Last Updated: May 16, 2023
The Alchemist is an interesting class, serving their party as some combination of Defender, Healer, Scout, Support, and Striker depending on their Field of Research and their preferred alchemical items. The Alchemist’s role in the party most closely resembles a Rogue, providing high damage output and frequently some skill and utility, but the abundance of alchemical items means that a well-prepared and well-equipped alchemist can also feel similar to the Cleric.
While the Alchemist is decidedly not a spellcaster, their reliance on alchemical items means that they can feel very similar to a wizard, choosing their alchemical items from a growing collection of formulae. Much like a spellcaster needs to understand their spell list and select good options to meet their needs, you will need to assess the growing roster of alchemical items and asses which items will meet your needs.
Dependence on disposable items is always a hard prospect, but the Alchemist’s Infused Reagents feature gives you access to a pool of free alchemical items every day which will meet the vast majority of your item needs. Much like spell slots, managing and optimizing this resource pool, is crucial to your success.
If you’re using print copies of the Core Rulebook, keep in mind that the Alchemist has received a ton of errata across the now 4+ printings of the Core Rulebook. Use Archives of Nethys so that you can be sure that you’re using the latest rules text.
You may also enjoy our Alchemist Research Fields Breakdown.
Table of Contents
- Alchemist Class Features
- Alchemist Ability Scores
- Alchemist Ancestries
- Alchemist Backgrounds
- Alchemist Skills and Skill Feats
- Alchemist Class Feats
- General Feats
- Alchemist Weapons
- Alchemist Armor
- Magic Items
- Alchemist Multiclass Archetype
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
Alchemist Class Features
Key Ability: Intelligence. High Intelligence affects save DCs, improves your Crafting skill, your number of Infused Reagents, gives you abundant trained skills at level 1.
: 8+Con per level. Better than a wizard, but don’t go into melee without padding your AC and your hit points. Mutagenists will typically pad their hp with temporary hit points from their favorite mutagen(s).
: The Alchemist’s only good initial proficiency is their numerous skills.
- : Only Trained, no dependence on Wisdom, and your proficiency doesn’t increase until 11th level, making you one of the worst in the game at Perception.
- : Good Fortitude and Reflex saves, but the absolute worst Will save progression in the game. Don’t dump Wisdom.
- : A total of 4+int gets you more total starting skills than many other classes.
- : Only Trained in simple weapons, alchemical bombs, and unarmed attacks. Your proficiency goes up to Expert, but no higher than that, so even your best weapons won’t be impressively accurate. Plan to rely on one Strike per turn at most, and look for ways to rely on save DC’s instead if you can. Higher-level bombs will add item bonuses to your attack rolls, which is crucial since you can’t put runes on them.
- : Errata added medium armor to the Alchemist’s proficiencies. Many alchemists will be fine in light armor due to their need for Dexterity to throw bombs, but for the Mutagenist, medium armor is a huge benefit.
- Class DC: The Alchemist’s class DC only matters for a few Alchemist class feats, but you want as much Intelligence as possible to get extra Infused Reagents so your class DC is going to be fantastic anyway.
: The Alchemist’s defining class feature.
- : Like spell slots for a spellcaster, these are the limiting factor on your most powerful options, and you can only exceed this capability by spending money on items (more alchemical items in your case, or scrolls/wands/etc. for a spellcaster). You get a lot, and at 5th level your Field Discovery will allow you to create some items for free using Quick Alchemy depending on your Research Field, but these are an essential way to create high-level alchemical items without bankrupting yourself. There aren’t many ways to get more Infused Reagents per day (a familiar can produce one batch per day), but those options are worthwhile, especially at low levels where you have few Reagents to spend.
Advanced Alchemy notably doesn’t require the items to be consumable. Quick Alchemy was updated to specify that the created items must be consumable, but no such change was made to Advanced Alchemy. This opens up permanent alchemical tools, making expensive permanent items (such as tools close to your current level) much more accessible. Getting two of the same item may be unhelpful, but remember that you can share these items with your party. Items like the Collar of the Shifting Spider and the Injector Reservoir can be very effective when shared.
: This is your go-to usage
for your Infused Reagents. You get two items per batch, and even though they
need to be the same item (with some exceptions, depending on your Research
Field), that’s a better deal than you get from Quick Alchemy. Prepare any
staple items you know you’ll need (bombs, elixirs of life, mutagens, etc.)
at the beginning of the day, but leave a few batches for Quick Alchemy when
you need something unusual on short notice.
