Curious about the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class? In this video, I give an overview of this class and talk about some of the advantages, disadvantages, and what I think about the Alchemist in Second Edition. First, I’ll cover the the main stats, including HP, saves, attacks, defense, skills, class DC, just so you can get a run down of what an Alchemist looks like out of the box. Then, I cover Formulas and how they work. There is also a section on the subclass options where I explain the differences of each option. There is also an overview of some of the Feat options for the Alchemist. Last, I will go over some of the pro’s and con’s of this class to help you decide if this is the right character for your PC.
Hello Internet and welcome to the Collective Arana, a channel all about tabletop gaming. Today we’re going to start our series on the Pathfinder Second Edition classes from the core book and why not start in alphabetical order with the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class
Alchemist in Pathfinder 2nd Edition
The Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class is sort of a jack-of-all-trades character, it can do a really good job of filling multiple roles, multiple gaps in a party but it doesn’t really shine on its own as much as some of the other classes can. It doesn’t really have a niche that it outperforms in.
We will cover the base proficiencies you get at first Level and then we’re going to talk about them as they progress.
Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class gain 8 HP/Level and their boosted stat is Intelligence. This is their preferred stat because it’s going to allow them to be more proficient with crafting, which is really their bread and butter and has a nice side effect of meaning that even though they begin Trained with crafting and three other skills of their choice, they also get a number of skills equal to their intelligence modifier which makes them great skill monkeys for your party.
Alchemists begin training in Perception at Level 1 and will not advance until Level 9 after which point their proficiency Level will not increase. That doesn’t mean that you cap at 9 because of course, you always add your Level to your proficiency bonus, but it is worth noting that it’s definitely not one of the most perceptive classes and won’t always be going first on Initiative.
Saving Throws for the Alchemist
|Fortitude Saves||Expert (Lvl 1), Master (Lvl 11)|
|Reflex Saves||Expert (Lvl 1), Master (Lvl 15)|
|Will Saves||Trained (Lvl 1), Expert (Lvl 7)|
For Saving Throws, Alchemists begin as Experts in Fortitude and that will go up to Master at Level 11. They also begin as Experts in Reflex Saves and that will also progress to Master at Level 15. Will Saves begin Trained and will only advance to Expert at Level 7.
For Attacks, the Alchemist is Trained in Simple Weapons as well as unarmed and alchemical weapons, alchemical bombs specifically. Those are a little different than other throwing weapons and they have some unique traits. The main thing there is just that it’s considered sort of an advanced proficiency that they get by default. At Level 7, they will advance to Expert. The interesting thing here is they will not advance in all those. Their unarmed stops at Trained and only simple and alchemical bombs proficiencies progress to Expert. Also strange is that where their proficiency bonus two attacks end, they never get above Expert although they do get some specialization options.
This is fairly weird for a class where two of its three subclasses available in the book are both offensive based. That being, the Bomber and the Mutagen, so it can be a little bit odd and we’ll talk about that more when we get to the end. There’s some things that will offset that but it’s definitely worth noting with the class defensively.
Defense and Skills
The Alchemist begins Trained in unarmed and light armor and will progress to Expert at Level 13 and Master at Level 19, so a little behind the curve, but by Level 20 they’re going to be just about as good as anybody.
In addition to the skills we talked about earlier, that’s crafting as a given plus three additional plus your intelligence modifier, you’re also going to be Trained in a class DC at Level 1. This is another strange one because while many classes have a class DC, the Alchemist only uses their class DC by the book out of the gate here. If you take a couple of feats that are completely optional it’s there primarily as future-proofing for people that take those two feats and those would be Powerful Alchemy and Potent Poisoner. So if you’re not expecting to use any of those you can completely disregard that class DC.
That doesn’t mean that it will never be useful. Most likely as I said this is future-proofing. I expect to see something in the Advanced Player’s Guide that’s going to at least widen the applications of that class DC.
Formulas for the Alchemist
So alchemy is of course the bread and butter of the Alchemist class and they will start you off with 8 total formulas known. There’s 24 1st Level formulas in the book. You’ll get 4 from your Alchemy Specialty Crafting feat that comes free as part of the class. You’ll gain 2 as part of an alchemical book that you just get to have as part of your your character at 1st Level and you will gain two based on your choice of subclass or research fields.
