The Copper Coast
In Brixia, alchemy is a field dominated by secrets, mysteries, and danger. A few alchemists search for the means of turning stones or other matter into gold, or for elixirs to restore or preserve youth, but most alchemists think such preoccupations to be “bold madness” or centuries (at best) away from success. The daily living of most alchemists consists of concocting non-magical painkillers, healing salves, and love potions for those whose fears or slim purses keep them from being customers of magic.
Alchemy is concerned with everything from the liquid you drink to make you slim, to the salves you rub on to remove your warts, to tablet you eat to make sure you will or won’t get pregnant, to stuff you slap on manacles or locks to make them crumble to rust, to stuff you paint on manacles and locks to make them stay unaffected when some of that previously mentioned stuff gets slapped on them.
Some alchemists constantly seek new poisons and antidotes, because there’s good coin to be made from folk who need them- such as the dancer in Nibomay famous for performing with many deadly scorpions and snakes that bite or sting her repeatedly and harmlessly, to her evident pleasure rather than pain; and the thieves who, equipped with the same alchemical quaffs as the dancer, freely steal valuables from coffers guarded by venomous serpents and scorpions.
You know how to create alchemical substances, such as acids, herbal poultices, smoke bombs, potions, etc. All alchemical preparations are created in doses that may only be used once. A dose may be a vial of liquid, an envelope of dust, a prepared dart, or anything else you might conceive as a single use item. Once created, a dose may be given to anyone and used.
The character begins play with one alchemy recipe, per skill rank/shift.
To prepare a batch of doses, the Alchemist must have proper equipment and materials, as well as a period of free game time. The basic required equipment, materials, and time cannot be invoked for bonuses on the preparation roll, as they are the minimum of what is needed. To create an advantage for a dose preparation roll, the character must have some equipment, material, or effort beyond the base required- for example, an aspect of his.
Creating a batch of doses requires a Craft: Alchemy roll. Before making his roll, the Alchemist defines in full detail the doses he will attempt to create, along with the desired effect. This will provide a modifier to the base difficulty for his roll, which is determined by the effect. For example, creating 1 dose is a difficulty modifier of + 0; creating 2 doses is a + 1 modifier; creating 3 doses is a + 2 modifier.
Dose Creation Effect
The alchemist rolls his Craft-Alchemy skill, with a modifier, depending on the number of doses he wants. Dose effect strength has a base difficulty determined by the capability of the effect, which mirrors spell effects:
• Mediocre Spell Effects: TN Fair (+ 1)
• Fair Spell Effects: TN Good (+ 3)
• Good Spell Effects: TN Great (+ 4)
• Great Spell Effects: TN Superb (+ 5)
• Superb Spell Effects: TN Fantastic (+ 6)
• Fantastic Spell Effects: TN Epic (+ 7)
For example, an item with a Common Effect: TN Fair (+ 2), with 2 doses, will have a creation modifier TN of + 1. The total TN will be Good (+ 3)
• Success With a Serious Cost- The alchemist has spoiled a single dose (or more, if they spent more resources, during preparation) of their chosen effect; and whether or not they notice is entirely at the GM’s discretion. Doses spoiled in this way are likely to be a poison of a strength equal to the number of shifts failed in their creation, or have another Serious side-effect. The ingredients your character intended to use are all still used.
• Success With a Minor Cost- The alchemist has spoiled a single dose (or more, if they spent more resources, during preparation) of their chosen effect; and whether or not they notice is entirely at the GM’s discretion. The dose might be mildly poisonous or harmful in some Minor way; but is most likely just an odd tasting herbal concoction- maybe.
• Success- The alchemist has successfully created a single dose (or more, if they spent more resources, during preparation) of their chosen effect. The entirety of the dose needs to be applied for it to be effective, but it will only be effective once.
• Succeed with Style- The alchemist has successfully created an especially potent elixir of a single dose (or more, if they spent more resources, during preparation) of their chosen effect. The entirety of the dose needs to be applied for it to be effective, but it will only be effective once. The dose is twice as effective as normal.
Failing an Alchemy check while creating an item or identifying a substance can result in more than simply needing to try again. Alchemy involves the use of potentially dangerous substances and errors in judgment can have serious consequences.
Note that an Alchemist can never have more than 3x his skill level in doses in existence at any give time. If he creates new ones that exceed this limit, the GM will determine which of the old substances lose potency. (Which means that you’ll never know if the substance you bought from him will still work, after a time!) For example, if the Alchemist has a Good (3) Alchemy skill, he can never have more than 9 doses of any substance sitting around, which are active.
