What class does an alchemist become?

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GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56
What class does an alchemist become?

Flipping through the Campaigns chapter, I noticed something that made me curious. In the "0TH LEVEL CHARACTERS AND EXPERIENCE FROM CAMPAIGNS" section, the "Magical Research" subsection doesn't actually cover experience from magical research in campaigns. More specifically, it doesn't say what class is gained by to 0-level characters who gain 100 experience points by researching spells, identifying magical items, performing necromancy, creating constructs, crossbreeding things man was not meant to crossbreed, or creating magical items.

Of course, most 0-level characters can't do any of these things, but there is one obvious exception: Taking the alchemy proficiency twice allows you to make potions as an assistant, and taking it three times allows you to create magical potions on your own. The gp threshhold of a 0-level character is only 25 gp, and even the weakest of magical potions has a base value of 500 gp; a 0th level alchemist who succeeds even once at crafting a potion therefore earns a minimum of 118 experience points and immediately gain a level of... something. But what?

Mage? Witch? Elven nightblade? Almost any magic-using class can make potions eventually, so there's no obvious choice. And yet this must come up frequently, for it affects every alchemist who ever succeeds!

Please tell me, Autarchs, what becomes of alchemists who get lucky at their craft?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Well, they might be spending their time identifying potions, extracing components from monsters for use by mages, creating herbal concoctions that are sub-magical, and so on, and not level up at all.

If they do level up, I'd imagine they might become Venturers, if they are focused on business, or Mages if focused on scholarship and research. Perhaps we should create an Alchemist class for them to level into, though.

 

 

Aryxymaraki
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Well, they might be spending their time identifying potions, extracing components from monsters for use by mages, creating herbal concoctions that are sub-magical, and so on, and not level up at all.

If they do level up, I'd imagine they might become Venturers, if they are focused on business, or Mages if focused on scholarship and research. Perhaps we should create an Alchemist class for them to level into, though.

 

 


-Alex

Thievery 3, Arcane 1, delayed spell acquisition so only high-level alchemists get access to a few arcane spells to cast?

(It could also be like the gnomish alchemist I've been thinking of, as a ceremonial caster in the Alchemical tradition.)

moorcrys
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I'd love to see an alchemist class for ACKS. It was too complicated for me to create a whole system for them that I was happy with and supplemental OSR material hasn't been much help.

koewn
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I'd be curious what the split would be between having repertoire slots, but no casting slots. That way they'd "know" the spell, but not be able to do anything but express it into a magical item. Apostasy can give someone 4 spells; could it be done via proficiency gain? Thievery 4 would be a lot of possible slots...

Also:

Magical Research & Brew Potion, as regular spellcasters gain them, are theoretically 3 proficiencies (I'll have to find the post from Alex)

The alchemist has technically taken the 3 proficiencies that gets him Brew Potion.

What would be the proficiency count required to give him Magical Research with just Potions? One? The theory would be that by gaining Magical Research, they then have the rest of the knowledge they need to brew as real spellcasters, and remove the "twice base time/cost" penalty. And, in theory, any new potion they research is only a potion, not a spell.

 

 

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

I'd be curious what the split would be between having repertoire slots, but no casting slots. That way they'd "know" the spell, but not be able to do anything but express it into a magical item.

-koewn

Having a spell in your repertoire that you can only use to create magic items seems like less of a benefit than having a sample or formula of the magic item, and any character who can craft magic items can already obtain and use an unlimited number of magic item samples and formulae without needing additional special abilities. Finding a scroll of a spell is exactly as expensive and difficult as as finding a potion to use as a sample, after all. Charging alchemists for an ability that's not as good as what they already have for free seems a bit odd, to me, but maybe I'm missing some detail of the rules that makes it more useful than I'm realising?

Magical Research & Brew Potion, as regular spellcasters gain them, are theoretically 3 proficiencies (I'll have to find the post from Alex)

-koewn

Is that three each, or three in total? Three in total seems a bit cheap, given that taking the alchemy proficiency three times gives you a significantly smaller benefit, so I'm guessing you mean three each.

