2E Alchemist has the same problem as 1E Druid: Thematic Overlap


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This isn't about power levels, though those are also a concern with the second edition alchemist. This is about the conceptual identity of the class. In second edition, EVERY Alchemist:

* Relies on performing quick alchemy in battle
* Uses bombs as the primary source of their damage
* Gets mutagens at level 5
* Starts mixing potions at 13

That means each and every alchemist is split between bombs, elixirs, and the more specific cousin to elixirs in mutagens. And the concept for the latter two doesn't even come online until level 5 or 13. Want to be a Dr. Jekyl style mutant that focuses on natural attacks? Sorry, you must use bombs at levels 1, 2, 3, and 4.

This is nearly identical to a problem identified with Druids in 1st edition. Each and every Druid (minus archetypes) marched through the same class progression. Wanted to be a Wild Shape focused Druid? Wait till level 4, like everyone else. The class overlapped themes of elemental destruction, turning into animals, calling on animals for aid, and controlling plants.

Second edition fixed this overlap by giving Druids a level 1 choice between orders. Now you could be a Storm Druid, or a Leaf Druid, or a Druid that started off focusing on Animals and later learned how to become one.

I think Alchemist should be treated the same way. At level 1, give them a choice between four distinct "styles" of Alchemist, each of which grants a level 1 Alchemist feat (with bonuses if you are in the style). The four styles I think are obvious are:

* Bombs
* Mutagens
* Poisons
* Constructs

The bomb feat would give an expanded resonance pool that could only be used to craft bombs. But if you are in the style, you would get either a significantly larger pool or even the ability to make bombs for no resonance cost. Later bomb feats would give additional benefits to grenadiers, for example Smoke Bomb might be a later feat that either spreads or requires a save to avoid giving the sick condition.

The mutagen feat would allow alchemists to treat Mutagens as if they were 4 levels lower and common for the purposes of crafting, though the mutagens would only be usable by the alchemist. But if you are in the style, you also can store the mutagens in your body for more rapid transformations (though storing them in your body means they may activate by themselves if you take damage!). Later feats would expand on mutagens in ways similar to what the alchemist has already.

The poison feat I'm imagining gives the same bonus pool to resonance as the bomb feat. However, those in the style would learn how to make and apply poisons with one hand in a single action. Further feats would allow alchemists to control the dosage, making an elixir that functions as a healing tincture if applied to an ally or a deadly poison if applied to an enemy.

The crafting feat would give an alchemical familiar. However, those in the style get a mechanical companion! This would in all ways be similar to a young animal companion, and Alchemists would get additional feats to improve their constructs at the rate of the Ranger. But they would get some additional love as well. For instance, a higher level feat might allow them to store a potion in one of their constructs, letting their alchemical familiar deliver a healing potion or even letting their construct use a dragon's breath potion.

These are just examples of how I see such a division working. The key concept, however, is separate and I believe stands on its own. And it isn't mine! Paizo has already used it to great effect with the Barbarian, Bard and Druid, three of my favorite classes from the playtest. I think they should sincerely think about doing the same with alchemist, no matter what else they try to do to actually balance the class.

That’s the better idea I’ve seen about the alchemist, really great work!
Talking about the mutagen-chemist, there’s no need to treat mutagens as common: according to erratas Quick Alchemy can be used for everything you have in your Book

Yeah I actually like this. Most Alchemists in PF1 really picked one or the other (Not poison cause it sucked then). But they should still be able to pick up the rest later, just like the Druid!

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This is a great idea.

PF2 Druid is one of the classes that actually feels like it is following the intended design evolution - your pick of a path, with special bonuses to abilities in that path, while still allowing any path to pick any feat if they so choose.

Really hope the alchemist gets the upgrade treatment too!

EDIT: on "Constructs": has this always been a core identity of the alchemist? To me the 4th path should be more along the lines of "Master Brewer" allowing them to make tons of cool potions off screen and such, with access to unique potion formulas.

