Alchemists are the proto-scientists and chemists of the period of the game. They study the ways in which the physical and spiritual worlds interact through natural science, philosophy and even a smattering of the spiritual principles of Metaphysics. Speculation on the nature of the universe, on the hidden nature of both mineral and organic substances, often absorbs them.
The work of the Alchemists encompasses both of what are known today as inorganic and organic chemistry, as well as pharmacology, geology, theoretical physics and a smattering of natural philosophy. From a very esoteric, philosophical, and spiritual point of view (to avoid confrontations of faith) they seek to classify the elements with their dialectic, Aristotelian reason and logic. Empirical test and study are considered to be neither the scholar’s method nor the medieval way of thought, except in the pursuit of specific projects (not whole, transferrable concepts). They explore the secret spiritual natures of physical things through their special skills, to evoke or imbue spiritual properties, create elixirs (derived from the Arabic for the Greek for “dry tincture”), potions, philters, powders, unguents, salves, and a wide variety of other similar unique substances, to make life a little easier or simply for the sake of accumulating knowledge.
In the pursuit of their arts, Alchemists make a common study of the physical properties of substances; the effects of applying heat and cold, their expansion with heat and contraction when cold, the fact that water is the exception to the rule, expanding as it freezes. They know of the weathering process, the properties of erosion and the resulting deposition, currents and tides, and the like, the changes that decomposition brings, the heat it generates. The lore of the earth is of special interest, too; the soil, such as that special soil used by artists to make their green-earth color; gems and stones like lapis lazuli ground for use in making the finest blue hues, rocks, metals, crystals, ores such as sulphur, cinnabar (mercury ore) ground by artists to make an intense red hue; how they interact with fire, water, and air; the nature of carbonization, the uses of ashes and soot, like the lampblack (literally soot from a lamp) used by artists as a pigment.
The Alchemist’s “Speculum”
Even though Alchemists are almost indelibly associated with scholasticism, the Alchemist True Trade can be considered as either a set of skills acquired from among the broad and diverse curricula of the universities OR the product of a formal, traditional apprenticeship, instead (player’s discretion), bringing an entirely different flavor to the character’s background. In order to have a formal university education as the source of an Alchemist True character’s Trade knowledge, the player must equip him/her also with a formal Scholastic Trade. In this case, he/she is presumed to have graduated with a PhD in Natural Philosophy & Metaphysics.
Whether a player decides his character’s knowledge of Alchemy stems from formal scholastic pursuits at university or through a traditional apprenticeship, this Trade represents no less a scholarly disposition and frame of mind.
As a reflection of the trade’s scholastic nature, every Alchemist is required to put his Linguist, Literatus, and Scrivener skills to good use during the course of his education/apprenticeship in keeping records of his lessons and lab work. By the time he completes his doctorate or apprenticeship, he has also compiled a Speculum,
The Speculum is an encyclopædic overview of the Alchemist’s art, knowledge and skills, a notebook of all known materials and substances, their appearances accompanied by meticulously rendered illustrations, their characteristics, common origins and usages, and also a wide variety of recipes or formulæ for many common substances and compounds (as follows).
This is a source book of trade knowledge kept on hand for general reference, containing knowledge to guide further exploration of the arts, and to aid in managing and coordinating the lore he gathers regarding the specific Trade Skill specialties.
The main volume of the Alchemist’s Speculum contains (AWA x 10) + [(TR) x (40 – AWA)] pages.
Over the course of time spent earning each TR, once brought into play, the Alchemist is assumed to accumulate an additional (40 – AWA) pages (on average) of scribbled notes, thoughts, insights, theories and discoveries to add to his Speculum.
In additional to this volume, the Alchemist is required to keep another journal or notebook for the knowledge of the specific Trade Skill specialties (chandlery; scents and perfumes; pigments and dyes; combustibles; caustics; drugs, poisons and venoms; substances prepared to carry an enchantment; etc.), a separate volume for each, but nonetheless also considered to be part of his Speculum.
Each Trade Skill volume of the Speculum has (40 – AWA) + [(AWA) x (Trade Skill SL)] pages in it.
Over the course of time spent earning each SL in each Trade Skill, once brought into play, the Alchemist is assumed to accumulate an additional (40 – AWA) pages (on average) of scribbled notes, thoughts, insights, theories and discoveries to add to his Speculum.
IF the Alchemist has the Herbal and/or Apothecary Trade(s) and/or the Forage Life Skill, the player must add those TR’s and/or SL’s to his Alchemist TR for the initial volume in determining the number of pages and also to the SL’s of the individual Trade Skill specialties for each additional volume of his Speculum he must keep, for these broaden the depth of the Lore the Alchemist possesses regarding the secrets of the Trade and the individual Trade Skill fields of study.
Once brought into play, the Alchemist Simple character is expected to continue to keep his Speculum after the fashion of a journal, recording his on-going work and researches, every project he has completed, his successes and failures, over the course of his career, used as a reference to consult as he formulates new projects, and to refresh his memory when he wishes to repeat old ones.
The character is responsible for maintaining all his Speculum volumes as he rises in TR and SL’s, so it’s important he makes sure the materials are kept on hand for maintaining these records, and that they are replenished when the increases in his SL’s indicate those materials have been depleted.
To exercise his Trade, the Alchemist must also have a lab to work in. This consists of a hodge-podge of beakers, vials, terracotta vessels, flasks, scales, weights, measures, alcohol lamps, mortars and pestles of various sizes, various sorts of tubing or piping, an astrolabe, alembic, furnace, crucibles, etc., as described for the Alchemist’s Lab in Appendix D.1.
Despite the fact that this Trade is called Alchemist, “Simple”, it encompasses quite a portfolio of capabilities. The above equipment is required to perform the main functions of his alchemical arts: Calcination, Coagulation, Fixation, Dissolution, Digestion, Distillation, Sublimation, Separation, Ceration, Fermentation, Multiplication, and Projection.
Calcination involves heating a substance in either an open or closed vessel, usually resulting in oxidation, often to produce a black, carbonized substance of some kind. The process and the substances it produces are ruled by Aries, a fire sign.
Congelation and fixation are the processes used to make a substance stable and solid, non-volatile, processes ruled by Taurus (earth) and Gemini (air). These are an essential step in the pursuit of the elusive Philosopher’s Stone, as the volatile liquid mercury was thought an essential element.
Dissolution and digestion are processes of washing and purifying, ruled by Cancer (water) and Leo (fire), respectively. In the pursuit of the White Philosopher’s Stone that produces silver, these processes were used on the substance in the alembic to wash, whiten and purify.
Distillation and sublimation are used to render and recondense the vapor or essence of a substance, in reflux distillation, ruled by Virgo (earth) and Libra (air), respectively.