Ooh, I'd like to see an alchemist class that eventually gains the ability to create non-potion magic items. Alchemy is broader in scope than just chemistry, after all.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

Alchemists are a bit weird if they became a caster class they would effectivly lose the ability to make concoctions for a while.

For alchemists (in lieu of a class) or even other crafters, I'd likely have them be a bit weird in that their XP is essentially spent on formula/samples they own (or could just be an xp tally that caps what they know, letting them swap formula they know in and out like a mages spells). So for example a basic healing potion is about 500gp, and the formula/sample counts as 250gp (or even 500), thus for 250xp they can know that formula or have aquired a sample untill they get a formula.

Obviously most alchemists would start out with a bunch of more mundane formula (for tinctures or the like to assist minor maladies), or skills to initially earn that first magic formula (typically as an assistant).  Though for me Alchemists can create all sorts of weird stuff not just potions (even if some stick to just potions).

Likewise they can effectivly spend 2000xp to gain a new proficiency slot, to develop their alchemical or ancillary skills.

As a rough concept this keeps them as zero level NPCs (while counting them as such for the typical demographics of the area), but gives them a variety of skills and knowledges specific to each NPC Alchemist.

As to making a class, we would need to consider whether it is purely for NPCs or are they likely to be PCs as well.

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

Alchemists are a bit weird if they became a caster class they would effectivly lose the ability to make concoctions for a while.

-Loswaith

Huh? Why would they lose the ability to create concoctions? It's not like your proficiencies vanish when you go from level 0 to level 1, and if you don't have at least two alchemy proficiencies before becoming a level 1 alchemist then you have no concoction-making ability to lose.

For alchemists (in lieu of a class) or even other crafters, I'd likely have them be a bit weird in that their XP is essentially spent on formula/samples they own

-Loswaith

Ah, so they've got an alternative way of getting samples besides purchasing them with gold or researching them the hard way? That's an interesting idea. I wonder how you'd price it? Getting a free formula is less useful at higher levels, since the odds of already having found (or being able to easily aquire) a sample of any given magic item increases as your level does... But I guess most abilities become less valuable at higher levels, so maybe that's not a concern. Hmm...

(or could just be an xp tally that caps what they know, letting them swap formula they know in and out like a mages spells).

-Loswaith

Again, other classes aren't limited in how many formulae they can have and use, so this would mean that alchemists are more limited in how many formulae they can know than other classes. That seems a bit counter-intuitive, to me.

Obviously most alchemists would start out with a bunch of more mundane formula (for tinctures or the like to assist minor maladies)...  Though for me Alchemists can create all sorts of weird stuff not just potions (even if some stick to just potions).

-Loswaith

Yeah, same here. It always struck me as weird that by RAW alchemists can't make anything that isn't a potion, so I allow alchemists in my campaign to craft items that seem like they'd need alchemical expertise to make (metamphorae and millitary oil, mostly) as if they had picked the relevant Craft proficiency one fewer times than they did the Alchemy proficiency (or to manufacture 5 gp worth of stuff per month if they only took the alchemy proficiency once.)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Yeah, same here. It always struck me as weird that by RAW alchemists can't make anything that isn't a potion, so I allow alchemists in my campaign to craft items that seem like they'd need alchemical expertise to make (metamphorae and millitary oil, mostly) as if they had picked the relevant Craft proficiency one fewer times than they did the Alchemy proficiency (or to manufacture 5 gp worth of stuff per month if they only took the alchemy proficiency once.)


-GMJoe

It is a weird; it's a gap in the rules.

 

koewn
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Having a spell in your repertoire that you can only use to create magic items seems like less of a benefit than having a sample or formula of the magic item, and any character who can craft magic items can already obtain and use an unlimited number of magic item samples and formulae without needing additional special abilities.

