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Alchemy (and Alchemists) in Dungeon Fantasy

For game balance, the original Dungeon Fantasy rules reduced Alchemy to just two uses: testing potions and "brewing" (which is less "crafting potions" than "getting a discount on potions"). As with the mandate against enchantment, this was to stop the game from turning into an economic exercise, where the party regularly takes a year off to do boring tasks that accumulate vast amounts of wealth. Dungeon Fantasy 4: Sages amended this somewhat, by allowing Quick Gadgeteers to use Gizmo to whip up highly unstable potions that had to be used immediately, effectively turning potions into spells. But there is room for a middle ground, where delvers can create potions that last long enough to count as equipment without being a gateway to boring, downtime wealth accumulation.

For the purpose of Dungeon Fantasy, there are three classes of alchemical creations.


Alchemists with time to prepare before hand can whip up short-lived concoctions, even in the depths of a dungeon. This requires an alchemy lab; the rules here assume the backpack alchemy lab from DF1: Adventurers, p. 26.

If the alchemist does not have the Gadgeteer advantage in any form, concoctions take a while to brew and require exotic ingredients (different for each potion) equal in cost to 1/5 of the potion's normal sale value. For potions that cost $250 or more, the time to brew them is one full day for every $500 or fraction thereof. Cheaper potions take one hour for every $25 or fraction thereof. (The one-day time limit begins as soon as the potion is completed, so even those that take a long time to create can still be used.) At the end of this time, roll against Alchemy skill, at a -1 penalty for every $250 (or fraction thereof) of the brew's value, in addition to the normal -2 for using a backpack lab.

Most delver alchemists will have the Quick Gadgeteer advantage, however, which greatly facilitates the process. Quick Gadgeteers may brew a creation in just 1d minutes for every $500 (or fraction thereof) of the concoction's normal cost; this time may be reduced using the normal time spent rules. The Alchemy skill roll is at a -1 penalty for every $500 (or fraction thereof) of the potion's value, in addition to the normal -2 for using a backpack lab. Technically, the brewing does require ingredients, but it's assumed that the alchemist is improvising with whatever he's stuffed into the backpack with his lab. As these nonspecified ingredients run out, potions get harder to make -- apply a cumulative -1 penalty for every two full potions made until the alchemist has a chance to restock his bag. Restocking requires a successful Scrounging roll.

Critical successes remain good for 1d+1 days (instead of just one day). Normal successses are short-lived, as described above. Failure produces no special effects, but critical failure either subjects everyone nearby to the effects of the potion (if harmful -- or reverse the effects of a helpful potion) or products a beautiful explosion that does 3d damage (the alchemist may dodge for cover or distance) and attracts a lot of attention. GM's decision as to which effect applies.

New Perk: Potion Mastery

You have memorized and mastered the formulary for one specific concoction. You must specialize by concoction and form; e.g., Potion Mastery (Minor Healing Potion). The base penalty to brew this creation (including as a Gizmo) is halved; round in your favor. This does not affect other penalties, such as the -2 for using a backpack lab. Alchemists may have as many Potion Mastery perks as they can afford. Adding one during play requires the acquisition of a formulary, which costs at least as much as the potion it describes.

New Alchemical Gear

Bolas, Breakable*. A bolas with one weighted end and one end designed to attach to a Small Bottle. When successfully thrown around a foe, the bottle breaks against the weighted end and releases the elixir. -4 to use (and Acc 0) if thrown with a missing or empty bottle. Cost and weight include one Small Bottle, which must be replaced each time. $30, 2 lbs.

Bolt, Syringe*. A crossbow bolt with an oversized glass tip which can hold a dose of elixir. Damage is -2 and piercing instead of impaling. Not reusable. $5, 0.1 lbs.

Bottle, Small*. From DF1: Adventurers (p. 24). This bottle can be thrown (with Throwing) or used with Sling skill at no penalty (treat it as a sling stone with a (0.2) armor divisor.) $3, 1 lbs.

