Glowstone Alchemy Part I – The Basics

   Here we have a special request from a player who’d like to have a bit more information on one of the sample “Occult Skills” listed in Eclipse: The Codex Persona – in this case, Glowstone Alchemy, one of the features of the Shandar setting.

   Glowstone Alchemyis classified as an “occult skill” not because it involves anything more arcane or deeply hidden than normal alchemy, but simply because glowstone is very rare, and – since glowstone is extremely dangerous – glowstone alchemists are even rarer and have to study their art with great caution.

   Glowstone can be viewed as bits of the positive material plane trapped inside of atoms, as atoms that each contain a tiny portal to the positive material plane, or as matter that exists on both the positive material plane and the prime material plane at the same time. The proportions heavily favor the positive material plane part of the equation; a few specks of Glowstone occupy, embody – or perhaps “use up” – a considerable volume of the positive material plane.

   This only seems to be possible with a limited selection of heavy, and normally radioactive, elements, although their simultaneous existence in two planes stabilizes them – or at least allows them to emit both radiation and positive energy indefinitely without decaying. It is possible to create Glowstone artificially, but doing so requires both an especially researched high-level arcane spell and a massive infusion of “experience points”.

   In any case, there are a variety of subtly different glowstone ores corresponding to the various base elements and isotopes thereof. Unsurprisingly, given it’s structure, the magical properties of glowstone tend to dominate the underlying chemical and physical properties of the various base elements involved – giving rise to enormous difficulties in obtaining pure samples of the various variants. That generally doesn’t matter for glowstone alchemy however, since all the variants are similar enough magically to serve the same purposes. It does matter a bit in glowstone poisoning however, since it contributes the wide variety of symptoms observed.

   All of the subtle glowstone variants are virulently poisonous, both due to their chemical properties, due to their radioactivity, and due to their constant emission of excessive amounts of positive energy. Worse, since glowstone is difficult to affect with magic and tends to bond with the life force of the creature affected, glowstone poisoning is almost impossible to treat either magically or physically. The best that can usually be done is to compensate for the ongoing degeneration.

   On the environmental side, glowstone tends to emit heat, is mildly disruptive of existing magics and can even – in large quantities – destabilize extra-dimensional spaces. If you’re going to carry it, an airtight, reinforced container with plenty of iron, lead, and magical shielding is best.

   Why mess with something so dangerous at all? It’s because glowstone is an astoundingly powerful and versatile substance. It’s a continuous source of both physical, magical, and life energies. Alloyed with other substances and/or magical effects to channel and transmute those energies, it’s a tremendous source of power – and people have always been willing to take a lot of risks for power.

   Physically glowstone is usually found as dense, hard, blue-black or green-black ores, although a reddish variant is nearly as common. It is easily identified by it’s faint bluish-purple radiance and warmth. On Shandar – one of the few known worlds where glowstone apparently occurs “naturally” – it’s often found associated with veins of quartz crystal, which seems to amplify, refract, and soften it’s light according to it’s own color. Larger masses of glowstone produce heat as well as light; both radiations increase rapidly with the size and purity of the sample.

   When alchemically refined, glowstone is a vital component in spellpowders, magical tempering rituals, blazestones, lightrods and firelances, magical inks, spell talismans, glowstone engines, rings of fortitude, (magical) city walls, magical alloys, and many other devices. On Shandar, the extensive use of refined glowstone is widely considered a fundamental mark of a civilized people

   Glowstone Toleranceis fairly simple: living creatures can handle a limited amount of exposure to glowstone and its energies. For game purposes, this is measured by a creature’s Constitution. Simply add the tolerance ratings of whatever glowstone devices the creature is using to whatever level of contamination it may have and compare it to the creatures constitution. Check once per month, or whenever a creature is exposed to additional glowstone.

  • Con-4 or less: No symptoms.
  • Con-3 to Con: Minor symptoms appear at this level and higher. Such symptoms include occasional twitching, listlessness, and bouts of nausea, a tendency towards minor illnesses, and accelerated symptoms of age – graying hair, wrinkles, and so on. Unless the character reduces his or her level of contamination or use of glowstone energies he or she will die upon reaching Venerable age, rather than somewhat later as usual. Anyone who dies while infused with glowstone energies at this level or higher cannot rise as an undead.
  • Con+1 to Con+3: -2 to a random attribute. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per month thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim will be obviously ill.
  • Con+4 to Con+10: -2 to two random attributes. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per week thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim is obviously terribly ill.
  • Con+11 to Con+18: -4 to two random attributes. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per day thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim looks to be dying.
  • Con+19 or more: -6 to three random attributes. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per hour thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim will be visibly decaying, sloughing off flesh, and mutating as observers watch, and obviously OUGHT to be dead.

Glowstone Damage Table(roll 1d20):

  • 1) Blindness. This can be cured normally.
  • 2) Deafness. This can be cured normally.
  • 3-6) Develop a random disease. Magical cures will offer a new chance to resist, but cannot instantly cure it.
  • 7) Develop a random insanity. This can be countered with a Heal spell.
  • 8-11) Two points of drain to a random attribute. These can be restored via appropriate spells and abilities.
  • 12-13) Reduce maximum hit points by three. This can be restored as per drained attributes.
  • 14) Develop an immunity to supernatural healing for the next month.
  • 15-16) Age one year.
  • 17) Develop noxious growths. This has no immediate penalty other than social, but the victim will die sometime between the Old and Venerable age brackets unless a limited wish, wish, or miracle is used to repair the damage.
  • 18) Take +2 damage from all physical wounds for the next month. This can be countered with a Heal spell.
  • 19) Made a DC 18 Fortitude save or die. This is considered a death by natural causes.
  • 20) Become pallid, lose hair, and obviously ill. No direct game effect however, lucky you.

