Alchemist Reality vs Theory


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Howdy so if you look at the maths behind alchemists they look suboptimal and they are pretty much a joke at my table (alchemist school is where the arcane university sends their dropouts). But has anyone played an alchemist and found out that are actually surprisingly effective and the doom sayers were nearly blowing smoke? Any one have any stories of badass alchemists saving the day ?


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Alchemists tend to be quite flexible as long as they have various alchemical items available to them. Start allowing them stuff from adventure paths (uncommon recipes) and they start being able to provide all sorts of benefits and can actually prebuff.

Bombers are a funny one, they aren't ever going to be damage kings but they can do fun things as they go up in the level.

IMO alchemists mainly suffer because of the low levels of 1-3, but even then they aren't THAT weak. Grabbing a cantrip can be worth it as a backup depending on your stat lineup imo.

At my table the alchemist has saved the day in ways a wizard would have to have sacrificed more to have done. But that is always the case when comparing theory to table and a good GM will try and look the the advantages of classes and give people scenarios for them to shine.

The good old ranger tracking and favoured terrain issue, if a GM handwaves travel and tracking mechanics, then those chosen abilities or granted abilities become pointless.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

In our group the alchemist shines. They have soloed golems.


Bomber is Decent. Mutagenist is quite underwhelming with almost no notable qualities until mid-levels. The mutagens in itself are quite limited.


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TSRodriguez wrote:
Bomber is Decent. Mutagenist is quite underwhelming with almost no notable qualities until mid-levels. The mutagens in itself are quite limited.

Mutagens are "would you like to be +1 better than if you had a REAL magic item? Cool! You can be! Also, have some double-harsh penalties that cripple you in some other way."

Like seriously, compare the rage mutagen (berzerk? forget the name). It basically gives you all the same benefits of a barbarian rage, but its penalties are double.


To be fair, I don't think that Bestial mutagen is meant to replace Rage. It provides an item bonus to attack rolls, not to damage and gives an unarmed attack with it's own damage profile instead.

Juggernaut similarly only grants you temp HP and a bonus to Fortitude saves, and the only real downside in combat to it is the penalty to Will saves. And perception if fighting enemies that take advantage of stealth I suppose. Initiative is only an issue if you prefer to "pre-buff" before a combat rather than slugging your elixers after combat begins.

They serve different purposes, and allow a character who otherwise wouldn't have certain item bonuses to benefit from an item bonus for a very specific situation. I would actually argue that most Mutagen's shouldn't be used in the majority of situations: instead use them like Eagle Eye or Bravo's Brew, to suit a specific task when appropriate.


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We have an alchemist in our party and we're level 10 of Age of Ashes so far and...

I gotta say, the class doesn't particularly interest me after seeing it in action for so long. In fact, our Alch is even using a house rule because of how weirdly out of tune the class seems to be (the rule is: 2+Int to splash rather than Int instead of splash). There has been only a single instance where I was glad we had an alchemist and it made a truly meaningful difference, it was in a fight against a Hazard that had Cold weakness and the alchemist was using that effectively.

Also, does nobody think it's weird that the class get their "cantrips"(Equivalent) at 8th level and they're actually very low level items? Meanwhile, spellcasters are having their cantrips scaling for free and by that point is rocking 4dX dice with their own effects?

Also, why can't they use their main stat to hit with like everybody else? They have the same chassis a Wizard has and their main thing don't even have the same impact as a spell, I see no reason why the class is clearly an outlier.

We don't even need to discuss the situation with their feats. It pretty much puts them under the "Must Have a Rework ASAP" category.

In short, it doesn't look particularly interesting on paper and in action it is as good as it seems on paper.


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In my group with a Bomber Alchemist the players were starting to get annoyed with how much the Alchemist seemed to be behind the power curve and I knew were secretly wishing for him demise.

He did end up dieing trying to save one of the other PC's in a failed resurrection ritual. ( PC's rolled a 1 on primary check )


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beowulf99 wrote:
I would actually argue that most Mutagen's shouldn't be used in the majority of situations: instead use them like Eagle Eye or Bravo's Brew, to suit a specific task when appropriate.

Sure. So having an entire class (path) who's shtick is to pop them like candy...


Draco18s wrote:
beowulf99 wrote:
I would actually argue that most Mutagen's shouldn't be used in the majority of situations: instead use them like Eagle Eye or Bravo's Brew, to suit a specific task when appropriate.
Sure. So having an entire class (path) who's shtick is to pop them like candy...

...gives that character specific tools to handle specific situations with a unique mechanic. And there are costs incurred for that flexibility.

Look, I won't say that a Mutagenist is Tier 1 OP status or anything, but you can see where they are going. And with their recursive burp ability, they definitely want to be quaffing down a mutagen at least a few times a day. But they can also function as a party member without currently being hopped up on a mutagen.

Their real strength is being able to have an answer that magic may not provide. They have magic-like buffs available without the restrictions that come with a Caster class, ie spell slots.

Good? Questionable. Interesting? For sure.


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beowulf99 wrote:
but you can see where they are going.

Pretty much nowhere, tbh.


Squiggit wrote:
beowulf99 wrote:
but you can see where they are going.
Pretty much nowhere, tbh.

