Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at a goblin alchemist build.
So a few weeks ago, when Anthony and Ryan were interviewing the writer of Pirate’s Promise, Ryan and Anthony asked me via chat whether I knew what the name of Paizo’s fourth “Iconic Goblin” was. It was ironic that Anthony made the comment that I “know everything,” because honestly I lean on him for much of our podcast’s world flavor knowledge. So I spouted out the first thing that popped into my head: Boomy the Firebug. A few jokes later and this is where we end up: Boomy the Firebug the Build.
So, let’s look at a few of the options I’ll be using in this build.
- Goblin: Obviously, this has to be a goblin. That was sort of the joke.
- Alchemist: Personally, I think the alchemist class is the absolute best at representing goblins in Pathfinder, and Paizo seems to think so as well because goblins have TWO separate alchemist archetypes unique to them: the fire bomber and the winged marauder. Although these archetypes stack, I’m only going to be using the winged marauder for my build. The other archetype that I’m going to use is the grenadier. I REALLY wanted to wait to talk about this archetype until I did my personal PFS grenadier in an Iconic Design, but grenadier is absolutely perfect for this build, so I’m using it.
- Fighter (Dragoon): I’ll also be taking a one-level dip into the dragoon fighter archetype for a few reasons. First, getting tons of martial weapon proficiencies all at once is useful for what I have in mind. Two, the dragoon gives Mounted Combat (which I need) AND Skill Focus: Ride as a bonus feat at 1st level, which is just plain useful.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the build!
Early Levels (1–7)
- Classes: alchemist (grenadier, winged marauder) 6, fighter (dragoon) 1
- Feats: Throw Anything (Bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Mounted Combat (Bonus), Skill Focus: Ride (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Mounted Archery (5th) Burn! Burn! Burn! (7th)
- Abilities: alchemical weapon (swift), alchemy, discoveries (explosive bomb, immolation bomb, smoke bomb), directed blast, flying beast tamer, bomb 3d6, martial weapon proficiency (anything), precise bombs, skilled rider, swift alchemy
Personally, I think this build works best if you start with a level of alchemist, then dip into fighter, then go back to alchemist. The reason is simple: do you REALLY want Mounted Combat and Skill Focus: Ride before you have your trusty dire bat/giant vulture? I didn’t think so! Perhaps the only downside of this combo is that your trading of Brew Potion for a martial weapon proficiency is somewhat pointless, but you’re going to need a decent ranged weapon (likely a bow), and a lance at bare minimum to make this build work. Its either burn a fight or take a level of dragoon, and I think the dragoon level is useful regardless.
So, let’s talk about WHY you want a bow and/or lance. The most obvious reason is the grenadier’s 2nd level ability, alchemical weapon. With alchemical weapon, you can put an alchemical item onto any one weapon or piece of ammunition that you can use, which takes effect when you strike your foe. This ability has some powerful connotations for our build, particularly at 7th level when you get the Burn! Burn! Burn! Feat. This feat adds +1d4 fire damage to any nonmagical fire-based weapon that you use, and this damage will trigger off of the alchemical item that you put onto your weapon with the alchemical weapon ability. In effect, you can put a flask of alchemist fire into an arrow/lance and have it deal an extra +1d6 fire damage, plus another +1d4 fire damage. Pretty cool, right? If your goblin has a LOT of money to burn, he can even use slow burn arrows (from the Alchemy Manual). These arrows cause any target that they hit to burst into flame one round later, and that fire damage would trigger Burn! Burn! Burn! real good.
Most of the build’s feats at the early game focus on getting rid of penalties. Precise Shot and Mounted Archery both accomplish this, as the penalties for shooting from a flying creature are MASSIVE, and you ain’t got time for that. In terms of discoveries, grenadier gives you precise bombs for free in exchange for poison use, so I picked explosive bomb (bigger blast range) immolation bomb (bombs can deal damage over time, which can be GREAT against spellcasters), and smoke bomb (battlefield control plus a prerequisite for a very thematic bomb.
So while spend the early levels prepping our little Firebug, let’s head over to the Mid Levels to see how much all of that prep work paid off.