In addition to these 8 formulas and your ability to craft those formulas just like anyone else can craft, as an Alchemist you have an edge called Advanced Alchemy and that plays on these things called Infused Reagents. The reagents are basically like your ingredients and every day you get to infuse or put some sort of power into otherwise mundane ingredients and use those ingredients to craft concoctions at the beginning of your day as part of your daily preparations. They do not have to submit to the normal rules of cost in terms of gold or time so whereas normally it might take you several days to craft a few batches of potions to several weeks to craft multiple batches every morning, you get guaranteed as long as you have access to your alchemical tools or laboratory, you’re going to be able to start with a number of ingredients equal to your character Level plus your Intelligence Modifier.
For each of those infused reagents you can create one concoction and so you can have a pretty wide array array of chemical items even if you haven’t had a lot of downtime in a while. Of course having downtime is all the better because you can have all these as long as you want. Now those infuse reagents are a little different than normal alchemy which stays good for a long time. As I said, infused reagents are only good that day and you can do two things if you can craft in the morning. Or you have something throughout the day you can save some of those reagents as part of your prep process leave a few aside and then throughout your day.
You can do something called Quick Alchemy which takes a single action. You have access to your tools again but you can actually throw together a potion on the fly to use right then. And you have to use it right then, because unlike your options you make at the beginning of the day that are good until you make preparations again, these are only good until the beginning of your next turn. Of course there are feats to extend that and make that a little better but that’s sort of the drawback. It’s sort of this walking thin line between a prepared caster and spontaneous caster that really can allow an Alchemist in the right moments to be very clutch if you realize that there’s a weakness on an enemy or you realize that you just didn’t bring something to the table today, that’s not necessarily a problem, there’s no there’s no finality to that as long as you have some leftover reagents.
The flipside is that you have to use them right then so if something were to change in the middle of your turn, for example, you have to use an interaction to throw a bomb, any number of things could happen that could cause an interrupt to that action and that means you potentially are losing that reagent completely. One of the big advantages as a support class versus say a traditional caster is the Alchemist in the beginning of the day can give buffs and potions and elixirs and things to the party so that the Alchemist in battle or in a clutch moment doesn’t have to spend his own or her own actions to buff the party but rather can rely on the party to police their buffs themselves or their healing themselves to a degree. But if you’re relying completely on Quick Alchemy, that’s out the window because you’re gonna do it all right then.
Sub Classes for the Alchemist
Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class has three subclasses right now but the Advanced Player’s Guide will most likely add another or at least expand on some other options.
You have the Bomber and they excel in creating explosives and incendiary devices. Those would include pretty much all the basic elements; electricity, fire, acid, all the different types of damage you’re gonna be looking for with spells, there’s an alchemical version. In addition to flat damage, and in a nice single target with a little bit of splash damage to the side, they have persistent damage or other lasting effects so having a pretty reliable way to get persistent damage or other debuffs is very cool.
It’s really the big strength of the class in addition to something like Quick Alchem being able to play into a weakness you’ve just discovered mid-fight. The fact that you can also potentially cause enemies to be flat-footed just because you landed a ranged attack with your bomb, that’s a very big deal to a party; especially when fighting more powerful enemies.
As your Bomber research field advances you’re going to be able to create, basically for free, some of the weaker versions of some of your explosives. Which may not sound that exciting but if the idea is you’re trying to make sure that you’ve got the tools you need in case you run into something that’s very weak to say, electricity damage or acid damage, it’s a great way to make sure that you have several options in the tank because sometimes yeah a few extra dice might be nice for the higher level potion but if something’s got a weakness to say 5, 10, or 15, that makes up for it being a few dice weaker than your best possible option to just have a few freebies sitting around of the lower levels. So, definitely not as bad as it may sound given that they have to be the lesser and then the moderate so don’t don’t sleep on those options. I’ve seen running my games, so far weakness in this game is a very big deal and sometimes it is the best and most surefire way to make sure you’re killing something is to make sure you’re hitting with the right kind of damage and fights can go very differently if you don’t have that option.
