Two Alchemists - How to Trade Formulas?


Pathfinder Society

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I understand that an alchemist doesn't use spells per se, so that ability was given a different name (formulas).
And I understand that the developers were trying to streamline the rules and add some consistency.
But I don't understand how making a reality-altering elixer, a dragon-slaying magical sword, a suspension bridge, a loaf of bread, and a spoon could all be the same process. Treating the alchemists abilities the same robs them of something.
Thesaurus anyone?

I realize that recipe+materials+skill=crafting. And that not all skill levels (including feats) are equal.

Basically an alchemist can be replaced by anybody with a YouTube subscription.

#wizardsthinksorcerersarecheaters!

To the point of the thread: the alchemists ability formulas should be closer to spells than recipes, but formulas for other crafting uses could be shared like you would your recipe for cherry cobler. There are a number of feats (alchemical crafting, snare crafting, magical crafting) and now archetypes (ritualist, scrounger, talisman dabbler) that RAW makes superfluous or obsolete. These all give or alter formulas for certain items.


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I've been playing an alchemist since Gen Con, and I finally met another alchemist during PAX Online. When we discussed with our GM how we should handle the issue of trading formulas after the adventure, he came up with an elegant solution: since my fellow alchemist wanted to copy about 6 formulas from me (representing 6 hours of work), the GM decreed that we would both need to spend 1 day of Downtime to this activity.

I like this solution for three reasons:
- It means that there is still a cost associated with the activity (the lost revenue from Earning Income, or other benefit provided by a Downtime activity) affecting both the teacher and learner.
- There is a practical limit to the number of formulas you can copy (12 per day of Downtime seems reasonable).
- It preserves the fundamental elements of the existing rule: no cost in gold, no skill checks, no level requirements.

Official implementation of this rule would require two simple things:
- Defining "Copy a Formula from Another Character" as an Exploration or Downtime activity.
- Stating the maximum number of hours per day that can be spent for this activity.

Horizon Hunters Venture-Captain, Canada—Quebec—Trois-Rivières

coriolis wrote:

Official implementation of this rule would require two simple things:

- Defining "Copy a Formula from Another Character" as an Exploration or Downtime activity.
- Stating the maximum number of hours per day that can be spent for this activity.

I believe this opens the door to any kind of abuse. How is any GM supposed to verify that a particular formula was indeed copied from a fellow adventurer? Or a wizard spell, for that matter. It makes it easy to abuse and fill spellbooks or recipe books with just about anything "because they met someone who knew." This also breaks the balance of power between two characters of the same level depending on if they were lucky (or metagaming) and got to work with others of their class during their Pathfinder career.

I am in favor of keeping the paying system for the PFS. Home brews are a totally different thing. I once played a duo of wizards with a friend and we chose our spells together, to maximize efficiency, which makes sense in a steady, 4 adventurers group, but not when two wizards are (in the game world anyway) competing for fame and advancement in a guild that is thousands of adventurers strong.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Copying of formulas is NOT a Downtime activity. While I can appreciate the GM using an in game mechanism like Downtime to account for the copying of multiple formulas, I believe that GM erred in doing so. It is simply not in the rules for downtime. It unfairly penalizes the character because they lose some days of Earned Income.

If there is no time during the adventure (there has been several where there are DAYS of travel from the time that the party receives the mission and actually starts it), I don't see a problem with the characters exchanging the formula's at the end of the adventure, but before Downtime is calculated. Nothing in the rules say that Downtime starts immediately after the adventure ends.

This is how I handled it for Coriolis and another character to exchange formulas on a different adventure.

As PFS GMs we should not be adding stuff to the rules like new Downtime activities.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Arkalos wrote:
I believe this opens the door to any kind of abuse. How is any GM supposed to verify that a particular formula was indeed copied from a fellow adventurer? Or a wizard spell, for that matter. It makes it easy to abuse and fill spellbooks or recipe books with just about anything "because they met someone who knew." This also breaks the balance of power between two characters of the same level depending on if they were lucky (or metagaming) and got to work with others of their class during their Pathfinder career.

By handling it the same way it was done in 1e: Record the spell (formula) copied on the chronicle sheet and what character (Org Play Number and character number) the spell (formula) was copied from.

Horizon Hunters Venture-Captain, Canada—Quebec—Trois-Rivières

Gary Bush wrote:
Arkalos wrote:
I believe this opens the door to any kind of abuse. How is any GM supposed to verify that a particular formula was indeed copied from a fellow adventurer? Or a wizard spell, for that matter. It makes it easy to abuse and fill spellbooks or recipe books with just about anything "because they met someone who knew." This also breaks the balance of power between two characters of the same level depending on if they were lucky (or metagaming) and got to work with others of their class during their Pathfinder career.
By handling it the same way it was done in 1e: Record the spell (formula) copied on the chronicle sheet and what character (Org Play Number and character number) the spell (formula) was copied from.

