Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Published Work

For the past few months, my focus has primarily been on publishing work with third party publishers. If you are interested in my work, here is my credit list under the name Jeff Gomez.

Published by Zenith Games

Author & DeveloperDragons Are Above My Pay Grade (Adventure, 12k wrd), Zenith Games, 4/11/2016

Author & DeveloperJacob’s Tower, Levels 1-13 (Adventure, 80k wrd), Zenith Games, 1/21/2015


Published

AuthorHow to Run a Successful Festival (GM Tips, 1.5k word), TRAILseeker, 4/23/2016

AuthorPlayable Race: Grindylow (Race, 1.5k wrd), TRAILseeker, 3/10/2016

Editor, Arcana, Western Reaches, (Setting, 90k wrd), Avalon Games, 2/10/2016

AuthorSage (Character Class, 5k wrd), Little Red Goblin Games, 2/1/2016

Contributing AuthorAventyr Bestiary, (Monsters, 1k wrd), Adventure A Week, 1/4/2016

Editor, Comic Book Adventures, Mission Book 6 (Adventure, 8k wrd), Avalon Games, 12/5/2015

Editor, Comic Book Adventures, Mission Book 5 (Adventure, 23k wrd), Avalon Games, 11/1/2015

AuthorDark Paris (Setting, 11k wrd), Avalon Games, 10/11/2015

Editor, Comic Book Adventures, Mission Book 4 (Adventure, 27k wrd), Avalon Games, 10/4/2015

Editor, Nova Blast Star Fighter, Avalon Mini-Game #168 (Ruleset, 6k wrd), Avalon Games, 9/6/2015

Editor, Comic Book Adventures, Mission Book 3 (Adventure, 20k wrd), Avalon Games, 9/1/2015

Editor, Comic Book Adventures, Mission Book 2 (Adventure, 30k wrd), Avalon Games, 8/2/2015

AuthorSir Reginald Lichlyter's Guide to Magical Beers, Tankards, and other Inebrious Items (Items & Fluff, 15k wrd), Fat Goblin Games, 8/1/2015

EditorHeroes Wear Masks, Mission Book 1 (Adventure, 32k wrd), Avalon Games, 6/30/2015

AuthorCall to Arms: Powders and Dust (Items & Fluff, 12k wrd), Fat Goblin Games, 6/23/2015

Contributing AuthorWinged Cavalry (Character Class, 2k wrd), Flaming Crab Games, 6/6/2015

AuthorGregor’s Portrait (Adventure, 2k wrd), Avalon Games, 4/26/2015

Contributing Author, Call to Arms: 10 Foot Pole (Items & Fluff, 1k wrd), Fat Goblin Games, 3/29/2015

Editor, Infinite Futures 2.0 (Alternate Pathfinder Ruleset/Setting, 100k wrd), Avalon Games, 3/1/2015

Author, Ruins of Gilead (Adventure, 15k wrd), Adventure a Week, 2/23/2015

Author, Monster Hunter’s Guide to Vampires (Adventures/Sourcebook, 15k wrd), Avalon Games, 1/18/2015

In Production

Product Line Manager/Author, Scorched Earth Core Rulebook (Ruleset, 60k wrd), Avalon Games, In Production

Product Line Manager/Author, Scorched Earth Campaign Setting (Setting/Bestiary, 40k wrd), Avalon Games, In Production

Co-Designer/DeveloperSteampunk Musha (Setting/Alt Rulset, 200k+ wrd), Fat Goblin Games, In Production

Design/DevelopmentThe Mistfall Refuge (Location, 3.5k wrd), Raging Swan Press, In Production

Author, A Tale of Two War Camps (Adventure, 6k wrd), Louis Porter Jr. Design, In Production

Author, Village Backdrop: Umelas (Setting, 5k wrd), Raging Swan Press, In Production

Co-Author, Smuggler's Run (Adventure, 4k wrd) Chaos Trip Studios, In Production

Contributing Author, Foes of Porphyra: Giants (NPC, 5k wrd), Purple Duck Games, In Production

Contributing Author, GM's Miscellany: 20 Things II (GM Aid, .5k wrd), Raging Swan Press, In Production

If you have an interesting product that you would like me to work on, I'd be happy to hear it.  Shoot me an e-mail at zenithgames.blog@gmail.com 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Jacob's Tower: How To Run



Jacob’s Tower is the perfect fast paced dungeon crawl for the Pathfinder RPG. Regardless of your world, plot, or players, it is easily run in any campaign or as a megadungeon.

The dungeon is designed to test a party’s versatility and flexibility, utilizing every skill and creature type in the book over every three Levels. It both introduces new players to the wonders of Pathfinder and gives experienced players a non-traditional setting in which to test their skills.

Each Level of Jacob's Tower corresponds to the Average Party level designed to play it. Level 1 is designed for characters of level 1, Level 2 is designed for characters of level 2, Level 3 is designed for characters of level 3, and so on. Each Level can be easily brought into your campaign at the appropriate party level, either for a fun break or a real, plot relevant dungeon.

Alternatively, the entire Tower can be played one Level after another. Such an experience is an excellent chance to blow off some steam and test the player's Pathfinder chops. If you choose to run Jacob's Tower in this way, our heroes gain an addition bit of gold every level to make up for the quick leveling, as indicated at the end of the text.

Regardless of performance or enemies killed, players will receive a set amount of experience points for completing a Level as indicated at the start of the level. Some monsters exist only as deterrents, and the PCs should know they will get the same amount of experience points if they avoid the monster or kill it. However, the treasure that they get is entirely dependent on what they actually pick up.

Adjusting Difficulty: Jacob's Tower is made for an average party of 3 and a half characters. However, all parties are very different, and adjusting difficulty is very easy.

If you have more than four characters, or if your characters are well built, add the advanced template to all enemies.  This is essentially +2 to AC, attack, damage, saves, and DCs.  Additionally, add +2 to all skill checks in the dungeon.  If they are still breezing through encounters, you can add it again, or double the hit points of enemies.

If you are only playing with one or two characters, or your players are still coming to grips with the system, then adjusting is even easier.  Simply play the levels at a higher level than designated.  Start your characters at character level 2 for Level 1, and advance them such that they are consistently one above level at all times.


Nine and the Inter-Dimensional Bar Stop

Between each level, our heroes find themselves transported to a strange, extra-dimensional inn. The Inn is simple, clean, brightly lit, and pleasant, the type of Inn you might find in a quaint mountain village. However, there are no windows to the outside world, and all doors lead in short dimensional hops to other parts of the inn. A single black wooden door in the downstairs bar does not open at all. It leads to level 13 and will not open until our heroes get there.

The downstairs bar is devoid of other patrons, populated only by stools, tables, mugs, and large barrels of delicious beer and wine from around the world (including the characters' favorites). A short flight of stairs leads to a narrow corridor from which branch the characters’ rooms. Each room is simple, but well suited to its occupant. A druid’s room might have a banzai plant, a wizard’s room might have a smattering of old books, and a paladin’s room might have a small alter to his god.

Along the narrow upstairs corridor are thirteen paintings that represent the thirteen levels of Jacob’s Tower. They depict, in order:

(1) A large tan block of stone flanked by torches.

(2) A five headed hydra in a glass cage.

(3) A ghostly figure at the end of a feast laden table.

(4) A cell door with a silver key.

(5) A tall block of obsidian inlaid with purple runes.

(6) An advancing wall with protruding spikes.

(7) A gothic cathedral against a bloody sunset.

(8) A wall of purple shimmering force between two black pillars.

(9) A campfire in a dark forest.

(10) A corpse in a black void.

(11) An ornate chandelier.

(12) A dusty coliseum.

(13) Finally, a portrait of a handsome young man with blonde hair, a razor sharp jaw line, and piercing silver eyes. If asked, Nine will reveal that this is Jacob.

