Can alchemists replace clerics as the primary healer?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Both i would say are completely viable so long as the numbers remain comparable.

They can both be viable and have one completely dominate the other. It's sort of like saying both a warrior npc class and a barbarian are viable in melee in PF1. ;)

I know when I tried to be the alchemist healer it was pretty much this: make every possible elixir of healing at the start of the day, pass them out and... shoot things with a crossbow... and there were still times it felt like I didn't have enough elixirs available. I might as well have not had quick alchemy as that just meant I lost out on extra healing we needed.

Now a cleric could at least do what healing I did with nothing past channeling. They have more weapon and armor and shield options, cantrips, spells... They have things to do once the healing is passed out.

Now the one area the alchemist is a plus is if your group is very mobile and almost never within 30' of each other: when you're out of sight of the healer a potion can be quit helpful.

Seisho wrote:
I guess if you want a fighting Alchemist a bit of multiclass would really spice up the whole thing...not that he should need to...

I multiclassed into wizard so I had something to do. Electric arc and shield [or tossing a thrown weapon] was a very solid round of action.


Seisho wrote:
I guess if you want a fighting Alchemist a bit of multiclass would really spice up the whole thing...not that he should need to...

Mutagen Alchemists are supposed to be good DPR martials out the gate. You know, like a Warpriest Cleric is.


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Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
A level 6 Alchemist making 30 Elixers for a party of 5 is basically delegating the healing to individual agency allowing their focus to be completely free. Both i would say are completely viable so long as the numbers remain comparable.

I would argue that this point is not in favor of the alchemist, particularly not an alchemist who has focused on healing instead of bombs.

I'm unsure of the details of how this'll work out in the action economy, but the most generous way I can see a fighter drinking an elixir on their turn has them spend one action to ready the elixir, one action to drink it, and then having one action left to strike. It is very likely in this scenario that the fighter will need to use their third action on re-readying their weapon, unless they are fighting one-handed without a shield. On the alchemist's turn, they will shoot a crossbow bolt, reload, and then have one action open for something else. So, one crossbow bolt from the alchemist, and one heal for the fighter and maybe one strike as well.

If we instead have a cleric in the party instead of an alchemist, the cleric spends two actions healing the fighter, and then one action on bashing someone with a mace or something. Then the fighter has their full turn, likely consisting of two strikes and some form of trick (raising a shield or pushing the foe back or something). So, two fighter strikes, one cleric strike, and one heal.

The latter action economy seems much more useful.


I would guess drawing and drinking one potion would be one action if it is not stuffed into the backpack or something


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Staffan Johansson wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
A level 6 Alchemist making 30 Elixers for a party of 5 is basically delegating the healing to individual agency allowing their focus to be completely free. Both i would say are completely viable so long as the numbers remain comparable.

I would argue that this point is not in favor of the alchemist, particularly not an alchemist who has focused on healing instead of bombs.

I'm unsure of the details of how this'll work out in the action economy, but the most generous way I can see a fighter drinking an elixir on their turn has them spend one action to ready the elixir, one action to drink it, and then having one action left to strike. It is very likely in this scenario that the fighter will need to use their third action on re-readying their weapon, unless they are fighting one-handed without a shield. On the alchemist's turn, they will shoot a crossbow bolt, reload, and then have one action open for something else. So, one crossbow bolt from the alchemist, and one heal for the fighter and maybe one strike as well.

If we instead have a cleric in the party instead of an alchemist, the cleric spends two actions healing the fighter, and then one action on bashing someone with a mace or something. Then the fighter has their full turn, likely consisting of two strikes and some form of trick (raising a shield or pushing the foe back or something). So, two fighter strikes, one cleric strike, and one heal.

The latter action economy seems much more useful.

THIS is where Chirugeon falls apart. Can't even heal people on your own turn.


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ChibiNyan wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
A level 6 Alchemist making 30 Elixers for a party of 5 is basically delegating the healing to individual agency allowing their focus to be completely free. Both i would say are completely viable so long as the numbers remain comparable.

I would argue that this point is not in favor of the alchemist, particularly not an alchemist who has focused on healing instead of bombs.

