Alchemist - correct me if I'm wrong, but...


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So, when it comes to looking at characters builds, I have a rule of thumb. If I can't apply a feature in the adventure, it's a waste. Like trying to run a character reliant on their precision damage in encounters where there is a magical darkness situation so the concealment chance nixes your class feature, it's not that the ability is a bad idea... it's just made in such a way that the mechanics are broken against you.

The reason I bring this up is because my group decided to take a small break from our current campaign to run a little one-shot adventure of 9th level characters. Some major hitters with a bit of swagger to them. I see this is a good chance to try out the Alchemist for the first time. I'm a sucker for the Victorian-esque steampunk influence, and I decide rather than clunk it up with an archetype to just run a straight Alchemist. Try to take the best advantages of the little tricks and abilities it has. However, after two encounters that were deliberately crafted by our game master to see how the group dynamic worked out by more or less throwing a variety of challenges at us, we quickly saw a problem in how the Alchemist functioned. So, we looked over the build together, tried to tweak it to run smoother. And, breaking it down, these were the problems we saw.

○ While a mutagen might give a little boost to a single ability score and add 2 points to their armor class, the fact that they're limited to light armor, simple weapons, have the middle attack value, and d8 hit points makes them unfit to do more than plug up a hole in a melee conflict.
○ While they have extracts that are prime to "buff" themselves for conflict on top of their mutagens, that's more or less saying they need to use two standard actions simply to engage an enemy. This is tantamount to having to bundle on your snowgear while a snowball fight is already going on... most often, by the time you're ready it's already dwindled down or it's finished.
○ Melee attacks of opportunity makes them vulnerable to more or less do what they're built to do... be it throw a bomb or use an extract.

We looked at the feats that were needed to smooth out some of these problems, and this is what we came up with. At 9th level, a character has five feats from raising levels. JUST to make their alchemical bombs work, well, they needed all five of those feats at 9th level.

○ Point Blank Shot so he could in turn get Precise Shot so that they could throw a bomb into melee without a penalty.
○ Dodge and Weapon Focus (bombs) so he could in turn get Close Quarters Thrower and be able to use his alchemical bombs while threatened by a melee fighter and not provoke an attack of opportunity.

This is a 9th level character, people! They haven't even gotten a spare feat to get Combat Casting to use their extracts, much less anything that permits them a feat to allow any flavor or originality. When you have this many complications SIMPLY to use the basic features of your class, there's not other way to label it as anything but a Feat Tax. No class should be built in such as way that it's only after 11th level you're going, "Whew! I've picked up everything I need to be involved in an adventure and not be hacked at every time I try to do something that is among my primary purposes... I mean, theoretically I might be able to pull off some of these tricks if I were behind the meat shields, but we all know game masters! By fourth level, half the encounters have invisible or flying (or invisible flying!) threats that are just going to pop up next to me and ruin my day. And that's if the situation isn't a straight up ambush that begins with me being sneak attacked out of the gate! Still, here I am... 11th level, and FINALLY able to look forwards to a feat next level that gives me any individual identity!" (Yes, this is hyperbole, but the point is valid.)

However, this is what my game master and myself have seen as an inherent problem in the Alchemist. And it's true, it's also my first time running the class. However, I was sorta hoping that by 9th level most of the class glitches would've smoothed themselves out to simply enjoy a character that had a different style from most. Are we that terribly wrong? Is there something we're missing about the mechanics that eliminates half the feats required so maybe I could take Extra Discovery or Arcane Strike or... well, anything? Or is the Alchemist truly that broken?

Dark Archive

I'm a bomber specialist and never remotely felt like I needed a feat to avoid provoking. The biggest thing is that an alchemist needs to specialize in melee or bombing and go from there. I almost never do anything other then hour/level or 10min/level buffs once I got to about 5th level and things work out pretty well from an action economy stand point then.


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Why are you in close quarters instead of flying around the battlefield raining down destruction?

You don't need dodge and weapon focus, you're hitting touch AC.

You use Amplify Elixir + Alchemical Allocation to crank the durations on your barkskin potion and shield of faith potion, along with whatever other long-term potions you want active...ablative barrier, darkvision, etc...

During combat, you use your monkey tumor familiar with poisoner's gloves to slap two quick buffs on you without using any of your own actions.

Depending on your WBL, give yourself celestial armor and a magical light shield and you'll be rocking AC in the mid to upper 30s.

Meanwhile you're raining down force bombs or holy bombs to knock down or stagger your enemies, punching through any energy resistances with ease.

Spell Resistance? Golem magic immunity? Pfft.


If you spend 5 feats on making bombs work its important to note that any BBEG you encounter gets 1 round of life and then he dies.

Alternately you can let it sit with point blank and precise shot and take the bomb discoveries that are more control oriented, stink bomb, tanglefoot bomb and the like.

Alchemist is quite probably the most versatile character in the game, MAYBE competing with investigator.

Post your character up as well as what kind of combat you're looking to do and we'll see why you're having issues


If you are concerned about weapon and armor proficiencies, take 1 level of a full-bab class.

Sometimes there isn't time at the start of a fight to get yourself up to full power. Thats OK, because sometimes you can buff yourself before combat and kick ass from the 1st round.

Most characters are susceptible to attacks of opportunity. Want to throw a bomb? You can take the AoO, take a 5-ft Step, or figure out something else to do for that round.

You do not need those five feats. You choose to take them. I am presently playing my 2nd alchemist, and have consciously chosen to not take any of the same combat feats. And as far as I know, combat casting doesn't help you because the alchemist doesn't cast spells.

