May 9, 2016

Bowgunner

Alchemist Field of Study
Comments from the Thumb: Stock up on huskberries and don't forget your parashrooms, because it's time to hunt! This is the first in a small series of Monster Hunter themed subclasses that will release whenever they're done on no set schedule. 
     Side note: I still have no clue how the mechanism on a bowgun is supposed to work.

Bowgunner

Explosive chemicals can be used for more than just bombs. By directing an explosion through a small tube, one can propel an object from said tube at high velocities. Some alchemists use this principle to their advantage, using their supplies to create handheld projectile launchers in lieu of bombs. Armed with such a weapon, an alchemist becomes a deadly and effective sharpshooter.

Paint Bomb
At 3rd level, you can make nonlethal bombs which spray a bright pink paint. As a bonus action when you throw a bomb, you can replace the bomb's explosive reagent with a handful of special paint pellets, changing it to a paint bomb. A paint bomb deals no damage, but covers its target and all creatures in its blast radius with sticky, neon-pink paint. Characters have advantage on ability checks made to track or spot creatures that are covered in this paint for up to 1 hour after they are exposed to it. This effect ends early if the creature washes the paint off.

Bowgun
At 3rd level, you create a bowgun, a combustion-powered gun that fires crossbow bolts at high speed. A bowgun is a two-handed, ranged weapon with the Loading quality and a range of 80/320, which deals 1d10 piercing or fire damage on a hit (you choose when you attack). You are proficient with this weapon. You can choose to add either your Dexterity modifier or your Intelligence modifier to damage rolls with this weapon.
     Additionally, you learn the Explosive Missile discovery.

Crossbow Volley
Starting when you reach 7th level, you ignore the loading quality of bowguns and crossbows with which you are proficient. When you take the Attack action to make a ranged attack with a bowgun or crossbow, you can make an additional ranged attack with the weapon as a bonus action. At 17th level, you can make two attacks as a bonus action.
     When you use this ability with a bowgun, you can apply any bomb formula you know which deals damage to all projectiles fired during your turn, treating each projectile as a bomb with no blast radus. If a formula has an effect other than dealing damage, it only applies to the target of the first attack.

Bonus Potions
Starting at 10th level, when you take a long rest, you can brew potions of clairvoyance for 2 alchemy points each and potions of sharpness for 3 alchemy points each, which become inert after 24 hours.

Clust S Lvl 3
When you reach 17th level, you modify your bowgun to fire a cluster bolt, a projectile that fragments and scatters tiny bombs that detonate in a large area. As an action, you can fire a cluster bolt at a point that you can see within 100 feet of you. Each creature within a 20 foot radius must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d10 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. As a bonus action when you use this ability, you can apply any bomb formula you know to it, changing its damage dice, damage type, and effects accordingly.
     Once you use this ability, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.


Discoveries
If a discovery has prerequisites, you must meet them to learn it. You can learn the discovery at the same time that you meet its prerequisites. You can only learn a discovery once, unless otherwise specified.

Piercing Flechettes
Prerequisite: Bowgunner Field of Study
You have taken to crafting your own specialized ammo for your bowgun, in the form of heavy flechettes that carry more force and hit harder. You can craft a set of 10 armor piercing flechettes for your bowgun with 2 hours of work and either 1 gp worth of steel, iron, or lead, or the heads from 20 crossbow bolts, as well as access to your alchemist's supplies. You have a +2 bonus to damage rolls made using these flechettes.

Finned Flechettes
Prerequisite: Bowgunner Field of Study
You have taken to crafting your own specialized ammo for your bowgun, in the form of light, aerodynamic flechettes that fly more accurately. You can craft a set of 10 finned flechettes for your bowgun with 2 hours of work and either 1 gp worth of steel, iron, or lead, or the heads from 20 crossbow bolts, as well as access to your alchemist's supplies. You have a +2 bonus to attack rolls made using these flechettes.

Magnifying Scope
Prerequisite: 8th level, Bowgunner Field of Study
You have installed a variable zoom optic on your bowgun to increase your accuracy. Attacks made with your bowgun at long range do not have disadvantage, and you can ignore partial cover on attacks made with your bowgun.

Scatter Gun
Prerequisite: 15th level, Bowgunner Field of Study
You have further modified your bowgun, adding an additional, wider barrel beneath the existing one that is designed to shoot multiple bolts at once. As an action, you can target all creatures in a single 10-foot cube located within 60 feet of you. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw against your Bomb Save DC or take your bowgun's normal damage. This action uses ten pieces of ammunition. You may apply bomb formulae to this attack.



Changelog: 5/10/16: You can only use formulas which deal damage in the bowgun
5/11/16: Bowgun: Ranged decreased. You get the Explosive Missile Discovery for free at this level. Removed thing about Discoveries applying to bowgun projectiles.
Crossbow Volley: You can make an attack as a bonus action. 17th level: two attacks.
Bowgun+Crossbow Volley: Applying formulas moved to crossbow volley

51 comments:

  1. Yessss! Will you guys be doing one for each weapon? I'm pretty excited to see what you guys do with the Gunlance and Hunting Horn.