Dose Effect Actions
A dose allows the user to attempt to create one specific effect, as if he had a specific skill or ability, at a level equal to the creator’s rank in Alchemy. When you create the dose, choose the skill and choose one of the Action Types available to the skill (Overcome, Create Advantage, Attack, or Defend). If you choose Overcome, define in general terms what it will Overcome. If you choose Create Advantage, describe the Aspect it will create. If it must Overcome a skill of the drinker to be effective, then the dose has the equivalent skill of the alchemist’s Alchemy skill, for that purpose only.
Alchemy equipment comes in many shapes and sizes for use in any number of situations. Equipment can be designed for a specific purpose, providing great advantages for a narrow range of alchemical tasks, or for general alchemical work, in which case it may fail when used in intricate or delicate tasks.
This includes beakers, bottles, mixing and measuring equipment, and a miscellany of chemicals and substances. This is the perfect tool for any job, but it has no bearing on the checks related to the Alchemy skill.
The alchemist’s lab must be stationary and requires at least 400 square feet of space, due to the necessity of storing volatile chemicals in separate compartments and the fragile nature of many of its tools and storage devices. Alchemy effects beyond Good (+ 3) may not be achieved without an alchemist’s lab or the equal to such.
The field lab is a wood framed leather backpack that opens into a low worktable. Compartments and drawers hold beakers, flasks, a small oil burner, and a multitude of other tools to make alchemy easier while on the road. Most of the equipment in the field lab is smaller than the items found in a standard alchemy lab, requiring users to repeat some steps in the item creation process to achieve a desired effect.
Field labs fulfill the requirement for having an alchemy lab for the purposes of item creation up to a maximum of Good (+ 3).
Alchemical Research Library
The volumes of an alchemical research library contain all of the notes from an alchemist’s past experiments, both failures and successes. In addition, the notes and writings of other alchemists may be present to aid in new endeavors. Lists of ingredients, processes, measurements, and their combined results fill heavy tomes and cases of parchment. Many volumes are difficult to find outside of universities and organizations, and often access to these is limited to students or members only.
Research libraries typically have aspects reflecting their capabilities and areas of lore- specifically in regards to alchemical research.
Researching New Alchemy Items
An alchemist with enough time and resources can create a new alchemical item. To complete the research, the researcher must have access to an alchemical research library, an alchemist’s lab, and devote eight hours a day for a number of days equal to 3 x the item’s Creation Effect TN.
The TN for researching the item is set by the DM at the beginning of the research period. At the end of the research period, the alchemist must make an Alchemy check (TN = item’s creation TN) to successfully complete his research. Once the item has been successfully constructed, it may be created normally thereafter.
Common ingredients are found everywhere. They tend to be things like sage, beef fat, apple juice etc. They can be bought by any character of Average (+ 1) or greater wealth but they can also be harvested or stolen relatively easily. If an alchemist does not wish to pay for a common ingredient assume it takes a 24 hour period to find and harvest the necessary ingredients for up to 10 doses (this cannot be divided to harvest fewer ingredients in a shorter period- the 24 hours reflects the time taken to find and harvest enough for 1 dose, the fact that a character ends up with enough for 10 reflects the fact that once found the ingredients are likely to be found in quantity and it takes relatively little time to harvest more).
Unusual ingredients may be difficult to find (such as a rare but relatively inexpensive gemstone) or relatively difficult to harvest (the classic being eye of newt). They can generally be bought by a character of Fair (+ 2) or greater Resources but the odder types might not be for sale (once again, eye of newt is a good example). If an alchemist wants to find and harvest an unusual ingredient for themselves it normally takes a week and a successful Good (+ 3) Resources roll to yield enough for one dose.
Rare ingredients are almost impossible to find and/or incredibly difficult to harvest. Rare ingredients might be dragon’s scales or a diamond of at least 20 carats. Characters with a Resources of Great (+ 4) or better might be able to buy a rare ingredient but it is possible that they are so priceless as to make it difficult to find an owner willing to sell.
If players and the GM want to make the collection of such ingredients a down-time affair it takes many weeks to harvest enough for a single dose, but if a player wants their alchemist to get such an ingredient it is an excellent hook for an adventure.
Unique ingredients are just that – there are a limited amount in the setting and once used up that closes the door on making that dose ever again (although optionally it might be possible with a different unique ingredient). Examples of unique ingredients are Excaliber, the Holy Grail, an asteroid that fell to earth on a specific day etc.
It is remotely possible that Superb (+ 5) Resources characters could buy such an ingredient but in general only a successful adventure (or series of adventures) should be the route to successful acquisition of a unique item for PCs. There is normally only enough of a unique ingredient for one potion but the GM may change that at their discretion.
Epic items are even more rare than Unique ones. These are items that are found on other planes, in the gullets of gods, or in the lairs of demons. Epic items may not be bought with mere coin.