D&D 5E Help making an alchemist villain?


I'm at the place in our campaign where I need to start thinking about one of the villains connected to 2 PCs backstories: Flaviatticus the alchemist. I could use help figuring out how to stat him up...

A few quick facts I've established about the villain:
  • Flaviatticus was a decrepit old alchemist in the Pax Imperica (chaotic evil "Roman Empire"). The setting of the game borrows a lot from Ancient Egypt.
  • He belonged to a prestigious order, the Arx Arcanus, seeking to unlock the secrets of eternal life, the universe, and self perfection through a mix of the occult & early science.
  • The order's secret task was sustaining the life of the immortal emperor, but the emperor is pretty odious, and longer the emperor lives the harder it becomes to keep him alive. Thus, Flaviatticus was always looking for ways to ingratiate himself to the emperor while getting out from underneath the emperor's thumb.
  • He was a callous slave owner who once kept the minotaur PC as a slave.
  • He was a rival to the warlock PC whose research he sabotaged (leading to the horrific mutation of the warlock PC) and stole for his own. However, he still hasn't unlocked the secret to eternal life, and has traveled to "Ancient Egypt" to seek out clues about it.
  • Flaviatticus used the stolen research to wind back the clock on his life, gaining brilliant health, handsomeness, and sharpness of mind. However, this transformation isn't permanent and periodically he reverts back to his decrepit form struggling with senility.
  • He's a very cunning adversary who seeks things to gain arcane familiarity to those he seeks to control or anticipates getting into conflict with (e.g. blood, heirs, fingernail clippings, psychically close objects).

I've looked over the Artificer's Alchemist subclass and found it really uninspiring with strange spell list and fiddly abilities that don't translate well to a NPC stat block. So far, I've statted up some of his minions / colleagues as CR 5 alchemists (see below), so my hunch is Flaviatticus would probably be roughly in the CR 6 to 10 range. However, I'm struggling figuring out what unique things a master alchemist like Flaviatticus can do.

Any suggestions of resources I should look at for designing this NPC? Other monsters/NPCs/subclasses I should look to for inspiration?

His minions/colleagues...

NPC: Arx Arcanus Alchemist
Medium humanoid (any), any
Armor Class 11
Hit Points 65 (10d8+20)
Speed 30 ft.
8 (-1) 12 (+1) 14 (+2) 18 (+4) 13 (+1) 13 (+1)
Saving Throws Con +5, Int +7
Damage Resistances poison
Skills Arcana +7, Investigation +7, Medicine +4, Nature +7
Senses passive Perception 11
Languages Common, Pax Imperican, plus two more
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Alchemical Cunning. The alchemist can use an alchemical item as a bonus action, and applies it proficiency bonus to attacks with alchemical items that function as improvised weapons.

Spellcasting. The alchemist is a 13th level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (+7 to hit with spell attacks, spell save DC 15). It has the following wizard spells prepared:

Cantrips: guidance, resistance, spare the dying
1st level (4 slots): absorb elements, catapult, grease
2nd level (3 slots): alter self, darkvision, pyrotechnics
3rd level (2 slots): dispel magic, revivify
4th level (1 slot): elemental bane, stoneskin


Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 10/30 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.

Aqua Regia. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 20 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d6) acid damage.

Liquid Fire. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 20 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (2d4) fire damage, and the target is lit aflame, taking 5 (2d4) fire damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature can use its action to makea DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to extinguish the flames. Water will not douse the flames.

Rust Monster Enzyme. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 30 ft., one target. Hit: Any nonmagical metal weapon on the target takes a -1d4 penalty to damage, and any nonmagical metal armor worn by the target suffers a 1d4 reduction to the AC it offers.

Arcane Bomb. The alchemist lights the bomb and throws it at a point up to 60 feet away. Each creature within 5 feet of that point must succeed a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) fire damage plus an extra 1d6 force damage per spell slot expended.

Essence of Ether. A creature within 5 feet must succeed a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 8 hours. The poisoned creature falls unconscious. It wakes up if it takes damage or if another creature takes an action to shake it awake.

The alchemist throws an orb at a point it up to 30 feet away. All creatures within 5-foot-radius sphere of that point are covered in glitterdust. Invisible creatures becoming visible for 1 minute or until the glitterdust is washed off with water. Each creature must succeed a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or become blinded until the end of its next turn.

Visual inspiration (old / young)...


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No rule is inviolate
  1. Don't worry about statting him up. Just make him a brilliant manipulator who relies on others. Once his abominations and drugged servants and so on are stripped away, he's probably got an ace up his sleeve (e.g. someone will die if I die type thing) to provide a conundrum other than combat.
  2. The Hulk. He's discovered Tenser's Transformation. This hearkens a bit more to the Pathfinder alchemist which could take mutagens to boost physical scores.
  3. Dorian Grey. He's found a bizarre form of immortality and doesn't care what the PCs do to his physical form, leading them to have to find the source of his power or continue to see him over and over (perhaps in a way that sets them up to be framed for his murder if he can leave a form behind).
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Possibly a Idiot.
For an Alchemist NPC, I would start with a Transmuter. Transmutation is the philosophy behind Alchemy, so it lets you do everything other than use potions and healing (which is trivial to add to a character)

As for ideas about their powers:
A concoction coated on their weapons that causes any target hit to be unable to heal.
Summoning oozes by throwing vials of stuff everywhere.
A Mythic form where they turn into a Brute after the PCs pound their nerdy form into the dirt.

Also not really a combat ready power, but extensive usage of Clones is a must.


The Witcher on Netflix has changed how I view possible alchemist tropes. :)

I would not think it too hard to reskin most any monster/NPC stat block to have alchemist/potion induced power flavor, so one that looks fun mechanically to you of your target CR range is where I would start looking then see how the mechanics can be described to fit your alchemist narrative description.

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