View Full Version : [3.X] Alchemical Items

2010-07-12, 01:53 PM
So I'm in the process of rewriting the Pathfinder Alchemist (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/extras/advanced-player-s-guide-playtest/alchemist), because I love the concept, but the crunch sucks (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=159282).

In addition to making bombs (which can also be converted into traps), the main class ability for my re-write is that it can create any potion, oil, poison, drug, or alchemical items. Doing so is a full round action that requires a Craft (Alchemy) check. When creating any such item, the alchemist can ignore any spellcasting requirement as long as the level of the spell required are no more then 1/2 of the alchemist’s class (minimum 1). You also ignore any gp or xp requirement. And the Save DC for any item is based on your level and Int bonus, not the normal DC for the item.

To balance this out, any item you create only lasts one hour. Each potion and drug imposes a -2 penalty on Constitution for the duration of the potion, and multiple penalties stack. No item can have more then one oil, poison, or alchemical substance applied to it. And you can only create a certain number of items ([Level*2] + Int bonus) before you have to refresh your portable alchemy lab (which takes 1 hour).

Potions and oils can basically be any spell (or 3rd level or lower) from any list with a range of Personal or Target Touched. Brilliant Gameologist has a Poison Handbook (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=4854.0). Darrin has a an excellent list of Drugs (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=148101).

But I wasn't able to find any good alchemical item lists. Is there one? Are there alchemical items worth using? Are there non-core alchemical items worth mentioning? Does changing the Save DC of alchemical items so that they scale make them worthwhile and/or too strong? Are there any suggestions for my homebrew class?

2010-07-12, 01:54 PM
Shax has an awesome writeup of alchemical items. A lot of them aren't core. Watch out for the aboleth mucus.


Fax Celestis
2010-07-12, 02:08 PM
Most alchemical items sadly suck. There's some good ones in Dungeonscape.

I would like to see alternative uses for existing alchemical items if used by an Alchemist. Like, say, an alchemist can toss a smokestick as a grenade, creating a 5' radius patch of fog that nauseates creatures inside it. Or transform sunrods into flash-bang grenades. Transform thunderstones into tiny targeted shatter effects that you have to hit with a touch attack against the shatter target.

I'd also suggest seeing if you can rip the spellvial mechanism out of the Alchemist Savant from Magic of Eberron. Yes, the ability is basically potions from Charmed, but it's still pretty cool.

2010-07-12, 02:29 PM
How about we just gather ideas for alchemical items and creative poisons, then write a few up? That would help a lot.

2010-07-12, 02:35 PM
How about we just gather ideas for alchemical items and creative poisons, then write a few up? That would help a lot.

That's pretty much what I'm trying to do. Any and all help would be appreciated.

2010-07-12, 02:36 PM
Well, it sounded like you wanted "official" items from WotC, not homebrew ones.

I mean, I can think of a few ideas before tomorrow.

2010-07-12, 03:01 PM
Well, it sounded like you wanted "official" items from WotC, not homebrew ones.

I mean, I can think of a few ideas before tomorrow.

Both such items would be welcomed. Thanks.

2010-07-12, 03:33 PM
But I wasn't able to find any good alchemical item lists. Is there one? Are there alchemical items worth using? Are there non-core alchemical items worth mentioning? Does changing the Save DC of alchemical items so that they scale make them worthwhile and/or too strong?

There was an old thread on gleemax or the old wizards board that had some of the more obscure ones... and now I can't find it, so maybe it got gobbled. But I went through pretty much *every* sourcebook and looked at all of the alchemical items for Shax's Haversack. I tried to pick out what I thought were the best (there's a "Top Ten" post in the Shax thread). Eberron had some of the better items (notably the Bloodspikes), but for some really annoying reason they kept forgetting to list the craft DCs (or maybe this was deliberate... those Bloodspikes seemed a bit potent). I also listed a bunch of the more disappointing alchemical items in the "Lesser Alternatives" post. If I could find a craft DC, I took care to list it at the end of the description, so you can search the various Shax posts for "Craft (Alchemy)".

