Eclipse d20 – Alchemical Creations, The Item List

As for the alchemical products list, we have…

The Pinnacle – Grand Alchemy.

Grandiose, Mythic, or “Arcane” Alchemical Creations pretty much give reality the finger – and, as such, calls for extremely high DC Crafting Stunts, Grandiose Reality Editing, or massive acts of magic. This is the sort of thing that makes most Wizards, Psychics, AND Scientists go “Whaaaaa?”.

There are two major categories of High Alchemy – Arcane Materials and Arcana Essences – and one specific procedure, the Arcane Antithesis.

Arcane Materials exhibit unnatural properties. They may remain perpetually hot or cold, have virtually no weight, be near-perfect insulators, want to accelerate endlessly, maintain a sourceless difference in electrical potential across themselves, amplify or frequency-shift light, be superconductors, block magic, or gravity, or some other force, or be incredibly tough. If you want to make a boat with sails that catch the winds of thought that blow through the astral plane at superluminal speeds… this is the discipline you want. There are thousands of possibilities here from everburning cooking logs on through armored clothing and nightsight goggles and on up to space drives. Just remember that his sort of thing makes no sense and you will save yourself a headache.

Arcane Essences are distilled forces and conditions. Sanity, Magnetism (or “Lodestone”), Gravity, Darkness, Winter, Purity, Curses, Lightning, Rage, Luck – or even things like “Knowledge”, “South”, “Up”, “Entropy”, “Life” (also known as “Aqua Vitae”), “Death” (“Aqua Mortis”), or “Time”. Released without control, their effects are unpredictable and crude. Breaking a vial of Gravity is likely to cause an implosion (and perhaps a mild earthquake), followed by an explosion as the compressed materials expand again. With some method of control essences can be used for all kinds of tricks – so anyone who wants to get into Essences will want some magical or technical ability to control what they do when they’re released. Perhaps some Gadgetry again? A gravity-powered Flight Harness, a Solar Blaster, and a Magnetic Force Shield would be quite useful – and giving them an external power sources will bypass the usual usage restrictions on gadgets in favor of their alchemical “ammunition”. Once again, this kind of thing is in the realm of concepts made physical. It’s not going to make any sense unless, perhaps, you can manage to squint properly with your brain.

Arcane Antithesis: This operation does only one thing; it creates a negative version of something. Not just something like “antimatter”, which has a positive rest mass and yields energy when combined with normal matter. This means Negative Matter. Negative Energy. Negative Entropy. Negative Information. A hole in the multiverse. Something which isn’t just unlikely; it’s impossible. This is generally a lengthy project, is limited to things that might fit in a moving van, and requires the constant presence of the original thing you’re making an antithesis of.

Once you’re done the two will annihilate, leaving nothing. This isn’t quite final and absolute – but it’s about as close as you’re likely to get. Sure, there is undoubtedly another one of whatever it was coming into existence elsewhere in the multiverse, but you can be pretty sure that whatever it was – even if it was an indestructible artifact – is out of your life for a very long time to come. If you really must get rid of something this will generally do it for you.

Mastery – High Alchemy

High Alchemy still cheats – but it cheats a lot less than Grandiose Alchemy does. It still calls for Major Reality Editing, very high DC Crafting Stunts, or magic of around level six, but the things that it produces mostly operate in comprehensible ways. It too has three basic branches – Condensates, Devices, and Lifeshaping.

Condensates are pretty straightforward: you make something smaller and more concentrated with no loss in its effects. You can thus turn bottled potions into little capsules, store great amounts of water in small flasks, turn excellent six-course meals into sticks of chewing gum, make air pills that last for hours, turn various alchemical items into drops or little “gems”, turn drums of fuel oil into drops of “pyroconcentrate”, turn high-pressure steam into a dry powder (a substitute for explosives in the many worlds that don’t allow them), condense light into liquids (possible “blaster ammo”), modify equipment so that it can be expanded from, or collapsed into, little capsules, or even try to extract and condense information – perhaps turning a mass of magnetic tapes into a DVD or allowing you to drink a book instead of studying it.

The main problem with Condensates is that – for the most part – they’re simply more convenient to carry. Unless the GM is really into rocketry, and is worried about the delta-v of various fuels, it’s impressive to put a few drops of fuel into a locomotive’s firebox and have it run at full power for hours – but in settings offering easy access to extradimensional storage space, that is really all it is. There’s nothing wrong with that, and condensates are often useful, but they’re rarely a major factor unless you really MUST hide something in a false tooth.

Devices are fairly simple: they are built using alchemical techniques and so work much better than their actual construction and the designers skill justifies. A suit of armor full of clockwork might operate as a mechanical man, capable of reasoning and performing skilled tasks. A statue might function as a basic Golem. Paint might make what is painted real (See “Marvelous Pigments”). A cup or fork might purify poisons. A camera might function (if no such items exist) or reveal mysterious and normally invisible presences or reveal desires or someone’s inner nature (if cameras exist in the setting). A skeleton key might conform itself to any lock. A precious alchemical stone might function as a universal magical component, losing value as expensive spells are cast. A rod of lead (which resists various magics) might absorb several spells before melting. A flask might hold a dimensional pocket that can safely contain virtually anything. A wand of strangely alloyed gold (“Orichalcum”) might enhance spells – either slightly or a great deal but only a few times. A whip might hit like it was as heavy as mercury and be impossible to grasp save by the handle. A compass fitted with a chip of material might always point towards the main mass the chip was taken from. A spear of dissimilar metals might discharge electrical arcs on impact.

