Sunday, November 6, 2016

Alchemists’ Lab

I’m actually pretty proud of Alchemists’ Lab.  It’s not perfect, but I think it’s pretty good.  I think it really reflects my kind of game mastering and world building - one where enchanters and alchemists work on things of interest to them and not only on making more powerful magic swords for guys they don’t even know.

I did not include Alchemists’ Lab in the Omnibus edition because it is already too heavy in magic.  The first edition seemed to be a decent balance of skills, magic and creatures with equipment, but in including the Book of Wishes the balance shifted dramatically.  That original game’s handbook for players always felt too heavy with spells for me, and I was starting to feel that I had gone down that same path.

So the Omnibus edition does not have “everything”, but to be honest, Alchemists’ Lab is not required reading.  It is far more for the game master trying to come up with cool ideas for missions, for new magic items, for twists in the magic system, for world building.  Some of you are only thinking about writing missions, and that’s OK if that’s your gaming style.  (We refer to that as “get in the car and go” - when the players would rather just start the mission and they don’t really care about the mission backstory.)  So does it still help?  Yes!  Minor example:  Alchemist needs some manner of ingredient that spoils, but it is only found in the jungles 600 miles away.  Alchemists’ Lab has items like the timeless box, which stops time within it.  So now those gathering missions can legitimately cover long treks through hostile territory and still bring home delicate flowers or certain monster body parts.

Can Alchemists’ Lab be harvested for adventurer tools?  Yes!  Cold face glasses allow you to see heat signatures (for detecting invisible creatures).  A tinker’s door will allow you to x-ray locks and traps.  There are “adventuring enchantments”, but that’s not what it’s all about.  Plus you do kind of need to search things like that out, and they are still not simple attack percentage increasers.

So if you’re looking for more ideas - check out Alchemists’ Lab.  If you’re world building, don’t assume that the magical craftsmen are in it for the knights and battle mages.  Money is easy.  Think about the rocket scientists of today; they make pretty good money, but they are at least as interested in publishing scholarly essays.  They live in a culture where they talk primarily to their peers.  They want their peers to respect them.  They are far less concerned about the attitude of “stupid berserkers”.

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