Alchemists Guide: Dr. Strangelob July 15, 2010 at 1:22 am

How I learned to lob the bomb

Dr. Strangelob’s primary focus is ranged bombing.  You are capable of doing more elemental damage in a game session than any other character. There is no save and no SR to block the primary damage you do and your secondary damage is respectable.

The third in a series of four guides on the alchemist:
Introduction
Alchemists Extracts – All about the extracts alchemists drink to get their power.
Mr. Hyde – Strangelob’s (more?) demented alter ego.

Mutagen

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.

Tossing bombs into combat your mutagen of choice is probably going to be dexterity at low levels.  When you get higher level and touch ACs become easy to hit you might consider switching to boosting constitution for the extra hit points, in particular since dexterity puts a wisdom penalty hitting your already weak will save.  If you do take greater mutagen you will want to boost constitution and dexterity.

Races

Elf – Ability boosts are a perfect fit.  The constitution penalty hurts but alchemists have a good fortitude save and toughness helps with lower hit points.  The bonus versus enchantment is good since the alchemist’s will save is low.  A bonus to perception is always well received.

Half Orc – The alternate favored class bonus adds 1 pt damage to bombs every 2 levels, take this! Dropping ferocity for sacred tattoo in the APG isn’t a bad trade either.

Human – A bonus feat is always welcome.  Add the precise bomb discovery at second level and you can bomb into melee with impunity. Trading out the skilled racial trait for either Heart of the Fields or Heart of the Wilderness is a very good option skill rich class like the alchemist.

Halfling – Dexterity bonus and small size are a perfect fit for Dr. Strangelob.  The save bonuses are particularly welcome and good perception also work well. Consider taking the warslinger as an alternate racial trait, this turns the sling into an excellent full rate of fire ranged weapon with better range than your bombs.

Gnome – The pyromaniac alternate racial trait moves gnomes bomb progression up a level. Their alternate favored class bonus in the APG grants additional bombs per day as well, also a great use. Not as good as the half-orcs bonus but still very nice. The size bonus on ranged attacks, high constitution, and craft bonus also work in their favor. Gnomes are almost blue.

Half Elf – You inherit the save bonus and perception bonus from elves but lack their frailty. The dual minded alternate racial trait is an easy choice to bolster your weak save.

Dwarf – Dwarves are a solid base.  The bonus versus spells, and spell-like abilities helps alot since alchemists have low will saves.

Abilities

Strength – Not very useful to Strangelob since his primary attack is not affected by strength.  Be careful not to dump this too low though because alchemists need a lot of gear and ultimately you will need some kind of second weapon

Dexterity – Particularly important at lower levels when you have a bit more trouble hitting.

Constitution – You have decent hit dice, no reason to be in melee, and a good fort save.  Use your favored class bonus and possibly toughness to bump HP.

Intelligence – Number of bombs per day, damage modifier, and extracts are all based on intelligence. Strangelob’s prime attribute.

Wisdom – Important to boost your bad will save.  Keep a positive bonus in Wisdom.

Charisma – Strangelob’s only possible dump stat.

Sample 15 point buy (before racial modifiers)

If you want to dump charisma below 8 consider putting the points into an extra point of dexterity or bumping your constitution by 2.

Human/ Half Orc/ Half Elf STR: 10  DEX: 14  CON: 10  INT: 16  WIS: 12  CHA: 8  (bump INT to 18)

Elf STR: 10  DEX: 12  CON: 12  INT: 16  WIS: 12  CHA: 8

Dwarf STR: 10  DEX: 14  CON: 8  INT: 17  WIS: 10  CHA: 9

Gnome/ Halfling STR: 12  DEX: 12  CON: 10  INT: 17  WIS: 12  CHA: 7

PFS 20 point buy (before racial modifiers)

Human/ Half Orc/ Half Elf STR: 10  DEX: 14  CON: 10  INT: 17  WIS: 12  CHA: 8  (bump INT to 20)

Elf STR: 11  DEX: 14  CON: 12  INT: 17  WIS: 10  CHA: 8

Dwarf STR: 11  DEX: 14  CON: 8  INT: 18  WIS: 10  CHA: 9

Gnome/ Halfling STR: 13  DEX: 12  CON: 10  INT: 18  WIS: 12  CHA: 7

Put your stat boosts into intelligence, most likely your dexterity will boosted enough by your mutagen and less important over time.

Discoveries

Just Blow Stuff Up

A rough guide for discoveries and feats for a character mainly interested in damaging things with bombs. Plan to take Two Weapon Fighting or Rapid Shot at 7th level so make sure you have your prerequisites in order (see the feats section) other essential feats are listed as well.