There were a large number of alchemical items in various Dragon magazine articles, but almost all of them were lousy or just too limited to be useful. Even so, I was trying to compile and catalog all of those at one point, but abandoned the effort to focus on those that had been reprinted in various sourcebooks. While I like to use Dragon material (I paid money for most of 'em, I'd like to be able to use 'em), a great many folks on this forum don't... and yeah, based on the shoddy playtesting and wacky balance issues, I can see why.

The biggest problem with alchemical items is the low save DCs. Most of them are laughably pathetic even at 1st level. While I love the idea of something that might make the save DCs more useful, you quickly run into the same problem with poisons: it's difficult to get around a mechanic where you pay more GP for a higher DC, and once you go down that road... it's too hard to control how much wealth the PCs can get their hands on if they're really clever about it.

Can you be a bit more specific about what types of alchemical items you're looking for? Are you looking for offensive and/or splash weapons? Or debuffs/negative status effects? Or just "stuff that doesn't suck"?

2010-07-12, 10:31 PM
Oh, forgot to mention... recent obscure discovery:

Tarmak War Paint, Dragonlance Campaign Setting p. 232. 500 GP, grants +5 bonus to natural armor and Fast Healing 5. After healing 20 HP, it loses its effectiveness. Craft (Alchemy) DC: 25.

Look out for Chaos Flask abuse (this war paint might be a good example, too).

2010-07-13, 12:33 AM
Dragon Compendium has a few nice ones, actually. A few that have no mechanical effect but are nice touches to throw around (alchemist's mercy, ice stone), and a few that could genuinely be useful. One of particular note, in part because it could replace an item in the afformentioned Haversack of Awesome. Liquid Ice. freezes a 10 foot square of water, can be used to put out fires, and can be thrown as a grenadelike weapon for 1d6 cold and 1 splash damage. for 30gp.

2010-07-13, 05:40 AM
Well, making alchemical items that are useful out of combat should be a lot easier than making those actually useful in combat, especially at mid- to high levels.

I mean, even alchemical cough syrup wouldn't be too bad in the standard pseudo-medieval setting.

One thing that should be useful is more alchemical weapon oils: there is one to make your weapon ignore DR/silver, but if that's possible, DR/cold iron shouldn't be too difficult either.

Now, the problem would really be differentiating where alchemy ends and magic begins. Medieval alchemy claimed to be able to transmute one substance into another. Fantasy alchemy based on that would sound a lot like just transmutation magic. Similarly, in Eberron, alchemists can throw items dealing cold and electricity damage. What exactly separates those from magic items doing the same, then? Not necessarily in the rules, but in the fluff, I mean.

What can alchemy do, and what can't it do?

2010-07-13, 05:48 AM
Quoting myself, 'cause I'm all meta like that.

I made a list for my own use of places to find Alchemical stuff (I was playing a Halfling Ranger with the Grenadier feat (PHB2) and the Shaped Splash feat (Races of Eberron)). I haven't done other equipment 'though.

Places to check for Alchemy stuff;

PHB 3.5 (p 70-71, 128-129)
Alchemist's Fire
Tanglefoot Bag

Book of Vile Darkness (p 41-44
Feather Powder
Festering Bomb
Weeping Stone
Agony (Liquid Pain)
Mordayne Vapore (Dreammist)
Mushroom Powder
Redflower Leaves
Terran Brandy

Libris Mortis (p 73-74)
Embalming Fire
Liquid Night

Races of the Dragon (p 122-123)
Bitterleaf Oil (DC 15)
Ditherbomb (strong (DC 20), weak (DC 15) or wyrm (DC 25), can’t take 10 on these checks)
Fire Beetle Lamp (DC 10)
Sundark Goggles (DC 15)

Races of the Wild (p 168)
Leafweave Armor (also requires Craft (armorsmithing))

Races of Stone (p 159-161)
Blasting Pellets
Blister Oil
Spiderlily Essence

Complete Mage (p 134-135)
Auran Mask
Crackle Powder
Fast Torch
Screaming Flask
Weeping Flask

