Two Alchemists - How to Trade Formulas?


Pathfinder Society

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Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

gnoams wrote:
I don't understand where you think it says so

Because you broke up the sentences that were in sequence.

I don't read paragraphs that way.

"You can copy a formula" comes before "Craft a copy of it using the Crafting skill".

This is the argument that comes up time and again in the Rules Questions Forum, and cannot be dismissed easily.

You are correct that formulas can be found as treasure. No cost at all to use them. But they are Light Bulk, and that can add up. If you want to condense all that weight into one item, there is a cost to that benefit.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

But given that this is the Society Forum, and not the Rules Forum, it would probably be best to focus that part of the discussion over there, and focus on the repercussions of "free copying" over here.

Because that can mean a significant wealth-by-level difference between people that read the rules one way over the other.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Looking at crafting in general, for pfs. After a standard scenario we get 8 days of downtime. You could spend those 8 days to earn income at level-2. Compare that to spending those days crafting, you effectively get to earn income at level-0, but only get 4 days. Glancing at the earn income table. 4 days of at level is slightly better than 8 days at level-2, so you can earn a few more silvers crafting an item, but that's not taking the blueprint cost into account. If we look at blueprint costs, well they're actually kind of expensive.

Taking an example, if you are level 3, you buy a level 3 formula for 3gp. It would take you most of three scenarios of downtime crafting to make up the difference between normal earned income (8wk x 2sp=16sp per scenario) and crafting (4wk x 5sp=20sp per scenario). So if you're fine waiting to have that level 3 item you wanted until you are level 4, then you can save 2sp.

Likely you don't want to wait, so lets say you just spend one downtime crafting the item and pay the rest, then it cost you 2.6gp more than just buying an already made item.

If instead we let you have the blueprint for free, then you would save 4sp crafting it in one session, or 12sp crafting it over three. (again comparing to if you just purchased the already made item)

I guess I don't really see this as game breaking one way or the other.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Calculating how much you save from Crafting vs how much you earn via Earn Income is a lot more complicated than that, but that's not the point here.

The point here is that one interpretation gets you virtually every formula, common or not, for free, and the other interpretation has you paying for those formulas.

If you had been paying the proper costs for 6 or 7 levels, and then sat down with someone who has never paid a copper, you would likely be rightly upset.

That is a LOT of money.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Captain, Ireland—Belfast

A lot of good points made here. I am probably missing something here if so please do set me straight!

My initial reading was that because the CRB says you can copy a formula into your book in a hour with with no other qualifications that settles the matter.

Going through the posts I recalled the 1e argument about wether gauntlets in a suit of adamantine plate were made of adamantine or plain steel.

So I ended up mulling this over.

Can you Craft using a Formula you have possession of wether in a stand alone schemata or a in Formula Book regardless of who actually put the formula into it and however it was obtained?

Given that you can buy a Basic Crafters Book (pg. 289), the description of the formula Book pg. 280 & that pg. 293 says you can copy directly from someone else formula book I would have to say yes.

So are we saying obtaining a (tightly rolled) Schemata via purchase or Craft costs time and money according to table 6-13 & the rules on Craft?

And are we also saying

Copying any formula into a freely exchangeable Formula book costs 1 hour and 1 gp (for the blank book)

Interestingly the Bulk of both a single schemata (however rolled) and a Formula book with space for 100 formulae is the same @ 1L.

Why bother with making a stand alone schemata especially with a level 2 or higher formula if you can just copy it into a 1 gp book for an hours work and zero other costs?

Exceptions to item trading rules in PFS impact on if we can do it in PFS of course... but does the principle hold?

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

[my interpretation; not shared by all]

We are told explicitly that copying a formula uses the Crafting skill. While normally that would take at least 4 days of Downtime, we are then told that it instead takes 1 hour. We are not told that the costs are reduced, so they aren't. The benefit of paying that cost is eliminating all of the L bulk formulas that would weigh you down over time.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Mind you, I think that's how the Core Rules work, Society-agnostic.

