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The original Alchemy system left little room for a player or DM to include Alchemy in a character’s design without letting the design suffer for the meta game optimization or designing around it. Alchemy was a glorified sub-article of the Craft Skill that let you make a grand total of about seven items (Alchemist's Fire, smokestick, tindertwig, antitoxin, sunrod, tanglefoot bag, and thunderstone.) Within this revision, Alchemy can create a great many different Alchemical combinations, most of which are assumed to take the form of Potions, though it isn't necessarily exclusive to them.
A Forewarning, this system is designed with Tome of Prowess in mind. While it’s perfectly serviceable without its use of Background Ability Grades, skill investment at your Level+3 Ranks can be rather restricting. I would advise the use of Tome of Prowess Background Abilities instead at least for Alchemy due to this. Functionally the difference is not Too tremendous, however, my understanding of Tome of Prowess means that by sacrificing a Single Skill point at Level 11+ to advance the skill, you can achieve a functional Alchemy rank of 30, granting +30 to your Alchemy checks. With the normal Skill Investment you achieve a +23 at Level 20, slowing the accessibility of it Tremendously. A “Fix” for this otherwise is to simply allow for Alchemy to be invested up to Twice the normal Level+3 amount, where it technically allows for a +46 by Level 20 instead. This is an arbitrary solution, but is up to DM decision. I use Tome of Prowess, but I feel it necessary to list options for those who don’t.
In addition to this, it should be noted that a great many things in this system are Technically Optional. You’re free to use any method to determine any of the factors about this revision, but everything is designed to work together as it does. If a minor system such as say, Errors and flukes and Flaws doesn’t appeal to you, it can be ignored without it impacting the system as a whole.
Related to the above warning, this system is designed with static damage values in mind, no dice rolling included for most of the offensive effects. This isn't everyone's cup of tea, and fortunately there's a simple solution. Whenever a creation demands that a certain amount of damage be done, should you rather use a more random die based system to determine it, find a happy medium of dice with the potential to achieve the set damage value as its maximum. If a specific combination of Ignis Flower is used for a flask of Alchemists Fire that results in 10 damage/round, roll 1d6 and 1d4 for the damage each turn. A more ideal solution would be to give the various different reagents a damage die per sample used, but the potential numbers are quite a bit larger in those instances, and some potions already are very powerful. Using their resulting set damage/round as a ceiling can under power them in some instances, but it serves to keep the overall potential more under control.
Alchemy and Herbalism
|Why two distinctions?|
|While Alchemy is the main component of this sourcebook, Herbalism exists as a small sub-section of the mechanics presented as it uses the same properties provided via the Reagents when combined together. A Poultice made from the same reagents as a Potion would achieve similar, though outright lesser effects. The scale to which these effects is 'lesser' than Potions however could be seen as overall lower than even the simplest of potions, which somewhat reflects their ease of creation and short lived effects.|
In an attempt to account for some of the aspects in this system, as well as provide a more interesting Lore distinction, Alchemy and Herbalism are formed. Alchemy is a more precise refined art reminiscent of a primitive chemistry concept, akin to the Alchemy that existed in History. Herbalism is an even more Primitive equivalent, and serves to be the form of Alchemy used by Rural tribes and Shaman types, the primitive medicinal practices of eating specific roots and leaves, or boiling them into a tea of a sort that must be drunk to aid recovery. Herbalism by nature is more akin to knowledge that you'd learn while having any amount of Survival Knowledge, information gleaned by experience, learning what Reagents are beneficial vs harmful, or inert on their own. Herbalists are responsible for the knowledge of what Reagents do, and have experience in the field, whereas an Alchemist better utilizes the learned Knowledge, and is more familiar working in a Laboratory of a sort. It is possible to have knowledge of Alchemy without knowledge of Herbalism, and vice versa, but for simplicity, treat a characters knowledge of Alchemy as knowledge of both, unless there is good roleplay reason to only know one or the other.
Alchemy is a complicated art, and a primitive science, having been vastly revised compared to its original form, requiring a significant amount of effort on behalf of the User. This effort is rewarded with complete control over the contents of their creation. Elaboration is included in the proper chapters, and comes along with several Formulas each. The bulk of Alchemy's complexity has been ignored for the sake of simplicity, as specifying processes such as distillation and calcification would require more rolls than is practical, and offers too wide a margin to fail, which would, or should at least, ruin the product.
