February 8, 2012

Unfinished Alchemy

Image from
Here is a minor puzzle/reward scenario I developed a few years back, not too long after Adventurer's Vault was released, so .. Spring 2009? when I ran this, the dungeoneers were sneaking about and exploring the dungeons and towers of a castle occupied by their enemies, the Arkhosian Empire. During their delvings, they stumbled upon an unattended alchemy lab.

This rooms is cluttered with glass vials and old tables. On one of the tables is a potion of resistance at the final stages of completion. A character trained in Arcana or Nature examining the nearly complete potion knows that it requires one final ingredient to complete.

Typical Reagents
Throughout the dungeon, populate it with scattered alchemical ingredients. When first discovered the dungeoneers will likely be confounded and not think much on these items. However, crafty players will soon figure out the puzzle, and try and deduce the best course of action. When I ran this, I made the ingredients' effects utterly impossible to determine until the ingredient was used. Here is the list of ingredients I had prepared and ready, along with their associated energy types resisted in parentheses.
  • troll teeth (acid)
  • mint (cold)
  • rhubarb (fire)
  • gargoyle sweat (lightning)
  • vampire blood (necrotic)
  • mummified toenails (poison)
  • eye of newt (psychic)
  • mandrake root (thunder).

Alternative Reagents
Don't let this list confine your dungeoneers' imaginations, let them find their own reagents where you least expect them. For example, during my session using this, a player debating dropping a dagger into the solution to gain a potion of resist weapon. He opted not to, because he was worried that it wouldn't work due to that not being an option in the official texts, but had he tried it would have definitely worked for him.

Take This to the Next Level
With the release of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and its innovative Alchemy skill system, one could take this basic idea and add flourishes and complexities taking cues from the video game. This website provides a pretty comprehensive chart of all the Skyrim Alchemy ingredients and their associated effects. With literally 101 ingredients, I'm not even going to try and map out how each Skyrim ingredient could be ported to a tabletop game, but a good starting point might be allowing characters with the Alchemy feat to create a unique alchemical concoction that does up to 3 effects based on the ingredients used when consumed. For example:

  • Gain +1 to a skill (per tier)
  • Gain resist 2 to a damage type (per tier)
  • Deal +1 damage with a damage type or keyword (per tier)
  • Heal 1 hp (per tier)
  • Gain vulnerable 2 to a damage type (per tier)
  • Gain vulnerable 1 all (per tier)
  • Take a -1 penalty to a non-AC defense (per tier)
  • Take a -1 penalty to Speed (per tier)

In fact, the Alchemist feat is so wildly underpowered that I suggest you give the benefits of the Alchemist feat free to any character with Arcana or Nature training.

1 comment:

  1. I would do this if I had the time to plan it all out. as it is this will probably languish on my pinboard of genius but unusable ideas. I could so do with a pdf to help bwith it all. or an excel document.