The second of the research fields is the Chirurgeon. It looks strange on paper, it’s sort of rhymes with surgeon (chi·rur·geon | \ kī-ˈrər-jən \). It is a healer support focused role subclass within the Alchemist. It’s going to learn some free elixirs at low level and it’s going to be able to craft anti-plague and antidotes for functionally free. As it advances, Level 13 you’re going to be able to – anytime you use quick alchemy to make an elixir of life healing potion let’s the healing potion that Alchemists get the healing is maximized, so it means you don’t roll dice. It’s just if it would be 4D6, it’s just 24 healing plus whatever bonus you have. So that’s a big deal, that’s pretty strong. Is it as good as a cleric? No, definitely not. The healing font is a very big thing. But it’s pretty effective in terms of in terms of not having something ready to go and then suddenly having something ready to go but the reality is, a Chirurgeon, you’re probably gonna have a lot of healing potions already but this really allows you to be more versatile throughout your day by getting more effect when you are creating your healing potions on the fly.
The third subclass for Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class in the core book is the mutagenesis and the Mutagenist. Very much the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sort of character. Though not necessarily always buffing just physical stats and abilities, sometimes mental as well, silver tongued for example, but it’s really about buffing yourself and giving yourself edges on skill checks and in combat. Think of it as a nice group of buffs. But they do have drawbacks, so it’s sort of like a big varied list of unique and quirky barbarian rages that you can sort of go into again with very eclectic buffs and debuffs attached to them.
What’s cool there is you can eventually get some of those lesser buffs free with your research field .You can also gain an ability (this is from the Errata, this wasn’t in the core rule book. This was added later. In the first printing there was an obsolete benefit that doesn’t really apply the way the final rule book shook out. Something left over from the play test I believe and so when they realized it didn’t do anything, they quickly, with the first batch of Errata they added) and its Mutagenic Flashback. And what that allows you to do is any of your mutagens you’ve used throughout your day, you can pick one of them, and as a free action once per day, you can come under the effects of that mutagen again for a full minute. That’s pretty strong and pretty cool and it’s definitely something that can get you out of a jam.
The big ticket thing with the mutagen’s path is you can eventually have the ability to be under the effects of two mutagens at once. Normally if you’re already under the effect of a mutagen and you take a mutagen, it will force the other one out. Now you can have two of them active at once and that is pretty strong to say the least. I don’t believe that you can stack two of the same mutagen but you can get one for mobility and one for strength so you can really become a pretty mobile skirmisher if you want and that’s really where the Mutagenist is sort of designed to be is sort of this offtank, you get to be the the rogue sort of skill monkey character and then when fight breaks out, you can actually move to the front lines and be relatively effective.
As we’ve said before, because your attacks are not that high they’ll never get past Expert and because your defenses, while they do go all the way up to Master, they do it a bit slower than most frontline characters. It may not always be the best option to run in and be the bruiser and so your mileage definitely may vary on that but it’s very much like the barbarian where the barbarian is very much a class that is sort of a physical glass cannon. They look like they’re really tough they’ve got all this HP they’ve got really good Fortitude Saves. They get damage reduction and temporary HP, but they need all of that because they’re AC is so bad they are likely going to take those hits so they’re definitely not one of the more accurate attackers either.
The Mutagenist Alchemist is really sort of aiming for that niche as well. The difference is that when barbarians are not in rage, he’s just a worse fighter. When the Mutagenist Alchemist is not under a mutagen, he’s just a worse rogue. But again, you have the versatility there where you can also still have those bombs and things like that.
So what sorts of things can you make with alchemy beyond the elixirs and the bombs and the mutagens? Right now there’s really only tools. You can make things like sticky glue stuff, like some sort of pseudo pseudo trap type items as well as poisons. We do expect to see some expansions in what’s available but even right now there’s probably over 100 that are available. It’s a pretty wide range of things that you can make. Everything from removing status effects to buffing yourself or allies, healing allies, debuffing enemies, and of course, the wonderful explosives.
Feats for the Alchemist
That really just leaves us with the Feats for the Alchemist and the feats are relatively varied.
