How to Use Bombs and Alchemical Items in Pathfinder

The party had been exploring the ancient elven dungeon for hours when they came across a group of kobolds. The kobolds were small, but there were dozens of them, and they were armed with razor-sharp spears. 

The fighter in the party quickly drew her sword and shield and charged the creatures, hoping to buy the others time to escape. Simultaneously, the party’s alchemist pulled out a smoke bomb and tossed it at the kobolds. The bomb exploded with a loud bang, creating a thick cloud of smoke.

The alchemist and the rest of the party used the smoke as a cover to evade the kobolds, barely escaping with their lives. The fighter fought bravely, but she was severely outnumbered. 

In Pathfinder, bombs and other alchemical items are a core part of any adventurer’s arsenal. These potent weapons can be used to blast apart obstacles, damage enemies, and even create elemental effects.

In this article, we will cover the basics of using bombs and other alchemical items.

What are Bombs and Alchemical Items?

Alchemical items are nonmagical concoctions that produce a variety of reactions. While anyone can use these items, crafting them requires special training in alchemy.

Players will find that alchemical items are helpful in many situations. Some alchemical items will heal you, while others will enhance your character’s abilities. 

Bombs are a particular type of alchemical item. These items use explosive components to deal damage to creatures or objects. 

Bombs are ranged weapons, so they’re best used to attack creatures from a distance. When you use a bomb, you’ll make a ranged touch attack against the target. If the attack hits, the target takes damage as listed in the bomb’s description.

Splash Damage

Bombs also have the splash weapon trait. This means that when a bomb explodes, it damages not only the target but also the creatures nearby. When a bomb explodes, all creatures within the splash radius (5 feet) take the listed splash damage.

Who Can Use Bombs?

In Pathfinder, anyone can use bombs and alchemical items. There are no class restrictions on their use. Bombs aren’t magical; they use alchemical agents to create chemical reactions. As such, bombs can be dangerous to craft, especially for amateurs. 

However, some classes have abilities that make them particularly well-suited to using these items effectively. For example, the alchemist class has access to special skills that allow them to throw bombs further, increase their damage output, or even create new types of bombs.

Types of Alchemical Items

Most alchemical items are used to enhance your character’s abilities. Some items offer protection from diseases, while others will accelerate your body’s natural healing processes, helping you quickly recover from injuries. 


Drinking an antidote will protect you from poisons and other toxins. You’ll also gain an item bonus to fortitude saves. These effects last up to 6 hours. More potent antidotes will enhance these effects.

Cat’s Eye Elixer

This elixir will sharpen your eyesight, allowing you to notice the slightest movements. Drinking this alchemical item will make it easier to spot hidden enemies and target concealed creatures. 

Darkvision Elixer

After consuming this elixir, you’ll be able to see clearly in the dark. While some creatures can see in the dark naturally, not all are so lucky. If your character needs light to see, you’ll want to keep a few darkvision elixirs around. They’ll come in handy if you find yourself in any poorly lit dungeons or ancient tombs. 

Winter Wolf Elixer

The active ingredients of this elixir will improve your circulation. After drinking this elixir, you’ll be protected from the effects of severe cold. More potent winter wolf elixirs offer even greater protection, allowing you to resist the effects of extreme cold and incredible cold.

Types of Bombs

Several types of bombs are available in Pathfinder. The most common include acid flasks and alchemist’s fire. Each bomb has a different effect. Study your items and your opponents before you decide which bomb to use.

Acid Flask

This bomb is filled with deadly corrosive acid. When it explodes, it deals acid damage to the target and acid splash damage to creatures nearby.

Acid flasks are available in varying potencies. Low-level acid flasks are inexpensive, but they deal minimal damage. But if you really want to make a splash, you’ll need to lighten your coin purse to the tune of 2,500 gp. More potent acid flasks grant you an item bonus on your attack roll.

