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Alchemist Artificer 5e D&D Guide

Alchemist Artificer 5e D&D Guide

The Alchemist Artificer is one of the four Artificer classes officially available. It has you act as a magical alchemist, imbuing elixirs with powerful magical abilities or flinging powerful buffed spells at your enemies.

In a sense, Alchemists are traditional supports, being able to heal, buff, or cast utility spells to help their party. 

Alchemists can even pick up some low-level spells and turn them into powerful damage spells, meaning they have a little more freedom than you think.

All in all, Alchemists make a great round-off to a party looking for a decent supportive character.

Alchemist Artificer 5e – Features

Alchemists are experts at combining reagents to produce all sorts of magical effects. In many cases, these buff, heal, deteriorate, or debuff anyone who comes in contact with them.

You might’ve guessed already, but since Alchemists primarily use supportive tools in their playstyle, they aren’t very competent when engaged in melee combat.

An Alchemist truly shines out of battle as they prepare powerful chemicals for their party members to use or to harm enemies.

Tool Proficiency

When the Alchemist reaches level 3, they gain proficiency with the Alchemist’s Supplies, making it easier to whip up their potent concoctions.

Note: If you’ve already gained proficiency with Alchemist’s Supplies, you can choose to gain proficiency with one other type of Artisan’s Tools.

Alchemist Spells

When you reach level 3, you’ll always have certain spells prepared and continuously unlock more as you level up. 

All the spells in the Alchemist Spell List count as Artificer Spells. However, these spells don’t count against the Artificer Spells you have prepared, giving you more spells to choose from.

Alchemist Spells
Character LevelAlchemist Spells
3rdHealing Word, Ray of Sickness
5thFlaming Sphere, Melf’s Acid Arrow
9thGaseous Form, Mass Healing Word
13thBlight, Death Ward
17thCloudkill, Raise Dead

Note: Spells are essential for Alchemists, so don’t throw away the fact that you basically unlock the abovementioned spells for free!

Experimental Elixir

Reaching level 3 means you can now concoct Experimental Elixirs after a long rest. 

To do this, you simply touch an empty flask and roll to see what effect you get on the Experimental Elixir table when someone drinks the flask’s contents.

Note: A creature can use an action and either drink the elixir or administer it to an incapacitated creature.

Experimental Elixir
d6 Effect
1 Healing – Drinking the concoction regains a number of HP equal to 2d4 + your Intelligence Modifier
2 Swiftness – Drinking the concoction increases walking speed by 10 feet for 1 hour
3 Resilience – Drinking the concoction gives a +1 bonus to AC for 10 minutes
4 Boldness – Drinking the concoction allows a roll of d4, adding the rolled number to every saving throw and attack roll made for the next minute
5 Flight – Drinking the concoction gives a flying speed of 10 feet for 10 minutes
6 Transformation – Drinking the concoction transforms one’s body as if done by the Alter Self spell. The drinker may determine the transformation caused by the spell, and the effects will last for 10 minutes

Additional Elixirs

If a singular vial of the elixir isn’t enough, you can always brew more by expending a spell slot of the 1st level or higher for each elixir made. 

When doing this, you would use an action to brew the elixir and put it into an empty flask you touch. All you need to do now is determine the elixir’s effect by rolling on the Experimental Elixir table.

As you gain levels as an Alchemist, you’ll also be able to brew more elixirs at the end of your long rest:

  • Two elixirs at level 6
  • Three elixirs at level 15

You’ll have to roll separately for each elixir’s effect, and each elixir will still require its own flask.

Note: Be aware that brewing an Experimental Elixir requires you to have Alchemist Supplies on your person. Any elixir you brew using this feature will last until the end of your next long rest or until someone drinks it.

Elixir Effects

You already know there are 6 potential effects an elixir can have when being brewed, but you should also remember that not every elixir is brewed equally!

While each elixir is situational, some are exceptional in most situations, and others are pretty underwhelming for the most part.

  • Healing – You can think of the Healing elixir as a Potion of Healing. It’s not fancy, but it provides much-needed healing for any situation.

It also works well with Restorative Reagents, as you’ll restore lost HP while gaining some temporary HP.

Note: You can equate the effect of the Healing elixir to Cure Wounds being cast with a 1st-level spell slot.

The great thing is you can give the elixir to an ally as well, and when used in combination with Restorative Reagents, it becomes more powerful than any 1st-level spell slot can reproduce.