Yeah... I've found mutagens pretty awful. About the only time I'd think about using them is for skill checks when I was 100% sure no combat was anywhere near: the combat debuffs are pretty horrific.

As far as alchemists in play, they go from subpar to pretty awful.

Chirugeon: played one as a main healer and I found myself unimpressed. I'd start the day making every elixir of life I could at the start of the day [to get the batch bonus] and passed them around to cover the healing for the day. I was unimpressed with alchemist feats as a whole so I used every class feat for wizard multiclass so I could do something other than shoot my crossbow. The whole time I felt like a cleric would be all around better at everything.

PS: Perpetual Infusions is really a joke too. Wow, I get to make as many 6 hour elixirs as I want... Who doesn't want that? :P

Mutagenist: This feels like a version of the PF1 burn... 'Got to punch myself in the face to power up' but even worse than that because you lose much more than you gain... The lone bright spot is at 7th you have unlimited healing for yourself with Revivifying Mutagen. Multiclassing into wizard still a good idea. At least you're a peasant with a crossbow that can infinitely heal themselves.

Bomber: IMO, the only one that gets up to subpar and only if you only run a few encounters a day though Perpetual Infusions solves this once you hit 7th. Performance will vary wildly depending on the amount of creatures you meet that have elemental weaknesses. Bombs, especially Perpetual Infusion ones, aren't too exciting without weaknesses to exploit: this can change if you pump every single feat into your bombs. You take Debilitating Bomb and Powerful Alchemy and throw a Bottled Lightning (Lesser) and you can pass out some debuff even if you don't do much damage.


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I have two groups that I played Plaguestone with. Both started with Alchemists, and both players ended disappointed. And to be clear, both were well built and neither group has power players. In fact, one group is quite new to RPGs in general.

One made a new character, Druid, about halfway through adventure.
Other played through the whole adventure, taking Rogue dedication, but was quite disappointed overall.

They each had chances to shine and appreciated the chances, but just felt overall weak and disappointed.


We had an Alchemist for 4 levels, a bomber, and got a lots of fun with him. Way more than the Divine Sorceress. Did a few very good hit, always having the good weakness to target (being very knowledgeable), skill monkey, a lots of buffs and prebuff (Darkision, Cheetah, à few poisoned bolt).

We also had a Rogue MC Alchemist, was really fun too. Seems to be a very usefully MC archetype.

However, DM have to let access to ALL recipes from Archyves of Nethys to have maximum range of abilities, and if it is not Bomber or a MC, it sucks. Chirurgien and Mutagenic are just trash tier for now I think.


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We have an alchemist in our group, and she seems to be doing fine. But then again, we're still fairly low level, and have just hit 5th.

My armchair analysis of the class is that it seems mired in PF1 design sensibilities. In PF1, you often had fairly weak basic class abilities and could pick various options to enhance them to the point where they became useful or even powerful. In PF2, class abilities usually are where they're supposed to be in the first place, and class feats give you new stuff to do.

For example, an Animal Instinct barbarian gets good unarmed attacks as part of the package deal, and they improve automatically as they go up in level. There are some feats they can take to explore their animal side, but they generally don't affect their numerical stuff – something like Animal Skin mostly shifts their prioritization, by letting them have the same AC unarmored as in light/medium armor. But an alchemist using a bestial mutagen needs to take the Feral Mutagen feat to get its full effects. And a bomber alchemist probably needs to take Calculated Splash to boost their bomb damage. That's the kind of stuff most classes don't need to spend feats on.


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Me and my team played through the fall of plaguestone, one of them being a bomber alchemist and i must say, everyone was rather underwhelmed by the class. It seemed to do pretty mutch nothin that the others could do just as good or even better even if the adventure force feeds you a ton of alchemical items. He decided to switch to wizard halfway through and then started having fun.
We did not try the other subclasses but they look even worse to be honest


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Staffan Johansson wrote:


For example, an Animal Instinct barbarian gets good unarmed attacks as part of the package deal, and they improve automatically as they go up in level. There are some feats they can take to explore their animal side, but they generally don't affect their numerical stuff – something like Animal Skin mostly shifts their prioritization, by letting them have the same AC unarmored as in light/medium armor. But an alchemist using a bestial mutagen needs to take the Feral Mutagen feat to get its full effects. And a bomber alchemist probably needs to take Calculated Splash to boost their bomb damage. That's the kind of stuff most classes don't need to spend feats on.

That is EXACTLY the main problem with Alchemist. They're stuck with PF1e design philosophy, while every other class is having fun getting to choose options. Even the Monks' very overlapping mobility options are more interesting to take than Math Keep Up Feats (we can't even call them enhancers because they just make the class barely function).

I see that Paizo has a way of overestimating the power of a "mundane" classes (Alchemy is not exactly magic) and because of that they just create a class that's full of penalties, restrictions and with heavy costs for their abilities, while legacy classes just do their thing and have new toys to use. It is exactly the same situation with the Envoy in Starfinder.

When a Classes' limited resources is a strong as a unlimited resource from other, then you know something isn't right. It is pretty f*&@ing weird that our Alchemist is wasting 2d6~8+6 (it should be +4 but we have our house rule) limited bombs while our wizard can just spend two actions and deal 5d4+INT dmg to two targets or 5d6+Int with telekinetic projectile in between impactful spells.