Here is the things about alchemists. You look over the class features and go "wow they can do so much!", but it turns out its nearly impossible to use them all. Mutagen takes time, bombs come with liabilities, the spell list isn't everything you want it to be, alchemical items are not so goof after low level, and using poison is not player-friendly in this game.

You need to decide on a combat style and focus on that. Some choose melee and focus on mutagen and high strength - they have bombs as a backup. Some choose to focus on throwing bombs - they have a few weapons around use mutagen when time permits. Some go for a hybrid role or a support role. You still have all of the class's options available to you, but don't count on using them on every adventuring day.

Much like the bard, the class appears full of versatility and options, but is actually requires important decisions. Figure out what you want to be good at, focus on the that, and keep the rest for when you need other options. If you hyperfocus on one thing, you'll get the rewards and the consequences.

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-Combat Casting doesn't help an alchemist any because they're not spellcasters. They never make concentration checks to cast a spell. It's not a feat the alchemist 'needs' because it gives them zero benefits. Yes, drinking your extracts provokes-- but they also can't be interrupted. All that happens when you get hit is damage, you don't lose the "spell" (because it's not a spell).

-None of the alchemists I have played with bother taking precise shot. Yes, you take a -4 on nearly every fight.... so? You're going against TOUCH AC. You do want PBS, yes, because you need it for Rapid Shot, but beyond that...

-You can build a decent melee alchemist, it just takes a different focus and trying not to cover too many bases. You can self-buff to a respectable AC what with things like Shield, Barkskin, False Life (not AC but still), a solid Dex, etc. It means you're giving up a focus on bombs in order to do this other thing, usually, but it's perfectly valid; I know because I've seen it in play. Personally, I wouldn't bother because the bombs crank out way more damage, but it's a feasible character build.

Alchemist is a great utility and skill monkey class that also cranks out really respectable damage with bomb spam.

Also, you get See Invisibility as a 10/min level extract, so you shouldn't be worrying about invisible foes surprising you anyway at 9th level.


Rather than spend three feats to be able to use bombs in melee I'd spend a couple being half-decent in melee, or just one on something like extra discovery: breath weapon bomb. If you've used your feats inefficiently the class will look bad, true. IMO close quarters thrower is really only for use by rogues whose next feat will be false opening, not for alchemists.


A level of Fighter gets you better armor and weapons, but a level of Barbarian get's you a bonus to Strength that stacks with your Mutagen. Hit hard, hit often.


I'm really not sure alchemist needs a better weapon than Longspear, or an amulet of mighty fists by level 11


Ryan Freire wrote:
I'm really not sure alchemist needs a better weapon than Longspear, or an amulet of mighty fists by level 11

Truth.


A conductive, adapting(the one that changes the rating to match your strength score?) composite longbow could be useful. Though that has the drawback of normal AC targeting.


Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
I decide rather than clunk it up with an archetype to just run a straight Alchemist.

I'd really suggest taking a look at the beastmorph archetype. You swap out so little, and can get so much in return


_Ozy_ wrote:
Why are you in close quarters instead of flying around the battlefield raining down destruction?

As I mention in my little hyperbole example... the vast majority of encounters are usually ones in which the characters are immediately put on their heels. They don't get to determine when a fight happens, and it's usually due to an ambush. So before anything, first round, BAM! You're pinned by a melee attacker. This is easily the case in about 75% of every combat round I play in.

_Ozy_ wrote:
You don't need dodge and weapon focus, you're hitting touch AC.

Those two feats are prerequisites to get Close Quarters Throwers, so the Alchemist can actually throw their bombs once they're already challenged by a melee fighter.

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
If you are concerned about weapon and armor proficiencies, take 1 level of a full-bab class.

It's less of a concern, and more of a "well if my mutagen doesn't really help me like how it's supposed to work, then why give it the class feature" issue. Like I said in the second line... if I can't apply a feature in the adventure, it's a waste. I suppose perhaps I could amend that to "If I can't apply a feature in the adventure because there's always a more advantageous option, it's a waste."

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
You do not need those five feats. You choose to take them.

That's kinda like saying an wizard doesn't need combat casting. Yeah, they can skip taking the feat, but when their main ability relies on it to prevent spells from fizzling in combat, it's simply too important to deny. No, I don't need them. However, to apply the alchemical bomb ability to proper effect, they're fairly necessary.

dien wrote:
-Combat Casting doesn't help an alchemist any because they're not spellcasters. They never make concentration checks to cast a spell. It's not a feat the alchemist 'needs' because it gives them zero benefits. Yes, drinking your extracts provokes-- but they also can't be interrupted. All that happens when you get hit is damage, you don't lose the "spell" (because it's not a spell).

I truly appreciate this rules clarification... and it makes sense. Thank you. I mean, it still stinks that you draw an attack of opportunity, but thanks for clearing that up.

dien wrote:
Also, you get See Invisibility as a 10/min level extract, so you shouldn't be worrying about invisible foes surprising you anyway at 9th level.

Sadly, it always seems convenient that every time we have an encounter with an invisible foe, I'll cast see invisibility and that will be the last time we fight an invisible attacker for a couple hours. Oh, there will be a dungeon delve with maybe one encounter, perhaps a bit of a villain monologuing situation, but no real use for it. Funny how it always seems to work out that way.

Now, the most important line in everything that's been said... and thank you all for your feedback.