Result: It’s not the best elixir, but you definitely won’t go wrong using it, as it’ll come in handy throughout the game.

  • Swiftness – The Swiftness elixir doesn’t provide any consistent value in most scenarios, as it works best with spells or features like Longstrider.

Result: It’s situational at best, as you’ll need similar spells or class features for the elixir to unlock its full potential. That means if you don’t have a member/spell that uses movement speed, then the Swiftness elixir is even worse.

  • Resilience – You can compare the Resilience elixir to Shield of Faith. The only difference with the elixir is that it’s pretty costly to start.

While Shield of Faith only needs a Bonus Action to be cast, the Resilience elixir requires you to use a normal action.

Nonetheless, the Resilience elixir can be given to an ally beforehand, lasting for the same time as Shield of Faith (10 minutes).

It also provides a good buff to melee characters with poor armor, like Barbarians or other two-handed weapon users.

Note: Since it lasts 10 minutes and doesn’t need Concentration, you can use the elixir quite a while before a battle to give you extra AC, as they generally won’t last longer than 1 minute.

Result: Resilience might seem weak, but remember how powerful even a +1 bonus to AC is and how much value it gives a party.

  • Boldness – The Boldness elixir is like Bless, but only for a single target.

Unfortunately, the elixir only lasts 1 minute, meaning if you want it to last for the full battle and don’t want to use an action in combat, you should use it right before entering combat.

Note: Boldness stacks with Bless, so if you want, you can give someone on your team two d4 attack roll/saving throw increases.

Using the elixir, it’s advised that you buff a melee character, specifically something that does a lot of damage, like a Barbarian or Fighter.

Result: Since you can stack it with Bless, Boldness is one of the best Experimental Elixirs available, especially if your party has a high-damage melee character.

  • Flight – Having the option to fly, whether it’s at 10 feet or 50 feet, can make many situations easy to solve. 

Result: Flight competes with Boldness for the spot of Top Experimental Elixir, so be sure to pick it up!

  • Transformation – The Transformation elixir is basically Alter Self, but without the Concentration, making it quite useful. 

The only issue is that Alter Self lasts 1 hour, and the elixir lasts 10 minutes, so you’ll get value, just not as much as with Alter Self.

Result: Transformation is in a similar boat to Swiftness, as it’s very situational, so even if you can get quite a lot of value from it, you won’t get a chance to unleash its full potential.

Alchemical Savant

Leveling up to the 5th level means you’ve developed expert command of mystic chemicals, as you can now enhance the damage and healing you create through them.

Applying Alchemical Savant

Casting a spell using your Alchemist’s supplies as the spellcasting focus means you gain a bonus to one roll of that spell.

The roll must deal damage (Acid, Fire, Necrotic, or Poison damage) or restore HP, and the bonus equal your Intelligence modifier (which is always a minimum of +1).

Ideal Spells

There are many spells that work well with Alchemical Savant.

HP restoring spells like Healing Word and offensive spells like Acid Splash, Poison Spray, and Fire Bolt fit perfectly with Alchemical Savant.

Note: Acid Splash is great since it targets multiple targets, while Fire Bolt is better against single targets due to its high single-target damage.

Restorative Reagents

Character level 9 greets you with the ability to incorporate reagents into your alchemical brews.

With the Restorative Reagents feature, you’ll gain two new bonuses which affect what your alchemy does and which spells you can cast:

  • Creatures who drink your brewed Experimental Elixir will gain temporary HP equal to 2d6 + your Intelligence modifier (they’ll always receive a minimum of 1 temporary HP).
  • You may cast Lesser Restoration without preparing it and without spending a spell slot – only if you use Alchemist’s supplies as the spellcasting focus.

You’ll be able to do this quite a few times, numbering to equal your Intelligence modifier (which must be a minimum of once). 

Upon finishing a long rest, you’ll regain all the uses you spent.

Note: Having access to a free spell with your limited spell slots is extremely powerful, and the temporary HP is great as it makes even the weakest elixirs provide a worthwhile benefit.

Chemical Mastery

Reaching level 15 as an Alchemist means you’ve been exposed to so many chemicals that now pose little to no threat to you, meaning you can use them to quickly end specific ailments.

  • You gain resistance to both Poison and Acid damage, and you become immune to the poisoned condition.
  • You obtain the ability to cast Heal and Greater Restoration without spending a spell slot, providing material components, or preparing the spell – if you use Alchemist’s supplies as the spellcasting focus.

