Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Alchaemist. A magic-user subclass for AD&D/OSRIC.

The Alchaemist, a magic-user subclass for AD&D.

The Alchaemists are those magic-users who specialize in the practice of Alchaemancy, that branch of magic which is concerned with discovering, understanding, and activating the magical potential which is inherent in all natural materials and living things. In fact, in some lands, the term Alchaemancer is used in place of the more commonly given name, Alchaemist.

Rather than engaging in spellcraft directly, Alchaemists create Alchaemical Formulae. These formulae are complex instructions, often presented in allegorical, or pictographic forms, for the compounding, mixing, distillation, brewing, or otherwise preparing of potions, powders, oils, balms, salves, and other ingestable and applicable mediums which serve to store and convey magic.

The alchaemist’s painstaking and careful approach to magic, emphasizing reproducible procedure and orderly methodology, often sets ill with the more individualistic will-workers and arcanists. Wizardly and Sorcerous magic-users often look down on Alchaemists as mere artisans to their artists. For their part, alchaemists view standard magic-users as sloppy and perhaps, somewhat primative.

Alchaemical formulas are just as well-guarded, rare, and sought after as are the spells of wizards and other magic-users. Alchaemists must create, or search for these ancient and forgotten instructions which make their particular discipline of magic possible. Likewise, an alchaemist must search for, buy, beg, borrow, or steal, the precious ingredients and reagents that make up the material components of their potions and powders.

An Alchaemist lucky enough to find one of these formulas must inscribe it into his Alchaemical manual. The manual is a book much like a magic-users spell book. Alchaemical formulae are spell-like in that they will slip from the mind and be lost if not written down. The alchaemical manual is a necessary reference for the alchaemist in his potion making. Alchaemical formulae are divided into levels of power in the same manner as spells.

An alchaemist may learn and cast cantrips and first level spells as any magic-user might, but may not learn spells of any higher level. An alchaemist who also learns a standard magic-user spell gives up the ability to create a potion of equal level. The spell takes up the same amount of concentration which the execution of an alchaemical formula would. Standard spells will require the alchaemist to keep a spell book in addition to his alchaemical manual.

An alchaemist may not wear armor.

An alchaemist may carry a small shield.

Weapons available to the alchaemist include all those open to the magic-user, plus the short sword.

An alchaemist rolls 1d4 per level for hit points.

An alchaemist fights on the magic-user matrix. Note that though an alchaemist may carry a short sword and small shield, he will generally use them only in defense when all else has failed. The constant mixing, grinding and pounding required of a practicing alchaemist gives him greater physical competence than a standard magic-user, but, as he still fights as a magic-user, and rolls d4 hit points per level, hand to hand combat is not his forte.

The Alchaemist advances in level on the Magic-user's advancement table.

An alchaemist may use any magic item usable by standard magic-users except for magical staffs.

The number of alchaemical formulas which an alchaemist can execute in a day is equal to the number of spells a magic-user of the same level may memorize in a day.
Refer to the, Spells usable by Class and Level chart for magic-users.

An alchaemist may identify any potion with a single drop on the tongue. This is identification of the potion only, not understanding of it’s formulation.

Alchaemical potion making is not the same as that practiced by standard magic-users and alchemists. In order to create a specific potion, the alchaemist must possess the necessary alchaemical formula and follow it to the letter. Once the material components have been mixed and processed to readiness, the alchaemist must cast the spell, alchaemancy, on the mixture. This activates it’s magical power.
Alchaemancy is unavailable to non-alchaemist magic-users. Alchaemical knowledge is conveyed by a deeply esoteric and symbolic language, the meaning of which, no alchaemist will willingly share with a non-initiate of the craft.

A potion created by an alchaemist will retain it’s potency for one week per level of experience of the alchaemist if kept in a non-magical container. The same potion will retain it’s power permanently if contained within an Alchaemical Flask.

An Alchaemical Flask is defined as any container for liquids or solids, which has been specially constructed and enchanted to hold alchaemical magics. Such a flask must be made of the finest materials and will cost at least 500 gold pieces to make. An alchaemical flask may be reused so long as it is carefully washed with pure water before being refilled in order to prevent potion mixing. If this is not done, the potion miscibility tables must be consulted.