When people advocate zero cost Crafting, that then upsets the wealth balance. Especially if half of players believe there's a cost, and half of the players don't.

It begs lots of questions. Why was zero cost Crafting left out? Why is this free, when doing the same thing for learning spells has a cost?

For me, the combination of Core Rules + Society Repercussions makes this a pretty hard "No" for me.

If an FAQ or clarification comes out to the contrary, fine. My character will stop storing his formula scrolls at home and freely move them to his book, along with every other formula he ever encounters.

2/5 5/55/5

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

I do not advocate using the Craft action without cost. I believe copying a formula into your book does not have a cost because I don't think it uses the Craft action.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Captain, Ireland—Belfast

Nefreet wrote:

[my interpretation; not shared by all]

We are told explicitly that copying a formula uses the Crafting skill. While normally that would take at least 4 days of Downtime, we are then told that it instead takes 1 hour. We are not told that the costs are reduced, so they aren't. The benefit of paying that cost is eliminating all of the L bulk formulas that would weigh you down over time.

This makes sense but there are questions raised.

Surely we are told that you can copy it into a book in an hour first. Then after that we are told that if you have a formula you can Craft a copy using the Craft skill.

If it is saying: copying a formula requires the use of Craft with the exceptional rule that it takes one hour and costs the full amount I’d expect it to read much more like it! I’d particularly expect express info on how the exception impacts the cost/time aspect of Craft & not leaving it for us to infer.

A natural reading of the paragraph does strongly imply a distinction between copying into a book and crafting a copy.

Does it only take an hour when put into a 1 gp, mundane Formula Book but follow the usual rules on any other medium?

All that said: given that a formula in a book and on a schemata scroll do the same thing one copied at essentially zero cost In resources and the other being pretty expensive seems really odd.

Too good to be true as per pg. 444 Ambiguous Rules sidebar?

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

William Boyle wrote:
If it is saying: copying a formula requires the use of Craft with the exceptional rule that it takes one hour and costs the full amount I’d expect it to read much more like it!

And I would expect it to state that the cost is zero.

Hence the different interpretations.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

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Scratch that. Angry rant ahead:

I was going through my character list and realized that FIVE of my PCs across PFS1 and SFS were invalidated (and 6 negatively impacted to a lesser extent) by nerfs, FAQ, errata, price changes and/or good ol' GM disagreement.

That was despite my personal philosophy of eschewing ambiguous builds and/or defaulting to conservative interpretations in what turned out to be a very feeble attempt at avoiding the very thing that ended up killing them off.

Most of my characters are fine-tuned timepiecess with equal amounts of crunch, background, planning, emotional investment and GM credit (which is time and money itself). When I lose a PC to something outside my control, it's anxiety inducing and stresses me out for months.

(some of them I lost YEARS ago and I'm still bitter about it)

New philosophy:

Milk every loophole, stretch every ambiguity, abuse what I can because it doesn't matter how responsible you are, other people ruin it anyway, things are going to be F'd one way or another and there's nothing you can do about it.

Same goes for players at my table. I will stop correcting and auditing what I believe to be in error, maybe give them a passing warning that what they're doing will likely be errata'd eventually, but to enjoy it while they can.

(so while I still believe you need to pay for Crafting formulas, I will make it a personal exercise to abuse the current popular interpretation, save as much coin as I can, and share those formulas with everyone I come across so that they can do the same)


Nefreet wrote:
The second sentence in that quote answers your question.

Nefreet,

I would argue that comparing 1st to 2nd edition is not nearly as egregious as comparing D&D to PF. Apples to apples if you will. Towards that point, given that the breakdown here is interpretable in about three different ways, I would argue that one viewpoint is less unreasonable than the others.

