Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, I’m going to be sharing my PFS grenadier alchemist build.
A little bit of self-indulgence never hurt one’s self, I suppose. I shared my finished bloodrager miniature on Monday, so now I’m going to share my PFS grenadier character’s build for Friday! Hooray for indulgence!
So, what’s going into my grenadier build? Glad you asked!
- Alchemist (Grenadier): Obviously I need the class and the archetype to pull this off well. Basically, the idea is that you’re REALLY good at infusing your weapons with alchemical goodies, so that’s what I aim to do.
Huh. Well that was a surprisingly simple concept! Let’s move on to the build.
Early Levels (1–7)
- Classes: alchemist (grenadier) 7
- Feats: Throw Anything (Bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Additional Traits: clever wordplay [Diplomacy], precise treatment (5th), Bullseye Shot (7th)
- Abilities: alchemical weapon, alchemy, bomb 4d6, directed blast, discoveries, martial weapon proficiency: longbow, mutagen, precise bombs, swift alchemy, throw anything.
- Discoveries: precise bomb (Bonus), explosive bomb (2nd), explosive missile (4th) frost bomb (6th)
So the basic idea for this build is to be a combat debuffer. Do all of the nasty things to enemies while being as far away as possible. Grenadier is REALLY good at this, between having alchemical weapon at 2nd level and getting power ups to bombs early on.
As someone who has already played this build to Level 3, let me tell you, Levels 1 and 2 SUCK for this build, and its all because of the Precise Shot feat tax. If you go human for this build to get Precise Shot as a bonus feat, I completely understand; it is a necessary evil of a feat that makes combat SO MUCH EASIER after you get it.
Now, the big two-ability combo that I’m going for is Bullseye Shot (from Inner Sea Gods) and explosive missile. Explosive missile allows my character to infuse an arrow with one of his bombs and fire said arrow as a standard action while Bullseye Shot allows me to spend a move action to grant myself a +4 bonus on my next attack roll. The +4 bonus is MASSIVE at low-levels, and at higher levels it allows me to keep pace with a fighter’s base attack bonus nicely. Of course, the downside is that I don’t make many full attacks, but in truth, I’m not looking to deal massive amounts of damage with this build; in my opinion, bombers just aren’t very good at that given their uses per day mechanic. Instead, I’m looking to make life MISERABLE for my enemies with a wide variety of negative status conditions, and by stacking things like tanglefoot backs and flasks of alchemist’s fire onto my weapons in addition to my bombs, that’s actually fairly easy to do. You see, another nice thing about this build is that because of my relatively low base attack bonus, I can’t take Bullseye Shot until 7th level. At 6th level, alchemical weapon becomes a swift action instead of a move action. So by the time I get this feat, I can use a swift action to infuse an alchemical item into my arrow, use a move action to gain the benefits of Bullseye Shot, then finally use a standard action to infuse my arrow with a bomb, load it into my bow, and fire it.
So, what sort of nasty debuffs do I want to be shooting at my enemies? Well, none, at first. I get precise bombs for free as a bonus discovery from my archetype and I also opted to take explosive bomb at 2nd level. I like explosive bomb; bigger booms, plus catching enemies on fire. What’s not to love? At 4th level, I take explosive missile, then at 6th level I grab frost bomb, which is sort of like the opposite of explosive missile. My by calculations, 5th level is around when I’m not going to be able to reasonably rely on low-DC alchemical items anymore, so frost bomb will be welcoming at 6th level when I get it. I picked explosive bomb first because my character is themed around the mythical Chinese inventor of fireworks, Liu Yang, so sorry if my theme-building gets in the way of optimization.
Further getting in the way of optimization is my decision to take Additional Traits at 5th level. I have TONS of skill points and I want them to count, so I’m going to be taking two traits that allow me to get Intelligence to Diplomacy and Heal, two skills that I regularly invest in. I like the idea that my alchemist has a VERY biting, cunning wit, even if he isn’t particularly charismatic. (I’ve met TONS of people like this and it looks like fun to play.) Also, there isn’t much in the way of other feats that I need at that point. Improved Initiative and Weapon Focus: longbow are two feats that I could take instead (and might, depending upon my play experience), but I just don’t see any reason to rush them, not when my mutagen is a massive +2 bonus to hit and to initiative checks.
But like I said, I will end up taking those abilities. Check in with the mid-levels and see for yourself!
