View Full Version : Alchemical Secrets [3.5]

2014-01-18, 03:24 PM
I've been working on a bit of a homebrew thing called Alchemical Secrets in my 3.5/Pathfinder campaign setting, things that let players with both Craft (Alchemy) and Brew Potion have a bit more freedom in what they're able to do. (I've always felt Brew Potion was a bit underused in WotC material, and needed a few special options; I let players with 5 ranks in Craft (Alchemy) create salves, ointments, draughts and elixirs with Brew Potion; it's always seemed unfair to me that players who take Brew Potion can't make Love Potions, but Craft Wondrous Item players can.)

Anyway, Alchemical Secrets are theoretical "items" that a player creates through the Craft (Alchemy) skill, a bit like how the Masterwork component of a Masterwork Weapon is a separate "item" that needs to be created on its own. Instead of making an item, the player makes something that they "know." The alchemical secrets and formulae involved are very complicated and take some mental prep-work, and as such each secret has a spell level; a wizard adds an Alchemical Secret to a spell book as if it was a spell of the same level, and spontaneous arcane classes add it to their spells known; admittedly, this would be a bit of a hindrance for a sorcerer or bard, but that's intentional: a studious wizard can keep a tome of arcane equations and secrets with much less trouble than a bard can. (A truly put-upon player can seek out a knowstone, I think.)

The most basic alchemical secrets are the ones that allow players to create potions at levels higher than 3rd. I run into some difficulty here, because I'm not sure what "market price" to give the secrets for crafting purposes. The best I can come up with would be pricing them as if they were Pearls Of Power, as each one allows something spell-like, even if it's something that's more passive than an intentionally prepared and cast spell. Case in point, the alchemical secret for being able to create a 4th level spell would be 16,000 gold.

As you can see, only the most dedicated alchemists would likely have the patience to craft such an expensive item. Using 3.5 rules, that's 160000 silver to hit, tricky even with the DC I've set at 20 + Spell Level. That'd be the better part of a year if someone always rolls the minimum amount.

While part of me thematically likes the idea of a huge time and money investment to learn something like this, another part of me knows that it's not something that players would want to do. Can you think of a better pricing system?

Another issue to tackle are those pesky divine casters. While alchemical secrets feels more like an arcane topic of study, divine potion making isn't unheard of. (And, given the number of Cure potions out there, divine casters may actually be the majority.) Divine casters don't always have a shortened list of spells known/available like arcane casters do, and the simplest solution of making an alchemical secret remove their number of spells per day would simply not be fun. Any ideas on that front?

I know there's a prestige class that allows for the creation of potions at higher level (I think it's for Forgotten Realms), and 3.0's Tome & Blood also has a simple option for potions that are simply twice as expensive to make than regular if you're crafting higher than 4th level. These are decent options, but not quite the right fit for my setting at the moment.