Alchemist Bombs comparison


Round 3: Alchemist and Inquisitor


Let me first say that this class is what I’ve been looking for, with a few exceptions that shouldn’t be to hard to fix.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the bombs. I’ve read a lot on this forum about the limit being ridiculous and at first I didn’t think anything of the limit, but after some comparisons I realize that its not really the limit that bothers me, It’s the damage.

Compare a 10th level Alchemist Bomb to a 10th level Wizard Fireball. Damage wise there is no comparison. Its double the damage at 10d6 to a 20 ft radius. The Alchemist has to take a discovery to make his Bomb splash min damage to a 20ft radius. And the range again is no comparison. 400ft +40 per level compared to 10ft increments (this doesn’t bother me but I thought I would throw it in there for comparison sake). And finally, A full round action that provokes 2 attacks of opportunity vs a standard action that provokes 1?

The Wizard cannot pull off nearly as many fireballs as the Alchemist can pull off bombs in a day, but I Don’t think that’s a fair argument. The Alchemist can focus strictly on bombs, and with discoveries like the incendiary bomb, he might come close to pulling of as much damage with a single bomb as a wizards fireball, if the target stays within the cloud.

My suggestion to make the bombs more effective is to make them a swift action to activate, that does not provoke, and a standard to throw it. This allows the alchemist a little movement, so he’s not a sitting duck trying to use his main weapon, while enemies close in and surround him. At that point he is screwed because he is not immune to his bombs and his melee skills are pretty lame.

On another note, I think the Grenadier Feat from the PHB2 makes a lot more since then throw anything at first level… Just sayin.


I have been thinking that at 20 levels the alchemist's damage output will be outshone by the wizards, as has some paper tinkering with numbers like you have. (Although I haven't had the chance to playtest the class at that level.) A discovery to allow him 1d6 per character level damage would be in keeping. Another option would be to allow him to do untyped damage with the bombs, or a limited number per day.


DizzyDev wrote:
The Wizard cannot pull off nearly as many fireballs as the Alchemist can pull off bombs in a day, but I Don’t think that’s a fair argument. The Alchemist can focus strictly on bombs, and with discoveries like the incendiary bomb, he might come close to pulling of as much damage with a single bomb as a wizards fireball, if the target stays within the cloud.

A alchemist at 10th level with a 18 int (not unreasonable to assume) would be able to throw 14 bombs that day. a wizard with a 18 int if he wished to focus on fire ball could throw 10 fireballs that day. the average damage output for the alchemist a day is around 301, not including splash damage. the average damage output for the wizard for a day of fireball throwing is 350, to only one target.

but thats with the wizard memorizing nothing but fireball in all his 3rd level and higher spells, so he wouldn't be doing much else.

Shadow Lodge

Exactly what I have been saying, good post Stipe.

There have been people comparing simple damage output of wizard to alchemist as if its apples to apples. Why not compare damage output of a fighter to a bard?

The alchemist is clearly a class of choices, yes the bombs are not quite as good as a wizards fireball but the alchemist can also change the properties of the bombs, use poison, or even drink mutagen to help out if it needs to be melee time.


Raestlin wrote:
The alchemist is clearly a class of choices, yes the bombs are not quite as good as a wizards fireball but the alchemist can also change the properties of the bombs, use poison, or even drink mutagen to help out if it needs to be melee time.

However, the alchemist has access to 6th level infusions (max), which are a restricted spell list, and cannot match the damage output or flexibility of a wizard with access to 9th level spells and the various metamagic feats. Poison admittedly is a handy add-on, and that's one of the things I personally would like to see in play. I'm not convinced that it will add up to the same effectivness when compared to a quickened fireball or cone of cold plus a heightened disintegrate.

(There's a whole separate argument/discussion here about wizards and what they can put out at 18th level, but that's not for today. It's already in the system to stay. :) )


Eric Stipe wrote:
.....the average damage output for the wizard for a day of fireball throwing is 350, to only one target.