The Inn is filled with dozens of identical winged humans known only as "Nine." Nine is the everyman here, full time bartender, shopkeep, blackmith, entertainment, and conversationalist. Nine will happily buy anything the heroes have, and sell any item they require, generating the products out of thin air. He also provides the characters with rooms to sleep in, free of charge.

Nine is charismatic and pleasant to talk to. Though not a show off, he thoroughly enjoys impressing adventurers with his skills and magical abilities.

Nine is well aware that he is an extra-dimensional, magical construct and is very happy to serve Jacob. Nine is the 9th in a line of similar extra-dimensional magical constructs made by Jacob. Each in turn has been retired and replaced with more efficient models, but through the process of incremental improvements Nine appears to be at the pinnacle of Jacob’s craft.

Nine, and the constructs before him, are powered by the souls of adventurers who have died within the tower. If a PC dies within the tower, some of his ticks and oddities may manifest themselves subtly in Nine.

If asked about Jacob, or the purpose of the tower, Nine will be obtuse. He will explain that Jacob is a pleasant and powerful sorcerer, and though although Nine does not know the true purpose of the tower he can only assume Jacob built it with the best of intentions.

At least, that is the explanation that Nine gives as to his own existence, Jacob, and the tower. The true nature of Nine is revealed in level 13, at the end of Jacob’s Tower.

Shortly before going to sleep each night, our heroes will level up and be able to prepare any spells. They will have dreamless sleep, then wake up on the stairs to the next level.

Level 1: Classic - A warm up romp featuring traps, haunts, undead, animals, and a gambit of lesser used skills.

Level 2: Marble and Glass - The PC's both ambush and get ambushed in semi-traditional fights against the backdrop of riddles and a caged beast far above their pay grade.

Level 3: Corridors and Chasms - A sprawling maze of tight hallways and pits with four ghosts to test of the social skills.

Level 4: Bernard's Prison - Our heroes find themselves locked in a strange prison, and must make their way throughout the level with minimal gear.

Level 5: Runewall - An obsidian maze set in a starry abyss, characters will face a number of magical maladies, such as having their minds switched with fellow adventurers and being teleported to random squares.

Level 6: Gauntlet - A relentless wall of spikes pushes the party through a gauntlet of traps, encounters, enemies, and challenges.  This level is brutal, deadly, and unyielding.  Either our heroes will make it - or they won't.

Level 7: Gothic - A horror themed level set in the massive Hellbrooke cathedral, our heroes must gather gory ingredients for the resurrection of a vampire lord.

Level 8: Planar - An exploration of the different planes and their effects on adventuring, our heroes must hop between planes to brave flame, sea, wild magic, righteous angels, negative energy, and other dangers before fighting four huge elementals.

Level 9: Campfire - A significant departure from the stereotypical dungeon crawl, our heroes must keep a fire burning over a 24 hour period in a large outdoor environment while battling the elements and monsters alike.

Level 10: Resurrection - Stuck inside the corpse of a massive god, our heroes must follow the orders of a desperate spirit to bring his master back to life.

Level 11: Mansion - A Victorian style Mansion filled with ghosts, ghouls, traps and horrifying haunts, this level is sure to unnerve your heroes as they proceed from room to room.

Level 12: Arena - The charismatic but amorphous Ringleader guides our heroes through deadly combats and challenges as they try to win the favor of a deafening crowd.

Level 13: Sorcerer - The final level of Jacob's Tower, Sorcerer, features a three part battle with Jacob himself.  It also describes the rewards upon completion of the dungeon, explains the secret purpose of the tower, and reveals the true identity of Nine.  Level 13 is only available with the purchase of the 1-13 package below.

You may purchase printable and fully illustrated PDFs of the 152 page entire dungeon, including the secret final level only available in the PDF, here for $9.99.

Jacob's Tower, Levels 1 - 13 ($9.99)

Dragons are Above My Pay Grade!


5/5 - N. Jolly
"Definitely worth checking out ... I seriously enjoyed it"

A non-linear search for hidden artifacts that culminates in an attack on a huge red dragon, Dragons are Above My Pay Grade provides heroes with an electrifying start to their careers.  Who doesn’t want to fight a dragon, even if it is above your pay grade?

Dragons are Above My Pay Grade is an adventure for 3 – 6 first level PCs. It is 23 pages long, fully illustrated and in color, and only $3.99.

Sunstone Island seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Idyllic weather, pleasant beaches, docile animals, and, most importantly, a mine absolutely bursting with gold.  Peter Grimples, owner of the Grimples Mining Corporation, was so enthusiastic to exploit these virgin resources that he personally headed the mining colony on this remote island.

The volcano?  Looks pretty quiet.  The tribe of kobolds?  Nothing a group of wide-eyed heroes can’t handle.

That is, until the kobolds resurrect the red dragon Varaug onto the island.  With reinforcements weeks away, suddenly the cheapest heroes money can buy don’t seem quite up to the task.
To combat this sudden and unexpected threat, the heroes must follow in the footsteps of the legendary native A’uapa who slew Varaug many centuries ago.  Following the instructions of a turncoat kobold who would like nothing more than the death of the merciless dragon, the heroes collect the dragon-slaying tools of A’uapa hidden across Sunstone Island.  These poisons, blessings, spells, and weapons are heavily guarded, sequestered in dungeons or protected by kobolds.  As the heroes traverse the island, following clues, unlocking riddles, and completing challenges, their already formidable adversary grows stronger and the colony town that they call home grows weaker.

Can the heroes collect enough dragon-slaying weapons to defeat Varaug before he destroys the mining colony along with any chance of future employment?  How could the party’s first contract go so wrong?

Dragons Are above My Pay Grade features a mining town, a fleshed out island with wild beasts and tropical hazards, a range of mini-dungeons and challenges,  and a host of original enemies, spells, poisons, items, and traps.  And, of course, the opportunity for level 1 character to face a red wyrm!


$3.99

Praise for Dragons are Above My Pay Grade!

5/5
"Dragons are above my pay grade feels like it could be the great beginning of a dragon slaying campaign, giving the players a very nice taste of taking on one of the biggest and baddest beasties in the bestiary. It'd be a great way to jump into things and ask your party 'Hey, you wanna kill a dragon today?'" - N. Jolly



Friday, December 11, 2015

Mortar (Alchemist Build)

The Mortar
Hobgoblin Alchemist (Grenadier)
Boom!


Bombs, bombs, and more bombs. Bombs to kill enemies, bombs to stun enemies, bombs to glue enemies in place. The Mortar focuses on throwing as many bombs as effectively as possible, and will take the hobgoblin favored class bonus of ½ more bomb damage per level.

The Mortar has a distant secondary role as an archer or tank.  When he runs out of bombs, he either uses his longbow in conjunction with his alchemical weapons ability, or he runs in to take some hits.  Or both.

Feats/Discoveries

1: Point Blank Shot, Longbow Proficiency from Grenadier Archetype
2: Precise Bombs from Grenadier Archetype, Frost Bomb
3: Precise Shot
4: Tanglefoot Bomb
5: Improved Initiative
6: Tumor Familiar (Greensting Scorpion for +4 Int)
7: Rapid Shot
8: Fast Bombs
9:  Two-weapon fighting
10: Confusion Bomb
11: Extra Discovery: Blinding Bomb
12: Cursed Bomb
13: Extra Discovery: Preserve Organs
14: Mummification
15: Extra Discovery: Sunlight Bomb
16: Infusion
17: Die for Your Master
18: Force Bomb
19: Iron Will
20: Spontaneous Healing, Healing Touch, Awakened Intelligence


Attributes

Intelligence is important for bombs and alchemist goodies, Dex is important for throwing.  Con is important for staying alive, while Strength and Charisma are two clear dump stats. Int>Dex>Con>Wis>Str>Cha

15 Point Buy
STR: 8
DEX: 14 (12+2)
CON: 14 (12+2)
INT: 18
WIS: 8
CHA: 8

20 Point Buy
STR: 8
DEX: 16 (14+2)
CON: 14 (12+2)
INT: 18
WIS: 10
CHA: 8

25 Point Buy
STR: 10
DEX: 16 (14+2)
CON: 16 (14+2)
INT: 18
WIS: 10
CHA: 8

Attribute increases:  Boost Int, all the way.


