Shifter and Alchemist


Advice


K so I've recently started playing a Shifter. Tbh I'm having a good time with it, but I'm looking at taking a few levels in Alchemist.
Are there any of the Alchemist archetypes that would compliment Shifter any better than just a normal Alchemist?

Keeping in mind, I wanna keep extracts.


For what purpose alchemist?
Specifically just self buffing potions or something?


Pretty much, yeah.
I don't necessarily need bombs, but alchemists get some sweet buffs and the discoveries help a lot too.
I just wanna know if any of the archetypes would work better with Shifter than a normal Alchemist would.
Or if there's a better Shifter Multiclass build I'm not considering.


How many levels in Shifter do you have, and what major form do you focus on for combat? Are you strength or dexterity focussed?

In all likeliness, Vivisectionist ist a must-have, as (low) sneak attack is vastly superior to (low) bombs for a natural attack build.
Beastmorph, which stacks with Vivisectionist, basically adds a fly speed at Alchemist level 6 to the mutagen.

Regarding other multiclassing... depends on your character and what you want. Barbarian is always something to think about, an unMonk build with Feral Combat Training can be very synergetic, and there are some interestinge prestige classes like Chevalier, Duelist, or Horizon Walker.


We're not super far into the campaign, so I've only got 6 levels in Shifter.
I'm focusing more on natural attacks and just doing an unhealthy amount of damage. In a perfect world, I'd take levels in both Alchemist and UnMonk but 3 classes is probs gonna be worse in the long run.


AnUnlovedLobster wrote:

We're not super far into the campaign, so I've only got 6 levels in Shifter.

I'm focusing more on natural attacks and just doing an unhealthy amount of damage. In a perfect world, I'd take levels in both Alchemist and UnMonk but 3 classes is probs gonna be worse in the long run.

If you go Alchemist, you should stay in it. For other multiclassing, having multiple of classes is fine.

Depends on your character and what you want to do, hence my questions (which you haven't answered yet). So I repeat: What major form do you use? Is Dexterity or Strength your highest stat (and what feats do you have)? And what do you want to focus on in the future? Alchemist basically broadens your horizon - flight, seeing invisible enemies, stuff like that is all open to you (presumign your GM allows you to drink extracts while in animal form, ask him!). Meanwhile, multiclassing into martial classes like unMonk and/or Barbarian improve your attacking (beyond what staying in Shifter would allow), but don't really help when you're out of your depth.

Also, how optimized are your fellow PCs (and how difficult is the campaign)?


Have you considered the far stronger option of just playing a straight Alchemist? Beastmorph Alchemist can get you natural attacks, and between mutagen and extracts, you'll find yourself hitting more and hitting harder than you were as a simple Shifter.


As said before, Beastmorph/Vivisectionist generally gives you the most bang for your buck if you're set on multiclassing into alchemist. If you're in a home game, ask the GM if you can take the Additional Traits feat to get Magical Knack to help keep your Alchemist "caster level" in tact.

Also keep in mind the phsyical limitations of Wild Shape. Not only will it meld your alchemical toys into your body when you shift (hope a party member is willing and able to carry your things!) but unless you're in ape form or you have the hybrid shofter archetype you won't be able to use mutagen or extracts in combat.

You could take the Infusion discovery to turn your very limited pool of extracts into buffs that you pass out to the party, but your low alchemist level means you won't have much to share.

Also keep in mind the recent shifter FAQ that buffed the class, making it worth single classing to higher levels.


The original plan (before they tweaked Shifter) was to take most levels in Shifter (I'm legit enjoying it) focusing on strength (main aspect is tiger) and take a few in Alchemist (or an Alchemist archetype) to give myself more buffs. The party currently has a Swashbuckler, War Priest,Rogue, Sorcerer, and a Magic Archer (who bails half the time anyway).

Issue is now though, Shifter has been tweaked, so I'd need to take a minimum 15 levels in Shifter to be any good. Though I'm worried 5 levels (potentially 7 with Magical Knack) in Alchemist won't cut it.

Then there's the prospect of taking a couple levels in UnMonk.

But that's a whole different can of worms.


Should also note that I rolled super well when making my character and walked away with Strength and Dex both quite high (18)


I'm not seeing why you specifically need to rush to 15th to feel effective. Wild Shape kicks in at 4th and you learn a second form at 5th. That seems like your biggest notable leaps in power. You may learn cool stuff at 15th, but nothing that so drastically change the way you play. Especially when the FAQ changes were straight buffs across the board (with the Wild Shape duration being the only actual change in the way you might play or manage resources.)

