RPG Blog Carnival, March 2020: Alchemy

Hello, pixies and sprites!

As we are all pretty much  self-contained and the world is shut down, this is the time where we writers bottle ourselves in our inspirational dens and workshops (because frankly it’s the only thing to do in this day and age). But I’m not here to talk about the state of our real world, I’m here to contribute to this months Blog Carnival, held so kindly by DREAD (Dangerously Rare Elixirs and Decorations).  If you can’t guess the theme of the March Blog Carnival, perhaps you need glasses.

In a game that’s so damned focused on how magic permeates life, alchemy in a sense can be considered the poor man’s magic: after all, alchemists are claimed to have turned lead into gold, transform materials into others that are in no way related to the original one, and potentially unlock the secret of eternal youth. In my own home setting in Faustus Kil, that’s at least how it’s seen to be.

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A wonderful hunger-inducing book, ‘The Alchemaster’s Apprentice’ uses many historical alchemy recipes as a main part of it’s story. 

Alchemical concoctions are simple enough to purchase, as every major city and town and even backwater villages have someone specializing in such remedies. Snake bites, the common cold, even chicken pocks have found a cure in some way, shape or form. Be it liquid or pill, if it can cause harm, then someone’s got a recipe being made.

A general rule of thumb though in my own setting is that if someone wants to replicate the effect of a spell through alchemical tinkerings, they at least need to have something resembling a material component for the spell being dissected. For example, let’s say the spell Dragons Breath is being bottled; you would need hot peppers, and one for each level of the spell you want to use. By that margin, a 9th level Dragons Breath would use nine hot peppers.

More exotic effects that may not be based on spells would most likely have a wider variety of components. For example, in my home game, any sort of spell that has a charm effect typically use the bile, tears or blood of a female dryad or satyr as part of it (though in my own game I run, this has been remedied by a male dryad who grows antlers that produces an aphrodisiac-like effect when consumed).

Common ingredients in alchemy that I’ve utilized in my games include:

  • Sage, rosemary and thyme. These plants are common spell components in many real-world religions and magikal practices, after all
  • Snake blood. In spells that restore hit points, like Cure Wounds, for example, the snake blood is there to replicate them shedding their skin and symbolically restoring life force.
  • Tears, for spells such as Calm Emotions.

As a witch, when I use alchemy in campaigns I use a lot of real world folklore and practices that I’ve seen used and that I have also used myself. Nothing as drastic as snake blood, obviously.  This even goes to symbology used in medieval alchemy, including that of the green lion devouring the sun. 

HOMEBREW

Last but not least, I couldn’t do a post on alchemy without including some of my own concoctions in my own games!

Potion of Temporary/ Ancient Frost

Potion, rare

A frigid blue and black bottle filled with clear liquid, injesting this potion causes a creature to be immune to the effects of cold iron for 1d6 rounds.

potion of temporary frost can also be used as a weapon, where you designate is as a potion of ancient frost. Exposing a creature who is vulnerable to cold damage will take 2d6 from the potion that it cannot halve or make an attempt to ignore.

Image result for fullmetal alchemist philosopher's stone
Holding the forbidden Stone. Credits: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Copyright: Hiroshi Onogi, Studio Bones, Madman Entertainment 2009-2010

Philosopher’s Stone

Legendary item, requires attunement

This stone is anywhere from the size of a marble to that of a river rock, but the coloration is always nearly the same: a bright sanguine red with flecks of black and gold deep inside of it. To the untrained eye, this appears as a mere garnet or ruby but to those knowledable in the arcane, it is something so much more.

A Philosopher’s Stone is a +3 magical item, granting the bonus to attacks, damage and saving throws caused by the one who is attuned to it. When a Philosopher’s Stone is created, it gives the attuned individual to cast the following spells once per day each: fabricate, creation, raise dead, speak with dead and lesser and greater restoration. The Philosopher’s can also be used as a spellcasting focus.

In addition, if a person while attuned destroys the Philosopher’s Stone, roll a d20+5. The amount rolled is how many years that person’s age and naturally occuring health is halted.

Creating a Philosopher’s Stone In order for a Philosopher’s Stone to be created, your DM would have you collect rare and exotic materials in order to do so. Once a character has this, the process to create it takes a total of 1d4+1 moon cycles and the DM may require a Medicine skill check for each day you actively work on it. This can be done as a down time activity or on a long rest.

Credit:

– Abney Park, ‘Two Elixers’, October 10 2014, YouTube

– Odd Salon, ‘Further Reading: Secret’. 2014 https://www.oddsalon.com/further-reading-secret/ 

– Amazon.com, product listing ‘The Alchemaster’s Apprentice’. https://www.amazon.com/Alchemasters-Apprentice-Novel-Walter-Moers/dp/1590204042