-GMJoe

I agree; but, it feels there ought to be a way to delineate what an alchemist can do 'on the fly' without formulae.

I'd kinda wonder if some sort of a mechanic for mixing "unknown concoctions", something akin to HFH's spellsinger's Extemporaneous Spellcasting, is an option. It's still not quite exciting, as the remainder of ACKS kinda demands that such an effort take more time and money than normal potion brewing, barring cost.

Is that three each, or three in total?


-GMJoe

Three each. The spellcaster incurs a purchase of 9 proficiencies at level 5 to get potions, scrolls, and research, IIRC.

Ooh, I'd like to see an alchemist class that eventually gains the ability to create non-potion magic items.

----------------------

Yeah, same here. It always struck me as weird that by RAW alchemists can't make anything that isn't a potion, so I allow alchemists in my campaign to craft items that seem like they'd need alchemical expertise to make (metamphorae and millitary oil, mostly)


-GMJoe

That's a good plan. Given that there's a market for monster parts, and there's alchemists in markets, it seems to stand that alchemists should have some ability to process special components and such.

I'd posited elsewhere about a 'philosopher's stone' sort of deal that might reduce special components into "global components" - something akin to Blackmarsh's 'viz' or Dwimmermounts 'azoth' - that, for a good deal of extra cost, can transmute your 10 ogre skulls into a goop that can be used for anything else.

Not real sure where that price point is.

-----

I'd been kinda puttering around with the idea that alchemists' effects are limited to things that need a "trigger", or reaction - this could be imbibing a potion, exposing an oil to air, lighting it on fire, dousing in water, a sufficient impact, etc,etc,blah - so the effects are put into objects that then must react with something.

In theory, that defines a limitation on the effects that can be drawn out of the PC's spell creation rules - range is always Self/0', illusions would require putting something in the water source maybe...no idea how summoning would work, and maybe that's OK - some things just don't make sense - or there could be a limited version of the spell building made just for alchemists.

I'd bet there's some corner cases where the alchemist's solution, while more difficult to use, comes in at a bit of a lower level (or not, Fireball, at 0', is still 40.83 points I think, and a (technically) 5th level spell)

It's an interesting problem - figuring out how to make an alchemist useful without devaluing true spellcasters. It's kinda driving me towards thinking Alchemist is a Class Build Point category, and my earlier thought about a "castless repertoire", so as to hide various abilities with odd balancing within the class build.

Perhaps quicker/extemporaneous potion making is paid for by overpaying for spell slots one cannot cast from? There's some room to incorporate failure-to-mix from HFH (and Axiom's mountebank)...incorporating just the current Ceremonial mechanics gives me the image of a nervous, sputtering alchemist spilling bits of stuff all over the place attempting to mix a potion up in a single round....

 

 

 

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

... Huh? Why would they lose the ability to create concoctions? It's not like your proficiencies vanish when you go from level 0 to level 1, and if you don't have at least two alchemy proficiencies before becoming a level 1 alchemist then you have no concoction-making ability to lose. ...

-GMJoe

Proficiencies actually do essentially "vanish" due to RAW as henchman gain class levels (only ones that there are rules for gaining levels, hence the discussion) they lose their initial 4 proficiencies as they gain their first four class levels.

As to the Formula limit/gains, it wouldnt be in lieu formula (and not monetarily free either) but an indication of the number of magical formula the individual alchemist would know.  Sure while other classes dont have limits, the other classes cant even start creating potions/scrolls until 5th level, and 9th level for basically anything else (as opposed to zero 'level' for the alchemist) so a minimum of about 12,000xp (in the case of a cleric) in their pool.   So while classed individuals can have many formula they will generally have vastly more XP than they would have in formula gp anyway.

Though my sugestion was purely for a specialist alchemist (NPC only), if there was going to be a PC alchemist a full class work-up would be best.

Aryxymaraki
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... Huh? Why would they lose the ability to create concoctions? It's not like your proficiencies vanish when you go from level 0 to level 1, and if you don't have at least two alchemy proficiencies before becoming a level 1 alchemist then you have no concoction-making ability to lose. ...