Strength build into Tiger is really really strong. You're doing great with that, so you'll be good regardless of future levels.


AnUnlovedLobster wrote:
Issue is now though, Shifter has been tweaked, so I'd need to take a minimum 15 levels in Shifter to be any good.

Er, what? Unless I'm missing something, The changes made it so that you need fewer levels in Shifter than before! The ability to split up your wildshape hours as you see fit means that at 4th level, you should be able to have wildshape active in all fights you have in a given day.

The minor forms are mostly crap (making Chimeric Aspect unneeded), and you only need two major forms (a combat for, i.e. tiger or deinonychus, and a flying form), thus 5th level is enough for that the aspects.
Shifter's Fury is generally weaker than making a normal full attack (not the least because Mutated Shape exists).

I mean, sure, the Rake is nice, but it's not game changing - it's only bonus damage, which you could also get from other classes.
There isn't really any mechanical reason to stay in Shifter (as tiger doesn't get anything worthwhile at 8th level, unlike for instance deinonychus).

Alchemist is only really worth it if your GM allows you to take out of a handy haversack hanging from your neck, open, and drink extracts in Tiger form. If he doesn't, you could have a Tumor Familiar administer the extracts to you.
Alternatively, you might want to think about using a caster class plus Natural Spell - be vary of the loss of BAB, though (for Alchemist, mutagen compensates for that).
For instance, Warpriest's Fervor ability allows swift action Divine Favor, with Additional Traits (Magical Knack + Fate's Favored) that's a noteable attack and damage boost.

Or, as I said before, if you're only interested in pure damage, martial classes are the way to go.

AnUnlovedLobster wrote:
Then there's the prospect of taking a couple levels in UnMonk.

Actually, for Tiger, it's not worth it (at least not until 11th level unMonk).


My only concern with not taking any more levels in Shifter, is that my Shifter Claws won't increase in dice size.
What sort of Alchemist stuff should I grab to improve my natural attacks a little more then?


Shifter Claws is about a +1 average damage per attack each at levels 11th and 13th. That's really not worth staying in class for! Seriously, you get that from mutagen alone! Only the 19th level increase is really interesting, and at that point, the campaign is probably over, anyway.

The main improvement from Alchemist for your natural attacks is the mutagen. You could use extracts like Aid or Heroism, but I think that's actually kind of a waste. Your party shouldn't lack damage against visible enemies on the ground, which is why I recommend extracts like Heightened Awareness, Invisibility, Resist Energy, See Invisibility, Displacement, Fly, Greater Invisibility, Echolocation, and Overland Flight.
If your party does lack damage, that probably means the Sorcerer doesn't cast Haste, which you should try to get him to do.


I'll second most if not all of those extracts, though I think you're underselling Heroism a bit. (As if memory serves, doesn't it provide a bonus to all skills as well?)


Brolof wrote:
I'll second most if not all of those extracts, though I think you're underselling Heroism a bit. (As if memory serves, doesn't it provide a bonus to all skills as well?)

And all saves. Thanks for the reminder!


Oh ok, awesome!
Well at the moment I've already got 6 levels in Shifter, so I might take the rest in Alchemist then.
Would any of the archetypes work better that just straight alchemist?
I've heard Vivisectionist works well with natural attacks.

Dark Archive

Have you considered taking something like Monk (Menhir Savant), to gain flurry, and pick up buffs via Qinggong? It wouldn't disrupt your claws or AC progression, either.

Or something like Brawler (Mutagenic Mauler) if the mutagen is specifically what you're looking for? You'd continue BAB progression and gain some bonus feats. You could also stack it with something like Turfer for Favored Terrain or Verdant Grappler to leverage high Strength forms and keep a nature theme.

Or even Fighter (Mutation Warrior), possibly adding on Savage Warrior, netting you Weapon Training bonuses on ALL your natural attacks that could be improved with Gloves of Dueling and enable you to pick up something like Advanced Weapon Training to give you defensive bonuses that scale off AoMF/Magic Fang.

Dipping into alchemist just for a mutagen feels like wasting a lot of the class features, when other class combinations can give you the mutagen while contributing more directly to your combat effectiveness.


I'll have a further look into those. Thanks! :)

Part of the reason I was thinking Alchemist was for mutagens, extracts, and some of the discoveries. They looked like a good way to buff my Shifter.
Also for roleplaying purposes.
I'm playing a Ghoran so my character's whole deal is trying to better his species.