Separation can include such processes as filtration, decantation or distillation of a liquid from its residue, ruled by Scorpio, a water sign.
Ceration is a process whereby a material is made soft and wax-like, ruled by Sagittarius, a fire sign.
Fermentation is the special process whereby a slow, subtle “digestive” heat is created within a substance, so the special properties of the substance can manifest, ruled by Capricorn, an earth sign. This process is essential in the working of alchemical magick, and in preparing substances to contain a magickal charm, but it is also used to describe the process by which these substances work to transfer their influence when used in the material world. In the process of creating the Philosopher’s Stone this was one of the last few steps, when the nature of the Stone truly began to manifest.
Multiplication is the process used to augment the power of the substance so it can be used many times over, generally ruled by Aquarius, a water sign. This step consists of manipulating any number of other processes to infuse additional power into a substance.
Projection is simply the name for the process of reducing a substance into the form in which its power is finally applied to its task: powder, salve or unguent, potion, elixir, etc.
These terms are not really necessary to the successful use of the Trade under the rules of the game, however. The Alchemists’ traditions and arts are cloaked in fancy, esoteric terminology and allegories to conceal their lore, as they were historically. These processes are traditionally only ever discussed in terms of not only their ruling signs but their ruling planets, and the mythological figures for whom the planets are named. All of this subterfuge was deemed necessary to protect the secrets of their Trade from the curiosity of laymen. It is included here primarily for the benefit of roleplaying the Alchemist character.
While they are intimately associated with things magickal and mysterious, however, the Alchemist’s knowledge of the above processes (among others) enable him to brew, concoct, distill, render, etc. (as applicable) many of the common, mundane substances or materials used or produced by a number of different more “ordinary” trades. The Alchemist, Simple in particular focuses much on the knowledge and practices of these trades, as well as a few of the more rare, dangerous, and/or exotic substances (depending on what other Trades the Alchemist’s full portfolio includes, as follows), all described by the Trade Skills:
The craft of Chandlers, the pursuit Chandlery, is one of the more common among Alchemists, Simple, producing soap of citrus, glycerin and rosewater, or caustic soda and animal fat (tallow) or high quality olive oil, and/or candles of all qualities, bayberry, tallow or rushlights, are an easy product of the Alchemist’s skills. While there are common artisans that specialize in one or the other, it is by no means unusual for a craftsman to make both, for they both traditionally use tallow.
Lacquers, Varnishes and adhesives may include a number of such substances, utilizing the bonding properties of wheat, or egg, but commonly involving rendering animal carcasses down for Glue or spirit gum, also providing cleaning substances such as lye and fuller’s earth, highly acidic verjuice, wood ash and caustic soda (used for doing laundry).
The strength of the bond a glue makes is measured by a STR score, just like a character, equal to the POT of the substance made (player’s choice) if it is for paper, cloth, wood, and other porous organics. The STR of the glue is equal to half the POT if it is to affect china, brick, stone, or metals.
Glues can be made so as to be water-soluble after drying, or not, but the player must state which he is making at the time and make a note of that fact when he records it on his equipment inventory, otherwise you should assume it is water-soluble.
Oftentimes the STR of a glue bond is greater than the effective strength, or Structure Points, of the items glued together, making getting them apart again impossible without extensive damage, barring the use of magick.
Drying times are equal to the STR of the bond, counted in minutes. The stronger it is, the longer it takes to set up, also. This can be shortened by as much as (Alchemist’s AV)%, maximum 60%, at the Alchemist’s option by the use of alcohol or a petroleum distillate as a solvent, but this makes it highly flammable when wet, also.
As GM, you determine the drying or setting-up times for glues using the extent of the surface area covered and the STR of the glue as discussed previously. The thickness of glue applied and how still and tightly the items glued are being held, the humidity, all affect the time to set-up and cure, especially if you feels these factors are not being adequately addressed by the user(s) in-game.
Judging how much glue is required for each use and when a character finally runs out of the amount prepared is entirely up to you, as GM.
Rendering dyestuffs and pigments is another area, processing, concentrating, mixing to obtain signature hues, even foraging for the substances or even raising plant matter from which pigments are obtained. While an alchemist may specialize in pigments, paints, hues for dyes, etc., it is to supply the dyers who put them to use, perhaps in conjunction with a merchant manufactory.
Cosmetics and Beauty are another area of concentration, encompassing a range of substances drawn from many disciplines, especially including pigments, like lacquer for nails; henna and other tints for hair; heavier foundations to conceal minor imperfections in the skin, or even wax-based sculpting or modeling putties to correct structural imperfections (also used in the Masquer skill); cremes, foundations, in a wide variety of tints and tones to complement and even emulate each of the humanoid races in each of the complexions from as pale and fair as a Nordic Viking to Mediterranean olive, golden as an Asian, brown as a desert-dweller, or even as dark as a Nubian, and in each of the color ranges (sallow, robust, and medium).
This specialty also includes the colors for shadowing and detailing eyes and lashes, and/or the highly colored face paints in the seven colors of the rainbow for adding fanciful motifs for holidays and special occasions (hearts, flowers, twining vines and leaves, heraldic animals and devices, etc.), even spirit gum for applying jewels or other small ornaments to the face/body.
Extracting essential oils and compounding incenses, potpourri (“rotten pot”), herb-steeped scented oils, moisturizing lotions and cremes and other beauty treatments, and/or producing actual perfumes form another area of concentration. This area of expertise is often combined with that of the Chandler and/or Cosmetics and Beauty.
Because dabbling in the more rare, dangerous, and/or exotic areas of alchemy can be very expensive, most “common” Alchemists [Simple] make their living by focusing on making one of the families of products mentioned above, represented by most of the Trade Skills, to sell for their daily bread. This supports any private researches, but such pursuits are not that common, especially among those plying the more “common” Alchemist, Simple Trade.
Most Alchemists True, capable of producing true magickal effects by their arts, generally have no interest in the common, mundane products or substances mentioned above, as far as any possible public practice for earning their daily bread, however. Such Alchemists are not considered to be in competition for such mundane business, although they may well be in the habit of engaging in their manufacture to provide for their own personal household needs.
By their arts, Alchemists True can manipulate the spiritual properties of a wide spectrum of substances in order to create what are, for the sake of simplicity, called “potion bases”. These are unguents, salves, elixirs, potions, philters, powders, crystals, magick seeds/beans, and a wide variety of other similar substances or items specially prepared to be receptacles for magick. These have no magick of their own but can accept the power of magickal charms, regardless of whether cast by the Alchemist himself or by the hand of another. These hold the power of the charms safely and keep them stable until their power is needed.
