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When you get a basic crafting book, it contains formulas for common items. Some of the things you gain access to are formulas for alchemical items. How does this pair with the alchemical formulas from the Alchemist class?

i.e. If I learn lesser antidote from the basic crafting book, can I just add that into my formula book for use with the quick alchemy/advanced alchemy class features? Or is there something I need to do to copy the formula from one book to another so that I can take advantage of the class feature? Or is it completely separate?

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    \$\begingroup\$ As of the 4th CRB printing the basic crafting book no longer gives alchemical formulas: "A basic crafter’s book includes all 0-level common items in the Equipment chapter, not all common items in the chapter." \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Jan 4, 2023 at 16:10

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The Alchemist gets a unique class feature, Formula Book, which specifies that they gain a formula book (item) and many of their class features reference that formula book, suggesting that you can only draw from that source.

However.

The item in question also indicates

Formulas can also appear on parchment sheets, tablets, and almost any other medium; there's no need for you to copy them into a specific book as long as you can keep them on hand to reference them.

This suggests a rule that having a formula is the only requirement, not that it be in that particular book.

The bottom line

You're going to have to check with your GM(s) on this one. There are contradictory rules and it's not entirely clear if the Alchemist class features constitute "more specific rules" because they never use language like "only" or indicate that you have to copy them to the specific book (although the text does say "your formula book" in the singular multiple times). RAW it would seem that you have to copy them over because you cannot use your class features without that book, but RAI seems that you should be able to use any formula on hand for crafting including the Alchemists' expedited versions.


There may be a caveat that a GM could allow; the text in the Formula Book (class feature) is

You start with a standard formula book worth 10 sp or less for free. The formula book contains the formulas for two common 1st-level alchemical items of your choice, in addition to those you gained from Alchemical Crafting and your research field.

It does not specify that it needs to be a blank formula book. The Basic Crafter's Book is, in fact, a book of formulas and is worth 10s or less (1s, in fact). Compared to the balnk formula book costing 1g (10s), this might suggest that the BCB is "full" and not a full sized formula book, and you would likely also need a blank formula book.

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They Don't

The basic crafting book was updated in a later printing to no longer grant alchemical formulas.

Is an Alchemist's Formula Book Specific?

Many alchemist class abilities reference 'your formula book', and there's even a specific feature called Formula Book that grants you an initial book for free. Regardless, it seems reasonable that every formula book you own could be described as "your formula book", and several rules support this interpretation.

The rules on formulas have a bit to say about copying formulas from one formula book to another:

You can copy a formula into your formula book in 1 hour, either from a schematic or directly from someone else’s formula book.

But this rule falls short of requiring that you need to do so before crafting these items using your alchemist features.

Quick Alchemy has a requirements section of "You have the formula for the alchemical item you're creating..." while also having an effect "You create a single alchemical item of your advanced alchemy level or lower that's in your formula book...". This seems to suggest that having a formula in a particular book and having a formula at all are considered equivalent for these features.

Finally there's the description of the blank formula book item that particularly supports this understanding:

A formula book holds the formulas necessary to make items other than the common equipment from this chapter; alchemists typically get one for free. Each formula book can hold the formulas for up to 100 different items. Formulas can also appear on parchment sheets, tablets, and almost any other medium; there's no need for you to copy them into a specific book as long as you can keep them on hand to reference them.

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Whenever my perusal of the books that contain the framework of the game we love so much generates a question, I try to look at it from all angles. While that might seem like "the most common" approach, things aren't always as they appear.

With regards to any point of contention or curiosity, we should consider that most sage advice of the authors: The First Rule (sidebar, page seven[7] of the Core Rulebook). It reads, in part,

"If any other rule gets in the way of your fun, as long as your group agrees, you can alter or ignore it to fit your story. The true goal of Pathfinder is for everyone to enjoy themselves."

Personally, I feel that judicious application of The First Rule could resolve many of the questions that we come up with. However, as a player and GM I understand the desire to have all the tees crossed an eyes dotted, so I'll dive a little deeper with my answer.

With their once-in-a-generation genius-level intellect, eccentric behavior, and constant studies and experiments, alchemists and wizards might be viewed as kindred spirits. Commonly seen as socially inept book worms, their thirst for knowledge typically has them referencing numerous tomes, forever uncovering new ways in which to be prepared for the next adventure. Who really keeps track of all those books anyway? My point? Wizards can learn new spells through research (reading them somewhere else for the most part). When a spellbook gets full what does a wizard do? Starts a new one! As long as the wizard pays the cost (in time and coin) then they are able to learn new spells. Why not do the same thing with alchemical formulae. So long as the cost is paid, does it really matter where the formula comes from?

Additionally, alchemists tend to be intelligent, wily, and elusive. Have you ever seen a particularly buff alchemist? More books means more bulk. No matter if it's due to weight or space (or even just convenience) these types of issues usually work themselves out.

I'll finish my rambling by rounding back to my original point: In the end it is, after all, just a game. It is a known fact that an individual must be at least this tall - intellectually speaking - to play Pathfinder well. Every once in a while we need to use that power for good, and just enjoy ourselves.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Quoting The First Rule isn't usually super-useful here. Some askers may not be aware of it, sure, but the fact the person is asking a question usually means they're looking for an actual answer from a relevant rule, not a general principle. It's hard to properly break rules you don't fully understand. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    May 30, 2022 at 20:38

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