You have options called Additives which function very much like meta magic in that you can apply them to alchemy that you’re throwing together with your Quick Alchemy to add additional effects. Maybe so that your bomb, in addition to doing its elemental damage, also creates a smoke cloud. Great for escape or just preventing enemies for making range attacks. In addition, there are things where you can mix two elixirs so that you can give an ally a really good healing and maybe remove disease sort of thing and that’s really cool. That’s a wonderful option there and it’s really kind of needed because whereas a spellcaster, you’re always getting new and exciting and strange ways to use spells. With the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class, you’re functionally, with a few exceptions, just heightening the same spells as your as your level increases. And that’s something, if you’re new to the system, once we get a caster video up that’ll make it a little more sense when I talk about heightening and things like that.
It’s nice that you have those options there and there’s some other feats as well that will boost some that don’t that aren’t considered additive. But it would have been kind of nice – and hopefully as more come out with the APG- more options for alchemical crafting come out, more formulas, because it doesn’t always feel great to use a feat to do something that you feel like is just keeping up with what another base class can do without the feat so I’m a little iffy there on how I feel about that.
As far as actual in-battle, they’re great. You’re gonna love using them but you don’t want to see a feat tax, especially Pathfinder Second Edition has done a really good job of moving away from feat taxes so it’s a little strange how prevalent they are in The Alchemist.
In addition to Additives you have options to do some more stuff like Gain a Familiar, improve poison resistance, up to and including replicating actual magical potions that would normally require magical crafting and access to spells, as well as the ability to raise the dead. So a lot of great feats in there for the Alchemist. You can really hone in on a type of play that appeals to you which is one of the good things about the classes. It’s extremely versatile and some of the other abilities you have prolong certain alchemical effects that you have in place. So if you have a play style or something that you found your party really needs, you can really double down on a lot of those things, which is what you want to see with feats.
Pro’s/Con’s of the Alchemist
So overall, let’s talk Pros and Cons and the overview on the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class. I do want to start by saying that in my experience so far, I’m pretty down on the Alchemist here after doing this video. I haven’t played one myself yet but I have in reading through the Alchemists I have seen a whole lot of things that make me sort of scratch my head, design-wise. But I will say that I am a player actually in a party and to be fair, it’s a party where we have no casters. We just have an Alchemist but they feel like a superhero compared to us. We’re all martial characters, and yeah part of the setting and the flavor there’s no casters, so this Alchemist is our only source of elemental damage, our only source of healing besides medicine checks. Soo in a pinch, he’s gotten us out of a lot of really dire circumstances. So take the criticism for the class with a big grain of salt.
I really do believe that this is a class that can fill any role. It’s a great pinch-hitter and a great way to fill pretty much any gap in your party composition, even if there’s multiple gaps. Is it always the best option for a role? I would say almost never. But the fact they can versatile adjust to changing situations a party needs makes them a very clutch addition and they are a lot more than their numbers make it look like they are.
So the Pro’s. It is a great skill monkey. It’s going to be passing knowledge checks very regularly. There are only two classes in the core book that focus on intelligence; the other one is wizard. If you don’t have a wizard in your party, the Alchemist is going to have probably the most languages available and unless you have a Rogue. It’s going to have the most skills that it’s Trained in it’s also going to be a tremendous crafter and that doesn’t just mean it’s alchemy. Because of the way that crafting works in second edition, that means your Alchemist is most likely going to be able to keep your fighters and champions shields repaired and any number of utility things like that so in that way, they are a wonderful addition to a group.
Additionally with their functionally creating free potions everyday, that means you’re not going to be spending as much money on potions which can become expensive very quickly because you’re going to be able to hand a few out at the beginning of a fight. With the way that medicine checks and things like that work in the second edition there’s going to be plenty of options for out of combat healing but only the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class really has a great go-to option to hand healing to an ally that they can pull the trigger on at any point throughout the day, even if the party is separated and that’s really cool.