Reagents are the central portion of this rebuild, in fact extreme emphasis has been put on them, as each reagent dictates the abilities granted to a Potion. Every Reagent has a specified use in Alchemy, and the effects of reagents are totaled up to determine the effects of the Resulting Potion or Poison. The Myriad of additional reagents necessitates additional world building elements, but rather than forcing a DM to specify that players see different reagents growing in their natural environment, Environments are a listed quality to Reagents. When within those environments a single check (Typically either Alchemy or Perception, whichever is Higher) is made to determine whether or not a player finds anything, and subsequently the quantity of what they discover. While it adds to the immense complexity to have to take into account specific quantities of reagents, and is technically possible to use the "Spell Component Pouch" method of having reagent access, giving players access to every reagent at any given moment nullifies the Rarity ratings, and can heavily upset the balance of the system in its current state. Every reagent has a set Value and Rarity, and these determine a few factors about the reagents, their availability is determined by their listed environment. The listed price can go up or down according to DM belief regarding the environment, a common reagent may be in surplus in an area that its native to, becoming cheaper as a result, but intensely rare elsewhere, fetching a higher price due to this.
The primary goal of Alchemy in this context, potions are the sum of the reagents that you put into them. By combining reagents in various ways you can achieve potions with a myriad of effects. Combinations are provided in the potions section, however the system is designed with free-creation in mind, meaning that a Player (or DM) may create a potion in accordance to the effects, and have complete control over the effects therein. Similarly, it’s easy to introduce additional reagents to the system as long as the effects are quantified. Potion-Making uses a number of different formulas to determine its many factors, Creation DC, Creation Time, Potion Duration, all of these are used to determine how a potion functions. In addition to these, Delay, Error Chance, and Flukes and Flaws are portions that determine Potion properties, however, these only apply during the creation process. Potions do not always require a formula that determines their effects and makeup, examples such as the Dracolich’s Brew serve better as a creation that is handled by story-requirements, as it being something that an Alchemist could theoretically Accidentally Create is quite bizarre. Products such as this are left to DM discretion, and are often required based on campaign elements like the aforementioned Dracolich’s Brew. This includes the Philosopher's Stone.
Poisons have seen a significant reworking to fit alongside the Alchemy rebuild, using the same factors that determine Alchemy effects, individual reagents granting specific qualities towards the poison created with them, and much like potions the reagent effects are totaled to determine the poison properties. The formulas shared with Potion-Making are near identical, and functionally operate the same, however a few have minor changes. They gain the new title of "Toxins" as it considers both Poison and Venom with a distinction between the two maintained, with a third category named "Toxins" as a fluid category between the two.
An integral portion of Alchemy, Alchemists are incapable of creating a potion or poison without these tools. Alchemy kits have individual qualities that prove valuable to an Alchemist, with different Alchemy kits having different strong suits depending on an Alchemist's needs. Different Alchemy kits can provide different boons to the user, ranging from something as simple as giving you longer without having to attend to it to prevent the creation from spoiling to multitasking and creating multiple different Potions at once with little to no extra effort on the creators part.
Errors in creation are something every Alchemist fears, as it threatens the integrity of their creation. Infrequently however, an error can prove to be a good thing, Error Chance is a blanket term for the chance that something good or bad could happen to your creation. This is expanded upon in the Flukes and Flaws concept, Flukes being positive effects, Flaws being negative.
Herbalism is multifaceted, but due to the simplicity and how it can be considered a small sub-component of Alchemy (or even a more primitive version of it depending on how you look at it) it’s worth covering as a component of the Alchemy Rebuild rather than its own entity as a whole. Herbalism contains primitive features that Alchemy refines, including item creation and reagent processing. Herbalism itself is not so much a trained art as it is more about experience and information picked up through research and experimentation. Due to this, Herbalism is considered a sub-component of the larger whole of Alchemy, it can be learned and used independent of Alchemy, while the uses they have can be both complementary and separate. To supplement this, Herbalism is based lightly on the Survival Skill, your ranks in Survival giving you knowledge of different components of Herbalism. A single rank of Survival gives you knowledge of Common Reagents, their Herbalism effects, and how to Cultivate them. Two Ranks grants knowledge of Uncommon Reagents, Three Ranks grants knowledge of Elusive Reagents, and Four Ranks grants Knowledge of Rare Reagents. Whenever a character has higher ranks in the Alchemy skill than Survival, this function is subsumed by the Alchemy Skill. Herbalism is aimed to be a manifestation of the primitive Alchemy performed by medicine men and 15th century doctors, where they combine a number of different herbs together and believed them to have healing effects. In Herbalism however, the effects are very real rather than proto-medicine and placebos.