An alchaemist may create potions of up to the third level of formulation with the small equipment he is able to carry,"in the field". Alchaemical formulation of greater than third level will require the alchaemist to have access to a fully equipped laboratory and an assistant, or assistants. The workspace and equipment needed to perform the Greater Formulations will cost, at the least, 10,000 gold pieces.

The begining alchaemist is assumed to possess an alchaemical manual containing the alchaemancy spell as a parting gift from his teacher. He may also possess three other alchaemical formula of the first level, and a single potion in a non-magical container.

There are many schools of alchaemical philosophy. Each strives for certain goals. These schools are not exclusive, alchaemists may belong to more than one school, or to none, as their interests overlap.

Of the known schools, those who search for the Elixir of Life are most numerous. The Elixir is said to grant everlasting life, perfect health, and eternal youth to him who rediscovers it’s formula.
So powerful is the Elixir of Life, that it is said even to be able to lift the curse of unlife and bring a lich back from it’s deathless state to again become a living and breathing creature.
No existent alchaemist is known to have rediscovered the formula for the Elixir.

The second most numerous school of alchaemancers are those who search for the Philosopher’s Stone. This material is said to be able to transform base metals into precious ones. Though some seek it solely for the hope of worldly gain, this is not the only reason. The Philosopher’s stone can be used to separate and refine impurities from any material, and replace any material components required for wizardly spell casting. There are those who say that the substance of the Philosopher’s Stone is in fact, the stuff of elemental existence. That which was before the Gods called the universe into being.
It is also argued that in order to create the Elixir of Life, it is first necessary to discover the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone.
The truth of this is unknown to the alchaemists of today, and it is a great question which many diligently research.

Other associations of alchaemists search for answers to the questions which especially interest them. They bend their studies and expeditions towards the strengthening of metals, the improvement of crops, the making of glass, or any of hundreds of other small preoccupations.
These schools are in no way organized or sanctioning. They are simply associations of like-minded individuals who gather, often around a single alchaemist of great reputation, to discuss, argue, and share the knowledge they have gained, and rumors of where ancient and lost formulae may be rediscovered.

Here are suggestions for the first two levels of Alchaemical formulae. I’m leaving them fairly rough in outline. When I get a chance, I’ll post a complete set. But for now, this will serve as a place holder, and you mad do-it-yourselfers can just take this and run with it. Put down the scissors first.

Alchaemical Formulae

Alchaemical formulae are the written instructions by which an alchaemist creates his potions. The formulae are rare and sought after in the same manner in which a magic-users spells are.
The Dungeon Master is free to determine exactly how much detail he will require in his own game as to the type, nature, and availability of the material components which must go into the creation of a potion. Whatever level of definition is most congenial to the spirit of the game, from making the player character acquire rare and hard to find materials for each formula, to simply hand-waving the procedure, is for the Referee to decide.

Players who are susceptible to the lure of power gaming may attempt to turn an alchaemist into a power house or alchaemical grenadier. The savvy Dungeon Master may control such mischief makers by strictly tracking time in the game and requiring the player to keep accurate records of available potion components. As an alchaemist’s potions have a limited life-time, it is not possible for the Player to build too large of a back stock of magic. Additionally, The DM should consider creating a table to deal with the possible consequences of imbibing a potion that has past it’s prime.

The magics of alchaemical potions are more often linked to the vitality and level of the drinker than they are to the level of the alchaemist who made them. The personal power of the imbiber is a component of the potions magic, and thus, many of the potions listed here have their duration determined by the level of the drinker, and not by the level of the creating alchaemist.

First level Alchaemical Formulae.

Alchaemy is actually a spell, and not an alchaemical forumula. It is not, however, accessible to standard spell casters. Only alchaemists have the proper mind-set to understand and cast it.
The basis of the entire school of Alchaemical magic, Alchaemy is cast upon a potion, powder, oil, etc, after it has been newly mixed. This spell activates the magical potential inherent in the materials of the potion and gives it it’s power.

Discern Formulation
This spell is to alchaemy as Read Magic is to standard magic use. By drinking an entire dose of an unknown potion, and casting Discern Formulation immediately after, the alchaemist can learn the alchemical formulation necessary to recreate the unknown potion. The potion being discerned acts as the material component of the spell and does not take effect normally.
The new formula must be inscribed into the alchaemist’s manual within 4 turns or the knowledge will be lost. This does not give the alchaemist the ability to compound the formula if it is above his level of experience.

