Weird question I know, but I've been scratching my head with this build thinking it might be a bit too powerful at least in the early stages of a campaign.


Traits: Enduring Mutagen, Firebug


    1. Anointing: Mercurial Oil
      Bonus Discovery: Precise Bomb
    1. Explosive Bomb
    1. Strafe Bomb
    1. Anointing: Essence Booster
    1. Preserve Organs
    1. Greater Mutagen


    1. Steadfast Slayer
    1. Concentrated Splash
    1. Master Alchemist
    1. Power Attack
    1. Vital Strike
    1. Extra Discovery (Mummification)
    1. Devastating Strike

Weapon of Choice (Greatsword, Earthbreaker, Glaive or Scythe) Get Vest of Stable Mutation

The general idea is to pump up on mutagen, load up a hybridized Artokus's Fire/Mineral Acid combo, and just leap in and tear up anybody that gets in your way with powerful single strike blows and point-blank Bombs. My fear is that it's going to be too strong too quickly and overshadow a lot of the other players.

Am I overthinking it thinking it might be a bit much?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Any idea what the other PCs may look like? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ No clue but i have to assume they wont be as compact as this build. \$\endgroup\$
    – Masakan
    Jan 19 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might stop assuming that; this isn't even the most concerning Alchemist build I've seen. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


No nerf needed

If I am understanding your concept correctly, you plan on your grenadier fighting like a barbarian, but with mutagen substituting for Rage. As an alternative method of attack your grenadier will throw alchemical substances or bombs if getting up close and personal is contra-indicated.

Now, there is no reason that you cannot play the character with these tactics, but the grenadier will not fight as well as a dedicated melee character or (except maybe for a brief window of levels) a dedicated ranged character. In order of seriousness, the problems I can see are:

  1. Action economy. When an encounter battle kicks off, a figher or barbarian is ready to rock. The grenadier needs to spend a standard action to consume a mutagen, then another standard action or two (from level 2 onwards) to anoint weapon and/or armour. (The flavour text for grenadiers says they can drink potions, elixirs and mutagens quickly, but it is not specified in rules.) Without those 2-3 rounds of buffs, your character is not able to be an effective melee fighter, quite apart from...
  2. Too many key attributes. STR and CON are essential for a front line fighter, DEX is needed for AC (light armour only) and throwing bombs and INT is essential for alchemy in general and bomb damage in particular. Without a freakishly lucky set of attributes, your character will be lucky to be good at anything.
  3. BAB progression and single attacks. At levels 1-4 the grenadier's base attack will be only one less than a full BAB class, but it will get worse from there. Anointing a greatsword with mercurial oil to give it a base damage of 3d6 is nice at level 1 (provided there's time to buff - see point 1), but it's definitely not keeping up by level 8. You're clearly thinking that at level 9 a single Vital Strike doing 6d6 plus power-attack-modified-strength is powerful, but from bitter experience it is not overwhelming by that level, or even vaguely competitive with a dedicated melee build - especially when you miss with that one attack. (A full BAB class with one round of preparation to put a 50 gp oil of Lead Blades on their weapon can do the same thing you have committed a discovery to, with a better chance of hitting and doing more damage.)
  4. Feat choices. There are a whole bunch of issues here. Steadfast Slayer only works if the grenadier is soloing something larger, but the build has no provision for closing inside larger creatures' reach. Concentrated Splash does not work with bombs, which means it is only useful for the very brief window of character levels when alchemical weapons are relatively powerful. Vital Strike and Power Attack do not work with bombs. (Despite describing the use of "point-blank Bombs", I note that Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot have not made it onto the list.)

TL;DR is that at low levels this character concept can switch between melee and (short) ranged combat being only slightly less effective than a fully-focused melee or ranged combatant. By level 5-6 the combination of reduced BAB and fragmented priorities for attributes and feats will make it significantly less effective at everything and the gap will widen as level increases.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was honestly thinking about using that single strike in tandem with alchemical weapon, basically turning the greatsword into a gas powered claymore. \$\endgroup\$
    – Masakan
    Jan 23 at 19:37

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