Devices are pretty classical “you get equipment bonuses”. The trouble is that they generally have to be created by the alchemist in their entirety, tend to require a certain amount of maintenance, and so are limited by personal skills. In game terms, if you have the ability to enhance your items this way, each relevant skill (usually Craft, but others may be eligible in particular cases) provides “gadget points” equal to it’s base rating (Skill Base + Attribute Modifier + Skill-Enhancing Feats) to invest in relevant items – although their overall effectiveness is always limited by the characters level. Thus the GM might rule that Craft/Armor and Craft/Clockwork can both contribute “Gadget Points” to the cost of a Clockwork Soldier (Say, 10 Points) – but that cost will go down as the character goes up in level and said Soldier goes from being a very useful ally to a minor distraction. Alternatively, if someone only wants to dabble in this form of Alchemy, an Occult Skill (Equipment Enhancement or some such) may be in order.

Lifeshaping allows an alchemist to extract qualities from living things, either storing them for later use or imbuing them into other living things or even artifacts – whether by purely mystical means, grafting tissues, or bizarre surgeries. Sadly, the extraction process is generally fairly destructive (although getting a use of a breath weapon, or dose of poison from a serpent, or some such is usually simple enough), so transferring the abilities of sapient beings around is generally pretty unethical. Moreover, it is much, MUCH, easier to give something a temporary ability than it is to make it permanent. Thus a practitioner might extract the strength of a bull – perhaps creating an elixir / “mutagen” to let someone take on that attribute temporarily, or imbuing it into an item to make it move on it’s own, or even attempting to transfer it permanently into another creature to replace it’s own strength.

Possibilities with lifeshaping include monster creation (usually starting with some minor life form too weak to hold it’s pattern well and infusing it with the desired abilities), creating “mutagens”, grafts, or “animal elixirs” capable of bestowing animalistic powers (either temporarily, permanently, or inducing something akin to Therianthropy), the transference or storage of souls, imbuing objects with temporary or permanent life, supercharging bacteria to create plagues, deadly mists and slimes, and similar weaponry), bioengineering lifeforms to produce useful products or byproducts, supercharging higher life forms to temporarily boost them or induce regeneration (sometimes known as “flesh glue), raising the (very recently) dead, extending lifespans, restoring personal energies, curing cases of disease or poisoning, restoring lost bodily functions, and making various kinds of “animal extracts”, such as putting a Rust Monsters power in a rod, or a use of Dragon’s Breath in a potion, or just smearing a location with Manticore Musk to scare off most other predators.

Of course, the problem here is that you have to have a source for the property you want to extract and bestow. That’s generally not much of a problem with common domestic animals, and only a moderate problem with less common ones – but if you want to give someone the strength, diving ability, and swimming ability of a sperm whale… you will likely have some considerable difficulty in catching one alive, getting it into your laboratory, building apparatus to fit, and basically distilling vital functions from it – especially since it is almost certain to resist. Stealing functions from intelligent creatures – basically rendering them down for useful bits – is generally about as unethical as it gets. That’s why “creating monsters” is usually a thing for villains, not heroes.

Journeyman Procedures – Middle Alchemy

Middle Alchemy doesn’t cheat very much. “Notable” Reality Editing, High – but not particularly Epic – DC’s, and Spells of level three or less will suffice. It covers Compounds, Firecrafting, and Drugs and Toxins.

Compounds exploit the inherent, natural, magic of animals, plants, and minerals. The witch doctor who prepares a meal of Lions Heart to imbue youngsters facing their rite of manhood with courage, the jeweler combining metal and carefully chosen gems to exploit their magic, and the herbalist brewing mystical tonics are all simply activating the magic inherent in their materials, rather than creating enchantments of their own.

Compounds are indeed magical, but tend to be quite specific and more powerful effects tend to either have prices attached, don’t last very long, or call for extremely exotic magical materials since there is only so much magic inherent in most materials. Thus, unlike most d20 “crafting”, these recipes tend to call for specific ingredients rather than simply assigning a generic raw material cost. This also means that this field offers a list of specific applications (determined by the user’s skill and what components are available), rather than a generic description of how it works and what is possible. Ergo, here are some possibilities. There are plenty of others of course – but there is no guarantee that the ingredients for any of these will be available in any particular setting.

