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D&D 5E What can you make with Alchemist's Tools?

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I'm making a character who is an alchemist (but not a wizard) and trying to figure out what you might craft using alchemist's supplies. This kind of thing is very much up to DM's discretion, but does anybody have any good guidelines?

The only items in the PHB that look alchemical to me are acid and alchemist's fire. I'd expect antitoxin and potion of healing to be alchemical, too, but those explicitly require an herbalism kit. Older editions had a few additional basic alchemical doodads, like tanglefoot bags, sunrods, etc., which 5e lacks. Is there something I'm missing or some good way to adjudicate what sort of items you can make using alchemist's supplies?
 

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77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Well! I thought about this more and seem to have answered my own question.

If potion of healing is a magic item that can be created using the mundane crafting rules and an herbalism kit, then other magic potions should be brewable using the alchemist's supplies. (I say "if" because there are other ways to interpret the relationship between herbalism kit and potion of healing, but I think my interpretation is a fairly common and perfectly reasonable one.)

Exactly which magic items you can make using alchemist's supplies is obviously up to the DM, but here is my take. I'd allow common and uncommon potions and wondrous items that are consumable "substances" (such as dusts, pastes, oils, etc.) and which don't have healing effects.
- Common and uncommon because rarer items have more exotic effects; because rarer items would take too damn long to craft; and because in Adventurer's League rarer consumables require an item certificate.
- Consumable because creating permanent magic items using crafting rules seems problematic.
- "Substances" because it fits the theme of alchemy (the tool is not called "artificer's supplies").
- No healing effects because that seems to be the purview of herbalism kit, and D&D has a long tradition of singling out healing as a privileged form of magic separate from other varieties.

Here are all the items in the DMG that fit that criteria (I think). I put down my own personal opinion of the price for each item based on the guidelines for consumable items: common are 25-50 gp and uncommon are 50.5-250 gp. I reduced the price of many uncommon items that seem less useful or less in demand, but by the guideline they could all be 250 gp.

dust of disappearance (250 gp)
dust of dryness (150 gp)
dust of sneezing and choking (100 gp)
oil of slipperiness (200 gp)
philter of love (250 gp)
potion of animal friendship (150 gp)
potion of climbing (50 gp)
potion of fire breath (150 gp)
potion of hill giant strength (250 gp)
potion of growth (200 gp)
potion of poison (100 gp)
potion of resistance (200 gp)
potion of water breathing (150 gp)
 


77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Thanks!

I got on a roll and decided to convert some of the alchemical items from 3e/3.5/PF. (In my opinion, this is the kind of stuff that should be in a conversion document, or better yet an Unearthed Arcana article.) I tried to base these effects off of low-level spells, but with reduced range/area/duration, except for thunderstone which is kind of a weak effect so I gave it a nice radius. I didn't convert tindertwig because I don't find them interesting or useful. Please let me know what you think!




Smokestick (10 gp, 1/2 lb.)
As an action, you can ignite this alchemically-coated wooden stick and toss it up to 30 feet. Thick smoke emerges from the stick, producing an effect identical to the fog cloud spell, except that it only fills a 10-foot-radius sphere and has a duration of only 1 minute. Smokesticks can be manufactured to produce smoke in nearly any color, sometimes with patterns of multiple colors, and are often used for long-distance signaling both at land and at sea.

Sunrod (10 gp, 2 lb.)
An iron rod tipped with a gilded orb, a sunrod contains 8 alchemical charges. As an action, you can expend a charge to illuminate the sunrod as though it were the target of the light cantrip. The color of the light is set when the sunrod is created.

Tanglefoot Bag (50 gp, 1 lb.)
This fragile canvas sack contains coiled strands of fibrous goo that expand and become sticky when exposed to air. As an action, you can throw the bag up to 30 feet, causing an effect identical to the web spell (save DC 10) except only filling a 5-foot cube and with a duration of only 1 minute. The tanglefoot bag has no effect on creatures that are Huge or larger, formless, or incorporeal.

