Mixing it Up

July 9th, 2012

Alex Riggs

Best in Class Archive

            I have a confession to make: I don’t like the alchemist class, from the Advanced Player’s Guide. There’s nothing wrong with the class, mechanically: they get a bard’s worth of self-buffing spellcasting, their bombs are reminiscent of the 3.5 warlock’s eldritch blast (in both damage and modular nature, although admittedly alchemists get a lot fewer bombs per day than warlocks get eldritch blasts), they can sorta-kinda Hulk-out, Mr. Hyde style, and they get some other benefits for working with poisons, potions, and alchemical items. If they had been called something else, and fluffed differently, I would probably have loved them. For that matter, if they had been exactly the same as they are, but their extracts had just been called spells, I probably would have been at least lukewarm.

            My problem with alchemists, as a class, is that their mechanics don’t really live up to their flavor. If you prepare something like a spell, it has the effects of a spell, and there’s no way to keep it on hand for more than 24 hours without it taking up a daily spell slot, you might as well just call it a spell. An alchemist’s extracts feel about as much like the product of an apothecary, to me, as a kobold walking around on all fours feels like a dragon. So I did some alchemical research of my own, and made a few discoveries, which I’m going to share with you today. I won’t claim that they solve my problems with the alchemist class—though some of them are aimed in that direction—but they should all be of value to any member of the class.

Alchemical Creation
Benefit: The alchemist can expend some of his own magical energy to create alchemical items more quickly. By expending one of his highest-level extract slots, the alchemist can create such an item as a full-round action, provided he can succeed on the necessary Craft (alchemy) check to create the item, and he has the necessary components on hand.

            At 18th level, when the alchemist gains the instant alchemy class feature, this discovery allows him to expend one of his highest-level extract slots to transmute an amount of gold whose value is equal to the cost to create an alchemical item into the necessary materials to make that item. This change is made as part of the swift action to create an alchemical item using the instant alchemy class feature.

Combine Poisons
Benefit: The alchemist can combine two doses of different poisons, effectively creating a new poison from the mixture. The two poisons to be used must be of the same type (with the exception of contact poisons, which can be mixed with injury poisons. In such a case, the resulting poison would be an injury poison). The new poison has the longer of the two original poisons’ onset periods (if any), and has a saving throw DC equal to the lesser of the two original poisons’ saving throw DCs +2. It has the lesser of the two original poisons’ frequencies, though it lasts half again as long (so a poison with a frequency of 1/round for 6 rounds mixed with a poison that had a frequency of 1/minute for 6 minutes would have a frequency of 1/minute for 9 minutes). The effect of the resulting poison is the combined effects of both of the original poisons, and the required number of saves is equal to the lesser of the two original poisons.

Harmful Extract
Prerequisite: Alchemist 6, infusion alchemist discovery
Benefit: The alchemist can create extracts designed to be harmful, rather than helpful. The alchemist chooses two of the following spells of a level he currently has access to, which he immediately adds to his formula book. The alchemist treats the rest of the spells as though they were on the alchemist formula list, and can learn them as he would any other formula. In all cases, the person drinking the extract is the “target” of the spell it replicates. Even if the spell could normally have more than one target, or affect more than one creature, it affects only the drinker. In cases where an attack roll is normally required, the drinker is treated as automatically being hit, though he is still entitled to any saving throws the spell allows. While it is conceivable that the alchemist might want to consume an extract made from one of these spells himself, they are typically created with the infusion alchemist discovery and given to the alchemist’s enemies.

            1st—charm person, chill touch, doom, inflict light wounds, shocking grasp
            2nd—blindness/deafness, daze monster, ghoul touch, hideous laughter, inflict moderate wounds, touch of idiocy
            3rd—inflict serious wounds, slow
            4th—bestow curse, charm monster, confusion, contagion, crushing despair, enervation, phantasmal killer
            5th—feeblemind, mind fog, slay living
            6th—eyebite, flesh to stone, harm

Heighten Alchemical Item
Benefit: The alchemist can expend some of his own magical energy to empower an alchemical item he creates. To do so, he must expend one of his highest-level extract slots while he is creating the item, and he must pay twice the normal cost to create it. If the created item offers a saving throw to resist some or all of its effects, the DC of that saving throw is now equal to 10 + 1/2 the alchemist’s level + the alchemist’s Intelligence modifier, unless the usual DC for that item would be higher. If the item does not allow a saving throw, it is unaffected.

True Infusion
Prerequisite: Infusion alchemist discovery
Benefit: When the alchemist creates an extract, he may choose to do so in a way that allows the extract to remain potent for a time even without investing his own magical energy into it. Doing so requires the alchemist to add a number of rare reagents to the mix, the total price of which is equal to the formula’s level x the alchemist’s level x 5 gp. The resulting extract functions as one created with the infusion discovery, except that it does not continue to occupy one of the alchemist’s extract slots (the slot is still expended for the remainder of the day it was created on, but can be used as normal once the alchemist rests and regains his daily uses of that ability).

             Such extracts spoil easily, however, and remain at their full potency for only 1d4+1 days before they begin to go bad. Once an extract begins to spoil in this way, its effective caster level is reduced by 2 for each day that passes, and any creature that drinks it must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + twice the formula’s level) or be sickened for 1 minute after consuming the extract. A creature that fails this save by more than 10 is nauseated, instead. Once the extract’s effective caster level is reduced to 0, it no longer has its normal effect, though it can still sicken or nauseate any who consume it.