From the Quick Draw feat description:

Benefit: You can draw a weapon as a free action instead of as a move action. (...) Alchemical items, potions, scrolls, and wands cannot be drawn quickly using this feat.

What is the (balance) rationale behind this? I don't understand why alchemical items (splash weapons, in particular) would be excluded from this feat.

Can I safely house rule it away, or will it come back to haunt me?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I would guess that it was an over sight in the rules creation back in the 3.0 days. I would just house-rule it to include alchemical items, but that is up to the GM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roepsycho
    Aug 9, 2013 at 5:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you want a narrative rationale, or a rules balance one? \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    Aug 9, 2013 at 7:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @starwed rules balance \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric B
    Aug 9, 2013 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Roepsycho D&D 3rd Edition's Quick Draw benefit text reads, "You can draw a weapon as a free action instead of as a move-equivalent action." The term weapon is pretty broad, though, in a world of magic, not to mention improvised weapons ("I use Quick Draw to draw that piano!"). Here Pathfinder defines by negation. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2015 at 14:03

6 Answers 6


Historically, it’s because Paizo decided that Rogues (the ones most likely to take the feat) shouldn’t be so “good” at using such “magical” equipment. See also the ruling that alchemical weapons cannot be used for Sneak Attacks.

It’s more of an “image” concern. There really wasn’t any particular balance concern: Quick Draw was never a particular popular feat, nor was it ever especially powerful. The ability to pull out the appropriate wand, or at lower levels, the appropriate alchemical item, was a useful side-facet to the feat but rarely a reason to take it by itself. Remember, Quick Draw does not give the ability to “quick sheathe” anything, and in fact that’s not an option offered at all in either 3.5 or Pathfinder, so particularly with wands, after you’ve activated it, you need to do something with it before you can use another weapon. Dropping it is a free action, so that’s an option, but it has serious risks since that’s a valuable magical item you’re leaving on the floor.

But Paizo decided that it didn’t think Rogues should be using such items so much, despite the fact that an optimal Rogue will use them quite heavily. That’s the “balance” concern: not that it makes Rogues too powerful, but that it’s too frequently a better option for Rogues than “traditional” roguish weapons for Paizo’s taste.

Unfortunately, I am unable to find the original discussions of the alchemical weapons and Sneak Attack nerf, where this was hashed out.

Note that all of this was done before the Alchemist class existed. While there was no balance problem for the Rogue with respect to Quick Draw and alchemical items (as can easily be seen by the lack of balance problems due to this combination in 3.5), it is possible (though I doubt it) that there could be with the Alchemist. However, keep in mind that neither 3.5 nor Pathfinder is tightly balanced. With or without this nerf, the Alchemist is stronger than the Rogue and weaker than the Wizard. Thus, you can houserule this particular combination, and while it will improve some classes relative to others, it won’t improve them so much that it actually changes which is more powerful than the other.

Personally, this is one of many changes in Pathfinder that I houserule. Several other houserules are also aimed at improving Rogues’ lives (like the ability to Sneak Attack with splash weapons), because they need it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very interesting. I mistakenly interpreted it as a way to prevent alchemists from combining Quick Draw with alchemical items, because I could imagine no other class that would even want to. Since I have no problems whatsoever with the "image" of an alchemist hurling alchemist's fire and acid left and right (or a rogue, for that matter) , I'll be house ruling it away with a clean conscience. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric B
    Aug 9, 2013 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: I get the impression from your answer that you know these things for a fact. Do you? Or are you assuming? \$\endgroup\$
    – thomax
    Aug 9, 2013 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thomax There were statements made to this effect at the time when the alchemical-item-Sneak-Attack nerf came out, during (IIRC) the playtest. I wouldn't know where to find those quotes at this point, though, and there is a bit of synthesis as the discussion at the time had primarily to do with Sneak Attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 9, 2013 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EricB I am fairly sure (but don't have any means of double-checking) that this rule existed before the Alchemist class. That said, the Alchemist class may have been designed with this rule in mind. However, always bear in mind that Pathfinder, like 3.5 before it, is not even remotely a balanced game. The Alchemist, with or without this buff, is both quite a bit more powerful than, say, the Monk, and again with or without this buff, cannot hold a candle to the Wizard. That's just how 3.P is. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 9, 2013 at 22:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thomax The best evidence for the change to the feat Quick Draw I could find quickly is this thread. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2015 at 13:12

Reason #1: Because that's what the feat says. You may not want to go with this if it doesn't make sense, though; read on:

We can try to justify this feat's description. Typically, a sword or gun is positioned in such a way as to be drawn easily. Think scabbards and sheaths. Plus, critically, the handle on a sword and design of a sheath is conducive to quickly drawing; that is immensely important in combat.