I'm unsure of the details of how this'll work out in the action economy, but the most generous way I can see a fighter drinking an elixir on their turn has them spend one action to ready the elixir, one action to drink it, and then having one action left to strike. It is very likely in this scenario that the fighter will need to use their third action on re-readying their weapon, unless they are fighting one-handed without a shield. On the alchemist's turn, they will shoot a crossbow bolt, reload, and then have one action open for something else. So, one crossbow bolt from the alchemist, and one heal for the fighter and maybe one strike as well.

If we instead have a cleric in the party instead of an alchemist, the cleric spends two actions healing the fighter, and then one action on bashing someone with a mace or something. Then the fighter has their full turn, likely consisting of two strikes and some form of trick (raising a shield or pushing the foe back or something). So, two fighter strikes, one cleric strike, and one heal.

The latter action economy seems much more useful.

THIS is where Chirugeon falls apart. Can't even heal people on your own turn.

Administering potions to Allies is a thing.

Also it doesn't inherently make Chirurgeon break down, it means Chirurgeon is a different brand if healer. It'd be a little bland if -everyone- approached healing the same way IMO.

That said, I wouldn't mind a specific ranged heal option for them. Something like PF1 Healing Bombs. Plenty of room for that to stay unique.


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As a more anecdotal note on healing, in Doomsday Dawn my 1/4/7 party's healing capacity consisted of an Alchemist and a Druid MC Cleric who typically only prepared a couple scattered Heal spells each day. They got by entirely fine with those occasional panic heals (more often than not used by the Druid on himself after having his bravado take its toll or otherwise getting roughed up) and the Elixirs created by the Alchemist, who still had plenty of other stuff to do (he was a bomber).


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Edge93 wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
A level 6 Alchemist making 30 Elixers for a party of 5 is basically delegating the healing to individual agency allowing their focus to be completely free. Both i would say are completely viable so long as the numbers remain comparable.

I would argue that this point is not in favor of the alchemist, particularly not an alchemist who has focused on healing instead of bombs.

I'm unsure of the details of how this'll work out in the action economy, but the most generous way I can see a fighter drinking an elixir on their turn has them spend one action to ready the elixir, one action to drink it, and then having one action left to strike. It is very likely in this scenario that the fighter will need to use their third action on re-readying their weapon, unless they are fighting one-handed without a shield. On the alchemist's turn, they will shoot a crossbow bolt, reload, and then have one action open for something else. So, one crossbow bolt from the alchemist, and one heal for the fighter and maybe one strike as well.

If we instead have a cleric in the party instead of an alchemist, the cleric spends two actions healing the fighter, and then one action on bashing someone with a mace or something. Then the fighter has their full turn, likely consisting of two strikes and some form of trick (raising a shield or pushing the foe back or something). So, two fighter strikes, one cleric strike, and one heal.

The latter action economy seems much more useful.

THIS is where Chirugeon falls apart. Can't even heal people on your own turn.

Administering potions to Allies is a thing.

Also it doesn't inherently make Chirurgeon break down, it means Chirurgeon is a different brand if healer. It'd be a little bland if -everyone- approached healing the same way IMO.

That said, I wouldn't mind a specific ranged heal option for them. Something like PF1 Healing Bombs. Plenty of room for that to stay unique.

I guess there's a few upsides to putting the responsibility on the ally needing the heal, but come on. It's worse in 90% of scenarios. I'd take "the same" as compared to "just bad". I'm not sure you can be bottle feeding conscious allies while they're fighting, either. This is worse for Chirugeon than the other alchemists since at least they have better things to use their actions on while Chirugeon is kind of a healbot that can't use their turn to heal...

Heal bombs would be awesome, but we didn't get them.


Maybe You can just splash the healing elixir on the wounds, no force-feeding neccessary :P


ChibiNyan wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
A level 6 Alchemist making 30 Elixers for a party of 5 is basically delegating the healing to individual agency allowing their focus to be completely free. Both i would say are completely viable so long as the numbers remain comparable.

I would argue that this point is not in favor of the alchemist, particularly not an alchemist who has focused on healing instead of bombs.