Anyone familiar with Herbalism may make a check to identify reagents from memory and prior knowledge, granting them knowledge of what the reagents used in Herbalism are, if they need to be carefully harvested, and lore about them. If trained in Alchemy, identifying reagents this way also grants the knowledge of how they interact in potions.
Poultice is a generic term in this context, referring to a number of different methods of preparing raw reagents. Herbalist preparations have taken a number of different forms, so for the sake of simplicity, Poultice becomes the generic term for Herbalism, similar to how a potion is a generic term to refer to all Alchemy creations. Poultices are quite similar to potions, though varying in distinct ways. Similar to potions, additional samples of a raw reagent will contribute more potent effects to a poultice, unlike potions however, the additional samples will not extend the duration of a poultice. The duration of a poultice is limited to a single round, regardless of the amount of reagent or type of reagent used. Depending on the type of poultice being created, the creation time varies from a single round to ten. Poultices technically take three forms, Poultices, Consumables, and Applicants. These three forms of Poultice are each created in different ways with different creation times as well as usage times, however, they still adhere to the categorical duration of one round.
- Poultices are the general term for Herbalism’s item creation, however, it also describes a specific creation. Poultices consist of reagents prepared as a sort of “patch”, reagents grouped together into a bandage of a sort and brought against the skin for the effects to be absorbed or a wound where the effects may be easily absorbed. Infrequently this can take the form of a Herbal Salve of some sort. Applicant poultices can be created in one round, but take an additional round to apply, with a further round before the effect manifests. The exception being if they’re prepared as a salve, which mirrors the minute-long creation time of a consumable.
- Consumables consist of different forms of imbibed poultices, pastes or mashed reagents that are meant to be eaten, or when boiled into a rudimentary tea, drunk. Poisons may also be prepared in this manner, though it’s difficult to deliver them to a victim raw, and are often prepared as a tea. Consumables take approximately one-minute to create, regardless of whether they’re mashed up and consumed as such, or boiled into a tea.
- Applicants are similar to Poultices, but more unique to toxic components, occasionally the necessity for a venom or toxin of some sort requires quick access, and Alchemy takes time. Applicants are exclusive to Toxins that are delivered through a wound, smeared onto a weapon so that they can be delivered as such. Venom's have a creation time similar to consumables, taking approximately one-minute to create.
Poultices are only usable for a certain time after creation. While their effects aren't as useful as a Potion, their short term creation time allows you to stock up on numerous poultices at once, and all held poultices will last Two-Weeks from the time of creation, unless they include Herbalism-Use Tempus Nuts. Even when close to being rendered useless, the Poultice's effectiveness will not diminish, providing its full benefits even up till the 14th day.
Poultices can be prepared with Toxic reagents, creating a Toxic Poultice, varying between either Consumables or Applicants. Due to the raw reagent form, they’re not nearly as efficient as they could be, just how less efficient, each Reagent’s Toxicity is reduced to approximately 1/4th of its original, and adjusted manually from there. Damage caused by this is calculated with the Normal Toxin damage formula, which means that Herbalism based Toxins are very weak as Toxins. To make matters worse, Using a Toxin offensively is quite challenging. You need only make a successful Full-Round touch attack (This Provokes an Attack of Opportunity) to attempt to Apply a Poultice to someone in combat, but if they’re wearing Armor, it’s unlikely that you’ll Apply it in an area that it can be absorbed. For those without Armor (Whether they chose not to wear it or it was Sundered off of them) this becomes more useful, but individuals who go without armor are unlikely to be as susceptible to things like this. If a Poultice is removed on the round immediately after it was applied, the effects won’t be absorbed.