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    1. Not each weapon, no, but we are coming out with a gunlancer.

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    2. I have a gunlance in the works, as well as an insect glaive. Hunting horn might be doable, maybe as a bardic college.

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    3. I just hope instect glaive isn't Patreon content. I love the alchemist, and I'd love to see an insect glaive subclass (even if you don't intend it for the alchemist XD)

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    4. All the Monster Hunter stuff will be non-patreon. (It's not our IP, after all.)

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  2. Cool cool. Can't wait to see it. I think the Sword and Shield would make a pretty interesting as maybe a alchemist field of study, since they were the only weapon type to use consumables with their weapons already drawn. What other weapons were you guys considering?

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    1. Working on gunlance and insect glaive right now. Others will be done but probably a little ways down the road.

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  3. Small clarification on the Bowgun feature. When you apply a formula to a projectile, it still only deals 1 damage die, even if your bombs have 2 or more.

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    1. Oh, I was hoping it scaled, that way the damage would keep it good, even with 1 or two total attacks. With the range of the bowgun, standard bombs would be left unused.

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    2. Maybe have it do half the die of a bomb, with a minimum of 1. That way the class can do good damage over levels. I'm basing this idea on the damage of rangers and wizards, that, and the usability of bowguns in Monster Hunter.

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    3. Basically Explosive Missile I suppose

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    4. Well, the extra attack at level 7 adds quite a bit of damage. It doesn't scale exactly like a bomb, but it keeps pace better than you might think, since you can add your Dex or Int to damage on each attack.

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    5. At that point, wouldn't it make sense to simply use a crossbow or bow with explosive missile as a standard alchemist. The damage output would be higher there, even with only 1 shot.

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    6. You might be right. Let me run a bunch of numbers at different levels and try some different damage strategies to see which works best here

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    7. Thanks, I really love the idea of this class and the bowgun, but the abilities are outclasses everywhere except for range by the other alchemist archetypes. Even if the damage is cut back, the range is amazing, but the damage can't get too low, otherwise it would end up being statistically better to get close and just bomb them once for substantially more damage.

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    8. It looks like bowgun loses the scaling fight at level 11, when explosive bolt starts to win out.

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    9. What was your calculation for that, just curious? Was it an average of hits compared to damage output?

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    10. Also, I assume you're taking into account the second bomb you can eventually toss.

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    11. Oh, I just realized I made a mistake on this. I thought that explosive missile required an action to fire, which would eliminate your Extra Attack. Because it doesn't, its base damage is strictly higher at all levels.

      (I have NO idea what 'second bomb' thing you're talking about, though.)

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    12. Sorry I forgot that it was a mad bomber unique discovery:
      "Grenadier
      When you take the Attack action and attack with a weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to throw a bomb."

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    13. Maybe we need to rephrase that one. You're not supposed to be ablessed to throw 2 bombs using that, if that's what you were implying. It's meant to be used with a melee weapon or hand crossbow. I'm almost sure something in the Bomb description states that you can only throw one per turn.

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    14. Able to*
      Sometimes I hate my phone.

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    15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    17. Does this mean that when a formula is applied, the bowguns damage die is changed according to the formula or is it added as extra damage. If it changes the damage die of the gun, then explosive missile would be better at all levels especially since the formulas reduce damage of bombs.

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    18. When you apply a formula, it treats each projectile as a bomb with no blast radius, so each effect of the bomb comes into play, including the reduction in damage. Of course, claiming that this makes explosive missile 'better' at all levels basically ignores all the bonus effects you can get from bomb formulae, so the comparison isn't strictly one to one.

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  4. Can you have bolts that are both Piercing and Finned?

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    1. It's not mentioned by RAW, but I would probably rule that you couldn't.

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    2. Nope! The idea is to give you a choice between accuracy and power.

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  5. I need to check my copy of the alchemist, but shouldn't the 3rd level feature that allows you to use dex or int for damage be damage and attack? Part of the design philosophy of 5e includes the banishment of using one stat for to-hit and one for damage; there are no exceptions. Even Bladelock even only allows you to add both dex/str AND cha to damage.

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    1. The alchemist bombs do use Int to damage and Dex to hit with bombs, so this works in the context of the class. We came to the conclusion that a alchemist would be doing significantly more damage by optimizing for Dexterity (rather than the obvious choice of Int) and that your Dexterity modifier doesn't make a great deal of sense as a stat reflecting your how much damage your bombs do. We did a lot of math to explore the different routes we could take, and that was just the most optimal one to make the class play correctly.

      And I agree with you that it's not a part of 5e philosophy, but it was more important to us to make a class which plays correctly and makes sense.

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    2. Well, you've already added the option to add your Intelligence modifier to attack rolls as a Discovery; this feels more like a painful tax (something we should've graduated from since 3.5 / Pathfinder) than anything, especially when considering the scarcity of Discoveries.

      I can see the worry about using Intelligence to attack and damage starting from level 1, but instead of forcing players to wait until 5th level and burn a precious discovery, have you considered making it a class feature or bomb formulae (passive bonus?) instead?

      I guess I take issue with more the fact that the attack stat is being delayed here, as opposed to something far more optional such as damage.