I'm unsure of the details of how this'll work out in the action economy, but the most generous way I can see a fighter drinking an elixir on their turn has them spend one action to ready the elixir, one action to drink it, and then having one action left to strike. It is very likely in this scenario that the fighter will need to use their third action on re-readying their weapon, unless they are fighting one-handed without a shield. On the alchemist's turn, they will shoot a crossbow bolt, reload, and then have one action open for something else. So, one crossbow bolt from the alchemist, and one heal for the fighter and maybe one strike as well.

If we instead have a cleric in the party instead of an alchemist, the cleric spends two actions healing the fighter, and then one action on bashing someone with a mace or something. Then the fighter has their full turn, likely consisting of two strikes and some form of trick (raising a shield or pushing the foe back or something). So, two fighter strikes, one cleric strike, and one heal.

The latter action economy seems much more useful.

THIS is where Chirugeon falls apart. Can't even heal people on your own turn.

Administering potions to Allies is a thing.

Also it doesn't inherently make Chirurgeon break down, it means Chirurgeon is a different brand if healer. It'd be a little bland if -everyone- approached healing the same way IMO.

That said, I wouldn't mind a specific ranged heal option for them. Something like PF1 Healing Bombs. Plenty of room for

...

I mean, it's not like a Chirurgeon can't make and throw bombs still. They're missing a couple nice toys Bombers get but they're still competent, and you do get a lot of reagents per day.

Though I do understand your point.


Okay, let me clarify further. 30 Elixers should be absolute overkill and i compare 30 Elixers to a Cleric preparing nothing but Heal spells for the day. I don’t feel an Alchemist should ever need to prepare 30 at that early of a level, but they can; the same as a Cleric can prepare nothing but Heal spells and be an Omni healer.

Action economy - this doesn’t have to only be DPR, it can be any action. Battle Medic, positioning themselves on the map, time sensitive skill checks; this is a clear benefit of planning ahead where the Cleric has to take a moment and 2/3 of their turn to focus on someone. Also the 3-action heal takes coordination to be effective under normal means.

Healing - The example i gave means each party member had 6 Elixers for the day at 6th level. The Melee might run into issues with them because of needing a free hand, but as has been said the Alchemist can run up to the ally and administer an Elixer if needed. When it comes to ranged characters though, they just need to take a drink and keep on going. When it comes to non melee focused characters Elixers seem like a much better choice than Heal spells.

Other notes - I’m only focusing on heal potential at the cost of versatility. I’ve already admitted and agree that Cleric will probably be the ‘best bang for your buck’ type healer. Alchemist seems like they will be more rewarding for good planning. This discussion has also been excluding actually buying/finding/looting/crafting literally any other healing items and completely relying on the class; which i would find to be rather extreme in practice.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber

This discussion is rearranging my "which build first" priorities. Really want to try a Rogue/Alchemist or Alchemist/Rogue healer.


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tqomins wrote:
This discussion is rearranging my "which build first" priorities. Really want to try a Rogue/Alchemist or Alchemist/Rogue healer.

You're that guy who takes the Chirurgeon and Vivisectionist archetypes at the same time in PF1, aren't you? ;P


On a semi-related note, what would be the best class for an absolute "White Mage"-style build that focused on buffs and healing and utility stuff, but was lightly armored at best and wasn't really meant to go in swinging weapons?


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Sorcerer seems the obvious first choice.


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Edge93 wrote:
Also it doesn't inherently make Chirurgeon break down, it means Chirurgeon is a different brand if healer. It'd be a little bland if -everyone- approached healing the same way IMO.

Different is only good of the distinctions offer varied options and playstyles.

Right now this thread is suggesting the main ways the chirurgeon is different is in all the ways that it's worse, which isn't worth a whole lot.


Aren’t there Alchemist exclusive Familiar powers? I seem to remember one allows you to remotely administer Quick Alchemy elixirs for one action. I suppose you could also hand the familiar two elixirs and it can hold onto them while hitching a ride on your front line fighter to administer them as needed. Not sure how that would affect action economy with regards to healing.


Jesikah Morning's Dew wrote:
On a semi-related note, what would be the best class for an absolute "White Mage"-style build that focused on buffs and healing and utility stuff, but was lightly armored at best and wasn't really meant to go in swinging weapons?