I think the Alchemist's sweet spot for bombs is at least with one dice above the curve for martial characters (while martial characters roll 1dX, Alchemists roll 2dX and so on).


The alchemist errata was supposed to come out not too long after new years. Almost 4 months later and zip. I got tired with being a liability to my party and I don't bother with the alchemist anymore, I rerolled for the new batch of low level PFS adventures and I'm not looking back.


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Staffan Johansson wrote:


My armchair analysis of the class is that it seems mired in PF1 design sensibilities. In PF1, you often had fairly weak basic class abilities and could pick various options to enhance them to the point where they became useful or even powerful. In PF2, class abilities usually are where they're supposed to be in the first place, and class feats give you new stuff to do.

It seems like the only class in the game that has to fix his numbers with his abilities


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Aricks wrote:
The alchemist errata was supposed to come out not too long after new years. Almost 4 months later and zip. I got tired with being a liability to my party and I don't bother with the alchemist anymore, I rerolled for the new batch of low level PFS adventures and I'm not looking back.

Well... There was an errata. That's when the mutagenist actually got features, since he had none on release.

Thing is, that one piece may not be as bad as it once was, but the entirety of the class is just not up to snuff overall. Bomber almost passes - not that it's gonna impress anyone - but the two other just fall short of relevance.

The alchemist just does not do much, and that's a shame because it is such a cool concept.
It somewhat finds itself in the situation of the 1E core rogue early on : Fun idea, but the mechanics really don't follow.

Worse part is, I'm afraid the way it's designed will make it difficult to "fix".
Better alchemical items will not help the preset infusions. Better research fields would only help by making those we have obsolete. Better feats.. Well do you want to be feat starved as an Alchemist ? Plus again, only works by making current options obsolete.
This is going to be tough, and I don't envy the team.
Including it in the CRB was a pretty big move, it's kind of a big iconic PF "thing", even going for radical shift in play style - which was fine... But it kind of fell on its face, and now needs a lot of help.


I'm curious, because this is functionally the same version as the playtest ended with, and I don't recall hearing the same level of complaints with that version. So why is there such a difference?


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Cyouni wrote:
I'm curious, because this is functionally the same version as the playtest ended with, and I don't recall hearing the same level of complaints with that version. So why is there such a difference?

Well, I think there were complaints during the playtest as well. But there was a lot of other stuff being complained about as well, and more reason to be vocal about those other things when they could still be changed.


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siegfriedliner wrote:
has anyone played an alchemist and found out that are actually surprisingly effective and the doom sayers were nearly blowing smoke?

My bomber alchemist is fine. She has met my medium expectations and exceeded medium-low expectations based on negative reviews from Aug 2019.

If your expectations are set by targeting touch AC and having separate pools for bombs and extracts and 10 years worth of options, yeah, you're going to be disappointed.

If your primary metric for utility is DPR, or you throw three bombs a turn, yeah, you're going to be disappointed.

It's a fine class and a fun class.


Cyouni wrote:
I'm curious, because this is functionally the same version as the playtest ended with, and I don't recall hearing the same level of complaints with that version. So why is there such a difference?

Oh, there where. I myself made them here AND put them in my playtest report. I wasn't alone either.

Watery Soup wrote:


If your expectations are set by targeting touch AC and having separate pools for bombs and extracts and 10 years worth of options, yeah, you're going to be disappointed.

If your primary metric for utility is DPR, or you throw three bombs a turn, yeah, you're going to be disappointed.

What if your expectations are that it JUST does as well as the other classes in PF2? I can't say that it has.


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graystone wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
I'm curious, because this is functionally the same version as the playtest ended with, and I don't recall hearing the same level of complaints with that version. So why is there such a difference?

Oh, there where. I myself made them here AND put them in my playtest report. I wasn't alone either.

Watery Soup wrote:


If your expectations are set by targeting touch AC and having separate pools for bombs and extracts and 10 years worth of options, yeah, you're going to be disappointed.

If your primary metric for utility is DPR, or you throw three bombs a turn, yeah, you're going to be disappointed.

What if your expectations are that it JUST does as well as the other classes in PF2? I can't say that it has.

Yeah, I'm a pretty hardcore alchemist apologist (I mean, my forum avatar is the old iconic after all) and I struggle to find anything truly redeeming there. Which is a shame.

If you really want to play an alchemist, the only way I've seen work out in practice so far, be a rogue with the alchemist dedication for poisons. Which reduces the class to an optional feat line for a few free alchemical items every day. And that hits right in the feels.

Liberty's Edge

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Cyouni wrote:
I'm curious, because this is functionally the same version as the playtest ended with, and I don't recall hearing the same level of complaints with that version. So why is there such a difference?

The playtests definitely had some issues of its own. There were too many math fixer Feats and some issues with non-bomber builds even then.

But importantly, there were a couple of very large post-playtest general rules changes that make a huge difference:

#1: More of the bonuses in the final version come from personal Proficiency and less from items. They powered down the Alchemical items to account for this but did not likewise power up their offensive Proficiencies (they still cap at Expert, that was only -1 as compared to Master in the playtest, it is now -2). So they were on par in accuracy when using the right items (since Mutagens scale one better than normal items) in the playtest, and now are not.