      You might also want to double check the interaction between the Bowgun weapon and some bomb formulaes. I don't think teleporting 240 feet (120 feet x 2) as an Attack action by level 7 was intended!

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    3. @Bowgun Interaction: Good note, I'll make some changes to that right away.

      @Bomb Stats: There have always been two big directions to take with this:

      Bombs are normal thrown weapons, and Int doesn't matter.
      OR
      Bombs are thrown weapons, but use Intelligence for attack and damage like a cantrip for some reason.

      Now, neither of these work on a strictly common-sense level. Bomb accuracy comes from how you throw them, and their explosive damage comes from how good you are at making them. Moreover, alchemists should be expected to be both dexterous and intelligent, and the other class features, from the saving throws, to features like evasion, help support this idea, so completely ditching either just hurts the class as a whole.

      Early drafts had bombs as normal thrown weapons, but we did a bunch of math, it it turned out that the most optimal build was Dex-only in almost every scenario. Hence, the change to Dex/Int.

      Now, you can make an Alchemist build that's SAD on Int, but that's not really the intent for the entire class, as I've already talked about. The inclusion of the Detonation Theorem is a concession to power-gamers, not a fix to the bomb system. Currently, it emphasizes what I want in the alchemist, and I think it makes the most thematic sense. After all, if there's one type of weapon that deserves to be an exception to the rule of weapon design in 5e, it's a weapon that completely explodes when used.

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    4. I have to /strongly/ disagree with breaking convention here, making sense in the context of the class. I am going to provide examples, namely because I am somewhat sad that the Bowgunner is locked behind the Alchemist (Which is paywalled on Patreon, for the version this references).

      Bombs should be Int/Int instead of Dex/Int. Mechanically, the Alchemist has to start with high dex and int in point buy, and gets shafted in poorly rolled stats. Now, you could say that low rolls aren't your problem as a designer, but-

      They /are/.

      Point Buy is an /Alternate/ rule. Granted, an alternate rule that most groups make use of, but in a strict RAW no alternate rules, you can only roll 4d6d1 x6 or take the standard array.

      Standard array means that if a Alchemist wants any feats, he MUST pick a race that has a +2 in dex or int, and likely both - limiting him to pretty much Gnome and Elf.

      Rolls mean that they may potentially never reach 20 in both stats due to the fact that Alchemists receive standard ASI.

      The Int-to-Hit /is/ a discovery tax, and the comment about it being for 'powergamers' is honestly insulting.

      Making Bombs int/int for hit/damage means that the alchemist has /choice/ - they can raise their defenses (Dex) or focus on their offenses (Int) or can even utilize multiclassing to play things like a demolition expert who charges into battle with heavy armor, or a spider monkey bomb chucker / sabotager (which requires strength in this edition, or expertise).

      As it is, you have created a class that desperately needs /three/ stats to the point that they can't multiclass and can't take feats, which is fine for a Pathfinder class but goes against the very spirit of 5th edition.

      I realize that I have only mentioned two stats so far (Dex, Int) but the alchemist also needs Con badly due to the fact that you slapped it with a D6 hit die.

      Truthfully, the D6 hit die needs to go, badly. Wizards and Sorcerers are the /only/ classes that receive it, and it is a compensation for the fact that they receive the /best/ spell list and the most /plot power/ from it.

      The D6 hit die means that while Xenoalchemist really seems to want to be the Field of Study that can mix it up in melee, it can't function without DM hand-holding because it is forced into a finesse build and stuck with terrible hit points, such that the danger of melee is likely to put the character on the floor if not frequently fighting to stay out of the /dirt/.

      Do you know what D6 hit die class can melee?

      Bladesinger Wizard.

      Now, what does the BS Wizard have that Alchemist lacks?

      Oh, nothing but 9th level casting and the ability to go right back to /being a wizard/ when he runs out of bladesinging. Assuming the standard 2 commbat>Short rest, and the fact Wizards have one of the biggest ritual lists, the Bladesinger can quite literally spend all of his spell slots on preventing things from targeting his D6 hit die or mitigating the effect they have when they do.

      If you don't believe me, then look up some of the discussions about the subclass. It is commonly regarded that the only reason that the subclass functions is because the wizard can 1. Go right back to Wizarding when he doesn't need to fight and 2. Spend his spells in the aforementioned fashion.

      Part 1/2

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    5. Now, let us talk about several weapons that violate realism for /usability/ (ie, the core design philosophy of 5e).

      Bows require enormous physical strength to utilize in real life, but you can shoot them fine with a 2 strength in 5e. In fact, you could use any non-zero strength that still allows you to lift the bow and arrow.

      Rapiers are thrusting swords, and commonly regarded as a style that can forgo strength entirely. But that is not the case in real-life, where the narrow tip of the blade is designed in such a fashion in order to /concentrate/ all of your /strength/ on that /narrow/ point.

      Same deal as bows. Still usable with a severely negative strength score.

      Throwing axes require both strength and hand-eye coordination, which means Dex+Str to Hit and Str to damage. In real life, you can't just chuck axes haphazardly and expect them to be lethal, especially in the chaos of the frantic battle that the combat round is supposed to model.