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Here is the things about alchemists. You look over the class features and go "wow they can do so much!", but it turns out its nearly impossible to use them all. Mutagen takes time, bombs come with liabilities, the spell list isn't everything you want it to be, alchemical items are not so goof after low level, and using poison is not player-friendly in this game.

I won't use my line again, but I'll rephrase it... if it's a feature you can't use, then what use is it? Like a mobile home that sits in the same spot for its entire life, it's not exactly making use of its potential. And that's the key. Potential is no good unless you can explore it. And we're just finding the Alchemist can't tap into that potential.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

My alchemist wasted two feats on Fiendsight and does just fine. He throws one bomb a round while flying above the battlefield, and it causes entanglement on his targets. Very rarely does he get threatened in melee, and when he does he just 5ft steps and tosses with impunity.


Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
So before anything, first round, BAM! You're pinned by a melee attacker.

Flight whenever you have your mutagen up from level 6 on is one of the many advantages of the beastmorph archetype.

Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
Sadly, it always seems convenient that every time we have an encounter with an invisible foe, I'll cast see invisibility and that will be the last time we fight an invisible attacker for a couple hours.

And scent from level 3 on is another.


Realistically, if you want to be a bomb chucker

Point blank shot, rapid shot, two weapon fighting + the fast bombs discovery will do you fine. Use your mutagen to up dex boom. (grenadier makes this shine)

If you want to be melee with a weapon, power attack/furious focus and a longspear will generally do just fine for you.

If you want to be melee with natural attacks...well tbh im not sure what that feat chain requires, but take feral mutagen and get an amulet of mighty fists.(beastshaper/vivisectionist works best here)

If you want to be an archer..NO...BAD...*whaps you with a rolled up newspaper* you have really very little synergy compared to a lot of other classes but have at it and realize its why you're feat starved.

If you want to be a buffer, you pump int and take infusion as your first discovery and the two weapon fighting feat and get your hands on poisoners gloves asap (you can pretty much do this as a bomb chucker too, i personally like taking the debuffing bomb discoveries in this build)


Sounds like your GM isn't giving you guys a proper chance. You do get a perception check to spot an ambush.

If you have celestial armor: BAM, you're flying. Have your tumor familiar buff you up, say dex mutagen+reduce person, activate your armor and fly up. Take the AoO, given your boosted AC (just got boosted by +6), you should be missed.

What's your AC? Alchemists can get pretty nuts AC for the typical CR.

Dex 20ish with belt, 24ish with mutagen +7AC
mutagen natural armor +2AC
reduce person +2AC
Barkskin +4AC
Deflection +2AC at the minimum
celestial armor +9AC
shield +4AC

That's 40 AC. That's nuts.

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Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:


Those two feats are prerequisites to get Close Quarters Throwers, so the Alchemist can actually throw their bombs once they're already challenged by a melee fighter.

Unless that fighter has combat reflexes, they get one single hit on you from the AOO and you full volley unload bombs into their face. There should be no more melee fighter threatening you, anymore than there should be a melee fighter threatening an archer after a full attack arrow spam.


Ryan Freire wrote:

Realistically, if you want to be a bomb chucker

Point blank shot, rapid shot, two weapon fighting + the fast bombs discovery will do you fine. Use your mutagen to up dex boom. (grenadier makes this shine)

I've found TWF generally irrelevant. You typically don't need that extra attack, extra penalties aren't worth it, and you're better off carrying a buckler/shield in your offhand.

Feat is better spent elsewhere, IMO.


Just finished playing a bomber in our Iron Gods campaign, and he was an absolute menace.

The first, best piece of advice I have for you is to look up N.Jolly's Guide to the Alchemist.

But I'll try to summarize my takeaways:

* Point Blank & Precise really aren't necessary. The -4 to hit is hardly a penalty when you're attacking Touch AC. Likewise, 3/4 BAB doesn't really matter, either.

* I never bothered with mutagen, but then, I went pure bomber - I traded it out for an archetype to get a feature I never used (Winged Marauder; giant bat, lots of tight indoor spaces, never came up.) I didn't even mind. The lack of that feature had no negative impact on my character.
I did pick up Cognatogen (with Greater and Grand) at the end of the campaign because with Targeted Bomb Admixture, a Conductive Bow, and Explosive Missile, I was doing crazy damage.

* Bomb shape discoveries are your friends. If you're worried about getting into melee as a bomb-user... well, I never had that problem. It was always effortless for me to dance around the back lines, particularly with Explosive Missile and Tangleshot or Dye Arrows (lose the arrow damage, retain the attack against touch.)
However, in the rare case I did wind up in melee, I had Directed Blast from Grenadier to back me up. Even if you're not a Grenadier, there are blast shapes that perform similar functions.

* If you're looking to get full use out of extracts *in combat*, I recommend the following: Poisoner's gloves (inject two as a full-round action), a tumor familiar (can deliver a costumed and held extract by touch), and if available, medlances in spring-loaded wrist sheaths.

* Switch-hitting as an alchemist is hard, no different than it is for a fighter or ranger. You're certainly going to be better off specializing in ranged or melee. Archetypes definitely help with that, allowing you to trade out the features you aren't going to use to get more of what you need. I'll be playing a switch-hitter alchemist in my next game, but I feel a lot more confident doing so after playing a dedicated grenadier.

Liberty's Edge

Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
Why are you in close quarters instead of flying around the battlefield raining down destruction?
As I mention in my little hyperbole example... the vast majority of encounters are usually ones in which the characters are immediately put on their heels. They don't get to determine when a fight happens, and it's usually due to an ambush. So before anything, first round, BAM! You're pinned by a melee attacker. This is easily the case in about 75% of every combat round I play in.