In the same vein, so long as the Alchemist is a practitioner of magick, he may make the special candles, incenses, chalks, powders, brazier fuel, and other obscure preparations that make up the consumable supplies called “ritual supplies”, needed to cast Low Magick rituals for his trade, BUT only for those charms he himself knows, UNLESS he is provided with the recipes by the client for whom he makes them.
IF he is provided with the recipes and has sufficient materials to do so, he may concoct ritual supplies for ANY magick-wielding trades and charm.
Like the ritual supplies described in Appendix D.1, those made by the Alchemist are described in terms of POT. The higher the POT of a given packet of ritual supplies he makes, the greater the POT of the ritual that can be performed with it, as charms are rated in the same points of POT. The alchemist may only make supplies to cast one specific charm at a time, but the actual amount of POT made in any given exercise of this skill is up to the player. The greater the amount made at any given time, the higher the DV.
The materials to make ritual and rite supplies cost 1s. 2d. 1hp. per point of POT in magick that can be cast with it.
IF the Alchemist is also equipped with the Herbal Trade and the Forage Life Skill, he can save 4d. 3fg. per point of POT in the cost of materials by venturing forth and gathering some of them himself.
IF the Alchemist is also equipped with the Apothecary Trade and the Forage Life Skill, he can save 9d. 3fg. per point of POT in the cost of materials by venturing forth and gathering some of them himself.
IF the Alchemist is also equipped with the Apothecary Trade, the Caustics & Combustibles Trade Skill is also available. This includes rendering and purifying treatments for creating torches and flambeaux to flash pots and/or smudge pots. These might be combined with knowledge of pigments, so flashes or clouds of colored fire or smoke are produced.
IF the Alchemist is also equipped with the Herbal Trade, the Drugs & Poisons Trade Skill is also available. This enables the Alchemist to bring the stability and shelf-life inherent in the Alchemist’s works to the Herbal’s healing salves, elixirs and simples, in addition to bringing the a depth of knowledge enabling him to make such things as paralysants, stimulants, sedatives, truth serums and soporifics.
This is a very dicey area of expertise to allow others to become aware of. Public knowledge leaves the character open to socially damaging accusations and law suits.
Each of the areas discussed above (Chandlery, Finishes & Adhesives, Cosmetics & Beauty, Pigments & Dyes, Scents) comprises a separate specialty defined by a Trade Skill that must be developed and tracked in SL, and maintained individually with SP’s.
The base DV for making any of the substances described is equal to the number of drams, cups, gills, or pints, or pots, that he makes in a single exercise (according to the measure in which the substance is discussed above), or gill of waterproof glue. To this, the GM should add the POT of the substance being made, such as glue. For making a glue invulnerable to water, the effective STR is equal to the POT, the base DV, and the DV should be raised by 1/2 (multiplied by 1.5). The DV should be doubled (multiplied by 2) to make it invulnerable to saltwater (sea-, brine). For every effective point by which the STR for the purposes of determining drying time of the glue has been lowered by solvents with high evaporation rates to speed drying, the DV should be increased by 1.
For making ritual supplies, the base DV is equal to (2 per points-worth of POT) made.
The quantity made is particularly important in determining time requirements, for it will increase the time needed when larger amounts are made. In the case of ritual supplies, the POT also IS the measure of quantity, as discussed in the rules on Low Magick (rituals) in the Grimoire.
The time required to make any of the common substances described here, from start to finish including the processing of raw materials (as applicable), is equal to the DV for the task, read in mileways. For making ritual supplies, the DV is divided by 2 and the time read in hours.
The Alchemist’s skills also give him the ability to “can” and store those substances his Trade Skills allow him to make that have a limited shelf life and put them up. He may “can” or “put-up” as much as he can secure materials (heavy pottery or glass pots/jars) and facilities to handle. The character must have lids for each vessel, and requires 0.25 lb’s of wax to seal each one. The containers used in canning should be no larger than 1 quart in volume each.
Once put up, the canned perishables last (1 per 4 TR) years before their shelf life comes into play and they begin to age and then go bad. Once the seal is broken on a canned perishable its shelf life again commences to pass normally.
The costs for canning is 1 ha’penny per gill per pot/jar and 2 pence per jar for sealing waxes, plus the costs for whatever it is the character is canning (as applicable). The costs of the pots/jars is a one-time investment, after purchased they only need to be replaced as broken, and the character then only has to pay for the wax, and perhaps the items to be canned.
Most of the substances made by the Alchemist, even such simple compounds as cosmetics, have a shelf life of only [(AWA + CRD) ÷ 8] + (SL) weeks before they begin to separate, go rancid, or lose their potency. This doesn’t, of course, apply to such simple, stable things as tallow or fine-milled soaps, cleaning solutions, or the like.
Magickal Formulas: “Potions”, etc.
Following the mysteries of the elusive Philosopher’s Stone, True Alchemists can also concoct substances that, of their own essence and the skills of their Trade, yield intrinsically magickal effects. By combining the rare and special ingredients these formulae call for, an Alchemist can unlock the magickal power inherent in their essences to make various substances of magickal effect by means of their own procedures and incantations.
Thus, the skill of making substances that are vessels for carrying the magick of others is considered a single and totally different skill from the individualized skills of making substances whose effects are wholly magickal, in and of themselves, upon completion.
This is one of the main points on which Alchemists, Simple and Alchemists, True differ.
These are called “magickal formulas” that produce unguents, salves, elixirs, potions, philtres, powders, crystals, magick beans, and other similar substances – in the same sorts of forms described for “Potion” Bases previously – that yield inherently magickal effects when properly employed. Both are made in quantities of grams/drams.
Once they are completed, there is NO difference whatever in the appearance or effect of a substance that is the product of a magickal formula and a “Potion” Base that has been successfully enchanted.
The epitome of the Alchemist’s art is the path (Trade Skill) of Magickal Formulas, wherein lies the knowledge of transforming base metals into the noble metals, silver and gold, or discovering the means of longevity through concocting the various forms of the elusive Lapis Philosophicus, the magickal “Philosopher’s Stone”, the Red Stone and the White Stone, or their equally magickal and elusive elixirs. These are the ultimate goal of all serious True Alchemists, the apex of the his study in his pursuit of this particular Trade Skill.
The Magickal Formulas (Trade Skill) is actually made up of up to (MGA ÷ 4) charms (individual skills) that must be developed, tracked, and maintained individually in SL with SP’s, in the same manner as Languages and Musician instrument skills.
Each charm/skill chosen represents a base recipe and a series of closely related recipe variations (much like a recipe in “The Joy of Cooking”) allowing for any of the effects described in that charm’s text, and also encompassing all expressions in regards to the Ars Quintates that its description allows, enabling the Alchemist to create a substance to express any aspect of a charm presented in its description, as he wishes.
These formulas may be freely chosen from ANY of the rosters of Wizard, Witch and/or Druid charms, equally.