Flame belch
A flame belch potion will give the drinker the ability to belch forth a tongue of flame which will cause 2 points of damage per level of the imbiber. The flame belch will reach 4' per level of the drinker, and is likely to set fire to any combustibles it encounters.

Detect magic
This potion functions the same as the magic-user spell Detect Magic, save for it’s longer duration.
The drinker will be able to detect magic for 2 turns per level.

Animal Control
This is the same potion as the standard animal control potion listed in the AD&D DMG.

Charming Draught
As the spell, Charm Person.
The drinker of this potion may direct it’s enchantment at any one sentient creature. So long as the drinker treats the charmed creature as a comrade and goodfellow , the magic will stay in effect.

This is the same potion as listed in the AD&D DMG.

This is the same potion as listed in the AD&D DMG.

Enlarging potion
Similar to the spell Enlarge, save that it affects only the drinker. The potion will increase the size of a living creature by 25% per hit die or experience level. This change lasts for 1 turn per hit die, or experience level.

Summon Laboratory Assistant
Similar to the magic-user’s Find Familiar. The formula to summon a laboratory assistant is a dry concoction which is burned in a brazier, emitting a cloud of luminescent smoke. The cloud will dissipate after a time and a humanoid creature, eager to serve the alchaemist will arrive within two days time. The laboratory assistant will act as the alchaemist’s right hand man, running errands, preparing material components, or whatever else the alchaemist needs taken care of.

Prul’s eraser
A thick felt pad which is soaked in the alchaemical solution, the eraser will wipe away any form of writing or cartography from any surface. Even letters carved in stone, or graven on metal will be smoothed away by the magic of the eraser. One dose of the potion is good for a use that will clear a 10'x10' area.

Stone melt
Harmless to flesh, wood, metal, and glass, stone melt liquefies any type of stone it comes in contact with for a period of 6 turns. After that, the stone will revert to a solid in whatever form it has taken. A finger dipped in the stone melt can be used to inscribe words in stone.

Alchaemist’s glue
This thick yellow glue will bond any two substances together for 10 turns before dissipating into an acrid smoke. A Dispel Magic will dissolve the glue, otherwise, nothing short of a wish can separate the bonded items before the end of the potion’s duration. The glue is kept in it’s own pot, with a special brush to apply it. The formula creates enough glue for 4 uses.

When this potion is drunk, the individual may make one 20 foot leap per level of experience.

Confidant’s cordial
When two persons share a swig from a flask of the confidant’s cordial, Each will be able to speak softly under his breath, and the other will hear what is said, no matter the distance between them. A swig is good for two sentences, spoken and heard by each drinker. The formula creates enough cordial for six swigs.

The potion is contained within a clay sphere, and is hurled instead of drunk. When the sphere shatters, the potion vaporizes and rises as a cloud of fumes. All creatures within a 20' x 20' foot space centered on the broken sphere are affected as per the Sleep spell.

Shocking grasp
This potion acts as the magic-user spell, save that any contact with the drinker discharges the potions effects regardless of the drinker’s wishes.

Drinker must save or die. Poison must be ingested, it cannot be used to envenom a weapon.

Iron bane
This potion turns iron headed and edged weapons away from the drinker for 1 round per level of experience. An attacker with a magic weapon may save vs spell to attempt to hit, and then must roll the attack normally. Non-magical weapons with iron or steel parts may not be forced within melee range of the drinker for the potion’s duration. Iron in the drinker’s possession is not affected.

Silvery ward
A packet of greasy silver dust. Smeared on the forehead in an alchaemical symbol it functions as a Protection from Evil spell. It does not require a magic circle be drawn on the ground. So long as the bearer of a silvery ward does not act in a hostile manner, creatures of evil alignment may not approach within ten feet of them. A silvery ward lasts for 1 turn per level of the bearer. A packet contains three treatments.

Illuminator’s paste
Illuminator’s paste is a thick gray gel kept in a heavy waxed paper tube. Objects coated with the paste radiate Light as per the spell. A tube contains 4 treatments worth of paste.

Potion of Vocal Mimicry
Drinker may perfectly reproduce the voice of anyone he has recently heard speak. This effect lasts for 3 rounds per level of the drinker.

Smoke powder
When a hand full of smoke powder is cast down, it produces a flash and a thick cloud of grey smoke. The smoke obscures an area of 10x10 for 4 rounds. A bag of smoke powder holds 4 handfuls.