If you're getting ambushed in 75% of your encounters either your GM has it out for you or your characters should really invest more in skills like stealth or perception. My experience is closer to the opposite of that, but my characters tend to specialize in scouting and knowledge.


Ryan Freire wrote:
If you want to be an archer..NO...BAD...*whaps you with a rolled up newspaper* you have really very little synergy compared to a lot of other classes but have at it and realize its why you're feat starved.

Grenadier granting longbow proficiency, the Explosive Missile Discovery, the Alchemical Weapon grenadier feature, a hybridization funnel, Targeted Bomb Admixture, and a Conductive longbow beg to differ.

But that's a highly-focused build based around one huge all-or-nothing shot. Fun, though.

Another hilarious route is the ol' Launching Crossbow + Crossbow Mastery, Rapid Shot, and a really high Int mod.


Wait, how are you not able to use your bombs without drawing AOOs? Does your party walk right up next to each other, single-file, in narrow hallways? Do you make it a point to stand on the most difficult terrain you can find in a room? Do all your enemies have reach and/or the step up feat? Unless this is the case every single time, you should be able to use your bombs. As with any ranged character, all you should need to do is take a 5-foot step back and splash away.

Your Mutagen should last you through a tight stretch of combat. If your party is the 1 combat/day sort, or perhaps 1 combat every 9-10 hours (conveniently after all your buffs have worn off), then yes, Mutagen is inefficient. However, the mutagen should be fine for an hour and a half after drinking it, which is a pretty good duration for what it does. And it's useful if you have a couple rounds or a minute to prepare before combat. If it comes down to that, you can also use it to increase your effective HP by 2x your level, without risk of insta-death once you hit negative numbers like Rage.


_Ozy_ wrote:
Sounds like your GM isn't giving you guys a proper chance. You do get a perception check to spot an ambush.

Oh, we get a perception check... but you should know that game masters can easily maneuver an encounter so that even if you spot that sneaky fella, they're positioned so that when you spot them they're already close enough that they'll be right next to you by the end of their first turn. And, more often than not they'll have these really high initiative rolls so they're moving first anyway.

_Ozy_ wrote:

If you have celestial armor: BAM, you're flying. Have your tumor familiar buff you up, say dex mutagen+reduce person, activate your armor and fly up. Take the AoO, given your boosted AC (just got boosted by +6), you should be missed.

What's your AC? Alchemists can get pretty nuts AC for the typical CR.

Dex 20ish with belt, 24ish with mutagen +7AC
mutagen natural armor +2AC
reduce person +2AC
Barkskin +4AC
Deflection +2AC at the minimum
celestial armor +9AC
shield +4AC

That's 40 AC. That's nuts.

Yeah... this a LOT more gold worth in magic items than anything we were given access to. I specifically pushed for a magical suit of armor for my Alchemist, and my game master didn't want everyone to have it as the bricks were already pretty stacked in that department. I actually see a lot of people on the message boards suggesting that my alchemist fly around, and the only way I'm getting that is if I cast it on myself. And I only have three 3rd level spells a day at 9th. Do I lock them all up on fly? Because I assure you I'm getting involved in more than three encounters in a day. Also, concerning the shield...

_Ozy_ wrote:
...you're better off carrying a buckler/shield in your offhand.

Alchemists aren't proficient in shields.

But as a general shout out... yes, every combat it constructed to frustrate our group. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I've voiced my complaints, but both of my game masters fall back on the mantra, "Don't you want it to be challenging? Do you just want a cake walk where you stroll through the adventure?" </condescending voice> So, it doesn't matter how smart we try to take on our situation, we're foiled before the first die roll. I just sigh, grumble under my breath, and put a little extra adult beverage in my soda.


Masterwork bucklers have 0 armor check penalty so you dont need proficiency. Mithril shields too.


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Really, in this case, it sounds more like a "GM has it out for you" scenario. He's clearly doing his best to target you in every one of your weak areas, without giving you a chance to shine.... Which classes have you played where you haven't had an incredible struggle to be effective, if this is what your GM likes?


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Ryan Freire wrote:
Masterwork bucklers have 0 armor check penalty so you dont need proficiency. Mithril shields too.

Doesn't even need to be mithril. Light shields are only -1 ACP, so a masterwork shield is ACP 0.

Magic shields are cheap, magic armor is cheap even if you can't get celestial.

Mithril chain shirt or elven chainmail +3, shield +3.

Average WBL should be around 46k.

But you've really kinda of highlighted the problem, it's not that alchemists aren't 'effective' since we've shown you that they can be super effective.

It's that your GM is being a jerk. It's really not hard for a GM to screw over players and make it impossible for them to do anything effective. What's hard is making the game both challenging and fun.


Dot.


Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
I actually see a lot of people on the message boards suggesting that my alchemist fly around, and the only way I'm getting that is if I cast it on myself. And I only have three 3rd level spells a day at 9th. Do I lock them all up on fly? Because I assure you I'm getting involved in more than three encounters in a day.

Get the Wings discovery then. It's an EX ability, so it doesn't require an action to activate, you can fly in 1 minute increments up to your level in minutes per day, so that should suffice for 9ish encounters.

Normally, if you actually have proper WBL, it's easy enough to fly without it, but if your GM is being stingy, get the discovery. You've plenty of feats you don't need anyways.