However, there are a few problems with drawing other items:

  1. Scrolls, potions, and alchemical items aren't typically stored in such a way as to be conducive to Quickly Drawing them. You typically don't store scrolls, potions, etc. outside of you. They're often in bags and under cloaks. They're also awkward to carry like that, even if you could.
  2. They're more fragile; if you're withdrawing a potion or a scroll, you're definitely going to take greater care, and if you aren't, then you risk tearing the scroll, dropping the potion, or splashing it on you.
  3. They don't typically have grips like swords do, so they're not very conducive to Quick Drawing.

Wands, however, are a different story. Reading through this thread seems to indicate most people think it's silly to not Quick Draw wands. I tend to agree. In the case of potions, I would let players Quick Draw them if they're positioned in such a way as to be conducive to Quick Draw. This post (and almost the entire thread) supports this opinion.

My take has always been that this is due to the holster/sheath, not so much the weapon. When someone bucks up for a custom made bandoleer for their potion vials, for instance, I allow the same effect be emulated with other than weapons. -- Mark (source, post #4)

Ultimately, the rules of the game are at the players' and GM's discretion. If you and your players are in agreement that it makes sense to Quick Draw these things given a current situation, then do so. If your party is more rules-oriented, then just read the rules as-is.

In simpler terms, do what makes sense, and take the standard Pathfinder rules with a grain of salt.

Edit: Since you're looking more for a rules balance answer, here are my thoughts: Most of the time, this isn't going to affect anything. As @KRyan points out, this was originally intended to nerf rogues, however, it's not a terribly powerful feat to begin with. If you let it apply to these items, then you will very likely encounter no problems, and if you do encounter one of the edge cases of abuse (like repeatedly drawing to slow down action), then you as the DM can just say it's being taken to an unreasonable level.

As far as I can tell, there's nothing which justifiably breaks the game, even if there are a couple edge cases which do.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You can quick draw greataxes, and various other weapons that invalidate at least two of these examples. Is there a game balance rationale? I can't imagine this was added to the rules because of sheath design. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric B
    Aug 9, 2013 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eric Sort of. You can do some pretty sneaky things by Quickly Drawing magical items. Still, most of them aren't totally broken. And in the case of great axes, etc., whether or not you let it apply is up to you. \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Aug 9, 2013 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, no rationale is going to be perfect for almost all of the D&D feats. It's just something we have to accept and deal with when relevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Aug 9, 2013 at 15:41

I would suggest just creating bandoleer's and other items as DM creations that make the idea more feasible. My general decision as a DM is to give the designers of the game the benefit of the doubt, so for example, I know for a fact all weapons and guns have sheaths, scabbards, and holsters almost always, so they are subject to quickdraw. A wand has a handle and thus should also be subject to quickdraw, but alas in typical lore wands normally do not also come equipped with a handy device similar to a scabbard, or quick access holder.

The solution to this problem? Create equipment that holds the items you wish to quickdraw, and add them to the campaign with the equipment description stating that the use of these items makes the appropriate equipment they apply to subject to quickdraw. This maintains the intent behind the feat, allows for roleplay elements without House Ruling so much as adding content (Which is encouraged, and not entirely the same level as a house rule to over-ride an existing rule). Further its generally just cooler to add any item that adds flavor to the game, players even appreciate this sort of thing as it adds additional elements to their characters.

A rogue who is just dexterous with no rationale or role-play explanation for the remarkable dexterity that obviously should apply to weapons, but not so obviously to potions, benefits from equipping his or herself with quick attach poison and alchemical vial holders on his or her belt, or wand sheaths along the side of her or her leg, or scroll compartments designed for quickdraw which automatically cut the string binding the scroll as a roll and open it as you draw. These sorts of elements add finesse and flavor to the campaign and allow the DM and player to characterize and roleplay the scenes more, making it more fun, and heroic, which should be the goal of the game anyways.


I disagree with the general consensus about Alchemical Splash Weapons not workable with Quick Draw.

While I do conform and agree to the ruling that Alchemical Items by default can't be used with Quick Draw, I don't believe it discounts Alchemical Weapons from being used with Quick Draw (which are mostly but-not-all splash weapons). This is based on how the PRD labels the tables differently between these two categories of Alchemical objects.

When looking at the Ultimate Equipment PRD, Alchemical Tools and Alchemical Remedies appear to be considered Items by looking at the name of the column of those objects. They appear tabled and labeled just like items in the Adventuring Gear and Tools and Skill Kits sections. However, the Alchemical Weapons table is much different; it lists the name of the weapons under columns named Light Melee Weapons, One-Handed Melee Weapons, and Ranged Weapons along with all the other typical weapon details you would find in the Weapons, Eastern Weapons, and Firearms etc. sections such as range, damage dice, critical multiplier, and so on. I interpret this to mean that Alchemical Weapons are distinctly different from Alchemical Items such that the Alchemical Weapons are actually Weapons.