  • Bane Powder or Venom: Damages some type of creature, bypassing most defenses. Often applied to weapons.
  • Beast Draught: Temporarily grants a specific animal ability or may permanently grant a personality trait appropriate to the source animal.
  • Birthstones, when set in appropriate metals and combined with appropriate symbols may have actual – if minor – magical powers. Or just be superstitions. That depends on the setting.
  • Bloodfire Catalyst: Turns the user’s blood into an outrageously corrosive substance and makes the user resistant to acid while this effect lasts. Fire based versions also exist, but are even trickier to make.
  • Bottled Sleep: Acts like a days rest, but uses deep reserves – making it effective only once per month.
  • Burgeoning Verdigris Elixir: Makes plants grow in mere moments.
  • Canned Fog: Pours out a sizeable cloud when opened. Other weather can also be canned; tornado in a can anyone?
  • Canopy Of Waters: The air in a fair radius remains breathable, but the area is effectively underwater: fires won’t burn, people can swim through the air, and so on.
  • Dark Elixir: Drinking this allows the user to use any one shadow magic spell of level two or less, or one specific shadow magic spell (chosen when the elixir is brewed) of level three. It can also be used to add +20% reality to a Shadow Magic spell cast normally. Sadly, the components are very rare.
  • Dental Paste: Mends and restores teeth.
  • Draught (or Paint) Of Living Death: Makes a living creature seem to be undead.
  • Ectoplasmic Dream: Creates a vision, phantasm, or dream when opened, the general type of vision or phantasm must be defined in advance, but the user may determine the details.
  • Ectoplasmic Draught: Allows the user to exhale a Psychic Construct.
  • Elixir Of Mental Clarity: Relieves any mental affliction, including senility and being near death for a time.
  • Entropic Salts: Cause devices and structures to breakdown or fail. A pinch might rust a lock into uselessness or break a wagon wheel, a handful might cause a tank engine to fail or a treat to snap.
  • Foamstone: Expands enormously, and then becomes as hard and durable as granite,
  • Fumes Of Vision: These grant clairvoyant visions, capable of crossing space, time, and dimension, but aren’t especially reliable and offer very little control. Concentrating on something will usually get a few somehow-relevant glimpses if the GM is feeling cooperative though.
  • Golem Transformation: The user temporarily takes on the traits of a Construct.
  • Liquid Metals can transform from solid to liquid and back again when properly triggered, This also covers “memory metals” that can take on many detailed forms.
  • Reanimation Elixir: Raises the recently dead for a short time.
  • Recharging Bath: Adds charges to a charged magical item over a time proportionate to the charge cost.
  • Sacred Balm: Acts as a Panacea spell, albeit at minimal caster level. Often requires very rare components or the blessing of a major, good-oriented, religious figure.
  • Sacrificial Incense: Can summon and manifest minor spirits and makes an acceptable offering to any spirit or divine being.
  • Scroll Ink; Allows the user to scribe scrolls without a feat or XP cost.
  • Spectral Sand: Dissolves into brilliant rainbow light when thrown, an effect similar to Color Spray.
  • Spell Catalysts” These make specific spells or groups thereof either more powerful or easier to cast.
  • Tangle (Foam, Webbing, etc) is basically an area-effect relative of the Tanglefoot Bag.
  • Tempering Oil makes objects it is applied to considerably more durable.
  • Universal Solvent is hard to store and use, but often surprisingly effective.
  • Vigil Candles: Grant a minor blessing to a specified individual when burned, no matter where they are if blessed / holy. If cursed / unholy they inflict a minor, temporary, curse on them.
  • Waters Of Alchemical Sulfur: When applied to a mundane item it permanently gains the Masterwork quality.
  • Wraith Dust: When thrown adheres to ghosts and other intangible apparitions and renders them temporarily solid.
  • Yielding Grave Elixir: Raises small numbers of weak undead permanently or lots of weak undead temporarily, can temporarily enhance the powers of greater undead.

This particular option can be a lot of fun. You can go questing for rare ingredients and tell people that you could cure that condition if you just had some specific components, and so on – but if you get too far into it, you can wind up with people wanting to know what components can be found in every monsters corpse, and along every path, and in every town, which is more than a bit boring. With Compounds you need to be careful to strike a balance. This also fits in fairly well with the Ceremonial Magic rules, although powerful magical components can quite reasonably upgrade the results that can be achieved.

Firecrafts are mostly straightforward, and fall under Middle Alchemy for two reasons – because quite a lot of worlds normally disallow simple explosives, rockets, guns, and super-concentrated fuels unless you use magic in their construction and because using a little magic to make them so greatly decreases the chance of either setting yourself on fire or producing catastrophic explosions. Other than that… in any world where fireworks work properly, this sort of thing is usually relatively cheap and adding special ingredients may produce unusual effects. An alchemist who specializes in blowing things up can be quite formidable.

  • Catalysts and Inhibitors can speed or slow chemical reactions, induce fevers (and a limited form of Haste) or suspended animation, extinguish or enhance fires, preserve unstable materials for later use, counteract poisons or make them take effect near-instantly and otherwise either vastly speed up or slow down various chemical reactions.
  • Explosives power grenades, can be formed into shaped charges blow holes in barriers, blow up areas, propel shrapnel, and power guns, cannons, and mortars. Special ammunition can be given various weapon-properties through alchemy, although the total very rarely goes above the equivalent of +3.
  • Fire Constructs take advantage of the fact that a fire can be considered something very close to a form of life – and are closely related to both Firework, Incendiaries, and Fuels. They are basically temporary “creatures” made of fire, rather like Gandalfs Fiery Dragon Firework – but capable of actually following orders, making decisions, and taking physical actions. Sure, they’re a bit insubstantial and fairly short “lived”, but they can be about as impressive as it gets.
  • Fireworks include all the usual fountains, pinwheels, rockets, bombs, firecrackers (these can be alchemically treated to drive away spirits and ghosts), and other ornamental stuff. Interestingly, fireworks can be made to give off other energies, creating auras of elemental force, holy or unholy areas, and even inclining areas towards particular alignments or types of magic. Flares in particular can light large areas, blind opponents, create strobe-like effects, act like sunlight to harm the undead and other light-susceptible creatures, and act as signals.
  • Fuels drive steam, internal combustion, and rocket engines, provide warmth, set things on long-lasting (and very intense) fire, burn underwater, and amplify fire spells.
    Incendiaries can produce fiery blasts, set an area on fire, provide long-lasting light, burst into flames when exposed to air, produce enough heat to melt metal or stone, power flame rifles and pistols – and can even leave behind small quantities of molten iron. I recommend caution when making FOOF however, no matter how skilled you are.
  • Luminaries include things like glowing chalk, luminous paint or ink, “glow sticks”, and a wide variety of other things that store or produce light. This isn’t usually a major category unless your alchemist desperately needs solar cells or nonmagical flameless lights – but simple and minor does not necessarily mean that they can’t be handy.
  • Smokes may impede vision, render the air toxic and unbreathable, cause temporary blindness, use up all the oxygen in an area, or leave various sorts of residues.