Edit: Also, what's your intelligence? If you're at least 16, you should be getting an extra extract per day...and it really should be as high as possible to boost your damage and bomb DCs.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Masterwork bucklers have 0 armor check penalty so you dont need proficiency. Mithril shields too.

Alchemists aren't proficient in shields.

_Ozy_ wrote:

Light shields are only -1 ACP, so a masterwork shield is ACP 0.

Magic shields are cheap, magic armor is cheap even if you can't get celestial.

Mithril chain shirt or elven chainmail +3, shield +3.

Again, Alchemists aren't proficient in shields. Also, as I mentioned before, our game master was a bit stingy with the magic items and I wasn't permitted to be outfitted with magical armor, much less a +3 anything.

_Ozy_ wrote:
Edit: Also, what's your intelligence? If you're at least 16, you should be getting an extra extract per day...and it really should be as high as possible to boost your damage and bomb DCs.

My Intelligence score is the character's highest stat, but that's an element I don't want to dwell on. If a class is a good class, you shouldn't only value it at its most min/max'ed. That way, you can measure it against another class without presuming what ability scores it may have.

Grand Lodge

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Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Masterwork bucklers have 0 armor check penalty so you dont need proficiency. Mithril shields too.
Alchemists aren't proficient in shields.

Which is irrelevant when the ACP is 0.

Quote:
Nonproficient with Armor Worn: A character who wears armor and/or uses a shield with which he is not proficient takes the armor's (and/or shield's) armor check penalty on attack rolls as well as on all Dexterity- and Strength-based ability and skill checks. The penalty for nonproficiency with armor stacks with the penalty for shields.

Oh no, I take a -0 to my attack rolls and skill checks!


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The only penalty for not being proficient is that you apply the armor check penalty to attack rolls. If the armor check penalty is 0, there's no effect whether you're proficient or not.


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What hes saying is non-proficiency gives you the armor or shields ACP to hit and skill checks so your getting -0 so yeah I think not a problem.

Edit: Ninjaed^

Liberty's Edge

For melee I recommend the Breath Weapon Bomb discovery. It give you a 15ft cone attack, it dose not provoke AOO's, and it stacks with Precise bombs discovery to avoid hitting the party.
Also with extracts if you take the Infusion discovery you can just give some extracts to the rest of the party and let them choice when to take them.
Finally trying to be good at all three primary class features will just spread you too thin. Pick two and focus on them. Also pay more attention to the discoveries, they will help more in focusing most builds than feats.


It doesn't matter if your not profiecient with shields. All that means is you take it's ACP to your attack rolls. If the ACP is 0 then you wear the shield with no penalties and get the shield AC.

+3 armor is only 9000gp. If at lv9 you can't get +3 armor you're REALLY getting skrewed on gear. But barksking lv9 gives +4 ac, shield that doesn't care if you're proficient or not gives +2 or 3 AC, armor +2 gives 6 AC, mutagen is +2 AC, dex of 4 or more is at least 4 AC, ring of protection is 1 AC. That is a constant 24 AC and most of the time you should be at 30 AC. If you can't often guess a fight is happening withing a hour and a half then your game is very different than most.

ranged character's shouldn't really care about attacking in melee. like 90% of the time enemies shouldn't be getting next to you. 90% of the time they do you should be able to 5ft step back and then attack with no worries.

the alchemist is a very solid class at doing bombs or melee fighting. So either your game is very different from the game most people play insomuch that it breaks classes, or you're just struggling to realize how to play the class.


Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Masterwork bucklers have 0 armor check penalty so you dont need proficiency. Mithril shields too.

Alchemists aren't proficient in shields.

_Ozy_ wrote:

Light shields are only -1 ACP, so a masterwork shield is ACP 0.

Magic shields are cheap, magic armor is cheap even if you can't get celestial.

Mithril chain shirt or elven chainmail +3, shield +3.

Again, Alchemists aren't proficient in shields. Also, as I mentioned before, our game master was a bit stingy with the magic items and I wasn't permitted to be outfitted with magical armor, much less a +3 anything.

_Ozy_ wrote:
Edit: Also, what's your intelligence? If you're at least 16, you should be getting an extra extract per day...and it really should be as high as possible to boost your damage and bomb DCs.
My Intelligence score is the character's highest stat, but that's an element I don't want to dwell on. If a class is a good class, you shouldn't only value it at its most min/max'ed. That way, you can measure it against another class without presuming what ability scores it may have.

Well, when you said you only got 3 3rd level extracts per day, it made me wonder since that would indicate an Intelligence of 15 or lower. You complained about spending them all on Fly extracts, so I suggested the Wings (Ex) discovery which should last you for 9ish combats per day.

Also, Pathfinder balance operates on a few assumptions. One of them is WBL and access to magical equipment. If your GM doesn't play by those rules, and doesn't compensate for 'being stingy', then you are going to get a false impression of game balance, and how effective various classes are.

And, as other people have already mentioned, you don't need shield proficiency to use a masterwork/magical light shield without any penalty.

Finally, the title of this thread ends with 'correct me if I'm wrong...' You are being corrected. The alchemist is a wonderfully versatile and effective class. Granted, once you run out of bombs, your effectiveness can drop precipitously, especially if the GM has been stingy, but again, that's a peculiarity of his game only.


Quote:
The alchemist is a wonderfully versatile and effective class. Granted, once you run out of bombs, your effectiveness can drop precipitously, especially if the GM has been stingy, but again, that's a peculiarity of his game only.

This is kind of a big reason why I prefer to build as a grenadier/buffer. They share some feats, both benefit from high int/dex, and once you're out of bombs there are a few decent attack infusions around the level OP is at.