#2: In the playtest, Touch Attacks and Touch AC were still a thing, and (since all bombs were touch attacks) really aided Alchemist and spellcaster accuracy and thus damage (since foes had a Touch AC around 1 to 3 points lower than their normal AC). When they got rid of Touch Attacks, spellcasters got the boost of attacking with their casting stat. Alchemists received no such bonus, meaning they lost an effective -1 to -3 from every attack.

These combine to a net -1 to -5 (depending on level, foe, and strategy), averaging -2, probably more like -3 at high levels, to hit on just about every attack as compared to the playtest. Given the tight math in PF2, that's enough to make them something like an order of magnitude worse.


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1. Doesn't use primary stat for any of its attacks
2. Starved for reagents for most of its early levels, good luck bombers if you want to throw bombs and use quick alchemy or buff your party before level 5.
3. Many class feats don't actually give you any new abilities. Many of those that do require you use quick alchemy further reducing your reagent stock.
4. Churgion who made healing elixirs for their party? I hope you like shooting a crossbow, alot.
5. Good luck fighting in melee in light armor with a strength based melee attack and an ac penalty mutagenists.
6. You know that free alchemical crafting feat? Good luck actually making anything useful without spending a month making it.

I could go on but it's pointless. As far as I can tell Paizo thinks alchemists are fine as is.

Liberty's Edge

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Aricks wrote:
I could go on but it's pointless. As far as I can tell Paizo thinks alchemists are fine as is.

This is not necessarily true. They haven't fixed them yet, but that doesn't inherently mean they're unaware of the issues, just that they haven't been addressed yet.


Cyouni wrote:
I'm curious, because this is functionally the same version as the playtest ended with, and I don't recall hearing the same level of complaints with that version. So why is there such a difference?

Shields were shipped with basically the same overall math but without the Dent mechanics. Yet they're still made from paper at higher levels (except sturdy shields) with some very noticeable shields standing out with their Block Abilities that can't be used at the level they're acquired because of the amount of damage.

Just to illustrate that Paizo didn't change everything and I believe that there was still a lot of complaints, sadly, it didn't have the same focus as other broader issues (the big 6 that are now the big 3 being finally removed from the game, feat quality, skill feats being better, vancian casting or not, etc). It was just too much up in the air still and maybe the discussions around the alchemist were just caught in the middle, specially since a lot of issues couldn't have been discussed because all the classes received new feats, proficiency changed as well as ancestry baselines, class chassis and some other core mechanics.

At the time there weren't a lot of issues that are apparent now SPECIALLY with the game environment we're in now. Honestly, in a game that makes Rogues and Fighters so overtuned (their niche just hurts the overall game)there's literally no excuse for letting the Alchemist being weak AND clunky as it is.


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The alchemist was a class really tuned to the playtest... and then it seems that when they changed a lot for the final release, they left the Alchemist as it was... So, it feels unfinished. Its the only class in the game that makes me feel truly disappointed. \
But I have heard designers of Paizo saying that the alchemist needs work, they are paying attention.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
siegfriedliner wrote:
has anyone played an alchemist and found out that are actually surprisingly effective and the doom sayers were nearly blowing smoke? Any one have any stories of badass alchemists saving the day?

I've seen an attempt at an optimized Alchemist (Bomber specialty, Dex 16 and Int 18, Half-Elf for shortbow access) played from levels 1-3 in Extinction Curse, with three other pretty optimized PCs (Giant Barbarian, Maestro Bard, Animal Druid).

On the pro-side, the Alchemist has made a substantial contribution in three situations (which I'll hide to avoid spoilers for those who haven't played it):

Good Alchemist Moments:

  • 1. In one combat with a nasty wasp swarm which the party was warned about (they could see it through a window), the Alchemist handed out bombs to everyone before combat. The guaranteed splash damage, combined with its weakness to splash damage, helped a lot with this encounter.
  • 2. Right after the fight with the wasp swarm, the Alchemist was able to give the Barbarian an Antidote to help with some terrifying poison saves, which helped the Barbarian survive. (But as one of the party members noted later, it seems like a good idea for any party to buy a couple lesser Antidotes to carry around, and not something one needs an Alchemist for.)
  • 3. The Alchemist gave the Infiltrator's Elixir to the Bard in several places to allow them to impersonate Nemmia. In a couple places this (and some good Impersonate checks) allowed the party to bypass a few tough encounters, and gain some valuable information. (This was pretty cool. It's too bad that there don't seem to be many other "utility" elixirs of this sort in the CRB.)
  • On the con side, the Alchemist player has felt frustrated in some ways:

    Alchemist Disappointments:

  • 1. With the exception of the encounter described above, the Alchemist's bombs haven't done much. In an earlier encounter with a swarm, the Alchemist's bombs did far less damage than the Barbarian, even though the creature had a weakness to splash damage and a resistance to physical damage. Damage aside, the Alchemist had hoped to help out with the lightning bomb's ability to make a creature flat-footed. But since the Druid, their companion and the Barbarian would quickly move to flank opponents, it never made a difference.
  • 2. The Alchemist generally has had a hard time finding something to do with their third action after spending their first turn Recalling Knowledge. While the other PCs are demoralizing, commanding animal companions, inspiring courage, moving to flank, raising shields, etc., the Alchemist often has little to do but make three ranged attacks.
  • 3. The Alchemist had hoped to hand out helpful elixirs or things to other party members during battles, but the opportunity has never come up. The other PCs generally didn't want to use mutagens during combat given their drawbacks. The Bard and Druid quickly take care of any emergency healing needs. And in any case, as a ranged combatant who tries to stay back a bit, the Alchemist is generally poorly placed to deliver elixirs to the other PCs.
  • 4. Out of combat, the Alchemist did hand out a few mutagens to buff skill checks at various points. But these small boosts never ended up making a difference, and they quickly depleted the Alchemist's reagents.
  • So while the Alchemist has shined in a couple situations, the Alchemist player has generally felt like they haven't been able to contribute as much as the other party members.


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    Porridge wrote:


    I've seen an attempt at an optimized Alchemist (Bomber specialty, Dex 16 and Int 18, Half-Elf for shortbow access) played from levels 1-3 in Extinction Curse, with three other pretty optimized PCs (Giant Barbarian, Maestro Bard, Animal Druid).

    On the pro-side, the Alchemist has made a substantial contribution in three situations (which I'll hide to avoid spoilers for those who haven't played it):
    ** spoiler omitted **

    On the con side, the Alchemist player has felt frustrated in some ways:
    ** spoiler omitted **...

    Seems to me that the good parts were very narrow, while in most situations it felt underwhelming. But there are to caveats though. One is comparing the Alchemist's damage to a Giant Barbarian, that's not a good standard to aim at. Damage is a Barbarian's field and they have plenty of things to help them with that. Another one is the Flat-Footed condition applied by Bottled Lightning, it is not as bad if you have other ranged combatants on your party,because the Flat-footed will be universal rather than just for the characters flanking.

    But yeah, most of your problems quoted are between the issues raised. Action economy (not being able to use your stuff in combat such as healing, buffing, etc) either due to distance or simply a lack of actions. Another important point is that the ALchemist's limited resources are balanced against other classes' unlimited actions, that, by itself, already makes the alchemist be in a rough spot balance-wise.

    Also... Mutagens offer mediocre buffs with huge drawbacks. They either should remove the drawbacks or make the buffs worthwhile, SPECIALLY if they're made by a mutagenist.


    I'm kind of a pariah when it comes to the alchemist (to the point where I worry I'm being a blind defender). I will say I do hear people's complaints and even all of my defences have a pretty big 'however' next to them
    I don't mind the fact that they have int as their key ability score; It's on theme, I don't think they should be as good at fighting as other classes, and bombs do splash damage, so they have pretty reliable damage output despite not hitting as much. However, that does put alchemists in a position of needing to use bombs and (while I don't really like them being as good with a crossbow as a featless ranger) the fact they cap at expert might be too much. Missing feels bad, and it's easy to see splash as pity points rather than guaranteed return on investment. I also find splash damage really poorly phrased?
    I don't really have a problem with the abilities they need for bombs being feats, because giving too many bomb related class features would make the class appear too bomb focused. However... see above.
    I also don't mind them not having as many reagents at early levels, I think using a sling is fine. However, see above.

    Beyond that I think the class is really calling out for more content, which is fine because that's the reality of publishing. I wonder how they'll look after the APG is out. I feel like they might not have been built with the intent of being full martials, but they're kind of forced into that role by the options they have available right now.
    I also find it wild that casters require a skill check to learn spells but alchemists don't. You need to make a check to write out a formula, but not to copy it into your book. Idk it's just really odd.


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    While I've made it clear I'm not a huge fan of the class as it stands, I feel like one of the most glaring aspects, and something that stands out the most as something that could be fixed and generates the most animosity, is how the class functions at low levels.

    An alchemist gets only a few more reagents than a spellcaster gets spells, but alchemical items aren't really designed to be used like spells and there's no equivalent in their kit to a focus spell or a cantrip.

    Both just looking at the numbers and from play experience, it's really easy to end up in a scenario where the Alchemist can do a handful of things and then abruptly turns into the closest thing PF2 has to a commoner because their only class feature at that level bracket runs dry. The alternative being that the Alchemist tries to ration their alchemical items like spells, but they just don't really have the oomph that spells do so that doesn't quite work.

    Mutagenists can stretch their resources out a bit better, but end up running into other problems that people have already talked to death.

    As they level up this particular problem becomes less and less of an issue, but those low levels are pretty egregious.

    1d6 Fall Damage wrote:
    I don't really have a problem with the abilities they need for bombs being feats, because giving too many bomb related class features would make the class appear too bomb focused. However... see above.

    While I get where you're coming from. One of PF2's big design paradigms was that it was trying to shift away from feats that existed just to adjust your math and toward feats that changed or enhanced the way you played.

    And so it feels pretty jarring to internalize that idea and then look at some of the feats riddling the Alchemist's list.