Where does the "damage to only one target" come from? Fireball has a blast radius of 20 feet, so any creature in that 40 foot diameter sphere is taking full damage unless a save is made or it has resistance.


The only point the Bomb has on the fireball, and it is a fairly big one -- is the lack of save or negation for the splash damage. If you are in the splash range you will get splashed evasion or not.

This point is important, however the splash damage is so limited in both range and amount that while the bonus is huge, it doesn't amount to much in comparison to the drawbacks.

Lets not forget however that the wizard with an INT of 18 at level 10 isn't trying, and has access to fifth and fourth level spells as well, which the alchemist doesn't have.

In addition that fireball is a standard action with huge ranged, where as the bomb is a full rounds worth of actions still and has much more limited range.


Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Eric Stipe wrote:
.....the average damage output for the wizard for a day of fireball throwing is 350, to only one target.
Where does the "damage to only one target" come from? Fireball has a blast radius of 20 feet, so any creature in that 40 foot diameter sphere is taking full damage unless a save is made or it has resistance.

if you expand the amount to include other people, what else would you assume to be true. that all the squares are occupied if yes, then you would then assume that everyone missed the save, it just gets really complicated. so i just did it on the basis of hitting one person with the fireball, if you want to do the math, when you do the math, the wizard memorizing nothing but fireballs, that is made to throw those fireballs is going to quickly out distance the alchemist in damage.


Abraham spalding wrote:
The only point the Bomb has on the fireball, and it is a fairly big one -- is the lack of save or negation for the splash damage. If you are in the splash range you will get splashed evasion or not.

This is a good point, one i hadn't thought of.

Abraham spalding wrote:

This point is important, however the splash damage is so limited in both range and amount that while the bonus is huge, it doesn't amount to much in comparison to the drawbacks.

Lets not forget however that the wizard with an INT of 18 at level 10 isn't trying, and has access to fifth and fourth level spells as well, which the alchemist doesn't have.

this is true, i just didn't want to spend much time on the side explaining why the wizard has a higher int no one is going to argue that a 18 int wizard is impossible.

Abraham spalding wrote:
In addition that fireball is a standard action with huge ranged, where as the bomb is a full rounds worth of actions still and has much more limited range.


Raestlin wrote:

Exactly what I have been saying, good post Stipe.

There have been people comparing simple damage output of wizard to alchemist as if its apples to apples. Why not compare damage output of a fighter to a bard?

Yeah. The Alkie's not a pure caster, he's just not. He's a mix, like the Bard and Inquisitor. Now, clearly, the class needs some work. I think most of the boards agree on that, it's not perfect yet. I like the OP's idea for activating bombs: no AoO swift action to activate, AoO standard action to throw. But making an Alchemist equal to a Wizard in ranged AoE damage should not be the goal. Maeloke's done a lot of really good work on this sort of thing, on a few different threads. Personally, I'm a fan of splitting the class into a bomb specialist, a mutagen specialist, and a poison or extract (I can't decide) specialist. But that's just me.

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Deadly Aim, Vital Strike, and Improved Vital strike are all applicable to bombs if I recall correctly. So 30d6+8 at 20th level isn't too terrible. It would be nice to be able to throw out a bomb with each attack though to spread it out.

I wonder if multiple incendiary bombs stack?


