Saturday, March 3, 2018

Delivering A Big Bang With The Underground Chemist

If you've ever sat at a table with me, you know alchemical items are one of my favorite things to use. To the point that I keep them around long past low levels, when most players sort of forget they're even a thing. While there have been more than a few occasions where a properly-utilized tanglefoot bag has put a serious monkey wrench into a DM's plan, most of the time alchemy stops being viable for anyone but alchemists by about fourth or fifth level (if we're being generous).

Which is why I love the Underground Chemist.

We're underground now, but don't worry, we'll be blowing up soon!
While the rogue gets a lot of hate (which has made my 5 Tips For Playing Better Rogues one of the best read articles in my 5 Tips series so far), the Underground Chemist is an archetype that lets you break a lot of rules. First off, at second level, it lets you draw alchemical items as if they were weapons, which opens up the possibility of using Quick Draw to get your full attack with acid, alchemist fire, and all the other goodies out there. You also get to add your Intelligence modifier to damage done with splash weapons, the same way an alchemist does. That's good times, right there. Secondly, at 4th level, you can sneak attack with a splash weapon. Provided it's your first attack of the round, that it's an attack on a creature and not a square, and that it meets all the requirements for sneak attack.

Those two things make flinging flasks pretty viable as an attack strategy. But if you combine them with a certain rogue trick, you can get a lot more bang for your buck.

Burn One Down For Me

In case you haven't dug through the lists of rogue tricks out there, there's one simply called Bomber. It allows you to make bombs as per the alchemist class feature, except that they deal damage equal to your sneak attack when they hit. And normally it doesn't allow you to add your Int modifier to the damage, but since you're an Underground Chemist, you have that as a class feature. Of course, the truly damaging part is when you catch an enemy flat-footed with your bomb. Because that is a two-for-one blowout.

So much for Vlacuul the Dread Necromancer. Next?
The sweet spot for this trick is when you can hit someone with one of your bombs under the conditions where it qualifies for sneak attack. Whether that's by having an insanely high Initiative modifier, downing a potion of invisibility, or just going for a target who can't see in the dark once you've snuffed the lights, you're essentially hitting them for double your sneak attack damage (once for the bomb itself, and once for the actual sneak attack with a splash weapon), plus your Intelligence modifier, in addition to any other feats and abilities you have. Even at 4th level, that can pack a punch. At higher levels, that could be on par with anything the evoker is going to throw out in terms of sheer dice volume.

Keep Your Options Open

While the combination of Bomber and Underground Chemist is a match made in some fiery, napalm heaven, it's important to remember that fire resistance is one of the most common varieties you're going to come across in the game. So remember to keep a variety of elements on hand, and to ensure you have an extra trick or two up your sleeve to ensure you're never out of options. Because, as any alchemist who's fought a demon will attest, you need something to fall back on.

That's all for this week's Crunch topic. While I haven't had a chance to put this particular trick into play just yet, I'm sure I'll share how well it worked. For more content, check out my Vocal archive, or head over to the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio where I work with other gamers to bring the world of Evora to life. To stay on top of all my releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, then either head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron, or Buy Me A Coffee! Either way, I'll send you some sweet gaming swag as a thank you for your help.

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