Legacy of Swords
Alchemists are a powerful, secretive lot, though they are reasonably common. Alchemy is a combination of science, magic, and religion all mixed in together. Like the mages, alchemists have the ability to wield terrible and wondrous powers, but doing so requires a lot of preparation and study. Alchemists follow complex formulas to mix reagents to create potions. The skill of Alchemy is a 3/2 skill, based on Intelligence.
Alchemy is a complex system, so you should only play an alchemist if you are comfortable with Hero System powers; there’s a lot of calculation involved, and you should be familiar with writing up powers if you wish to play an alchemist.
Every alchemical potion has a recipe of sorts, called a “Formula”. Alchemical formulas will detail the exact preparations and lists of ingredients to create a particular potion. The rule system will not go into that great amount of detail however, leaving most of it for game flavor purposes. As far as the rule system is concerned, the power write-ups for each potion will list which reagents are needed, but not get into the details of their preparation, etc.
In game, an alchemist must have a formula before he can create a potion. You may be able to purchase formula in game, or create your own through a lot of study and experimentation.
Creating alchemical potions requires the use of Alchemical Reagents. These reagents can require a variety of preparations, from simply powdering up a solid reagent, to boiling it and collecting the distillate of the vapor. Such preparations are time consuming and require alchemical skill.
The following is a list of the 22 reagents used in alchemy. Combined with the mystical philosopher’s stone, there are 23 elemental reagents overall.
Note that other materials may be used, but these are either so common (copper, lead, coal, etc) or so unique (powdered unicorn horn, dragon’s tooth, etc) that they are not considered part of the “standard” list of reagents.
This list is organized from rare to common. While some of the higher reagents may be more commonly occurring in nature, their gathering is uncommon enough to make them less common for purchase.
Mystic #: 22
NAPHTHA: First used by the Arabs in incendiary devices, it is a highly volatile, inflammable oil. Various types can be distilled from wood, coal; and petroleum:
Mystic #: 21
MANGANES: A rare ore that, when refined, purified, and heated, burns quite brightly. It is also known as magnesium.
Mystic #: 20
ORPIMENT: This sulphur-arsenic compound is bright yellow, can appear in large masses, and frequently figured in important alchemical reactions. It is also known as trisulfide of arsenic.
Mystic #: 19
WHITE CINNABAR: This silvery-white metal is usually found as a powder, because it is extremely brittle. It is also extremely poisonous, but still useful (in small-quantities) as a compound in certain medicines. Sometimes used in glassmaking. It is also known as arsenic
Mystic #: 18
BLACK BEAN: This material, originally acquired from the Eastern lands is reddish-brown. It has a strong taste and certain unique but temporary stimulating effects on the body. It is also known as cocoa.
Mystic #: 17
ZINKBLENDE: This clear; cleavable ore can yield a wide variety of results in various situations. It is also known as sphalerite, or zinc sulfide.
Mystic #: 16
ANTIMONI: This silvery-white powder is very brittle, and invariably contains other trace elements, It is resistant to certain chemicals, can be used as a hardening agent; and is also known as antimony.
Mystic #: 15
AQUA REGIA: A very strong, volatile and dangerous acid, this can dissolve almost anything, including people. It is a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. In airships, it is used to dissolve airstone (Aluminum) and generate the lighter than air gas used to float the ships (hydrogen).
Mystic #: 14
GUM: A sticky, resilient and strong material, it often includes pitch or resin. The purer forms generally were imported from the Middle East.
Mystic #: 13
MONDRAGORA: A natural substance, reputedly from a plant, with many mystical properties.
Mystic #: 12
ALUM: A very astringent powder, used in, dyes and baking powders, or alone to induce vomiting. It is also known as ammonium bisulfate, potassium aluminum sulfate
Mystic #: 11
CAMOMILE: A supposedly rare plant whose dried leaves have various properties; often medicinal. Actually, it is fairly common, but easily mistaken.
Mystic #: 10
PITCHBLENDE: A mineral that is a lustrous brownish black. When added to certain procedures, it can produce a slightly glowing material. It is also known as uranium oxide or radium oxide.
Mystic #: 9
ZINKEN: A bluish-white salt that can improve metals, especially steel. It also has various medicinal properties. It is also known as zinc.
Mystic #: 8
NIKEL: A hard, silver-white material that can be formed into a metal. It is much more useful when mixed with other materials, such as steel, where it adds strength and durability. It is also known as nickel.
Mystic #: 7
BRIMSTONE: Pale yellow crystals that burn with a blue flame and emit a horrible stench (like rotten eggs). Sometimes associated with demons and Hell. It is useful in many compounds, including gunpowder. It is also known as sulfur.
Mystic #: 6
PURE GOLD: A dark yellow metal that is very soft and It is considered extremely valuable. At somewhat lesser purity it is formed in bars or small, thin round coins for monetary purposes.
Mystic #: 5
The last four reagents are “bases”. They are made of a variety of materials, combined together in a “Base” reagent. The ratios on these can vary from occurrence to occurrence, so it is important to store them properly and check the quality of materials used. Anyone with a decent alchemical skill should be able to prepare a base reagent easily.
MELANCHOLIC (MELANC) BASE: A variety of plants considered useful in alchemy, such, as bell mushrooms, belladonna, camphor, hemlock, seed of sea holly, night-shade, thorn apple, henbane, turpentine, etc.
Mystic #: 4
SANGUINE BASE: A variety of animal materials, such as eye of newt, toad tongues,
bat claws, powdered horn, etc.