Hey manbearsci-

Just saw your post over on Reddit, sounds like it's getting really good feedback there! Wanted to give this a bump here for better visibility.

Kind of surprised this hasn't blown up in the last few hours, tbh. As they say, YMMV :P

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I entirely concur with the gist of the post. I would also change constructs to potions/elixirs. I have been thinking about this also and I thought they could be called "Alchemical Disciplines".

Some of the feats could be tweaked (like separating lower level mutagens and quick onset mutagen feat)

In terms of the feats the increase the RP pool, I suggest using double your INT mod instead of just your INT mod.

I agree greatly with OP. When I saw how the bard and druid was set up, I was really excited to see options for a poison/weapon blanch focused alchemist, or a support/medic themed alchemist who used elixirs and medicine to help their teammates.

As magicplane said, I also would like to see an elixir and crafting focused tree, since as it stands, there's nothing really special about an alchemist's elixirs over, in the words of the phb, "spellcasters who clumsily dabble in alchemy". Construct based feats would still work nicely in that specialization as well.

Mutagens really should lose the onset time, or at least give alchemists the ability to lower the onset on themselves (after all, mutagens are set up to be mostly an alchemist thing). I'd also recommend adding a "minor" level for mutagens, that grant +1 for the bonuses and -1 for the drawbacks and make them available a5 level, for those Dr Jekyll types.

Alchemists really also need some way of using normal alchemical items with their class features. My thought would be allowing an alchemist to draw and infuse an existing alchemical item as a special use of quick alchemy that costs no RP (and when they get the ability to make more stuff with QA, they can draw abd infuse more items). Combining this with with lowering the cost of alchemical items to 1/10 their current cost, you remove their stamina problem without needing to get fiddly with resonance pool increases

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I think the onset time of the higher level mutagens is probably fine. They last an hour so something you can reasonably just preapply and use it for a long period of time. Going to enter into a dungeon drink it and hulk out at the start.

The lower level ones though with duration times of a minute should not have any onset time. Those are clearly something only useful for a single combat and taking 2-3 turns to actually be able to get it active and use it means the fight is likely already half over while you are growling and burping.

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This is a solid idea that could really help make each Alchemist feel unique when compared to any other Alchemist (which is funny since it'll basically be copying the Druid).

This along with some changes to make the class function better and keep up with other classes wouldn't be a bad solution.

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This is exactly what I want to see from the alchemist. I could do so many cool characters with that.

Excellent suggestion!

I agree with this!

If anyone at Paizo has an opinion on this suggestion, please let us know. I'm sure everyone who frequents these Alchemist-Threads would be happy to provide feedback and ideas :)

I will throw my voice of support behind the OP's suggestion.

Also put me down into the camp that thinks this kind of reworking is a good direction to head in.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm also a big fan of this idea.

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Amazing idea. Now let’s apply it to other classes, too! The Druid has definitely (IMO) hit the nail on the head in terms of design space for classes, the other classes should definitely be mimicking it.

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For the mutagen, I feel - 4 levels is too much. That's giving a 1st level character 3dx damage and +3 attack buff options.

I feel they should simply make "minor mutagens" a thing (+2 bonuses in place of +3) and tgen:

Bombs: as it is, plus expert/master/legendary at throwing at the appropriate levels. Debilitating should affect splash targets as well.
Mutagen: mutagen crafting at 1,no onset from start. Later levels, options for "pausing" them inside them
Poison: Class DC affected by crafting prof. Scaling damage like bombs. (so you actually have a choice and are not forced to always use the ONE poison that's level appropriate. Poison weapon. Poison touch should keep its high level but lose the RP cost.
Elixirs: +int on healing. Removed RP cost on infusions for all.

What I would love would be the above options being similar to Bard Muses. Non-exclusive, but more like starting paths.

I already favorited the OP, but I figure I'll add my support via a post so that hopefully the devs will consider this idea.

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