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Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist $3.99
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist
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Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2011 21:41:45
If you wish to try the Alchemist class and to expand the options available to these masters of alchemy, the Secrets of the Alchemist is a solid sourcebook. The feats contained within are mostly applicable to all classes but especially those characters with a crafting or magical focus.

Secrets of the Alchemist: Advanced Feats is a 12-page PDF (10-pages if you remove the cover, ad and OGL page) for the Pathfinder RPG written by Sigfried Trent and published by Open Design. This is part of Open Design’s Advance Feats line for Pathfinder.

The layout is primary traditional two columns and the table of feats clear to read. The cover is color while the single piece interior art is mostly black and white public domain art which is very alchemical.

The Secrets of the Alchemist begins with an introduction to this product and it intention, which is to provide a look at the Alchemist class and ways to play it as well as providing additional options for the class. It then proceeds to do just that, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the class and provides information to consider when playing an alchemist.

Next are the thirty new feats, only five of which are tied to Alchemist class abilities, and most have a paragraph or so of commentary that talk about the reasoning behind the feat and occasionally potential balance issues with a feat. Personally, I find such discussion useful in understanding the design of the game. The feats are solid mechanically and certainly aimed toward what the Alchemist focus on including several crafting and magic related feats.

Concluding the product are three example character builds, with suggested feat and ability progression over 20 levels: the Carpet Bomber, the Mighty Mutant and the Mad Scientist.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/30/2010 14:28:36
Pathfinder’s new alchemist class, published in the recently-released Advanced Player’s Guide, is something of an odd duck. It’s part spellcaster, part bombardier, and part Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. That’s not necessarily a bad combination, but there’s still quite a few hats for it to wear. Inevitably, some of them don’t quite seem to fit as well as they could.

It’s with that thought in mind, I’m guessing, that Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist was written.

Published by Open Design, Secrets of the Alchemist is a short PDF, being only a dozen pages long. It’s fairly light on some of the more technical aspects of a PDF release as well; there are no bookmarks, and notwithstanding the cover, there are no illustrations here either – though, to be entirely accurate, the pages are all given a parchment-style background.

So what does such a short, spartan PDF really bring to your game table? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. The author of the book, Sigfriend Trent, is the driving force behind the Netbook of Feats, which gives him a lot of insight into feat design and development, and he brings that out in full force here. In fact, the real secret of Secrets of the Alchemist is that a lot of these feats aren’t really alchemist-specific, but can be used by almost anyone. In my Pathfinder group, the alchemist is using this book (having taken the Craft Anywhere feat) and so it the barbarian (taking Lighten Weapon). Don’t misunderstand, a number of these feats can only be used by your alchemist, but far more are fit for several different character archetypes.

Perhaps the best part of this book, however, is the way in which the author invites you behind the proverbial curtain to explain why he made the decisions he did. Almost all of the feats here have a commentary section, usually no more than two or three sentences, explaining the feat’s significance. Being told how Organized Inventory works in conjunction with Quick Draw to let you draw any stored items as a free action is good, but noting how well it works with drinking potions really drives the point home.

The book ends with three specific builds for your alchemist. These are basically optimized character progressions explaining what race you should be and what feats, class abilities, ability scores, (and even a suggested list of formulae) etc. you should take to maximize the effectiveness of that particular build. These builds basically specialize in using your bombs, using mutagens, and crafting. As with the feats, there’s some explanation given for the why’s and how’s of these builds, which is all but essential when you’re giving advice for building a character out to 20th level.

Ultimately, Secrets of the Alchemist is an excellent book whose only real problem is that its name may make people think that its applicability is narrower than it actually is. Presuming you don’t want to play an alchemist, you can still put 75% or so of this book to good use – ignoring the builds and alchemist-specific feats still leaves a goodly chunk of excellent feats on the table, whether you’re a melee fighter, spellcaster, or skill monkey. This book’s advanced feats have the formula for success no matter what your class is.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Ben G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/10/2010 10:55:39
Secrets of the Alchemist by Sigfried Trent offers an in depth look at the Alchemist class as it's available in the Advanced Player's guide. Trent introduces 30 new feats designed with Alchemists PCs in mind, as well as a discussion on what the Alchemist can do as a class, and several suggested builds.

