The Practice of Alchemy

Medieval_MonkAlchemy – the practice of the preparation of elixirs – does not conform to or depend upon the strictures and dictats of a certain Tradition of magic. Alchemy does not depend on magic at all because the power of an elixir comes from the components themselves.

Natural materials each possess unique properties or vibrations that promote or inflict certain effects. While a single herb might have properties that cause terrible harm to living creatures, only in combination with other materials, actions and preparations can you create a stable and resilient elixir suited to coating weapons and delivering the toxin to an enemy. Some natural materials have no effects at all alone, but stored correctly and prepared in the right proportions at the right time of day (or year) they can have significant power.

Within the concept of Symbaroum, the Alchemy ability states you can prepare a certain number of elixirs per adventure. At each level, you can prepare only one elixir matching the level itself, with more doses of lower level elixirs possible once you have risen in experience.

The text also suggests you can make the roll for elixirs between adventures or at a suitable point during an adventure. To my mind, the key factor in making your [Cunning] test comes in having a need. You make a single roll that determines whether you have an elixir – not to see whether you gather the right ingredients, possess the correct components, perform the right acts of purification or recall just the right combination. When push comes to shove, the roll matters when you need the elixir most – when you have a friend bleeding out or sickening from a vile poison.

If you make the test successfully, you can choose what elixir you have to hand – and need to commit at that point whether – at Adept level, for example – you have a single Antidote (Moderate) or 1D4 applications of Antidote (Weak).

If you reach the end of an adventure without needing an Elixir, it would be wise to make a note and carry it over to the next time. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that a character with Alchemy can store materials in dry form, suspended in oil or reduced to a tincture. When the time comes and the need arises for an herbal cure, someone with Alchemy can scoop a poultice from an earthenware jar and slather it where needed.

I suspect that most characters will not have the luxury of collecting too many ‘unused’ Elixirs, but it should be something the Gamemaster allows. Down the line a character might have need for them – and the key point is that the roll against Cunning will determine whether they have exactly what they need when the situation demands it. An elixir ‘slot’ saved from three adventures ago can as easily go to waste with a bad roll or save the day with Eye Drops or a Ghost Light when they’re needed most.

On the other hand, when you next return to Thistle Hold for rest and recuperation, you can ‘trade’ an Elixir for cash to cover the cost of a comfortable bed, a meal and repairs to arms and armor.

Ref. Abilities, Alchemy, page 114; Equipment, Elixirs, page 152 – 153, Symbaroum Core Rulebook

Future thoughts: Degrees of Success – how Alchemy ties in with other Traits and Abilities; Extended Success – practical Alchemy; the Herbs of Davokar.

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