Need help, my Alchemist player is not having fun!


Advice


Hello guys! I've been DMing for a long time already. I used to run PF1ed.
After the end of the Playtest I started a new campaign using the Playtest rules untill the final edition.

So I havlve been DMing for this group for about a year.

Recently a new player entered our group. She have never played Pathfinder and the only experience was with 5ed. She wanted to play an Alchemist, since it was the most different class.

The group was already level 6 when she entered. So she had a little trouble making the new sheet, but after I helped her she got everything right.

We are almost level 8 already and I can see that she's just not having fun... Last session she voiced her concerns about how she misses a lot of the attacks and always do less damage than the others players...

Shes a Gnome Bomber, and it's well built, I guaranteed that she had the important items and everything...

Since I participated in the Playtest, I knew that the Alchemist had some problems and have been using some changes that Shroudb posted in the forum.

Changes:
Core abilities:

Infused Reagents:
Add:
"Alchemical items with this Trait use your Class DC"

Quick Alchemy:
Replace:
"This item has the infused trait, but it remains potent only until
the start of your next turn." with
This item has the infused trait, but it remains potent only until
the end of your next turn.

Perpetual Infusions:
Changed from 7/11/17 to 5/9/15
Decoupled from research field. Now reads: "Choose 2 level 1 alchemical items you can make except Elixir of life" for all 3 fields.

Alchemical Mastery:
from level 17 to level 15

Added:
Legendary Alchemist Level 19:
you become Legendary in Alchemist Class DC

Double Brew: (Level 9)
Replace whole ability with:
COMBINE ELIXIRS [free-action]
ADDITIVE 2 ALCHEMIST
Frequency once per round
Trigger You use Quick Alchemy to craft an alchemical item
that has the elixir trait and is at least 2 levels lower than
your advanced alchemy level.
You’ve discovered how to mix two elixirs into a single hybrid
concoction. You can spend 1 additional batch of infused
reagents to add a second elixir to the one you’re crafting.
The second elixir must also be at least 2 levels lower than
your advanced alchemy level, and the combination elixir is
an alchemical item two levels higher than the higher of the
two elixirs’ levels. When this combination elixir is consumed,
both the constituent elixirs take effect. For example, you can
combine two elixirs of life to create a combined elixir that
heals twice the normal amount, or you can combine a lesser
darkvision elixir with a lesser eagle-eye elixir to both gain
darkvision and find secret doors.

Arcane Alacrity: (level 15)
Replace whole ability with:
COMBINE ELIXIRS [free-action]
ADDITIVE 4 ALCHEMIST
Frequency once per round
Trigger You use Quick Alchemy to craft an alchemical item
that has the elixir trait and is at least 4 levels lower than
your advanced alchemy level.
You’ve discovered how to mix three elixirs into a single hybrid
concoction. You can spend 2 additional batches of infused
reagents to add a second and a third elixir to the one you’re crafting.
The second and third elixirs must also be at least 4 levels lower than
your advanced alchemy level, and the combination elixir is
an alchemical item four levels higher than the higher of the
three elixirs’ levels. When this combination elixir is consumed,
all the constituent elixirs take effect.

Research Field:

Bomber:
Level 1: Can choose Dexterity as Primary stat.
At level 15: Becomes Master with Alchemical bombs.

Mutagenist:
Replace 1st level ability with:
Can Choose Strength as his Primary stat. When imbibing an infused mutagen that he has crafted himself increase the item bonus by 1

Chirurgeon:
Add (on the level 1 ability):
"You also use Craft to qualify for any skill feat requiring Medicine. Your Treat wounds upgrades can use Craft rank instead of Medicine rank"

Class feats:

Removed:
Powerful Alchemy
Combine Elixir

Altered:
Revivifying Mutagen: Now it rounds up
Efficient Alchemy: They also cost half to make with downtime rules.
Enduring Alchemy: Quick alchemy lasts 1 minute
Potent Poisoner: Poisons deal minimum damage even on a successful saving throw (still deal 0 on a critical success)

Added:
(level 8 to replace Powerful Alchemy):
Healing bomb: Additive 2. You can make Elixir's of Life with this Additive (so 2 levels lower) that have 20ft range. Range increases for Bomb attacks affect this range.

(Level 6 to replace Combine Elixir):
Quick poisoner: You need 1 interact action to apply an injury poison to a weapon instead of 3.

For reference the rest of the group consist of:

Human Arcane Sorcerer
Dwarf Cleric
Goblin Ranger
Half-orc Fighter

So, anyone have any idea how to help her?