The Drugs and Toxins of Middle Alchemy both work incredibly quickly and can go a bit beyond the natural limits of such things – which is, of course, why you need alchemy to make them. This sort of thing includes d20 style poisons and antivenoms (real poisons and antitoxins generally do not take effect instantly), drugs that induce emotions, healing herbs which greatly accelerate healing by resting (about x 3), induced hibernation, powders of blindness, confusion, nausea and hallucinations, erasing memories, inducing (often poorly controlled without a lot of practice) psychic powers, vermin spray (does a fair amount of damage to vermin), hangover cures (that also work on recreational drugs), cleansing foam, generic antitoxins and disease cures, brews that knit bones, and that always-hot commodity, longevity elixirs. This may even may include the various Pulp Drugs if the game master is feeling very, VERY, generous.

The trouble with these substances is simple: they can push, augment, and disrupt the user’s body, and act unnaturally quickly – but they’re not magic. They won’t work on creatures with extremely abnormal metabolisms (or which have no metabolisms at all), their possible effects are really quite limited by d20 standards, they will lose effectiveness with overuse, and there are likely to be side effects – potentially quite serious side effects. There’s only so much combat drug that you can use before giving yourself a heart attack or stroke. That’s why most Alchemists only indulge in this sort of thing on rare occasions.

Student Brews – Low Alchemy

Low Alchemy is basically chemistry. Unlike most of the other reality-defying fields of research described above, you don’t actually need to use special powers to make it work – but a bit of Minor Reality Editing, the use of basic (generally level one) spells or even relevant level zero cantrips, and setting fairly high DC’s can vastly decrease the required time, enhance the purity and quality of the results, allow the preparation of larger quantities, let the user work with insufficient or primitive equipment, let the user skip past having to know more specific skills like “metallurgy”, and/or greatly reduce the chance of accidents. It’s still chemistry though. In a setting where characters strike like battleship guns, treat anti-tank missiles as minor annoyances, and can commonly take a one-magaton city-killing fusion bomb (according to d20 Future a mere 16d8, averaging 72 points of damage) to the face without breaking stride, Low Alchemy is fairly often convenient, but isn’t especially terrifying.

Quite a lot of Middle Alchemy can be done as Low Alchemy as well, but it makes items produced that way a lot less effective, a lot less pure, cost a lot more, and far more dangerous to make.

Given the extent of chemistry as a real science I’m not even going to try and list all the major categories of substances available – but here are a dozen that adventurers are fairly often interested in:

  • Clay and Ceramics cover pottery, bricks, tiles, cements, glazes, heat shields, synthetic bones, thermal and electrical insulators, crucibles, armor plating, catalytic surfaces, containment for various substances, terracotta, pipes, cutting edges, and many other products. Fast-setting and extra-strong varieties are reasonably often useful to adventurers.
  • Coloring Agents such as paints, dyes, enamels, bleaches, and lacquers, preserve materials, are often notable items of trade, and play a considerable role in Ritual Magic.
  • Corrosives include powerful acids and bases, as well as some substances which only affect specific targets – dissolving only steel, or only flesh. Batteries fall into this category too, as well as electroplating.
  • Distilling produces perfumes and alcohols, “cracks” crude oil into various products, separates out specific chemicals, and produces a wide variety of intoxicants.
  • Firearms, Gunpowder, and Explosives also fall under Low Alchemy IF – and ONLY IF – they normally work in the setting. If not, then it will take a much more powerful alchemist to concoct a version that will. If it’s high-energy reactions that are forbidden – such as in the Forgotten Realms where a fire god basically regards explosions as tasty candy and eats them before they can actually explode anything – you may need to go all the way up to Condensates and use the “Powdered Steam” trick. In any case, presumably I do not need to explain what guns are good for in RPG’s.
  • Gases include sleeping gas, flammable gases, nerve gases (poisons, but ones that call for a relatively small dose), mustard gas, liquified gases, anesthetics, and a wide variety of other unpleasantness.
  • Glues, Adhesives, and Sealants have a multitude of obvious uses, ranging from hull-sealing slap patches to surgery. Honestly, if an adventurer can’t think of some uses for a tube of superglue, they should go home.
  • Neutralizing agents start with compounds of clay and charcoal (which absorb and neutralize odors, water, and a wide variety of other chemical and alchemical agents), antitoxins, PH balancers to counter corrosives, water purification tablets, hygroscopic materials that suck water out of things, gas masks, and a wide variety of other chemical countermeasures.
  • Oils and Lubricants range from simple animal fats on through buckeyballs, near-frictionless, non-reactive, and “nonstick” surfaces.
  • Polymers and Plastics are used in armor, packaging, and thousands of other products. If you have a computer to look at this with, you should be familiar with a LOT of plastic products.
  • Smelting covers extracting metals and making alloys with various combinations of natural properties, glassblowing (including crafting vessels, lenses, and stained glass), making gemstones and crystals (both real and false), and even creating alloys that closely resemble precious metals without actually costing very much. If you want to be a counterfeiter you could do far worse.
  • Toxins and Medicines have problems. Poisons can be very effective in reality, but in d20 there are saving throws – and with realistic agents most of them won’t have a particularly high DC, d20 creatures often have no metabolism to be affected by realistic poisons, and are very often incredibly resistant even if they fail their saving throws. Real life medicines are only rarely up to the effectiveness of a first level spell and usually take far, FAR, too long to work. Personally, I would not waste my time. – unless you need to treat a LOT of people. After all, if it’s just three adventurers with a magical plague, you go with Cure Disease. If it’s city full of ordinary folks… a vaccine or drug which can be produced in massive batches is probably preferable.

