Alchemist’s Guide: Introduction July 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm

The alchemist is a strange creature, choice of discoveries and which mutagen you use can greatly alter what role you take in the party.  The obvious niche alchemists fit into is the proverbial glass canon, primarily just blasting with damage but with lots of interesting debuffing options.  A little less obviously the alchemist can also serve as a backup melee slugger for the party by using mutagens and extracts to self buff himself into true Jekyll and Hyde a monster. This guide separates the two into two separate ‘builds’ and gives recommendations for feats and discoveries for each.

This guide is styled similarly to Treantmonk’s guides (though I am less humorous).  It’s a bit lengthy and much of it should be treated as a reference work rather than an article you read all the way through.  Items that are omitted are not recommended.

There are 4 parts to this guide, the other three are:
Alchemists Extracts – All about the extracts alchemists drink to get their power.
Dr. Strangelob – How I learned to Lob The Bomb.
Mr. Hyde – Strangelob’s (more?) demented alter ego.

Ultimate Alchemist – My general thoughts on the alchemist in Ultimate Magic.

Color guide

Ideal choices – If you are most interested in building a powerful character you will probably want to select these whenever possible.

Good choices – Maybe not the best choice but they are solid options.

Situational choices – These choices are good for certain characters but not universally useful

Challenging choices – These choices are bit tougher but can be quite fun as role playing options.

Skills

Outside combat the Alchemist is a skill monkey, with his high INT alchemists likely have as many skill points as a rogue.  Given the class skills list the alchemist can make a decent stand in for a rogue or works well as a knowledge skills person too.

Acrobatics – This is a dex friendly class, particularly at high levels if you have greater mutagen.  Unfortunately it’s cross class.

Craft(alchemy) – Almost required.  You get some good bonuses in this skill and can use it for crafting a variety of items which are useful for the game.  All alchemists should take at least a few ranks in this, particularly at low levels but it’s not important to keep it maxed out throughout the game unless you are doing a lot of crafting items and poisons.

Disable device – A good skill to have all around, particularly if there is no rogue in the party.

Knowledge (*) – Work with your group to cover the knowledge skills.

Perception – Very important skill and you have it as a class skill and the skill points to cover it.

Spellcraft – Needed to learn new extracts, also useful for spotting spell effects so you can target dispelling bombs.

Stealth – Alchemist is a Dexterity friendly class, and the alchemist can make a decent scout.

Survival – Useful for wilderness campaign, in particular if you party lacks a ranger or druid.

Use magic device – All around a good skill, unfortunately as an alchemist your charisma is likely low.  Still, worth taking since it’s a class skill.  You will likely need to take skill focus to be good a good device monkey before 10th level.

Equipment

The following equipment is suggested for either build:

Wands

I don’t recommend many wands because they are expensive and consumable. They are an excellent way to avoid cast spells without an attack of opportunity. Some are also better because they affect multiple targets while extracts only affect the imbiber. Suggested wands:

  • Cure Light Wounds – Cheapest out of combat healing in the game.
  • Enlarge Person – Mostly for Hyde but not bad for a bomber who wants to buff.
  • Haste – The only way an alchemist can share this great buff. Expensive and only suggested if your party lacks an arcane caster who can cast this.
  • More to come

Potions and Elixirs

I don’t recommend buying potions or extracts for consuming, instead I offer up this list which you can and should reuse over and over with alchemical allocation. The catch here is they take 2 full rounds to utilize so there are no short duration potions here. When an alchemist gets third level extracts amplify elixir will double the duration of any of these.

These are my favorites:

  • Greater Magic Fang – (Hyde only) Long duration enhancement bonus for claws. Use this for enhancement bonus and Amulet of Mighty Fists for other effects to take advantage of overlap. Get it with the highest caster level you can find.
  • Heroism – Long duration morale bonus to most every d20 roll.  Lasts longer than Good Hope and is usually a better choice even though it lacks the damage bump.  Unfortunately they don’t stack.
  • Life Bubble (APG) – Available via the ranger list.  Immunity to all gas attacks (including your own), and breathe underwater or in a vacuum for 2 hours/ level.
  • Magic Circle against Evil – A great defense against mind control, summoned creatures, etc. – Since this is an emanation I don’t believe it works.
  • Nap Stack (APG) – Get by with 2 hours sleep, doesn’t let you use more extracts or bombs in a day but useful for recovery or when camping.   Apparently with alchemical allocation alchemists can ignore the material component costs.
  • Elixir of Hiding – +10 to stealth for 1 hour, extremely nice.
  • Elixir of Vision – Use this when you are travelling or scouting, perception is one of the most important skills.
  • Elixir of Tumbling – +10 to acrobatics for 1 hour, not quite as good as the others because it’s harder to plan for.
  • Elixir of Shadewalking (Campaign Setting) – An elixir that lets the drinker and up to 11 people shadow walk. This would be questionable as a one shot at 3,500gp but when you can re-use elixirs it’s awesome.

Wondrous Items

  • Headband of vast intellect – Intelligence is the bread and butter of an alchemist, these are almost mandatory, in particular for Strangelob.
  • Handy haversack – Strangelob is a gear hungry guy, this is where extracts and mutagens go.
  • Portable hole – This is ideal mostly for crafters.  A compact alchemists lab fits into one of these.

Mundane Stuff

  • Holy Water – Probably the biggest advantage of holy water is the only splash weapon that against incorporeal undead,  alchemists get to keep their INT bonus to damage here also which is nice.  Keep a half dozen (or more) of these for shadows or other incorporeal nasties.  Once you get force bomb it’s not as important.
  • Acid Flasks – A good alternative damage type for low levels, craft these to save gp.

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