Traits
Firebug: +1 attack bonus with splash weapons and bombs
Focused Burn: +1 damage per 2d6 with bombs

At every level our alternate favored class bonus should be +1/2 to the number of bombs per day you can create.


Suggested Gear

Obviously we want items that will boost intelligence and dexterity.  We can save money by not spending too much money on weapons.

Importantly, we also want to improve our will save as much as possible.  Anything that boosts our save against mind-effecting, or sleep, or fear will also be helpful.  Spend all that extra money on will-boosting items.


Extracts

Refer to this guide for suggested extracts - We don't have infusion, so anything that buffs our tanking ability or will save helps.


Tactics

Get in there and bomb! Use a variety of different kinds of bomb to drop different status ailments on dudes.  Try not to blow your load all at once, and feel free to stick with your highest iterative.


What the Build Looks Like at... 

This assumes a 20 point buy and no magic items. I’m going to assume point blank shot and dexterity mutagen.

Level 1: Attacks at +7 for 1d6+5 damage, so we are already hitting almost everything. 2 level 1 extracts. 5 bombs a day at DC 14.  8 skill points. 10hp, AC 20/14/16.  Saves +4/+6/-2

Level 4: Attacks at +10 for 2d6+6 damage, with the option to go cold damage and staggered or tanglefoot. 10 bombs a day at DC 16, so you'll struggle to use them all. 2 level 1 extracts. 5 bombs a day at DC 14.  32 skill points. 31hp, AC 20/14/16.  Saves +6/+8/-1.

Level 8: With fast bombs the mortar is now almost fully online.  Attacks at +11/+11/+6 for 4d6+7 damage. 2 level 1 extracts. Bombs can either do cold damage and stagger or tanglefoot. 17 bombs a day at DC 19.  You are going to struggle to use all your bombs. Initiative is suddenly at +12, so we can start (and end), many encounters. 72 skill points. 59hp, AC 20/14/16.  Saves +8/+10/+0.  Will save is still our weak point, but hopefully we can get some magic items to help with that.

Level 12: With TWF and a raft of options, we are fully online.  Attacks at +12/+12/+12/+7 for 6d6+8 damage, but you only need feel compelled to use the +12 options (which are going to hit nearly everything at this level.  Bombs can do cold damage and stagger, tanglefoot, confuse for 12 rounds, blind, or curse. Plenty of options across all saves.  Criticals automatically stagger enemies.  We have 23 bombs a day, with a DC 21 save.  7 level 1 extracts, 6 level 2, 5 level 3, and 4 level 4. 108 skill points.  87 hp, 20/14/16 AC.  +10/+12/+2 saves. (Average DPR is 82, with a nearly 20% chance of an auto stagger)

Level 16: We have just become a lot harder to kill, and we've gained infusion.  Attacks at +15/+15/+15/+10/+5 for 8d6+11 damage (8d6+27 against undead, oozes, and others).  Bombs can do cold damage and stagger, tanglefoot, confuse, blind, or curse.  Criticals automatically stagger enemies. We are immune to cold, nonlethal, paralysis, and sleep, and we have the fortification ability. 7 level 1 extracts, 7 level 2, 6 level 3, 5 level 4, 4 level 5, 2 level 6.  160 skill points. 30 bombs a day with a DC 24.  Throw them with abandon. 115 hp, 20/14/16 AC.  saves +12/+14/+3.

Level 20: And now we are really incredibly difficult to kill.  Attacks at +18/+18/+18/+13/+8 for 10d6+13 damage (10d6+33 against undead, oozes, and others). Bombs can do everything they could before, and we can also do force damage and knock enemies prone.  We can save ourselves from death by sacrificing our familiar, and we can heal 100 hp per day as if we have fast healing 5. 37 bombs a day with DC 27. 7 level 1 extracts, 7 level 2, 7 level 3, 6 level 4, 6 level 5, 6 level 6. 220 skill points.  143 hp.  20/14/16 AC.  Saves +14/+16/+6.




Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dissector (Alchemist Build)

Dissector
Human Alchemist (Beastmorph/Vivisectionist)
Slice and dice, rend and bend.  Who needs bombs?


The vivisectionist alchemist, all hulked out on mutagens and buffs, can make a frightening and terribly effective melee characters.  He can out utility the rogue, lay down a ton of hurt, trip and pounce, and still have plenty of tricks left up his sleeve.

Attributes
Strength > Intelligence > Dexterity/Constitution > Wisdom > Charisma

Strength is our number one concern, followed closely by intelligence. Dexterity and Constitution help keep us alive.  Wisdom gives us a will save, but not much else. Charisma is a comfortable dump stat.

15 Point Buy
Str: 18 (16+2)
Dex: 12
Con: 12
Int: 15
Wis: 8
Cha: 7

20 Point Buy
Str: 18 (16+2)
Dex: 14
Con: 14
Int: 14
Wis: 9
Cha: 7

25 Point Buy
Str: 18 (16+2)
Dex: 14
Con: 14
Int: 16
Wis: 9
Cha: 7

Attribute bonuses go into Strength.  However, make sure that Intelligence keeps pace with your Extract level as well.

Traits

Good old Reactionary and Carefully Hidden give us +2 initiative and +1 Will respectively.


Feats/Discoveries

1: Dodge & Toughness
2: Feral Mutagen
3: Extra Discovery: Tumor Familiar (Turtle for +1 AC)
4: Spontaneous Healing
5: Iron Will
6: Lingering Spirit
7: Power Attack
8: Preserve Organs
9: Die for your Master
10: Mummification
11: Extra Discovery: Crippling Strike
12: Greater Mutagen
13: Improved Initiative
14: Preserve Organs
15: Improved Iron Will
16: Grand Mutagen
17: Combat Reflexes
18: Elixir of Life
19: Weapon Focus (Claw)
20: Preserve Organs, Dilution, True Mutagen


Extracts
We shall be self buffing a lot.  Notable Extracts include: Shield, Enlarge Person, Long Arm, Blur, Displacement, Fly, Channel Vigor, Heroism, Ablative Barrier, Greater Invisibility, Greater False Life,  Freedom of Movement, Overland Flight, Heal, True Seeing, and Giant Form I.


Items

Strength, AC, getting natural attacks, and increasing Will are your highest priorities.  To that end, a belt of strength, strong armor, and a cloak of resistance are great.  Helm of the Mammoth Lord is absolutely key, as it provides a gore attack to add to the natural attack nonsense.


What the Build looks like at...
Keep in mind that the below include mutagen, but do not include any extracts.  At higher levels, extracts such as Greater Invisibility,  Displacement, and Giant form will double the build's damage and survivability.

Level 1: At level 1, the dissector is more tank than anything else.  We attack with a spear at +5 for d8+7 (x3) damage.  1d6 sneak attack.  We wear a chain shirt for 19 AC, and has 14 hp.  Not too bad for a spell caster.  We've also got 7 skill points and saves of 4/4/0.
We can buff with Shield, Enlarge Person, and Long Arm.

Level 4:  With Feral Mutagen, we now attack with a bite at +8 for 1d8+5 (x2) and two claws at +8 for 1d6 + 5.  2d6 sneak attack.  Our AC is 20, and we have 39hp, though it is effectively 49 with spontaneous healing. While mutagened, we have dark vision or scent. We also have a tumor familiar. We have 28 skill points, and our saves are +6/+6/+1.
We can buff with blur.