I have played D&D since I was 8 (1982) and have enjoyed 3.5x and what Pathfinder has done to allow us that prefer it to 4E to continue to enjoy it and see it improved. Now, on to my post.
I just played a 10th level Alchemist in a short campaign. I found him to be quite versatile, and despite his lack of bomb damage, like the old Warlock and his eldritch blast, he can toss them like candy. I had a 20 Int, and could use 13 bombs a day. Nothing to sneeze at, at 10th level. The mutagen doesn’t impress me and I never used it once, but it’s a great option for the class and in line with its niche and focus.
I like Varianor’s idea of being able to have the Alchemist increase his damage via a discovery. One thing I would like to see is something that allows the Alchemist to “infuse” bombs like he can extracts and mutagens, allowing them to create bombs that remain functional until used would be cool. But, as my GM said, that would enable anyone to use them. I realize there is the Delay Bomb discovery, but all that does is increase the explosion time by a few rounds. Also, I realize he can have all his catalysts made, but that still doesn’t address being able to have bombs premade and ready to go. As an Alchemist, I would have liked to have been able to create a few ready made bombs that wouldn’t explode until I threw them. If we have bombs become inert if they leave the Alchemist’s possession, like extracts without the infusion discovery being used, then no one else could use them, removing the threat of having a million bombs floating around in someone’s campaign. Though, I still do like the idea of “bombs” being a possible “magical item” that alchemists could create, store, and allow others to handle. Of course, they would be the only one’s able to make them (no wizards, sorcerers, etc.)
Varianor mentioned Metamagic feats. Perhaps certain Alchemical feats for the Alchemist would prove useful, or allow him to use certain Metamagic feats with his extracts, bombs and mutagen. Although, I think that’s what they are trying to do with some of the discoveries. Varianor also mentioned poison. There should be a list of potential poisons (alchemical based of course) that the Alchemist should be able to create, thus making him that more deadly.
Another potential problem is bombs can become quite useless, as does the alchemist, in certain situations. And yes, I realize nearly every class becomes useless in certain situations.
Here’s my point. Bombs are considered Supernatural, and are thus subject to antimagic field and the like. Personally, I feel they should be an Extraordinary ability. Yes, it states the Alchemist infuses the bombs with a portion of his magic, but isn’t the point of being an Alchemist to do Alchemical based things (tindertwigs, thnderstones, etc.) In my opinion, Bombs are alchemical devices, not magical ones, and should not be subject to SR or antimagic fields. This would make the alchemist that much more versatile as the only “magic spellcaster” not subject to such things with his Bombs. Doing so makes him that much more of an integral class possibility. His damage may be less than a wizard’s fireball, but being able to use them in an antimagic field is a HUGE benefit to a party. The basis for this is, my party of 4 other 10th level characters had to corral a Balor in a room, by luring it in with a powerful item it wanted, then activated the room, which became an antimagic field, and imprisioned the Balor so he couldn’t leave. We all then waded in to destroy it, since all its spell-like abilities and supernatural abilities were nullified, including his death throes (big bonus). However, the sorcerer, arcane trickster and myself were all rendered pretty much useless. At least the sorcerer was a dragon disciple and could enter melee, and the trickster could sneak attack. I was popping it with my crossbow, which did nothing anyways. Eventually we killed it with the help of an adult green dragon and fire giant, but only barely. So, my point above has some playtest experience added to it. It would add to an alchemist’s niche to at least not have his bombs subject ot SR and antimagic.
Abraham Spalding is right, Bombs do lack a save or negation for the splash damage, and evasion give no help. This is another big bonus for bombs.
I also like DizzyDev’s idea of making bomb creation a swift action to activate, that does not provoke, and a standard to throw it. This would certainly allow the Alchemist some breathing room. Since his only powerful attack is a ranged weapon, and an area effect one at that, he should be given some consideration to be able to use it quickly. I don’t think his bomb creation is considered in his Swift Alchemy class feature. I can see extracts and mutagens taking spellcasting times to create, but as it says in the Alchemist bomb description, they “swiftly mixing various volatile chemicals and infusing them with their magical reserves to create powerful bombs that they can hurl at their enemies.” I also think they should then be usable “swiftly” a.k.a as a swift action. A standard action is more than fair for the alchemist to be able to use his only truly offensive ability.
On another subject, I also view the mutagen as extraordinary in origin, more Jekyll and Hyde-esque than magic based. Extracts could go either way, either being considered Supernatural or Spell-like (and thus magic based), or Extraordinary (and alchemical based) potion-like liquids.
Overall, alchemists are a great class option. They are versatile, can inflict decent damage, function as a makeshift healer with their extracts and Use Magic Device skill, do some of the Rougish things like Disable Devices, and other great skill choices, good hit points, good skill points, etc. I might even go on to say it is an awesome class, with its own flavor and a niche different from all the other arcane spellcasters. I used to play something similar in AD&D 2nd Edition, with bombs and potion making capability. It was based on the “alchemist” in an old video game called Wizardy 7 – Crusaders of the Dark Savant. So, it was nice to see Pathfinder create something similar as a full 20 level class.
There is certainly some tweaking that needs to be done, as stated above, and perhaps expanding the spell list a bit, and actually include a list of 0-level spells usable by the Alchemist (so I created my own), since not all 0-level wizard spells would work with the alchemist). They also need to include 0-level spells in the Formulae Known table (I just uses the Bard’s Spells Known table). Of course, like all the other classes with 0-level spells, an Alchemist can use them at will, creating unlimited extracts per day from his 0-level formula list. These are the 0-level formulae I think they should have.

