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Old 09-27-2017, 10:50 AM   #1
Jefepato
 
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Default Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

So I've been perusing the rules in GURPS Magic and Thaumatology (and Pyramid 3-28) for alchemy, and I'm trying to figure out how playing a serious alchemist or herbalist would work out in-game, especially with Quick Gadgeteer.

(Sorry if any of my questions are unclear. I keep having ideas and I hope I've organized them appropriate.)

1. A quick technique for an elixir is different from a conventional technique and must be learned separately (per GURPS Magic page 211); the roll is made at the elixir's full default penalty, "in addition to any penalty remaining for an unmastered elixir," plus the -1 for improvised tools. Does this mean an alchemist who has mastered the conventional technique but not the quick technique suffer the -6 penalty for quickly making an "unmastered" elixir? Or is it still mastered for that purpose?

Example: A Quick Gadgeteer alchemist has mastered the conventional recipe for the elixir of Speed, which defaults to Alchemy-1 (so he spent 2 points on the technique). When he needs to brew one up quickly, is he rolling at -2 (-1 for the full default penalty, -1 for improvised equipment) or at -8 (-1 for the default, -1 for improvised equipment, -6 because the quick recipe is still unmastered)?

2. Is mastery of the conventional technique for an elixir prerequisite for buying up the quick technique? An alchemist has to "know" an elixir to brew it quickly, but one could argue that if an alchemist has sufficiently high Alchemy skill to successfully brew a potion despite not having mastered it, he can plausibly claim to "know" it.

One the other hand, the rule making quick techniques separate from normal techniques seems odd to me, if in fact Quick Gadgeteer alchemists don't need the conventional techniques and would never spend points on them.

3. GURPS Magic says (page 211 again) that an alchemist with the Gizmo advantage can whip out a dose of "any elixir that he knows" at a moment's notice. Is there a limit on this? When I first read this, I thought it meant the elixir was effectively free, but given how Gizmos normally work that seems unlikely.

I'm guessing the most reasonable way to interpret this is that the alchemist still expends the recipe cost and rolls as if quick-brewing, but does so retroactively (i.e. "wow, glad I whipped an extra Battle potion up this morning!")?

4. Can multiple techniques bought separately "stack" on a single roll? Bear with me here, this question gets a little complicated.

Suppose an alchemist has mastered the Speed elixir. He's spent 10 points on the Speed/Extra Dose technique (per Pyramid 3-28), effectively buying off the -10 penalty for applying the Extra Dose enhancement to his Speed elixir (although it still takes twice as long and costs twice as much, since Extra Dose is a +50% enhancement etc.). He's also spent 4 points on the Batching (Speed/Potion) technique, effectively buying off up to a -3 penalty for making (up to) three additional Speed elixirs in one go.

Could he then proceed to make a batch of four Speed potions with the Extra Dose enhancement at no penalty, or would Batching as applied to the enhanced version of the Speed elixir be something he has to buy separately ("Batching (Speed/Extra Dose/Potion)")?

If the alchemist is also a Quick Gadgeteer, would techniques like Extra Dose need to be bought separately for quick-brewed Speed elixirs, since the quick-brewed version is officially a separate recipe? Or could the alchemist, once he'd mastered the quick-brewed Speed recipe as well, go ahead and apply his other Speed-elixir techniques to both versions of the Speed elixir?

(Batching seems less important if you're brewing each elixir in a matter of minutes anyway, but still.)

5. Pyramid 3-28 also has rules for reducing the cost of an elixir recipe if the alchemist has access to certain magic spells, but "neither the cost nor time may ever be reduced below 80%." Does that mean you can't ever pay less than 80% of the full normal cost (which is how it sounds to me in plain language), or does it mean you can't ever get more than a -80% discount (meaning you'd never pay less than 20% of the normal cost)? The latter seems more consistent with the usual rules on limitations being capped at -80%.

6. Are there guidelines anywhere for the costs, default penalties, etc. of new elixir recipes, or is it pretty much down to a GM call? Of course, there are rules for applying enhancements to the existing recipes, but if a player really wants to invent a Greater Strength elixir that adds 2d to ST, is there any rule of thumb one might use (based on, e.g. the point value of the temporary advantage granted by the elixir)?
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

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Originally Posted by Jefepato View Post
1. A quick technique for an elixir is different from a conventional technique and must be learned separately (per GURPS Magic page 211); the roll is made at the elixir's full default penalty, "in addition to any penalty remaining for an unmastered elixir," plus the -1 for improvised tools. Does this mean an alchemist who has mastered the conventional technique but not the quick technique suffer the -6 penalty for quickly making an "unmastered" elixir? Or is it still mastered for that purpose?
Thatís a good question. Iíd think youíre still suffering the penalty because of this little bit of text:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GURPS Magic, p. 211
An alchemist can improve his ability with quick techniques in the usual way, but the quick techniques are different from the conventional techniques and must be learned separately. The improvised equipment penalty can never be removed.
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2. Is mastery of the conventional technique for an elixir prerequisite for buying up the quick technique? An alchemist has to "know" an elixir to brew it quickly, but one could argue that if an alchemist has sufficiently high Alchemy skill to successfully brew a potion despite not having mastered it, he can plausibly claim to "know" it.
No, it doesnít seem to be - but youíre probably wise to get it anyways.