Once you’ve cast either spell using this feature, you won’t be able to cast that spell with this feature again until after finishing a long rest.

Note: Having two damage resistances, and being able to cast two powerful healing spells for free each day without needing material components, is absolutely fantastic.

Alchemist Artificer

Building an Alchemist Artificer

Building an Alchemist Artificer, much like any other subclass, means you’ll have to keep everything your character needs to be a powerful Alchemist in mind.

You’ll also need to keep in mind how well everything flows, as certain ability scores, races, skills, feats, weapons, armor, and multiclassing, works best with the Alchemist.

I know this might seem a bit daunting, but depending on how much you know about D&D, you can always use the Player’s Handbook to guide you through these decisions or get some tips.

You can even ask an experienced player for help, as they usually know a lot about D&D (sometimes more than the book itself).

After all, you’re making your own character, so you can add anything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be meta or OP to be an option, just go with the flow and try to have as much fun with your character as possible.

Alchemist Ability Scores

Alchemists will primarily use their spells and buffing elixirs to support allies while blasting through enemy lines.

In other words, you’ll need to focus on a select few ability scores to make your Alchemist as powerful as can be:

  • Intelligence – It is by far your most important ability score, as the potency of your elixirs, healing from your spells, and damage output from offensive spells will be affected by Intelligence.

You need to get this stat up, as, without it, your character won’t be useful at all!

  • Dexterity – You don’t desperately need Dexterity, but in the early game, you’ll want to invest some points into it to increase your AC, just to be certain that your Alchemist will make it to the higher levels.

Remember that when you reach 14 Dexterity, you won’t need more, so unless you have a special build or are trying something new, just cap your Dex at 14.

  • Constitution – While Constitution doesn’t play a role in your features or spells, you’ll always want to invest some points into it now and then. 

Having extra HP won’t hurt, so don’t be shy to drop a few extra points into Constitution throughout your campaign.

  • Wisdom – You won’t use Wisdom for most of your spells but for skills like Perception (which is the most rolled skill in D&D), you’ll want to allocate some points to it.
  • Strength – The only reason you’ll put points into Strength is if you get a feat that gives you proficiency in heavy armor.

The problem is that your elixirs and Infusions give you so many AC buffs it’s not really necessary to wear heavy armor for increased AC.

  • Charisma – You don’t need Charisma for any of your skills or features, so you can just dump it. There’s no need to focus on an ability score that gives you nothing in return.

Even though choosing ability scores also depends on what race you choose, the following table is to give an idea of what an average Alchemist’s ability scores will look like.

Alchemist (Standard)
Point BuyStandard Array

Depending on your race, you might be able to increase Intelligence by two more points, then opt into increasing either your Dex or Con. 

In the end, it’ll also depend on your campaign, so think about the campaign you’ll be playing.

Ideal Alchemist Races

To be honest, you can choose to play any race with any class (even if it doesn’t make sense) and still be able to play through a campaign. 

The only job an ideal race fills is that it makes things easier for you, giving you better ability scores, skills, or features that work well with your class.

There are many options, but since you’ll mainly be using spells, certain options stand out:

Rock Gnomes will have Alchemists feel more like Wizards, given their tendency to spellcasting.

High Elves and Fairies make great ranged Alchemists, so they’re great if you want to sling damaging spells from afar.

Note: These are some common races associated with Alchemists, so if you want to optimize your character, try picking one of these.

Alchemist Background and Skills

When creating your Alchemist, you’ll want to keep their background and skills in mind, as these play quite a big role in what your character will be able to do in the campaign as well as the bonuses they start with.

Alchemist Backgrounds

There are a ton of backgrounds out there, but a few examples that’ll work well for an Alchemist are Sage, Clan Crafter, and Cloistered Scholar.

Clan Crafter is quite similar to Guild Artisan, only better as it gives you proficiency with Artisan’s tools while unlocking the History and Insight skill for your character.

Cloistered Scholar is one of my favorites, especially among spellcasters, as it gives you the option of choosing two more languages and unlocking the History skill and one other skill of your choosing (pick between Arcana, Nature, and Religion).

Sage is similar to Cloistered Scholar, allowing you to choose two languages while unlocking the Arcana and History skills. You’ll receive a specialty, opening even more doors for character customization!

Note: Backgrounds are extremely interesting pieces of information, so it can take you some time to pick one, but when you find one that fits your character, you’ll feel like your life is complete (in a weird D&D sense, that is)!