Level 8:  With power attack, we now attack with bite at +10 for 1d8+10 and two claws at +10 for 1d6 +10.  4d6 sneak attack. 75 hp, though Spontaneous Healing essentially adds 20hp, lingering spirit means we can go down to -24, and preserve organs means we have a 25% chance of negating sneak attack or a crit.  We have 56 skill points, and saves of +8/+8/+4.
Our mutagen can give us swim, flight, and dark vision, among other things.
We can cast 5 level 1s, 5 level 2s, and 2 level 3s.  We have added Displacement, Fly, Channel Vigor, and Heroism to our repertoire.

Level 12:  A lot happened in the last four levels.  Die for your Master means we get yet another lease on life, and Mummification makes us immune to cold, nonlethal, paralysis and sleep.  Our initiative has also increased to +8.
We now attack at +13 for 1d8+13, and two claws at +13 for 1d6 + 13.  We have pounce and trip at +13 CMB.  Sneak attack is 6d6 and two Strength damage from crippling strike.
Our hp is 135, with Spontaneous Healing adding 30hp.  AC is 22. With Lingering Spirit, Mummification, Die for your master, and everything else, it's very, very hard to kill us.
We have 84 skill points and saves of +12/+10/+6
When mutagened, gain +6 Strength and +4 Constitution, and +4 AC. We also gain pounce and trip.  These to factors make us truly incredible.
We can case 6 level 1, 6 level 2, 4 level 3, and 3 level 4.  Greater invisibility is the really good 4th level extract for us, but Greater false life and Freedom of movement are also solid.
DPR with sneak attack against an average CR 12 monster is 40 with two strength damage.

Level 16: Our grand mutagen is now in play.  We attack at +16 for 1d8+16 and two claws at +16 for 1d6+16 each.  Trip, pounce, fly, stuff like that. 8d8 sneak attack and 2 Strength damage, and tripping on +16.
195 hp, 26 AC, and all the previous buffs, in addition to 50% chance to negate crits and sneak attack.
128 skill points, saves of 15/14/6, but once a day re-roll of will.
Extract levels 5 and 6 have opened up Overland Flight, Heal, and True Seeing, but also Giant Form I which should be on whenever we can afford it.  We can cast 6/6/6/4/3/1 extracts.

Level 20:  With true feral, we are attacking at +19 for 1d8+16, and two claws at +20 for 1d6+16.  10d6 sneak attack with 2 Strength damage, trip, pounce, grab, and anything else we want.
We are nigh unkillable.  28 AC, 263 hp (50 more from spontaneous healing), and all the bonuses from before.
160 skill points. Saves at +18/+18/+8, with that Will re-roll.
We can cast extracts at 6/6/6/5/5/5.  Giant Form is on all the time!


Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist
Part I: Introduction, Attributes & Races
Part II: Discoveries
Part III: Feats & Traits
Part IV: Extracts
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds




Thursday, November 26, 2015

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist, Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds

Part I: Introduction, Attributes & Races
Part II: Discoveries
Part III: Feats & Traits
Part IV: Extracts
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds

Equipment

There's a lot of equipment to consider, so I'll just be touching on pieces that disproportionately benefit the alchemist, or pieces that are truly must haves.

Belt
    Belt of Dexterity (****): Dexterity does the most for you, so you may want to take this all the way up to +6. If you really love tanking, then adding some Con or Str does the most for you.


Body
   Any of the standards will do.


Chest
    Sipping Jacket (***): If you love your potions, changing one into a swift action is good.  If you don't love your potions, then don't bother. (5,000gp)
    Vest of Stable Mutation (**): You might want to take this if you choose to get true mutation, but otherwise you aren't going to be tanking Int and throwing bombs at the same time.  There's no need, especially for the cost. Even if you do like using a Strength Mutagen, you might be better off just upgrading your headband of intelligence for this price. (20,000gp)


Eyes
   Any of the standards will do.


Feet
    Boots of Speed (****): Free action haste for up to 10 rounds a day?  Grab these as soon as you get fast bombs. (12,000gp)


Hands
   Poisoner's Gloves (***): A good boon for an infusion build, and decent for everybody else. Once per day, you can use an extract as part of an attack routine.  If you buy two, you can do it twice!  (5,000gp)


Head
    Helm of the Mammoth Lord (****): If you are going the natural attack route, an extra gore attack is shiny. (8,500gp)


Headband
    Headband of Intelligence (****): Intelligence up, all the way.  The attribute does too much for you to really consider anything else.
    Headband of Aerial Agility +2 (***): Or, for only 500gp more, you get a slight bonus to your flying abilities.  Too bad the price scales so horrendously.  While the +2 version is only slightly more expensive than a headband of intelligence, the +4 version is twice as expensive.  Save yourself some gold and go with the normal headband.


Neck
    Cloak of Resistance (****): To help with your Will save, really.


Ring
    Ring of Inner Fortitude, Minor (***): This ring makes Cognotogens much more appealing, as it virtually negates the ability damage.  However, it's far too expensive to expect before 8th or so level, so Cognotogens are still unappealing until that point.  After that, feel free to pick it up though!


Shoulder
   Any of the standards will do.


Wrist
   Any of the standards will do.


Slotless
     Bombchucker (*****): 12gp to increase the range of your bombs by 10 feet?  Every alchemist should have this, no question.
     Bandolier (****): You can by two of these for 1gp, and they can store up to 16 items for easy access. (5sp)
    Spring Loaded Wrist Sheath (****): At 5 gp a pop, you can retrieve a single stored item as a swift action.  Well worth your time. (5gp)
    Hybridization Funnel (****): Double the effectiveness of your thrown alchemical weapons!   Fun while it lasts, but even this can't save the items from obscurity at high levels. (200gp)
    Boro Bead (****): The extract version of a pearl of power.
    Preserving Flask (****): A less flexible Boro Bead, but it doesn't require an action to use.
    Admixture Vial (****): Drink two extracts at one time!  Wonderful for action economy.  Pick your two favorite buffs and drink them in one turn. (4,000p)
    Formula Alembic (****): It's rare that you will get to use this (perhaps once or twice a campaign), but at only 200gp there's little reason not to carry it around.  You can pick up a bunch of new extracts this way.


Weapon
    Your Primary weapons are bombs, which can get no enhancements.  If you aren't using natural weapons for tanking, then you might want to consider purchasing a nice melee weapon and enchanting it with one of the below.  However, don't spend too much money on it.  This isn't your forte.
    The standard +X are good here, but again don't waste too much money on it.
   Agile (****): If you aren't using natural weapons for tanking, you can dump strength and still do decent damage with weapon finesse and Agile. (+1)

Armor
    A mithral chain shirt has a Max Dexterity Bonus of +6, so that's a good call.  However, if you take the Armor Expert trait, you can wear a Mithral breastplate without any issues.  It's a bit pricey, but well worth it if you are tanking.
   The standard +X are good here.
   Comfort (****): Combine Comfort, Mithral, and Armor Expert, and you can wear some heavy armor without the proficiency (5,000gp).
   Determination (****): I get to come back to life once a day?  Sure, thanks! Stick this on your shield and armor for twice a day. (30,000gp)

Shield
   You should wear a buckler when you have the chance. The downside is nonexistent before you go TWF, and even when you do a -1 to attack is nothing for bombs at that level.
   The standard +X are good here.
   Determination (****): I get to come back to life once a day?  Sure, thanks! Stick this on your shield and armor for twice a day. (30,000gp)

Alchemical Items
    While flavorful, alchemical items lack scaling DCs and so become useless past level 5 or so.  For those few levels, Ghost Retch Jars, Holy Water, Tanglefoot and Tangleburn Bag, Acid are fine.
     Unstable Accelerants, on the other hand, are useful from level 1 to 20.  Grab a ton of these, and increase your bomb damage by +d6 (at least for bombs that deal fire damage).
     Beyond that, all the classics should do.