Finally, another big Pro for the Alchemist is pretty reliable access to a wide variety of debuffs and persistent damage. While a lot of classes can get access to it, the rogue especially with debilitating strike, and of course spellcasters are going to have to know in advance what kind of debuff they want to bring to the table. But again, because of the way the infused reagents and the quick alchemy works, just that ability to be versatile and clutch with both your damage types for weaknesses as well as your debuffs and persistent damages can really make for a very bad day for your bad guys.
So the cons for the Alchemist. The first biggest one is that the Alchemist is the only class in the game that can’t start with an 18 in its primary attack stat. Most spellcasters spell attacks are going to be based on their at their highest stat, but the Alchemist, while they’re crafting is intelligence based, throwing bombs and fighting and melee as a Chirurgeon are not so you’re going to be a little bit behind in terms of attack and that is exacerbated by the fact that you never get past Expert in any of your attacks.
This means that as an Alchemist, you will probably be missing big bads a lot. The good news is, you do have some sort of chip damage and that even a missed target with a bomb is going to take some damage. There’s gonna be a lot of situations where the best thing for you to do is going to be to try to buff an ally or yourself instead of being offensive which again considering the two of the Alchemist subclasses right now our focus on offense, it can be a little unsatisfying and it definitely feels like a odd choice.
On that subject, in looking through, I realized the Alchemist is the only class in the core Handbook that does not reach legendary status on anything besides skill checks so that’s definitely odd. I mean you have legendary perception in Rogues and Rangers. You have legendary defense in Monks and Champions, Legendary attacks in Fighters, Legendary Fortitude Saves in Barbarians, and Legendary spell casting in all the spell casters so it’s it’s pretty weird they don’t have like a lot of Mastery Master proficiencies to make up for it/
I think it really is a testament to how versatile the class is that it can still be viable without anything that it’s the best at. But it means that you’re going to have a character that will very rarely be getting or will not regularly be getting the highest numbers and so if that’s something that’s important to you, this may not be the class for you.
Overall I’m coming down on the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class as being possibly the weakest class in the book but also definitely the most versatile. It’s not going to shine a lot of times, especially in a varied party but in a party that doesn’t have a full coverage (in the sense of it’s missing a dedicated healer or caster) it can really do a great job fill in those gaps. It’s extremely versatile. The Quick Alchemy, I keep coming back to, but the ability to as soon as you find out something has a weakness to an element to be able to throw together some options to hit that damage type or cause a particular debuff that some some other characters harebrained scheme can go off, it’s a tremendous support class. And it’s true it’s a very clutch hail-mary sort of class when it works it really works but it’s just like I said it’s not the most flashy it’s not the best anyone roll. I do think there’s certain players that would get a lot out of it if you’re trying to do like an introduction to spellcasting, it can kind of give you that spellcaster feel, managing a subsystem, sort of keeping back for the most part and providing utility and different damage types to the party. Anybody that likes a support role, anybody that doesn’t mind not being the big focal point superhero every combat. That doesn’t mean you never will be, it just means that whereas other classes get legendary proficiency and things and you don’t, so very rarely be rolling the highest on checks but with all those proficiencies in skills and colleges and things you will not feel useless.
That’s pretty much the Pathfinder 2e Alchemist Class. It’s the switch hitter of the game I think it’s very rogue like in that quality and while not the strongest, it’s definitely not to be just left on the shelf. Hopefully the Advanced Player’s Guide that’s coming out, we’ll see an additional subclass. I don’t really know what that could be, maybe a poisoner. They said no black powder in this book but I would have loved something in the black powder vein. Something I think you could make, a very unique sort of demolition man. Maybe you’re based on traps versus bombs of the Bomber sort of thing. You can also have poison or that kind of character. I don’t know, maybe we’ll see something really weird. Either way we’ll certainly have a lot of lot more feats to flesh out the class. Hopefully things that feel a little more impactful than the than the minor buffs that are that dominating the list right now and I’m certain that we’re going to see loads more alchemical formulas so that on its own is going to be a big boost to the class and its viability in more roles. The more options you have, especially the way that you can tap into those options even when you didn’t expect to that day, it’s just gonna be all the better for the Alchemists. So hopefully we’ll see the Advanced Player’s Guide add some more new interesting options but definitely still good as it is.