I get what you're saying, and I'll agree it's a good option if we can address the second issue. What stops friends from attending the same tables and literally doubling their spell/recipe per level? How can we balance that with people who want to play fair?

Also, while I get that the Society's motto is to cooperate, in reality, within a continent spanning organization, competition for available opportunities would be pretty high. I mean just look at any specialized job irl, and you'll have to agree that this level of sharing trade secrets would not happen.

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

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Mathieu Lalancette wrote:
Gary Bush wrote:
Arkalos wrote:
I believe this opens the door to any kind of abuse. How is any GM supposed to verify that a particular formula was indeed copied from a fellow adventurer? Or a wizard spell, for that matter. It makes it easy to abuse and fill spellbooks or recipe books with just about anything "because they met someone who knew." This also breaks the balance of power between two characters of the same level depending on if they were lucky (or metagaming) and got to work with others of their class during their Pathfinder career.
By handling it the same way it was done in 1e: Record the spell (formula) copied on the chronicle sheet and what character (Org Play Number and character number) the spell (formula) was copied from.

I get what you're saying, and I'll agree it's a good option if we can address the second issue. What stops friends from attending the same tables and literally doubling their spell/recipe per level? How can we balance that with people who want to play fair?

Nothing stops friends from doing that. And they aren't 'being unfair' in doing so.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

If you believe copying formulas from friends doesn't cost anything, then yes, it's an advantage.

If you believe copying formulas from friends costs the same as any other NPC, there is no advantage.

Horizon Hunters Venture-Captain, Canada—Quebec—Trois-Rivières

It's not a matter of cost, but availability. With NPCs, one has to find them, which implies spending (down?)time to build the contacts who can introduce them, etc. And they're not even sure of what the NPC will have available or be willing to share. With friends, it's easy to choose different things, even if one would be too situational for a solo character to take early (or at all), because one knows without having to search, that a buddy will have and be willing to trade Fireball, for example.

4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ***

...

From the Skills chapter of the Core Rulebook, please quote me the Learn a Formula action/activity.

...

I can find Learn a Spell...

If you can't find it, that is because it doesn't exist.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Nefreet wrote:

If you believe copying formulas from friends doesn't cost anything, then yes, it's an advantage.

If you believe copying formulas from friends costs the same as any other NPC, there is no advantage.

While I agree there should be some cost, the way the rules are written, in my view, there is no cost to copy from a formula book. The cost comes in to acquire the formula.


Stephen Meadows Jr wrote:

...

From the Skills chapter of the Core Rulebook, please quote me the Learn a Formula action/activity.

...

I can find Learn a Spell...

If you can't find it, that is because it doesn't exist.

-----------------------------------------------------

You're looking in the wrong place. It's in the Equipment section:

Formulas 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.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

coriolis wrote:
Stephen Meadows Jr wrote:

...

From the Skills chapter of the Core Rulebook, please quote me the Learn a Formula action/activity.

...

I can find Learn a Spell...

If you can't find it, that is because it doesn't exist.

-----------------------------------------------------

You're looking in the wrong place. It's in the Equipment section:

Formulas 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.

Which I think is Stephen's point that there is no skill check involved.

Scarab Sages

Preface, I have very little experience in any of this, that being said, here is what I see. If two people with varying formulae books meet up, they can pass along formulae between each other while in game during downtime activities (I.e. they set camp for 10 hours, sleep for 8, giving them 2 hours to copy 2 formulae.) can I reasonably copy 10 formulae into my book during a single adventure doing this? Maybe, I don’t know how long a typical adventure takes, but I’m guessing no. Second, if both characters wish to spend their downtime activity in copying their books, then an appropriate number of days must be spent for each formulae, if I want 5 from him, and he wants 10 from me, that’s 15 hours each player must spend (2 days, capping each day of “work” at 8 hours, not sure if there is a rule for this.) This is satisfied by the “…you can Craft a copy using the Crafting skill” note both capitol C’s. Downtime allows you to Craft and this is just another form of it. Is it game breaking? Not really, sure low level PCs can fill their books with virtually every formulae, but they still have very limited use. Not to mention if a PC buys a basic crafters book, they get 12 alchemical formulae to copy into their book (if not selected already). As for additional costs, the formulae entry is very specific with costs from buying standalone items and utilizing npc’s, but also reverse engineering formulae from already crafted items. There is no cost associated with actually copying the formulae into the book. For tracking purposes in PFS, just make sure to include the name, PFS character number, and what formulae was copied. This is the CYOA part. You could also take a photograph of the players Character sheet and include it in your binder for future reference if asked. Pretty sure that your specifically told to do this in the Character creation section of the PFS guide. Where it says “any materials used outside of the core materials.” At least, that’s what I would do to again, CMOA.

