21st Century D&D


Alchemy is the study of, extraction, and manipulation of energy from both ordinary and magical materials. It is considered a branch of magic, although it is not concerned with manipulating energy in the same way spells do. In real life, the term “alchemy” is also used to refer to hermetic, mystical, and occult practics which were considered related to what we would now recognize as proto-chemistry; however I will be treating such practices in a separate skill. Here I focus only on the chemistry and pseudo-chemistry type of alchemy.

Unless otherwise stated, a period of “lab work” means that for the given duration, the character must spend a certain amount of time in the lab or there will be a chance of the progress so far being lost. The default assumption is five 4-hour workdays required per week of the duration, and that each missed day means a cumulative 2% chance of all progress and materials being ruined. Finally, the vessels and glassware used in alchemy must regularly be coated with a substance called “fat lute,” a mixture of clay and oil which forms airtight seals and protects against fire damage. Each day in the lab is assumed to use up 1d3 oz of fat lute, because once applied, fat lute loses its moisture and becomes useless over time. Surplus fat lute can be stored in an airtight container until it is needed.

Any character with 5+ points in Alchemy possesses the knowledge to safely set up, use, and maintain/repair alchemical equipment. Most alchemy skills will require a lab.

No Knowledge

The character is ignorant of all alchemical processes, theories, techniques, and products.

Animalcules (10)

A character with this knowledge can extract a foam of animalcules by dissecting a creature’s genitals. The genitals must have been severed no less than a day prior. 1 oz of foam can be harvested from a creature of 250 lbs or less, plus an additional ounce for every further 250 lbs. These animalcules contain potential energy within them which can serve as the base ingredient for certain alchemical items, such as potions. If consumed as-is, 4 oz of foam will restore 1 hit point.

The process of dissection and preparation will take 1 hour per oz of foam, and for each oz of foam an Intelligence check is required for successful preparation. Foam will retain its potency as long as it is kept in an airtight container; it will become useless after an hour of exposure.

Distillation I (10)

The character can produce a range of non-magical liquids. In addition to alcohols (including beer), distilled water, and plant and animal oils, the character can create the following:

Aqua fortis (nitric acid): 2 workdays; 4 pounds copper ore (only some of which is assumed to be copper nitrate, the mineral required)

Aqua fortis can dissolve base metals. It does not react with gold, platinum, or other noble metals; thus it can be used to test the purity of a gold alloy, by seeing how much the alloy’s color changes in the presence of aqua fortis.

Although not as potent as oil of vitriol, aqua fortis can also react with organic matter. If used as a weapon, a direct hit deals 1d3 damage.

Green Vitriol (copperas): 2 work days; 4 pounds iron ore

Apart from its alchemical uses in producing certain powerful acids, green vitriol is used in several industries to produce green or blue coloration. It can also be used to precipitate gold which has been dissolved in aqua regia.

Oil of Brick: 1 workday; 1 brick, 1 pint any cooking oil

Oil of brick is a medicine. Consuming one flask will prevent a character from suffering the ill effects of motion sickness, migraines, or seizures for the rest of the day.

Homunculus (20)

By carefully nurturing 12 ounces of animalcule foam, the character is able to cause it to coalesce and grow into a homunculus. The process of transforming animalcule foam to homunculus requires 3 months of lab work.

A homunculus is a lumpy, humanish figure, 18 inches tall. Its body is somewhat pliable and it will both mold itself to complete tasks, and allow itself to be molded. It has 1 Hit Die, which is worth 2 HP per level of its creator; it cannot feel pain, but will collapse into foam if these HP are depleted. A homunculus does not really have any intelligence of its own, but it is able to feed off its creator’s mental energy, and respond to its master’s commands. It has 3 AP and a Strength of 3 but is totally incapable of making meaningful attacks.

Distillation II (20) (requires Distillation I)

The character can produce a range of potent alchemical fluids.

Spirits of Salt (hydrochloric acid): 2 workdays; 1/5 pound salt, 1 flask green vitriol

Oil of Vitriol (sulfuric acid): 2 workdays; 2 flasks green vitriol

Oil of vitriol is extremely corrosive. It can dissolve stone and non-noble metals, to say nothing of flesh. If used as a splash weapon, a direct hit deals 1d4+1 damage.

Aqua Regia: 2 workdays; 1 flask aqua fortis, 3 flasks spirits of salt

Aqua regia is so called because it can dissolve the “noble” metals, including gold and and platinum.

Diana’s Tree (30)

The character can produce Diana’s Tree, a crystallized silver form which embodies alchemical properties of life. The required ingredients are: 1 lb silver, 2 lb mercury, 10 vials of aqua fortis, and 1 gallon of distilled water. The ingredients are mixed and then tended for 40 workdays to complete the process. The completed form must be decanted into a glass flask for transport.

Diana’s Tree functions as a strong restorative. The recipient crushes the Tree and rubs the mush on their skin; healing begins the following round, restoring 6 HP per round for 5 minutes, for a total of up to 150 HP. Diana’s Tree can be split into up to 5 portions which heal 30 HP each, at the same speed as the full Tree.

As a manifestation of the life force of minerals, Diana’s Tree can also be used in the construction of golems.

Brew Potion (30)

The character can create potions. For base ingredients, all potions require 4 oz of animalcule foam and 1 oz of thaumic powder. If the potion has the same effect as a particular spell, the alchemist will need to be able to cast that spell in order to create the potion, but no other ingredients are required. On the other hand, more unusual potions will require special ingredients, but will not require any particular spellcasting ability.

Miasma (40)

The character can manufacture the deadly black gas called miasma. Creating one flask requires as base ingredients 24 oz of animalcule foam and certain other ingredients, plus 4 months of lab work.

Miasma spreads a random disease. Upon release from its container, miasma will spread to a radius of 20 feet, and will thereafter drift with the wind. Any creature in the miasma will have to save or contract that disease. The miasma will naturally dissipate after one hour.

Quintessence (40)

The character can manufacture a paste of quintessence, also called aether, the silvery-yellow fifth classical element. 8 oz each of mercury and sulfur, 2 oz of thaumic powder, and 4 months of lab work, are required to manufacture 1d3 oz of quintessence.

Quintessence embodies the alchemical principle of non-reaction, and has various effects. 1 oz will nullify any poison or potion it is placed into, transforming it into water. If half an ounce is spread on an object, the next time that object has to make a saving throw or check for breakage, it automatically succeeds. 1 oz applied to the skin will give one-time immunity to any spell which causes aging or energy drain; the immunity remains effective for up to 3 days after the quintessence is applied.

Clone (60) (requires Homunculus)

Orichalcum (60)

The character can manufacture the blood-red metal, orichalcum. The alchemist must employ both a coppersmith and a silversmith, and all three must work in the lab for a total of 6 months. Each pound of orichalcum requires 5 pounds each of copper and silver, plus 4 oz of cinnabar.

Azoth (80)

The azoth is one manifestation of the magnum opus, the great work of alchemy. It bestows youth, returning its subject to the youthful appearance and vitality of an 18-year-old, removing any accumulated penalties for aging. It also adds 5d8 years to their lifespan, and these years will act as a buffer between the newfound youth and the penalties of aging; thus the aging penalties will not appear until after those extra 5d8 years have passed.

Alkahest (80)

The alkahest, the universal solvent, is one manifestation of the magnum opus. One ounce will cause any object of up to 10 lbs to dissolve and be utterly ruined.

True Philosopher’s Stone (90)