1) Friendly Alchemists cannot trade Formulas.
2) Friendly Alchemists can trade Formulas, but there is a nominal cost.
3) Friendly Alchemists can trade Formulas, without cost nor restriction.

Is it really that unreasonable to suppose, given the above considerations, that a system so heavily playtested and revised based on cycles of feedback in ways where small changes here had wide impacts across the entire ruleset - especially as concerns Alchemists and Alchemy! - might have created a situation in which there exists an oversight to lay out more explicit instructions towards addressing OP's question: How can two Alchemists trade Formulas?

Ergo, lost in translation between editions, the precedent is set that trading formulas is quite similar to trading spells, which, I would argue, is certainly the least of the stretches, of rules text, or arguably, of imagination, one might make in trying to make formulate an interpretation.

Respectfully.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

*flies off on his Bonded Animal (Roc)*

3/5

Would this be the same with wizards?

5/5

Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
Would this be the same with wizards?

No, the rules on how wizards trade spells are clear enough.

5/5

Nefreet wrote:

New philosophy:

Milk every loophole, stretch every ambiguity, abuse what I can because it doesn't matter how responsible you are, other people ruin it anyway, things are going to be F'd one way or another and there's nothing you can do about it.

(so while I still believe you need to pay for Crafting formulas, I will make it a personal exercise to abuse the current popular interpretation, save as much coin as I can, and share those formulas with everyone I come across so that they can do the same)

This is a deeply unhelpful attitude and the sort of thing that gets you uninvited from a great many tables.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

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rainzax wrote:

Is it really that unreasonable to suppose, given the above considerations, that a system so heavily playtested and revised based on cycles of feedback in ways where small changes here had wide impacts across the entire ruleset - especially as concerns Alchemists and Alchemy! - might have created a situation in which there exists an oversight to lay out more explicit instructions towards addressing OP's question: How can two Alchemists trade Formulas?

Ergo, lost in translation between editions, the precedent is set that trading formulas is quite similar to trading spells, which, I would argue, is certainly the least of the stretches, of rules text, or arguably, of imagination, one might make in trying to make formulate an interpretation.

I would encourage 2E Society GMs to avoid rulings based on the idea that things are lost in translation between editions. It's not a strong premise; 1E and 2E are completely different rulesets.

andreww wrote:
This is a deeply unhelpful attitude and the sort of thing that gets you uninvited from a great many tables.

I think the person is expressing legitimate frustration at having paid for formulae when they could just get them for free from other players. It does seem like a loophole, after all.

5/5 5/55/55/5

7 people marked this as a favorite.

More like frustration at the lack of rules clarity (kind of unavoidable in english), followed by an interminably slow schedule for clarification, with the cherry on top of not being able to adjust your character to adapt to the clarification or errata.

You'd get a lot less grar if they either invested more resources into clarifications, or made clarifications not nearly as resource intensive.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

andreww wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

New philosophy:

Milk every loophole, stretch every ambiguity, abuse what I can because it doesn't matter how responsible you are, other people ruin it anyway, things are going to be F'd one way or another and there's nothing you can do about it.

(so while I still believe you need to pay for Crafting formulas, I will make it a personal exercise to abuse the current popular interpretation, save as much coin as I can, and share those formulas with everyone I come across so that they can do the same)

This is a deeply unhelpful attitude and the sort of thing that gets you uninvited from a great many tables.

Forgive my French, but what in the literal F does that matter if you can't play your Characters anyways?

Honest question.

5/5

Nefreet wrote:
andreww wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

New philosophy:

Milk every loophole, stretch every ambiguity, abuse what I can because it doesn't matter how responsible you are, other people ruin it anyway, things are going to be F'd one way or another and there's nothing you can do about it.

(so while I still believe you need to pay for Crafting formulas, I will make it a personal exercise to abuse the current popular interpretation, save as much coin as I can, and share those formulas with everyone I come across so that they can do the same)

This is a deeply unhelpful attitude and the sort of thing that gets you uninvited from a great many tables.