Thunderstone (50 gp, 1/4 lb.)
When this dull, brittle crystal strikes a hard surface, it erupts with a bang that can be heard 500 feet away and can deafen nearby creatures. As an action, you can throw the stone at a hard surface within 30 feet. Creatures within 10 feet of that point are affected as though targeted with the blindness/deafness spell (save DC 10), causing a "deafness" effect.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Well! I thought about this more and seem to have answered my own question.

If potion of healing is a magic item that can be created using the mundane crafting rules and an herbalism kit, then other magic potions should be brewable using the alchemist's supplies. (I say "if" because there are other ways to interpret the relationship between herbalism kit and potion of healing, but I think my interpretation is a fairly common and perfectly reasonable one.)

Exactly which magic items you can make using alchemist's supplies is obviously up to the DM, but here is my take. I'd allow common and uncommon potions and wondrous items that are consumable "substances" (such as dusts, pastes, oils, etc.) and which don't have healing effects.
- Common and uncommon because rarer items have more exotic effects; because rarer items would take too damn long to craft; and because in Adventurer's League rarer consumables require an item certificate.
- Consumable because creating permanent magic items using crafting rules seems problematic.
- "Substances" because it fits the theme of alchemy (the tool is not called "artificer's supplies").
- No healing effects because that seems to be the purview of herbalism kit, and D&D has a long tradition of singling out healing as a privileged form of magic separate from other varieties.

Here are all the items in the DMG that fit that criteria (I think). I put down my own personal opinion of the price for each item based on the guidelines for consumable items: common are 25-50 gp and uncommon are 50.5-250 gp. I reduced the price of many uncommon items that seem less useful or less in demand, but by the guideline they could all be 250 gp.

dust of disappearance (250 gp)
dust of dryness (150 gp)
dust of sneezing and choking (100 gp)
oil of slipperiness (200 gp)
philter of love (250 gp)
potion of animal friendship (150 gp)
potion of climbing (50 gp)
potion of fire breath (150 gp)
potion of hill giant strength (250 gp)
potion of growth (200 gp)
potion of poison (100 gp)
potion of resistance (200 gp)
potion of water breathing (150 gp)

I liked your approach.

If I had to to the same, maybe as a variant I would restrict Alchemy to substances that affect objects rather than people, so that Herbalism focuses instead on living subjects.
 

KingsRule77

First Post
The only issue I see and I may be wrong is that I believe in the PHB it specifically says that a basic potion of healing is technically not magic so much as a medicinal concoction. I may be wrong, but even if I'm right I'm not sure that would invalidate your idea.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I had to check to be sure, but the potion of healing is specifically called magical in the PHB.

Another thing that seems legit to build with an alchemist's tools is the Renaissance bomb in the DMG (p.268). 3d6 damage in a 5-foot radius, for 150 gp, sounds entirely balanced to me. Plus it is very much in-line with the popular image of medieval alchemy. ("How can fire undo stone?") Also the presence of such bombs is unlikely to change medieval warfare much, at 150 gold a pop. They might find some use in siege defense or ship-to-ship combat but it seems like there would always be MUCH cheaper options available if you don't need your 3d6 fire damage to be small and portable. It might impact how assassinations are carried out, though; but of course magic will do that too.

Now one problem is if you don't mind bombs in your setting but don't want firearms, some player (you know the type) is going to want to use their knowledge of alchemy to invent gunpowder and guns. There are many ways to deal with that player, but I'd run with it, and make it part of an epic quest. Even if you think up the design for a gun or cannon, developing powder and barrels and fuses of all just the right quality, and the techniques for producing them, takes years of experimentation and research. It may require consulting expert dwarven metallurgists and plumbing the tomb of an ancient alchemist and that sort of thing. Plus a lot of Intelligence (alchemist's tools) checks. And on a failure, you lose 1d4 fingers. ;}
 

JasonZZ

Explorer
Small (but probably very high quality) quantities of distilled spirits.

I'm actually not joking here. That would be one genuine use (and actually one mentioned in some earlier editions' versions of the alchemist).
 