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One the other hand, the rule making quick techniques separate from normal techniques seems odd to me, if in fact Quick Gadgeteer alchemists don't need the conventional techniques and would never spend points on them.
Youíre not wrong. It seems like double-paying for stuff. I know when I use conventional alchemy I just ignore that rule completely if you have Gadgeteer.

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Originally Posted by Jefepato View Post
3. GURPS Magic says (page 211 again) that an alchemist with the Gizmo advantage can whip out a dose of "any elixir that he knows" at a moment's notice. Is there a limit on this? When I first read this, I thought it meant the elixir was effectively free, but given how Gizmos normally work that seems unlikely.
You still have to have the materials or be able to find them to do so - so it still costs money or resources. In my own campaigns I just have ďX dollars of Alchemical materialsĒ that cost 1 lb. per Average Starting Wealth/100 in money.

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Originally Posted by Jefepato View Post
I'm guessing the most reasonable way to interpret this is that the alchemist still expends the recipe cost and rolls as if quick-brewing, but does so retroactively (i.e. "wow, glad I whipped an extra Battle potion up this morning!")?
Yes.

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4. Can multiple techniques bought separately "stack" on a single roll? Bear with me here, this question gets a little complicated.
Techniques usually stack.

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Originally Posted by Jefepato View Post
Suppose an alchemist has mastered the Speed elixir. He's spent 10 points on the Speed/Extra Dose technique (per Pyramid 3-28), effectively buying off the -10 penalty for applying the Extra Dose enhancement to his Speed elixir (although it still takes twice as long and costs twice as much, since Extra Dose is a +50% enhancement etc.). He's also spent 4 points on the Batching (Speed/Potion) technique, effectively buying off up to a -3 penalty for making (up to) three additional Speed elixirs in one go.
Could he then proceed to make a batch of four Speed potions with the Extra Dose enhancement at no penalty, or would Batching as applied to the enhanced version of the Speed elixir be something he has to buy separately ("Batching (Speed/Extra Dose/Potion)")?
Batching for a specific potion works for it as long as you donít change what it does fundamentally. So you could add Extra Dose or extended the time it lasts, but not muck with what the potion gives. Thatís a brand new elixir in that case! So you can totally batch a Speed Potion with Extra Dose.

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If the alchemist is also a Quick Gadgeteer, would techniques like Extra Dose need to be bought separately for quick-brewed Speed elixirs, since the quick-brewed version is officially a separate recipe? Or could the alchemist, once he'd mastered the quick-brewed Speed recipe as well, go ahead and apply his other Speed-elixir techniques to both versions of the Speed elixir?
As the author of this article, that is what I intended - you buy the technique once and it works with normal or quick techniques.

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(Batching seems less important if you're brewing each elixir in a matter of minutes anyway, but still.)
It can be quite important in the right circumstance!
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5. Pyramid 3-28 also has rules for reducing the cost of an elixir recipe if the alchemist has access to certain magic spells, but "neither the cost nor time may ever be reduced below 80%." Does that mean you can't ever pay less than 80% of the full normal cost (which is how it sounds to me in plain language), or does it mean you can't ever get more than a -80% discount (meaning you'd never pay less than 20% of the normal cost)? The latter seems more consistent with the usual rules on limitations being capped at -80%.
You canít ever get higher than an 80% reduction in time or price. So if a potion cost $1000 and an 1 hour to make it could never go below $200 and 12 minutes.

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6. Are there guidelines anywhere for the costs, default penalties, etc. of new elixir recipes, or is it pretty much down to a GM call? Of course, there are rules for applying enhancements to the existing recipes, but if a player really wants to invent a Greater Strength elixir that adds 2d to ST, is there any rule of thumb one might use (based on, e.g. the point value of the temporary advantage granted by the elixir)?
Totally fiat. Sorry. I personally use the rules for Ultra-Tech Drugs (p. B425) as a guideline. They work quite well.
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

Thanks for the detailed response! After dropping a post that size, I really didn't expect someone to answer everything so soon.
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Old 09-27-2017, 04:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

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Thanks for the detailed response! After dropping a post that size, I really didn't expect someone to answer everything so soon.
You used the word "Alchemy" more than three times - it's like a Bloody Mary thing for me. I just kind of appear and answer posts. Also "RPM." :-)
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Old 09-28-2017, 06:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

Hastur, Mab, Voldemort! Bloody Mary, Beetlejuice, Ghostdancer!

I keep getting this wrong somehow.
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Old 09-28-2017, 11:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

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You used the word "Alchemy" more than three times - it's like a Bloody Mary thing for me. I just kind of appear and answer posts. Also "RPM." :-)
Phew. I'm glad I talked about Alchemy instead of Herb Lore then.