Forgive my French, but what in the literal F does that matter if you can't play your Characters anyways?

Honest question.

A lack of clarity over how a small aspect of the game might work is about as far as possible as it can be from a situation where it is impossible to play your character. Ask your GM, keep track of what you do, if it later turns out to be wrong fix it.

5/5 5/55/55/5

andreww wrote:


A lack of clarity over how a small aspect of the game might work is about as far as possible as it can be from a situation where it is impossible to play your character. Ask your GM, keep track of what you do, if it later turns out to be wrong fix it.

as this is the society section of the boards, you have to work with a committee of Dms, you can't change your character, and you can only change your character to fix something if you're allowed to. (i believe the latest was the ring of fangs debacle where.. you weren't)

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Nefreet wrote:

Scratch that. Angry rant ahead:

.....
New philosophy:

Milk every loophole,

I get where you are coming from, though I feel like making 2 suggestions just in case:

1. Note which of your crafting recipes you got the uncontroversial way.
2. Please consider all the other GMs involved that might not have asked to get dragged into a rules discussion. This kind of thing tends to cost us GMs in the long run. If possible try to keep the GMs out of this and make deal with this amongst the players, or at the very least deal with the situation before the game has started or after it has ended (preferably the latter, as rules discussions can really poison the general atmosphere).

2A. Just for the sake of curiosity, why don't you actually write down what formulas you actually used and how much money that would have saved you at each level. This might help solve this in the long run, one way or another.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
(i believe the latest was the ring of fangs debacle where.. you weren't)

That was the one that made me cancel my Starfinder Superscriber subscription. I felt the only way I could let Paizo know my frustration was to voice with my wallet.

FWIW, I like that PFS2 essentially allows full Rebuilds through AcP. I like to think that debacles like the Ring of Fangs led to that decision.


Popping back in to share:

So it seems the consensus where I live is "Free Unlimited Exchange" even if that interpretation seems silly to me (and equally as silly as "No Exchange Whatsoever")...

Two of us 1st level brand new Alchemists met at a Bounty today, and collected on it.

After the session, we discovered we had completely different Formula lists! So, we both doubled our Formula Books without so much as a skill check nor expenditure of coin, just by sharing them and talking shop. Then, as a precaution, we got the GM to write which Formulas each taught the other on our respective Chronicles, "just in case".

Cheers.

5/5

rainzax wrote:
Then, as a precaution, we got the GM to write which Formulas each taught the other on our respective Chronicles, "just in case"

This should always be case case, even if we eventually get clearer rules. If a GM asks to audit you then you need to be able to explain where your various formulae came from. The same goes for spellbooks.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

tO save GMs the time, I would suggest the players write down the ones they're learning, and then just have the GM initial or sign with their ink.

That's how I remember it working in PFS1.


Nefreet wrote:

tO save GMs the time, I would suggest the players write down the ones they're learning, and then just have the GM initial or sign with their ink.

That's how I remember it working in PFS1.

In PFS1, as a GM I usually added: 3x 1st level spells, 1 2nd level spell from Curaigh 25879: 47gp, to chronicles. I didn't write which spells, but the players usually did/do.

Back to the point of the thread. Did the APG change or solidify anyone's opinion?

The witch, for example pays to learn spells, (e.g. uses the Learn a Spell activity). Particularly interesting for PFS is learning from another witch by paying an "offering to the other familiar's patron."

EDIT: shouldn't we be tagging the OP for FAQ?

Envoy's Alliance 3/5

dot.

Envoy's Alliance 3/5

Can I ask someone to summarize what the basic positions on this question are? Is it correct that the debate is between those who feel that PC-traded alchemical formulas should be free to add to your formula book vs those who feel that they should cost 50% of the normal price to add to your formula book? Or is there some other position (full price?) also being advanced?