-GMJoe

Proficiencies actually do essentially "vanish" due to RAW as henchman gain class levels (only ones that there are rules for gaining levels, hence the discussion) they lose their initial 4 proficiencies as they gain their first four class levels.


-Loswaith

He keeps one of them (he loses one at levels 2, 3, and 4.)

Since you can't take the same proficiency more than once with the four starting, any alchemist who has Alchemy 3 can keep it as they level into a class; the only way for them to get Alchemy 3 in the first place was with some combination of high Int and extra proficiencies from age, and you don't lose either of those.

They would also gain at least one general plus one class proficiency from their new class, so there are other ways for them to keep it as well.

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

As to the Formula limit/gains, it wouldnt be in lieu formula (and not monetarily free either) but an indication of the number of magical formula the individual alchemist would know.

-Loswaith

I'm having trouble understanding this sentence. Is your intent that this feature should be a limit on the number of formulae an alchemist should know, and provide no other benefit?

Sure while other classes dont have limits, the other classes cant even start creating potions/scrolls until 5th level, and 9th level for basically anything else (as opposed to zero 'level' for the alchemist) so a minimum of about 12,000xp (in the case of a cleric) in their pool.

-Loswaith
I'm still confused. Does that mean level 5 alchemists would stop having limits on the number of formulae they can know? So, an alchemist wopuld be able to know any number of formulae at level 0, then gain a strict limit at level 1, which they remain limited by until level 5? I must be misunderstanding you, surely.

Though my sugestion was purely for a specialist alchemist (NPC only), if there was going to be a PC alchemist a full class work-up would be best.

-Loswaith

I really like the way ACKS uses the same rules for both PCs and NPCs and works that into its setting, so I'd definitely want this hypothetical alchemist class to work for both PCs and NPCs.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

 

As to the Formula limit/gains, it wouldnt be in lieu formula (and not monetarily free either) but an indication of the number of magical formula the individual alchemist would know.


-Loswaith


I'm having trouble understanding this sentence. Is your intent that this feature should be a limit on the number of formulae an alchemist should know, and provide no other benefit? ...


-GMJoe

Essentially yes, it is the limit they could know, much like the limitations on the number of spells a Mage could know (an arbitry amount used for balancing mechanics).  They can change out what they know but still have some limits.

I'm still confused. Does that mean level 5 alchemists would stop having limits on the number of formulae they can know? So, an alchemist wopuld be able to know any number of formulae at level 0, then gain a strict limit at level 1, which they remain limited by until level 5? I must be misunderstanding you, surely.

-GMJoe

There are no level 5 alchemists (just spell casters with Alchemy), as there is no Alchemist class, yet (just the specialist).  The point I'm making is in refrence to spell casting classes and their essentially "unlimited" supply of formula.
Spellcasters technically are not unlimited because they would almost always have far more xp than gp value in formula, thus they seem to be unlimited.  If we look at a 5th level cleric (due to the lowest XP total to get to the crafting point) and presume the same limits alchemist specalists could have they could have up to 24 formula (of 'first level' potions or scrolls, presuming the 500gp value), and that tally doubles with each additional level (48 at 6th level, 96 at 7th level and so on), while a 5th level mage could have up to 40 formula (of 'first level' potions or scrolls, presuming the 500gp value).

At the end of the day it is a way for Alchemists to explain why they have huge pools of XP (typically gained from their creations) but are still only 0-Level NPCs.

 

While ACKs does use much the same rules in governing how proficiencies work between NPCs and PCs they diverge quite a lot when it comes to how those profciencies are gained, among other rules that diverge too.   Likewise if we look to the way that the level demographics play out for higher level NPCs, having every Alchemist, crafter, merchant or other professional level up due to ancillary XP gains could throw those out considerably.  I just looked at it froma point of "how to explain that ancillary xp growth, without level gains".