Homebrew: “Formulaic Alchemist” class for 5e

So, I know that everyone and their sister has homebrewed up their own Alchemist class for 5e by now, because we went so long without an official one, and lots of folks don’t love the official one. Including me. So, here’s mine.

This “Formulaic Alchemist” has no sub-classes, it’s just the one build, and it is focused heavily on the themes of chemistry and biology. There is no spell-casting, and almost no tinkering, and it runs on Short Rests. Also, I only made 12 levels because I don’t believe in high-level play. It’s a myth, a myth I tells ya!

My goal was to create a mad scientist-type class with enough options to let you play as support, glass cannon, or skill monkey, depending on your choices. I haven’t checked out my math on any of this, so it may be wildly over- or under-powered. But hopefully I will have a chance to play-test it one day and tweak it.

Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments!

Formulaic Alchemist

Class features

Hit Points
Hit Dice: 1d8 per alchemist level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 + your Constitution modifier per alchemist level after 1st

Armor: Light
Weapons: Daggers, hand crossbows
Tools: alchemist kit, herbalist kit, tinker kit
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Constitution
Skills: Choose three from Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, and Nature

You start with a dagger, leather armor, alchemist kit, Scholar or Explorer pack, potion satchel, and a Codex.

Alchemist Table

[table id=1 /]

True Alchemy 

At level 1, you can create arcane potions using your alchemist kit and Codex, which contains three (3) formulas. Your Codex is the repository of the formulas you know. 

Alchemical potions are complex and volatile. To create one, you must know its formula. Over time, as you gain experience, you will be able to create more potent versions of the same formulas.

In addition, it requires great skill to handle a potion throughout the day so that it remains stable and effective in your potion satchel. Your potion satchel is designed to safely preserve and transport potions using armor, padding, and insulation. It can also preserve biological samples indefinitely. Over time, your increased skills allow you to enhance and expand your satchel to maintain more potions each day.

The Alchemist Table shows the rate at which you will (1) learn formulas, (2) increase the number of potions you can maintain each day, and (3) increase the potency of your potions.

Preparing formulas

As part of a Long Rest, you can choose how many of your known formulas you will prepare for the day. You are limited by the maximum number of potions you are skilled enough to maintain, as shown in the Alchemist Table. You can prepare any number of potions of each formula in your Codex up to the limit defined by your Alchemist level. 

For example, at first level you can maintain 6 potions per Long Rest and you know three formulas, so you could prepare 2 potions of each formula, or 6 potions of one formula, etc. When you take another Long Rest, any remaining potions from the previous day dissolve back into their component ingredients and are lost. 

Each formula has an effect and a potency. As you advance in Alchemist levels, the potency of your formulas increases per the Alchemist Table. (Formulas are listed and described below.)

Learning formulas 

As you gain Alchemist levels, you can add formulas of your choice to your Codex, as shown in the Alchemist Table. On your Adventures, you might find other formulas that you can also add to your Codex.

Alchemic Remix

At level 1, each time you finish a Short Rest, you can choose to replace some of your expended potions. The number of potions can be equal to or less than your Intelligence modifier. 

For example, if your Intelligence is 16, then you can replace up to three potions per Short Rest. The replacement potions can be of any formula that you know.

Noble Gloves

At level 2, you create a pair of gloves with transmutative properties. When you wear both gloves, any single object or creature that you can entirely enclose between your two hands turns to solid metal: iron, copper, silver, or gold (your choice). After 1 hour, the object or creature returns to its natural state. You can maintain up to three (3) transformed objects or creatures at any one time.

Elemental Resistance

At level 2, your studies of the natural world have strengthened your body against certain harm. You are resistant to one form of damage: fire, cold, acid, poison, thunder, or lightning (your choice). You gain additional elemental resistances at higher levels. 

Hybrid Familiar

At level 3, you gain the ability to fuse two Beasts together into a hybrid familiar. Over the course of an hour, you perform the following operation. Using chemical lures and pheromones, you attact two Tiny Beasts of your choice to approach you from the wild. Then, using a polymorphic formula, you fuse the two creatures together into a hybrid, such as a raven-frog or a lizard-spider. 

To identify the hybrid’s statistics, select the AC, HP, Speed, and “six stats” (top of the stat block) from one creature and the Skills, Senses, Resistances, Abilities, and Actions (bottom of the stat block) from the other creature. 

  • For example, you could choose your raven-frog to have (1) the flight movement of a raven and the amphibious and darkvision abilities of a frog, OR (2) the swim movement of a frog and the mimicry and beak attack abilities of a raven.
  • Be careful! Some hybrid combinations may be problematic. It may take some planning to ensure that the features from the two creatures are compatible. For example, a quipper-owl could (1) fly but only breathe underwater, or alternatively (2) swim but not breathe underwater at all!

The hybrid understands Common and obeys your commands. It cannot speak but it can relay simple images to you telepathically when within 100 feet. 

In combat, the hybrid acts on your initiative. As a bonus action, you can command the hybrid to move and take an action, including Attack, Dodge, or Help. If separated from you, it will do anything possible to return to you. 

You can only have one hybrid familiar at a time. If you create a second hybrid, the first one returns to the wild. If your hybrid dies, it cannot be revived.

At level 6, you gain the ability to fuse Medium Beasts, such as a panther-wolf.

At level 9, you gain the ability to fuse Large Beasts, such as a giant bat-elk.