I'm about to start a PbP game and for the first time there's another alchemist in the party so I'm just looking to know what the basic positions of the debate are, not trying to restart the debate (since it seems likely that this one won't get settled until the org play team makes a ruling).

Thanks in advance!

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Paragraph in question wrote:
You can buy common formulas at the Price listed on Table 6–13, or you can hire an NPC to let you copy their formula for the same Price. A purchased formula is typically a schematic on rolled-up parchment of light Bulk. You can copy a formula into your formula book in 1 hour, either from a schematic or directly from someone else’s formula book. If you have a formula, you can Craft a copy of it using the Crafting skill. Formulas for uncommon items and rare items are usually significantly more valuable—if you can find them at all!

Reading 1: You can copy any formula you encounter into your book.

You can buy common formulas at the Price listed on Table 6–13, or you can hire an NPC to let you copy their formula for the same Price. A purchased formula is typically a schematic on rolled-up parchment of light Bulk.

You can copy a formula into your formula book in 1 hour, either from a schematic or directly from someone else’s formula book.

If you have a formula, you can Craft a copy of it using the Crafting skill.

Formulas for uncommon items and rare items are usually significantly more valuable—if you can find them at all!

4 points:
1: You can buy common formula schematics or access for the same price.
2: You can copy them into your book by taking an hour
3: You can Craft a copy via Crafting
4: Uncommon things are Uncommon

Reading 2: You can Craft any formula you encounter into your book in 1 hour.

You can buy common formulas at the Price listed on Table 6–13, or you can hire an NPC to let you copy their formula for the same Price. A purchased formula is typically a schematic on rolled-up parchment of light Bulk.

You can copy a formula into your formula book in 1 hour, either from a schematic or directly from someone else’s formula book. If you have a formula, you can Craft a copy of it using the Crafting skill.

Formulas for uncommon items and rare items are usually significantly more valuable—if you can find them at all!

3 points:
1: You can buy common formula schematics or access for the same price.
2: You can copy them into your book by taking an hour. This is Crafting with a modified time of 1 hour.
3: Uncommon things are Uncommon

---

I'm a strong believer in reading 1, it took me quite awhile to even understand reading 2 (Thanks Poit) but have attempted to present it strongly here.

Envoy's Alliance 3/5

Thanks very much for this summary. So, just to make sure I'm getting it correctly:

* if a GM were to rule for Reading 1, you could add any (common) formulas you encounter (such as from a fellow alchemist in the party) for free to your own formula book. The only "cost" would be an hour of time per formula copied.

* if a GM were to rule for Reading 2, you could add any (common) formulas you encounter (such as from a fellow alchemist in the party) for free to your own formula book if you successfully make a Craft check. Again, the only "cost" would be an hour of time per formula crafted into your book? Or do you need to "spend" a portion of the formula cost to craft it? And if so, how much, 50%, 100%? (If it's 100%, then what's the point, since you could just freely buy the formula for that price?). Presumably, if you fail your crafting check you don't gain the formula... but you can try again? When?

* It doesn't appear that either reading requires making any use of Downtime? Just finding an hour per formula as the group is going about its adventuring day?

* Reading 1 seems to involve no gold spent at all. Reading 2 is less clear - besides making the Craft check, do you also need to spend some gold?

2/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston

I'm pretty sure there's a third reading, but I'm not qualified to represent it. But it basically says PC alchemists can't exchange formula. I _think_ its relying on the 'too good to be true' sidebar, but I'm honestly not sure.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Evindal Mog wrote:
Or do you need to "spend" a portion of the formula cost to craft it? And if so, how much, 50%, 100%? (If it's 100%, then what's the point, since you could just freely buy the formula for that price?)

I'm not sure which reading is which, but one of them indeed includes a Crafting cost.

That's essentially what this whole debate boils down to: is exchanging formulas for free "too good to be true"?

