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.

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.

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. If it didn't cost 500gp, this would be blue.

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


  1. Targeted Bomb Admixture sounds amazing, but am I right in assuming that this is completely useless to a level 1 character?
    After all, using it is a standard action and it only lasts 1 round, meaning that you can't even throw a bomb (another standard action) before its duration expires.
    Or does a duration of 1 round actually mean that it lasts until the end of the next round? It would make sense that if you used your extract/spell at the end of your round, it would only expire at the end of your next round, meaning that you do have time.
    However, I do think the RAW state that effects that last a specific number of rounds end just before that initiative count. Which makes most 1-round effects pretty useless.

  2. I would drop down Orchid's Drop in the ratings. It's a great spell, but the 500 gp cost per cast really brings it down. This wouldn't be a problem with Alchemical Allocation, but you can't make personal range spells into potions.

  3. In your Fox's Cunning description, you say that "you're probably getting some permanent enhancement bonuses of your own soon." What are you referring to with this?

    1. Such as a headband of Intelligence, for example. Since that's also an enhancement bonus, it won't stack with Fox's cunning.

    2. In considering how to maximize bonuses to one's Intelligence score, I have come down to essentially 4 options, 1/2 of which are permanent. You can use a Tome of Clear Thoughts (barring the enormous cost) to get an 'Inherent' bonus and a, as you said, headband of Vast Intelligence to get an 'Enhancement' bonus. The only other ways I have been able to find are an 'Alchemical' bonus or 'Untyped' such as your ability increases every 4 levels. Looking at Paragon Surge, it seems that this would not be able to stack with a headband as Paragon Surge says that it provides "a +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity and Intelligence" and since a headband already provides an enhancement bonus to INT and you will probably be able to afford at least a +4 headband by the time you can have access to 3rd level extracts, I don't think an extract of Paragon surge would really help, except for maybe a DEX boost if you don't already have an enhancement bonus for it as well. The extra feat seems to be the only thing going for it if you equipped yourself decently/smartly.

  4. Reduce Person would make your bombs smaller. Besser damage for better attack roll sounds nice but you have to keep in mind, that you deal less damage. I would rate it as green when you play a bomb chemist.

    1. Why do you think you deal less damage with smaller bombs? The alchemist class says nothing about that.

    2. Probably confusing it with the claw and bite effects of feral mutagen?

    3. From the reduce person description:

      Melee and projectile weapons deal less damage. Other magical properties are not affected by this spell. Any reduced item that leaves the reduced creature’s possession (including a projectile or thrown weapon) instantly returns to its normal size. This means that thrown weapons deal their normal damage (projectiles deal damage based on the size of the weapon that fired them).

      Basically you Ant-Man that shit.

    4. Ahhh, no. The use of a bomb is as a weapon but the effect is technically a spell therefore reducing it's size would not reduce it's damage.

  5. I've been using Thorn Body (the 3rd level formulae). Seems strong, just wish the duration was longer.

  6. Haste isn't a personal spell.
    Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
    Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart

    1. The fact that it's Alchemist extract means that it can only target a single creature (the alchemist).