I've often toyed with the idea of playing an Alchemist and I'm glad that Pathfinder has introduced this as a class for PCs, rather than shady NPCs who sit in shops and charge players lots of money for stuff. If you're looking to play this class now, or as a GM want to introduce Alchemists into your game, Secrets of the Alchemist is certainly worth taking a look at. Most of the 30 feats are well balanced and will fit nicely into your game (more on this in a bit).

This PDF starts of with an examination of the Alchemist class and what bearing they'll have on your party. It's worth the read as Trent has put a lot of thought into this and gives an easy to follow overview of the Alchemist which goes a bit above and beyond what's covered in the Advanced Players guide. I finished this section knowing how I'd implement a character in a game, rather than having a few interesting but vague ideas about the Alchemist.

Next we come to the 30 new feats designed for Alchemists. Many of these are great feats which will be eminently useful to your party without breaking the game. Here though, lies my only beef with this supplement. A few of these feats seem to be a bit overpowered and may have some serious effects on game balance.

Take for instance Accurate Assessment. This feat allows a player to take a standard action in a combat round and "learn on statistical value of a foe during combat'. That could be the foe's Strength. Or hit points. Or Will save. To me, this is a bit game breaking on two levels. It first takes the in-game character into the realm of player knowledge. Secondly, it allows players to know things they shouldn't know.

Another such feat is Lighten Weapon, which allows you to use a weapon one size category larger as if it was your own size, with a -2 penalty to hit.

Trent has specific notes on these two feats as well, in which he gives his reasoning for including them. I can agree with his reasoning but I still think they could be potentially game breaking feats.

The good news is there are tons of excellent feats which will add a lot to your game as an Alchemist. Craft Anywhere is one of my favorites, basically allowing you to double the amount of crafting you can do while adventuring. This calls to mind the distracted tinkerer, always with a hand in something.

After detailing the new feats, there are three character build paths for the Alchemist which I think demonstrate a lot of insight into this character and give players and GMs some very viable paths to follow. The first is the Carpet Bomber, who essentially maximizes the number of bombs that can be thrown and their damage. Next is the Mighty Mutant build, which specializes in Mutagens to create a pretty hefty front line Alchemist tank. The last is the Mad Scientist build, who plays more of a support role but can equip a party with some pretty neat stuff.

I'd certainly recommend picking this up, if you keep an eye on a few of the feats and make sure they're not too powerful for your game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/06/2010 08:44:23
The alchemist has been knocking around the fringes of fantasy games for ages, generally - if codified at all - as an NPC that your characters can go to for a range of useful items to take on their adventures, with alchemy itself as a sideline skill practised in your 'Craft' spot. Now Paizo's Advanced Player's Guide has brought him out of the workshop to become a playable character in his own right, with skills useful down the dungeon or out on the road, and this product seeks to expand on this and make him an even more attractive option.

The alchemist PC has several notable skills, which are mentioned in the Introduction - he can throw bombs, make and use extracts, brew potions and use poison. However, to hone such a character, he needs appropriate feats and here a grand total of 30 are presented for the budding alchemist to choose from. Many could be taken by any character, espcially one who has taken alchemy as a craft skill sideline to his main class. One that catches the eye is Organised Inventory, which allows the character to extract a non-weapon item as a free action during combat: very useful if you want to make use of something other than a conventional weapon mid-brawl... you hardly want to stand there frisking yourself for what you want. (Consider this, can you place your hand on your car keys right NOW without having to think about where they are?) Most of the feats either improve the alchemist's lab work or enable him to use his special combat skills even better. Suicide Bomber is not, however, recommended unless you really do want to go out in a blaze of glory as it involves walking up to your opponent and letting off every bomb you've got.

Next comes some character builds, with the comment that a bit of thought and planning about how you want your character to develop is well worth it, helping to ensure that you meet the requisites for whatever feat you want to take. Each is provided with level-by-level suggestions for what to develop in order to maximise your potential. The builds are an elf 'carpet bomber' who is particularly good at the explosive aspects of the alchemist class, a half-orc 'mighty mutant' who develops himself, and a human 'mad scientist' who should be fun to play and entertaining for everyone else around the table... he's really better at making things than brawling, but if he does get into a fight people may be surprised at just how well he handles himself!

This is a neat supplement providing tools to enhance alchemist characters and make the most of the possibilities inherent in the ruleset. It may feel rather a calculating approach to some... but remember that just as many people in the real world will take a specific qualification or career move just to further a long-term goal, so may your characters plan their progression through the game, even if they themselves don't quite see it in terms of the feats and stat blocks that we players use to describe them!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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