Just like all Crafting costs, the price defaults to 100%. Ordinarily, you could then spend X days to reduce that cost to 50%, but instead we're told that it only takes 1 hour.

To ignore the Crafting cost upsets treasure distribution. Imagine if Crafting copies was free:
• Find formula as loot
• Craft a copy into your Book for free
• Sell formula for 50%.

You've just double dipped your rewards.

On the other hand, if you pay your Crafting costs, the net gain is just adding a formula to your book:
• Find formula as loot
• Craft a copy into your Book for 50%
• Sell formula for 50%

It also prevents infinite wealth creation, Crafting copies for free and selling them for 50%.

Envoy's Alliance 3/5

In PFS, can you even sell formulas from your book, the way that you sell back other gear? I'd never thought of this and I'm inclined to say that you can't but perhaps I've missed a rule somewhere?

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

I'm talking about the general rules for Crafting copies of formulas.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

I forget where I described this before, there are several threads at this point, but I'll lay out the different pricing options under the normal rules:

Most expensive:
Pay NPC 100% Cost for access, Craft copy for 50%.
Net price: 150%

Less expensive:
Buy formula for 100%. Craft copy for 50%. Sell formula for 50%.
Net price: 100%

Least expensive:
Adventure with fellow alchemist. Craft copy for 50%
Net price: 50%

Free:
Find formula as loot. Craft copy for 50%. Sell formula for 50%.
Net price: 0%

In the case of Organized Play, notice that adventuring with another Alchemist and copying from their book still provides a cost benefit.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Evindal Mog wrote:
Can I ask someone to summarize what the basic positions on this question are? Is it correct that the debate is between those who feel that PC-traded alchemical formulas should be free to add to your formula book vs those who feel that they should cost 50% of the normal price to add to your formula book? Or is there some other position (full price?) also being advanced?

I think you understand the basic difference in opinion.

I think everyone in the debate by now agrees that the text in the CRB is not really well-written, considering the confusion and difference of opinion it's generated. A "clear RAW" interpretation has pretty much failed because the clear reading is entirely different to different people. Trying to salvage a "what it should have said" also leads to controversy.

The waters are further muddied because most alchemist abilities seem, strictly reading, to require a formula to be in your book while much of the Formula entry in the CRB focuses on standalone formulas which are typically rolled-up parchments.

I think Nefreet goes too far into "what the rules should have been", but not what they actually say. I'll admit though that what they actually say is a bit too good to be true, so if this ever gets clarified it might well end up Nefreet's way.

---

As I understand it, currently, the pricing breakdown is as follows:

1) You can go an NPC alchemist, pay your intellectual property fee and copy a formula from their book into yours. This costs the same as buying a standalone copy of the formula, just for the access; the copying costs a trivial amount of ink.

2) You can buy a fancy standalone formula, and copy it into your book. Then sell back the standalone for half price. Savings 50%. I think this is allowed even though it's stupid, but hardly unprecedented. Starfinder has similar shenanigans with buying a fusion on a low level weapon, then transferring it to a high level weapon being overall cheaper than directly buying it on the higher level weapon.

3) If you find a standalone formula while adventuring, you can copy it for free into your book, then sell the standalone. Savings: 100%, you didn't have to pay anything for access.

4) If you're adventuring with another PC with formulas, you could copy their formulas into your book. They can't charge you money for it because there's no wealth transfer between PCs. Savings: 100%, you didn't have to pay anything for access.

5) You could Craft standalone formulas but as a PC there's no good reason to do so. They're loot items that NPCs make because they're a bit loopy. Not unlike most items from the Consumable section of the book.

---

The weirdness in the formula system IMO come from it being a bit too driven by computer style crafting where you might not want to toss someone a crafting book with a hundred recipes all at once. You want discrete formulas as treasure items. But it's not ported into this game very well. And it's written with a home game group in mind where you don't have hundreds of PCs sharing formulas with each other.