      Still uses Str/Str to hit. You could be the clumsiest person in the entire world, (dex 1) and you would still be able to chuck axes like an Olympian hero in 5e.

      None of these have fun strictly regulated by realism. None of them punish multi-classing and defy the concessions of Bounded Accuracy and limited ASI.

      Neither should the Alchemist's bombs. MFOV is a very respected Homebrewery as I am able to understand, being how frequently your content is namedropped. I realize that you want the class to function in realistic terms, but you should also consider the effect that you have on other homebrewers - /exceedingly/ so when you are creating custom classes.

      People are sure to look to MFOV for guidance in how new classes out to be designed.

      Now, I am unsure that this is likely to matter all that much if I do not provide a reasonable fluff/realism reason that alchemists are capable of accurate bomb chucking even without excellent manual dexterity (High Dex).

      Can we please remember that the archetypical figure that Alchemist's embody and the fluff you have represented them with is the embodiment of groundbreaking fringe science in a world that neither understands nor accepts it?

      Seriously, the Alchemists have to be /extremely/ good at math, which is supported by an int-primary.

      Now, why does this matter?

      Because eccentric science/pseudoscience is the flavor of the day here. It is perfectly reasonable to suggest or assume that an Alchemist is possessed of such an expansive intellect that they are performing geometry and mass/velocity calculations on the fly to extreme that their ability to strike a target with their bomb has nothing to do with their physical fitness and much more to do with their impossibly acute minds - taking every factor in a chaotic battle into account as fast as possible before they make that perfect toss.

      Alchemists are masters of innovation, the force through which a world will be pushed through a new age - they most certainly can use int/int for bombs.

      I hope that you at least take my criticism into consideration, because the alchemist is your figurehead for this site (more than the Warmage) and as a patron who enjoys what you put out I want to see you succeed.

      Thank you for your time, Oh Mighty Hand.

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    6. First: great comment.

      Now, let's talk about explicit versus implicit design.

      In 5th edition, there's a lot of convention in the design that is preserved across all areas of the game which are not codified into the rules, whereas other components of the rules are codified with systems and subsystems to ensure their veracity. A good example of this is healing spells specifying targets. All healing spells in the game specify that they don't affect certain targets, but this rule hasn't been codified into a rule of it's own; you need to read between the lines to understand this relationship.

      Weapons and their properties, on the other hand, are explicitly designed, and the types of rolls you make using them are codified in the rules a particular way. The alchemist uses his bombs are weapons, and therefore is making weapon attack rolls. More specifically, he's making ranged weapon attacks using a finesse thrown weapon. This is all very important to making sure that the alchemist fits snugly within the realms of the rules, and that his weapon interactions fit within the expected framework of other features and abilities.

      Consistent attack / damage bonuses are strictly in the realm of implicit design. Just for kicks, let's talk about the problems of putting this before conventional weapon design:

      If an alchemist uses Int to hit and adds this bonus to damage as well, then it no longer resembles a weapon attack at all -- it looks like a spell attack. However features which apply to spell attack rolls don't apply to the alchemist's bomb, as well they should't, since a bomb should still be able to function in an antimagic field. However, if another feature calls for a bonus or penalty to Strength or Dexterity, specifically in order to help or impede attack rolls, it simply doesn't influence the throwing of bombs at all. Barbarian alchemists, for example, (or barbarians using idiot-proof bombs) lose all benefit in combat from rage damage and reckless attack. A poison or disease which eviscerates an alchemist's Strength and Dexterity scores to near zero would leave bomb throwing completely unhindered, whereas Int damage would prove critical. This defies all logic, and opens loads of holes in the game.

      The simplest strategy is to leave the explicit design of the weapons alone, and make the bombs finesse, thrown weapons, with no modification to damage, as the rules would intend, but this doesn't compliment the class's Intelligence-focused design.

      If having an Int/Dex/Con character proves too difficult, then a class like the cleric suffers from the same issue, just across different features. The issue seems to stem from the fact that Dex and Int are used on the same roll, but this shouldn't be a concern for the character build as a whole. If it is, we've helpfully provided an alternative for people who want to build a character that uses Int to hit and damage. But this /is/ a discovery tax, and it's not /necessary/ to build a strong alchemist character. After all, trying for good Strength or Dexterity in addition to to Intelligence fits the idea of an alchemist as someone who applies their science to the real world in an adventuring way.

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  6. Now onto the hit dice:

    The d6 die is ALL because of playtesting. Until you get an alchemist rolled up, this might be hard to understand, but an alchemist almost never gets close, much like an archer or a mage. After all, getting in melee range means you have disadvantage on ranged attack rolls, which makes you almost entirely useless. We realized that in every combat, our alchemist simply never took much damage because of her proximity to actual combat. Effectively, the alchemist always had more survivability, than other class members because she was very rarely attacked at all.

    Melee alchemists should look to get the Clotting Agent discovery to be a little tankier, but admittedly the Xenoalchemist should get additional hit points at 3rd level.

