The rules state that it takes an hour to brew a mutagen, and that you can create more than one, but only the currently brewed mutagen is active. However, it also states that if a mutagen were to leave your possession, it becomes inert until you "pick it back up again". Is it possible to just make a mutagen, have a person hold onto it, and make a new one, repeating the process, then simply grabbing one making it active again when needed? Or does the "becomes inert when another is made" supercede everything? Also, is there any way to make an inert mutagen no longer inert? I haven't been able to find much on this.
This would mostly be up to your DM and how he wants to interpret the rules and if one supersedes the other.
Personally I would say the rule stating a mutagen "becomes inert when another is made" supersedes everything.
When the alchemist creates a mutagen he can infuse it with an extra bit of his own magical power. This inflicts 2 points of Intelligence damage to the alchemist and costs 1,000 gp in rare reagents, but the mutagen created persists on its own and is not rendered inert if the alchemist creates another mutagen.
Also as Metool pointed out other Alchemists can drink each-others mutagens. Reading the rules how you are there would be nothing stopping them from making dozens of mutagens and giving them to each-other to use.
RAW there is some conflicting text and there is no definition for the term 'inert' used in both situations it is used and therefore opens the door to whatever GM interpretation/reasoning.
However, I feel intent of the rules is to only allow 1 'active' mutagen and that the remainder of the previously created mutagens would not ever work if consumed. Without such intent, we are left with some inconsistencies and what appears to useless options and some possible game imbalances.
Some examples from the rules:
The existence of the Infuse Mutagen discovery. This discovery allows you to create and maintain a second mutagen without the other becoming inert. This is an expensive option, as it basically cost 1000GP + the equivalent of a feat to do, while the suggestion of handing the mutagens to others is mostly free.
Text from the mutagen section of d20pfsrd illustrating the fact that only the most recent mutagen created by the alchemist works.
(Although if the other alchemist creates a different mutagen, the effects of the “stolen” mutagen immediately cease.)
Further, allowing an alchemist to stock up and store mutagens or recovering inert mutagens quickly (normally takes 1 hour each, but you could make tones weeks or years in advance during downtime) is basically granting the class the best ability score bonus (and other benefits when using archetypes like beastmorph) for the current situation at any time with few trade-offs and no cool down. They just need a clever way to carry them around and maybe 1 or 2 rounds of time to retrieve the correct mutagen and consume it.
The rules as written aren't entirely clear on this. These things are definite:
- Mutagens are always inert if not in your possession, but your current (newest) mutagen will be active again if you or another alchemist picks it up again. As the PRD alchemist page states, "a mutagen that is not in an alchemist's possession becomes inert until an alchemist picks it up again."
- Mutagens you have created become inert if you create a new mutagen. The PRD specifically says, "An alchemist can only maintain one dose of mutagen at a time." It doesn't matter if they're in your possession or not, either. Quoth the PRD, when an alchemist drinks another alchemist's mutagen, "if the other alchemist creates a different mutagen, the effects of the 'stolen' mutagen immediately cease."
The question is not whether you can pick and choose between mutagens in your possession -- you can't. Just by being created, a newer mutagen renders your older mutagens inert, so only one of your mutagens will ever be active at a time.
The question is whether a mutagen that was rendered inert because a newer one was made can become active again if the newer mutagen is expended.
Again, it's clear that a mutagen that becomes inert just because it left your possession can become active again. The fuzzy part is whether this "inert" is the same state as the "inert" that happens when your new mutagen supersedes your old mutagen(s).
Due to this lack of clarity, there are two GM rulings I would consider making:
- You could rule that these are two different "inert" states. Mutagens inactive because they left your possession can become active again (as the rules specify), but mutagens inactive because a newer mutagen was created are dead forever (because the rules don't specify that they can become active again). This is what we have done in the game I'm currently playing an alchemist in.
- You could rule that mutagens that became inert because a newer mutagen was created can become active again too, if the newer mutagen is expended or destroyed. The mutagens become active in the order that they were created, newest to oldest.
The second option allows older mutagens to be saved, but forcing them to be used in newest to oldest order it prevents a slightly silly situation. Say you create 5 mutagens and keep them all in your possession. You'd have 4 inert extracts and 1 active mutagen, and you would not be able to pick and choose between them. Only the newest would be active. But then you put them all down so that they're all inert... if any of them can become active again, you can choose whichever one to pick up.