Mystic #: 3
CHOLERIC BASE: A variety of acids and other liquids, considered useful, including aqua fortis, vitriol and Roman vitriol, alcohol, distilled water, etc.
Mystic #: 2
PHLEGMATIC BASE: A variety of common minerals, such as kupfer(copper), lead, lime (calcium oxide), quicksilver and kohle (coal).
Mystic #: 1
Philosopher’s stoneA philosopher’s stone is technically not required to prepare alchemical potions. However only the truly expert or complete novice would prepare potions without one. The expert would do so because he does not need the benefits that the stone provides, and the novice would do so because he is a fool that does not know any better.
A philosopher’s stone is a rare element, believed to have fallen from the sky. In use, it is boiled in an acidic solution, the surface of which becomes saturated with the element. This surface layer is skimmed off and filtered, then boiled again in pure water. The water is boiled away leaving a silvery-white powder. This powder is then used in combination with the other alchemical reagents, and allows for the easier combination of said reagents. It is believed that the mystic power inherent in the philosopher’s stone cause the regeants to align their mystic energies along the same patterns.
For game system purposes, for every level of the philosopher’s stone, the stone adds a +1 to alchemical skill rolls when creating potions. The stone degrades with use however, and will eventually become useless. New stones may be purchased, or an infusion applied to it to regain some of its ability. The infusion is both difficult to create and apply, and requires more of the same material that the stone is made from, though it can be in a powder, pieces, suspended in a liquid, or cleaved from where it may be imbedded in another mineral.
The basic Philosopher’s Stone has 10 uses before it is used up and needs to be replaced or recharged. However, spending an additional 2 charges will grant an extra 3 character points (5 active points per charge, aid is 10 points per d6, standard effect of 3 points) This would be a total of +2 to alchemy, since alchemy skill costs 2 character points.
This amount may be increased, up to +20 Active Points. (4 charges + the initial charge) This would give a total of 30 active points, or 3d6 aid, or 9 character points. This would give +4 to alchemy. Of course using charges in this way is not really efficient, and burns through the Philosopher’s Stone faster.
Higher quality philosopher’s stones are available. To calculate their cost, simply increase the amount of Aid in the base power. 1d6 of Aid = 10 points. Each charge still only adds +5 AP though, and each stone only has 10 charges.
The highest level stone available at character creation is 4d6 or 12 character points of Aid. This is equivalent to +6 aid to alchemy skill. It would cost 8 character points.
The term used to describe what is created with alchemy is a “potion”. This is not necessarily a bottle of liquid however, the term can be used to describe anything created with alchemy, whether it be a literal “potion” or not.
Creating a potion requires:
- The correct alchemical formula
- Alchemy equipment
- Reagents that match the formula
- Alchemy skill
Writing up the potion:
In game terms, creating a potion is written up as follows:
First, determine what the potion will do, and write it up as a power.
- It must have the “Reduced END to 0” advantage (a ½ advantage)
Since it is a physical object, it will have the following limitations:
- OAF- potion (a -1 limitation)
- Fragile (a -.25 limitation) (most likely, but not required for all potions)
- Independent (a –0 limitation) (no points for this under the alternate creation rules)
ALL potions must be single-use items. They will therefore have the limitation:
- “Single non-recoverable charge”. (A -4 limitation!)
You can prepare more than one potion of a given type, but this will take time for each potion created, and each one will be a single non-recoverable charge.
Other limitations or advantages may apply, but these will depend on how the potion is used, and what it does. (“Area of Effect”, and “Range based on STR” are fairly common for thrown potions)
Once you have written up how the potion works, you will have its “Real Cost”.
Writing up the “create potion” power:
The next step is to write up a “create potion” power, specifically to create that potion. Its base cost is the same as the Real Cost of the potion.All “create potion” powers will have the following limitations:
- OAF: formula (-1)
- OAF: reagents (-1)
- Arrangement (-.25)
- Expendable and difficult to acquire (-.25)
- OAF: Alchemical equipment 1
- Arrangement (-.25)
- Fragile (-.25)
- Gestures (-.5)
- Requires Skill Roll- alchemy(-.5)
- Concentration (-.5)
Creating the potion will take 1 day per every 10 Active Points in the create item spell. This can be reduced by buying down the increment on the time chart, at a +.25 advantage per level on the time chart. It will also cost 1 LTE per 10 points. This may be converted to regular END for a +.25 advantage. (see FH, page 279 for the full magic item creation rules)
The skill roll penalty is –1 for every 10 AP in the create potion power. This may NOT be bought down or reduced. It can be offset by the use of high-quality equipment or the use of a philosopher’s stone, but not reduced directly.
“Taking extra time” is allowed, and will reduce skill roll penalty, however it should be noted that the base time for this will be equal to the base time for the create item power. For example, if it takes a day to prepare a potion, no benefit will be gained by taking an extra turn to prepare before making the skill check. The benefit is +1 for each level down the chart after the minimum required (see the main book, page 29). To get the +1 in the above example, you’d have to take an extra week to prepare.As before, other advantages and limitations may be applied as desired. The Real Cost of the “create potion” power is what is paid in character points for the potion. Note that this only needs to be paid once, thereafter the character may create as many potions as they have time, skill, and ingredients to create. Here’s an example:
Arabian fire reagents:
- 4 parts Choleric Base
- 2 Parts Naptha
- 3 parts Maganes
- 1 part Marsh vapor
- 2 parts Brimstone