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    1. Well-put. I will add that, while play-testing, our alchemist actually was forced into melee a few times and we found that she was tanking a lot more damage than we had expected, compared to the rest of the party. In addition, she kept provoking AoO's trying to back up enough to bomb the enemy, and using a teleport bomb took her whole turn. It was this encounter in particular that dropped the hit die from a d8 down to a d6, and introduced the firecracker feature.

      As a side note, she did not take the int-to-hit discovery and was still consistently kicking ass at around the same level as the rest of the party. The trade-off for being squishy is the damage output and versatility, especially at higher levels. The utility of having an array of bomb types to choose from, as well as the huge array of roles an alchemist can play in the party, make it a very viable class, regardless of your lower amount of health. Keep in mind that you /can/ make potions of cure light wounds for /free/, every day.

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    2. What specifically caused her to tank more damage? What were her stats? What level were they? What Monster attacked her and how many?

      I still fail to see how a D8 hit die is unwarranted on grounds of being 'too tanky' when all of the following have even more HP on top of longer range.

      Bow Rogue (D8)
      Bow/Caster Bard (d8)
      Bow Fighter (d10)
      Bow or Ranged Cantrip Cleric (d8)
      Ranger (d10)
      Warlock (d8)

      A number of these are full casters, or have actual defensive steroids (Dark One's Blessing, is an extreme example). 'Tanky' is something that is campaign-dependent. Do you also consider these classes to be too tanky for a ranged character?

      Firecracker is not a very good band-aid. With 30' range and no 'Take Disadvantage Range' explictly defined, nearly anything with the standard 30' range who has picked the Alchemist as a target can strip away a severe level of threat from them by taking away their bonus action (required for bomb formulae and many other class features pending study field). Two creatures with 30' or greater who chase the alchemist not only prevent formulae from being used, but crop up the 'take disadvantage or take opportunity attacks with your d6 hit die' issue that Firecracker is supposed to solve. This means that the alchemist is forced to take Crossbow Expert AND still take the burst damage of their bomb unless they pay the Blast Coat discovery tax.

      Of course, a lenient or friendly DM can make this firecracker issue a non-issue by simply never forcing the Alchemist into melee, but I believe that fact illustrates the severe difference between groups and the fact that while you claim the Alchemist is 'versatile' the nature of the many tax discoveries (Blast Coat, Clotting Agent, Detonation Theorem, ect.) make it such that an Alchemist has many OPTIONS but can only perform 1 at low levels, or 2 (maybe 3) at higher ones.

      There are way too many variables for 'Playtesting says d8 is Op' when so many other classes have range and hit point advantage over the alchemist and are not considered overpowered, much less tanky.

      A Melee Alchemist (Read: Xenoalchemist) shouldn't have to pay a discovery tax just to bump their HP back to what is considered the minimum standard for a melee combatant, especially when they're already completely gutted for 24 hours after applying a new graft.

      I hope that I don't come off as a jerk or ungrateful to the sheer volume of content that you guys put out, as I hate feeling like I'm punching giant holes in your flagship design but also feel the need to offer a dissenting opinion.

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    3. Look, I get the impression you are not /playing/ an alchemist right now. If you were, you would know that, round to round, it plays like a full caster. 'Tanky' isn't the reason; playstyle is. Ranged attacks, selectable defuffs, high damage, and an avoidance of melee to secure attack rolls, means the decision structure this class offers is like that of a full-caster. It simply doesn't take damage like a rogue, because it doesn't make tactical sense to wade into combat like one. It walks like a caster, and talks like a caster, but it could tank melee like the party rogue, while avoiding even more damage. D6 makes sense; roll up an alchemist if you don't believe me.

      Before you think I'm ignoring your class examples: the only thing on that list that resembles the alchemist (because of weapon proficiencies, armor, and defensive features) is the warlock, which has extremely limited spellcasting, and needs the higher damage dice to wade into combat when these wear thin. The alchemist doesn't run out of bombs, and plays much more like a wizard or a sorcerer as a consequence.

      Out of the box, it's a glass-cannon; not a melee dude. And, if you want more HP for combat, there's a discovery for that. Want natural weapons for combat? There's a subclass for that? Higher stats? Subclass. You can /make/ the alchemist for melee, but it requires taxes, feats, and compromises.

      Now, do me a favor and check the changelog -- you're a few updates behind (some very recent, because of this discussion, admittedly.) The range issue (which I thought I fixed months ago) is updated: 30/60 ft., and the class in general gets one more Discovery and Bomb Formula when the features come online.

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    4. Hey, just dropping in to check in. Looks like you've had an extensive discussion with one another, and have made quite a bit of changes since. I'm terrible at formatting, so please forgive me if I seem to be straying between topics; just giving you my two cents as I scroll through a week's worth of posts. Now, to begin, something I've been meaning to post in regards to Explosive Missile and the Bowgunner:

      You might want to double check how Explosive Missile scales and interact with the Bowgunner Field of Study. At it's current incarnation, it really looks to be nothing more than, "hey, here's something to boost your damage until level 7-8, since you don't get extra attack at 5, at which point you can swap me out for another Discovery." Here's what I mean:

      (following is assuming +5 to damage, realistically it's much worse for Alchemists, as they have to balance Dexterity with Intelligence - while most classes get +5 at level 4 or level 8 (Fighters possibly level 6), Alchemists at least have to wait until level 8, if not 12th level, for a 20 in their Intelligence score)

      Only including Extra Attack comparison at level 5 to prove my point, have discarded cross-class comparisons as I really mean to just compare everything within the Alchemist class itself (explained in much greater depth later)

      Level 5
      Explosive Missile: 2d10+5, 7-25 damage range, averaging out at 16 damage.
      Extra Attack: 2(1d10+5), 7-30 damage range, averaging out at 21 damage.