If that is true, then Alchemical Weapons such as Alchemist's Fire and Acid should be allowed benefit from the Quick Draw feat since it intends for Weapons to benefit from it and only excludes Alchemical Items specifically, not Alchemical Items and Weapons.

As a note, I haven't been following Pathfinder for too long and wasn't "around" during the rulings I keep hearing about where Quick Draw was nerfed with the Alchemical Items exclusion. However, in my efforts to research the Paizo discussion forums and other places, I have only found hearsay from individuals-who-are-not-the-designers who infer that the designers intended that Quick Draw change to exclude Alchemical Weapons like Acid Flasks and Alchemist's Fire, but I found no designer quotes cited or sourced, sadly. I would love to see an actual designer source about it though even if to be proved wrong, as I dislike the idea of running games as a GM where I mislead my players by saying something is a house-rule that in actuality isn't or vice versa.

Fortunately, with either interpretation of the intent of the rules (and about a year after the OP question was asked) any character could at very least choose to dip 2 levels into the Rogue Alternate Class "Underground Chemist" to achieve the ability to be "able to retrieve an alchemical item as if drawing a weapon" (and along with that, adding Int bonus to splash weapon damage). As some have inferred, if the rule changes made to Quick Draw were meant to exclude Rogues from making full attacks with splash weapons (functionally) or that the designers didn't like the image of such an idea, I'd be puzzled why such a rogue archetype with such abilities exist as well as the Bomber and Bomber's Discovery rogue talents (unless it was some form of apology). Oddly, I can't find anything on the Alchemist class that allows alchemists to retrieve alchemical items as if drawing a weapon like the Underground Chemist Rogue can (alchemist bombs don't appear to be tagged as alchemical items, mind).

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a decent argument, but I was there, and at least back then Buhlmann was very explicit about what he meant (and what he thought of those who disagreed). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 6, 2016 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I often don't trust sources that aren't directly from the horse's mouth (such as the reference materials or designers), so you'll have to forgive me on that. While your answer appears to let on that you are in the know, I've seen plenty of people misled by less plenty of times. I'll take it then that you were there first-hand in some manner then when the designers made the ruling? But that still doesn't answer why the Underground Chemist rogue came to be unless the designers rescinded their previous intentions (a little). Still hurts for other classes, even Alchemists themselves. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 6, 2016 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, that's totally reasonable; there's a reason I looked pretty hard for the original statements. IIRC, this was during the playtest of the core rules, though, towards the end when they announced this change for the final rules. That or just after finalization. As for underground chemist, that was much later, and a specific class making an exception is normal in Pathfinder. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 6, 2016 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Understood. I just kept taking away from people's claims that the designer intended that no rogues should ever be able to improve their action economy using Quick Draw with any Weapons of the Alchemical variety, translating to preventing full attacks with them. That's why it seemed odd to me to find an alternate class rogue that gets to circumvent that action economy restriction by class level 2. Maybe I just misunderstood the sentiment. I'll have to trust your word on the ruling then, but I feel I have at least made a good basis for house-ruling it away. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 6, 2016 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was never about balance, so giving it away at 2nd was no big deal. It was about enforcing one particular vision of the rogue class, at least the base version. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 6, 2016 at 15:20

The only thing I can think of that would be realistically broken about this is more an 'intelligent use' case. If quickdraw makes drawing an item a free action, and dropping an item is a free action, then you could do things like grabbing caltrops and dropping them as you retreat a thing. Same goes for alchemist's fire in the paths of the enemy horses, or the Bulette, or any other similar issue (Such as a thunderstone). If at any point players decide to start using the mechanic for things like this, you'll have to correct it in some manner.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Uh, the "problem" usage you describe with caltrops is pretty much the entire reason there is, or ever was, any such a thing as a caltrop, in-game or real-world alike. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2014 at 4:55

The balance reason is that alchemical items are ranged touch attacks that still do damage on a miss. Touch attacks are easier to hit with, plus splash weapons are guaranteed damage. Imagine a feat that let a Wizard get two Scorching Rays per round with no use of wands or Quicken Spell. Against a group of enemies that are close together, the damage can be comparable with alchemical weapons.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your comparison is not really that comparable. 1 damage on a miss isn't in the scheme of things that big a deal, and once you get past the first couple of levels, the damage is nowhere near as good. Furthermore, even if the feat let you draw them as a free action, it is still at least a standard action to use or throw an alchemical item, a wand, a potion, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mourdos
    Jan 27, 2015 at 14:59

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