Pathfinder’s Tinctures, Alchemical Reagents, and Power Components also fall into this category.

There are a lot more categories of Low Alchemy of course – but there isn’t a lot of point in going into them. These items may be occasionally useful, and they might even play a critical role in some special plan – but just how often will something like Pathfinder’s Paper Wall Paste (can be used to create a 5 x 5 sheet of paper that looks like a dirt wall on one round) really be that important? Why not just learn to cast Silent Image, which affects a much larger area and is at least ten thousand times as versatile?

That’s why Pathfinder added in the Alchemical Tinkering spell – which transforms one alchemical item into any other alchemical item – although given the vastly greater options for Alchemy on THIS list, that spell will only work on items of Low Alchemy (there might be higher level variants available though). That way clever players who come up with creative ideas for making some alchemical item actually useful can simply pull them out without loading themselves down with a half a ton of expensive alchemy that they will almost certainly never use.

Now there are doubtless sources with items that don’t fit into any of these categories properly out there – but there should be more than enough possibilities here for play, and this is Eclipse! if you find something really weird that you like in am obscure sourcebook… just ask your GM about including it. Odds are that it can be managed. Go ahead and post it here in the comments too; there’s no reason not to share.

Eclipse d20 – Alchemical Creation

There are several ways to handle d20 alchemy. While some of the general ideas were discussed HERE, there have been enough “how to” questions that it’s time for some specifics.

  • Eclipse includes a list of alchemical spells (on page 22) as one of it’s examples. So first up we have Alchemical Spellcasting. It’s effective – and not much of a departure from standard d20 magic – but it doesn’t quite suit the idea of an alchemist in his lab, with hundreds of his creations ready to hand. A dedicated Alchemical Caster could just buy the list multiple times since it’s fairly cheap, but it still won’t be THAT many spells. Obviously enough, given the power level of actual spells, this approach cannot allow that huge laboratory stockpile – or it would allow any alchemist with some time and a Handy Haversack to haul along hundreds of powerful alchemical items and thus be prepared for anything and everything.

If you’re going to allow that, then Alchemy needs some other restrictions to keep it from getting out of control and taking over the game. Thus…

  • Standard d20 Craft (Alchemy) restricts itself to “Low” Alchemy – things that are at least semi-plausible as slightly magical chemistry. That’s reasonable, but a bit boring – and there are plenty of lists out there for things to be made with that kind of alchemy. The major restriction here is that such items really aren’t powerful enough to be more than toys for high-level characters. Sure, there are some very high-end booster feats, but doubling or tripling the effect of a 3d6 alchemical fire attack or grenade doesn’t mean much when the spellcasters are throwing around Meteor Swarm, Gate, and Time Stop. If you really want this sort of thing… buy a trivial variant on “Double Damage” (“Double Effect With Standard Alchemical Items”, 6 CP), Specialized for Increased Effect (Triple Damage thanks to the usual doubling rules) / only works with personally-made alchemical items.

That might actually be worth taking at low levels if you’re making that sort of character. Sure, 6d6 worth of Alchemists Fire Damage to a single target that costs a bit still isn’t really a match for a basically-free Burning Hands (up to 5d4 to a modest area), but it is only the equivalent of a single Feat, and you don’t have to wait until high levels to take it. You might want to buy something like an Immunity to the cost of obtaining raw materials to make alchemical items too; (Common, Minor, Major, for 30 GP off the raw material costs of alchemical crafting, 6 CP). Throw in some Innate Enchantment (Handy Haversack, only for storing alchemical creations, and Launch Item, to let you “throw” them accurately at long range, Dexterous Fingers (Trickster Magi list) to speed up making alchemical items, perhaps a bonus to Craft/Alchemy, and an Inherent Alchemists Lab), plus a little Luck (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for making Alchemical Items, 6 CP) and you have a worthwhile alchemists package for about 24 CP – available to a starting character or over about two levels worth of unallocated character points.