IF the Alchemist True is designated as having learned this Trade in university, he is limited to ONLY those charms that appear on the Wizard Trade rosters.
IF all of a Alchemist’s formulas come solely from the charms found on the Witch OR Druid rosters, that character may be designated a member of that Trade (player’s discretion, not a requirement). In this case, the character is bound by the philosophical/religious strictures of that trade. This limits the character to a traditional apprenticeship in training for this Trade, as well.
The materials created by means of the charms that make up the Alchemist’s Magickal Formulas have only been discussed in a general sort of way, so far.
An Alchemist’s formula might result in a thin (alcohol-based) liquid to be sprayed through an atomizer – perfect to create the “Cloud of Fog” or “Circle of Light/Darkness” magicks, or possibly even one of the various types of “Darts” or other similar weapons, especially fine perfumes to carry “Beguiling” effects. The Alchemist might make powders repleat with glittering and sparkling Disney-esque effects, to be used by the pinch on or inside a fist or glove for the hand/touch oriented aspects of the “Manifest Will” charm, or perhaps on or inside the feet or shoes/boots for a “Fleetfoot” “Surefoot” or similar effect, or even sprinkled over a recipient’s head. A formula can result in an unguent to be rubbed all over a subject or on selective area(s) of the user’s body for a “Slow Blood,” “SwiftHeal” or similar effect, or a liquid to be imbibed after the fashion of a traditional magick potion, or even a bright, shining crystal to be thrown in a target’s face, or upon the ground or crushed to release a “Blinding Flash” or similar charm, or to be hurled at a target to transform in the air into a “dart” of some kind.
The Alchemist may stumble across a formula that produces a handful of special “Size Enchantment” soil providing a “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “James and the Giant Peach” type of effect, or seeds which burrow into the ground and sprout forth with a “Wall of Vines”, “Wall of Thorns”, “Vinesteed”, “Servant of Earth”, or “Plantmaze” magick, or produce little seeds or even seedlings that swiftly grow when planted to bear fruit that yields a particular magick when eaten.
It should be the fumes of the cauldron holding the substance of any “Summoning,” “Call Familiar,” “Charm of Calling” or “Woodland Call” magicks that attract the targets’ attentions and draws them to the Alchemist. The material left over after such a Calling should be useless, or perhaps – if deemed edible – lunch! In cases of formulas for such charms as “Power Cache”, the object in which the Cache is to be imbued should have to be steeped in the cauldron/concoction as it is made, for the entire Time Requirement, in order to take effect. The same process should be followed for any object to be enchanted by the Alchemist, unless you decide as GM that a stoppered recess in the object for holding the Alchemist’s brew is sufficient, or that the sprinkling of a powder over the object or rubbing an unguent or tincture into the object under some sort of involved ritual process is acceptable.
The actual form of the substances Alchemist True characters create are up to your players to negotiate with you, as GM. Some forms make sense for certain effects, where others don’t. The choice of form should be mostly up to the player, BUT only with your approval as GM.
It is your world and this expression of magick must mesh with your vision of it.
The process of concocting any and all substances of Alchemical lore, mundane or magickal, carry with it a Time Requirement to complete, in the same manner as the work of any Craftsman. However, ALL works of a True Alchemist’s magickal formulas that produce substances of inherently magickal effect are considered works of Low Magick, too.
The CTM required to cast the charm represented by any magickal recipe as a work of Low (ritual) Magick, is ADDED to the mundane Time Requirement (above) to create it, in the same manner as the work of a Druid-Smith (Gowan, Govannon, etc.).
There is no such thing as High Magick (cantrips) or even Common Magick (spells) in the creation of a True Alchemist’s magick. All of his substances are created under ritual Low Magick circumstances using ritualistic procedures. The lab in which he must work takes the place of the traditional practitioner’s ritual kit.
The att. mod’s to prepare any of the formulas for inherently magickal substances are based on the Alchemist’s MGA and CRD scores.
The DV’s for making any of the Alchemist’s magickal formulas are determined not only by the concentration of the POT of the substance but the number of grams or drams (beans, crystals, etc.) being concocted or prepared at one time, as well as the Art by which the Power manifests.
The DV for brewing, concocting or otherwise making any of the Alchemist’s magickal formulas start with the normal base DV according to the POT, the Art to which the resulting magick belongs, always assuming “Low Magick” as the Form, and the Sphere of Power of the formula being used, normally, according to the table in “Magick in Play”. In this case, however, the POT referred to is the concentration of POT per gram/dram being made, NOT the yield.
The base DV is increased according to the volume in grams, drams, magick beans or crystals, etc., of magickal effect the Alchemist wishes to make in a batch. The more he tries to make at once, the more difficult the procedures, rising Progressively.
In addition, the Magickal Formulas of Alchemy can be as risky as the mainstream, traditional the works of Trade of Wizardry, not only in the potential squandering of a great deal of money in materials, but in the possibility of Bumbles (where those rules are in play).
The works of an Alchemist Wizard can Bumble just as badly as any weaving of a mainstream Wizard’s charms (where those rules are in play). Under these circumstances, Bumbles are combined with physical alchemical accidents.
The various substances and materials to make any given Magickal Formula cost 4d. per gram/dram in the batch, PLUS 1s. 2d. 1hp. per point of POT, per gram/dram.
IF the Alchemist is also equipped with the Herbal Trade AND the Forage Life Skill, he can save 4d. 3fg. per point of POT in the cost of materials by venturing forth and gathering some of them himself.
IF the Alchemist is also equipped with the Apothecary Trade AND the Forage Life Skill, he can save 9d. 3fg. per point of POT in the cost of materials by venturing forth and gathering some of them himself.
Because of the wild and uncertain nature of the forces with which they work in their craft, the fact that an Alchemist pays to gather a certain amount of materials to create a given number of grams/drams of a “potion” for a particular charm is NO guarantee he ends up with the amount that he started out to make. As a matter of fact, that only ever happens under certain rare circumstances.
An Alchemist only ever reaps a percentage of the formula he set out to make.
The percentage he reaps is equal to the amount by which the d100 check to determine the success of the exercise is made, PLUS his SL with the specific charm/formula OR his TR (whichever is greater).
Alchemy was always looked on as a pursuit for the idle rich, for eccentric nobles, historically. This is one of the reasons why.
The Alchemist’s percentage chance of success is determined in the same manner used for any other skill in the game, as provided in the passage headed “Task Resolution”.
For example, an Alchemist attempts to concoct 10 grams/drams of a formula with which he has SL 13 (greater than his TR) and his player rolls 30 below the number needed to succeed in his attempt. As a result, he reaps 43% of the 10 grams/drams he paid for and started out to make, or 4 (30 + 13 = 43%; 10 x 0.43 = 4.3, or 4).
