D&D 4E 4e alchemy kinda stinks on toast. Give me something better!


My 4e group has unanimously concluded that 4e alchemy gives too little effect for too much money, and it's almost never a good use of your action to use an alchemical object. Before we reinvent the wheel, I'm sure someone else has designed something better. If so, I'd love to see it. I'm also open to ideas for improving the existing system.

Thanks in advance for any help. With two players who want to be alchemists and feel dissatisfied, it'll be fun to see what our options are.

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I just started an alchemist Artificer in a game and have to agree that the effects are a little underpowered but the flavor is just so much fun. The only thing I've found that looks like it might help is this blog. It hasn't been updated in a while.

Laboratory Rules As UNWritten


First Post
I agree in part but remember that these items are stockpilable and don't count as part of the normal encounter/daily balance.

They can also be used for other things, like using alchemist's fire to burn a dryad's tree or a clockwork bomb to blow open a locked door, or panthers tears for the alchemist to see while breaking into a holy temple (all things my players have done).

It fits in well with Eberron, which is the game I run currently.
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First Post
Add +5 damage per Tier?
My preference would actually be to (on a case by case basis) tone them down but allow them to be used as a minor action.

Many pcs often have minor actions left to do stuff. In our games whenever this happens the first time, I tend to grab a potion (or alchemical item) to use it at the next opportunity.

Imho, the main problem lies in the action economy: As long as a pc has still encounter powers left, it's almost always better to use that before using up consumables.

Boosting the effectiveness of alchemical items by too much would reverse the problem: Why use powers if using (cheap) consumables is much more effective?


It's probably hard to do since what you're looking for is making up your own powers. Anyway.

I would use the guide from the terrain powers article to help determine what kinds of stuff you can do:

Epic Standard: Dominate, stun, or petrify
Paragon Standard or Epic Move: Blind, daze, immobilize, restrain, or weaken
Heroic Standard, Paragon Move, or Epic Minor: Grant combat advantage, allow a mark, or penalize a defense by up to –2
Heroic Move, or Paragon and Epic Minor: Avoid intervening obstacles during a move; grant concealment and/or cover; knock prone; push, pull, or slide enemy up to 4 squares; deafen; or deal level-appropriate ongoing damage
Heroic, Paragon, and Epic Minor: Add a damage type to an attack or allow a 1-square shift​

I'd set base damage to high, and if you add an effect you'd slide it down by one step. So: high damage only, medium damage + minor action effect, low damage + move effect, or standard effect only. Multiple targets should probably move down one step as well.

The item wouldn't have its own attack bonus, you'd use the PC's. Attacks vs. AC should have a proficiency bonus of +2. Add in magic item attack bonuses like inherent bonuses.

The cost would be very low, no higher than 1/10th of a treasure parcel. That's about 7 GP at first level.

Here are some quick examples:
Grenade: ranged 5/10, vs. Ref, burst 1, hit: medium damage
Thunderstone: ranged 5/10, vs. Fort, burst 1, hit: deafen
Bag of Bees: ranged 5/10, vs. Fort, hit: Grant combat advantage
Firebomb: ranged 5/10, vs Ref, hit: medium fire damage + ongoing fire
Marbles: close blast 3, vs. Ref, hit: prone
Distracting Blast: ranged 5/10, vs. Ref, hit: medium damage and one ally adjacent to the target can shift 1 square


Posted this to my game thread:

Shopping: Tanara Cothwick usually has several hundred gp worth of arcane reagants in stock, and can create more of these and other ritual components from raw supplies. She knows many Alchemical Formulas (AV pg 20) and can be commissioned to create Alchemical Items (AV pg 21) up to level 5 at base price, 1/day. She normally has the following in stock:
Alchemist's Acid Level 1: 20gp/vial - 2d4 vials
Alchemist's Fire Level 1: 20gp/vial - 2d4 vials

Alchemist's FireLevel 1+ Common
When shattered, this flask fills an area with alchemical flame.
Power (Fire) Consumable (Minor Action)
Make an attack: Area burst 1 within 10; +4 vs. Reflex; on a hit, deal 1d6 fire damage; on a miss, deal half damage.

Alchemist's AcidLevel 1+ Uncommon
When shattered, this glass vial releases a spray of acid.
Power (Acid) Consumable (Standard Action)
Make an attack: Ranged 5/10; Dexterity (or +4) vs. Reflex; on a hit, the attack deals 1d10 acid damage and ongoing 5 acid damage (save ends); on miss, half damage and no ongoing acid damage.

Drawing a flask is a minor action (free with Quickdraw feat). If you have 2 hands free you may draw 2 flasks as 1 minor action.

Radiating Gnome

I like a lot of the ideas here -- using a minor action could work.

One other thing you might want to do is allow the PC to replace the static attack bonus with their own (probably highest ability mod) if they're actively attacking with the stuff. So, alchemists fire would use it's static attack bonus only if the PC is actively targeting -- if it drops on the target, etc.

Also, remove the requirement to have the formula -- let them mix all common and uncommon alchemical concoctions without the formula.

Maybe, to make it easier to make bunches of the stuff, every time they mix up a potion they produce 1d6 doses, rather than just one.

I think, though, that the challenge with alchemy is more a function of the style of typical 4e encounters. 4e, by removing the need to spend a few rounds "buffing" before (or early in) an encounter, by making it much less of a disadvantage to just charge into an encounter and start swinging -- made it much less likely that items that are best used through preparation and foreknowledge like alchemical items will be of much use.

I don't know -- rituals are also hard to use and very, very rarely used in our games. I'm kicking around an idea for rituals that might work for alchemy, too -- just treat it all ask skill challenges.

So, allow the PC to come up with something they'd like to try to mix up -- a batch of rocket fuel alchemist's fire -- and then have them complete a skill challenge to pull it off. But the challenge isn't just making their arcana checks to mix the stuff -- they have to use other skills to do things like find ingredients, etc. Require symbolic ingredients (let the PC come up with what they are) so alchemy starts to involve some sympathetic magic, too.

So, for example, the PC wants to make a potion of Jump. They need to find crickets, frog legs, rabbits feet, or some other symbolic ingredient to go into the potion. Gathering that requires a skill check of some sort (streetwise to find it in local shops, nature to find them in the wild, etc).

I dunno. That's not a whole idea yet, just a spark.



Once A Fool
I would allow for an alchemist to combine the effects of alchemical items. Indefinitely. But each combination would have an increasing likelihood of prematurely activating all the effects.

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