Either a divine sorcerer or maybe a sorcerer/cleric \ cleric/sorcerer multiclass

Wasnt there a rather monastic cleric? that could helpt too

Alchemical Wonder wrote:
Aren’t there Alchemist exclusive Familiar powers? I seem to remember one allows you to remotely administer Quick Alchemy elixirs for one action. I suppose you could also hand the familiar two elixirs and it can hold onto them while hitching a ride on your front line fighter to administer them as needed. Not sure how that would affect action economy with regards to healing.

That sounds like a pretty good idea and makes the familiar very useful for a chirugeon

also imagine a tiny creature handing the alchemist tools, extracts and other things :D


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber
Edge93 wrote:
tqomins wrote:
This discussion is rearranging my "which build first" priorities. Really want to try a Rogue/Alchemist or Alchemist/Rogue healer.
You're that guy who takes the Chirurgeon and Vivisectionist archetypes at the same time in PF1, aren't you? ;P

Nah, I never bothered to learn the Alchemist in PF1. It always seemed too fiddly and not very fun to play. Not saying it *is* those things, of course, just that I got the impression and ignored the class.

But after all the conversation about Alchemists and/or nonmagical healing in PF2 I've gotten pretty interested, and the PF2 Alchemist multiclass archetype looks pretty good.

So a Rogue/Alchemist "doctor" character is a good fit. I've always loved skill-heavy characters and high-int Rogues, so give me a Rogue/Alchemist with tons of skills who uses her anatomical knowledge to slice up her enemies and stitch up her allies, leaning into healing/support functions from the elixirs. Seems like it might be fun!

(One slightly odd thing there is that as far as I can tell, the Alchemist multiclass doesn't actually use Intelligence for anything other than qualifying for the prerequisite. Since Alchemist DCs seem mostly built into the items themselves rather than keyed on class DC, the multiclass doesn't rely on the stat the same way, say, a spellcasting multiclass relies on its casting stat.)


Seisho wrote:
Alchemical Wonder wrote:
Aren’t there Alchemist exclusive Familiar powers? I seem to remember one allows you to remotely administer Quick Alchemy elixirs for one action. I suppose you could also hand the familiar two elixirs and it can hold onto them while hitching a ride on your front line fighter to administer them as needed. Not sure how that would affect action economy with regards to healing.

That sounds like a pretty good idea and makes the familiar very useful for a chirugeon

also imagine a tiny creature handing the alchemist tools, extracts and other things :D

Actually, I envision the familiar *being* the alchemist tools. Image organic beakers, tubes and such sprouting from an alchemical abomination imitating life. Then the creature attempts to feed you fluids from its faux flesh. Horrifying.


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What the Alchemist needs is an artifact version of Ana's biotic rifle in Overwatch. Load vials of elixirs into it and...shoot your friends. With healing! Or whatever.


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swoosh wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
Also it doesn't inherently make Chirurgeon break down, it means Chirurgeon is a different brand if healer. It'd be a little bland if -everyone- approached healing the same way IMO.

Different is only good of the distinctions offer varied options and playstyles.

Right now this thread is suggesting the main ways the chirurgeon is different is in all the ways that it's worse, which isn't worth a whole lot.

Except this is rather subjective to what one would find as useful to begin with and treating it as a direct comparison while showing a bias towards a preference that is being set as a loose standard.


Quote:
(One slightly odd thing there is that as far as I can tell, the Alchemist multiclass doesn't actually use Intelligence for anything other than qualifying for the prerequisite. Since Alchemist DCs seem mostly built into the items themselves rather than keyed on class DC, the multiclass doesn't rely on the stat the same way, say, a spellcasting multiclass relies on its casting stat.)

Wasn't there an alchemis feat that gave his mixtures his class dc?

Liberty's Edge

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I can't confirm this but I suspect that Alchemist will be the go-to choice for between combat healing and buffs while Cleric will be strongest when inside the Initiative Round, and to me, that seems totally fair.

An alchemist with a spec on healing will have more overall capability to do mundane healing checks and will likely be able to actually restore more HP with their elixirs in a given day than a Cleric but will fall behind when it comes to "Healing per round" inside combat.

That on top of having way more "ranks" to invest in Skills at large than your average cleric I think it's probably a good balance.