Fralex

Explorer
I actually converted a bunch of alchemical items in ENWorld Arcana, which was supposed to be this giant collection of different people's houserules. Not sure what happened with that, but this is what I contributed:

Additional Alchemical Items
These variants improve on the base selection of alchemical items. I based all these items around the idea that a 50-GP single-use item should produce an effect roughly on par with a 1st-level spell (based on the numbers in the DMG). Alchemist's fire is grossly overpriced by that measure, so I made it better.
[sblock]
»Alchemist's Fire (revised): As described in the PHB, but on the turn it hits a target, it deals 1d8 fire damage immediately. The ongoing fire damage begins at the start of the target's turn, just like usual, but the damage is 1d6 each time instead of 1d4. (50 gp)


»Alchemist's Spark: Utilized like Fire variant, but deals 3d4 lightning damage on a hit. Also on a hit, all creatures within 5 feet of the target take the same amount of damage, or half as much on a successful DC 10 Dexterity saving throw. Creatures wearing armor made of metal have disadvantage on the save. (50 gp)


»Alchemist's Frost: Utilized like Fire variant, but deals 4d4 cold damage and slows the target for one minute on a hit. While slowed, all of target's speeds are reduced by 15 feet and any bonuses to speed are suppressed. It may end the effect early by using its action to successfully make a DC 10 Strength check. (50 gp)


»Thunderstone: Can be thrown at a point within 60 feet as an action, where it smashes. When smashed, all creatures within 10 feet of it take 1d10 thunder damage, or half that damage on a successful DC 10 Constitution saving throw. Any creature that fails the save is also deafened for 1 minute, or until they receive any magical healing. (50 gp)


»Aura Bomb: A flask of luminous swamp gas and ground foxfire. As an action, throw it at a point within 60 feet to outline everything within 10 feet in harmless ghostly flames. All objects in the area, as well as creatures in the area that fail a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, are affected as if by the faerie fire spell, but the effect is not magical and only lasts until the end of your next turn. (40 gp)


»Fortifying Tincture: This is a simple herbal tonic designed to improve one aspect of your physical capabilities for 10 minutes after drinking. A fortifying tincture can be brewed to boost either Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. While under its effects, whenever you make a saving throw or ability check with the designated ability, you roll a d4 and add it to the d20 roll. Drinking another tincture while still under the effects of a previous one will cause the previous one's effects to end early. This concoction can be brewed with either alchemist's supplies or an herbalism kit. (30 gp)


»Smokestick: As an action, you can snap the end off this short, wooden rod to spark an alchemical reaction. When broken, thick, gray smoke billows steadily out of it, heavily obscuring the area within a 10-foot radius in a matter of seconds. The smoke doesn't rise or sink, but it disperses on its own after 1 minute. Moderately fast wind (at least 10 mph) disperses the cloud early. The stick is too light to be thrown farther than 20 feet on its own. (20 gp)

[/sblock]


Additional Rules involving alchemical items:
This variant adds extra items for alchemist's supplies to craft, a way to boost their power at higher levels, and a few other things.
[sblock]
»Like all improvised weapons, alchemical weapons requiring attack rolls can also be thrown as far away as 60 feet, but aiming at anything further away than 20 feet imposes disadvantage on the attack roll.


»Increase the DCs of saving throws and ability checks called for by alchemical items by the Intelligence modifier of the creator. +2 or +3 is a typical amount for alchemists selling their wares.


»It would be historically accurate to add the following to the list of things a character proficient in alchemist's supplies can craft: fine inks (of a high enough quality to be suitable for magical procedures), gunpowder (said to be discovered by Chinese alchemists), and holy water (most alchemists held a very religious view of their ancient science; the quest to transmute lead into gold was viewed by most as a metaphor for the purification of the soul, believing any physical refinement could also be duplicated spiritually).


»When crafting an alchemical item, a character makes progress in increments of 25 gp per day, as if it were a magic item. It still only costs half the base price in raw materials.