---

I also think it's important to keep a perspective here - I don't think formulas were intended to be such a big deal from a financial perspective. They cost only half of what it costs to copy a spell. There's no check to learn a formula like there is to learn a spell. And unlike spells that can often be heightened to keep them relevant, most formulas aren't going to stay useful at higher level, when you need new formulas for higher level variants of the same items. So it's not like the world will end with cheap formulas.

I think the intent of formulas really was much more on being able to deploy uncommon formulas as a treasure type / limit people from using Crafting to run around the rarity system.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
And it's written with a home game group in mind where you don't have hundreds of PCs sharing formulas with each other.

It's problematic either way, home group or not, because free Crafting leads to a fruitcake scenario where the world only needs one formula scroll to be passed around freely in perpetuity.

Or, pay to Craft a formula from scratch at 50%, copy it for free, then sell it for 50%.

Why bother having formulas as purchasable at that point?

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Nefreet wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
And it's written with a home game group in mind where you don't have hundreds of PCs sharing formulas with each other.

It's problematic either way, home group or not, because free Crafting leads to a fruitcake scenario where the world only needs one formula scroll to be passed around freely in perpetuity.

Or, pay to Craft a formula from scratch at 50%, copy it for free, then sell it for 50%.

Why bother having formulas as purchasable at that point?

The "whole world" isn't my problem - everything that happens between NPCs is basically run by different rules anyway.

I think the interpretation of "Craft in 1 hour" is not reasonable because that changes a lot about Crafting rules (4 day leadup, 1 day increments to reduce the price) that aren't addressed. It would have so many differences from normal Crafting that you wonder why you're even calling it that.

The whole bit with standalone formula items as rolled up scrolls was a mistake I think; someone's MMORPG idea sneaking into a different game, and colliding with the different idea of it absolutely having to be a book to be usable with alchemists.

Envoy's Alliance 3/5

Thanks everyone, for the thoughtful responses. Seems like this is one of those ones that isn't really going to be resolved until we get a ruling from the campaign leadership.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

You as a GM can rule however you wish at your table, and players will obviously do whatever they wish between adventures.

Formula exchanging doesn't grind to a halt just because the answer is ambiguous.

So long as everything is recorded somewhere, things can be adjusted if there ever is a ruling, errata or FAQ.


Nefreet wrote:
That's essentially what this whole debate boils down to: is exchanging formulas for free "too good to be true"?

That is exactly it.

I don't think there's an actual debate that RAW says formulas can be exchanged for free. I think there's a debate between people who point to RAW saying exchanging formulas are free, and people who point to RAI saying it doesn't make sense. I agree with both sides - the CRB / RAW says formulas can be exchanged for free, and I think it's a bad rule.

Let's stop putting forward tortured, convoluted arguments about how the text doesn't say what it pretty plainly says.

After that's settled, we can advance the debate to something more constructive - assuming this is an oversight, miswording, or just poorly-designed for Society play, what kind of rule would be best to lobby for?

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

I think the best rule would be that copying a formula from an NPC costs the listed amount, and then it's simply in your book; no fuss with crafting or standalone formulas that you might sell back. The price is simply the price and that's what you pay for copying.

To address the gap in how to do PCs trading formulas, I think a simple measure is just to say that it goes at half price of buying it from NPCs.

Some PCs meeting to trade formulas should be a happy occasion, just like wizards getting to trade spells is better than them having to buy scrolls, and just like wizards, it doesn't make it totally free.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think the easiest, best and probably least controversial way of handling it is just applying the same rules to both spells and formulas. Use different base values if you consider formulas to be less valuable, but otherwise both should just be handled the same. There's really no good reason I can see why formulas got their own and different rules in this regard.

2/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston

(After writing this, realized I'm viewing this from a crafter's perspective, not an alchemist's perspective... not sure how it changes my opinion, but wanted to share these thoughts first.)

