View Full Version : Another alchemy attempt (3.5)

2008-09-26, 10:34 AM
Well, having read a few versions to improve alchemy, I thought of this.

Treat alchemical flasks as magical ammunition - the parallels are strong. One shot, damage dealing, anyone can buy them.

A +1 arrow costs 40gp. It can deal 1dN damage (N=8 for a longbow), plus 1 for enhancement, plus possible strength bonus from a mighty bow, and punches through DR/magic just fine. Assuming no strength and a 1d8 damage bow it's still 5.5 average damage. Add some strength damage and itís clearly much greater than flask damage.

A flask of most alchemical damage mixtures is in the 10gp-25gp range, and typically deal 1d6 or 1d8 of an element damage (Acid is cheapest at 1d6 acid damage, Alchemical Frost is 1d8 cold and costs 25gp) - 3.5 damage on average, and deals a point of damage on a splash.

Sure, they're not exactly equal in all respects - ammunition tends to require a real hit roll, not a touch attack, and doesn't have splash damage. On the other hand, ammunition can be recovered if it misses, can benefit from bow-based effects (a bane arrow benefits from a flaming enhancement on a bow) as well as potentially offering strength damage, and has a much greater range.

Once you are out at any real range the penalties on the ranged touch attack start to make the arrows look pretty decent - lobbing a flask 60 feet at -10 ranged touch attack will be pretty similar to an arrow roll to hit against people with about 8 AC due to armour.

If one uses 20gp as the cost of a 1d6 damage flask (reasonable given the range of values) it's about half the cost of the magic ammunition. Maintaining that ratio, and assuming we can stack multiple "flaming" enhancements on an item (why not, it's not 2 flaming enhancements is really any more powerful than a flaming/shocking weapon in most situations), we get something like the following.

1d6 damage - 20gp
2d6 damage - 80gp
3d6 damage - 180gp
4d6 damage - 320gp

Alternately, one could consider them 20gp cheaper than equivalent ammunition, and get the following

1d6 damage - 20gp
2d6 damage - 140gp
3d6 damage - 340gp
4d6 damage - 620gp

This is closer to the cost of ammunition, but I think may be too punitive, since ammunition can typically be fired faster, benefits from bow-enhancements, etc.

I'd use the first table of costs, but limit throwing flasks to a single attack per round, regardless of whether quickdraw were used - they're breakable flasks that one has to treat somewhat carefully. Alternately, use the second list of costs, and treat them as normal ammunition, allowing them to be rapidly thrown via feats like quickdraw.

With a cost established, we can use the Craft Magic Arms and Armour as reference - if one needs to be 3*weapon bonus to enchant an item, we simply require an appropriate number of ranks in alchemy - 6 ranks for a 1d6 flask, 9 ranks for a 2d6 flask, etc. Use the same basic DCs, you've captured the skill requirement anyway in the ranks needed.

If balance seems like an issue, make a feat necessary - Improved Alchemy - to get at these bonuses. Since craft Arms and Armour allows working on both offence and defence, one might wish to create some defensive flaks that can be used on one's gear, at a similar sort of cost structure - but I haven't thought too much about how that might work. The Improved Alchemy could otherwise perhaps allow use of the various weapon enhancements instead, without requiring spells.

A Bane flask could be a caustic brew specifically designed to eat at the flesh of (as an example) a dragon. Treat it as a +2 bonus item, the first +1 is for the base damage (1d6 acid, for example), the second +1 is the Bane enhancement, possibly requiring a Knowledge check of some sort to brew. Thus, for 80gp or 140gp, depending on which cost structure is used, one has a flask that deals 1d6 acid +2d6 versus dragons.

I think that this blends pretty well with the amount of damage one can get through enhanced ammunition, which seems the best parallel for flask-based damage.