I received a lot of happy responses to my Alchemy house rule. It definitely seems to do what I wanted it to – make the ability more fun and agile to use. However, as more and more elixirs are added to the game, the randomness of the ability makes less and less sense. It’s especially noticeable for characters who have indeed taken Alchemy for a specific purpose – like supporting their Medicus ability with Herbal Cure production. Such characters accidentally producing a seeking arrow can definitely be immersion-breaking.
The ignoring of ingredients also made it so that the ability doesn’t quite line up with the rules for running a business. The guideline is that an an Alchemist or Smith or other craftsman can produce stuff to sell, and they make half the retail price as profit – with half the price covering their expenses. So by this we can assume that alchemical elixirs generally have an ingredient cost of half their base market price.
Perhaps we can use this as the basis for a fairly lightweight rule for handling ingredients, while also allowing alchemists a way to control the random nature of my version of the ability. But of course, this ingredient system can connect to the Core Rulebook version of Alchemy as well!
First of all, let’s look at the cost of some elixirs:
- Antidote (Weak) – 1 thaler
- Antidote (Moderate) – 2 thaler
- Antidote (Strong) – 3 thaler
- Choking Spores – 2 thaler
- Concentrated Magic – 1 thaler
- Eye Drops – 2 thaler
- Elixir of Life (CRB version) – 6 thaler
- Elixir of Life (APG version) – 12 thaler
The cost span of all published elixirs ranges from 1 to 12 thaler, which would put their material costs at between 5 shilling and 6 thaler (arguably lower since a craftsman’s costs would include other things, but let’s go with this as a guideline).
With an indicator for what the ingredients are worth, we can start tinkering with a system for managing them. Since each ingredient cost is attached to a specific elixir, there’s no need for GMs to make up every single herb and chemical that goes into the process. The player can simply list that they have the ingredients for a life elixir, that it’s worth 6 thaler, and that the finished product is worth 12 thaler.
So, with that guide you as a GM can allow players with Alchemy to go shopping for components just by reading the list of possible elixirs.
What’s more, we can weave this into the ability where the player can roll Cunning to search for ingredients!
Let’s say that a Novice Alchemist can harvest 5 shilling worth of ingredients in a search (or 1D4 thaler worth in one day spent searching) – enough to produce most novice elixirs. The player has to decide which elixir(s) they have found ingredients for and list that in their inventory (for sake of carrying capacity, count their ingredient bag as a single item). The player can freely decide what elixirs they have found ingredients for, splitting the value however they like. The Novice isn’t restricted to looking for ingredients for novice elixirs – they could be harvesting ingredients for an adept or master’s efforts.
An Adept Alchemist can harvest 1 thaler worth of ingredients in a search (or 2D4 thaler worth in one day spent searching).
A Master Alchemist can harvest 1D4+1 thaler worth of ingredients in a search (or 2D6 thaler worth in one day spent searching).
Use with the Core Rule
The Alchemist can attempt to make any elixir that match their proficiency and they have complete ingredients for. If they are making a randomly determined number of doses of a lower-level elixir, the number they can make is limited by their ingredients (but ingredients for matching higher-level elixirs can be used, so the ingredients for one dose of strong Antidote can be used to make 3 weak Antidotes).
Use with Ordo Magica House Rule
The Alchemist’s deck is limited to those elixirs that match their proficiency and they have complete ingredients for. However, if the Alchemist fails their roll to produce an elixir and they only have a single elixir in their deck, they instead ruin 1D20 shilling worth of ingredients in the attempt to make the specified elixir. If they have enough ingredients to cover the waste, they still receive the elixir. If they do not have enough spare ingredients to cover the waste, the attempt fails completely.