Today's chemists get a bit twitchy if reminded that their science developed out of mediaeval alchemy... but what if, in your fantasy world, the alchemists knew a little more about what they were doing? This work opens with a short bit of fiction describing the effects on a pack of zombies of dropping a piece of caesium metal into water (something any modern chemist will warn you do do very carefully and from behind a safety screen - the reaction is explosive in its vigour!).
This is followed by a discussion of the possible role of alchemy and its practitioners in your game. With most adventurers prefering to study magic than work in a laboratory, alchemists are often relegated to NPC shopkeepers who provide the odd exotic weapon or device. But they can be much more than that - perhaps one will hire the party to find specialist ingredients or the long-lost notebooks of a legendary alchemist, or need protection from the clerics of a religion that feels threatened by the accumulation of knowledge about the workings of the world acquired in the lab rather than by contemplation of the divine! There's also an extension to the Craft (Alchemy) skill so that characters to have it can identify substances found as well as know how to make common alchemical devices.
Now on to some actual alchemy, starting with a discussion of acids. Mixing game rules with actual science, it looks at other ways to deal damage with acid than merely hurling it at the opposition. Then things get more exotic, with some different types of extremely dangerous acids and their likely uses by adventurers. Next, bases get much the same treatment.
Although acids and bases are a mainstay of alchemistry, there are plenty of other substances around; and next comes a selection of alchemical liquids, gases and metals, and their offensive uses. There's some quite intriguing effects here, and astute chemists may recognise some substances hidden within the terminology that a fantasy alchemist, rather than a modern chemist, might use. I rather like the hyena gas which from its description is nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas!
This is an interesting collection of substances with their offensive uses well-described (albeit a bit mechanically, how about some purple prose descriptions?) and with the apposite rules provided. Many also have an associated symbol which could be used to label containers or decorate the alchemist's robe... or on handouts and other items set for the players to find. Lots of useful stuff here, although it might be nice to discover some peaceful uses for alchemy one day!
Return to Even More Damage Through Alchemistry page.
Reviewed: 13 June 2009