On this edition of Building a Concept we will be addressing the idea of transforming the Alchemy skill from a commonly thought defense and support tool into an offensive weapon to be feared. This process will result in a character we enjoy referring to as the Alchemist Grenadier, a character capable of not only dishing out area effect damage and debuffs upon the enemy yet still able to act as battlefield support or healer in a pinch. To start character creation off we want to ask ourselves some key questions, using these questions and the answers we give as a guide through the entire building process for this Alchemist Grenadier.
- Do we want the character to blend in to society at large, or stick out like the bomb-toting terrorist they actually are?
- Will our character require any special equipment or skills in order to achieve their primary goal, or will they be capable of concocting weapons of destruction on the go?
- Do we want our character to focus more on their Alchemy skill, or their spell casting ability? Which one gets top priority?
This round of Building a Concept will have us focusing on the idea of the “hidden threat”; a person with a weak or harmless outward appearance that is actually able to incite mayhem with the toss of a single bottle or ampule. Walking through the average market in Bozrah or Paraga should not earn our Alchemist Grenadier even a second glance from the local authorities, allowing them to blend in to the crowds as they get perceived as common street rabble. This covert threat will use copious volumes of advanced preparation in all aspects of their existence, making sure that they are not only extremely well stocked but otherwise best equipped to handle any situation their calculating minds may perceive.
The Lore Perspective
In the world of Zethyria, alchemists are most commonly thought of as meek individuals lacking in any physical presence or capacity… only interested in focusing their intellect down the opening of the nearest glass vial of bubbling goo. This misconception on the part of the public at large grants the alchemist a considerable advantage to be leveraged in their own favor. Most governments across the map have an alchemist assigned to an given squad or military detachment as well as the standard clerical talent and offensive finger-wigglers. This puts the benefits of alchemy on the battlefield, in the hands of a heavily trained and highly skilled soldier. The average citizen does not perceive alchemy in such capacity, to say the least. This even further begs the question: what happens to these soldiers when their tours of duty are up? They take their combat skills, magical training, and alchemical experiences and disappear into the ether?
The Mechanics Perspective
When taking a look at the creation of this character concept from a mechanics perspective, choosing the archetype category of Mage would seem to make the most sense as this will grant our alchemist a vast degree of independence, as the spells cast by a mage are required as the primary component for any alchemy product. An alchemist that can cast their own spells makes for a far more self-sufficient character as an end result. Our Alchemist Grenadier will be directly in control of what spells they have access to for the creation of potions or elixirs, in addition to being able to determine their own path of product progression through the choosing of new spells. Why put in a requirement to depend on another person for these spells when they can be gifted with the talent to provide them themselves? Choosing which “flavor” of mage comes down to a matter once the initial hurdle into that category is made, but for our purposes today we will be going with the Wizard.
We chose our Alchemist Grenadier to take the route of “extensive advanced preparation” over “seat of their pants tactics”. This choice should apply to all aspects of the character, which is why the Wizard makes so much sense as our archetype of choice. Wizards can summon forth the raw destructive power and force of an elemental to back them up in combat, but require adequate time in advanced of this act in order to conjure forth and bind these elementals into service. If advanced preparation is already being taken for the brewing of potions and elixirs, why not add a little extra time to put a team of elementals at your service as well?
Getting to the Mechanics
We have made some key decisions for our up and coming grenadier, but there unfortunately are still more to be made. We know that alchemy is going to be a primary weapon of choice for our character, but what do they fall back on when they run into the hard situation of running out of alchemical products to throw? Even if we take into account the fact that this character is also going to be a spell caster, a fact that grants them the “spell slinging” capability, this still cannot be relied upon solely as a backup option. Every character should have a melee weapon to back them up in combat at all times in the Mana Punk game system… no matter how simple or small that melee weapon may be. As the Wizard and Alchemist choices we have already made with this character force us to reserve a big chunk of our character’s build points, we must make the decision of support melee weapon very carefully.
While choice of race for any character is a matter of individual choice, we are going to go with the Unghar Dwarf for this character. The unghar is a solid pick for our budding bomber because of the Strength and Intelligence attribute bonuses they get in addition to the skill bonuses to Demolitions and Stealth active skills. While they also have the benefit of the Dark Vision natural ability, this comes with the penalty of a strong aversion to sunlight. This means we will have to budget for adequate goggles or eye protection of some nature so we can ensure maximum efficiency, even during daytime hours.
Choosing Attributes & Skills
Attribute choices get determined almost directly by what active skills you are wanting to have your character employ. Active skills are each directly tied to a specific “parent attribute”, determining not only their effectiveness at the start of a character’s life but also the long term efficiency of raising those skills. Our character’s primary active skills will be Alchemy, Sorcery, Conjuring, and Thrown Weapons. Thrown Weapons will not only be our primary method for delivery of concocted alchemical madness, but also act as our backup melee weapon skill via a copious stock of throwing daggers. Looking at this laundry list of active skills, our attributes of focus will be Strength and Intelligence, both of which are (by design) attributes for which we receive racial bonuses.
The driving focus of the Alchemist Grenadier character is that of a battlefield menace capable of raining chaos down upon the heads of their foes, also employing a cadre of elementals as backup protection to strong-arm enemies that still manage to squeak past the front lines. Keeping this in mind, there are some spells that are better suited for this role than others. Thunderclap is a good choice that adds an element of “shock & awe” to any fight. Sticky Foot (and the modifier Sticky Bomb) both grant the power to manage enemy positions on the battlefield by restriction of movement. While Force Blast (and the modifier Force Bomb) may seem like a wise choice, keep in mind that these spells inflict indiscriminate collateral damage to everything they effect. Mana Blast or Stun Blast (and their Bomb modifier variants) are much safer decisions, with Stun Bomb affording a group of adventurers the capability to “bomb first & ask questions later”. Smoke Cloud grants sneak attack or escape potential to this increasingly large bag of tricks. All of these choices can be rounded out even more with the addition of Heal, adding the role of “supplemental healer” to the Alchemist Grenadier.
Wrapping Things Up
Final results for this character turn out an Unghar Wizard with very large collection of tricks up their sleeves. Between alchemy, elementals, standard spell-slinging and a few careful choices of beginning equipment, the Alchemist Grenadier can turn into a valuable addition for any adventuring party. We would love to hear your comments or ideas on this article as well as your own notions for potentially amazing character concepts, so make sure to comment below.
We hope everyone enjoyed this edition of Building a Concept, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for next week’s installment!