Honestly, 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder I, and any number of supplements already have massive lists of potential alchemical items to make. I’ll throw in a few noncombat suggestions down in the alchemical item lists, but that will let you keep up for a while.

  • Rolemaster used Alchemy to make magic items; it had nothing to do with chemistry at all. On the other hand, Eclipse already offers quite a few different systems for making magical items. There’s really no need for another one system since a would be item-making “alchemist” is simply using a different set of special effects. For this approach I’d recommend the “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys” package found HERE for the temporary stuff and a few of the usual item creation abilities with appropriate special effects. A character who wants to do this might consider the writeup for the Philosophers Stone, found on this list of sample relics.
  • The Gadgetry Skill (probably specialized in Alchemy) lets you make things like “Oil Of Etheralness” – a substance oil with many possible uses. You might dip arrowheads in it to let you shoot through walls and armor, or coat yourself in it to become ethereal, or apply it to a lock to bypass it, or anoint your eyes to see into the ethereal plane, or apply it to armor or a weapon to temporarily give it the “Ghost Touch” property, or use it to reach inside a locked box and steal the contents without disturbing the box. Go ahead, reduce a Lodestone to a dozen pinches of “Magnetic Essence” and play Magneto Junior for a little bit. The joy of Gadgetry is that you don’t necessarily have to define exactly what whatever it is you’ve made actually does until you use it -and you don’t really need to be consistent between uses. If you’ve made a rocket-launching wristband, you can use them to attack, signal, create diversions, to carry ropes aloft, and for many other purposes.
  • Glowstone Alchemy (Part I and Part II), on the site, is basically a version of “alchemy” / engineering / enchantment that relies on some incredibly dangerous and toxic substance which is a source of mighty and terrible energies. While this generally relies on the availability of such a substance, it can reasonably represent working with intensely toxic radioactive substances, the Weird West’s Spirit-Imbued “Ghost Rock”, older edition’s Red Steel, the Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant’s “Earthblood” (whatever that is), “Dust” from the His Dark Materials trilogy, the Malfean Vitriol of Exalted, Hellfire, the warped materials that have been touched by Lovecraftian Outer Gods, the Residue of Banished Ghosts, and many other outrageous power sources.

This is usually just an Occult Skill – essentially another version of Gadgetry where the Devices are much more powerful than usual because working with said power source is outrageously dangerous and because the compounds and devices themselves come with hideous downsides and are horribly toxic – greatly limiting how many such items any given character can use and live (at least without turning into a radioactive mutated horror). The exact options may vary, but the Glowstone Alchemy lists (mostly in Part II) should give you the general idea.

For some versions of Alchemy – those with the notion that the “True Goal” of the Alchemist is the purification, transformation, and enhancement of the mind and spirit – you’re probably best off using Mystic Artist. For a somewhat tongue-in-cheek version of this style that I helped someone write up for their character (or was it for someone else’s character?), here we have Mystic Bartending.

  • Mystic Artist, Specialized for Increased Effect (Double the base skill for power-purchasing purposes) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / You must pour your targets a drink, and they must drink it, rather like taking a potion (4 CP). Echoes, Specialized and Corrupted / negates the effects of the initial use of the ability, all three rounds must be expended at once (2 CP).

The result is that you can serve people drinks with various mystical effects, all of which can be triggered as a free action within the next two weeks and will have their effects last for three minutes or until exhausted, whichever is shorter. If not triggered within two weeks the effects are lost – and you’ll just have to come back to the bar for some more drinks. Given that the drinks are built from a fairly limited set of mystic artist effects, similar effects do not stack, but other bits do.

Mystic Bartending School of the Mystic Arts: Effective Skill / Ability Learned:

  • 3+: Drunken Enthusiasm (Emotion, 3). A single draught of your beverages can cause powerful emotions for all who partake.
  • 4+: Sobering Draught (Block, 3). Your beverages can counteract of all sorts of intoxicants for all who partake.
  • 5+ Bartenders Counsel (Fascinate, 3): You may cause your targets to drink massively, at Skill 6+ you can whisper Suggestions to them, albeit only one at a time. .
  • 6+: The Hard Stuff Liquor (Hold Audience). Your beverages can keep all the people you serve fascinated and drinking for hours.
  • 9+: Mead Of The Einherjar (Greatness, 9): Grants those who partake (up to Level/3 targets) 1d10 temporary hit points, +1 to their BAB, Saves, and AC, and 6 CP worth of temporary abilities – although the ability must be set in advance and be the same for everyone partaking in this particular batch (Perhaps Fire Resistance 30, or Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in healing hit points – for a base of 5d8+25 healing).
  • 12+: Drunken Style (Excellence, 12). Grants a single target two +4 Morale Bonuses, these can be applied to attributes, to Saves (all of them), to AC, to Attacks, or to Damage – although, once again, what the boosts are applied to must be determined with the drink is served.
  • 15+: Freyja’s Wine (Amplify, 9). Grant a +2 Caster Level bonus to all who partake of the wine. This does not add to spells known, but does apply to level-based spell effects, caster level checks, and similar items.
  • 18+: Mead Of Suttungr (Harmonize, 12): You may imbue a single draught with any two of your effects, with the number of targets to be affected being limited by the most restrictive effect.
  • 21+: Spirits Of Dawn (Serenity, 18): Your drinks count as a nights rest and refresh uses-per-day abilities. This can be served to an entire party, but only functions once per week.
  • 24+: Drunken Mastery (Mass Greatness, 15): As per Divine Mead, but for up to (Cha Mod + Level) targets.
  • 30+: Transcendent Ale (Mass Excellence, 18): As per Drunken Style but for up to (Level/2 + Cha Mod) targets.
  • 36+: Draught Of Valhalla (Heroism, Skill 30): Doubles the effects of Divine Mead, but only for a single target. Still, for example, a draught that will let someone heal (13+ Level/3) * (d8+5) damage can be quite useful.
  • 48+: Valhalla’s Keg (Mass Heroism, 36): As per Draught Of Valhalla, but affects up to (Level/2 + Cha Mod) targets.
  • 60+: Cauldron Of Aegir (Double, 48): Double any one aspect of any lesser ability whenever you use it.