Type of Acid FlaskLevelPriceEffects
Lesser13 gp1d6 persistent acid damage + 1 splash damage
Moderate310 gp+1 item bonus to attack rolls. 2d6 persistent splash damage + 2 splash damage
Greater11250 gp+2 item bonus to attack rolls. 3d6 persistent splash damage + 3 splash damage
Major172,500 gp+3 item bonus to attack rolls. 4d6 persistent splash damage + 4 splash damage

Alchemist’s Fire

A lethal concoction of volatile alchemical reagents, alchemist’s fire explodes when it makes contact with air, dealing persistent fire damage and splash damage to anyone within the blast radius. Lesser bombs deal 1d8 fire damage and 1 fire splash damage. Stronger bombs are even deadlier.

Bottled Lightning

This nasty bomb unleashes a powerful electric blast that can leave your enemies devastated. Anyone hit by this bomb becomes flat-footed for a turn. Use these against swarms of insects for maximum destruction!

Frost Vial

These cold-natured bombs are perfect for freezing enemies in their tracks. This bomb’s reagents absorb heat after being exposed to air. Creatures that are damaged by a frost vial take a penalty to their speed for a turn. 

Smoke Bombs

Experienced alchemists know how to craft smoke bombs. By modifying a standard bomb on the fly, an alchemist using the Smoke Bomb feat can create a thick cloud of smoke. Any creatures within the smoke will be concealed. This smoke cloud has a radius of 10 feet and lasts up to a minute. A gust of wind will immediately clear the smoke. 

Where to Find Bombs

Bombs and alchemical items can be bought from vendors, crafted by players, or found as treasure.

Alchemists and vendors can be found in most major towns and cities. Once the player has found a vendor, they’ll be able to buy bombs and alchemical ingredients, provided they have the coin. These vendors, however, usually sell a limited selection of items.

Bombs and other alchemical items can also be found on adventurers or in dungeons. Look for them anywhere explosives might be stored. Be sure to check chests, desks, and other containers.

Alchemists can use the Alchemical Savant feat to quickly identify alchemical items.

Crafting Bombs & Alchemical Items

Players can craft bombs using the crafting skill. To create a bomb, the player will need access to an alchemy lab and the appropriate ingredients. The items you’re crafting will need to be your level or lower.

In addition to the proper equipment and ingredients, you’ll need to be trained in the Alchemical Crafting Skill feat before you can craft bombs from scratch. 

Alchemical Crafting 

Feat 1

Prerequisites: trained in Crafting

You can use the Craft Activity to create alchemical items. When you select this feat, you immediately add the formulas for four common 1st-level alchemical items to your formula book.

Source: Core Rulebook pg. 258

You’ll need to know the formula for an item before you can craft it. Formulas can be found all over Golarion, so keep an eye out during your adventure. If you purchase a basic crafter’s book, you’ll get all the formulas for common items. 

Explosive Strategies

In combat, players should consider the vulnerabilities of their opponents. For instance, players might want to use an acid bomb against a group of trolls or a frost vial against an efreeti. 

When using bombs, it’s important to consider their splash radius and the damage they deal. 

Alchemical items can be very versatile tools in the right hands, so it’s essential to understand how they work and use them to your advantage in battle.


The Alchemist is a master of bomb-making. In addition to being able to craft bombs, they use their knowledge to identify them as well. Alchemists have access to a wide variety of bomb types, and they can customize their bombs to create different effects.

Duck and Cover

Bombs are powerful, but they can also be dangerous to the user if not carefully handled. Be sure to take cover when using a bomb, and try to stay behind obstacles if possible. This will help protect you from the blast radius of your own bomb.

A Short Fuse

While bombs are tactically useful, it’s crucial to remember that they are also volatile. Whenever your character is handling explosives, it’s best to keep a cool head, lest you lose it altogether! 

Remember, your teammates are counting on you not to blow them to bits. With great power comes great responsibility!

Bombs Away!

Bombs and alchemical items can be powerful tools, but you’ll need to understand the mechanics of how they work before using them in combat. Employ them wisely, and you’ll be sure to make a big splash.

With a bit of practice, using alchemical bombs will become second nature. Just remember to duck and cover, and you’ll be fine. Always use the right bomb for the job, and you’ll be blasting your way to victory in no time!