      Level 7
      Crossbow Volley: Same as Extra Attack at level 5.
      Explosive Missile: Same as level 5.

      Level 11
      Crossbow Volley: Remains the same.
      Explosive Missile: 3d10+5, 8-35 damage range, averaging out at 21.5 damage.

      Level 18 (I know the Crossbow Volley 3rd attack comes online at 17th level, but Explosive Missile bump only happens at 18th)
      Crossbow Volley: 3(1d10+5), 18-45 damage range, averaging out at 31.5 damage.
      Explosive Missile: 4d10+5, 9-45 damage range, averaging out at 27 damage.

      At this point, you must be thinking, "but wait! Crossbow Volley sacrifices damage by dropping damage dies to (typically) d8s!" Yes, you are absolutely correct, except that the drop in damage usually comes with the secondary utility benefits of Bomb Formulaes, and there in lies the problem. Explosive Missile becomes entirely pointless by 7th level, and dissolves into nothing but a free Discovery of choice (when they swap it out) Bowgunners get over the other Fields of Studies!

      Going to end this post here, as this obnoxiously small text box is giving me a nightmare in terms of double checking, editing and formatting, so I'll break up my thoughts into multiple post. More to come!

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    5. Alright, here we go. Let me just preface this by saying I'm a rather recent visitor to your blogs (I stumbled upon your lovely site by accident at the start of this month), and have since loved poring over your works and ideas, especially all the thematic and flavor text both of you seem to put so much effort into! With that said, I'm hoping to provide an outsider's perspective and a different point of view here, and hopefully it might give you some insight into a few topics, or at the very least, make you aware of how an outsider would see things! To briefly summarize, I think the core value of my perspective is that Vecna seems to value certain things differently than most would, when it comes to game mechanics and building a class. Now, onto the post proper:

      First off, in regards to the subject of Intelligence for to-hit, I think the back and forth between The Finger and Shardin has mostly covered it. I'd just like to add something on top of all that already has been discussed:

      I honestly think this is one of this issues you should make your stance crystal clear, and draw a firm line in the sand, so to speak. As of right now, Detonation Theorem is far too valuable and critical to an Alchemist to be considered "optional Discovery tax" (heh, contradictory by definition). This one little Discovery completely undermines the painstaking effort you've taken to carefully balance around the whole Dexterity + Intelligence mentality, and it's pretty much a must-take. It's very harmful by itself, and has some severe unintended side-effects, such as (as Shardin has mentioned) locking races to almost exclusively those that grant Dexterity and Intelligence racial bonuses, and the fact that the Alchemist will have to make a decision between two terrible choices:

      a) Suffer the first few level by sacrificing all their other ability scores to bump their temporary to-hit stat of Dexterity to at least 16 for a +3 modifier before grabbing Detonation Theorem ASAP,

      b) or delay a 20 in both their attack *and* damage stat (as they are now separate) to far later levels, as they have to stagger their upgrades. This results in subpar to hit, damage, and DC values across the board until say, 12th / 16th level.

      More to come, on the topic of hit dice, cross class comparison and specific class features.

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    6. NOTE: This is what I get for getting distracted midway through a post! I forgot to mention something very important in my last post (my entire point really) - due to everything discussed above, it is imperative you stand your ground here. Either incorporate Detonation Theorem into the class without completely gutting the players who wishes to play Alchemist, or just cut if off the list of possible Discoveries (optional: include it in a foot note as a possible custom Discovery for a GM to grant player access).

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    7. Righto, well, let's start on the hit dice, as that'll naturally lead us to the other classes. Since this is a pretty much clear cut issue of "either or", I'll make my stand here early on, and tell you why later below: I believe a D6 hit die is far too punishing, and honestly believe changing it (back) to a D8 would be a healthy (get it?) change for the class.

      As for the why, we first have to look at all other classes that perform similar roles in combat - this is most of the PHB, actually, but the most prominent would be:

      Bards
      Rogues
      Fighters
      Spellcasters (Cantrips)

      Without getting too much into it, they all perform in the same capacity (and I believe better, explained in future posts) as the Alchemist, but every single one of them have an built-in defensive mechanic that does far more than the Firecrackers of the base Alchemist Class. For example, Bards gain this benefit at level 3, when choosing their Colleges: Cutting Words for Lore, and armor and shield proficiency for Valor. Rogues get the extremely potent Uncanny Dodge at 5th level, and Fighters are just chock-full of defensive features. Spellcasters have their powerful spells, and the wonderful choice of method of employment - preemptive measures like buffs, or reactionary measures like Shield, which would cost them a reaction (and allow them to act / cast a spell outside of their turn).