Multi-Classing

Unless you are a vivisectionist, multi-classing really sucks for the Alchemist.  Everything that makes you better - Bombs, extracts, mutagens - scales with your alchemist level, and no other class gives it to you.  If you are focused on bombs, you want Alchemist straight from level 1 to 20.  That's it.

Fighter (**): If you really want to focus on tanking, then you can take a 1 level dip into Fighter.  This dip gives you a feat and a BAB, but more importantly it gives you proficiency in martial weapons and all armor.  If the fighter has the Unbreakable Archetype then you get Endurance and Die Hard, useful with Lingering Spirit.  If you love combat maneuvers as a tank, then a two level dip into Lore Warden gives you combat expertise.  Still, not recommended.

Monk (**): The other option for tanking is the monk.  Two levels in Monk give you a nice buff to all saves and plenty of feats, particularly with some archetypes (Sohei and Master of Many Styles for example).  Still, losing out on that BAB and delaying everything else really sucks.

Wizard (*): Wizard is at least talking about.  You get a bunch of cantrips and a familiar, and your will save increases.  If you are huge fan of cantrips, then think about it.  But you can do similar things with extracts.

Leave the multi-classing to the martials.  And the vivisectionists.

Builds

There are a range of possible builds for the Alchemist, and you should use these as a starting point

Classic Alchemist (****):  Bombs are your biggest priority, but it doesn't hurt to dabble. You go beastmorph and grab infusion and feral mutagen to stay relevant as a buffer and tank.  You do not neglect Alchemy and crafting, perhaps even creating a poison or two, but bombs are still your go-to.

Mad Bomber (****): Bombs are your one and only priority, and everything you do is focused on more and bigger booms.  Your feats go to Extra Discoveries and Extra Bombs, and you probably want the Grenadier archetype.  You take the whole TWF/Rapid shot/Fast bombs route, and grab PBS and Precise shot to make up for it.  Very little attention is paid to the extract side of things, but you buff yourself when you get the chance. You may find a full build here or here

Bomber Buffer (****): You aren't going to be as good at buffing as a cleric or wizard, but you can certainly chip in.  You take infusion early, wear poisoner gloves, and carry around an admixture vial.  Other than that, you follow the classic bombing route.

Bomber Tank (****): You embrace your subrole of tanking and melee.  You burn through bombs quickly, then mutagen and step into the fray.  Beastmorph and natural attacks take over at this point.  You take all of the mutagen discoveries, as well as many of the ones that increase life and good health, such as mummification and elixir of life.  If you've used your extracts well, then you should be seeing some truly excellent damage.

The Dissector (****): I know we didn't talk about it, but it's worth seeing a build anyway.   Beastmorph and vivisectionist, then buff yourself for some truly excellent damage. Feral mutagen is where you get your natural attacks and pounce, and then this build resembles the bomber tank without the bombs.  Who needs a rogue anyway?  You can find a full build here.

Bow Alchemist (****): What to do when you run out of bombs?  Well, pick up your bow, of course! Be an elf or pick up the bow proficiency with the Grenadier archetype.  You may have to devote some feats to making the bow more effective, but you'll save on needing survivability by staying at range.  Grab a compound bow for the strength benefits you'll get with mutagen and your extracts.

Smokeman (***): You focus more on the smoke bomb line of things:  Inferno, stink, disease, that sort of thing.  You are great at area denial and large groups of enemies, but less strong against bosses.  If you are a goblin, you definitely pick up rocket bombs to further increase your area of effect.

Minion Master (***):  The whole simulacrum tree, that's your business.  Alchemical Zombies too, and certainly the boneshard bomb. It's messy, it's complicated, but you can handle it.  Other than that, bombs away!

Poison Master (**):  Poisons aren't the best thing in the world, but you're determined to make them work.  Poison Conversion, Malignant Poison, Concentrate Poison, and Sticky Poison are all necessary to stay relevant.  Keep in mind, however, that you are going to be putting in hard nights slaving over the alembic (and many discoveries) to achieve similar results as the Mad Bomber.

Cognatogen Junkie (**): Despite my best efforts, you have chosen the cognatogen.  Well, fine.  Your Bomb DCs will be nice and high, and you may have plenty of options when it comes to skills.  However, you better get some way of dealing with that attribute damage.

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist
Part I: Introduction, Attributes, Races & Archetypes
Part II: Discoveries
Part III: Feats & Traits
Part IV: Extracts
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist, Part IV: Extracts

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist
Part IV: Extracts

Part I: Introduction, Attributes & Races
Part II: Discoveries
Part III: Feats & Traits
Part IV: Extracts
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds

I won't be going through every extract in the game. Instead, I'll be covering extract that either benefit the alchemist, or look like they benefit the alchemist but really, really don't.  If it's not included on this list it's probably red or orange, and you better be taking it for fun or flavor.

Extracts can be broadly categorized into three sections:  Attacks, buffs, and utility.  Of the three, attacks are the least useful given that you have almost always better attacks in the form of bombs.  Thus, you should focus your energies more on buffs and utility.

In combat, you are generally going to be throwing bombs or tanking, but an infusion build may want to buff his allies.  If you have other options, try not to spend an action buffing yourself.  Use your extracts primarily outside of combat.

All buff spells are improved with the Infusion discovery, and many should be rated one level higher in that case.

1st Level Extracts

Heightened Awareness (****): +2 bonus on Perception and Knowledge and +4 Initiative for your next initiative.  Combined with a 10 minutes/level duration, this is a great always on buff.  Much better than Anticipate Peril.

Reduce Person (****): Reduce person gives you a +2 bonus to Dexterity, and a +1 bonus on attacks and AC.  A worthy buff for you at 1 min/level.

Shield (****): A whopping +4 bonus to AC is great both for attacking and staying alive in the back.

Targeted Bomb Admixture (****): Here's an interesting spell that could change the way you use bombs.  For 1 round/level, you don't deal splash damage, but your main target takes a little extra damage.  Since you'll often be in the situation where you either don't care about splash or want it removed, this could be a good way to avoid burning a discovering on a bomb splash director.

Comprehend Languages (****): Comprehend Languages is a fantastic low level utility spell that you will use time and again in both metropolises and dungeons.  Or, just get it in a scroll.

Monkey Fish (****): Great utility spell for getting up walls or across rivers.

Cure Light Wounds (***): Others can do it better, but if you don't want to use their spell slots, use yours.  Or, you know, just buy a wand.

Enlarge Person (***): Not great when throwing bombs, great when tanking.  Also great as an infusion.

Expeditious Retreat (***): Don't underestimate extra move speed.  It's better when you can infuse your melee buddies though.

Illusion of Calm (***): Great for getting a surprise round and avoiding opportunity attacks.

True Strike (***): Things can get a bit funky here. Combined with Potion Glutton, here's a good way to always hit (and burn through extracts fast).  It can be useful if you are throwing bombs from a great distance, but you'll hit with bombs so often it's probably not necessary.

Crafter's Fortune (***): For when you aren't adventuring and really want to make that craft check.

Disguise (***): Another classic utility spell, great for subterfuge.

Endure Elements (***): Great when you need it, and even better with Infusion.

Long Arm (**): If you are hulking out with claws, it's a okay bet, but it's really great in infused form for your melee buddies.  Mix with Enlarge Person for best results.

Anticipate Peril (**): +5 initiative ain't bad, but it only lasts 1 minute per level.  Useful if you know a combat is coming, useless if you don't.  However, you should really grab Heightened Awareness instead.

Bomber's Eye (**): +1 to attack is fine, but +10 range is really nice.  Too bad it only lasts 1 round per level, or this would be a simple buff to leave on all the time.

Adhesive Spittle (**): The short range of this attack means you may want to just stick with tanglefoot bags or bombs.

Identify (**): Hopefully you have somebody else to do this, and hopefully that person can take his time with it.  But it you have a rest day and need to do some identifying, then why not?

See Alignment (**): As a GM, I hate spells like this.  But, if you really want to get an idea of a town or person, chug one of these.