For some possible drinks, consider…

  • Mead Of Odin (Harmonize – Emotion and Serenity, 21+): The imbiber may glimpse the great feasting hall of Valhalla, and be revived as the spirits of the dead are there revived to battle!
    • Acts as a nights rest and refreshes uses-per-day abilities (only once per real week though). User gains Immunity to Fear and a +5 Morale Bonus to Hit and Damage for the duration.
  • Draught Of Völuspá (Harmonize – Greatness and Amplify, 18+ for a single target, 24+ for groups): Once during the next two weeks the imbiber may hear the voices of the spirits speaking, and channel their power into his or her magic.
    • Provides +2 Caster Levels, 1d10 + Con Mod temporary hit points, +1 to BAB, Saves, and AC, and+7 Bonus Standard Actions for Spellcasting only (maximum of one per round, not compatible with other reflex actions) (Reflex Training (extra actions variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Spellcasting only).
  • Wine of the Valkyries (Harmonize – Greatness and Excellence, 18+ for a single target, 30+ to affect groups): The user hears the voice of the Valkyrie, chanting runes of battle and inspiring him or her to even greater heroic deeds!
    • Provides +1d10 + Con Mod temporary hit points, +1 to BAB, Saves, and AC, user heals (1d8+5) damage up to once per round as needed six times during the duration (Greant of Aid with Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Point only), user gains a +4 Morale Bonus on Saving Throws, and a +4 Morale Bonus (and +2 Temporary HP per Hit Die, +2 Fortitude, Etc) to Constitution.
  • Winterfire Brandy (Harmonize – Greatness and Excellence, 18+ for a single target, 30+ to affect groups): In freezing cold, ice may be skimmed from freezing ferments until only the purest essence remains, a draught of burning fire.
    • Provides +1d10 + Con Mod temporary hit points, +1 to BAB, Saves, and AC, and 3d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Unskilled Fire Magic, DR 4/- and Energy Resistance (All) 4.

Admittedly those are fairly high-skill drinks, but Mystic Artist is actually one of the most overpowered abilities in the system – capable of providing a wide variety of powers at relatively small expense. The problem is, of course, that the user has to define the combinations of abilities to be used, specify their individual effects, and set them up – making it quite complicated to use. Secondarily, the fact that it tends to provide party-level boosts means that it’s perceived as a support power, rather than a personal power – and support powers tend to be cheap in any case.

  • Modern thought sometimes treats Alchemy as just another branch of Ritual Magic – it’s just that your rituals mostly involve making complicated glassware, mixing stuff, distilling it, reducing it to powder, subjecting it to days of slow heat, and using many other elaborate procedures. Your magic circles are mostly engraved on your equipment, you meditate on philosophical mysteries rather than invoking mystical beings, and so on. Your effects, of course, come in the form of potions, powders, oils, incense, alchemical beasts, and materials with strange properties – most of which eventually fail, although you can raise the ritual DC to let you store them longer.

As usual, rituals which are repeated over and over again tend to set their patterns in the structure of magic. They become easier. Mystic symbols and circles can be drawn in paint or chalk rather than being inlaid in mystically-significant metals. Complex sigils are simplified, unpronounceable names are abbreviated and given vowels, and – eventually – they turn into common rituals or even into near-immediate spells. In the end… they may not even be recognized as magic at all. Quite a few “folk remedies” and even technological processes fall into this category – their channels worn so deep into reality that the necessary elements are no longer even recognizable as parts of a ritual. Repetition has power. In d20, all those urban legends that saying a creatures name three, or seven, or thirteen, or whatever, times will cause it to appear? Those are well-worn rituals, reduced to such a simple act that any idiot can do it.

This variant is quite effective – but I find it kind of disappointing. Making Alchemy just another branch of ritual magic – entirely divorced from chemistry – just seems to take a lot of the fun out of it. Moreover, Ritual Magic is intentionally designed to be unreasonably difficult, otherwise it all too easily becomes a universal solution – and that means that your master alchemist may wind up not using much alchemy because it takes far too long.