For long term adventure endurance I'd say probably natural attack mutagen/polymorph extract focus though, getting access to monstrous physique and giant form can make you pretty gross.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Quote:
The alchemist is a wonderfully versatile and effective class. Granted, once you run out of bombs, your effectiveness can drop precipitously, especially if the GM has been stingy, but again, that's a peculiarity of his game only.

This is kind of a big reason why I prefer to build as a grenadier/buffer. They share some feats, both benefit from high int/dex, and once you're out of bombs there are a few decent attack infusions around the level OP is at.

For long term adventure endurance I'd say probably natural attack mutagen/polymorph extract focus though, getting access to monstrous physique and giant form can make you pretty gross.

I've never played a melee alchemist, but I can certainly appreciate their effectiveness. I tend to prefer the mad bomber because in general I like high INT characters. With the mind chemist archetype, there isn't a knowledge check that I can't blow up.


_Ozy_ wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Quote:
The alchemist is a wonderfully versatile and effective class. Granted, once you run out of bombs, your effectiveness can drop precipitously, especially if the GM has been stingy, but again, that's a peculiarity of his game only.

This is kind of a big reason why I prefer to build as a grenadier/buffer. They share some feats, both benefit from high int/dex, and once you're out of bombs there are a few decent attack infusions around the level OP is at.

For long term adventure endurance I'd say probably natural attack mutagen/polymorph extract focus though, getting access to monstrous physique and giant form can make you pretty gross.

I've never played a melee alchemist, but I can certainly appreciate their effectiveness. I tend to prefer the mad bomber because in general I like high INT characters. With the mind chemist archetype, there isn't a knowledge check that I can't blow up.

Absolutely, I'm about to get into a zeitgeist campaign and im going to play a grenadier alchemist. One of the bonus background story feats is called "the man with two guns is god" and the setting is "firearms are martial weapons" common. The feat gives you quickdraw and two weapon fighting while armed with pistols. The PRC associated turns your gun into a force bullet shooting ray gun.

Edit: and a death ray by level 3

Sovereign Court

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I've actually come to the conclusion that a level dip in Medium really helps cover a lot of bases in some character builds, Alchemist included.

For example:
Detect Magic - Alchemist tends to have a decent Spellcraft from high Int, now you can leverage that to ID items at will.
Medium Armor Proficiency - No longer restricted to light armor.
Linguistics as a class skill - Seriously, how does a class whose fluff is all about experimentation and based off of a mad scientist NOT KNOW HOW TO RITE GUD!
Also, Diplomacy, Knowledge(planes) and Sense Motive as class skills - The latter isn't that big a deal, but the #3 best skill* in the game + monster ID to know which flavor of bomb you need is kind of important.
+2 Will Save
You can keep the Martial Weapon Proficiency from Champion ... or you can trade that out for 2 more times per day turning a failed Attack Roll or Fortitude Save into a possible success by adding 1d6 to the roll. Via Spirit Surge.
"Non-adventuring" days you can pick up a rank in any 2 skills and +1 to all skills - For when you really needed to make a Profession Sailor or Soldier check to pilot that boat down Glass River or fit in the Ungrounded training ground?
Or maybe you just needed a specific spell off the cleric/wizard 1 list?

Now, if you channel Champion (and take Spirit Focus Champion), you also get +2 to hit, fort, strength checks, and +4 to non-spell damage rolls. You know what is a non-spell damage roll?
Everything you do.
How does +4 damage on bombs for a 1 level dip sound? How about +4 damage on each half of the Hybridization Funneled Acid/Alkali you just crafted for 1/3rd the cost, 8.33 gp? 1d6 +Int +4, twice.

In my current level 6** Alchemist's case(Gunslinger 1, Alchemist 4, Medium 1, int 20), we are talking about:
(1d6+9 acid)(1d6+9 acid) = Hybridization Funnel Acid/Alkali Grenadier Alchemical Weapon = 25 average direct acid, 0 splash
(2d6+9 fire, 11 splash 10', +1d6 burn explosive bomb) = 16 average direct fire, 11 splash, possibly 3.5 burning per round
(1d8+8, touch) = MW Pistol with Deadly Aim 4 BAB = 12.5 average damage
To hit: +4 BAB, +4 Dex (16 +2belt), +2 Champion, +1 MW, -2 Deadly Aim = +9 vs touch
1 bomb/bullet/powder/acid/alkali = free/1 SP/1 GP/8.33 GP = 9.43 GP per shot for 53.5 damage, 9/day then I am out of the bombs.

Without Medium (but gaining a level of Alchemist) it would be +7 vs touch for 41 damage, splash 8. A loss of about 12.5 single target damage, not counting the splash or accuracy loss.

*#1 Use Magic Device, #2 Perception
**Character is actually level 5, but Explosive Missile is the plan at level 6.


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So let's look at the feats you've taken:

POINT BLANK SHOT: You shouldn't really need this as you're attacking against Touch AC. Also if you're focusing on bombs your dex should be pretty high. ALSO if you miss the enemy still takes damage, just not as much.

PRECISE SHOT: This is better than PBS, but still probably not necessary.

DODGE: This is a rubbish feat.

WEAPON FOCUS: I think we covered this with the first 2.

CLOSE QUARTERS THROWER: If you're having trouble take the BREATH WEAPON BOMB discovery and you've just saved yourself 3 feats (If you're having trouble fitting this discovery in with your normal allotment of discoveries you can take the EXTRA DISCOVERY feat).