Once you get Perpetual Infusions, you can use this to create a small number of items for free depending on your Research Field. These free items are a bottomless supply, and depending on your Research Field they may be important enough that you use them every turn. For example: Bombs.
: Until 5th level this is a
backup option for when you didn’t think to prepare some specific alchemical
item that you need in a specific situation. The proliferation of healing
items since the release of the Core Rulebook means that there is an
alchemical remedy for many status conditions. Carrying those around all the
time is silly, but Quick Alchemy means that they’re perpetually at your
: This works much like the Wizard’s spellbook: You learn a few formulae at first level, then two more at each level, but you can also copy new formulae from other sources, such as other Alchemists’ formula books. Like the Wizard, you must learn new version of the formula for each version of a specific alchemical item, so if you want Alchemist’s Fire to be a fixture of your toolkit, you’ll need to learn each of the four versions as you gain levels.
Research Field: See our Alchemist Research Fields Breakdown.
: This presents a significant jump in power for the Alchemist. The ability to create some alchemical items for free every turn allows you to use your signature class feature essentially without limit. The effectiveness of this feature varies by Research Field, but regardless of Research Field, this is a central part of how you play your character.
: Mostly useful for poisons, which many alchemists may never use, and the Toxicologist already raises the DC for their created poisons to their Class DC.
: A bottomless supply of some of the most important items in your arsenal. You may still want to spend some of your Infused Reagents on higher-level items and on items which you can’t craft for free with Perpetual Infusion, but you may want to save those for when they’re really important.
: Always helpful, but the Alchemist Class DC is used for very few things.
: Situational. Generally when you need to create an item in a hurry you only need one, and if you need more than one it’s one of the items you can create for free with Perpetual Infusions. It’s totally unclear how this interacts with Perpetual Infusions, so I can’t tell if you can use this to create two items for free.
: A significant improvement to the items that you can create with Perpetual Infusions. Going from lesser to moderate often doubles the numerical effects of the item.
: Depending on your Research Field, this is the feature that definitively sets you apart from other Research Fields.
: Unless you took Enduring Alchemy this is probably useless.
: Always helpful, but the Alchemist Class DC is used for very few things.
: Roughly a 50% numeric improvement to your favorite alchemical items.
Alchemist Ability Scores
Most alchemists are defined by their Intelligence, but they require Dexterity to be successful at their attacks with alchemical bombs, and they also require both Constitution and Wisdom to compensate for poor Perception and generally poor durability. Expect to invest your 4 ability boosts at every fifth level in those four ability scores.
: Alchemical items are Light bulk, so you can carry a ton of them. You’re also very good at crafting, so crafting a bag of holding is a great option. However, you may want 10 so that you can wear leather armor without worrying about the check penalty.
: Dexterity will improve your poor AC and make you more accurate with alchemical bombs and ranged weapons. Even with medium armor proficiency, you need Dexterity since bombs are the Alchemist’s most effective offensive option.
: Your durability is poor. If you have less than 14, expect to die.
: Sets your ability DC and improves your crafting.
: You need some to boost your poor Will saves and your poor Perception, but it’s the least important of the ability scores that you care about.
: Dump. Nothing about the Alchemist involves Charisma.
Mutagenists work a bit differently from other alchemists. Mutagens offer numerous great ways to improve your durability and to add melee options like claws and bite attacks. However, this means that you need to more heavily invest in Strength and Constitution, which makes you considerably more MAD than other alchemists.
: You need it for damage output when you dive into melee.
: You need 12 or 14 to fill out the dex cap for medium armor.
: Hit points and Fortitude saves.
: You need it to craft mutagens, but since you’re not relying on it for save DCs and since you need fewer Reagents than many other alchemists, you don’t need to hit 18 at level 1.
: You need it for your terrible Will saves and your terrible Perception.
: Dump. You’re already MAD enough as it is.
Boosts to important abilities like Constitution and Intelligence are great, but we can also benefit from other racial options like better weapon proficiencies for mutagenists and poison users, damage resistances (especially fire and poison), and access to familiars without spending a class feat.
For help with specific ancestries/heritages and their feats, see our ancestry and heritage handbooks.
