... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Alchemist

This is an elaboration at some ideas I hinted at in a post about elves. It's not so much a class as a variant method of casting spells. Alchemy by default uses the Magic-User spell list, but spell books are optional; they are mainly used as a research aid when learning or creating new spells. It does take longer to prepare spells without spell books, however.

Alchemical spells aren't memorized and don't involve spoken words of power. Instead, they use tiny vials of potion, salve, or powder. Because of this, alchemical magic is not limited by memory, but it is instead limited by the cost of preparing spells; also, these spells are physical items that may be stolen or accidentally destroyed. Think of an alchemist as a magic-user who can only cast spells by creating and reading scrolls.

Alchemists can prepare potions for any spell they know, plus salves (if they can use 2nd level spells,) powders (if they can use 3rd level spells,) and incense (if they can use 5th level spells.)
  • Potions cost 25 GP per spell level per potion; they must be imbibed and affect only the one who imbibes them.
  • Salves cost double, must be applied by touch to the target, and affect the anointed area. The primary advantage is that they can be used on non-living targets.
  • Powders cost quadruple and can be blown up to 10 feet towards a target; if a blowgun is used, it takes longer to aim and blow, but the range is 10 feet per foot of blowgun length.
  • Incense costs ten times as much as a potion and must be lit; the smoke will fill a 50-foot diameter area after one turn and affect all enveloped.
Any preparation takes the same amount of time: one day per spell level, twice as long if not using a recipe from a spell book. Alchemists can keep track Level/2 preparations at once, but could take extra time (and money) to brew as many potions as they can carry, even at 1st level.


  1. purely from a game design perspective, what if anyone could use an alchemist's potion once it's made? I'm thinking of pulling down the Chinese wall between PC spellcasters and magic items, is why I'm asking. Does the alchemist then get designed out of PC-dom? Because it might make more sense for him to hand his powders to a fighter who could throw them farther or a thief who could do so more accurately?

  2. I use a 12 foot blowgun!

    Also: the targeting really limits the alchemists spell selection.

    working on a little (big) something in this regard myself.

  3. @Richard: it's up to the GM, of course, although I would definitely allow it. I wouldn't give Fighters/Thieves those particular advantages, though, but a Fighter's chance to hit with a thrown weapon rises faster than other classes, and a Thief would have a better chance of slipping a Sleep draught into a drink.

    @~C: You might have trouble finding a blowgun that long, although it would be *possible*.

    Alchemist spells are definitely limited, as a trade-off for their ability to beef up their arsenal. But not as many spells are as limited as you'd think... a Draught of Light is possible, for example, but it would make the imbiber glow, illuminating only a 5-foot diameter.

    Also, I'd allow alchemical equivalents for all the spell lists. You'd have to pick one list to start with, but can add any alchemical spells you find, from any list.