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Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Is she using Debilitating Bombs and is she being tactical with her bomb choice? The bomber is a debuffer as much as a damage dealer. Can't compete directly with a martial at damage dealing (not without using up lots of resources quickly, anyway) but can impose flat-footed, movement constraints, etc. Debilitating Bombs works well to enable the otherwise weak Perpetual Infusions bombs to be more effective.

All alchemists can also use elixirs as a secondary support role--make them with advanced alchemy and hand them out to party members at the beginning of the day.

As far as missing: is she missing more than the other players? If her Dex is too low, I would let her rebalance, but it doesn't sound like that's the issue. Against very hard to hit enemies, maybe use quicksilver mutagen?

Would be helpful to know a little more about how her character is built.


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Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't see bomber alchemists as RAW DAMAGE, but rather consistent, steady damage. Grabbing a lot of the typical bomber feats leaves with with decent splash damage except on critical misses. One way (and a not very exciting way) of approaching damage on an alchemist is to just turn into a turret and aim at the ground (AC 10) and get in splash damage three times a round. This really burns through reagents and isn't... Fun?

Alternatively, your player can approach the alchemist as a "silver bullet" debuffer. Swig a Quicksilver Elixir and cover your foes with Frost Vials as you dance around the battlefield, soften up enemies with Bottled Lightning so your team recognizes how hollow their lives are without you, throw down Smokesticks against ranged opponents, hit casters with Thunderstones, Tanglefoot melee, do it all! When you know an enemy's weakness, hammer it home with your breadth of alchemical formulae!

It's just so much better than, "Alchemist Fire three times because this seems like the most damage."


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Ruzza wrote:
One way (and a not very exciting way) of approaching damage on an alchemist is to just turn into a turret and aim at the ground (AC 10) and get in splash damage three times a round. This really burns through reagents and isn't... Fun?

(Not personally Alchemist experienced but...) Even if that doesn't feel fun as 100% 24/7 tactic, it's sound like it's worth considering as 3rd attack which is damage opportunity other characters may not even bother with, but is fairly reliable for Bombers. Agree with over-all point that shouldn't worry about directly matching damage, it's more consistent baseline damage + debuffs + other utility etc... and having many options means you don't need to waste actions for positioning to do just your one strong thing... That isn't competing on single round power but is more about continual efficacy.

I think they can be fairly useful out of combat, with skills and utility alchemy, so don't neglect leveraging that, either.


I'm going to assume that the Alchemist in question has INT > DX.

If so, sometimes a small quantitative math tweak - especially under this critical +/-10 system - can yield a qualitative shift?

Consider letting the Bomber Research Field allow INT to attack rolls with bombs?

Cheers.


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Starting at level 6 is actually better than it could be, early levels as an alchemist are painful. Shroudb's suggested changes also really help things much more than core rules.

That said, here's my suggestions:

Have her buy Alchemist Goggles, it gives a +1 to hit with bombs. She should have 16+ dex and int for attributes. Make sure she's figuring in the fact that the level 3 bombs are +1 to hit. Touch AC isn't a thing anymore so go for the lowest AC targets if possible.

The bad news is she'll never do as much damage as a Martial class.No one is supposed to anymore apparently. You can come close but only with a long rest in between every encounter and making almost nothing but bombs. Best bet is to daily prep an inventory of bombs as well as elixirs that are useful to yourself or party members (mistform for the fighter, eagle eye for trap finding, healing, etc.)

An assortment of pre-made bombs lets you target elemental weaknesses, but I've found most critters don't tend to have any, so you can't really count on it. Acid bombs look good in theory but in practice I've rarely had them do much damage since the rest of my party killed things before the persistent damage kicked in more than once. So, throw fire or electrical bombs if no resistances or weaknesses. Splash damage is a trivial amount of damage but it can help on the rare times when you can hit more than once critter at once. Plus, she'll be the death of any swarm that shows up, so that's nice.

Mutagens are mostly useless below level 11, I've never successfully had a teammate want one despite trying to hand them out every adventure. The drawbacks are worse than the buffs mostly, but quicksilver might be useful to the ranger and herself as long as they can healing kit the damage it does after it wears off.

Basically, the best they can do is use their perpetual bombs to apply status de-buffs on the enemies. Dazzled is a good option, as well as flat-footed. Perpetual electrical bombs are a good pick, since it can apply both of those if it hits. Deafening enemy casters can cause their spell casts to fail as well.

Pre-poisoning melee and thrown weapons is also an attractive option, since with your house rules the poison DC will be high enough to maybe actually affect things. Don't poison ammo though since it's destroyed on use, whereas you don't use up melee poison until you hit.