Second level alchaemical formulae.

Glamer dust
A powder which when blown into the air, simulates an audible glammer spell in a pre-set manner. The sounds the glamer dust emits may be any sound which the alchaemist has heard for himself. Men talking, a blast of trumpets, the roar of a dragon, and many other sounds have been captured in a straw of glamer dust. The formula produces enough dust for single straw’s full.

Perpetual phosphorescence
A non potable potion, sealed within a globe of clear, thick glass. It emits light as a continual light spell. The formula creates enough liquid for a single globe.

Curtain of Night
Poured on the floor in a ring, this potion will obscure the area inside the ring as a darkness spell would. A curtain of impenetrable blackness will rise from the floor and remain for 10 rounds before dissipating. Enough for a single use is made by the formula.

True Sight
For a duration of 1 turn per level of experience, a potion of true sight will allow the drinker to see invisible, or otherwise magically hidden creatures and objects.

Dew of Forgetfulness
Instead of being ingested, the dew of forgetfulness is used by dipping the fingers in it and flicking droplets in the target’s face. The target creature will then completely forget the events of the past ten minutes.

Thief-catcher’s paste
Spread thinly on objects or surfaces, the paste will act as Sovereign Glue only if touched by someone with larcenous intentions. Dispel Magic will dissolve the Thief-Catcher’s paste. The formula will create three treatments worth of paste.

Potion of Intelligence
Drinking this potion will increase the imbiber’s Intelligence score for 1 turn per level of experience.
Magic-user: 1d8 points
Cleric: 1d6 points
Thief: 1d6 points
Fighter: 1d4 points
Characters drinking the potion of intelligence may receive fresh insight into a problem they are facing. The player will be allowed to ask 1 question directly of the DM, in addition to whatever normal advantage would be conferred by the higher Intelligence score.
The Potion of Intelligence must be used with care. Each use after the first incurs a cumulative 5% chance of developing a mental disorder. If such happens, the DM must roll randomly to determine the malady.

Same as the spell, save that the potion is cast into the air towards the target, and becomes the web upon contact. The formula creates a single use amount of the potion.

Fearsome Gaze
Creatures who meet the eyes of the drinker must save vs spell, or flee in terror for 6 rounds. The magic of the potion is expended in a single use. The formula creates 3 doses of potion.

Coffin Breath
As the magic-user spell, Stinking Cloud, except that the drinker of the potion breathes forth the vile cloud of noxious fumes in the direction of his target. The formula creates enough potion for a single use. May discolor the teeth.

Similar to the magic-user’s Knock spell. No locked portal, chest, or container of any sort will withstand the drinker of a Rap potion. A soft tapping will cause anything which can be opened, to do so. A single dose of the potion enables the drinker to rap three times. The formula creates one dose.

Jester’s friend
This potion is not drunk, but spread or poured. It will make a 10'x10' area completely frictionless for a duration of 5 turns. No matter the material, stone, dirt, grass, carpet, etc, no creature will be able to stand or walk normally without falling. A creature who falls in the center of an area treated with the jester’s friend will be unable to escape the treated space if unable to reach beyond it’s area of effect.

Powdered Guidance
When cast into the air, and a directional, or locational question is asked, this glittery dust will briefly form an arrow pointing in the correct direction as it drifts to the floor. Questions must be a single, clear sentence. "Which way is least dangerous?" or " Which way lies the way out?" The formula creates enough guidance powder for three questions.


Al said...

Very cool write up, E.G.! I'm stealin those symbols too;)

E.G.Palmer said...

Thanks,Al! I'm glad you like it. I sorta expected there'd be more comments on the Alchaemist, so I waited a bit before replying.

You never know though, The Friar only got one comment at first, and then the C&C players suddenly ran with it. OSR gamers are really dedicated to the randomness thing. I wonder if there's a Random Blog Post Comment table out there somewhere. heh..

Unknown said...

Fantastic! One of my players is running a magic-user that specializes in potions, and he loves this. We're working on fleshing this out a bit for my campaign; I'll email the results when we're done.

E.G.Palmer said...

I'll be very interested to see what you guys come up with!
I'm working on an expanded formulations list, and I think I might include primitive explosives,and rockets. I won't allow guns of any sort though, and I'll make explosive components extremely rare and costly to keep them from getting out of hand.

Unknown said...

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E.G.Palmer said...

Inarticulate spammers, hmmmm.