DwarfCRB: Constitution, Wisdom, the Free Ability Boost goes into Intelligence, and Dwarfs get more starting hit points than other published races. Forge Dwarf gets you fire resistance, and Strong-blooded gets you poison resistance in case you’re exposed to your own handiwork. Unfortunately, none of the ancestry feats are especially interesting for the Alchemist.
ElfCRB: Dexterity, Intelligence, and the Free Ability Boost goes into Constitution. Arctic, Cavern, and Seer elf are all good options. Elven Weapon Familiarity gets you access to several excellent weapon options like rapiers and bows. However, elves have low ancestry hit points, so be cautious at low levels and don’t plan to fight in melee.
GnomeCRB: An increase to Charisma doesn’t help us, so use the Alternate Ability Boosts rule. Sensate Gnome and Umbral Gnome are both great choices. You may also consider Fey-Touched or Wellspring, but innate spells are Charisma-based and we’re dumping Charisma, so pick a utility cantrip or Shield if you go that route. Animal Accomplice is a great way to get a familiar without spending a class feat, (its modifiers will be Charisma-based, which isn’t great for the Alchemist, but that rarely matters) and Gnome Weapon Familiarity gets you access to kukris as a Simple weapon, which may be more appealing than daggers..
GoblinCRB: An increase to Charisma doesn’t help us, so use the Alternate Ability Boosts rule. Charhide Goblin offers fire resistance, and Razortooth Goblin offers a bite attack which can mostly replace bestial mutagen for mutagenists. Snow Goblin and Unbreakable Goblin are both great, too, but they don’t play to the Alchemist’s strengths quite as well. The Burn It! feat is a must-have for bombers (even if you’re not a goblin, you should take Adopted Ancestry to get it), and Junk Tinker can help to reduce the cost of single-use alchemical items which you might choose to craft permanently rather than spending your daily Infused Reagents to craft them.
HalflingCRB: Dexterity, Wisdom, and the Free Ability Boost goes into Intelligence. Unfortunately, none of the heritage options are especially appealing, but I’m partial to Hillock Halfling and Twilight Halfling. Halflings have several excellent ancestry feat options, including universally good options like Halfling Luck. Halfling Weapon Familiarity gets you access to the Filcher’s Fork, which is similar to a dagger with Backstabber, Deadly 1d6, and double throwing range. At 5th level you can take Cultural Adaptability, allowing you to take great ancestry feats from other Ancestries like Animal Accomplice from the Gnome or Burn It! from the Goblin. Normally this takes two feats (Adopted Ancestry plus the Ancestry Feat you want), so it’s a really great option.
HumanCRB: The Half-Elf and Half-Orc heritages don’t offer anything that’s especially useful for the Alchemist, but Skilled Heritage and Versatile Heritage are fantastic on any character, and humans get several truly excellent ancestry feats. Natural Ambition is always a great idea, Unconventional Weaponry opens up nearly any weapon in the game, Multitalented lets you explore another class with very little commitment, and if you can’t decide, you can take General Training to get another general feat like Toughness.
OrcAPG: The Orc makes an excellent Mutagenist. Orcs have access to several feats which will help you thrive in melee, which may be enough to make the Mutagenist a serious melee threat. With the Alternate Ability Boosts rule, your options widen, but you may struggle to find other appealing feats. The Hold Mark feat notably gives you access to the critical specialization effect for bombs, which alchemists normally can’t get.
RatfolkAPG: The Ability Boosts work perfectly, and Rat Familiar is a great way to get a familiar if you don’t mind it being Charisma-based. However, the Ratfolk’s other Ancestry Feat options don’t offer much else that’s especially helpful. The Cheek Pouches and Pack Rat feat chains are fun and might help a little bit with item management, but they’re more about stowing things than retrieving them, and retrieving them is where the Alchemist really needs the help.
Look for backgrounds that offer boosts to Intelligence. If you’re building a mutagenist you also want a boost to a physical ability score, but other alchemists probably want Dexterity. For skills, see the Skills section, below. The Specialty Crafter feat is great because the Alchemist depends so heavily on crafting a specific type of items.
If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:
Alchemist Skills and Skill Feats
You get Skill Increases at 3rd and 5th level to raise skills to Expert, increases at 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th level to raise skills to Master, and increases at 15th, 17th, and 19th level to raise skills to Legendary. That means that you can maximize at most three skills, and the rest of your skills might not advance beyond Trained.