So absolute worst-case scenario. Let's say you decide you DO need Point-Blank-Shot and Precise-Shot (a +5 to hit for 2 feats is pretty nice, so i can see that), and you're already taking so many discoveries that you can't fit Breath-Weapon-Bomb into your build so you have to take Extra-Discovery ... You're still only at 3 feats to get this build "working".

As others have said, you can use a shield. You mentioned that you're not proficient with a shield ...

Normal: When you are using a shield with which you are not proficient, you take the shield’s armor check penalty on attack rolls and on all skill checks that involve moving.

Masterwork shield's reduce the shield's ACP by 1, so a masterwork buckler or a light shield will have 0 Armour Check Penalty. Since you're not proficient you'll take a -0 penalty on all your attack rolls, so ...

You can also take Armour Proficiency feats if you feel the need. Since you're not casting spells (and thus not incurring an arcane-spell-failure chance for wearing armour) the only thing stopping your from wearing armour is that you don't have the relevant feat and will therefore take a penalty to attack rolls - see shield stuff above (If you really want to cheese this you can take the ARMOUR EXPERT trait and wear a Mithral Breatplate and you'll have 0 Armour-Check-Penalty). Alternatively a 1-level dip in almost any Martial class will get you medium/heavy armour proficiency:

Azten wrote:
A level of Fighter gets you better armor and weapons, but a level of Barbarian get's you a bonus to Strength that stacks with your Mutagen. Hit hard, hit often.

This came up in a recent THREAD I started and basically a BLOODRAGER dip is better than Barbaian dip (and the ID RAGER archetype has some amazing stuff going for it). Obviously this is a lot better on a Strength based Alchemist, so probably less relevant here.

Multi-classing might be your thing, but don't feel like you have to go there. The Alchemist certainly doesn't need it, it's more for cheesing those super-high Strength scores and stuff like that.

As for your Mutagen, remember that you can apply the bonus to any physical stat you like:
STR - probably not for you, and I doubt you want to take an INT penalty.
DEX - Improve your attack-roll, armour-class, initiative, skill-checks etc, and take a penalty to WIS, that's a pretty good deal.
CON - Improve your HP by 2/level (so that's 18hp at level 9) and you take a penalty to CHA (usually the go-to dump-stat). If you don't have any other use for it I'd go here. Just use this as an emergency healing spell & leave it at that.

OR

COGNATOGEN

Enhance your mental ability scores instead of your physical ones ...

INT - Let's be honest this is the only one you're going to pick. 10-mins/level (90 minutes) per day you get +4 INT & -2 STR. I can't imagine how that wouldn't be useful to you.

One last thing about your MUTAGEN (and Cognatogen): It takes 1 hour to brew a Mutagen, but doesn't come with the restrictions that usually accompany spells/extracts. This means you don't have to rest 8 hours to make another one. If you have some down-time in the middle of the day you can make a second (/third/etc) Mutagen for the evening-shift.

And lastly Extracts. As someone pointed out you should be getting bonus extracts per day from having a high INT modifier.
The table you're looking for is found HERE.
If you have 16-19 INT your 9th level Alchemist should be getting 1 bonus 1st, 2nd & 3rd level extract per day (that's 3 bonus extracts per day). If your INT is higher than that you should be getting more than that. If it's lower than that ... It shouldn't be lower than that.

PS. One last thing about avoiding hits while throwing bombs. You should be able to use Fighting Defensively with bombs (you take -4 to hit, but get +2AC for the round).

ACROBATICS wrote:
If you have 3 or more ranks in Acrobatics, you gain a +3 dodge bonus to AC when fighting defensively instead of the usual +2

This means if you have 3 ranks in Acrobatics and you fight defensively you take -4 to hit & get +3 AC. Since you're attacking Touch-AC chances are this is going to go better for you than for your opponent.


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_Ozy_ wrote:
Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Masterwork bucklers have 0 armor check penalty so you dont need proficiency. Mithril shields too.

Alchemists aren't proficient in shields.

_Ozy_ wrote:

Light shields are only -1 ACP, so a masterwork shield is ACP 0.

Magic shields are cheap, magic armor is cheap even if you can't get celestial.

Mithril chain shirt or elven chainmail +3, shield +3.

Again, Alchemists aren't proficient in shields. Also, as I mentioned before, our game master was a bit stingy with the magic items and I wasn't permitted to be outfitted with magical armor, much less a +3 anything.

_Ozy_ wrote:
Edit: Also, what's your intelligence? If you're at least 16, you should be getting an extra extract per day...and it really should be as high as possible to boost your damage and bomb DCs.
My Intelligence score is the character's highest stat, but that's an element I don't want to dwell on. If a class is a good class, you shouldn't only value it at its most min/max'ed. That way, you can measure it against another class without presuming what ability scores it may have.

Well, when you said you only got 3 3rd level extracts per day, it made me wonder since that would indicate an Intelligence of 15 or lower. You complained about spending them all on Fly extracts, so I suggested the Wings (Ex) discovery which should last you for 9ish combats per day.

Also, Pathfinder balance operates on a few assumptions. One of them is WBL and access to magical equipment. If your GM doesn't play by those rules, and doesn't compensate for 'being stingy', then you are going to get a false impression of game balance, and how effective various classes are.

And, as other people have already mentioned, you don't need shield proficiency to use a masterwork/magical light shield without any penalty.

Finally, the title of this thread ends with 'correct me if I'm wrong...' You are being corrected. The alchemist is a wonderfully versatile and effective class....