    It also tempers some of that 'we just need new content' stuff, I think. Math fixers tend to stick around as albatrosses around a class' neck. This was basically PF1 in a nutshell. It was really hard to design cool feats that did new things that people wanted to take because they had so many other feats they were expected to take for math purposes (more or less depending on build, ofc). So unless the stuff in the APG power creeps the CRB, I fear that some of these options are just going to forever be something the Alchemist has to deal with.


    I hear you, especially the point about albatrosses. Powerful Alchemy stands out as one (which I feel also should apply to advanced alchemy, but definitely not all alchemy). Some others... maybe. Calculated Splash and Sticky Bomb kind of remind me of cleric feats that modify divine font, like Cremate Undead - the difference is the alchemist ones are just really really powerful, frankly Sticky Bomb busts my whole idea of just giving them the same proficiency/specialisation track as other martials. I can't really see any other really overt math fixers, going over the list besides the level one few, but I might just be missing them.

    As for early levels, during the brief time I was playing with an alchemist (which lasted until about level 3) I did see them run out of bombs really quickly to the point where they were the one to call for a rest... basically every time. Here's where it comes to a matter of expectations though, because when you say they turn into commoners, I'm fine with that. I'd rather that than cantrip bombs to be honest, let alchemy be a special sometimes food for a while until you become a true expert of the art, accenting the abilities of an above-average person. Not everyone agrees, though, and even if they did the issue is yeah, bombs don't really have that much oomph unless the target has a weakness and/or you hit with splash.


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    I think a core problem with the alchemist is that they made a whole sub-system of alchemical items that in theory anyone can use, and then tied the alchemist to making and using those items. This makes it harder to balance, when a core part of your class identity is available to anyone with the gold to spare.

    Both PF1 and 5e (with the Artificer) took another approach: alchemy is spells, but re-skinned. Flavor-wise, the 5e artificer may be throwing a bomb filled with bio-luminescent dust, but mechanically what they're doing is casting faerie fire. Flavor-wise you're applying a regenerative poultice, but mechanically you're casting cure wounds. This reduces the alchemist's distinctiveness somewhat, but has the advantage of working with a known quantity: spells. You don't need to worry about how an elixir of life compares both to a heal spell and to a potion of healing - the elixir is mechanically the same as the heal spell.

    But that ship has already sailed, and it would be impossible to implement without essentially tearing the class down and rebuilding it. It would probably also run into issues with the way spells and spell lists work in PF2.


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    Alch is still the only class I enjoy playing in p2.
    but I don't play p2 that often-because Alchemist is.. awkward.
    I really do kind of hope they'll muligan and release a Combat Chemist class or Updated Alchemist in the next main book. This is written from a Bomber POV though, as I gave up on the other two versions fairly quickly after a few attempts.

    Just suring up the Profiencies would go a very long way.
    I think they should really put pepetual lower level as well. Even at early levels unlimited specific bombs aren't THAT much of an issue with the limitations for peptetual's use. But having the unlimited "your thing" at lower levels would let you use your limited items on more narrative or interesting unique things. Giving them a "cantrip" in effect at low level would really be good. This lack of a "my combat style' is the biggest issue at low level. I'm fine with the low reagent count (not happy but fine) but not having a true weapon is a real issue.
    ------

    One thing I really wish was changed, and have been allowed to do as a housue rule, is "make items as you need them" changes to the class.
    Currently you can only make your items during your daily preperation. Something I argued for in the Playtest, and in home games (and have been allowd to do in some) is simply preparing items later. I could take 10mins and create more items. In most cases it was limited to INT reagents per 10min.

    Doing that, allowed my Alchemist to actually use its versatility--arguably the classes best thing. Because I didn't have to guess what to do in the morning, I had a daily prep-for my tools and for specific folks and left my reagents in wait. Then once we ended up somewhere, or found what k ind of creatures are in this specific cave. I could make items tuned explicity for that event.

    This was super fun and useful. Having the ability to spend 2 reagents and give all four of us AntiVenom for this cave-that we thought would be undead but were giant scorpions was just plain great. We took a medicine rest and the GM allowed me to do Med checks and make my reagents during the 10 mins. (After all a lot of other 10min abilities all can be done at once. some can't but a lot can)

    Effectively this small change was an amazing quality of life change. Quick Alchemy is honestly aborhent to me. Its almost never something to use IMO. I really think they should switch Quick Alchemy to being the 10 min reagent spending I mention above. Wrap in the current use with it for 'in battle' use at the higher cost-but remove the time limit of existance.

    Another House rule that made life great was to make the Peptual Item 1 action that creates and throws it (for bombs) or applies it (for items) or can be given if they chose not to throw it. Add the Flourish Tag so it can only be used Once Per Turn.
    This was also a quality of life homerule that really made life better. I had to take Quick Bombs as a feat, and this was added to that. But that was just great.
    It let me actually move around or use other items, or help protect my allies etc. Most of the time it was Lightning Flask or Ice (depending on if I needed to help an ally attack or escape) and then I'd Aid with throwing darts.
    ========

    This is also just a personal thing but. I really wish that they got to share all the poison feats that Rogues have, and all the Trap feats that Rangers have access to. There are already a ton of shared feats between classes. Giving the Alchemist an inborn access to Poison feats--they make poison after all would be great. Giving the Trap feats-including the 'free traps per day' feat line would allow them to really be the Tool Guy.

