They may seem useless on an adventure, but they are as “combat ready” as a squishy magician or thief. An apothecary with a blowgun and some poison powders could be a handy replacement for a magician with a Sleep spell. A lower level apothecary with not much money can still be useful identifying poisons before anyone “researches” them the hard way, or might have enough cash for some night vision drugs.
You’ll probably need to refer to the Adventurer Skills reference sheet to make sense of the formula research rules, but they are pretty simple: decide how long you want to take, which sets the weekly cost, then the GM rolls a d6 (usually…) On 5+, it takes exactly one base time period (week, month, season.) On 1 to 4, add that many extra time periods. Figure out the total cost based on the number of weeks in that time.
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