  • A Ceremonial Magic version of Ritual Magic works for minor alchemical items, and is fairly classical, but is pretty inconsequential unless you’re playing a low-magic level-limited game. This system wasn’t even written for d20, but would work just fine for it with a few minor terminology changes.
  • “Full Metal Alchemist” style “Alchemy” is available through the Create Item / Transmutation line of abilities – and, in fact, Edward Elric is among the sample characters – but this kind of “alchemy” has little or nothing to do with classical alchemy outside of a few words like “transmutation”. Real world would-be alchemists never tried to repair radios or suddenly create arrays of big guns using magical circles. They were people puttering around in laboratories and looking for funding, not adventurous near-superheroes.

Of course, if you actually want to be a real-world alchemist, you want a selection of craft skills (for making alloys, faking precious metals and gems, compounding dubious medicines, and even a bit of genuine chemistry), a bit of basic medical knowledge, some knowledge of herbalism, and a good deal of skill at talking people into supporting your “research” and spinning negative results into something positive. If you’re consciously conning people some Sleight Of Hand will come in handy as well. In-game this isn’t “Alchemy”. It’s just a con artist specialization.

  • If you want to create a cross between a potion-maker and a mad bomber, there’s the Pathfinder Alchemist – but honestly, they don’t really have much to do with alchemy either.
  • You could also pull some pieces from the first “Ninja” build over HERE – simply selecting the alchemically-related options for their Tricks. In fact, the “Tricks”may be all you need.
  • If you just want to make a wool sweater that acts like chainmail or something… Craft Appearances isn’t even an Occult Skill: it’s something that anyone in a magical world can learn to use. It can be used to make stuff look different.

Craft (Appearances): Each point of this skill total allows the user to select a piece of personal equipment and describe it’s appearance as they wish. This has no mechanical effect on the item however. An additional +2 points will, however, cause an items encumbrance to match its appearance OR allow the user to disguise a larger item, such as a vehicle or structure.

If you REALLY want your base to look like a crumbling ruin, or decorate for Halloween, go right ahead. This doesn’t really cost anything outside of your skill investment since appearances have no cost.

Then there’s High Alchemy, sometimes known as Philosophy. This is the stuff where you cheat on chemistry and physics – sometimes quite outrageously – with Reality Editing, Magic, Immunities, or Skill Stunts. It’s a subtle branch of magic, dressed up with a lot of chemistry and some physics – but it is still a branch of magic. For conveniences sake, I’ve split up the reputed products of “Alchemy” into four basic levels – Low, Middle, High, and Grandiose – and a variety of subcategories.

  • Doing it with Skill Stunts requires a very high skill (or some method of boosting your alchemy skill checks beyond all reason, such as Luck with Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Skill Checks, only for Alchemy, 12 CP. This will let you “Take 60” when you need to), Skill Focus (+1 or better, 2+ CP), Skill Stunts (6 CP), and some Mana and (likely) Rite Of Chi to power them – although it can be Specialized and Corrupted to make it pretty cheap. If you want to pull get to the level where you can do things like manipulate the lifecycle of stars, create endless sources of magical elixirs, and call on cosmic forces, you will want Epic Skill Stunts (6 CP) and a lot of cash with which to develop epic level effects. The time-reducing effect might be a good idea as well. The GM will have to set the DC of making various alchemical devices and improvements thereof.
  • You can also do it without stunts by just taking Immunity to the normal limits of the skill – although you will need to once again attain those absurd skill checks, so the luck purchase may still be in order. That’s (Uncommon / Major), with a Major Immunity allowing for easier Low Alchemy, Great Immunity allowing for Middle Alchemy, Epic Immunity covering High Alchemy, and Legendary Immunity covering Grandiose Alchemy. At a cost of 6/12/18/24 CP. That’s expensive. Unless you plan on using a particular skill a LOT, Stunts is probably a better choice.
  • Access to suitable spells or powers – perhaps a Greater Invocation (Per The Practical Enchanter) of Alchemical Manipulation or Alchemical Rune Magic or some appropriately specialized Witchcraft or some such – is yet another way to cheat. As a rule, Low Alchemy doesn’t require such things, although effects equivalent to Cantrips or Level One Spells will make it much safer, faster, and easier. Middle Alchemy calls for effects of Level Three or below, High Alchemy calls for effects of Level Six or below, and Grandiose Alchemy often calls for effects of up to Level Nine. This tends to be the most expensive option, but it offers access to a variety of quick magic as well as handy effects like Alchemic Mist (See Haagenti, the Infernal Alchemist).
  • Reality Editing is probably the most straightforward method. For this you’ll want Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (the products it is used to produce are stable for lengthy periods) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for Reality Editing, only for Alchemical Manipulations, must have purchased at least 1d6 per level of reality manipulation (4 CP per d6 of Mana, you’ll want at least three or four dice eventually, for about 16 CP). You’ll also want Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to restore the “Alchemy Pool” above, requires at least half an hour of some chosen type of intellectual effort per die recovered (the form the players have most commonly encountered so far requires reading new books and contemplating the new knowledge therein, 6 CP), requires an appropriate setting – a sitting room and supply of scholarly texts, a laboratory, a school, etc. .

Those are all relatively cheap simply because Alchemy is generally fairly slow – and so making it effective in combat is a job for foresight, stockpiling, and carrying around loads of vials, flasks, and pouches full of exotic substances. That’s a lot of trouble for the player, uses up much of their downtime, and can be fairly readily taken away. Ergo buying alchemical talents has to be a relatively modest investment of character-building resources, or no one will bother.

Next up; the alchemical products list.

.