Mid Levels (8 –14)
- Classes: alchemist (grenadier) 14th
- Feats: Throw Anything (Bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Additional Traits: clever wordplay [Diplomacy], precise treatment (5th), Bullseye Shot (7th), Improved Initiative (9th), Extra Discovery: force bomb (11th), Weapon Focus: longbow (13th)
- Abilities: alchemical weapon, alchemy, bomb 7d6, directed blast, discoveries, martial weapon proficiency: longbow, mutagen, persistent mutagen, precise bombs, staggering blast, swift alchemy, throw anything.
- Discoveries: precise bomb (Bonus), explosive bomb (2nd), explosive missile (4th), frost bomb (6th), smoke bomb (8th), stink bomb (10th), force bomb (Bonus), greater mutagen (12th), blinding bomb (14th)
The mid levels are where I really start to pick up some debuffs. Stink bomb is one of my favorites, and while I could have taken it a LOT sooner (as in, as early as Level 4), I ultimately decided against it to try and be a little bit more fair to the other players at my table. After all, ending every encounter with a single bomb all the time isn’t super fun in the early game, but there are PLENTY of fights that such a tactic is almost required by the mid-game. (Especially Level 10, where I get it.) I have some flexibility if I decide I want this ability sooner, too. I could take Extra Discovery: stink bomb at 9th instead of Improved Initiative, for instance.
Improved Initiative is awesome for a Dex-focused character. An extra +4 to initiative, plus my trait, means that I’ll likely have a +10 or more to my check by this point. Weapon Focus is also a pretty safe feat, as I want my arrows to hit. Between this and Bullseye Shot, I’m looking at an easy +5 to hit, which can be boosted even more by my greater mutagen. Greater mutagen gives me another +3 to my Dexterity at 12th level, and I can choose between more hit points or more damage with my composite longbow. Most times, choosing Strength with my mutagen isn’t a great option; I’ll lose 1 damage from Int from my bombs but gain 2 from my higher Strength (assuming I have an adaptable composite bow, which I will). That said, using mutagen on Strength becomes a very effective tactic when I get a vest of stable mutagen, which nullifies all mental penalties that I would otherwise take. Until I get that item, however, I’m more likely to boost my Con with my greater mutagen.
Speaking of items that boost my effectiveness, a conductive bow is another one. The conductive ability allows me to expend two uses of a supernatural ability (bomb in this case) to channel it through a weapon that makes the same type of attack (ranged attacks, in this case). Effectively, when I attack, I can expend three uses of bomb in order to shoot two bombs worth of damage at my target, plus arrow damage, all with an extra +5 bonus to hit from my feats. Is it the most use per day-effective strategy in the world? No, but it sure is FUN!
Let’s wrap this build up at the end game.
- Classes: alchemist (grenadier) 14th
- Feats: Throw Anything (Bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Additional Traits: clever wordplay [Diplomacy], precise treatment (5th), Bullseye Shot (7th), Improved Initiative (9th), Extra Discovery: force bomb (11th), Weapon Focus: longbow (13th), Improved Precise Shot (15th), ANY FEAT (17th), ANY FEAT (19th)
- Abilities: alchemical weapon, alchemy, bomb 7d6, directed blast, discoveries, grand discovery, instant alchemy, martial weapon proficiency: longbow, mutagen, persistent mutagen, precise bombs, staggering blast, swift alchemy, throw anything.
- Discoveries: precise bomb (Bonus), explosive bomb (2nd), explosive missile (4th), frost bomb (6th), smoke bomb (8th), stink bomb (10th), force bomb (Bonus), greater mutagen (12th), blinding bomb (14th), inferno bomb (16th), grand mutagen (18th), true mutagen plus two additional discoveries (20th)
End game is a bit weird because by 15th level, I have everything I could possibly want from this build. 15th level is when I pick up Improved Precise Shot, which basically says that I ignore cover. Very handy. I have two more feats to pick after that, but honestly there aren’t many more feats or discoveries that I truly need. I focus on a single, massive attack so I don’t need Manyshot, Rapid Shot, or any of the typical archer feats. I have most of the super nasty bombs; about the only one that I didn’t take was tanglefoot bomb, so that’s likely to be one of my high-level choices. Honestly, I might end up filling out my roster with a bunch of applications of Extra Bomb, but who knows; getting up that high in PFS is VERY difficult, after all.
But yeah, between riding two bombs, an alchemical item, and arrow damage on a single shot, things are pretty good. And that’s before I even start messing around with special ammo like human bane or holy or take any of my extracts into account! Overall, this is a very versatile build that I’ve ultimately become very attached too. It should be a blast to play. (*Everyone groans*)
Got any questions or comments? Leave’em below, continue the conversation, and make sure you show up here on Monday for another new installment of Guidance. So long, and take care!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.