IF you are using the Heroic Effects rules, the Alchemist player should be offered the option of applying those results to the yield – while never raising it beyond that which the Alchemist originally set out to make.
In the above example a double effect Heroic Success would allow the Alchemist to reap 8 applications rather than 4 of the 10 he set out to make, while a triple effect success would allow him to reap all 10. These are the only circumstances under which he can ever realize ALL of the batch he is making.
In the repertoire of Alchemists True are a couple remnants of ancient times when their arts were not so sophisticated as they now are. These are known as Bottle Charms and Candle Charms.
These are considered alchemical “folkways” of their craft, because they also depend on common alchemical skills, but they are also considered specialty skills that must be honed as a separate Trade Skill. This is considered a separate form from the character’s Magickal Formulas, and may be substituted as the resulting form for any of those Formulas, the results of which (potion, philtre, unguent, salve, etc.) the player must have negotiated for each Formula with the GM prior to play to determine, otherwise.
Bottles Charms are based on the “Witch Bottle” lore of the 15-1600’s. They must be they are to benefit, when they are beneficial in nature. When they are protective or otherwise beneficial in nature, they must be given to the subject and displayed along with any other knick-knacks in the room in which the subject spends the most time OR buried in the earth on the subject’s property (as applicable, not all subjects will be the owners of the property where they reside). When hostile in nature, they must be buried in the earth on the Alchemist’s own property or on the property of the target.
The effective SL an Alchemist can apply to making a Bottle Charm is equal to his SL with them (he must have the Trade Skill) and the SL he has with the Formula he is specifically brewing in the Bottle.
Candle Charms are one of the oldest folkways of magick, stretching back to the ancient Egyptians and beyond. The Candle Charms of the Alchemist True are NOT to be confused with the ceremonial candle burning that takes place as a part of many of the rituals performed by those who practice more traditional forms of Druidecht, Wizardry or Witchcraft.
What sets Candle Charms apart from most common castings of magick is that each candle (or layer of a candle) provides magick that lasts for a fixed amount of time, in total, burned from top to bottom. While the effect of the charm is set by the maker according to the Charm he is creating and the POT he is investing, which dictates the ultimate amount of time that charm may endure, the one burning the candle has the option of burning the DUR away in any manner he likes, off and on, by lighting and dousing the candle over and over according to his need until it is burned away.
The effective SL an Alchemist can apply to making a Candle Charm is equal to the average of his SL with Candle Charms (he must have the Trade Skill) and his SL with the specific Formula(s) he is imbuing in it, with a bonus based on his SL as a Chandler.
While these forms may place certain constraints on appearance and the likelihood of being recognized for what they are by nature, they have a higher yield than the fancy concoctions that the potions, philtres, salves, unguents, etc. in which Magick Formulas can be rendered. When an Alchemist sets out to make Candle Charms or Bottle Charms, he ends up with exactly what he planned to make. There is no % of loss with them as there is with the former.
Bottle and Candle Charms are optional skills in the same manner as “Caustics & Combustibles” and “Drugs & Poisons.” No Alchemist is required to have either of these skills.
It is likely that the simpler folk who muster the courage to seek the Alchemist’s skills for magical aid are going to be looking for such items, however. These items describe the limits of the magical skills of Cunning Men and Wise Women Alchemists, who are more easily located than those that practice any sort of conventional magick, or even folkways such as Cabalism or Knot-magick (Great Weavers), so tales of Bottle and Candle Charms are freely and regularly circulated among the common free and landbound folk. Many Alchemists studying at university pick up the Magisters’ condescending attitude towards such “primitive” practices, eschewing their pursuit, but this does not diminish their effectiveness one bit.
* This serves as a reminder that the additional areas of knowledge and skill that are the result of university training are to be represented by also equipping the character with one of the scholastic Trades described as being the result of a Masters or PhD program.
** indicates the Alchemist must also be equipped with the Apothecary Trade as a prerequisite for this Trade Skill.
*** indicates the Alchemist must also be equipped with the Herbal Trade as a prerequisite for this Trade Skill.
* indicates the Alchemist must also be equipped with the Apothecary Trade as a prerequisite for this Trade Skill.
** indicates the Alchemist must also be equipped with the Herbal Trade as a prerequisite for this Trade Skill.
† indicates the Magickal Formulas (Trade Skill) is actually made up of up to (MGA ÷ 4) charms (individual skills) that must be developed, tracked, and maintained individually by SL and SP’s, in the same manner as Languages and Musician instrument skills.
†† indicates that up to (AWA ÷ 4) skills in number of this type or category are allowed, each of which must be developed, tracked, and maintained individually by SL and SP’s, in the same manner as Musician instrument skills.
Of this number, the character’s Native Vulgar or “Milk Tongue” tongue, the Scholar’s Tongue (analogue of Latin), and the Philosopher’s Tongue (analogue of Greek) must be included first. What slots are left after these are accounted for may be filled with other languages of the player’s choice, as desired.
The players have no obligation to equip their characters with the full (AWA ÷ 4) compliment of these skills – with the understanding that they are NOT allowed to fill them in retroactively, after they have already brought their characters into active play, just because they WERE allowed them during the Character Creation process.
† indicates that up to (AWA ÷ 4) skills in number of this type or category are allowed.
In regards to Linguist skills, the High Druids’ Cant, the Scholar’s Tongue (the game world analogue to Latin) and Philosopher’s Tongue (the game world analogue to Greek) must be included.
The players have no obligation to equip their characters with the full (AWA ÷ 4) compliment of these skills – with the understanding that they are NOT allowed to fill them in retroactively, after the character has already been brought into active play, just because they WERE allowed them during the Character Creation process (long since finished).
Assess & Identify
The Alchemist’s skills naturally includes the ability to Identify or Assess substances or materials and the constituents that make up compounds.
The Alchemist is best served exercising this ability in his complete, home lab, which allows him the advantage of his full TR, but also requires he have the complete collection of his Speculum volumes to consult.
Using his abbreviated travel/field lab, an Alchemist is only allowed the benefit of 3/4th’s his full TR,
The Alchemist may attempt a raw Field Assessment at only 1/2 his full TR.
He must also have at least his main, general reference Speculum with him in order to make Field Assessments.
For identifying or assessing various substances, elements, and basic compounds out in the field without equipment, the att mod. is based on the Alchemist’s AWA score, and the TR used to find the AV, unless one of the Trade Skills is a better more accurate choice and has a SL higher than the TR.
IF working in a fully fitted lab, the att mod. for identifying various substances is based on the character’s AWA score.
The character must have at least [30 – (AWA + 1 per 4 TR’s)] drams of any given substance to test for its identity.
For concocting, mixing, distilling, or compounding any substance of the alchemical arts the att. mod’s are based on the character’s AWA and CRD scores.