There's a balance between what an alchemist makes for their daily prep and what they make using quick alchemy, and that takes trial and error to find what matches their play-style unfortunately. It also varies a lot depending on level as well as the nature of a particular adventure (several encounters in one day or over several days with long rests in between). Makes it hard to make any recommendations but 2/3 daily 1/3 quick isn't a bad starting place.

To correct some information, smoke sticks can't be thrown, but smoke bombs plus cat's eye's elixirs can be a nice combo. It'll annoy and affect your teammates unless you can afford to hand out elixirs to everyone though.

Throwing 3 bombs to do splash damage is a waste of ordinance, unless they're perpetual bombs. Fun fact: all levels of bombs do the same damage for splash if you take Calculated Splash, only if you take expanded splash at 10 can you actually add your int mod to the splash damage. So, with 20 int, at level 10, your regular bombs will do 7 splash the perpetuals will do 6. Unfortunately your bombs also become radius 10 instead of 5 so it becomes even less likely you'll be able to throw them without hitting a teammate, but the 1 or 2 point damage buff might be worth it?

Beyond that, hopefully the folks at Paizo come out with some alchemist fixes soon.


Why doesn't she just play a different character?

Alternatively, cluster some of the enemies so that splash matters more.

Sovereign Court

Dante Doom wrote:
So, anyone have any idea how to help her?

Well, since you posted a lot of changes, let me post my own Alchemist house rules. They went through a lot of changes since they first came out, but I think they could help. Specifically, allowing the bomber to throw Bombs with her Int bonus instead of Dex, the free Powerful Alchemy feat for bombs at level 1, and having bombs do regular damage to the actual target and a splash damage of -1 effect level should all help.

Alchemist
Each of the Research Fields specializes in 1 type of alchemical item, though any alchemist can learn and use any formula at the listed potency. Every Alchemist gets a free set of Alchemist’s tools along with the free Formula book.

Quick Alchemy (pg 72): Items you create last until the end of your next turn instead of the current one.

Bomber: You start with the formulas for two 1st-level alchemical bombs in your formula book, in addition to your other formulas. When you attack with a thrown alchemical bomb, you can add your Int. modifier to attack rolls instead of your Dex. modifier. Furthermore, when throwing an alchemical bomb with the splash trait, you can choose to deal damage to only your primary target, no splash area. You get the Powerful Alchemy feat at 1st level for free, but it only applies to bombs.

Chirurgeon: You concentrate on healing others with alchemy. You start with the following 3 formulas in your formula book (in addition to those you select normally): Lesser antidote, lesser antiplague, and minor elixir of life. All your Elixirs of Life add your Int bonus to the damage healed. As long as you are at least Trained in Medicine, you can attempt a Crafting check instead of a Medicine check for any of Medicine’s untrained and trained uses, and substitute your Crafting proficiency for Medicine for all functions of the Medicine skill. You also substitute your Alchemist's Tools for Healer's Tools. You get the General feat Battle Medicine for free at 1st level.

Mutagenist: You start with the formulas for two 1st-level mutagens in your formula book, in addition to your other formulas. When you imbibe a mutagen, increase it's item bonus by +1. You are trained in Medium armor, and it’s proficiency increases along with your Light armor rank. You gain the ability Mutagenic Flashback as a free action. Once per day you may experience a resurgence of a mutagen you’ve consumed since your last daily preparation. You gain the effects of that mutagen for 1 minute.

New Research Field: Toxicologist: You start with the formulas for lesser antidote elixir and one level 1 poison in your formula book, in addition to your other formulas. You get the Poison Resistance feat and the 4th level Rogue feat Poison Weapon for free at 1st level.

Revivifying Mutagen (pg 77): This ability may be used only once per mutagen. You can choose whether or not it ends the mutagen’s effects. If you choose to end it, add the mutagen’s level to the healing effect.

Calculated Splash (pg 77): Because of the changes to splash damage (see Alchemical Bombs below), this adds your Int bonus to the bomb’s damage.

Enduring Alchemy (pg 78): When using Quick Alchemy to create an alchemical tool or elixir, that tool or elixir remains potent for 1 minute (instead of until the end of your next turn). If you have the Alchemical Expertise class ability, the tool or elixir remains potent for up to 10 minutes; and if you have the Alchemical Mastery class ability, for up to 1 hour.

Alchemical Bombs (pg 544-546): Make an attack roll vs your target. You do double damage on a critical success, normal damage on a success, half damage on a fail, and no damage on a critical fail (bomb was a dud). The splash effect for targets within the area is 1 step lower than the main target (so if you did double damage to the main target, the splash is the regular damage, if you did regular damage to the main target, the splash is half damage, and if you only did half to the main target, there is no splash damage.) If there are any persistent damage or other effects, they affect anyone damaged.

