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Product- Pathfinder Player Companion Alchemy Manual
TL; DR-Lot's of alchemy types, but not much depth. 87%
Basics- Let's Cook! Alchemy Manual is a splat book in the truest sense. This book moves at a rapid fire pace presenting over 10 different types of alchemy traditions in the Pathfinder world. Each tradition gets two pages to introduce the story behind the alchemy type as well as a few potions or poisons that distinguish one from another. In addition, numerous items, small additions to spells/alchemical items, and new ways to craft alchemical items are presented.
Mechanics or Crunch- First things first, alchemy has always been somewhat tricky in the 3.X systems. You end up with things that are two broken for the rules or underpowered to uselessness. This book tends to be closer to underpowered. The items presented are on par with the standard alchemy items, but those items tend to be useless as the player has better options with spells or abilities. The book does introduce some nice new feats and items, but those same items may not be the first thing a player will grab for when looking how to battle a problem. Also, the book introduces several different types of alchemy. That's nice from a flavor standpoint, but no one type gets enough of a foundation to stand alone. Each tends to get 3/4 of a page of items, so you left wanting more for each one. 3/5
Story of Fluff-While this is an item book, I was honestly impressed with the detail each type of alchemy was given in its presentation. Readers learn a lot about several different types of alchemist in the Pathfinder world. The stories do make for some rather interesting reading. I enjoyed this far more then I enjoyed the mechanics of the book. 5/5
Execution-This is a Paizo book. I have a tradition of giving them high marks, but that's because the consistently know how to may a book look nice and be readable. I'd like the text bigger, but I mostly read on an IPad, so the page is smaller than the print version. Great art and a well done layout lead to excellent ease of reading. 5/5
Summary-Alchemy is always a touchy subject in Pathfinder and 3.X games. To powerful and all the players use it. To underpowered and it's a waste of time to introduce it. This book is an ok. Honestly, it won't change your opinion of alchemy. It's well done for the story aspect, but if you are deciding if you want to buy a mechanics supplement, you really have to ask yourself "Do I like alchemy already?"