»A character proficient with alchemist's supplies can attempt to empower any alchemical item by very carefully fusing the essences of two identical items into a single compound. Doing so requires an hour of work and a successful DC 16 Intelligence check. On a failure, both items are ruined. On a success, the item's potency increases twofold. All attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks still occur as normal, but any effects that occur as the result of a roll are applied twice. In addition, the DC for any saving throw or ability check the new item calls for is equal to the higher of the two combined items' DCs, plus two (for example, combining a DC 11 item and a DC 13 item will create a DC 15 item). An already-empowered alchemical item cannot be empowered again.

[/sblock]
 
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Fralex

Explorer
Could you make an alchemist? :hmm:

Well, there's no specific alchemist class like in Pathfinder, but I once made a gnomish transmuter wizard with the Guild Artisan: Alchemist background. I was proficient in alchemist's tools and the DM let me have a homunculus for a familiar. I wasn't expecting that kind of leeway in a store-run game, but the very next battle my homunculus saved the lives of two party members by ferrying healing potions around. It really came in handy, and didn't feel game-breaking, either.

I do wish the transmuter wizard's Minor Alchemy power was a little better, though. I really like it, but it works pretty slowly so it's not as exciting.
 


DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
The new Pathfinder Alchemy Manual is pretty awesome, for a staple-bound player aid. I'm not sure if I'll have the time or inclination to do any conversions of it for D&D5 but if the book flew under your radar and you are interested in alchemy in D&D it might be worth your time to pick up.
 

apocalisto

First Post
A friend and I found the official D&D 5e rules on alchemy somewhat limited, so we wrote a Guide to Alchemy and published it on DMsGuild. Besides a long list of recipes for brews, lotions, plastics, gases and elixirs, we go into the science of making potions which allows improvisation and invention of potions by the characters.

Whether you are a DM looking for cool potions, for exotic ingredients to base quests on, or a player whose character wants to dabble in alchemy, this book might interest you!

Kaziquek's Guide to Alchemy
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I've toyed around with an Alchemist class...an alchemist theme [like 5e's "backgrounds" but with more usable/growing utility in my homebrew system]...an Alchemist as a Rogue subclass...I love the idea/concept for a character in a D&D-type fantasy RPG (particularly if or whether you're running in a lower magic setting or not).

Using charcoal was an effective poison remedy for a very long time...not 100% IRL, of course, but this is D&D. I would absolutely put Antitoxin on the list. Potion of healing, I'd leave to the herbalists. Generating poison makes sense as well...plenty of metals, stones, acids, and combinations thereof than can be deadly if ingested.

I think the simplest way would be for a "concoction" progression mechanic. Begin with 1 or 2 + Int. modifier or Prof bonus or however many you think reasonable mixtures that the Alchemist can make that duplicate the effects of [a list of "cherry picked" to make sense or any] a Cantrip level spell. A few levels later, let them begin to accumulate 1st level spell effects.

Regardless of the spell description these magic effects, however, all require a successful "attack" (thrown, poured, whatever, you have to hit/apply the target with the material/mixture/liquid) roll and effect a 10' diameter (5' radius from impact) space.

I would be holding off on homunculus creation til a mid-level feature. Other features should be generally in line with transmuter specialist mage abilities.

Off the top of my head, I'd make up something like this...

Alchemist
Level: Distillates You add one concoction of a level you can use each level thereafter
@1st: Choose 3: Acid Splash, Light, Mending, Produce Flame, Poison Spray, Shillelagh (a mixture/oil that can be applied to a wood weapon to harden/give it the damage boost)
@3rd: Choose 2: Antitoxin, Detect Magic, Detect Poison & Disease, Fog Cloud, Grease, Sleep (gas bomb)
@5th: Choose 2: Arcane Lock, Darkness, Hold Person, Magic Weapon, Shatter, Web
@7th: Choose 1: Dispel Magic, Fireball, Protection from Energy, Stinking Cloud
@9th: Choose 1: Conjure Minor Elementals, Fabricate, Stoneskin, Wall of Fire
 


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