While not necessarily exclusive to Herbalism, those who practice Herbalism over alchemy are often familiar with the process of tending to Reagents, and cultivating them in small pots or planters of some sort. Interestingly they’re even capable of cultivating miniature trees for reagents gathered from that source. When cultivating a reagent basic needs must be met, primarily water and nutrition for your plants. Nutrition is ignored as access to fertile soil is typically common (though not in a desert). Watering a plant is the only required upkeep, for magic users this is often Trivial, but those without can sometimes find difficulty with this (Particularly if in a desert). Rarity determines the speed at which a Reagent may be cultivated. All reagents will produce a quantity equal to their normally harvestable amount over their growth cycle unless tempted by magic. Common Reagents will be harvestable within a week. Uncommon takes Two weeks. Elusive takes three. Rare (With the exception of Black Lotus) takes one Month. A few Reagents are incapable of being cultivated, any that are Minerals as opposed to plants for example, of which there are few. Black Lotus is Impossible to reliably cultivate as it is a mutation of the regular Lotus. The Regular Lotus produces flowers in the same time frame however, but there is a 5% chance each time it flowers that a Single Black Lotus flower could be the result. Alchemists who Cultivate Reagents follow the example of herbalists, as there’s little room to improve this method.
In addition to the standard reagent gathering, its possible to harvest seeds or cuttings that will grow into full samples of the plant themselves. The quantity of seeds or cuttings you can attain from this is equal to 1/2 the yield of reagents the plant would grant to you. Roll accordingly and then divide by two. In examples such as Rare reagents which only yield 1 sample, roll odds accordingly to determine if you harvest any seeds or cuttings. These seeds and cuttings take much longer than the reagents themselves that are harvested, taking 3x the standard Harvest Period to result in any, and if the plant be under any effects that boost its growth speed, the speed at which seeds are grown is also impacted.
Seedlings and the like may be bought from Alchemy shops as well if they have any, but the Alchemist running the shop is well aware that with access to growing the reagents you'll be unlikely to purchase anything from them, and sells them at a markup. Seeds and cuttings of various Alchemic Reagents will cost 3x as much as a single sample of the reagent from an Alchemy shop, should they have any on hand to sell in the first place. Seeds and such may never be harvested from samples of Reagents bought from a store, they'll have been picked over carefully and intently to ensure the alchemist selling them gets their full value from them.
Alchemy vs Herbalism
Each has their merits, the advantage that Herbalism has over Alchemy is that all of its creations are near instantaneous or at least very quick to produce, as are applications, so if you need the effects of Reagents in a pinch, you can have them without any delay. Herbalism also benefits from being “Untrained” and an example of knowledge of the reagents instead of a complicated skill such as Alchemy, allowing for any character to theoretically have knowledge of it, or to learn it easily from others. A common theme in Alchemy, in general, is that your investment will match your return, Herbalism adheres to that principal as well. The time investment in Herbalism is much smaller than Alchemy’s, subsequently, the return is lesser. Proper Alchemy allows for much more potent creations with duration's lasting more than a single round without forcing you to split up the effects.
Alchemy has a few rules and limitations to work with, serving more as guidelines than hard coded restrictions. The complexity of Alchemy dictates whether or not the attempts being made are Possible or Impossible. Simple creations with few Reagents can be accomplished by many Alchemists, but complex creations with a myriad of Reagents are accomplished by the most Skilled Alchemists. Potions can be made with any number of Reagents with no limit to the quantities or differing types combined into a Single Potion, but as the complexity of a Potion rises, so does the difficulty to create it. The system originally contained a Cap of 100 Reagents, later amended to 125, as well as having the restriction of only Five Separate Reagents being allowed in a Potion. All of these Rules have been Scrapped, and the only restrictions anymore are that an Alchemist must weigh the odds of Complexity vs the Difficulty to create a potion. There is no point to attempting the creation of something that cannot be created, as it will waste the Reagents involved. Each page, the Potions Catalog, Mortis Alchemia, and the Converted Venoms List, contains information relating to the methods of creation, or in the case of the last document the adaption, of different Creations. The Potions Catalog and Mortis Alchemia share quite a few rules, in fact the only differences are that Mortis Alchemia has a few minor additions exclusive to Toxins. The Converted Venom List is a complicated piece of information, having formulas for adapting venoms of different creatures into this system, for ease of access it also contains a list of converted venoms already, mostly covering the different Monster Manuals, as well as the Fiend Folio’s. It is by no means a complete list, however should make it so that a DM doesn’t need to manually work out all the different Venoms that potential Monsters, instead just referencing the list. Something to keep in mind while designing and creating a Potion, every Reagent contributes additional effects and duration, but also makes it more difficult to actually create in the first place.