Touch of the Sea (**): For most cases where you want this, Monkey Fish will suffice and have better utility.

Vocal Alteration (**): Not as broadly useful as Disguise, but a good compliment to it.

Jump (*): Fun for a few levels, but I'm sure you can think of another way of getting across that chasm.

Firebelly (*): Use bombs.

Invisibility Alarm (*): I'd only grab this if I knew I was off to fight invisible creatures.

Youthful Appearance (*): It's hard to think of a use for this that isn't covered by Disguise.


2nd Level Extracts

Alchemical Allocation (*****): Buy the most expensive potion you can.  Drink it.  Then drink it again.  And again.  This slot is essentially a buff that provides the bonuses of the most expensive potion you can purchase. Feel free to use this out of combat.

Alter Self (****): Multi-use utility spell which can provide dark vision, scent, or swim as well as a small attribute bonus.

Detect Thoughts (****): Great detective work spell, and great for getting the upper hand in conversations.

Focused Scrutiny (****): Between this and detect thoughts, an alchemist can socially buff to a great degree.  Wonderful for talking to kings and commoners alike.

Invisibility (****): Classic, powerful, multi-use.  Not a great buffing spell, but great for both instigating and retreating from combat, as well as scouting and investigation.

Touch Injection (****): The poor man's Infusion, there are a few uses of this offensively but they are mostly extremely cheesy (Skinsend for example).

Barkskin (****): Simple and powerful at 10 min/level, a +2 to AC is wonderful for just about anybody.

Resist Energy (****): You'll use this anytime you fight a dragon, elemental, or anything with obvious elemental predilections.  An incredibly useful and powerful buff.

Restoration, Lesser (****): Don't prepare it until you need it, but you will absolutely use it to keep your party in functioning order.

Vinestrike (****): This is an absolutely excellent buff if you are relying on natural attacks.  Additional 1d6 damage and entangle on every attack means you should start every combat with this cast. It might even be worth casting it first round if charging into the fray.

See Invisibility (***): See Invisibility will mean the difference between success and defeat at some point.  There's going to be an enemy with invisibility eventually, and seeing him will make your life much easier..

Aid (***): Temporary hit points are nice, as are the small bonuses to attacks and vs. fear.  Simple and likable.

Delay Poison (***): Poisons can be downright deadly.  It's hour/level so don't be afraid to pop this on a melee character preemptively if you suspect poisonous enemies in the future.  If you don't have infusion and kept your poison resistance, then this isn't half as useful.

False Life (***): At hours/level, this is a great way to help the squishy survive past the first volley.

Vomit Swarm (***): The summons are fairly weak, but not irrelevant because A; they are swarms, B; they scale a bit, C: they are bodies on the field, and D: they have distraction and poison.  You can do worse than this when deciding what to do.

Darkvision (***): Darkvision is nice for scouting, but chances are combats are going to be lit up pretty quick unless everybody has it.

Spell Tattoo (***): Wonderful last resort backup.  Tattoo invisibility or alter self or reduce person on your chest - nobody can take it off of you (unless they remove your skin), and you'll have a distinct advantage when captured.  Alternatively, it's a potion that you can activate without having it in your hands.  Too bad it's a bit pricey.

Water of Maddening (**): If you can pull this off, the penalties are fairly decent.  1d4 rounds of sickened, 1d6 Int and 1d6 Dex damage.  However, you must cast the spell, have a place to store the results, throw it at the enemy, hit the enemy, and then he must fail his save.  Too many moving parts.  The good news, is each casting makes 1 draft for every two levels.

Cat's Grace (**): Dexterity does so much for you that a +4 bonus is really a lot.  Initiative, AC, Reflex, Attack and a few skills are all buffed.

Fox's Cunning (**): More bomb damage and increased DC's sound good.  However, you're probably getting some permanent enhancement bonuses of your own soon.

Ablative Barrier (**/**): The armor bonus is likely eclipsed, but the nonlethal damage can help.  The big selling point is the hour/level.  Even so, there are better ways to use your slots.  If you are immune to nonlethal damage, for example, through Mummification, then this is a solid blue.

Cure Moderate Wounds (**): Only if you don't want to waste other's slots - but they likely have slots to waste by this point.

Investigative Mind (**): Fun for becoming Sherlock Holmes for a bit, and the Spellcraft boost helps with identifying items.

Acute Senses (**): +10/+20/+30 to Perception checks is very powerful.  However, it's only for a minute/level, so you are never going to have it up at the right time.

Levitate (**): It's tempting, but wait for fly.

Skinsend (**): This is hilariously awesome flavor, and a decent scouting spell.  Too bad it leaves you so vulnerable.

Spiderclimb (**): You are likely going to be fine with Monkey Fish and use up a lower level extract to boot.

Shadow Bomb Admixture (*): Why?  You are spending an action and a spell slot to buff both yourself and the enemy.

Firebreath (*): Stick to bombs.

Fire Sneeze (*): Funny, but stick to bombs.


3rd Level Extracts


Channel Vigor (****): This spell is haste, or something else if you need it.  Haste alone is good enough to rate this a blue.  Can anybody say one more bomb a round?

Displacement (****): Displacement is a really excellent defensive buff.  If you are getting in there and tanking, you want this up.

Fly (****): Dropping bombs from above will soon be the cornerstone of what you do.  60 foot move speed with good maneuverability is fantastic, but if you decide you are okay with 30 foot move speed, check out Beast Shape or Monstrous Physique.

Beast Shape (****): Access to swim, climb, fly, and dark vision is nice, with the little added bonus of Dex and AC.  Choose either this or Fly or Monstrous Physique.

Monstrous Physique (****): Access to swim, climb, fly, and dark vision is nice, with the little added bonus of Dex and AC.  Choose either this or Fly or Beast Shape.

Orchid's Drop (****): +2 to all saves for hour/level and heal 2d10 points of damage when you mutagen.  An excellent action economy spell to be used at the start of each day.

Paragon Surge (****): Dexterity and Intelligence bonuses are great, and you get an extra feat of your choosing.  Perhaps extra bombs to make this spell essentially give your two more bombs?

Adjustable Disguise (***): A wonderfully versatile spell, excellent for subterfuge.

Air Breathing (***): A life saver when you need it, excellent for utility and underwater combats.

Heroism (***): Straightforward bonuses, but the big bonus is in the 10 minutes/level. Plop it on when entering a dungeon.

Protection from Energy (***): Don't want to get hurt by dragon fire?  Now you won't.

Remove Blindness/Deafness/Curse/Disease (***): If you can't pay somebody else to do it, this can save your party.  But you should save your money and add it to your own formulae book.

Protection from Arrows, Communal (**): Fighting a boss who uses arrows, or a ton of archers?  Save your group's life with Protection from Arrows. It's not as multi-use as protection from energy though.

Endure Elements, Communal (**): Communal is the much more useful version of this extract.  Still, the actual benefits can likely be duplicated with simple preparation and creativity.

Absorbing Touch (**): Days per level is wonderful, but actual applications are limited.

Amplify Elixir (**): It's useful, but is it worth a whole spell slot? Probably not.

Absorb Toxicity (**): If you don't have poison resistance, then this is a decent immunity spell with the added attack.  It's superior to delay poison except for the duration, and worth plopping on a melee character before attacking icky spiders and such.

Arcane Sight (**): Good for seeing invisible NPCs and hidden treasure, but not much else.

Darkvision, Communal (**): A torch will be just as good in most cases.

Delay Poison, Communal (**): From a prevention standpoint this is fine.  But if you are using it after the poison starts, you likely don't need communal.

Lightning Lash Bomb Admixture (**): 1d6 damage a turn, contingent on enemy actions, is minuscule at this level. It does, however, affect up to four creatures, but it's very situational.

Haste (*): Normally it's an excellent spell, but since you can only target yourself it's completely overshadowed by Channel Vigor. There's no reason to take Haste instead.