The timescale in which formala and spells are usable, however in my opinion, differs in a key way that I don't see the harm in letting it be free (as long as you can't resell).

A caster with a spell book can re-prepare spells during an adventure that spans multiple days, so the increased flexibility from Learn a Spell comes up often. Prepared casters are often willing to speculatively buy/copy spells as a result. Casters also get some spells for free every time the level up.

Crafting on the other hand is longer timescale. You can't use it during the adventure for flexibility. In general people are using it for 1 item every 2-3 scenarios if they are looking for cost savings. Under a pay half approach, there aren't many/any formula people would be willing to speculatively buy. You're only going to invest in the ones you plan to craft. Even cheaper consunables, when crafted in batches take long enough to still be spread out over multiple sessions of crafting. I guess there's a theoreticaly Envoy's Alliance workshop crafter, crafting multiple things at full cost during a single scenario's downtime (but in which case why not just buy them from a store, the formula gains you nothing in that case).


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I agree that for a crafter it likely doesn't make that much of a difference either way. But I still don't see any significant harm in using the same mechanics as for wizards here, either.

However, I'm coming at this from a primarily alchemist's view. An alchemist's formula book and a wizard's spellbook serve such a similar function that using the same rules is easily the most obvious and best choice imho.


Eric Nielsen wrote:
Crafting on the other hand is longer timescale. You can't use it during the adventure for flexibility.

Alchemists with Advanced Alchemy prepare formulas the same as wizards, and Alchemists and Investigators with Quick Alchemy can create items like sorcerers. If they have uncontrolled formulae lists ot could be disruptive, especially as more and more items come out.

If the alchemist was designed to be weak in the CRB in anticipation that expanded item lists would make them stronger, that's fine. But the rate at which they can grow those lists should be balanced.

2/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston

As I said in the prelude of my post, I was viewing it through the crafting subsystem rather than the alchemist subsystem. They have different needs. And all the characters I've seen at tables who wanted to trade formulas have been crafters, not alchemists.

I'd agree that formula for alchemist items are more identical to spells. and cost parity with Learn a Spell would seem like a reasonable house rule for Organized Play.

I think non-alchemist (common, or uncommon w/ access of course) item formula is not in-need of a house rule that adds costs. I'm not sure its worth splitting the ruling in half that way though. Given that I've seen more of crafting than alchemists, I'm inclined to leave things as they are. And if the free sharing of formulae ends up making people view alchemists in a better light, I think that's ok. (I'm not calling it a buff, since I think it is the baseline at present. But resolving the ambiguity in favor of a perceived weak class seems like a good thing).

Dark Archive

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Here is my suggestion to the Organized Play team:

The Grand Archive has a library containing all of the common alchemical formulas and makes them available to all pathfinders to check out at no cost. The Society doesn't think it is a good idea to charge it's own agents money for access to common tactically useful information.

However, having the formula for an item and knowing that formula well enough to make one in 2 seconds are not the same thing. So, add a rule for alchemists that in order to be able to create an alchemical item using their infused reagents they must Craft the item using normal crafting rules first. The process of crafting the item from scratch is what gives the alchemist the experience and insight necessary to be able to create items in ridiculously short periods of time using their infused reagents. The formulas you gain from leveling are exempt from this requirement.

This is actually more expensive than learning a spell, but you end up with the item at the end. If you sell the item, then it will probably cost less.

Now an alchemist needs at least 4 days to learn a formula unless they have enough reputation with the Envoy's Alliance to get the Crafter's Workshop. So add a rule to the Crafter's workshop specifying a minimum amount of crafting time before starting a new item. Also consider moving the Crafter's Workshop to the All-Factions list so that Envoy's Alliance isn't a de facto requirement for alchemists.

What do you folks think?

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

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I think you're going out of your way to make alchemists pay more to learn a spell or formula than wizards, clerics, etc. for no good reason.

Alchemists are not "bad wrong fun" - don't treat them as if they were.

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