2nd: Precise bomb

4th: Acid bomb, or infusion

6th: Acid bomb, frost bomb, or explosive bomb

7th: Two Weapon Fighting or Rapid Shot

8th: Fast bombs

9th: Extra Discovery:Force bomb

10th: Sticky bombs

11th: Iron Will

16th: Elixer of life.

18th: Greater mutagen or eternal potion

20th: Pick two from 14th level.
Grand Discovery: If your campaign has intermittent downtime the philosophers stone is the best choice, for faster paced games with little downtime go with awakened intellect. Eternal youth is awesome but for most games is a flavor only option.

Smoker Option

Stink bomb is the king of the bombs.

2nd: Precise bomb

3rd: Extra Discovery: Smoke bomb

4th: Stink bomb

6th: Acid bomb, or infusion

7th: Rapid Shot or Two Weapon Fighting

8th: Fast bombs

9th: Extra Discovery: Force bomb

10th: Same as 6th + sticky bomb

11th: Iron Will

12th: Poison bomb

14th: Same as 10th level plus explosive bomb

16th – 20th: Same as above

Acid bomb – Acid resistance is pretty unusual and the delayed damage bump can force an extra concentration check for casters.

Combine extracts – This is good but you will probably want to spend most of your discoveries on your bombs.

Concussive bomb – The low damage is partly offset by the fact that almost nothing is resistant to sonic damage.  More important spellcasters have a 20% chance of spell failure while deaf which is a nice debuff for enemy casters.  In particular arcane casters with weak fortitude saves.

Delayed bomb – For most groups this is underwhelming but I’ve seen some creative applications.  For example making a trap or using sleight of hands to plant a bomb in a pocket as a subtle method of initiating combat.

Dilution – This is essentially discounted potion crafting.  Not great for a bomber who won’t be relying on potions much.

Dispelling Bomb – Dispel magic is a decent spell, being able to cast dispel spontaneously is better. Being able to do it twice or in combination with other effects is great.

Elixer of life – Contingent resurrection on death, or true resurrection.  It’s expensive life insurance or equivalent to a 9th level cleric spell.

Enhance potion – You don’t rely on buffs much and can most likely just use an extract regardless.

Eternal potion – Good hope and haste are good choices for eternal potions. This would be blue but the requirement for extend potion is tough to squeeze in.

Explosive bomb – Burning is nasty but there are other better effects you can inflict. Bonus splash damage is nice but not

Extend potion – As far as I can tell this works with alchemical allocation, extand long duration potions like heroism and the various elixirs. Prereq for Eternal Potion.

Feral mutagen – Great for the melee build, pretty much useless for a Strangelob.

Force bomb – The second best bomb right after Stink Bomb. Knock down enemies with low reflex saves, full damage on incorporeal creatures, bypass energy resistance, and knock down clumsy fliers; what’s not to like here?

Frost bomb – A decent alternative energy type that inflicts a nasty condition. Not quite blue.

Grand mutagen – Leave this for your melee slugging brethren.

Greater mutagen – If you are having trouble hitting consider taking this so you can boost dexterity and constitution.

Infuse mutagen – Leave this for your melee slugging brethren.

Inferno bomb – By the time you can get this it’s not very useful.

Infusion – Many (most) extracts are buffing spells which Strangelob will only be able to get limited value of.  Use this discovery to share those with people who will get vastly larger benefit from them.  Extracts that come from self only spells are usually particularly good and no other casters can grant the effect.  Finally, people using an alchemist’s buffs or healing are using their own actions to do it.  So the fighter quaffs your infused extract of enlarge person on his turn while Dr. Strangelob sits back at a safe distance and bombs.

Madness bomb – Maddeningly dissapointing. Reduce your damage output so you can slowly reduce the enemies will saves.

Poison bomb – At 12th level there is little kill left in cloudkill but it does make a solid area denial effect. Few creatures will stick around and take constitution damage round after round.  As a bonus the alchemist is immune to the effect.

Precise bomb – Keep bombing while your teammates melee, invaluable for most alchemists.

Shock Bomb – Lightning plus dazzled just not very exciting.

Smoke bomb – Nice gateway discovery and a decent effect.

Sticky bomb – A bit of extra damage is particularly good for forcing concentration checks against ongoing damage.  The wording implies it can be combined with other bombs.

Sticky poison – Bombers are not going to be attacking with weapons often enough to make this useful.

Stink bomb – Simply put this bomb ends encounters. Nauseated means all they can do is run away at 1/2 speed. I cannot emphasize how much better this is than normal splash damage.

