Author Topic: Optimizing Alchemy with FA  (Read 1160 times)

Jack_Spade

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Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« on: (05:12:16/08-31-17) »
Since there have been a lot of Alchemy/Enchanting builds around, I wanted to take a look at what an optimized Enchanter could look like now.

The basics.
Various new options allow you now to produce preparations with a de facto endless shelf life. You want high Force and high Potency.  But at the same time you want only to take Stun Drain, so only need an hour to rest between your work instead of days.

Build:
If you aren't a full mage, you now want Priority C or D for your magic:
The Enchanter (p.47 FA) gives Magic 5 and allows you to stay with a low priority for Metatype. The drawback is you now work with a skill group that you can't specialize in. Ask you GM about breaking up Skill Groups in chara creation.
Use your low priority needs for high attributes and skills - once you have your basic equipment, money is much less of an issue for you.

Qualities:
There are a lot of options now and ideally you'll get them all (mastery qualities don't increase in price so you can get them during play)

Mentor Spirit: Fire Bringer. There is really no substitute if you plan to be a serious alchemist. +2 to alchemy and +2 to manipulation preparations is gold.
Practice, Practice (HT): Get it for Enchanting - it's really great.

Alchemical Armorer: Very useful if you plan to use single shot weapons like the Ruger Warhawk or the Ruger 101, but more of a long term investment (needs initiation, so not really something you can base your build on)
Alchemical Bomb Maker: This quality is crazy strong. Direct and indirect damage can go through the roof with this - apply them to playing cards and feel like Gambit.
Archivist (w/ College Education): GET THIS QUALITY. Seriously, this is a cornerstone of the optimized build. More about that later on.
Dedicated Spellslinger: Technically it says Spellcasting, but a fair GM will allow you to use it 1:1 for the Alchemy skill group. Without that it's very hard to get useful preparations from the start.
Durable Preparations: Useful but no priority. Better to get after
Practiced Alchemist: Double duration beats the *3 potency from Durable Preparations. But they combine well, allowing you to carry them around for your full work day.
Items of Power: Low priority. It takes quite a while to get to the point where you risk addiction
Potion Maker: Sounds nice, but isn't really worth the trouble - Extra drain is a problem if you make preparations in the field, but you'll be hard pressed to mix potions on the go.
Spiritual Pilgrim: Useful for almost every magic active user - if you are acclimated to the whole area where you operate, your preparations will have a lot more power.
Vexcraft: Can be relevant since you already have Disenchanting from your skill group, but probably not all that useful if you can obliterate your opponent instead with a powered up stunball preparation

Gear:
Vault of Ages: You don't want one, you want many, many, many of them. Preferably all at maximum rating. Have them at home, have them installed in your car, have them installed in the cybertorso of your troll friend.
Enchanting Gloves (HT): You need those. Contact triggers are the easiest to create and use preparations and allow you rapid buffing
Bio-Pocket (HT): Go well with the gloves to store your preparations during the run without accidentally triggering them.
Atomizer: Turn Health spells into contact triggered spells. Essential if you plan to buff your team.

Alembic/Athanor/Crucible: Nice to have for downtime wealth generation. Especially the crucible is a great way to buy cheap reagents and turn them into valuable products.

Special Work Envirionment: This is a great addition to your lifestyle. Get one that allows you to raise the limit on foci and you can create strong foci with little actual investment.


Alchemical Spells:
Manipulation spells are probably the most versatile and useful spells for preparations. AOE combat spells and unresisted detection spells are also good since you don't have to contend with high counter dice pools. Health spells for buffing are great too, but need good action economy to be useful.

Concept:
You don't use anything more difficult than a pad and a pen to create your preparations. Just simple pieces of paper that you can fold or cut into desired shapes to quickly identify them by touch (with your enchanting gloves).

Archivist allows you to create preparations with force higher than your magic. Ideally you get to F10 so you can use the full potential of your Vault of Ages.
You'll need 8 magic knowledge skills at 4 to pull that off with a magic of 6. The College Education Quality is great for this to double your initial knowledge skill points.
After every preparation you'll suffer considerable stun drain. But with Quick Healer and an Autodoc (get it cheap as a Valkyrie Module) you can boost your healing time to require only one hour. With one day of work you can fill up your vault completely and then some.

Get an Alchemic Focus to boost your dice pool. Ideally you create potencies between 6 and 10 regularly so your preparations now have 16 to 20 dice behind them (and also a longer duration for sustained spells)

Start creating mid level foci (F3 to 4) with quickly created formula (F1) thanks to the limit breaking abilities of your quality and lifestyle option. Sell them to your team mates or contacts for more Vault of Ages. (And for your own use, of course)

When your run starts, take a good collection from your vaults with a few redundancies.
If you write on rice paper you can just eat your preparations by the handful to buff up quickly once situations arrive (or create trap sandwiches for assholes who like to steal their coworkers lunch)

talk think matrix

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ShadowcatX

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #1 on: (06:32:36/08-31-17) »
Please, explain how an alchemist is regularly creating Force 10, Potency 6+ preparations. Include the math.