      There is also something severe that hampers the survival of Alchemist over these other classes - the simple matter of range. Bombs are 30/60, and the Bowgun is 80/240 - whereas most spells and cantrips range between 60-120 feet, and a simple Longbow starts off with a massive 150 feet range as early as level 1, when compared to Bombs and Bowguns which require level 4, and burning through a feat slot for Sharpshooter, to gain 60 feet and up to 240 feet (vs the Longbow's 600 feet) respectively. And in exchange for that, they get the slightly lackluster Firecracker, which eats up their very precious Bonus Action.

      Eating up Bonus Action as an Alchemist is not a decision that should be made lightly. The chassis of Alchemists is that they are somewhere between Martial Classes and Partial Spellcasters - they (should) have the combat prowess and reliable, consistent raw damage of martial classes, but give up some of that power in exchange for a splash, a small taste of spellcaster's utility - pushing enemies, freezing them, swapping damage types, basically minor control features.

      Firecracker is far too punishing, and does far too little for too much of a cost in my honest opinion, and it's harmful effects are amplified by the Alchemist's already very weak defenses.

      Once more returning to the issue of range again, 30 feet is a /terrible/ range for a D6 finessed-based ranged weapon character. It literally only takes one hostile to persistently stick to you and you've pretty much been shut out of the main draw of your class - various bombs and their secondary utility effects.

      With your comparison of the Warlock, who you believe to most closely resemble Alchemists, they refreshe their spell slots every short rest (I think you really are undervaluing the Warlock here), not to mention they still gain access to 9th level spells, they don't even have to wade into melee if they choose not to, just like every spell caster with a cantrip out there. Fire Bolt and Eldritch Blast both have a range of a nice, safe, distant 120 feet. In addition to their powerful spell selection (especially those Warlock-exclusive spells like Hex) and scaling up to 9th level casting, do consistently more damage and are much more stable in terms of Ability Score dependency, and have all the defensive goodness of their class baked in via spells and Pact Boons / Invocations / Patrons. Their Eldritch Blast comes online as soon as Level 2 with Agonizing Blast, and this is all on a D8 hit die chassis.

      (More to come, but I might have to delay until tomorrow; this took a bit longer than expected!)

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    8. Alright, this is probably my last one before I have to run, have a flight to catch at 19th and it's been a nightmare getting ready for it! I really appreciate and applaud the people at Vecna at how they, no matter what they release, stubbornly makes sure that there is no compromise between fluff, thematic choices and archetype / class integrity with solid game mechanics. You make it a point, your mission and goal to give players optional homebrews that allow them to roleplay and do things they normally wouldn't be able to do using only the legal books, and that's awesome!

      From what I gather, for the Alchemist especially, you seem to be worried most about the individual identity of the class, but really, a little bit of suspension of disbelief can go a long way when it comes to integrating something like an Alchemist into D&D's modules and world. You've both already talked plenty about the behind-the-scenes thought processes and design choices of both Alchemist and the core rule books aplenty, so I won't touch that - I'd just like to reiterate my point of suspension of disbelief.

      Realism, usability, explicit and implicit design all aside, a little magic touch of fluff to patch up what seems to be an irregularity has always been a D&D staple, and should never stop being a part of it. Unrealistic for Intelligence to hit? Hey, we're genius Alchemists, men and women of science - what's not to say our mastery of physics and bruising intellect doesn't play the dominant role in our attack patterns? Calculating velocity, mass and vector of our bomb, cross referencing it to the intended target's movements and speed to calculate a firing solution in the snap of our finger - we specialize in the field of science, and know more on the matter of particle physics than even those stuffy Wizards!

      Despite being cripplingly weak (Strength 1), my mastery over my own body, my bow, and marksmanship skills have allowed me not to waste even an ounce of strength when aiming and drawing my bow, allowing me to place shots up to 150 feet with the absolute minimum strength required.

      I may be the clumsiest (Dexterity 1) person around, but I have faith in my raw brute strength - throwing my axes with such ferocity that they have absolutely no room to variate midflight, they strike their target true from my overwhelming strength alone.

      As always, it's a simple matter of labels and tag to make sure things such as your bombs interact with the game's mechanics the way you want it to. Does it matter it acts as a cantrip? As long as you make it abundantly clear it's still a ranged thrown weapon, despite riding off of Intelligence modifiers, none of what you're worried about should come about anyways.

      Without this willing, conscious compromise from both players and DMs alike, a lot of things in D&D wouldn't make much sense in the real world when translated at face value, word for word.

      Sorry, this was a bit rushed so I hope I got my point across. One last thing I'd like to add - something more solid and substantial, and less abstract like the majority of this post - pointing at Potions of Healing and declaring it as a major boon and a large factor of the Alchemist's defensive features probably won't go over too well. It scales terribly (2d4+2), and though you've granted extra Discoveries, still require Discoveries taken to keep up with it, with the exception of the Apothecary Field of Study, which is the entire point of it's archetype I suppose.