The base DV for identifying substances and compounds depends on the origin of the materials. If the material or compound to be identified is common, found around the average household like tallow, lye, soap, offal, cotton, wool, flax, blood, ashes, verjuice, iron or steel, lead, copper, tin, brass, or any oxide of these common metals, various household cleaning compounds, and so on, the base DV is 1.
Those sorts of things found around the yard or out-buildings, like hemp, different kinds of hide, common household garden vegetables and herbs, plants producing common country dyes, different kinds of woods, and so on, have a base DV of 5 to identify. The character require only a relatively small sample of these substances to identify them, just enough to get a good smell, feel, and/or taste sample of it to be sure of it (GM’s discretion), and they may be identified in the field without special tests.
For compounds more common to towns, like commercial dyes, inks, artists’ pigments, sealing wax, pitch-based and other building sealing compounds, and the like, the base DV for identification is 10. The character requires a larger sample of these things to identify them, a handful or more on which to run tests.
For those substances containing materials that are not native to the surrounding terrain or region the DV may start at 15. The character needs a lab to properly identify the compound, though field identification may be attempted at half AV.
You should feel free to raise the DV if you feel the sample the character has isn’t large enough, perhaps by as much as 5, or 10 for things found outside the house, 20 for compounds.
The time required to identify common substances and making identifications in the field is equal to the DV for the task, read in minutes; for compounds tested in the lab the time requirement is divided by 10 and again read in minutes.
When an Alchemist brews one of his Magickal Formulas, he receives SP’s towards his skill in making that formuls in the same manner described for any Craftsman’s works, PLUS the SP’s that normally accrue from casting Low (ritual) Magick.
Unlike other sorts of more mainstream practitioners of magick (Wizards, Witches, Druids, Hedge-Wizards, Hearth-Witches), an Alchemist is not confined only to the recipes in his Speculum for creating magickal substances. Any formula that he comes across in his journeys is fair game, whether he has skill in them or not. He may attempt these with an effective SL equal to his half his TR, providing that the formula attempted also lies within the Sphere(s) of Power of those skills he already has.
Every time he uses the formula without taking the time to actually learn it and add it to his repertoire, he earns one (1) SP towards actually understanding it, until he has earned enough SP’s indicating he knows it well enough to gain a full SL, establishing an effective SL of 1 with it. In this way he can eventually learn formulas on his own.
Unlike those of the practitioners of other more traditional magick-wielding trades, the Magickal Formulas of the Alchemist True are not automatically memorized and maintained in a special trade memory. They cannot be concocted without the Speculum in which the Alchemist keeps his magickal formulas, the attendant sheafs and scrolls of notes compiled in it.
Upon reaching the Warden LoA with any given Magickal Formula, an Alchemist’s skill and knowledge are considered advanced enough to allow him to execute that formula without need of referencing his Speculum. Doing so reduces his effective SL with it, however, by (SL required to reach Warden LoA).
Sensing Mana & Magick
Due to their long exposure to the spiritual energies, the mana that powers all magick in RoM, and manipulation of it in the course of creating their various magickal formulas, all Alchemists True are able to Sense the Ambience and Sense Magick, in the same manner as a full trade Wizard, Druid or Witch (as applicable).
The Ambience permeates and overlays every crevice and corner of the Mortal World. While it is always in motion, both the drawing and release of power used in dweomercraft creates a disturbance of its own that passes through the Ambience, regardless of whether it is a Mystic expressing a Feat or channeling miraculous interventions from On High or the magickal work of a Druid (any trade), Witch or Wizard. It causes a ripple-like wave to radiate outward through the Ambience. These disturbances or waves in the Æther are created in part by tapping the Veil between Spirit and the mortal world.
The Arts of the Druid trades and of the Wizard and Witch trades, or even Mystic, affect many other aspects of the character’s life than just those providing him with the ability to manifest magickal or miraculous powers and perform extraordinary feats with it, including the ability to sense these disturbances or ripples over the course of their trade training and magick-wielding careers. This sensation encompasses a see-feel-smell-hear-taste experience that defies any meaningful description to those outside the trade.
All practitioners in the vicinity can automatically feel the gathering of mana and the process of crafting it into a dweomer if it takes place within [(MSS) + (TR)] feet of them, unless there is a barrier sufficient to dampen the disturbance (see “Shielding & Safe Havens”).
Beyond this distance a successful MSS check on d100 allows the practitioner to “feel” it.
The AV to Sense Magick is equal to [(MSS att. mod.) + (AWA att. mod.) + (TR)].
The DV for these checks is equal to the number of feet by which the casting is taking place beyond the practitioner’s prescribed range,
MINUS the number of points by which the POT of the casting is greater than the practitioner’s MGA
PLUS the number of points by which the POT of the casting is less than the practitioner’s MGA.
The ripples of Noble Sphere magick travel 5 x as far; Sovereign Sphere magick travels 5 x the Noble Sphere distance or 25 x the Common Sphere distance.
When a magical formula is finally completed (whether successfully or not), the power summoned for it crashes back into the Ambience like a stone suddenly dropped into a still pool, causing a wave radiating outward in a sphere from the caster. This is a MUCH stronger wave than the little ripple caused by the process of crafting the magick.
In the case of the True Alchemist, the same initial ripple caused by the process of casting traditional mainstream charms accompanies the process of crafting any of the substances of magickal nature resulting from his magickal formulas. The great disturbance caused by loosing a completed charm also accompanies the successful completion of any of those formulas. This wave can be immediately and automatically “felt” if it occurs within [(MSS) + (TR)] yards, regardless of POT.
For this check, the AV is [(MSS att. mod.) + (TR)], again.
The DV for the MSS check is 1 if the practitioner Sensing Magick is located within (POT) furlongs.
- IF the POT of the wave when it reaches the practitioner is greater than his CHM or HRT (whichever is greater), the roll should be foregone and the character simply informed. It is deemed strong enough to get the character’s attention immediately and automatically.
- IF the POT is less than a practitioner’s CHM or HRT (whichever is less) when the wave reaches him, the DV for the MSS check rises by the difference, per point, again in a Progressive manner.
The POT of the disturbance in the case of the Alchemist is equal to the total POT for all grams/drams in the batch he has just successfully completed. IF the d100 check for completing a batch is failed, there is no ripple of power through the Ambience.
After the first (POT) furlongs the wave travels from the practitioner who loosed the magick that made it, the effective POT drops by 1 point in strength every furlong of distance, until it dies out at zero (0).
This raises the DV to sense the wave when it finally reaches the practitioner, by one per furlong per furlong traveled, again in a Progressive manner, MINUS the effective POT of the wave.