Jack_Spade

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #2 on: (07:30:54/08-31-17) »
Sure:
Base Magic of 6, overcasting to 10 (thanks to Archivist this is still stun drain)
Force 10, Limit 10

Dicepool:
Magic +6 (duh)
Alchemy +6 (duh≤)
Specialization (Manipulation) +2
Firebringer +2
Firebringer +2 (Manipulation)
Alchemist Focus +6 (Either create it yourself or buy one, they aren't that expensive)

Total 24 dice for Manipulation or 20 for everything else

Cheezy bonus dice:
Brand Loyalty for your tools +1

When you are done for the day and at your last preparation you can spend one point of edge for rerolls (regenerates when you eat a meal and get a good nights sleep)

You should get regularly potencies of 6 to 8 which combine with force to 16 to 18 dice, with Edge you'll get reliably to 20

Edit:
Of course you have to contend with 10 counter dice which cost you around 3 1/3 successes, but that's where you have to grit your teeth and redo some preparations (You'll run out of storage space before you run out of time anyway)
« Last Edit: (07:44:29/08-31-17) by Jack_Spade »
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ShadowcatX

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #3 on: (08:27:22/08-31-17) »
So, for every single prep you are using edge, a limited resource. So, one per day, minus - one for every point of edge you spend during a run.  If you run once a month and that is the only thing you ever need to spend edge on, that may be ok, but if you run more often, or you have to spend edge in your every day life, that can be problematic.

And this can't be done at character creation, since the availability of a rating 6 foci puts it out of reach. Not a big deal, it is 2 dice off, but worth mentioning.

And 5 for mentor spirit, 5 for spellslinger (not RAW, but I will accept it), 10 for archivist, 2 for practice practice, and 4 for college education, means you are one point over on your positive qualities. I'm guessing practice practice can go.

Jack_Spade

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #4 on: (09:11:25/08-31-17) »
No! I said you use 1 Edge for the last Prep of the day. If you can't manage to get a good nights sleep in your lifestyle you probably shouldn't try to be an alchemist in the first place. The aim is to collect high quality preparations with time constraints that are similar to a day job.

Spellslinger you can get with 5 left over Karma after Chargen is done since it doesn't increase in cost and has by RAW no training time requirement.
And yes, of course you can't get everything from the start, but two or three runs down, you should be set up.

A sample list of always useful preparations could be:

Increase Reflexes - everyone wants them
Stun ball - trigger more than one at the same time for guaranteed sleep (preferable with command trigger)
Combat Sense - useful even at low levels
Manabarriers - stops dual natured critters even with low successes. Just drop a bunch at the same time - each takes at least one complex action to take down
Growth - +1 to all physical attributes even with only one success - totally worth it. Combines well with the Increase Attribute line
Ball Lightning - High Force = high radius and high damage
talk think matrix

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ShadowcatX

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #5 on: (10:19:55/08-31-17) »
No! I said you use 1 Edge for the last Prep of the day. If you can't manage to get a good nights sleep in your lifestyle you probably shouldn't try to be an alchemist in the first place. The aim is to collect high quality preparations with time constraints that are similar to a day job. 

What part of "one per day minus one per every point of edge you use on a run" are you saying no to?

Quote
Spellslinger you can get with 5 left over Karma after Chargen is done since it doesn't increase in cost and has by RAW no training time requirement. 

Actually, RAW, you can't get it at all. So you have to hope your GM is both reasonable enough to agree to it, and has no problem with you learning 7 spells with no formulae and no time spent post character creation so that you can circumvent another portion of RAW.

Quote
And yes, of course you can't get everything from the start, but two or three runs down, you should be set up. 

Ok. So a build that doesn't come together in the start is somewhat less desirable than otherwise, but like I said, it's a matter of 2 dice and a quality that can be gained later at no great cost. Not a huge deal.

Marcus

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #6 on: (17:58:35/08-31-17) »
Thank you for the guide Jack, I been meaning to dig into this further and get the exact changes to triggers worked out.
This should certainly speed up the process a great deal.

Jack_Spade

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #7 on: (03:24:33/09-01-17) »
@ShadowcatX
The "So, for every single prep you are using edge, a limited resource." I'm saying no to.

I don't think there should be a problem to say you finished your character and add that you are buying something for the left over karma before you introduce it IP.

I never said this was a pure starting build. I'm just giving an estimate about the priorities and the order in which you should acquire gear and qualities.
Alchemy is still inferior compared to spell casting or summoning - as is evident from all the complex tricks you need to do to get started. Optimizing it means making it less worse...

@Marcus
Thanks, I think I have some info on advanced triggers too. I'll try to dig them up.

Edit:
Special triggers require Advanced Alchemy MM which requires Fixation MM.

