D&D 5E The lazy fix to alchemists

NotAYakk

Legend
Alchemists - they can put bonus action and action spells into elixers. Anyone can use them. DCs and effects are determined by Alchemist, targets and concentration are by the user of the liquid.

Beneficial Elixers with one target are potions, and must be drunk by the target.

Detrimental Elixers must be thrown and have a range limit of Strength score + Dexterity score + Artificer level.

The Alchemist is limited to (int bonus min 1) + 1/2 Artificer level total elixer levels (the random ones are level 1 effects). Making an elixer consumes the spell slot.

Let them break the game.
 

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Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
[*]Make at least one "damage option" elixir. Have it deal 1d6 poison, necrotic, or acid damage (or more if we don't vibe with the "bonus action" use), and you can apply it to your weapon or another person's weapon and carry that bonus damage around for their next attack.
I’ve never understood why Alchemists can’t make things like acid, alchemist’s fire, and poison (maybe even antitoxin or holy water) on the fly. They’re all “alchemy” related (heck, alchemist’s fire even has it right there in the title). It may not be flashy, but it is a slight upgrade to their current abilities.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I’ve never understood why Alchemists can’t make things like acid, alchemist’s fire, and poison (maybe even antitoxin or holy water) on the fly. They’re all “alchemy” related (heck, alchemist’s fire even has it right there in the title). It may not be flashy, but it is a slight upgrade to their current abilities.
I house-ruled it so that they can, using the Downtime rules.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Why would your AC as an alchemist be so good? Medium armor and shield is decent, the +1 AC boost is nice sure but... highest AC in the game? I don't see it. You don't have the shield spell, or other "special effects" that can really boost your AC very high. Am I missing something?
At level 14, I had...

  • Half-plate with a +2 infusion (17 AC)
  • +2 from Dex modifier (19 AC)
  • +2 from a shield (21 AC)
  • +1 from the Repulsion Shield infusion (22)
  • And +1 from a replicate item cloak of protection (23)
  • And then could down that elixir for another +1 (24)

This is probably not literally the highest in the game, but it's the highest I've ever seen in actual play, and in combination with my healthy CON bonus and decent HP, the front lines were not nearly as scary for me as they would be for most casters. I was definitely out-AC-ing the Fighter and the Paladin, no problem. AND, I could've used those infusions on the Fighter or the Paladin instead, and they'd be working with a full-plate base rather than a half-plate base. I chose myself because I didn't want to have to remind my party members that they've got +2 armor and a +1 shield and a cloak of protection from me. :p

I would rather have taken infusions that increased my damage potential or disabling abilities or healing abilities, but guaranteed +2 armor, +1 shield, and a cloak of protection, with a +1 elixir on top...artificers have VERY GOOD defensive options.
 
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The artificer overall looks weaker on paper than I think it is in play. The subclass feature at 3rd level needs to carry the bulk of the playstyle vibe, but none of the subclasses have the power budget to spend on much more than "it's a slightly different weapon attack" and alchemists don't even have that!
It's the fifth level where the Alchemist needs to be stronger at least as much as the third level. Third level alchemist is a range of quasi-second level utility spells. Which ... isn't useless. But needs more. Fifth level is the cleric extra cantrip damage mechanic and that's fine ... for a cleric with their 9th level spells. The other three artificers in different ways all get an extra attack.
I’ve never understood why Alchemists can’t make things like acid, alchemist’s fire, and poison (maybe even antitoxin or holy water) on the fly. They’re all “alchemy” related (heck, alchemist’s fire even has it right there in the title). It may not be flashy, but it is a slight upgrade to their current abilities.
It's one reason why my house rules give the alchemist bombs.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
It's the fifth level where the Alchemist needs to be stronger at least as much as the third level. Third level alchemist is a range of quasi-second level utility spells. Which ... isn't useless. But needs more. Fifth level is the cleric extra cantrip damage mechanic and that's fine ... for a cleric with their 9th level spells. The other three artificers in different ways all get an extra attack.

I'm OK with the alchemical savant feature at 5th level as a damage boost. It's main function seems to be making your lower-level spells hit harder, and so it makes it worth it to spend your actions doing alchemist-y things like spraying poisons and acids and fire everywhere. It's probably weaker than extra attack, but I honestly didn't mind much. In play, it felt significant on my rays of sickness and acid arrows and cure wounds spells (and my poison spray cantrip, especially, since that was already 3d12 damage). It did it's job, I think.

It'd be even more notable if it applied to an experimental elixir that dealt one of those types of damage (or applied to an ally's attack). If I could have applied some poison to the fighter's attack rolls and added my INT bonus to the poison damage, maybe as a reaction to an ally making an attack, that would've felt pretty potent, I think, especially if it was something that didn't take my whole turn to do.

I'm not even 100% convinced that the experimental elixirs need to be more powerful, in an objective sense. They take a lot of time (and some significant resources) to use, they're easy to ignore, and there's no "special alchemist attack mode" option like there is for every other artificer subclass. They're not bad for Concentration-free buffs with unlimited range that anyone can use. They're just not usually "worth it" in the middle of a fight in terms of actions and other things you could be doing. And even with alchemical savant, it doesn't feel great having "casting a cantrip" be one of your best options for your entire action at 14th level.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'm OK with the alchemical savant feature at 5th level as a damage boost. It's main function seems to be making your lower-level spells hit harder, and so it makes it worth it to spend your actions doing alchemist-y things like spraying poisons and acids and fire everywhere. It's probably weaker than extra attack, but I honestly didn't mind much. In play, it felt significant on my rays of sickness and acid arrows and cure wounds spells (and my poison spray cantrip, especially, since that was already 3d12 damage). It did it's job, I think.

It'd be even more notable if it applied to an experimental elixir that dealt one of those types of damage (or applied to an ally's attack). If I could have applied some poison to the fighter's attack rolls and added my INT bonus to the poison damage, maybe as a reaction to an ally making an attack, that would've felt pretty potent, I think, especially if it was something that didn't take my whole turn to do.

I'm not even 100% convinced that the experimental elixirs need to be more powerful, in an objective sense. They take a lot of time (and some significant resources) to use, they're easy to ignore, and there's no "special alchemist attack mode" option like there is for every other artificer subclass. They're not bad for Concentration-free buffs with unlimited range that anyone can use. They're just not usually "worth it" in the middle of a fight in terms of actions and other things you could be doing. And even with alchemical savant, it doesn't feel great having "casting a cantrip" be one of your best options for your entire action at 14th level.

So the one to compare to I think here is artillerist, who also doesn't get a second attack, but also gets a very similar damage boost at level 5 (arcane firearm). However, they do get increased damage via their turret (or tons of temp HP), so they are clearly ahead of the alchemist damage wise. By having the alchemist get the homunculus for free, it does increase their damage somewhat - not as much as the turret, but it helps I think.

I also just remembered something I wanted to suggest but forgot - I think that having alchemical savant apply to the healing elixir would be another "small but meaningful" boost to their power.
 

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