0-Level Alchemist Formulae
Detect Magic: Detects spells and magic items within 60 ft.
Detect Poison: Detects poison in one creature or small object.
Ghost Sound: Figment sounds.
Guidance: +1 on one attack roll, saving throw, or skill check.
Know Direction: You discern north.
Mage Hand: 5-pound telekinesis.
Message: Whisper conversation at distance.
Prestidigitation: Performs minor tricks.
Read Magic: Read scrolls and spellbooks.
Resistance: Subject gains +1 on saving throws.
Stabilize: Cause a dying creature to stabilize.
Touch of Fatigue: Touch attack fatigues target.
Virtue: Subject gains 1 temporary hp.

Sorry, I know the post is long, but I rarely post anything.

Shadow Lodge

"Only spells and Spell-like abilities are subject to Spell Resistance. Extraordinary and Supernatural abilities (including enhancement bonuses on magic weapons) are not." - Pathfinder RPG Players Guide (page 564)

So you don't need to worry about Spell Resistance on your bombs at least.

As for an Antimagic field, it states that items created by magic but are thereafter self sustaining such as golems are unaffected. You could make an argument that the bomb requires magic to be infused, but thereafter sustains itself til it explodes. However you would still have to be outside the field to infuse it, and within range to throw it.


Excellent. I'm still working on learning all the Pathfinder info, and you are correct, Ex and Su are not subject to SR. Wish I had remembered that when I was fighting a Balor, could have used my bombs after all.


The bombs not being subject to spell resistance I missed. That's valuable. That still leaves the other issues (they take longer to bring into the action than fireballs; they do significantly lower potential max and average damage than fireballs from a wizard of equal level; etc.). I must revise my opinion and really try them out in a playtest.

Grand Lodge

Maybe I'm missing something, but what is so impressive about the bombs?

A Rogue with a bag full of Alchemist Fire can do about as well. You want a 10d6 explosion at first level? 10 Alchemist Fires in a bag tossed at the bad guy's feet. Bit pricey but you know what? If I have the gold, or feat and gold, I can toss bombs all day long.

You want to impress me with bombs, take away the limited number per day. Make it cost dependent instead. You got the cash for the chemicals, you can make the bombs and have them ready to go when you want, rather than wasting a full round before I get to use them.

All of the cool things the Alchemist can do, seems overshadowed by the penalties, limitations, restrictions imposed. Anything the Alchemist can do, someone else can already do better. So what exactly is the niche it is filling?


Krome wrote:
You want to impress me with bombs, take away the limited number per day. Make it cost dependent instead. You got the cash for the chemicals, you can make the bombs and have them ready to go when you want, rather than wasting a full round before I get to use them.