Beyond this distance, EVERY magick cast causes a ripple in the Ambience that travels outward in a sphere from the site of the casting (POT x 2) furlongs, allowing the practitioner to “feel” the wave washing over him upon making a successful MSS check on d100.
Not only is a PC able to sense the ripples caused by others’ magicks, his player must understand the fact that every magick his PC casts creates the same disturbance to alert others of the trade who may be in the vicinity.
The lesser, day-to-day activity in the Ambience, those disturbances of (CHM or HRT, whichever is less) in POT or less, are normally screened from every practitioner’s consciousness in accordance with his trade training to protect his sanity, so he can maintain some sense of continuous mortal existence separate from Spirit and his magick, allowing him to interact normally with the mortal world.
Those disturbances he “feels” or senses, whether automatically or as a result of a Sense Magick check, as above, are sufficient for him to note the general direction whence it came. This can provide a link by which any direction-finding charm may be cast to zero in on the point of origin of the disturbance.
The wave of disturbance from the casting of a magick can be used by the clever practitioner to cover the loosing of subsequent magicks, provided he stays within (MGA) yards of the original casting site and is careful to keep their POT smaller than the original magick whose shadow he is trying to use.
This raises the DV for sensing the disturbance by one per point by which the following magick’s POT is less than the one it follows, per point, in a Progressive manner.
This “shadow” of disturbance following in the wake of the wave, equal to the POT of the first magick cast, fades at a rate of 1 effective point of POT per minute.
In practice, the player should be aware of the order in which he casts his magicks if he is concerned over the possibility of disturbing other folk of power, casting rituals before spells before cantrips, and greatest POT to lowest, to use the shadow of the ripple caused by the greater magick to cover those of the lesser magicks cast in its wake.
One never knows whose elbow one may unintentionally jog.
Taking advantage of this phenomenon can be a very useful tactic when one is matched on the battlefield against another practitioner, a means of catching them off guard, of denying them any notice of more magicks to come following the first.
The players and GM alike must be aware that any other practitioner of magick in the same town or its immediate hinterlands (surrounding supporting farmlands) may well note the use of any magicks cast with POT greater than c. 10-15, especially if any of them live in a location that gives them an overview of the town. Any in the closer surrounding villages might take note, as well. Caution is prudent. Careless flinging of magick, especially at high POT, can attract unwanted attention. Rival practitioners may be curious or even irritated if they are in the least bit protective of their territorial rights to monopolize the trade in magick where a character has ventured to practice his craft. Ignorance of the presence of a local rival or guild monopoly is no excuse, in the same manner as ignorance of the law.
This is simply an occupational hazard.
Rivalries keep the already small numbers of those who practice the magickal arts even smaller, and tend to insure that those of lesser power keep a low profile until they are well and truly prepared and sure of their defenses, should such a conflict of interests arise.
There may be certain places in the GM’s world where those of power gather to practice their art by tacit approval, an unspoken bond that may be as strong as any guild charter. These places gain a general on-going disturbance due to regular magickal activity that swiftly becomes evident to those who wield the Arts approaching within range to sense it. The level of activity is rated in POT in the same manner as the prevailing Ambience and added to the DV for sensing any specific magickal disturbance (as described above) that is of lesser POT than that of the æthereal “background noise”. This “white noise” of magickal activity makes sensing other magickal activity so difficult that the MSS checks described previously are required even within the normal ranges at which the Sense Magick ability is commonly automatic and immediate. The DV’s for these checks are increased by the amount by which the POT of the magick in question is less than the POT of the ætherial “background noise” using the same procedure applied when the POT of a magick to be Sensed is less than the practitioner’s CHM/HRT (as above).
Sometimes there is no better place for a character of lesser power to hide his craft than out in the open, under the cover of the disturbances created by his greater colleagues routinely exercising their own craft.
In addition, the level of the Ambience itself may actually work to betray disturbances, high-lighting them. To keep things on an even footing, the POT of the Ambience, of the mana readily available flowing through a given location, is always rated in POT relative to the Common Sphere. The greater the POT of the Ambience, the more magickal energy that is present for the wave of a disturbance to displace. In short, it amplifies the effect of the disturbance, making it more noticeable.
The POT of the Ambience is subtracted from the DV for any Sense Magick check to feel a disturbance.
Magick that is already in existence lies quietly, as a part of the natural world, doing as it was bidden when created. It is much more difficult to sense. The Wizard has the option of casting a bit of Divination to “Reveal” the presence of magicks, should the player have equipped him with that lore, OR ply his skill with a set of dowsing rods or crystal or other pendulum for the same purpose, using it as a guide if he has this Spirit Skill, OR the Wizard may slowly walk about with his hand held out before him to try to “feel” it’s presence by “Seeking” it by Divination.
On the other hand, once a Wizard touches an object which carries an enchantment, or creature or being laboring under an ensorcelment, or steps into an area which bears a dweomer, he feels and knows it and the GM must tell the player (preferably slip him a private note), without the need for a d100 check of any kind. Of course, where Banes and Wardings are concerned, his coming into contact could be rather hazardous to his health and perhaps that of any compatriots accompanying him.
Other than the ability to Sense Magick and having a thorough understanding of “Shielding & Safe Havens”, True Alchemists don’t have any other of the special trade abilities possessed by other Trade practitioners of magick.
True Alchemists have no Spirit Skills. They develop no special, meditational keyed, tiered eidetic memory for Trade Skills and Trade lore, nor do they get any bonus to their M-RES.
Because the magick they create is completely contained within the substances they make, Alchemists can never carry the DUR of one of their charms “at the caster’s pleasure”. Once a substance is used, the DUR of the dweomer is restricted, effectively “tied-off” by definition.
Thus, it is impossible for an Alchemist to get weighed down by Wind held in reserve to support the dweomers they carry, as other practitioners may.
The opening of the “The Life of Magick” is an essential a read for all players of True Alchemists, as well as the passages headed “What is Magick?”, “The Foundations of Magick” and “The Laws of Magick”.
Like the mainstream practitioner of traditional magick (Wizard, Witch, Druid), the pursuit of this Trade Skill continues up through the Spheres of Power, however, High and Low Mana areas have no effect on the compounding of magical formulas.
The Ars Quintates Magica influence the POT for determining DV’s for the rendering of magickal formula the same manner as the works of mainstream tradition castings of magick. Otherwise, the divisions of the Ars Quintates Magica don’t apply to the True Alchemists’ magickal formulas, EXCEPT insofar as the Alchemist character needs to use them to define the specific effects of the magical substances he makes. All aspects described for a charm are available to the Alchemist.
The completed form a formula takes may be varied any way the Alchemist wishes, regardless of the charm it carries and the aspect of that charm it creates, so the Alchemist had best label them carefully.
In addition, Low (ritual ) Magick is the only “form” or “method” that applies to the rendering of magickal formulas, and POT also governs the effects of magickal substances produced by the True Alchemist equally.