Handy Atomizer

At level 5, you have created three new formulas that quickly affect a person’s senses and emotions, and you have invented a hand-held atomizer that can store three (3) doses of a formula and spray one creature within 5 feet as a Bonus Action. After completing a Long Rest, choose one (1) of the following formulas to prepare in your atomizer for the day:  

  • Sweet Dream. Target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or else fall asleep for 1d4 minutes. The target can be awakened by another creature or by taking damage.
  • Soothing Mist. Target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or else regard all other creatures as friendly for 1d4 minutes. The effect ends if the target takes damage.
  • Maddening Mixture. Target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or else become berserk for 1d4 minutes. In this state, the target sees all other creatures as enemies and attacks the nearest creature on each turn.

When a formula requires a saving throw, the DC = 8 + your Proficiency + your Intelligence.

Enhanced Potency

At level 5, you can further enhance the effectiveness of your formulas. When you roll Potency, you can add your Intelligence modifier to the result.

Master Scholar

At level 7, your far-ranging studies have broadened your knowledge and understanding considerably. You gain two additional skills of your choice, and you gain advantage on all Intelligence-based skill checks and saving throws.

Noble Gauntlets

At level 10, you have enhanced your Noble Gloves into a more complex and powerful form. In addition to their original abilities, you can use both gauntlets to grasp an object or creature that can fit in a 10×10 cube and impose one of the following effects: 

  • The object or creature becomes light as a feather while you grasp it.
  • The object or creature becomes so heavy that it cannot move while you grasp it.
  • The object rapidly decays or the creature rapidly ages while you grasp it. Roll potency for damage. Objects take acid damage each round that you grasp them. Creatures take necrotic damage each round that you grasp them. 

Alchemist Formulas

Note: A creature can only experience the effects of one formula at a time. If a second formula is ingested while the first formula is still in effect, then the benefits of the first formula are lost and the user only experiences the effects of the second formula.

When a formula requires a saving throw, the DC = 8 + your Proficiency + your Intelligence.

For internal use

Healing Draught. Ingested. Roll potency to heal HP.

Omni Tonic. Ingested. Roll potency. If the rolled value is greater than 12, then the user is cured of all status effects.

Mindful Melange. Ingested. For 1 minute, the user has darkvision 60 feet, tremorsense 60 feet, blindsight 60 feet, and advantage on all perception and insight checks. In addition, the user instantly knows whether a spoken statement is a lie.

Adamant Dram. Ingested. For 1 minute, the user is immune to all damage types, but their movement speed is reduced to 10 and they can only take one Action or one Bonus Action per turn, not both.

Phantom Philter. Ingested. For 1 minute, the user’s body becomes spectral and partially transparent. They can move through non-magical objects, barriers, and creatures, and cannot touch anything physical. They have advantage to hide in dark or dimly lit areas, and cannot speak or otherwise make any sound. They are immune to physical attacks, and have resistance to magical attacks. If the user is partially inside an object when the effect ends, then they are fused to the object. If the user is entirely inside an object when the effect ends, then they fuse to the object and die.

Ferocious Elixir. Ingested. For 1 minute, the user has advantage on all Strength-based rolls, and disadvantage on all Intelligence-based rolls. Unarmed strikes deal 1d6+5 bludgeoning damage. The user is immune to all charms and cannot be frightened. The user’s movement speed increases by 15, and the user has a swim speed and climb speed equal to their movement speed. Roll potency to acquire temporary HP. When the effect ends, the user falls prone for 1 minute and also gains 1 level of exhaustion.

Mutagenic Fusion. Ingested. Requires one intact organ from a donor creature, such as the heart, brain, or eye, which is consumed. For 1 hour, the user gains all the physical abilities of the donor creature, such as flying, swimming, spider-climbing, and blindsight. For example, if the donor could fly, then the user grows wings similar to those of the donor and gains the donor’s fly speed. In addition, the user gains all the immunities, resistances, vulnerabilities, skills, senses, and languages of the donor creature. When the effect ends, any new limbs dissolve away.

For external use

Burning Brew. 15-foot splash cone. Target creatures must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking full damage on a fail or half damage on a success. Roll potency for fire damage. Any flamable materials ignite.

Bitter Blend. 15-foot splash cone. Target creatures must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking full damage on a fail or half damage on a success. Roll potency for cold damage. Any liquids freeze for 1d4 minutes. Any mechanical devices, including traps, are immobilized for 1d4 minutes.

True Alkahest. This noxious liquid can be used to destroy up to 1×1 foot cube of any non-magical material. It cannot be thrown, or it will disperse into ineffective droplets. Roll potency for acid damage. 

Toxic Concoction. This foul clay can be thrown up to 60 feet, or placed in a location and activated by a melee attack. It releases a 20-foot radius cloud of unnatural toxins. The cloud persists for 1 minute and then disperses. Creatures must make a Constitution saving throw when starting their turn inside the cloud. Roll potency for poison damage. Creatures take full damage and are poisoned for 1 minute on a fail, or take half damage on a success.

Explosive Compound. This unstable gel can be thrown up to 60 feet, or placed in a location and detonated by a melee attack. 15-foot radius sphere. Target creatures must make a Constitution saving throw, taking full damage on a fail or half damage on a success. Roll potency for thunder damage. Structures of glass, crystal, wood, and stone are vulnerable to this damage.

Shocking Solution. This buzzing gel can be thrown up to 60 feet, or placed in a location and detonated by a melee attack. 15-foot radius sphere. Target creatures must make a Constitution saving throw, taking full damage on a fail or half damage on a success. Roll potency for lightning damage. Creatures touching metal (such as armor) or standing in water are vulnerable to this damage.

Unnatural Fertilizer. This pungent dust can be thrown across a 20×20 foot square of ground within 30 feet of the user. Instantly, a thick mass of interwoven vines covered in metallic thorns erupts from the ground. This area is difficult terrain. All creatures that start their turn in the area are injured by the thorns. Roll potency for piercing damage.

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