Full-Sized Alchemy Lab. Useful only if the campaign allows delvers to have a permanent base of operations. Avoids the -2 penalty to brew potions but it takes up a small room and cannot be easily moved. Note that both this lab and the backpack lab may be made Fine (+1 to Alchemy skill for all purposes) for +4 CF or Very Fine (+2 to skill) for +19 CF. $1,000, 200 lbs.

* Note that on a successful hit, grenade elixirs go off normally, but drinkable potions only take effect if damage penetrates DR.

Alchemist (+0 points)

This is a lens for the Artificer, from DF4: Sages (p. 5), trading engineering ability for alchemical specialization.

    Advantages: Replace the first section with the following two sections: Dungeon Artificer 4 [20]; Equipment Bond (Backpack Alchemy Lab) [1]; Gizmos 3 (Accessibility, Alchemy, -20%) [12]; Quick Gadgeteer (Alchemist, -50%) [25] and Signature Gear (Backpack Alchemy Lab) [2]. ♦ 15 points chosen from among Acute Smell/Taste [2/level], Alcohol Tolerance [1], Fearlessness [2/level], more Gizmos (Accessibility, Alchemy, -20%) [4/gizmo], or Potion Mastery (any) [1/perk]. ♦ In the optional advantages, add Danger Sense [15] and replace Gizmos with Gizmos (Accessibility, Alchemy, -20%) [4/gizmo].
    Disadvantages: Remove Compulsive Inventing. ♦ Raise the required points in the first disadvantage list from -20 to -25. Add the following choices: Magic Susceptibility [-3/level], Missing Digit [-2 or -5], One Eye [-15], Weirdness Magnet [-15].
    Primary Skills: Raise Alchemy to Alchemy (VH) IQ+5 [12]-18*. ♦ Replace Engineer (Gadgets) with Hazardous Materials (Magical) (A) IQ [2]-13.
    Secondary Skills: Replace this entire section with the following: Poisons (H) IQ-2 [1]-12; Research (A) IQ [2]-13; Throwing (A) DX+2 [8]-15; Traps (A) IQ+3 [1]-16*; and Thaumatology (VH) IQ [4]-13. ♦ Either Staff (A) DX+1 [4]-14 or both Shield (Buckler) (E) DX+1 [2]-14 and one of Broadsword, Rapier, Shortsword, or Smallsword, all (A) DX [2]-13. ♦ One of Bolas (A) DX [4]-13, Crossbow (E) DX+2 [4]-15, or Sling (H) DX [4]-13.
    Background Skills: Remove Hazardous Materials (Magical). Add the following choices: Brawling (E) DX [1]-13; Gesture (E) IQ [1]-13; Naturalist (H) IQ-1 [1]-12; Pharmacy (Herbal) (H) IQ-1 [1]-12**; or 1 point to raise Poisons to (H) IQ‑1 [2]‑13.

* Includes +4 for Dungeon Artificer.
** Pharmacy (Herbal) requires Naturalist.

Becoming an Alchemist

This variant of the Artificer Lens (DF: Sages, p. 7) is a little more reasonably priced, fitting the standard 50-point mold. If any skills overlap with existing ones, combine points when possible (e.g., if you already have Throwing (A) DX [2], the 2 points from this lens will raise it another level). Any leftover points should be used to raise other lens skills.

Alchemist Lens (+50 points)

    Advantages: Dungeon Artificer 2* [10]; Equipment Bond (Backpack Alchemy Lab) [1]; Gizmos 1 (Accessibility, Alchemy, -20%) [4]; Quick Gadgeteer (Alchemist, -50%) [25]; Signature Gear (Backpack Alchemy Lab) [2].
    Skills: Alchemy (VH) IQ-1 [4]; Fast-Draw (Gadget) (E) DX [1]; Scrounging (E) Per [1]; Throwing (A) DX [2].

* Gives +2 to Alchemy, Armoury, Engineer (Gadgets), Fast-Draw (Gadget), Scrounging, and Traps.

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