:

Can you take Tumor Familiar and Homunculus discoveries to get yourself multiple familiars? I'm inclined to allow it since familiars aren't really that powerful but I can certainly see some chance for abuse by creative players.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

SPAGYRIC!

Argh, I was trying to remember the name of that AWESOME subsystem, but just couldn't the other day. Then Bob bumps this post and suddenly it pops into my head.

So, thanks.


You're welcome! I'm here to be of service!

Scarab Sages Contributor

Bob_Loblaw wrote:

I know this product has been around for a while but I haven't seen this question asked:

Can you take Tumor Familiar and Homunculus discoveries to get yourself multiple familiars? I'm inclined to allow it since familiars aren't really that powerful but I can certainly see some chance for abuse by creative players.

Since I wrote the homunculus rules more than a year before tumor familiar was an option from Paizo, I obviously didn't take it into consideration when I wrote the homunculus discovery. They are so surprisingly similar, I'd be inclined to say am alchemist should take one or the other, rather than allow both.

That said, I don't know that it would actually be unbalancing to allow both. Yes that gives you a lot of little helpers running around... but unlike most familiar if you lose either of these it gets expensive to replace them. That's likely incentive enough not to tie bombs to them and send them out to blow up encounters before you reach them. :)

It DOES make me want to work on my Animator alternate alchemist class that focuses on golem creation, and the Puppetmaster archetype. But maybe I'll save those for The Talented Alchemist...


That's what I was thinking. I'll probably allow it until something breaks (or bends too far) then I'll have to change things.

I would also be more than willing to pay for a golem creator archetype or class as well as a puppetmaster. I'll probably never be allowed to play either of them but I would still love to have them for others. I'm not allowed to play summoners or any character who summons lots of creatures.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Golem-Wrights and Puppetmasters are likely to be in The Genius Guide to the Talented Alchemist, when it eventually comes out.


Ooooooh.

Also, you took my advice about punctuation, yay!

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