[RPG] How to play an adventuring alchemist in D&D 5e


I'd like to play as an alchemist in D&D 5E. I'm assuming I need a class or archetype for this but have not found anything official-looking.

I've found some stuff online, but nothing that seems legitimate and useful. The class examples online seem either obviously homebrewed (and not well thought out), under-powered, or come off as more of a prestige class for a wizard (e.g., these homebrewed alchemy rules for 5e).

For the kind of thing I mean by “adventuring alchemist”, I'm hoping for something like the Alchemist class from D&D 3.5e:

Alchemists are powerful scientists who obsess over value of things. They seek to categorize, utilize, and turn magic into a science. They believe magic without rules is a worthless prospect, and avoid sorcerers. Many alchemists spend their time making potions to heal or harm, and often to restore life. Almost every alchemist has the ultimate goal of finding or creating the philosopher's stone.

  • I see an adventuring alchemist as on the opposite end of the "magical spectrum" from the sorcerer: sorcerers would be on the far left end, dealing with wild magic and instinctual use of it; wizards would be in the middle of the spectrum, studying magic and learning how to master it; and alchemists would be on the far right end, trying to order magic, control it, encapsulate it.
  • I envision an alchemist (adventuring or non-adventuring) as focusing more on crafting and creating, than on spells. They would concentrate on making potions, bombs, acids, perhaps Ioun stones, magical traps similar to runes, etc.
    • An adventuring alchemist, specifically, would have more of a focus on crafting things for combat though; whether it be for attack, defense, or support & buffs.

Best Answer

I play an alchemist myself. Here's how I did it:

Choose the Guild Artisan background. Select Alchemist as your Guild Business. Select Alchemist Tools as your tool proficiency.

Play a wizard, and specialize in Transmutation. Use the Minor Alchemy ability whenever appropriate — crafting an iron weapon into a silver one can be handy through the lower levels, even if it’s just a dagger to throw.

Choose some spells with an alchemical flavor. Acid spells work well. For a little added flair, you can refer to cold spells as “endothermic,” fire spells as "exothermic," etc.

Spend some downtime making acid, alchemist’s fire, or other chemical goodies for the party.

Put alchemy-related things into your character traits. My wizard’s personality traits include delighting in making batches of an “endothermic dairy confection” (ice cream) to amaze the townsfolk and celebrate his victories.

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