      Anyways, that's all I can squeeze out for now, I'll be sure to check in before my flight one last time - remember, this is all just my own personal opinion, so take it however you wish to. Take it easy!

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    9. @Realism and weapon attacks as cantrips:

      The problem with treating a weapon attack as a cantrip is not an issue of realism -- that's more of a side point to illustrate the main problem. The issue is feature intention. If Wizards of the Coast writes any feature which gives you disadvantage on Dexterity and Strength weapon attacks, there should be an implication by their own design conventions that this now applies to all weapon attacks, since there's no core example for a weapon that somehow allows you to attack with you Intelligence. Similarly, if a feature applies benefits to Intelligence-based attack rolls, it's implied that it should only interact with spells.

      Making the bombs act basically like cantrips is problematic because it means the rest of the system might not work correctly with the idea of a 'weapon' and a 'spell' attack roll anymore, and features will apply whether or not they are intended to. Even if there aren't an abundant amount of features which apply to this now (you don't have to look hard to find an example where an Intelligence based attack roll interacts in a way that wasn't intended) it opens a massive hole for future releases, which should be avoided.

      The problem is not stretching how you imagine that an alchemist uses his weapon (calculating trajectories, velocities, and force diagrams) but how other people (Wizards of the Coast included) intend for their features to be used. We would open up a similar problem if we published a Muscle Wizard that used Strength for cantrips. Who knows if features would make sense anymore with that wizard, or how items and features would interact with this.

      Besides, this doesn't address some important things. How do other people interact with bombs? How does the alchemist interact with other similar ranged weapons? What happens if the alchemist takes Intelligence damage? Can you decide to use regular weapon stats then? This is not looking to be a concise weapon description, and will need to be a lot longer and less manageable than the current bomb ranged weapon modifier (one sentence) to cover all the cases where this cantrip-like weapon attack applies.

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    10. @Alchemist hit die, decision-making, and class expectation

      The problem with having higher hit dice is down to player expectation and the class's choice structure. The bomb system is currently set up to discourage being within 5 feet of another creature, since you would get caught in your own bomb radius and take damage. Plus, because the bomb is a ranged weapon, you'll always be engaging enemies at range and doing so with a various array of debuffs. Every turn your player choices deal with positioning, range to target, and debuff/damage selection. It's a /precisely/ like a cantrip-based character.

      You'll be staying out of combat exactly as often as a wizard or sorcerer in practical terms (how often are you going to attack a target from over 100 feet away as a wizard, anyway?) But, with a higher hit die, you'll inexplicably be able to tank more damage, in spite of being discouraged even more from getting in melee, and having better tools to escape it unscathed. The way the class plays enforces the idea that you don't belong in melee (unless you build your character with discoveries specifically to withstand this). Giving them higher hit dice anyway means that there's a disconnect between the alchemist and other similar characters, and it makes them far more survivable in similar circumstances.

      There's one more difference between the alchemist and a lot of other classes that we need to discuss: high damage output. The alchemist is an archetypical glass-cannon, much like a wizard or a sorcerer (but less like a warlock, because the warlock runs out of high damaging spells quickly.) You can't compare it to a ranger, a rogue, or a fighter with a bow, since it doesn't deal damage the same way they do. It makes sense to interact with it like a full-caster, which further supports the cohesion with smaller-hit dice classes.

      Moreover, alchemists are book-smart nerds who research the elements, not capable combatants -- the description, features, and proficiencies of the class all support this. Players shouldn't have an expectation that they can brave melee combat; it doesn't make thematic or mechanical sense, and the choices they're offered by the class makes this challenging to do so. This became very evident in playtesting. By contrast, a warlock is a badass arcanist that makes dangerous pacts for power. People expect them to be able to get in close and murder people with an evil sword or something. The alchemist is another nerdy class; it shouldn't feel like a rogue.

      Now, that doesn't mean that they can't choose to take a melee role, but grabbing a discovery for hp, and blast coat are basically a must.

      Tl;dr: It plays like it should be squishy. Because of this, it was /weird/ when it had a d8.

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    11. Lastly, Kevin, you made an excellent point about detonation Theorem possibly being harmful to the class design, and you might be 100% right. You made some excellent points about how it doesn't make sense with builds as you progress in level (I designed it with higher-level play in mind, and wrote it in early drafts, when discoveries came on earlier, so I didn't closely consider this.)

      I'm gonna meditate on this for a day or two, but I think the best solution might simply be to /cut/ that discovery and double-down on the original bomb design.

      What do you think about this solution?

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  7. Comment to respond to Kevin on the bowgunner specifically:

    I'm totally aware that Explosive Missile does almost identical damage through it's run as crossbow volley does (since explosive missile was my balancing point.) The Thumb and I had a long conversation about it, and I thought that, since this class focuses on crossbows anyway, I might as well give people the option for free. Basically, it affords you the option to do a single, high-damage attack roll in place of a bunch of attacks. Not impressive by any stretch, but at least the bowgunner has all the crossbow stuff.

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  8. Also, one /more/ comment:

    Shardin, Kevin: You guys are awesome. Thanks for your well-thought out feedback.

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  9. Typo: potion of sharpness should be oil of sharpness

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