    Basically.
    I think Adlet is the Patron Saint of what Alchemist should be. (Rokka no Yuusha reference). Someone who has decent combat ability with weapons, but really excells in using his brain and knowledge to tailor what tools he uses for the occasion, and making everyone else do their job better.


    Staffan Johansson wrote:
    Both PF1 and 5e (with the Artificer) took another approach: alchemy is spells, but re-skinned.

    I wish I could accept that, but this is absolutely my pet peeve. It feels like a cop out to me, and sure it works but I mean at that same thing could be applied to fighter and champion - flavour-wise, you're punishing those who stand against you, but mechanically you're doing an attack of opportunity.

    I'm not saying you're wrong for suggesting it, I mean we're talking about a game, there is no right answer, but if this is what they ran with I would have been really unsatisfied. I'm also hesitant to get behind anything that makes things work the same as another class - see 4e's variety of 'X Word' abilities: healing word, inspiring word, majestic word, all of which function the same as each other but are 'unique' to different classes.


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    Not too much actual play experience with Alchemist. I had a player play one from level 1-4 in plaguestone (gave them an extra level to compensate for the fact that I had 3 players instead of 4). They didn't feel very impactful when using their alchemical items, but then again they spent pretty much all their stuff on Alchemist's Fire (they were a Goblin with Burn It!) past the first session.

    IMO Alchemist is fine mechanically once you get to level 8-10 or so (and you are a bomber). The two biggest issues with alchemist currently are:

    1) Lack of reagents at low levels - They run out of items very quickly and are reduced to a crossbow peasant. Their main form of adding modifications to stuff - Quick Alchemy - is basically unusable at these levels. To rectify this I would add the following exploration activity

    Scavenge Supplies [Exploration]
    You spend 10 minutes searching the area for things to use as alchemical reagents. You gain (2? 3? 1+quarter level?) alchemical reagents, up to the amount you spent since you last used this activity.

    2) They're boring - The alchemist experience currently is like playing a caster whose only spells are Hydraulic Push, Burning Hands & Magic Missile. As you level, you never get new spells, you can only heighten them. Alchemists really don't have a lot of cool stuff to look forward to as they level (barring Mega Bomb, a 20th feat), it's just more of the same with different numbers. Their buffs aren't really interesting in any way, they're just +1s or +2s, which, while they may be mathematically good, aren't very exciting. The only thing they've got going for them is the cool effects on high level poisons IMO.

    That's without even getting to things that function but shouldn't exist. The following feats should really be straight up removed from the class:
    - Quick Bomber - Should be a level 1 feature
    - Calculated Splash - Should be a class feature
    - Expanded Splash - The damage portion should be a class feature, the radius enhancer should be a level 1 feat that is optional to use.
    - Powerful Alchemy & Potent Poisoner - Your created items should just use your class DC.
    - Enduring Alchemy - Quick Alchemy should just do this by default. Change this feat so it makes Quick Alchemy stuff last a minute.

    Also alchemists should get Poison Weapon on their feat list.


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    Staffan Johansson wrote:

    I think a core problem with the alchemist is that they made a whole sub-system of alchemical items that in theory anyone can use, and then tied the alchemist to making and using those items. This makes it harder to balance, when a core part of your class identity is available to anyone with the gold to spare.

    Both PF1 and 5e (with the Artificer) took another approach: alchemy is spells, but re-skinned. Flavor-wise, the 5e artificer may be throwing a bomb filled with bio-luminescent dust, but mechanically what they're doing is casting faerie fire. Flavor-wise you're applying a regenerative poultice, but mechanically you're casting cure wounds. This reduces the alchemist's distinctiveness somewhat, but has the advantage of working with a known quantity: spells. You don't need to worry about how an elixir of life compares both to a heal spell and to a potion of healing - the elixir is mechanically the same as the heal spell.

    But that ship has already sailed, and it would be impossible to implement without essentially tearing the class down and rebuilding it. It would probably also run into issues with the way spells and spell lists work in PF2.

    I prefer the Alchemy to be a separate entity from magic altogether. But I think the designers thought that just giving the class free items would be enough. It is not. For two very important factors: Identity and cool.

    As you put it yourself, people with money have access to the core class features, that's fine. The thing is, an alchemist in your party should be offering things that alchemists in shops can't. Their identity should be that even though anyone has access to alchemy, only an alchemist can do the good stuff, by that I mean bonuses and effects only an alchemist can grant.

    Better elixirs, better mutagens and better poisons. All feats that just enhance the numbers should be tied to the Research Field, like a Barbarian progresses on their Instinct over levels, it doesn't need to be available from the get go if Paizo REALLY thinks that using a class DC or adding INT (instead of replacing, this should be a house rule for everyone) to splash damage is such a game-breaking ability (Spoiler Alert: It's not).


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    Exocist wrote:

    That's without even getting to things that function but shouldn't exist. The following feats should really be straight up removed from the class:

    - Quick Bomber - Should be a level 1 feature
    - Calculated Splash - Should be a class feature
    - Expanded Splash - The damage portion should be a class feature, the radius enhancer should be a level 1 feat that is optional to use.
    - Powerful Alchemy & Potent Poisoner - Your created items should just use your class DC.
    - Enduring Alchemy - Quick Alchemy should just do this by default. Change this feat so it makes Quick Alchemy stuff last a minute.