“Potions” in Play
When carrying the substances created by means of this Trade on the road, once completed, Alchemist practitioners must take precautions to preserve their work. Seeds should be kept dry and at least moderately cool or they may sprout spontaneously releasing their magick, crystals are going to be somewhat fragile, and powders and such things as elixirs, potions, unguents, and salves should all be kept in sealed containers of some sort, preferably water-tight ones of dark, preferably brown glass or solid crockery to prevent their deterioration by exposure to sunlight. It is up to you as GM whether water, alcohol or some other liquid may thin an elixir, potion, or salve, or dissolve a powder after it has aged awhile. Perhaps by an extra step of preparation a powder might be created that can be reconstituted in order to be used, whether to be consumed or applied topically.
IF properly stored, the substances created by an Alchemist’s Magickal Formulas have a shelf life of (skill AV) months, during which time they maintain their full potency.
IF “put-up” and sealed by the Alchemist’s canning skills, this rises to (skill AV) years, or until the seal is broken, whichever occurs first. In these cases, the (skill AV) months of the substance’s shelf life are not counted until after the seal is broken.
After the shelf life expires, the substance loses one (1) point of the POT of its power, and another every (formula SL) days thereafter until it reaches zero, useless.
Note that those substances that slowly lose their potency dry out and lose fluids vital to their effect until they are reconstituted through the Alchemist’s art. Those substances that simply lose their potency lose 1 point of POT of their effect per (SL under which made) days they age beyond their shelf life.
In play, the minimum dose of those substances that are to be applied to living creatures and/or beings is equal to (modified STA ÷ 4) in points of POT administered. This dose allows the dweomer to manifest at a POT of only 1.
Once the (STA ÷ 4) minimum to saturate the recipient with a POT of 1 is reached, the POT of additional grams (if dry) or drams (if liquid) administered/taken by the recipient are added to the effective POT of the dweomer’s effect.
IF the recipient has a STA of 20 as a human (no Build modifier) is given 5 POT-worth of a magickal preparation of 1 POT per dram in concentration, its effect manifests with a POT of 1 (STA 20 ÷ 4 = 5).
IF the recipient then takes another 5 drams at the same concentration of POT 1, the effective POT of the dweomer rises to a POT of 6 (1 POT already established + 5 more = POT 6).
For those substances to be applied to objects, the minimum dose is equal to (sum of it’s Size as measured in all three dimensions, length, width & height) in total points of POT.
An object’s Size Rating is roughly equal to its measurement rounded to the nearest foot (subject to the GM’s ruling), however, in this case all three dimensions are measured, not just one, as is the case with weapons.
Using this minimum dose results in the charm taking effect at a POT of one (1).
The POT of additional grams/drams administered raise the effective POT of the magick’s effect accordingly.
For example, one dram of a tincture prepared at a concentration of 5 POT per gram/dram applied to a longbow with a Size of 6 (length alone, as width and depth of the object are negligible, being less than 6in’s) isn’t quite enough to affected it (POT 5 – Size 6 = -1).
The first point of POT of the second dram provides a POT of 1 as it finished encompassing the object, and the 4 remaining points of POT of the second dram bring the POT of the charm on the bow up to 5.
Reapplying any given magickal formula once it has been already been applied adds its POT in this manner, but ONLY up to a maximum of [(HRT) + (TR)].
Any POT applied in excess of this limit are simply wasted.
Due to the importance of having an extensive knowledge of plants, the products of the earth and animal kingdom, and their properties to creating the various substances with which the Alchemist Trade is concerned, all Alchemists are schooled in the Lore of Herbs and the Lore of the Apothecary.
Indeed, the Herbal and Apothecary Trades are closely, almost intrinsically, Allied with the Alchemist Trade.
IF a player also chooses to equip his Alchemist with the Herbal and Apothecary Trades does he also know how best to handle them the materials and substances, to prepare them, to extract their virtues, and also to render them into the forms best able to preserve their virtues for later use.
The movements of the energies and influences of the heavenly bodies have a direct influence on the work of Alchemists, especially as they are expressed by the Correspondences studied by Astrologists, which Trade is closely Allied. Researched properly, the astrological Correspondences provide a tool to lower the DV’s for making any of the common substances mentioned previously just as much as the magical formulas and the “potion bases” Trade Skills.
IF a player also chooses to equip his Alchemist with the Forage Life Skill, his Lore includes the knowledge of where to find the minerals and herbs he needs, what rock types and formations to look for, what parts of the beasts, and the habitats in which they may be found, when to pick or hunt them.
The Forage skill extends the knowledge of any Trade to which its lore may be applied to include these facets, too.
Without the Forage skill, an Alchemist cannot take advantage of the benefits foraging for his own materials provide. The Forage Life Skill may represent a convenience and greater degree of independence, but it is a convenience and independence that frees the Alchemist from the need to procure his materials from local foragers, huntsmen, woodsmen, apothecaries, and the like.
This form of practice in magick MIGHT be considered by some to be more appropriate to a NPC rather than a PC, unless the PC has one or more other trades to fall back on.
All an Alchemist’s work in his Trade must take place in a lab, so a PC Alchemist-practitioner may end up sitting out of play for large chunks of game-time working on accumulating his store of magickal substances. Their goods take time to create, and they are likely to have precious little time except short breaks in-between projects/plot lines, unless you allow them to divide their days up in the manner described in the passages concerning practicing skills and earning SP’s. The rest of the party must go on about their business perhaps having further adventures and earning more SP’s while the PC Alchemist is closeted in his lab, albeit earning SP’s of his own towards his craft.
Thus, the trade provides some logistical challenges when it comes to adventuring with the rest of the party. Maintaining a stock of substances on hand takes time but, if the party cooperates with the Alchemist, they have a ready store of magick that is guaranteed to work when used, without a hitch or surprise, sparing the difficulties sometimes associated with casting magicks traditionally, on the fly.
For a PC, it is a different style of play.
It’s fine for a NPC to sit around making potions and selling them and accumulating a store of ready-made magickal substances, on the other hand. Such a character makes for a great foil or adversary for the PC’s and dictates the form of a significant portion of the Booty, with a great deal of inherent diversity in appearance.
As a beginning PC, a True Alchemist character may well have enough money to begin play with some of his substances already in hand and have some very strong associated trade knowledge to fall back on. This is actually a very prudent means for carrying around what might otherwise be an overwhelming amount of coin.
The player should NOT be made to roll for success of these, but he must pay for them, and straight d100 rolled for each to determine the % yield realized for each one. You may determine that under the circumstances no result of less than [(d5 x 10) + 30]% is fair. Otherwise the loss in money and materials could be crushing, not at all fair to the player.