Cure Serious Wounds (*): We've fallen too far behind healing wise, so stick with the lower level extracts.


4th Level Extracts

Greater Invisibility (*****): Now your bombs attack flatfooted and touch, and even if people guess where you are you have total concealment from them.  Not to mention the utility.  This is my go-to buff spell unless I suspect the enemy can see invisible enemies.

Caustic Blood (****): This deals a shocking amount of damage, up to 22d6 across 2 turns at level 15.  Once cast also lasts for 1 round/level, meaning you can get a ton of use from one extract.

Fluid Form (****):  DR 10/slashing, reach +10, and swim speed, as well as some fun utility.  Awesome buffing spell for entering melee or escaping.

Restoration (****): Ability damage, drain, and negative levels become common by this level.  Somebody in your party needs Restoration.

Stoneskin (****): DR/10.  Simple, straightforward, good.  Give it to somebody in melee.

Air Walk (***): A longer duration, less good fly.  You're likely good using your lower level extract for fly, but if you find yourself running out, try this!

Beast Shape II (***): The easiest way for you to get pounce for your tanking self.

Earth Glide (***): Great utility, but also great for retreating.

Echolocation (***): In most cases, see invisibility will be enough. However, this also gets rid of concealment, blur, magical darkness, and lets you see in the dark. At only 40 feet?  Not too powerful. But 10 min/level is nice.

Freedom of Movement (***): Classic, useful preemptively or in response.

Persistent Vigor (***): You'll heal a decent amount in addition to a few other bonuses.  Possibly worth a spell slot if your party lacks healing.  But at this level, you really shouldn't.

Viper Bomb Admixture (***): Finally another good admixture. It's not incredible, but it's an okay damage bonus.  Too bad the vipers need to land hits using your BAB + Int. Otherwise, it's a good use of your action economy.

Duplicate Familiar (**/*): If you don't want to risk your own familiar, why not make a duplicate?  Probably not worth a 4th level Extract though.  If you have allies who use familiars, particularly ones with "Deliver Touch Spells" this is a green.

Mutagenic Touch (*): A lesser version of your mutagen isn't going to help your allies too much or hurt your enemies too much.

Neutralize Poison (*): You are fine with delay poison with a second level extract.


5th Level Extracts

Delayed Consumption (****): Burn a 5th level extract to cast a 4th level or lower extract as a free action. It's days/level, so its always worth preparing on your off days (unless you already have one active).

Magic Jar (****): Magic jar is one of the best spells out there, a complex save or lose spell that also allows possession.  It's essentially an attack, but still definitely worth adding to your repertoire.

Overland Flight (****): Traveling distances is fine, but likely not relevant unless your whole party can do it.  The real benefit here is the hours/level.  Cast this when you wake up, then forget about it.  You fly now.

Beast Shape III (***): Multiuse - you can grab a Dexterity bonus, fly, Strength bonus, pounce, trip, web - almost anything, really.

Languid Bomb Admixture (***): Boy, these admixtures are a bit underwhelming, aren't they?  Still, they help with action economy.  May as well fatigue your enemies while you throw all those bombs.  With the number of bombs you throw at this level, your enemy is basically guaranteed to fail at least one save.  I just wish it was longer than rounds/level.

Stoneskin, Communal (***): Stoneskin for everybody! Over the course of its duration, this spell will often result in an extra 150hp for a few people.  Well worth it, and think of how much you save on healing!

Monstrous Physique III (**): It's not really that much better than II for our purposes.  Perhaps if you want to go huge, or speak with sharks.

Contact Other Plane (**): From a Metagame perspective, this isn't all that powerful, but from a flavor perspective it's loads of fun. You essentially get get chat with a god for a short period of time.   Your results may vary.

Sending (**): Yes, you are probably going to need it at some point.  It just seems like such a waste for a 5th level slot.

Planar Adaptation (*): You can almost certainly mimic these effects with lower level spells and not waste your slot on this extract.

Resurgent Transformation (*): This spell helps with action economy and provides some small buffs and nice healing, but leaves the target with 1d4 Int, Wis, and Con damage.  If not for all these drawbacks, it would be well worth it.  With them, it's a pain in the ass.

Transplant Visage (*): Flavorful, but no idea why this is a 5th level extract when a few 1st level extracts will do.


6th Level Extracts

Twin Form (*****): There's a ton of uses for this.  You can keep one twin outside the battle, then go nuts with the other and simply switch to the safe one when the combat twin dies.  You can tank up and engage as a huge creature, bottlenecking an enemy, and then switch to your twin at distance and bomb away.  You can treat your twin like a summon and send him down a trapped hallway, or to explore a dangerous ravine, or to take a good look at what's under all that lava.  An interesting and incredibly useful buff.

Giant Form (****): The dexterity penalty is a bit annoying, but shouldn't be a problem at this level.  Everything else is golden.  Regeneration is particularly golden, as it means you can't die for hp damage for the duration, and it's several hundred points of healing.

Heal (****): Heal cures 150hp and everything but drain and negative levels.  It's a fantastic cure-all that, if used properly, can double the survivability of your party.

True Seeing (****): A great catch all, very useful for plopping on before a fight with a spell caster or arcane enemy.  I just wish the duration was a bit longer.

Wind Walk (****): At hours per level and you plus one creature/three levels, plop this on your entire party at the start of the day and just leave it up.  It's good in combat and incredibly useful outside of it.

Beast Shape IV (***): In addition to a pretty decent buff for either chucking bombs or tanking, Beast Shape IV is also a tool box of a ton of different abilities, speeds, and forms. A wonderfully versatile spell.

Caging Bomb Admixture (***): Finally, a decent admixture.  Still, it's not going to be useful as you might hope. You can only have one active at a time, and it protects them for the duration.  Nice utility, but I wish there was a more straightforward combat admixture at this level.

Monstrous Physique IV (**): You can get the equivalent with a lower level Monstrous Physique.  Giant Form or Beast Shape IV are better at this level.

Transformation (**): It's a short, okay buff.  The enhancement bonuses are likely covered by this point, but you get a nice little BAB and AC boost.  Still, you have better buffs at this level, mainly due to the rounds/level length.

Analyze Dweomer (*): A 6th level extract for improved identify?  There's got to be a better use of your slot.

Form of the Dragon (*): Assuming you can't throw bombs in this form, it has little use for you.  Still goddamn cool though.

Shadow Walk (*): Wind walk has a similar result, and far more use in combat.  I'd stick with that.

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist
Part I: Introduction, Attributes, Races & Archetypes
Part II: Discoveries
Part III: Feats & Traits
Part IV: Extracts
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist, Part III: Feats and Traits

Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist
Part III: Feats and Traits

Part I: Introduction, Attributes & Races
Part II: Discoveries
Part III: Feats & Traits
Part IV: Extracts
Part V: Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds
Feats

I won't be going through every feat in the game. Instead, I'll be covering feats that either benefit the alchemist, or look like they benefit the alchemist but really, really don't.  If it's not included on this list, you better have a good reason for taking it.

I'm going to be avoiding feats that give skill bonuses.  As an alchemist you get lots of skills, and not too many feats, so the trade off is weak.

I'm also not going to talk too much about pure combat feats like Power Attack or any Combat Maneuvers.  These aren't really for you unless you desperately want to tank.  In general, anything that takes advantage of your high Dexterity (like Agile Maneuvers or Combat Reflexes), is a good thing and the classics are also fine.  But you should really focus on other things.

There are only a few feats that are as good for you as Extra Discovery and Extra Bombs.  Even if you choose to tank heavily, most of your feat slots should be converted into one of those two options.