Also, Alchemists have access to relatively cheap ways of giving individuals concealment. Clerics can do that with Blur but it doesn’t scale well. Making potions of Blur would entail dipping into crafting, taking the magical items feat, and devoting downtime whereas Alchemists kinda assume you’d do the same with alchemical items you don’t want to devote reagents to.

Twenty five percent less damage taken is twenty five percent less healing needed.

Liberty's Edge

Alchemists probably aren't as good at healing as Clerics, but they're likewise probably better buffers via mutagens. That's true for Chirugeons as well as Mutagenists.


Seisho wrote:
Maybe You can just splash the healing elixir on the wounds, no force-feeding neccessary :P

I remember the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, which had a class that healed by shooting allies with bacta-filled darts.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Alchemists probably aren't as good at healing as Clerics, but they're likewise probably better buffers via mutagens. That's true for Chirugeons as well as Mutagenists.

Are we sure everyone gets access to mutagens? I haven't seen any of them previewed to see their rarity.


graystone wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Alchemists probably aren't as good at healing as Clerics, but they're likewise probably better buffers via mutagens. That's true for Chirugeons as well as Mutagenists.
Are we sure everyone gets access to mutagens? I haven't seen any of them previewed to see their rarity.

I would be incredibly surprised if uncommon access to mutagens shifted to common was baked into the item description instead of the class.

As it stands, if mutagens are uncommon, it's impossible for the mutagenist to function.

Liberty's Edge

graystone wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Alchemists probably aren't as good at healing as Clerics, but they're likewise probably better buffers via mutagens. That's true for Chirugeons as well as Mutagenists.
Are we sure everyone gets access to mutagens? I haven't seen any of them previewed to see their rarity.

Mutagenists (which we have the full text of) get no special access to them, so as Cyouni notes, either they're Common or all Alchemists get specific access, or the Mutagenist ceases to function properly.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
graystone wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Alchemists probably aren't as good at healing as Clerics, but they're likewise probably better buffers via mutagens. That's true for Chirugeons as well as Mutagenists.
Are we sure everyone gets access to mutagens? I haven't seen any of them previewed to see their rarity.
Mutagenists (which we have the full text of) get no special access to them, so as Cyouni notes, either they're Common or all Alchemists get specific access, or the Mutagenist ceases to function properly.

Or maybe the text about Mutagenists lowering the rarity got shifted to the item section for some reason like space? Have we gotten a preview of anything that lowers rarity yet? I'm not sure I want to count those chickens before they've hatched.

PS: please don't get me wrong, I'll be thrilled if things got shifted to common, I'd just like to see a mutagen previewed before I start theory crafting a Chirurgeons buffing ability. [both for access and for the final power level they ended up at]

Liberty's Edge

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graystone wrote:
Or maybe the text about Mutagenists lowering the rarity got shifted to the item section for some reason like space? Have we gotten a preview of anything that lowers rarity yet? I'm not sure I want to count those chickens before they've hatched.

No, we haven't seen the item listings. That said, many Alchemist Class Feats (which lack Mutagenist as a prerequisite) also require Mutagens, and this organizational structure would make no sense whatsoever (listing what Classes get what Items at reduced rarity in the item section is the opposite of future proofing...and future proofing is something that PF2 does a whole lot).

I think it's a near certainty that all Alchemists can get their hands on Mutagens pretty reliably.

graystone wrote:
PS: please don't get me wrong, I'll be thrilled if things got shifted to common, I'd just like to see a mutagen previewed before I start theory crafting a Chirurgeons buffing ability. [both for access and for the final power level they ended up at]

Final power level is definitely a factor, though that's true of spells as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they went down from +5s at most to +3s at most like items in general, but that would probably still leave them as top tier buffs.


Deadmanwalking wrote:


Final power level is definitely a factor, though that's true of spells as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they went down from +5s at most to +3s at most like items in general, but that would probably still leave them as top tier buffs.

I wonder if they're even still item bonuses, or have they shifted to status?

Liberty's Edge

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Cyouni wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:


Final power level is definitely a factor, though that's true of spells as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they went down from +5s at most to +3s at most like items in general, but that would probably still leave them as top tier buffs.
I wonder if they're even still item bonuses, or have they shifted to status?