    Perhaps part of the Bomber research field, but I would like it if alchemists never had to touch bombs if they didn't want to.

    As for powerful alchemy and potent poisoner, yes the former but probably not the latter, and the former should also apply to advanced alchemy. Potent Poisoner applies to poisons made during downtime, and giving permanent poisons that are more effective than others in their price range doesn't feel like a great idea to me.

    I feel like alchemist, perhaps moreso than other classes, is so heavily dependent on one's internal definition of what an alchemist should be. For example, I don't like perpetual infusions? I just don't like the idea of infinite alchemical items, on a verisimilitude level and on a conceptual level. Even my concept of a bomber alchemist doesn't only throw bombs. I was talking on the discord about it, and the way I described it was like a Starfinder mechanic, which does a lot of mechanicy stuff but still shoots things.


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    So are we at the point that we can start brainstorming house rules the alchemist in this thread, or would that be deviating too far from actual play experience? Because I have a lot of thoughts.


    Looks like we already are, so go nuts


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    Captain Morgan wrote:
    So are we at the point that we can start brainstorming house rules the alchemist in this thread, or would that be deviating too far from actual play experience? Because I have a lot of thoughts.

    You shouldn't do it here. Start another thread, maybe. But I think is very likely there's already one on the Homebrew Section.


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    I truly appreciate the effort to house rule improvements, I think it would be helpful to identify the perceived underlying flaw that the house rule fixes so that the thread can more or less stay on course.

    I think part of the problem is that the alchemist probably does better at high levels, when there are more opponents that have elemental weaknesses to exploit, more reagents available, more use for poison and disease protection, and mutagens where the bonus actually exceeds the penalty from using them. I think it was tested and played at those higher levels (comments from the developers have indicated as such), but not enough at the lower levels, and not enough to fully evaluate the changes post playtest. Specifically, the research fields seem thrown in but not really evaluated as to the usefulness of their individual abilities.

    Starting as a level 1 alchemist is painful, for the reasons I've specified before and then some. You can take a dedication or a weapon familiarity ancestry to help, but if you don't use the core abilities of your class most of the time, why bother?

    Experimenting with builds I had a level 2 play session where I literally didn't use a single bomb, elixir, or mutagen the entire session, despite having a good spread and available reagents for emergencies, because shooting a bow or using electric arc was always a better option and the mutagen penalties weren't worth it if combat cropped up.


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    BTW as PF1 proved, you can have Alchemist get both "spells" (extracts) and alchemical items; They dont have to use the same systems but can definetly be related.

    As far as theory, I think that one of the problems is how Alchemist relate to the game overall. Chirugions are based around healing and anti-disease/poison, but most groups can just have someone use the medicine skill with little interactions with disease/poison: Not to mentions Clerics and Angel blooded Sorcerers are just straight up better healers. Meanwhile, Mutagenists are very unusable (if at all) in combat because using a mutagen will actively make it easier for things to kill you, all for a +1 benefit: Its just a bad risk/reward ratio.

    Then there is the fact that most of the feats affect only Bombs. The first feat affecting only Elixirs is at lv6, and the next one is at lv10. For Mutagens the first feat comes at lv2, and the next one is at lv8. The feats for non bombs come in way to late, and they have way to few variation.

    Sovereign Court

    Exocist wrote:

    Scavenge Supplies [Exploration]

    You spend 10 minutes searching the area for things to use as alchemical reagents. You gain (2? 3? 1+quarter level?) alchemical reagents, up to the amount you spent since you last used this activity.

    I particularly like this idea. The alchemist as a very "materialist" class should certainly be doing a bit of physical resource management, but it goes against the PF2 design style for a class to be able to nova itself through all it's class features in one encounter.

    A wizard who casts every spell he's got prepared during a fight still recovers focus and still has his cantrips afterwards. It should be the same with an alchemist: you should be able to expend resources that you won't all get back, but you should get some of them back. The "get back stuff you expended since you last got stuff back" pattern used for Refocus is good for this too.

    Sovereign Court

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    Aricks wrote:
    I think part of the problem is that the alchemist probably does better at high levels, when there are more opponents that have elemental weaknesses to exploit (...)

    Certainly, alchemists are well suited to exploiting weaknesses. While a wizard can prepare a couple of cantrips to do that, he can't prepare all the different energy types. An alchemist is in that weird spot between prepared and spontaneous where he can react to any extreme circumstance.

    But if you don't get a lot of extreme circumstances, just a lot of business as usual, humanoids with no particular weaknesses, then the alchemist's flexibility doesn't really get called upon.

    I think the alchemist needs to lean a bit less on exploiting the GM happening to choose particular types of enemies, and be a bit stronger in the generic case.


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    Exocist wrote:
    2) They're boring - The alchemist experience currently is like playing a caster whose only spells are Hydraulic Push, Burning Hands & Magic Missile. As you level, you never get new spells, you can only heighten them.

    That's a good point. Between level 4 and 20, alchemists don't get any new bombs, tools, or elixirs – only upgraded versions of ones they already have. That's... pretty dull.

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