As an Alchemist, you’ll have access to seven skills; Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, and Sleight of Hand.

Out of these seven, Perception is great, as it is one of the most used skills in D&D. Arcana is also another first place contended as it works great with your Intelligence and provides some very important information.

Even though Investigation is also very good for an Alchemist, it gets overshadowed by Perception and Arcana in most campaigns. 

Note: The other four skills are either not that important or situational, except Nature, as you have high Intelligence for it, and it can prove to be quite a good knowledge skill if you are constantly in the wilderness.

Alchemist Feats

While Backgrounds are more for character customization, Feats are important elements of a character’s gameplay.

There are an abundance of Feats to choose from, which puts you in a similar predicament to choosing your Background. Luckily below are three examples of Feats that could work well for an Alchemist:

Elemental Adept – You can choose a damage type (from Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, or Thunder), allowing you to ignore resistances if the spell is the chosen element.

Note: You can choose the Elemental Adept Feat more than once, and any 1 you roll (for a damage roll with that same element you chose) can be treated as a 2.

Healer – Using a Healer’s kit on a creature allows you to restore 1d6 + 4 HP, plus additional HP equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. Creatures you stabilize using a Healer’s kit will regain 1 HP.

Spell Sniper – Casting spells that require an attack roll doubles the range of the spell. Ranged spell attacks will also ignore three-quarters and half cover.

You also unlock one Cantrip requiring an attack roll, choosing it from the Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard spell ist. 

The spellcasting ability modifier will depend on which spell ist you chose it from; Intelligence (Wizard), Wisdom (Cleric or Druid), and Charisma (Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock).

Note: This Feat is great for a spellcaster like the Alchemist. Just be sure you choose which Cantrip you choose wisely, as your highest ability score will be Intelligence!

Alchemist Weapons and Armor

Since Alchemists are a subclass of the Artificer, they’ll get the same equipment they do. 

Also, remember that they receive proficiencies in Simple weapons, Light armor, Medium armor, and Shields, so if you want to use armor or weapons, you’ll be best off using one.

Note: Alchemists don’t really rely on their armor or weapons as much as, say, the Battlesmith Artificer, so you don’t really have to worry about things like that. Rather, you should worry about spellcasting, as that’s what you’re good at and will be using throughout your campaign.

Alchemist Multiclassing

Multiclassing is a broad section that is only briefly touched, as there are so many combinations that only a few suitable options will be given.

Cleric – Death Domain is good to use in combination with Alchemical Savant, as your Intelligence can be added to spells like Chill Touch and Toll the Dead.

You can even go for the Peace Domain if you’re focusing more on alchemy, as the Embolding Bond works well with Bless and Boldness (elixir), giving an insane 3d4 bonus to saving throws and attack rolls.

Sorcerer – You get quite a lot of spell slots as a Sorcerer, so using them to create extra Experimental Elixirs can help your party quite a bit.

Warlock – Warlocks have their spell slots recharged after a short rest, meaning you can make more Experimental Elixirs than normal. You’ll basically be making elixirs, taking a short nap, and making more elixirs afterward!

Alchemist Artificer 5e FAQs

Is the Alchemist Subclass Good?

Unfortunately, the Alchemist subclass isn’t really that good. In fact, it’s probably the worst-performing Artificer subclass you can choose. The Alchemist is weak in combat, as they rely mostly on low-level spells and randomly brewed elixirs.

Out of combat, it’s actually surprisingly good – but actually being an alchemist (brewing potions and creating alchemical objects) isn’t all too reliable as you have to roll for its outcomes.

Is the Alchemist a Good Support?

Alchemists are primarily back-row supports, as they focus on buffs, healing, and utility. 

Even though they primarily act as supports, this doesn’t mean they can’t dish out some good damage with their spells, so you can also play them as a spellcasting-focused damage dealer/support.

It works even better when coupled with the Elemental Adept feat!

Final Thoughts

Alchemists might not be the most popular D&D classes, but they are quite fun when you start to understand the role they play and how good they can actually be.

While I don’t recommend running an Alchemist as a new player or when you have less than a handful of players, beyond that, Alchemists can be pretty valuable.

The most fun part of an Alchemist will probably find a balance between spells and alchemy, as both play quite a significant role in your kit’s utilization. So you’ll have plenty of time to think and customize what you want your character to do.

In the end, even if you aren’t too confident about whether you want to play an Alchemist, at least give it a try, as you might be pleasantly surprised or even discover your new favorite class!

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