You get Skill Feats at even-numbered levels, giving you a total of 10 Skill Feats (and maybe another from your Background) by 20th level. Generally, you want to invest these feats in the same skills which you are choosing to maximize, though in some cases you may want to grab feats from skills which don’t require that you be more than Trained.
- (Dex): Too situational, and less useful since you don’t have a built-in way to fly.
- (Int): Your ability scores work, but you can’t cast Detect Magic and you can’t use spellbooks. You can squeeze some more out of Arcana with Arcane Sense, which allows you to cast Detect Magic.
- (Str): A possibility for Mutagenists, but otherwise skip it.
(Int): You get it Trained for
free, but it doesn’t advance for free. You can get a lot of out of crafting
extra permanent items, so increase your proficiency at every possible
- Practical Guide to Assurance for more information on the math behind Assurance. : Reliably craft items during downtime, and since alchemists rely heavily on alchemical items, you can expect to do this to produce single-use alchemical items like antiplagues and antitoxins which you won’t need to use frequently or in large quantities, but which you still want on-hand when they’re useful. Scoring a Critical Success isn’t a big improvement when crafting items; being able to score a reliable Success is considerably more important. Plus, you can pick up Impeccable Crafting to always get a Critical Success without rolling. See my
: +1 or +2 on all of
your Crafting checks to make alchemical items is great when you’re
crafting alchemical items frequently.
- : Combined with Assurance, you may be able to guarantee a Critical Success when crafting.
- (Cha): Charisma is your dump stat.
- (Cha): Charisma is your dump stat.
- (Cha): Charisma is your dump stat.
- (Int): With high Intelligence and lots of trained skills, Lore can be a great option for the Alchemist provided that you can find a Lore skill which will be consistently applicable.
- (Wis): Medicine is really good, especially with a couple skill feats like Continual Recovery and Ward Medic. But you have the ability to craft free, high-level alchemical items multiple times per day, which should be a sufficient source of healing that you can leave Medicine to someone in the party with better Wisdom than you.
- (Wis): Your Wisdom might be high enough to make this work, but it doesn’t offer anything specific to the alchemist. You might consider the Bonded Animal feat, but aside from a pack animal to carry your alchemical stuff, I don’t know what you would do with it.
- (Int): Intelligence-based, and you can use it to identify occult magic and “supernatural creatures”.
- (Cha): You dumped Charisma.
- (Wis): Similarly useful to Arcana and Occultism, but your ability scores don’t work quite as well for it.
- (Int): Knowledge of humanoid societies is crucial in many campaigns, and your Intelligence makes this an easy option.
- (Dex): Most alchemists need Dexterity to make their attacks work, so you’re naturally good at Stealth. Your Perception is absolutely horrid, so if you can use Stealth for initiative, you absoluteley should.
- (Wis): Too situational.
- (Dex): Like Stealth, you have the Dexterity to make it work, and Thievery provides the crucial capacities to disable traps and open locks.
Alchemist Class Feats
For the full list of Alchemist Class Feats, see theAlchemist Featspage on Archives of Nethys.
- CRB: Familiars are really good for a lot of reasons. If nothing else, you can use them to get another batch of Infused Reagents per day. The Lab Assistant power is also excellent, especially once you have Perpetual Infusions, allowing your familiar to create and use alchemical items on your behalf. However, Lab Assistant requires the Manual Dexterity power, and without a feat to get more familiar powers, you can’t combine Lab Assistant with Extra Reagents. If you’re absolutely desperate to use this strategy, consider a archetype like Wizard Deciation or Familiar Master, and see our Practical Guide to Familiars.
- CRB: Extremely situational.
- CRB: Helpful for Bombers, but other alchemists should rely on weapons when range becomes a problem. You could also use a bomb launcher, but the additional action to load the bomb into it can be prohibitive so that’s really only useful if you need to fire bombs at exceptionally long rangers.
- CRB: Absolutely crucial if you intend to use bombs in combat.
- APG: A blowgun deals 1 damage, so if the target has any resistance to piercing damage it’s immune to your attack. This makes blowguns a reliable delivery mechanism for injury poisons without the need to invest in expensive Runes of Striking. This can be very helpful for the Toxicologist, but other alchemists typically won’t use poisons enough to make this meaningful. The critical hit effect is neat, but with the Alchemist’s abysmal weapon proficiencies critical hits will be a rarity.