As a GM, I'm probably going to eliminate the distinction between conventional and quick techniques. It makes some logical sense that they're different (obviously the quick technique must be doing something very different if the elixir isn't simmering for three weeks), but a Quick Gadgeteer isn't going to have any reason to buy the slow version. (The only penalty for quick-brewing is that -1 for improvised tools, and you'd be better off by far increasing Alchemy skill instead of buying the slow techniques if you're really worried about that penalty.)

Actually, a few other weird questions occurred to me.

7. Could you make a combination elixir of two (or more) of the same elixir? Like, if you wanted to save time in a crisis by combining three doses of Speed into one shot. (I'm having trouble finding a page reference, but I assume that each potion you consume takes a Ready action, and you would need two seconds to drink two potions?) Of course this only would make sense with elixirs for which multiple doses are effective, but still.

8. Could the Extra Dose enhancement apply to elixirs where only one dose at a time normally works? I assume that this isn't especially effective with most elixirs (like if you could use two Strength potions, the effects would probably overlap, not stack), but you never know if someone might need two Death doses at once. (For science.)

9. Would the Cosmic enhancement (+50% for adding utility by "avoiding drawbacks," per Power-Ups 4 page 7) be an appropriate way to avoid the risk of HT loss for taking a third dose of the Celerity elixir? (As a GM I'd be concerned about game balance if players started doing this. But, you know...hypothetically.)
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

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Hastur, Mab, Voldemort! Bloody Mary, Beetlejuice, Ghostdancer!

I keep getting this wrong somehow.
Hey! I hang out with those guys at the bar.


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Phew. I'm glad I talked about Alchemy instead of Herb Lore then.
That may have worked too. :-)

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As a GM, I'm probably going to eliminate the distinction between conventional and quick techniques. It makes some logical sense that they're different (obviously the quick technique must be doing something very different if the elixir isn't simmering for three weeks), but a Quick Gadgeteer isn't going to have any reason to buy the slow version. (The only penalty for quick-brewing is that -1 for improvised tools, and you'd be better off by far increasing Alchemy skill instead of buying the slow techniques if you're really worried about that penalty.)
Good call.

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7. Could you make a combination elixir of two (or more) of the same elixir? Like, if you wanted to save time in a crisis by combining three doses of Speed into one shot. (I'm having trouble finding a page reference, but I assume that each potion you consume takes a Ready action, and you would need two seconds to drink two potions?) Of course this only would make sense with elixirs for which multiple doses are effective, but still.
Hmmm. Yes. But I'd call that a version of Cosmic (call it "Combined Dose" or "Enhanced Effect") worth around +50% if it's the same potion or +100% if it's different potions.

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8. Could the Extra Dose enhancement apply to elixirs where only one dose at a time normally works? I assume that this isn't especially effective with most elixirs (like if you could use two Strength potions, the effects would probably overlap, not stack), but you never know if someone might need two Death doses at once. (For science.)
Sure. Why not. As long as the potions stack or previous effects overwrite or overlap the other. As an aside, if you wanted the potions to stack I'd charge a +100% Cosmic ("Additive Dose") or something like that.

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9. Would the Cosmic enhancement (+50% for adding utility by "avoiding drawbacks," per Power-Ups 4 page 7) be an appropriate way to avoid the risk of HT loss for taking a third dose of the Celerity elixir? (As a GM I'd be concerned about game balance if players started doing this. But, you know...hypothetically.)
Hmmmm. I'd consider making it +100% - but yeah, sure.
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Old 09-28-2017, 02:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

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Hmmm. Yes. But I'd call that a version of Cosmic (call it "Combined Dose" or "Enhanced Effect") worth around +50% if it's the same potion or +100% if it's different potions.
Pardon me -- I meant to reference the rules for combination potions in Pyramid 3-28 (page 7). Or did you mean in addition to those?

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Sure. Why not. As long as the potions stack or previous effects overwrite or overlap the other. As an aside, if you wanted the potions to stack I'd charge a +100% Cosmic ("Additive Dose") or something like that.
Seems reasonable enough. I guess if someone's willing to pay triple for the recipe (not so bad really) and take a -20 to their Alchemy check (yikes), they deserve a Strength potion that would stack with another like itself.

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Hmmmm. I'd consider making it +100% - but yeah, sure.
Actually, that does make more sense. +50% may list "avoiding drawbacks," but +100% goes to things that "ignore or overrule something important to game balance." I think the latter is a fair description of dodging the risk attached to a third dose of Celerity.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 09-28-2017, 02:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Several questions on alchemy (and/or herb lore)

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Pardon me -- I meant to reference the rules for combination potions in Pyramid 3-28 (page 7). Or did you mean in addition to those?
Ahh, I forgot I wrote that. No I don't see an issue.



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Seems reasonable enough. I guess if someone's willing to pay triple for the recipe (not so bad really) and take a -20 to their Alchemy check (yikes), they deserve a Strength potion that would stack with another like itself.
Pretty much.



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Actually, that does make more sense. +50% may list "avoiding drawbacks," but +100% goes to things that "ignore or overrule something important to game balance." I think the latter is a fair description of dodging the risk attached to a third dose of Celerity.
My thoughts exactly.

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Thanks for your help!
Sure!
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