It's not a bad idea in its own right, but the issue there is that wealth is pretty wildly divergent from game to game, even games with the same DM, much less different DMs. Making a class feature dependent on cash isn't a great idea.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure bombs need a limit at all. It's about on par with the 3.5 Warlock in terms of damage, and harder to land a hit besides. Sure, there's splash, but not a lot of splash. And they got to do that all day and all night.


Technically, a DM could require an attack roll for each and every one of those alchemist fire's. That's one distinction.

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10 Alchemist Fires in a bag thrown at the feat of the enemy would only deal spalsh damage to them. Delay Bomb is specific that the explosion deals direct damage to targets in the square with it.


As a dm i would simply argue adding more alchemist fires to a bag isn't going to do much more than 1 already does, you can only cover so much of something before it stacks on itself.

Grand Lodge

a post already exists for what a bag of alchemist fire would do. With some different ideas.

Regardless damage stacks. Or do you houserule with Manyshot that you only do damage from one arrow instead of both?

DR would apply to each one however.

Regardless, the Alchemist is seriously hampered. Is its niche supposed to be "an adventurer that can throw a few bombs per day, but after a couple of fights sits back and watches." Because it gets fewer good attacks than a wizard does!

Another complaint, alchemy is NOT just another magic, it is ALCHEMY.

I just fail to see the niche this guy is supposed to fill. Cool rules ideas, but what is the PURPOSE?


Krome wrote:


Another complaint, alchemy is NOT just another magic, it is ALCHEMY.

Actually Alchemy is MAGIC... it is NOT chemistry. Chemistry grew out of alchemy (to an extent) however they are not synonymous.

Much like a square can be a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares, so it is with alchemy and chemistry.

A link on the subject (again, I know third time posting it):

Alchemy

Of course you can always wiki and google it yourself too.

Grand Lodge

Abraham spalding wrote:
Krome wrote:


Another complaint, alchemy is NOT just another magic, it is ALCHEMY.

Actually Alchemy is MAGIC... it is NOT chemistry. Chemistry grew out of alchemy (to an extent) however they are not synonymous.

Much like a square can be a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares, so it is with alchemy and chemistry.

A link on the subject (again, I know third time posting it):

Alchemy

Of course you can always wiki and google it yourself too.

Alchemy was Alchemy... notice I didn't say it was CHEMISTRY, never said that. Alchemy was a method of transmutation of substances and self. However, alchemy is not magic. While I can see the confusion in that they have similarities, use of powerful ingredients, formulas, and chants, these are superficial similarities.

Instead of magic, Alchemy relies upon mystic changes at the chemical level. Granted, the practitioners did not understand chemistry and thought a mystical transformation. To understand Alchemy it is better to consider it as a mystical chemistry.

Let's put it this way, Divine and Arcane Magic have more in common than they do with Psionics, and Psionics have more in common with Divine and Arcane magics than any of them do with Alchemy.

So, I will budge slightly and concede that Alchemy is a KIND of magic, but is nothing like the existing magic in the game.

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What exactly would you consider it to be like? A good example of literature or media perhaps. (nothing like FMA which is just mgaixks with a different name)

I've read through the wikis on alchemy and they basically just offer "alchemists where balls crazy and didn't really do anything"


Krome wrote:


So, I will budge slightly and concede that Alchemy is a KIND of magic, but is nothing like the existing magic in the game.

That's all I was getting to, it is magic. What they present currently doesn't act like any other magic so far presented either... now I agree some things could be done differently but I think the current Alchemist is a great start on the way to a great finished product... it's just still at the start IMO.


Abraham spalding wrote:
... it's just still at the start IMO.

I agree

one thing I would like to see added to the class is the ability to improve upon existing alchemical items...

for example, let a Alchemist get the tangelfoot bag and give it am area of effect, maybe boost the save DC?

There are quite a few things they can add to the class


If anyone is interested, I've posted a new thread called Alchemist Rebuild Based of Numerous Suggestion Posts that is a rebuild of the Alchemist based on many of your suggestions,and others from other threads. Go check it out and comment.

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