- APG: Reducing your Bomb’s damage to creatures to just their splash damage is often a huge waste of your limited resources, and spending a minute to strap your bombs to a wall or whatever else does little to improve their effectiveness. The one redeeming quality is that you can use up to 4 bombs and combine their damage for the purposes of resistances, so difficult objects to break like metal doors are less of a problem.
- : Damage resistance to a common damage type is fantastic.
- : For the Mutagenist or the Chirurgeon, this turns into infinite free healing. For everyone else, this is an expensive way to turn a mutagen into a weak healing potion.
- : A great way for the Bomber to control the battlefield, but try not to abuse it too much or you’ll find whole rooms choked by smoke to the point that you and your allies can’t see your enemies.
- CRB: A must-have for the Bomber. Even Major bombs max out at 4 splash damage normally, so this is a huge damage boost for a very long time.
- CRB: If your campaign features strictly limited downtime and you spend a lot of time crafting extra alchemical items, this might be worth it. But this won’t help you much when you walk into a fight.
- CRB: Normally if you’re using Quick Alchemy, you’re planning to use the item immediately. But some items may need to be handed to an ally (such as your familiar), in which case some extra time to work can be very helpful. Combine this with an Alchemy Chart (see Treasure Vault) and you can get items to last until the end of your second turn. If you have time to prepare before going into combat, you could Quick Alchemy several items, pass them out, and have a turn or two for everyone in the party to kick in the door and use their new toys.
- APG: A fantastic option for Chirurgeons. This means that you no longer need to chase allies around in combat; you can throw things at them instead. There’s some question about what the word “willing” means for unconscious characters, but if your GM doesn’t consider your ally willing while they’re unconscious, you should be able to hit their unconscious body without too much effort.
- APG: Poisons rely on applying their effects over time, so increasing their duration can make them much more effective. However, the poisons most impacted by this are injury poisons which you’ll typically use in combat. Injury poisons typically have a 1-round duration for Stage 1 and a 6-round maximum duration, so you’re only extending the duration to 7 rounds. Still, every poison’s final stage is its most lethal, so if you can keep enemies at that stage one round longer you’ll get a lot out of the effect.
- LO:L [rare]: A huge amount of additional damage, but until you have a huge pile of Infused Reagents to support Quick Alchemy, it’s likely smarter to spend those reagents to craft more bombs at the start of the day. Running out of bombs early in a day would be bad.
- CRB: If you have an ally in need of healing, a single Elixir of Life will suffice, so this may not be helpful. You can also use this to combine mutagens and other elixirs which provide buffs. The Mutagenist can do this with Greater Field Discovery starting at 13th level, so they should retrain this feat at that point. Other Alchemists might enjoy this if they want to dabble in elixirs and mutagens, especially once you can get Persistent Mutagen to turn four Infused Reagents into two all-day mutagens.
- CRB: A must-have for the Bomber. Dazzled applies a 1 in 5 chance of a creature missing any single attack, Flat-footed is great if you’re planning additional attacks or if you have a Rogue in the party. You can also apply a speed penalty, but if you want that you should just use a Tanglefoot Bomb. Deafened is mildly annoying, but after combat starts it’s not significant enough to justify.
- CRB: In most cases where a cone would be a solution, you can just throw the bomb at a creature or space behind or adjacent to your target to avoid hitting an ally. If you just don’t want splash damage at all, grab a Bomb Coagulant Alembic and bring some bombs that deal persistent damage instead of splash damage.
- APG: Not essential, even for the Toxologist, but if you’re using poisons heavily and fighting in melee, this can save you both some items and some actions to re-poison your weapon. You also get a 1 in 5 chance to retain your poison after a successful Strike, so you may be able to deliver it a second time.
- CRB: Bestial Mutagen’s attacks aren’t great on their own, so adding a little extra damage and Deadly (d10) does a lot to improve them. However, adding an extra -1 to AC feels like an unnecessary attempt to balance an attack which is now very slightly better than a nonmagic weapon. If you can get better unarmed attacks from a source other than Bestial Mutagen (Ancestry, Heritage, several Versatile Heritages, some items, etc.) that may be a better choice.
- APG: Your choice of Research Field will often pigeon-hole you into using one variety of items. This allows you to diversify your capabilities significantly. As an example of a good use case: Most non-bomber alchemists can choose to add bombs to their Quick Alchemy options for an easy combat option, or you could pick an elixir which is a handy buff to share with your party.