Balancing Attack Modifiers Feats

Lets talk quickly about balancing attack modifiers.  There are a few feats that allow you to improve your attack modifier (Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus, Precise Shot), and there are a few feats that allow you to sacrifice attack modifiers for extra attacks or damage (Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot, Two Weapon Fighting).  Since you are attacking touch, your target AC from levels 1 - 20 stays about the same: 12.  Since your Dex and BAB go up with levels, this means that you should grab a few attack modifier bonuses early on, and then load on the attack modifier penalties when you hit +10 attack bonus on your full attack.  Here are the Attack Modifier feats to Consider.

Rapid Shot (*****): Yum.  Take this in conjunction with Fast Bombs to get the Party Started.

Two Weapon Fighting (*****): Take this in conjunction with Fast Bombs and Rapid shot to throw three bombs a -4 below your top BAB.

Point Blank Shot (****): Many bombs you throw will be within 30 feet, so a simple +1 to damage and attack at all times is good.  Even better are the other feats it opens up.

Precise Shot (****): As a ranged combatant you are often going to be throwing bombs danger close.  A -4 penalty is pretty big even when attacking touch.  Let's get rid of it.

Splash Weapon Mastery (***): An improved version of far shot that just applies to splash weapons.  As an added bonus, you get to designate an additional square for your splash damage.   Take this over Far Shot, but's it's not the biggest priority.

Improved Two Weapon Fighting (***): Three bombs a turn from Rapid Shot and TWF is probably enough, but if you really want to nova at high levels you can take this.

Weapon Focus (***): This will help your bombs connect.  It's good to take at lower levels, and it can counteract some of the Rapid Shot/TWF penalties.

Far Shot (**): The small bonus isn't really enough to justify this feat.  A range of 30 feet is enough in most combats.

Greater Two Weapon Fighting (**): You don't really need to get out bombs this fast.  Do something else with your feats.

Bullseye Shot (*): By the time you qualify for this, you should be throwing multiple bombs, and you should be hitting all the time.  No need.

Many shot (*): This doesn't work with bombs. Don't bother.

Arcane Strike (*):  Unfortunately, you don't qualify for this as an Alchemist.  So it does nothing.

Deadly Aim (*): Deadly Aim doesn't work with bombs, so no need.


Other Relevant Feats

Potion Glutton (*****): Yeah, this is incredible.  You can now drink your potions, extracts, and mutagens as a swift action that doesn't provoke.  In many ways, this doubles your action economy.  If you qualify for it (worshipping a not-so-nice god), then this is absolutely your first feat.  Waiting for an errata to make this not so blindingly good for Alchemists.  In the meantime, GMs of the world should feel free to say that it doesn't apply to extracts and mutagens.

Extra Discover (****): Discoveries are almost always better than feats. If you are considering a green or weaker feat, instead take a Discovery.

Extra Traits (****): There are plenty of Traits well worth your time.  See below.  Firebug is of particular note, given that it is strictly better than weapon focus (bomb).

Improved Initiative (****): Going first means you can buff quickly, debuff quickly, or just destroy clumped enemies.  Always a solid choice, but slightly less so for an alchemist than for, say, an archer or ninja.  Also grab a tumor familiar that will give you an initiative bump.  With your high Dexterity, you should be starting (and ending) most combats.

Die for Your Master (****): You should get a tumor familiar for the familiar bonus (initiative or similar), so Die for Your Master is the logical next step.  This ability will save your but multiple times, even though you'll have to pay for a new one.  Hey, your life is worth 200gp per level, right?

Leadership (xxxx): Right.  Only take this is everybody is on board with the headache and unbalance.

Ability Focus (xxxx): This is dubious at best.  If your GM lets you apply Ability Focus to your bombs, then go for it.  But it's going to unbalance you real quick.

Extra Bombs (****): I know it's only two more bombs, but that's essentially your level times d6 plus two different debuffs each day.  Each time you take this, you can feel more confident about throwing more bombs and get less and less stingy with them.  If you don't have a discovery in mind, and you've taken every feat you want, take Extra Bombs.

Dodge (***): An extra AC never hurts, both when you are tanking and trying to avoid enemy fire.

Master Alchemist (***): This is only worth taking if you love your poisons.  Being able to craft multiple poisons at once in a fast moving campaign can be a godsend. If you don't craft poisons, don't bother.

Planar Preservationist (***): If you have the Preservationist archetype, then your range of summons is increased. Monsters typically have more versatility than animals if you know what you are doing.

Close Quarters Thrower (***): You no longer suffer attacks of opportunity when throwing bombs, but you can usually just step out of the way, right?  Still, once you get to higher levels and fight enemies with long reach, it can be worth it (though if you are tanking you should be able to take the hit).

Opening Volley (**): If you are embracing your tank self, then you do have worse options.  But a more consisted bonus is better, even if it's just Weapon Focus.

Improved Critical (**): Doubling your critical range to 19-20/x2 isn't nothing.  With the number of bombs you are throwing out there, some are going to hit it, and you are almost certainly going to confirm.  The rest of the critical chain, however, isn't worth thinking about.

Diehard (**): This feat is only worth taking with Lingering Spirit.  Though the synergy is great (and fun), it's ultimately not worth the two feats to get here.

Toughness (**): Extra HP is fine, but there are better discoveries to improve your lifespan.

Remote Bomb (**): Take this one more for fun than anything else.  It'll be extremely satisfying when you use it, but it's doubtful that it will be better than an alternative.

Ricochet Splash Weapon (**): It's not too frequent that two enemies are standing next to each other, and it's really not too frequent that your bombs would miss.  You're better off with Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, or anything that will help your hit chance so you don't miss in the first place.

Adder Strike (*): If you've somehow made a build that uses unarmed strikes (not natural attacks), then this is fine.  And I'd love to see it.  Otherwise, skip.

Clustered Shot (*): Energy damage isn't affected by DR.  This does nothing for you.

Nimble Moves (*): Your milage may vary with how much your GM likes difficult terrain.  I personally don't think this is used enough to justify a feat slot.

Implant Bomb (*): This is so situational it's not worth taking. Besides, a nice GM will let you do something like this without the feat anyway.

Deceptive Exchange (*): Or, you know, just throw the bomb at them.  You are good at that.

Hammer the Gap (*): This is going to deal an extra 1, 3, or 6 damage a turn.  However, the amount of damage that you are dealing to get that is so substantial that those meager increases don't even really register.

Snap Shot (*): Taking attacks of opportunity with bombs would be really excellent, except that you can't do it.  Unfortunately, bombs can only be crafted and thrown on your turn. Oh well.

Traits

We're just going to talk about a few Traits that really benefit the Alchemist.  Beyond that, all the standard traits suffice.

Firebug (combat) (*****): Here's weapon focus (bomb) and splash weapons in trait form.  If you don't take this during character creation, grab it with Extra Traits.

Student of Philosophy (social)/Clever Wordplay (social)/Bruising Intellect (social)(***): This is likely to translate into a +6 or so bonus for a Charisma skill.  The most common uses of Diplomacy and Bluff if you take Student of Philosophy.  Well worth a single trait.

Reactionary (combat)/Warrior of Old (race)/Elven Reflexes (race)(****): +2 Initiative is well worth a single trait.  Combine this with Improved Initiative, an initiative boost familiar, and a high Dex score and you are looking at +15 or so initiative.

Focused Burn (magic)(****): +1 damage per 2d6 per bomb is a nice little damage buff, and well worth a trait.  By level 7 it's equivalent to Weapon specialization, and by level 15, it's equivalent to two weapon specialization.  Whenever you use a tanglefoot, confusion, curse, blinding or the like bomb, it will apply.  Not bad for a trait!

Pragmatic Activator (magic)(***): If you plan on using Use Magic Device, certainly let it key off of Int instead of Cha.

Accelerated Drinker (***): If you find yourself with a lot of potions, then sure.  However, if you are in the situation where this looks appealing, the feat Potion Glutton is so far superior that it's worth going for.

Armor Expert (***): This trait lets you wear a Mithral Breastplate without needing the medium armor proficiency.  If you are tanking, it's a great place to be.