Complete Adventurer (p 118-122)
Blend Cream
Focusing Candle
Fareye Oil
Flash Pellet
Hawk's Ointment
Healer's Balm
Keenear Powder
Lockslip Grease
Nature's Draught
Antitoxin Capsule
Ironman Capsule
Leap Capsule
Stability Capsule
Strongarm Capsule
Swiftstride Capsule

Draconomicon (p 116-117) *requires Dragoncrafter feat*
Blood Elixir

Lords of Madness (p 114-115) *requires Grell Alchemy feat*
Grell Crystal
Lightning Lance (magic item, requires Alchemy)
Greater Lightning Lance (magic item, requires Alchemy)
Silver Spear (magic item, requires Alchemy)

Heroes of Battle (p 134-137)
Acid Stone
Alchemist's Stone
Holy/Unholy Stone? (should require a priest, not an alchemist)
Tanglefoot Shot

Stormwrack (p 108)

Frostburn (p 78-79)
Armor Insultation
Freeze Powder
Frostbite Salve
Ice Chalk
Melt Powder
Polar Skin
Razor Ice Powder
Whale Grease

Sandstorm (p 101-103)
Deep Draught
Ironthorn Extract
Keepcool Salve
Slumber Sand
Sunshade Lotion

Special: Oleum (no Alchemy Craft DC, but it seems like it should be craftable)

Arms & Equipment Guide (p 32-35) *some repeated in Cadv*
Acid Bullet
Flame Bullet
Focusing Candle
Restful Candle
Darkvision Powder
Dehydrated Food
Farflame Oil
Hawk’s Ointment
Instant Rope
Nature’s Draught
Polar Skin
Signal Torch
Stonebreaker Acid
Vicious Bleeder

Savage Species (p 46-48)
Breathing Mask
Sculpter’s Slime

Eberron Campaign Setting (p 120-121)
Acidic Fire
Alchemist’s Frost
Alchemist’s Spark
Noxious Smokestick

Magic of Eberron (p 139-140) *no Alchemy Craft DCs*
Bloodspike (defiling)
Bloodspike (glowbug)
Bloodspike (spatter)
Bloodspike (tempo)
Bloodspike (thickener)

Faiths of Eberron (p 153-154) *no Alchemy Craft DCs*
Breath of the Devourer
Euphoric Sacrament

Oriental Adventures (p 78)
Eggshell Grenades (dust, flashpowder, pepper, poison smoke)
Flash Paper (moeragara)
Jade Powder
Liquid Smoke (ekitai kemuri)
Sleeping Fire (hinemuri)

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (p 96-97)
Alchemical Sleep Gas
Disappearing Ink

Dungeonscape (p 34-37)
Acid Neutralizer
Bottled Air
Firmament Stone
Ghostwall Shellac
Lava Stones

Drow of the Underdark (p 93-94)
Bile Droppings
Darkvision Powder
Dwarfblind Stone
Spelunker's Oil
Stoneburn Acid

Dragon magazine 280, article Better Living Through Alchemy, has some great stuff. Issue 301 also has a large article on Alchemy, but I don't recall it specifically. Quite a few (perhaps even all of them) seem to be reprinted in the Dragon Compendium.

Places checked;
PHB 3.5 (p 70-71, 128-129)
Book of Vile Darkness (p 41)
Libris Mortis (p 73-74)
Races of the Dragon (p 122-123)
Complete Mage (p 134-135)
Complete Adventurer (p 118-122) quite a lot of ‘em
Draconomicon (p 116-117) requires Dragoncrafter feat (only 1 item)
Lords of Madness (p 114-115) requires Grell Alchemy feat (only 3 items)
Heroes of Battle (p 134-137) alchemical siege shot
Stormwrack (p 108)
Frostburn (p 78-79)
Sandstorm (p 101-103)
Arms & Equipment Guide (p 32-35) quite a few, some repeated in CA
Savage Species (p 46-48)
Faiths of Eberron (p 153-154)
Eberron Campaign Setting (p 120-121)
Magic of Eberron (p 139-140)
Oriental Adventures (p 78)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (p 96-97)
Drow of the Underdark (p 93-94)

Of 3rd party stuff, the best one I’ve seen for a meaty and balanced selection is the Kingdoms of Kalamar Players Guide (p 113-116).