Feats

There are two primary feat paths for Dr. Strangelob, the Point Black Shot/ Rapid Shot chain or the Two Weapon Fighting (TWF) chain. Which path you choose is largely a matter of choice Rapid Shot requires Point Blank Shot but since Point Blank opens up so many ranged feats many alchemists will want it regardless. Rapid shot works with bows which gives elf alchemists a nice backup weapon for energy resistant creatures. With the TWF chain alchemists can take Improved Two Weapon Fighting at 17th level to get an additional attack per round. So both chains have their advantages, regardless of which path you take you need to have Rapid Shot or Two Weapon Fighting by 7th level to get that third bomb per round at 8th when you get fast bomb.

Extra Discovery – There are enough great discoveries most alchemists will be use this at least once.

Iron will – A weak will save and powerful attacks makes alchemists a prime target for domination, confusion, and will based spells.  Iron will is almost a requirement past 6th level or so.

Improved precise shot – Ignore blur, clouds, and displacement when targeting.  Very nice but steep requirements.

Rapid shot – This is the Nova option. Get up to 3 bombs/ round at 8th level, blow lots of stuff up then run out of bombs.

Two Weapon Fighting – Essentially the same benefit as Rapid Shot with lower entry requirements.

Extra bombs – At 8th level alchemists have 12-14 bombs per day and with rapid shot and haste they are lobbing 3-4 bombs per round. At lower levels it’s likely not an issue but starting at 8th level running out of bombs is a very big issue.

Defensive combat training – Help defend against grappling.

Far shot – The 20′ range increment on bombs really hurts.  Far shot won’t extend total range but it helps minimize the range penalty.  Take this if Splash Weapon Mastery isn’t available since long range encounters are likely.

Focused shot – Add intelligence bonus to crossbow/ bow attacks. Running out of bombs is going to be a common issue with alchemists, particularly after 8th level. This is a big boost to damage at short range and stacks with deadly aim.

Improved iron will – For all the reasons outlined on Iron Will

Improved initiative – Area effect spells are often best dropped before everyone scrambles and gets into melee.  For the cloud bombers this is even more important so you can use them for battle field control.

Improved Two Weapon Fighting – Assuming you have Two Weapon Fighting you are already lobbing 4-5 bombs per round. An extra bomb at -12 to hit is of questionable value at this point in the game compared to other options.

Point blank shot – Not great itself but required for a lot of really useful feats: Rapid Shot, Precise Shot,

Precise shot – Combined with precise bombs an alchemist can bomb into melee at will.

Magical aptitude – Makes UMD much more useful for you and spellcraft is a useful class skill.

Master alchemist – If you are crafting a lot… extracts and bombs don’t use this skill and while many alchemists will craft it’s purely optional.

Skill focus (use magic device)- Makes UMD much more useful for you.

Non core/ APG feats and Traits (Limited to PfRPG sources)

Accelerated drinker trait (Cheliax Companion) – Most likely doesn’t work with extracts but it should allow you to use alchemical allocation and drink a potion as a full round action.

Splash weapon mastery (Adventurers Armory) – Far shot for bombs and splash weapons and steers misses away from allies.  If it’s available take this at 1st level.

Gear

Magic Items

Belt of incredible dexterity or Belt of CON + DEX - Even though touch attacks become easier at high levels these are still useful.  Probably a better idea to get a CON + DEX belt when you can afford it rather than spend the money on higher cost Dexterity only belts.

Lesser bracers of archery – The alchemist will always have problems with running out of bombs so a second weapon is important. The bomber already has a lot of archery feats so getting precise shot and focused shot are logical. Expensive but cheaper than the two feats it replaces. For elves this is pretty weak.

Multi Classing and Prestige Classes

WIP

Master Chymst is the only real prestige class choice for alchemists and for Mr. Hyde Chymst it is a fun way to go.  The role playing aspects of the second personality are immense and the class features are appealing for building a melee brawler.  Look to switch to Master Chymst at 9th level after gaining the fast bombs discovery.  Master Chymst triples the duration of his mutagens and gains the ability to mutate as an supernatural ability at first level which is a very nice boost.  Brutality is also a very nice damage boost for a feral mutagen based character and furious mutagen boosts natural weapon damage as well.

The downside of Master Chymst is it’s a bit of a one way trip; alchemist levels stack for the purpose of gaining Advanced Mutagens but the chymst levels don’t stack for gaining Discoveries.  So if you are taking Master Chymst levels make sure you plan around this.  There are lots of good high level discoveries which are delayed or impossible to take if you take more than a couple levels of Chymst.  If 18th-20th level play is going to be a big part of your game consider skipping Chymst entirely because there are a lot of really good Discoveries you will miss out on.


Known issues and omissions with this page:

  • Discuss Multiclassing & PrCs
  • More feats from APG and core
  • More details on equipment

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