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The alchemist starts at level 1 with eight first-level alchemical formulae - two from their specialisation, four from their alchemical crafting feat, and two for free because they're alchemists.

Alchemy alchemy alchemy.

But when I looked up purchasing formulae on page 293 of the CRB, I found that a sixth-level alchemical formula is only 13gp.

If a level 1 alchemist were to spend 13 of the 15 gold pieces they start with on such a formula, would they immediately be able to craft it and use it?

Alternatively, given that moderate versions of bombs are only level 3 formulae, could the alchemist purchase these formulae and start using them immediately with their infused reagents and quick alchemy, skipping the lesser versions entirely?

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You might be able to buy the formula, but can't craft it with Advanced Alchemy or Quick Alchemy

The class features "Advanced Alchemy" and "Quick Alchemy" both allow you to craft an alchemical item of your level or lower:

For Enhanced Alchemy:

Your advanced alchemy level is equal to your level. For each batch of infused reagents you spend, choose an alchemical item of your advanced alchemy level or lower that's in your formula book, and make a batch of two of that item

For Quick Alchemy:

You create a single alchemical item of your advanced alchemy level or lower

see Alchemist, emphasis mine

The "Craft" Activity is also limited to your level or lower

The rules for crafting state the following:

To Craft an item, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The item is your level or lower. An item that doesn't list a level is level 0. If the item is 9th level or higher, you must be a master in Crafting, and if it's 16th or higher, you must be legendary.

see Crafting, emphasis mine

So, if you come across a formula for a level 6 item, you can buy it (assuming you have the gold), and write it into your formula book (I don't know for sure if there is a rule preventing you from doing that, but I can not find one), but you can only use it once you reach Level 6.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that's perfect \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben R.
    Oct 25 '20 at 12:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is also recommended that GM's be cautious about allowing the party to even buy above their level \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Oct 26 '20 at 3:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso I assume that is mainly meant for stuff that the pcs could actually use (e.g. Magic Items), but yeah, good find. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Oct 26 '20 at 6:29

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