Also, prestige classes.
Any of them work for what I need?
Meaning stuff that works well with natural attacks and all that.


Nirdish wrote:
Have you considered taking something like Monk (Menhir Savant), to gain flurry, and pick up buffs via Qinggong? It wouldn't disrupt your claws or AC progression, either.

Thing is, you don't gain any attacks at full BAB (not even with the bonus Ki attack), so all you get is attacks at a penalty - that in addition to the -2 to all attacks from flurry. It's rather hard to compete with four primary natural weapons.

AnUnlovedLobster wrote:
I'm playing a Ghoran

A Ghoran who turns into an apex predator. That is hilarious! Do I sense some wish fulfilling there?

Regarding archetypes: Didn't I already talk about those? Vivisectionist is a straight upgrade as you would (and could) never use bombs anyway. Beastmorph adds fly speed (saves extracts) and darkvision to the effects granted by the mutagen, a good trade for the poison resistance stuff and Swift Alchemy.

If your GM allows you to take Herbalist, an archetype made for leshys, take it. Wisdom instead of Int as "casting" stat is awesome, and it fits the theme, too.
Preservationist basically grants access to Summon Nature's Ally, might fit your theme as well.


Why not Investigator?


I might grab Beastmorph.
For one, it keeps with the Shifter theme but still lets me go into Alchemy.
Not only that, we already have 2 party members doing sneak attacks, so 3 might be a little excessive.

Follow up question though, I'm assuming the Beastmorph mutagens still work while in my major form?
And can you take multiple archetypes?


Also, what would benefit me more?

Taking Beastmorph, or retraining Shifter into Weretouched?
Or both?


Stack that sneak attack damage! If you're providing flanking for the sneak attackers, you'll benefit as well. It's only icing on the cake as it were, just a good bonus for helping out your fellows.


Ok so what I'm hearing is, take 5 in Shifter (maybe even Weretouched), and take 15 in Vivisectionist/Beastmorph.

Is there anything I'm forgetting?


Oh yeah, one more thing.
Will Vestigial Arm help me at all?


AnUnlovedLobster wrote:
Follow up question though, I'm assuming the Beastmorph mutagens still work while in my major form?

It's not classified as a polymorph effect, so as written, yes.

AnUnlovedLobster wrote:
And can you take multiple archetypes?

You can stack archetypes if they don't overlap regardign what they alter or replace. For instance, you couldn't stack Vivisectionist with an archetype that alters bombs in any way, not even in a positive way.

Thus Vivisectionist and Beastmorph stack, but neither stacks with Herbalist.

You do not need to grab any of those archetypes, but there's simply little reason not to. Vivisectionist replaces bombs that you cannot possibly use while wildshaped - you might want to keep them as a backup ranged option, if that's something that you feel you need in your current campaign. Sneak attack is far from overwhelming - when you're flanking with for instance the Rogue, the target shouldn't last long anyway - but when you don't need bombs as a ranged option, it's basically free.

Likewise, Bastmorph doesn't grant you anythign you couldn't gain from extracts. But the poison stuff that it replaces doesn't see much use in most campaign, so the only thing really lost is swift alchemy. It depends a bit on your GM if Swift Alchemy affects creating your Mutagen, and if the time of that from an hour to half one is relevant.

Herbalist basically means more extracts per day, presuming that your wisdom is higher than your int. Grabbing spells from the Druid list would be worth it for Strong Jaw alone. The Seedpods ability would be useless for you, though (unless see below).

­
If you feel you don't need a second form, Weretouched is indeed pretty nice. You lose 2 strength when wildshaped, but you gain the ability to use armor and items activatable items. And, of course, you could freely create and use extracts (and even bombs, if desired) in wildshape form.

AnUnlovedLobster wrote:

Oh yeah, one more thing.

Will Vestigial Arm help me at all?

The general census is that it would vanish when wildshaping. Weretouched only mentions equipment and doesn't override the general polymorph rules, so it would require GM fiat to keep the arm.


Awesome!
What I might do is take Beastmorph for now, give bombs a shot, and if I find I can't use them, I'll retrain into Vivisectionist.

Definitely considering Weretouched. I can deal with 2 less strength (mutagen should sort that out).

And I'll make sure to ask my GM about Vestigial Arm.

Thanks heaps everyone!!
You guys have been a huge help! :)

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