Adventurer's Armoury from Pathfinder has about 20-30 new alchemical items as well.

You can also, if the GM is amenable, make stuff up;

alchemical versions of cold and electricity damage, as mentioned above,

some sort of itching powder (-2 to certain checks for 1 minute?),

some sort of grease slick / instant ice-slick effect (5 ft. square grease effect for 2d4 rounds?),

'alkahest' or 'alchemical acid' that does continuing damage like alchemical fire,

some sort of stinkpot that causes sickness to normal targets and can cause nausea to those with Scent if they blow a save (as well as blinding their ability to track via scent for X amount of time),

a glowing liquid that splashes onto a target and 'paints' it like faerie fire for X number of rounds,

an oil that temporarily hardens wood, allowing for the crafting of darkwood armor and weapons,

an oil that permanantly hardens bone, allowing a culture that lacks metal (or won't use it for religious reasons) to craft armor and weapons from bone,

a salve that protects against the effects of environmental cold (cold resist 5, but only vs. nonlethal damage from cold, +4 to Fort checks to avoid same),

a salve that protects against the effects of environmental heat (same deal, but reversed),

a special oil that you can soak a cloth in, and then place over your mouth, allowing you to hold your breath for 4x Con rounds underwater, as it alchemically filters oxygen out of water to sustain you, popular with pearl divers and shipwreck salvagers,

a metallic-colored dye that you can soak normal clothing in, to give it the consistency of fine wire, giving it the same stats as Cloth Armor (and requiring a proficiency to avoid Armor Check Penalties applying to attack rolls, just as if it was now Light Armor), but retaining it's normal appearance as Traveler's Clothes or a Royal Outfit or whatever,

'alchemical caltrops,' a flask of freezing liquid that you splash into a square and it forms into steel-hard icicles that point upwards, acting as caltrops for X number of rounds until they melt away.

Non-adventurer stuff could include;

anti-aging creams that allow you to appear younger,

assorted long-lasting and natural-looking dyes for hair, skin and even eyes,

aphrodisiac or will-affecting perfumes that give the wearer a +2 alchemical bonus to bluff / diplomacy rolls vs. those who might be attracted to them,

'fear musk' that gives a similar bonus to Intimidate checks on those who have been exposed to it,

preservative oils or treated satchels that keep grains/foodstuffs within them fresh for two to five times the normal duration,

oils that treat wood and cause it to burn more slowly, but still produce the same amount of heat or light (allowing a torch to last 10x as long, for instance),

oils that cause wood to burn without producing more than a dim glow, but full heat (for hidden campfires),

lacquers that cause wood to resist burning at all (full hardness against fire and won't 'catch on fire' as a flammable object while treated),


fertility elixirs,

salves that cause hair to grow on the affected skin, up to the natural growth for that area (used by vain balding individuals, mostly, but invented by a dwarven alchemist who lost his beard in a lab explosion and couldn't get hair to grow normally on his fire-scarred cheeks and chin, to his great shame),

salves that cause hair *not* to grow on the affected area for 30 days, even making current hair fall out over the course of an hour, used for some as a beauty cream, and dwarves as a punishment (and, unlike most alchemical treatments, can be made permanant),

stimulants that allow someone who is fatigued to be able to function without penalty for an hour, at the cost of becoming exhausted when it wears off, doesn't work on someone who is already exhausted (other than to cause them to fall unconscious from fatigue after an hour...),

stone-softening salve that makes rock easier to work, halving it's hardness. Recipes to affect metal and wood are also available, and while the stone-softening salve is pretty darn expensive and not ideal for major stonework projects, it is in HOT demand by gnomish gemcutters, who are working with smallish stones that are worth hundreds or thousands of gold pieces (+2 to craft - gemcutting checks, as it's easier to carve and shape the softer gemstones, and there is less chance of disastrous fractures),

the little blue potion, beloved by middle-aged men everywhere, who regard this single alchemical concoction as sufficient reason for alchemists to exist.