Expanded Splash (pg 79): In addition to increasing the splash radius to 10 feet, there is now no -1 step reduction for splash damage, they all count as the main targets.

(pgs 79 and 81): Remove the phrase “You’ve created” from all alchemical items.

Merciful Elixir (pg 79): Make a counteract check equal to the item’s level + your class DC-10

Improbable Elixirs (pg 81): You gain formulas to create these potions as alchemical items with the Elixir trait. When making these alchemical elixirs you can use your reagents for an equal value of magical components and may use alchemists tools or lab in place of other required tool kits.

Perfect Debilitation (pg 81): Since True Debilitating Bomb already gives the ability to save only on a Critical Success to the basic Debilitations, this feat expands that effect to all your possible Debilitations


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

In my group, the alchemist tool the multiclass wizard dedication. It adds that extra oomph of versatility.

I'm wondering if the alchemist isn't simply too weak, compared to other classes. I'm sure your houserules do at least part of the job shoring up her base alchemist abilities, but maybe our pals at Paizo need to take a serious look at beefing up the alchemist just a tad.


Just because the alchemist is weak doesn't mean you can't have fun.

Unless you're super attached to the concept of an alchemist, it's way easier to find something else than to try "fixing" the class.

My alchemist played in one adventure when she was pretty useless outside of a few key Society checks. And then in another adventure where she decimated foes with energy damage. I had fun in both adventures, and I'll keep playing the class even though I suspect the combat problems only get worse with level.


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Watery Soup wrote:

Just because the alchemist is weak doesn't mean you can't have fun.

Unless you're super attached to the concept of an alchemist, it's way easier to find something else than to try "fixing" the class.

My alchemist played in one adventure when she was pretty useless outside of a few key Society checks. And then in another adventure where she decimated foes with energy damage. I had fun in both adventures, and I'll keep playing the class even though I suspect the combat problems only get worse with level.

I'm all about having fun with a class. Alchemists have good out of combat skills, are fun to role play, and quick alchemy is a great means to have a out of combat toolkit to creatively solve problems. That toolkit will only grow as more material is published.

If you were doing a custom campaign with a regular group and GM it wouldn't be an issue.

However, if you're playing a bomber alchemist in PFS scenarios (I can't speak for muties or chirros) you have to be able to pull your weight in a fight or your party suffers for it. Every additional player adds to the difficulty of the fights, and if half your party dies because you couldn't do enough damage, or de-buff, or whatever it is the design of a bomber alchemist is supposed to do well in a fight, you're a liability.

And that feeling sucks, and it's what I see every time I play anymore as I gain levels.

I honestly wonder if the people who write the PFS scenarios feel bad for alchemists because I've seen a lot of swarms pop up recently and it's the one thing we can stomp without a sweat.


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I argue that PFS is the perfect place to not care about your combat capabilities.

The PFS combat encounters are not difficult. If anything, I feel that PFS combat is too easy - an overreaction to the dungeon crawl era. I haven't GMed any PFS2 games but as a player, I've rarely felt stretched.

Sovereign Court

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I think people are generally in agreement that even a well-built, well-geared alchemist isn't going to do as much damage against standard monsters as a well-built, well-geared martial. Being the best at fighting is after all what the martial is all about.

I think the fun of playing an alchemist needs to come from a different style of combat: adaptability. If the fighter runs into a monster with Fire Weakness, there's not much he can do to adapt to that. He either has a flaming sword or he doesn't. The alchemist can pull out some Quick Alchemy fire bombs on the fly to exploit the weakness.

Likewise, if you run into an enemy that has resistances against almost everything except one particular element, the alchemist can make that.

If the enemy is being troublesome because it's so fast-moving, pull out the ice bombs to slow it down.

---

In addition, in the party you list, the alchemist is the only Intelligence-driven class, and also should have good Dexterity. That sets her up to play a big skill monkey role. Are you including enough skill challenges in your adventures? Think especially about skill challenges and puzzles that suit a "scientific method" kind of character.

The PF2 alchemist is a radical change from the PF1 one. The PF1 alchemist almost couldn't miss, even with his last iterative attack. The PF2 alchemist has only medium accuracy. You still have a good chance of landing a hit with your first attack and inflicting a highly relevant status effect. But you should be under no illusions: you're not going to be triple-attacking. Rarely even double-attacking.

In my local PFS2 group the elven alchemist took the ancestry feat to also gets bow training; arrows are cheap, so her second attack is usually an arrow.