- CRB: Alchemists are perfectly capable of being sneaky, so you could easily deliver a poisoned attack in the first round of combat before your enemies can respond. There are also numerous ways to make enemies Flat-Footed, including flanking or using certain poisons like Giant Centipede Poison. A -2 penalty is mathematically significant, and with a little planning this is easy to rely upon. This is essential for the Toxicologist.
- CRB: This was deemed so essential for some alchemists that errata added it as a class feature. If you’re still using early printings of the Core Rulebook, you’ll still see this listed as a feat.
- CRB: Calculated Splash means that your splash damage at least equals your
Intelligence, so a Bomber is probably adding +4 or more to the continuous
damage from any bomb that they throw.
It’s easy to look at the Bomb Coagulant Alembic and say “I can already do this”, and that’s true to some degree, but there is some nuance here. Sticky Bomb retains your bomb’s splash damage and, thanks to Calculated Splash, you’re likely inflicting considerably more total damage than with the alembic. However, doing so requires you to create the bomb using Quick Alchemy, which means fewer bombs in total (regular Alchemy gets you 2 or 3 of each item that you create). The Bomb Coagulant Alembic will mean more bombs dealing less total damage each, but those bombs also neatly remove the danger of splash damage which might hurt your party. I think the best options is to use both: prepare a few bombs via the alembic during daily preparations and use Sticky Bomb when you’re going to get a lot out of the additional damage.
- CRB: Quicksilver mutagen is really situational, and since it costs a big pile of hit points to use it, it can’t be a go-to option for most alchemists (Chirurgeons are an exception thanks to Perpetual Infusions).
- CRB: Instead of replacing your bombs’ splash damage, you now add your
Intelligence modifier to the existing splash damage. That’s at most 4 extra
splash damage, but the real draw here is doubling the splash radius.
Catching multiple enemies in the 5-foot radius of a usual bomb comes down to
luck. Catching multiple enemies in a 10-foot radius is considerably easier.
Note that this doesn’t give you the option to use the smaller radius, so
using a Bomb Coagulant Alembic to keep some splash-free bombs is a great
Stacking this with Sticky Bomb is a great way to get a ton of persistent damage.
- CRB: As far as i can tell none of these debuffs stack with themselves. I think Debilitating Bomb is better.
- CRB: Only situationally useful, but there also aren’t any alchemical items which remove the Frightened or Paralyzed conditions.
- CRB: Powerful Alchemy covers everything that you make with your Infused Reagents; Potent Poisoner is for permanent items. You don’t need this unless you’re crafting a bunch of permanent poisons, which is an expensive prospect even for the Toxicologist.
- APG: It’s too expensive to stabilize the concoction, and the consequences for failure are intimidating unless you have a bottomless supply of healing and adequate time to repeatedly harm and then heal yourself.
- CRB: There many excellent elixirs with ongoing durations. Doubling an elixirs duration can mean doubling its benefits (ex: Soothing Tonic) or letting one elixir run through several encounters (ex: many mutagens), thereby saving yourself resources. Unfortunately, this only applies when you consume your own elixirs.
- CRB: Great for Mutagenists, but worthwhile for any alchemist looking to add some durability. You might use a Stone Body Mutagen instead because it provides a larger amount of resistance and doesn’t require a feat.
- CRB: Essential for bombers. Your bomb range now matches that of a shortbow, and you can use Smoke Bomb without inhibiting your own attacks.
- CRB: You dumped Charisma, and until this point there has been no reason for you to play a Face. Your best use for a Silvertongue Mutagen is to give it to someone else
- CRB: You had to take Merciful Elixir to get here, but if your party doesn’t have access to spellcasting that can remove things like Blinded, you may need this.
- CRB: For some reason the Clumsy option doesn’t improve, but even without that this is still great. Doubling the Enfeebled and Stupefied penalties from Greater Debilitating Bomb is nice, and the speed penalty gets bigger, but don’t give up one the effects from Debilitating Bomb. If you use one of those effects, the target needs to critically succeed rather than merely succeeding on their saving throw. The penalties from Enfeebled and Stupefied aren’t as universally effective as the flat 1 in 4 chance of failure from being Dazzled or Deafened.
- APG: This is hard to rely upon because the situation in which it works is so specific. It’s great if you can make this work, but you’ll need to deliberately target creatures with other adjacent creatures in order to have a chance of this applying.