   Treating glowstone poisoning:

  • Treating poisoning resulting from the excessive use of devices is relatively simple: remove the excess devices and wait. The victim’s energy-infection will wane at one point per week – or 1d4 points if he or she removes all glowstone devices rather than simply reducing the number to get back to safe levels.
  • Treating glowstone contamination is far more difficult. A steady regimen of special food and drink, sweat treatments, purgatives, and medical attention can reduce the contamination by one point every 1d6 months. Throwing in the regular use of specialized magics or Heal spells can get this up to one point per month. A Wish or Miracle can reduce the contamination by 1d4 points immediately.

   Glowstone Contamination Benefits:

   As might be expected from an infusion of excess energy, glowstone contamination has it’s benefits as well. Every point of glowstone contamination provides one of the following benefits, all of which stack with themselves. If the contamination is intentional, and acquired with the assistance of a glowstone alchemist with skill 5+, the character may select his or her own benefit. If it’s accidental, a character will normally gain mana first, and thereafter it’s random, rolling 1d8:

  • 1-2) +1/2 point to Strength, Dexterity, or Charisma. If this comes up at random, the next point of contamination will automatically go towards the remaining half-point.
  • 3) +1d6 Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option.
  • 4) +2d4 Generic Spell Levels.
  • 5) +3d6 Power.
  • 6) +1/2 of a d8 Hit Die. If this comes up at random, the next point of contamination will automatically go to purchasing the hit die.
  • 7) Gain Grant of Aid or +4 Bonus Uses if already possessed of Grant of Aid.
  • 8) +4 on all saves against Negative Energy Effects.

   The next installment in this series will look at some of the devices produced by glowstone alchemy.


8 Responses

  1. […] – The Items Posted on September 29, 2009 by Thoth    In part II (part one is back HERE) we have a selection of the glowstone devices generally available on Shandar and their usual […]

  2. So I have a question: If I use Innate Enchantment in my Relic to absorb a Glowstone item and gain +2 to my Con-Score, overall making my Tolerance-level Con-4. Now my Relic is destroyed. Does this mean I now still have the Glowstone-Contamination and now suffer penalities as appropriate for a Con-3, even if the Glowstone-item is removed?

    • There’s an important distinction there; you get Contamination from breathing the dusty air in a glowstone mine, from the vapors generated when refining the stuff, from mistakes made when performing glowstone alchemy, from drinking glowstone potions to gain specific contamination benefits (if you are silly enough to do that), and so on – much the way you get heavy metal poisoning or pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

      You don’t get contamination from using most glowstone items (unless you break them, or hide them in body cavities, or otherwise do something silly with them); they’re normally sealed. While exposure to them is bad too, that’s why they have Tolerance ratings. Thus you add whatever contamination a creature has (if any) to the tolerance modifiers for any items they’re using when you check against the Tolerance table.

      Absorbing a glowstone item may not be a very good idea. Normally if you use a relic to absorb an item it will be ejected if you remove the relic – with special effects dependent on how you described the ability to absorb it. Given that glowstone is toxic by its very nature, I suspect that absorbing a glowstone item will probably turn at least a part (1-3 points depending on the size and power of the item) of it’s tolerance rating into contamination. The tolerance rating will go away with the item. Any actual contamination will, however, have to be dealt with normally.

      And I hope that helps!

      • It does indeed… Hmm… what would happen if you were to use Legendarium to obtain a Glowstone-item? Where does such an item “go”? Would it still be absorbed? I’m in a situation where I can gain a lot of Mana (via Gathering and other means) using a contact to get into a magical area (a highest level malevolence place with all the Heroes of Horror-environmental effects where some evil god was created), so I’m thinking about gathering the Mana there and put it into Mana Batteries and I’m trying to figure out a good way to do that without overspending my WBL (on the grounds of already having used it).

      • Well, Glowstone items are extremely cheap for what they do both because they have nasty side effects (Tolerance) and because they’re dependent on the easy availability of a powerful “natural” magical resource – Glowstone (which is likely to be incredibly expensive anywhere else). Thus the note at the beginning of the item list that “In part II we have a selection of the glowstone devices generally available on Shandar and their usual prices. Elsewhere, of course, the availability and price of such things is more a matter of the availability of glowstone. Off Shandar, some of these items may be considered priceless relics.”

        It’s a bit like the older editions of Runequest, where magic crystals were the congealed remains of divine blood shed during the Chaos War and bronze comes from their bones – and both were so common that farmers fairly often turned them up in their fields. In another setting those would be insanely valuable. In Glorantha… they were all over the place.

        Since there’s no actual Glowstone involved in Legendarium’s “Virtual Items” there’s no risk of Contamination – but I can’t really say what the local prices would be. To get away with Shandar’s incredibly cheap prices… see if you can get an immunity to price variations across worlds (Hm… Uncommon, Minor, Great, 6 CP (possibly only 3 CP if your game master feels that it’s “Major” instead of “Great”). Probably well worth it, given that each 1500 GP Mana Battery is better than 6 CP worth of Mana, that Hearts of Light will let you exceed all normal limits with Channeling, and so on).

      • Oh, that IS a natural-law style Immunity, so treat with caution…

      • That sounds like something I’d want, because on second thought, I can finesse a different ability score for legendarium, which would make investing into it cheaper than using an innate enchantment…

        Thanks for the answer :D

      • You’re quite welcome there!

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