It's an interesting question. I suppose it depends on whether the folks at Paizo want them to stack with spells (in which case they're Item) or Items (in which case they're Status).

If it were me, I'd lean towards Status, but I can see the argument for the other way as well.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
That said, many Alchemist Class Feats (which lack Mutagenist as a prerequisite) also require Mutagens

Wouldn't this be like saying fighters in PF1 must be able to cast spells because they can take metamagic? In effect, if mutagens are restricted to a single subclass, requiring a mutagen to use a feat is essentially the same as making an explicit restriction to that subclass. Being able to take a feat and being able to use a feat have always been different things in pathfinder/d&d.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
(listing what Classes get what Items at reduced rarity in the item section is the opposite of future proofing...and future proofing is something that PF2 does a whole lot).

I'll agree it wouldn't be the best "organizational structure", but we're talking abut a first print book: I'd be surprised if there aren't things in it that could have to done better, mistakes made and/or other issues. I'll agree the wording we've seen makes it seem more likely than not but I'm not willing to bet the farm on it yet. Lucking in a few weeks we'll be able to check. ;)

Deadmanwalking wrote:
No, we haven't seen the item listings.

Thanks for the confirmation! I don't keep up with all the podcasts, twitch, ect that goes on so I'm never sure what alls been shown.

Liberty's Edge

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graystone wrote:
Wouldn't this be like saying fighters in PF1 must be able to cast spells because they can take metamagic? In effect, if mutagens are restricted to a single subclass, requiring a mutagen to use a feat is essentially the same as making an explicit restriction to that subclass. Being able to take a feat and being able to use a feat have always been different things in pathfinder/d&d.

Not really, since it's a Class Feat. It'd be more like Alchemists in PF1 having a Discovery that gave you a metamagic Feat (ie: distinctly odd). It's by no means impossible, but I'd call it seriously unlikely.

graystone wrote:
I'll agree it wouldn't be the best "organizational structure", but we're talking abut a first print book: I'd be surprised if there aren't things in it that could have to done better, mistakes made and/or other issues. I'll agree the wording we've seen makes it seem more likely than not but I'm not willing to bet the farm on it yet. Lucking in a few weeks we'll be able to check. ;)

Sure, but this would be an active change for the worse from the playtest, and of the sort that all their other decisions indicate they are least likely to make.

Combined with the above, the two unlikelihoods make it verging on the impossible that they did it this way, IMO.

graystone wrote:
Thanks for the confirmation! I don't keep up with all the podcasts, twitch, ect that goes on so I'm never sure what alls been shown.

No trouble. I can't keep up with everything in them 100% either, but I wouldn't have missed that.


tqomins wrote:
This discussion is rearranging my "which build first" priorities. Really want to try a Rogue/Alchemist or Alchemist/Rogue healer.

The return of the Investigator!


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:


Final power level is definitely a factor, though that's true of spells as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they went down from +5s at most to +3s at most like items in general, but that would probably still leave them as top tier buffs.
I wonder if they're even still item bonuses, or have they shifted to status?

It's an interesting question. I suppose it depends on whether the folks at Paizo want them to stack with spells (in which case they're Item) or Items (in which case they're Status).

If it were me, I'd lean towards Status, but I can see the argument for the other way as well.

they need to actually be untyped like the barbarian's rage.

there's no point in having a class that's its main strength is "buffing" and not be actually be able to buff because you already have +item bonuses to everything you need via items.


shroudb wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:


Final power level is definitely a factor, though that's true of spells as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they went down from +5s at most to +3s at most like items in general, but that would probably still leave them as top tier buffs.
I wonder if they're even still item bonuses, or have they shifted to status?

It's an interesting question. I suppose it depends on whether the folks at Paizo want them to stack with spells (in which case they're Item) or Items (in which case they're Status).

If it were me, I'd lean towards Status, but I can see the argument for the other way as well.

they need to actually be untyped like the barbarian's rage.

there's no point in having a class that's its main strength is "buffing" and not be actually be able to buff because you already have +item bonuses to everything you need via items.

100% agree. Or maybe it could be an "alchemical bonus".

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