- CRB: Use this with Invincible Mutagen and you have permanent resistance to physical damage. Use this with Soothing Tonic and you have permanent Fast Healing. Use this with Mistform Elixir (Moderate) and be permanently concealed. Any alchemist will find this amazingly useful, but Mutagenists should absolutely take this alongside Persistent Mutagen and look for non-mutagen elixirs that complement their mutagens.
- CRB: Address resistances by changing types of bombs.
- CRB: Better than Glib Mutagen by a lot, and you get telepathy. You’re still unlikely to be your party’s Face, but this does add the item bonus to Nature and Religion.
- CRB: Eternal elixir has a longer duration, no usage limitation, and affects all elixirs rather than just mutagens, but crucially also only works on elixirs up to half of your level, which is an unacceptable limitation for the Mutagenist.
- CRB: This includes fantastic options like Invisibility Potion and Potion of Flying.
- CRB: Too situational.
- CRB: Carry a few True Elixirs of Life just to use with this feat.
- CRB: Effectively increases the DC to resist Debilitating Bomb by 10, but Debilitating Bomb’s effects only last one round so this may not be worth a feat.
- CRB: Aside from the formula being Uncommon, there’s nothing preventing you from learning this formula by normal means.
- CRB: Because the bomb needs to be Infused, it needs to be a bomb created with
your Infused Reagents via either Advanced Alchemy or Quick Alchemy. Once you
have the bomb in hand (which might require creating it or drawing it as an
Action), you use Mega Bomb to upgrade it to a Mega Bomb, then your third
Action to Interact and throw the bomb. This is only a go-to option if there
are multiple enemies in the target area, but if you can hit 2 or more
enemies this will be more effective than throwing multiple bombs because
you’ll use your class DC for the save rather than your disappointing weapon
Because Additive feats like Debilitating Bomb and Sticky Bomb both trigger when you use Quick Alchemy, you can use one of them to modify your bomb before you make it a Mega Bomb, allowing you to further improve it. You could also use a Bomb Coagulant to turn splash damage (which doesn’t matter for Mega Bomb) into persistet damage, making the whole thing a horrifyingly powerful way to deliver a lot of damage.
- CRB: Mutagens drawbacks are usually a minor annoyance, but some like Bestial Mutagen and Quicksilver Mutagen feature drawbacks which make you easier to kill. For mutagenists, this makes it much easier to use your Greater Field Discovery because you can safely change mutagens without accumulating drawbacks.
- LO:L [rare]: There are a lot of really great spells which this can provide. Look for buffs with long durations which can get you through a full adventuring day.
- : Consider Goblin so you can get Burn It! and Junk Tinker.
- : Alchemists have low Will saves and poor Perception, and this is a great way to address that. Unfortunately, you can’t take this twice.
- : Mutagenists either spend their time in melee trying to survive their 8+ hit points or fight at range trying to survive the hit point loss from Quicksilver mutagens. In either case, any Mutagenist needs as many hit points as they can get. Even with good Constitution, Toughness is still a good option.
- : If Bestial Mutagen doesn’t look like a good option, any alchemist except the Bomber may want a better weapon option than a crossbow. But this isn’t the way to do it. Instead, see if your Ancestry was a weapon familiarity feat. Reducing weapons from martial to simple means that your proficiency will advance automatically, which is crucial even though the Alchemist’s weapon proficiency never goes beyond Expert.
- : Often your best bet for long-range combat. Bombs are great, but their range is only 20 ft. (30 ft. or 60 ft. once you get some feats) and they’re expensive, so using a crossbow is a great way to remain effective at extended range. The Bomber is an exception, of course.
- : Probably your go-to melee weapon unless you’re using Bestial Mutagen.
- : Similar to a dagger and it doesn’t take up a hand.
If your Ancestry feats give you access to other weapon options, look for options which work similarly to the options above. A regular bow may work better than a crossbow because you can make more attacks with it in a single turn, and something like a filcher’s fork can be a great option for Mutagenists.
Wear the heaviest armor you can manage without the check penalty. Of course, the check penalty for light armor is never worse than -1, so you may be fine with 8 Strength in a Chain Shirt or Studded Leather. You’re never going to get more than a total of +5 between your armor’s base bonus and your Dexterity, so there’s very little variance between armor options, and you’re unlikely to exceed a +5 Dexterity modifier, so dropping light armor in favor of Explorer’s Clothing isn’t worth the effort.