Mid Levels (8 –14)
- Classes: alchemist (grenadier, winged marauder) 13, fighter (dragoon) 1
- Feats: Throw Anything (Bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Mounted Combat (Bonus), Skill Focus: Ride (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Mounted Archery (5th) Burn! Burn! Burn! (7th), Fire Hand (9th), Extra Discovery: force bomb (11th), Flame Heart (13th)
- Abilities: alchemical weapon (swift), alchemy, discoveries (explosive bomb, fast bombs, fire brand, immolation bomb, scrap bomb, smoke bomb), directed blast, flying beast tamer, bomb 7d6, martial weapon proficiency (anything), precise bombs, skilled rider, staggering blast, swift alchemy
Fire Hand is a cool goblin feat. Although the whole “wielding a torch without penalty” thing is a bit underwhelming, the extra +1 to hit and damage with any melee weapon that deals fire damage is GREAT, especially considering I timed it that the feat was earned at the same level as the goblin-only discovery fire brand. This discovery allows a goblin to expend one use of a bomb to give a weapon the flaming special weapon ability, or the flaming burst ability if the goblin is 10th level or higher. This means that our goblin buddy can A) effectively add more fire damage to his weapon attacks and B) ensure that every weapon he wields benefits from the Fire Hand feat. Force bomb might seem out of place for this build, but ultimately our goblin needs a way to handle pesky fire resistance and fire immunity, and big booms seemed appropriate. In addition to fire brand, we add the goblin-exclusive scrap bomb discovery and fast bombs to our Firebug’s arsenal. Fast bombs is a must-have; it will allow Boomy to full-attack with his bombs to devastating effect if he needs to, and scrap bomb adds 1 point of bleed damage to the bombs per d6 of bomb damage, which means those bombs hurt even more. Boomy also gets the staggering blast ability from the grenadier archetype, which causes his bombs to stagger enemies on a critical hit for free. Its basically free Staggering Critical. Finally, the Fire Heart feat boosts Boomy’s alchemist level with his bombs by one, so its like he never even multiclassed! I love me some multiclassing synergy, so that works just fine for me.
Aside from those additions, Boomy really just gets better at doing what he loves at this area. Let’s move on and see what else he has in store!
- Classes: alchemist (grenadier, winged marauder) 19, fighter (dragoon) 1
- Feats: Throw Anything (Bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Mounted Combat (Bonus), Skill Focus: Ride (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Mounted Archery (5th) Burn! Burn! Burn! (7th), Fire Hand (9th), Extra Discovery: force bomb (11th), Flame Heart (13th), Improved Precise Shot (15th), Splash Weapon Mastery (17th), Extra Discovery: shock bomb (19th)
- Abilities: alchemical weapon (swift), alchemy, discoveries (explosive bomb, fast bombs, fire brand, immolation bomb, inferno bomb, infusion, scrap bomb, sipping potion, smoke bomb), directed blast, flying beast tamer, bomb 7d6, martial weapon proficiency (anything), precise bombs, skilled rider, staggering blast, swift alchemy
Nothing too extreme in the end game; new feats to lower penalties, inferno bomb (which causes bombs to leave behind a fiery cloud of death), infusion, and the sipping potion discovery, which is exclusive to the winged marauder. This infusion allows Bomby to feed potions and extracts to his animal companion faster, which could be situationally useful. This is an easy trade-out, however, and its really just icing on the death-cake. Boomy has plenty of ways to inflict the pain on his enemies, so let’s take a brief moment to look at his trusty steed.
The first question that you want to ask yourself is: do I want to use a dire bat or a vulture? Bats are slightly slower flyers and their attacks are a bit lower, but they have blindsense on their side. Personally, I would pick a bat for those reasons, but the image of a goblin riding on a dumpy vulture is pretty funny. Feat-wise, Stable Gallop (Animal Archive) is a must-have for your ranged attacking gobbling, for it severely reduces the penalty Boomy takes for attacking with a ranged weapon from horseback. Fly-By attack is also a must have, as is anything that improves the animal’s speed. Chances are you won’t be jousting with a flying mount; the point is to NOT have to get into melee unless you have to or you’re swooping down for the kill. Improving your mount’s natural armor is also a good way to go, and you might even want Hover or Skill Focus: fly to make flying a bit easier.
Whelp, and there you have it! Boomy the Firebug. Or Firebat at the case my be. What do you think of this build? Personally, I think its something that works better for a villain than a PC, but if you’ll be in a campaign where a flying critter is a good thing to have, this build will be pretty awesome. Maybe consider it if Way of the Wicked has some nice, cavernous areas. Anyway, until next time, 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’s favorite color is blue and his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is halfling fighter, mostly because of the Melee Tactics Toolbox.