But I think you should really be keeping a list of things you can do with a second and third action that aren't attacks. Such as Recall Knowledge, to figure out which bombs would work best on the enemy; moving to a position from which the enemy doesn't get cover, or after throwing a bomb to retreat to behind the fighter's AoO zone.

Multiclassing into wizard is also not a bad idea, especially if you use it to pick up some cantrips (Electric Arc) that don't have the Attack trait.

---

TL;DR - As a player, don't try to beat the fighter at his game, but exploit what alchemists are best at. As a GM, make sure you're using enough cerebral challenges and enough monsters where the alchemist's adaptability comes into play.


Ha, I just posted in the other alchemist thread before seeing this excellent post.

I did want to add that as utility items get added, the alchemist should be able to do some battlefield control with the non-Strike turns. I've also been thinking about a Ranger dedication to make snares.


Alchemist Goggles and Quicksilver Mutagen should put her above the Ranger in ranged attacks at this level; with them both having Expert in Weapon Proficiencies. (+1 item, +2 status)

Bombs should be allowing her to do Int Splash damage on a failure.

Bomber CRB page 73 wrote:

You specialize in explosions and other violent alchemical reactions. You start with the formulas for two 1st-level alchemical bombs in your formula book, in addition to your other formulas.

When throwing an alchemical bomb with the splash trait, you can deal splash damage to only your primary target instead of the usual splash area.

Being a Bomber means she doesn’t have to worry about splashing the party by the core rules. (A couple of the comments have seemed to have glanced over this from my reading of them, so just clarifying)

Combine Elixer is pretty useless for bombers. Let her have Double Brew back so she can spam Perpetual Infusions. (In the off chance you think this shouldn’t work RAW, then it’s still a much better house rule than forcing an Elixer Feat onto a Bombing Alchemist)

As for damage; the highest damage is an Alc Fire’s d8, so assuming the other characters aren’t using finesse weapons, and the ranger is either using Precision or Flurry, Alchemist will seem to fall behind; with the exception of weakness exploiting and well timed sticky bombs on particularly healthy enemies.

The most unique thing about the Alchemist ends up being just how much it can cripple an enemy. Throw out a Frost Vial that can also Flat-Foot the target or Dazzle them, by using Debilitating Bomb, and now they’re slowed and can’t see; or are easier to hit.

Right now the damage on Alchemist is limited by the weapons they rely on; kinda like Rogue’s reliance on Agile or Finesse weapons, but no sneak attack to buff the smaller weapon die choice.

A fun suggestion that you can pass by her is she’d like to MC into Barbarian, grab Rage Thrower and Instinct Ability. With a Dragon Totem, on successful hits she’ll net an additional 4 damage; so something like 4.5(1d8) + 4(int) + 4(Rage) = 9 - 16 (12.5) damage per hit with Perpetual Alchemist Fires; and still getting 4 damage on a miss which most all characters will get a big ol’ zero. The temp hit points and a decent Con Mod will also counter the Quicksilver Mutagen’s Downsides nicely.

Hope you or your party Alchemist finds this useful.


Thanks for everyone that replied! I'll give her some tips that you guys said!


Eventually, the party could be build in a less min/max way.

If the other classes but alchemist are less performants, then indirectly the alchemist could be performant as they are.

It is more or less like to have lvl 1 fighter with power attack and a wizard which deals dmg with cantrips.

+9 hit and 2d12+4 dmg
Vs
+7 hit and 1d6+4 dmg ( a shocking grasp would deal 2d12, so no flat dmg and less chance to hit/crit )

Or maybe as other already suggested, it is simply about working on a specific area in terms of specialization.


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

Alchemist Goggles and Quicksilver Mutagen should put her above the Ranger in ranged attacks at this level; with them both having Expert in Weapon Proficiencies. (+1 item, +2 status)

How do you get +2 status? Quicksilver Mutagen is item bonus to attack and skills isn't it?


BlessedHeretic wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

Alchemist Goggles and Quicksilver Mutagen should put her above the Ranger in ranged attacks at this level; with them both having Expert in Weapon Proficiencies. (+1 item, +2 status)

How do you get +2 status? Quicksilver Mutagen is item bonus to attack and skills isn't it?
Quicksilver Mutagen CRB page 549 wrote:

Your features become thin and angular. You become swifter and nimbler, but your body also becomes fragile.

Benefit You gain an item bonus to Acrobatics checks, Stealth checks, Thievery checks, Reflex saves, and ranged attack rolls, and you gain the listed status bonus to your Speed.

Seems you’re correct, the Status Bonus is to speed rather than Ranged Attack; seems i got the two mixed up.

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