Other Magic Items
- : An inexpensive way to increase the amount of stuff you can carry. Alchemists tend to carry a lot of stuff around, and even though your alchemical items are only Light Bulk, they still add up over time as you gain the ability to craft ever-growing piles of items for free each day.
This is not a comprehensive list of archetypes which might be useful for this class. For more on archetypes, see our archetype handbooks.
- : Rage is potentially useful for the Mutagenist, but that’s the only interesting thing you can get.
- : You get heavy armor proficiency from the base feat, but that proficiency never improves, so with a trivial amount of Dexterity your AC in medium armor will be higher than in heavy armor. You can take Diverse Armor Expert at 14th level, but that’s two feats to get a total of +1 to AC (assuming that you’re in heavy armor).
- : Wisdom-base spellcasting. Wild Shape is tempting, but it’s a Polymorph effect so you can’t combine it with Mutagens.
- : Access to martial weapons is tempting for anyone except Bombers, and you can take Diverse Weapon Expert to increase the proficiency to Expert, which will match the best proficiency the Alchemist normally gets with any weapon. Mutagenists will enjoy the Fighter’s various melee options, including great options like Opportunist and Snagging Strike.
- : Powerful Fists is a great replacement for Bestial Mutagen, and options like Crane Stance can make a Mutagenist much more effective in melee. Flurry of Blows is a great way to get an extra attack every turn, and since Bestial Mutagen and Crane Stance both add the Agile property to one of your unarmed strike options, either option will help mitigate the multiple attack penalty. Just remember that drinking your mutagen and adopting a stance both eat Actions, so your first turn may be spent getting ready to fight.
- : The base dedication feat is already really good. Surprise attack, Trained in two new skills, and a Skill Feat is a lot for one feat. Sneak Attacker is tempting, but 1d4 or 1d6 damage per attack simply isn’t enough extra damage to justify the feat, so the only major reasons to take this are for Poison Weapon. If you’re going for a poisoner build, you definitely want to multiclass into Rogue.
- : Intelligence-based casting is a great addition to the Alchemist’s capabilities, especially for non-Bombers who often lack quality combat options. If you go beyond the base devotion feat, leveled spells offer you a wide selection of powerful utility options which you otherwise couldn’t address with alchemical items alone. If you take the Basic and Expert Spellcasting feats, your spellcasting proficiency will keep pace with the Alchemist’s weapon proficiency progression, making cantrips an easy go-to offensive option. Of course, item bonuses from runes or mutagens can still put your Strikes ahead of spell attacks, but the cost to do so is often high.
Alchemist Multiclass Archetype
Access to free daily alchemical items can be immensely useful for many characters, offering non-magical solutions to a variety of challenges. Bombs and poisons likely won’t work unless your class already supports them in some fashioin, but elixirs and alchemical tools can still go a long way.
Martial characters may enjoy elixirs (especially mutagens) as an easy buff and healing option, as well as damage boosts delivered via a Weapon Siphon (see Treasure Vault), all of which are available from Alchemical Dedication with no further investment. Adding more feats opens up more numerous and more powerful options. Poison users will find that Infused Reagents makes their favorite expensive toy much more manageable, but Alchemist Dedication doesn’t provide a way to boost the save DCs, so you’ll need to take Expert Alchemy and Master Alchemy so that you can craft more powerful poisons.
- : A decent option for any character with sufficient Intelligence to qualify. The Infused Reagents allow you to create a pool of free alchemical items every day. You can only create level 1 items, but those include Elixir of Life (Lesser), bombs, alchemical ammunition, and several mutagens. The bombs will fall behind as you gain levels, but inexpensive healing and mutagens may still be useful if you’re using them constantly.
- : There are few exciting feat options which qualify. Alchemical Familiar, Quick Bomber, and Poison Resistance are your best options.
- : All of the Alchemist’s fantastic versatility, making a dizzying array of alchemist solutions available at a moment’s notice.
- : Not many great options, but Combine Elixirs and Sticky Poison may be useful.
- : 3rd-level and 5th-level items add much broader options, allowing you to pick up numerous low-level buffs and healing items.
- : Your level -5 is enough to make many powerful items available, but don’t expect to rely on bombs offensively because you’ll be so far behind other combat options.