A far as other usage for crafting, I would presume that the sentence about copying formulae was also to mean that if you are copying the formulae to sell it, then it would have a monetary value as listed in the chart, to avoid the infinite income loop. To think of it thematically, look at it this way. If I’m going to copy something into my book, then I don’t care how it’s formatted, neat, or organized. What is in one place is going to another. But then comes time to make something to sell, now we have to invest time and energy, making things neat and polished, easily understandable. Use fresh parchment and ink, maybe even a fancy quill. This’s is where the monetary cost comes into play. I make it at half price so I can sell it at half price. Much like any crafter.

1/5 5/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This discussion is why my L1 GM 'blob' became a monk instead of an alchemist.

Grand Archive 4/5 ***

Since Alchemists can find someone at the grand lodge to let them copy any
formula they have access to, for free, and since they cannot copy formulas they *don't* have access to, it is a non issue.

1/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Agent, Online—VTT

Jared Thaler - Personal Opinion wrote:

Since Alchemists can find someone at the grand lodge to let them copy any

formula they have access to, for free, and since they cannot copy formulas they *don't* have access to, it is a non issue.

Could you please say where the source of this is? I know that casters can find an instructor to learn spells they have access to at no additional cost, but I don't remember anything about unlimited free formulas for alchemists.

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

Jared Thaler - Personal Opinion wrote:

Since Alchemists can find someone at the grand lodge to let them copy any

formula they have access to, for free, and since they cannot copy formulas they *don't* have access to, it is a non issue.

Source?

Grand Archive 4/5 ***

Robert Hetherington wrote:
Jared Thaler - Personal Opinion wrote:

Since Alchemists can find someone at the grand lodge to let them copy any

formula they have access to, for free, and since they cannot copy formulas they *don't* have access to, it is a non issue.
Source?

PFS2Guide -> Player Basics -> Purchasing Guidelines -> Formulas.

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

That says they can buy formulas, not that they can copy any they have access to...

4/5 ***

Hmm...

I see your point. I *believe* the intent (along with the lodge giving access to all spells for copying / learning) is that all formulas be similarly available.

I will take that back to OPF for the next round of guide updates. (The guide updates for Paizo con are rather locked it.)

I am fairly certain there was no intent to make formualas more difficult to copy than spells.

Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

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

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Well, spells cost money to copy and there's some disagreement on formulas costing to copy...

1/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Agent, Online—VTT

Right being able to buy formulas is a different matter.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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Robert Hetherington wrote:
Well, spells cost money to copy and there's some disagreement on formulas costing to copy...

^ this.

For anyone who's new to the discussion, Ascalaphus, Sebastian Hirsch and I pointed out the problems with zero cost formula copying HERE.

But I think as Jared suggested to do elsewhere, I'm "keeping my receipts".

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

Yeah, the real question isn't "what is available" since that's quite clear, that's governed by the access/availability rules.

The real question is "what does it cost", and that's pretty murky. The CRB passage is poorly written and doesn't really cover the case of more than 1 PC alchemist well.

4/5 ***

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I have forwarded all this to the Guide / Leadership team to discuss after PaizoCon, and will continue to forward feedback and observations.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Played at an in-person table this week with my 3rd (now 4th) level Alchemist. Everyone else at the table was new, and they all had level 1 characters. One of them liked my "demonstration" of how the Alchemist worked, and wants to make one for the next game (or even rebuild their current level 1 into an Alchemist).

So, just to be absolutely sure, even though I've spent 27gp to-date on formulas, and have sixteen free formulas from leveling, their level 1 PC can copy all of them from my formula book... for free?

And then, hypothetically, if any of the other players appreciate this loophole, they can then copy all of the formulas from that player, including their free formulas?

That's how other players have been doing this?

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

Nefreet wrote:

Played at an in-person table this week with my 3rd (now 4th) level Alchemist. Everyone else at the table was new, and they all had level 1 characters. One of them liked my "demonstration" of how the Alchemist worked, and wants to make one for the next game (or even rebuild their current level 1 into an Alchemist).

So, just to be absolutely sure, even though I've spent 27gp to-date on formulas, and have sixteen free formulas from leveling, their level 1 PC can copy all of them from my formula book... for free?

And then, hypothetically, if any of the other players appreciate this loophole, they can then copy all of the formulas from that player, including their free formulas?

That's how other players have been doing this?

The last time you and I went into this, one of the outcomes was that the rules were clearly written with one PC alchemist in the party in mind, not a worldwide organized play campaign with different party compositions every time, with the added mobility of online play. A crazy strict reading of the rules could even conclude that you can only copy formulas from NPCs, there isn't any mention of PCs trading formulas.

I think your example is veering a bit into extreme territory though. You've bought a lot of extra formulas AND not gotten any savings from copying from other people.

Given that unlike spells, formulas don't heighten, I'm not sure I'd want to invest in a lot of low level formula that would quickly become obsolete. Especially bombs where you really need to level up to keep doing plausible amounts of damage. And on the other hand, I wouldn't begrudge people trying to save some money on formulas that have limited shelf life.

---

So my position remains: yes, what happened is allowed, the rules were not made with the economics of organized play in mind.

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