Fixation - unlike its super powered cousin Quickening - is pretty much rubbish. Spending Karma for a one use item was foolish before FA and is even more foolish now.
Advanced Alchemy allows you the following special triggers:
Command - Anchored: Remote detonated spell - useful, especially if you have a camera at the location
Command - Advanced Command (Delay timer): Very specific, but you can create short lived time bombs to get some distance between you and your preparation
Contact - Anchored: Create selective mine fields that you can traverse without problem
Advanced Contact (Target-Specific): Mainly a tool for assassination
Advanced Contact (Metatype Specific): Useful to identify infiltrating spirits like bugs and shedim
Timed - Anchored: Another version of a time bomb - could be useful for discrete sabotage during a long con
Background Count activated: Very specific, might be useful if you are allowed to have it trigger when a spell is used in it's area
Detection Spell: Sadly only usable for full mages, but has great versatility if the mage has a good selection of detection spells

« Last Edit: (07:18:39/09-01-17) by Jack_Spade »
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ShadowcatX

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #8 on: (07:46:36/09-01-17) »
@ShadowcatX
The "So, for every single prep you are using edge, a limited resource." I'm saying no to.

So you aren't actually doing the whole force 10 and high potency thing, because that needs edge

Quote
I don't think there should be a problem to say you finished your character and add that you are buying something for the left over karma before you introduce it IP.

If you finished your character that means it is finished. I finished my character but still have stuff to do means you didn't finish your character.

Quote
I never said this was a pure starting build. I'm just giving an estimate about the priorities and the order in which you should acquire gear and qualities.

Fair enough. Not what I'm used to in a guide.
« Last Edit: (07:50:01/09-01-17) by ShadowcatX »

Jack_Spade

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #9 on: (08:06:40/09-01-17) »
No again. One prep per day receives the reroll feature to max out potency.
But that has no influence on the Force used. High force is essential since it contributes directly to the final dice pool.
You want to create all your preparations at maximum Force even though it raises the counter dice pool because you might get lucky and the counter dice roll has a low result while your dice roll is high or - if you are unlucky - you have a low potency preparation that still has a respectable dice pool thanks to the high base force.
The good ones you store for special occasion, the bad ones can be used and carried on a day to day basis.

It takes about 15 minutes to create the preparations and 1 hour to sleep off the drain. On a typical work day you create 9 preparations. From those you'll typically receive about two with very high potency. Five days work will fill up two vaults with high potency preparations.
That should be enough for a typical run.
During the run itself you can use Reagents and lower Force to limit drain for low level adhoc preparations.
talk think matrix

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Revenant Kynos Isaint Rex

Overbyte

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #10 on: (15:04:59/09-23-17) »
Dedicated Spellslinger: Technically it says Spellcasting, but a fair GM will allow you to use it 1:1 for the Alchemy skill group. Without that it's very hard to get useful preparations from the start.

I have to strongly disagree here. There are plenty of specific alchemical talents and this talent is pretty clearly worded for ONLY Spellcasting and Sorcery. But of course it is your game.

Growth - +1 to all physical attributes even with only one success - totally worth it. Combines well with the Increase Attribute line

It really doesn't, because of the global limit to increases.

Although I generally hate the idea of such a singularly focused "optimized" character, I think your post is quite helpful on ways to make your an alchemical character a little better.
I have a mage PC that I've basically transitioned to NPC status and 'd like to have him move towards alchemy so the other PC's could still make use of his talents even though he doesn't go on runs anymore.

Jack_Spade

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #11 on: (17:11:47/09-23-17) »
Yes, it is, but there is really no reason why there isn't a Dedicated Alchemist quality around. It certainly isn't because alchemy is overpowered  :P

@Groth:
"The growth spell causes the targetís physical attributes to grow (and if the caster desires, the target grows larger as well). For every three net hits
(minimum 1), the targetís Body, Agility, Reflex, and Strength temporarily increases by 1 for as long as the spell is maintained."

It really does because it is a lot easier to achieve 3 successes reliably with alchemy than 4, due to the fact that for 1 success of an activated preparation you need roughly double as many dice in the creation process than when you cast the spell directly.
talk think matrix

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Marcus

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #12 on: (09:23:19/09-25-17) »
lol every-time i check the forums and see this thread, it makes me want to do a thread or a show "Optimizing ________ with ________. Example: Optimizing 5th ed with Julia Child; Optimizing 2nd Ed with Gary Gygax. lol.
Sorry to get off topic but it amused me to much not to share the idea.

The Bald Man

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #13 on: (19:57:09/09-26-17) »
lol every-time i check the forums and see this thread, it makes me want to do a thread or a show "Optimizing ________ with ________. Example: Optimizing 5th ed with Julia Child; Optimizing 2nd Ed with Gary Gygax. lol.
Sorry to get off topic but it amused me to much not to share the idea.
Optimizing SR5 with Cards Against Humanity.

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Re: Optimizing Alchemy with FA
« Reply #14 on: (16:18:45/09-28-17) »
My biggest problem with Enchanters in priority build is the lack of spells known. Without going full mage, all you get is a skill group. You've got to pay karma just to have that skill group be relevant. Even still you have to sink a lot of karma just to be some what sufficient in your primary focus. Why bother? 
Yeah, TMs got thrown in the cell with Bubba the Love Troll and sandpaper for lube.
there is autosofts for everything  8)