If 15 is your highest stat at level 9, something is horribly wrong.

+2 from race, +2 from levels 4 and 8 means your highest stat was an 11? And you have no +Int gear?

The game does actually assume a few baselines with regards to gear and stats; if you want us to critique a build in a game with wildly different baseline assumptions, that's cool, but that needs to be in your opening post.

If you're not at least 15 point buy and your wealth/access to gear is below the levels assumed by Automatic Bonus Progression, let us know. This isn't min-maxing, these are base assumptions.

It sounds like you're running 0 point buy (or negative point buy?) if your high stat was an 11?

Even then, you can *still* make alchemist work with the advice you've been given so far upthread, though if your Dex is only a 10, then yes, Point Blank and Precise are both excellent/necessary calls (but Extra Discovery [Breath Weapon Bomb] is still going to treat you better than Close Quarters.)


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Ouch, this is just brutal to read. Sounds like super low point buy (or a really bad mix of stats), low WBL, and a GM that likes to screw you over.

the opening post wrote:
I mean, theoretically I might be able to pull off some of these tricks if I were behind the meat shields, but we all know game masters! By fourth level, half the encounters have invisible or flying (or invisible flying!) threats that are just going to pop up next to me and ruin my day. And that's if the situation isn't a straight up ambush that begins with me being sneak attacked out of the gate!

This is not normal. I mean, yeah, many fights are going to have some sort of tricky gimmick, that keeps things interesting. But if all of the encounters are invisibility, flight, and/or constant sneak attack ambushes even if you make your perception checks, then the GM is screwing with you. And a class that revolves around taking it slow and smart and not being on the frontline will have problems.

I mean, under these rules, I think most characters would suffer. I can't think of a single class that isn't screwed over in some way, either by unavoidable sneak attacks or being MAD and/or gear dependent. Barbarian is probably fine. STR, CON, and a 2hander seems the way to go in this setup. (Carrying lots of flour for invisible enemies and lots of Acrobatics for jumping onto flying enemies :P)


I think you've got very different constraints than most people. There are some very good shortcuts mentioned, like cutting melee bombs down to one discovery. (Normally, five-foot steps suffice). It's normally rare to need to down a mutagen in combat, but the Elf (or Half-Elf) FCB can be used to double the duration at these levels. Alchemist is a very customizable class, but you may want to instead pick based on dealing with the GMs. Kineticist is my favorite for that. Two stats, three feats, and very little required gear.

Shadow Lodge

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Chess Pwn wrote:
ranged character's shouldn't really care about attacking in melee. like 90% of the time enemies shouldn't be getting next to you. 90% of the time they do you should be able to 5ft step back and then attack with no worries.

Something else to think about is the fact that up until 8th level, you only have one attack a round, barring TWF and other things. So it literally costs you nothing to walk away from melee and deny the fighter his full attack. The usefulness of this tactic will vary, as at low levels they only have one attack themselves, so provoking a second attack doesn't benefit you. For those cases, 5ft step and throw. (Step Up isn't as common as you might think.)


All right, I think I've got it guys. Thanks for the input. The main thing I've concluded is the concepts both me and my game master had are quite off the mark from how the mechanics of the class truly work. Mutagen as more of a band aid feature than starring, the alchemical bomb being their prime aspect and every last element of the character building to improve that. Gotcha loud and clear.


I suspect the GM is playing a different sort of game than normal Pathfinder in terms of expectations. If I had to guess, I'd say the GM treats gold and magic items as special rewards, not as an inherent part of character development. By 9th level, you should have a lot of expensive gear. If you don't, and it's not because you are wasting your money buying other things, then your GM is denying you part of your character advancement. That's a tough way to play the game, but especially so if the GM is tailoring encounters to thwart your party.

Also, the only thing you should really need to chuck bombs at most melee enemies is a 5-foot step. Simply step out of their AOO range, and toss a bomb. Given your GM, I'd expect this only to work for one combat. This can be countered by enemies who have reach, the Step Up feat, difficult terrain, or a way of making attacks of opportunities with ranged weapons. Reach and difficult terrain are decently common, but if you start seeing enemies preparing actions to shoot you full of arrows, taking extra steps off their turn, or wielding shield bash and spear combos, your GM may specifically be attempting to nullify this option.


Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
All right, I think I've got it guys. Thanks for the input. The main thing I've concluded is the concepts both me and my game master had are quite off the mark from how the mechanics of the class truly work. Mutagen as more of a band aid feature than starring, the alchemical bomb being their prime aspect and every last element of the character building to improve that. Gotcha loud and clear.

Not entirely, you can build either direction with the alchemist with whichever primary focus being supported by the other.

So if you focus on bombs, your mutagen will bump dex for to hit and ac, or you'll take cognatogen to add more int for damage to the bombs

If you focus on mutagens you'll take things like breath weapon bomb to add a little aoe capability and build like you were a normal melee person, usually boosting strength and dex with improved mutagens.


How did you get, "at most spending 3 feats for bombs, but even that's not really needed" to mean "spend every last element of the character building to improve bombs"?

And mutagen is strong enough to be the main feature, but alchemists have two options, mutagen focused or bomb focused, you don't do both because there's not a good reason to do both and it makes you less good in both.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Llyr the Scoundrel wrote:
Gotcha loud and clear.

I'm not sure I agree, but I think the best thing you can do is pick one of the abilities to be the main, and think of the other as a backup option. Don't split focus or both will be underwhelming.

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